Monday, August 6, 2007

After cutting my teeth on the women's championship match Julie and I headed into the main stadium to witness the winner's celebration for the double's champions.

We scouted out our seats and they were located all the way at the top of the stadium. Although this seems unfortunate it turned into an opportunity. If our seats were down low and close to the action I wouldn't be able to use the 400mm due to the crowd density. Since we were up high the crowds were relatively sparse. I even located a spot where credentialed photographers were shooting with their 400mm lenses.

With Julie's permission I camped out at the 400mm spot for the single's championship match. It was located directly behind the baseline and all the way at the top of the stadium. Overall it was not a bad location to shoot from, but it definitely got tiring and repetitive after awhile.

I managed to get a few great shots looking down to the close side of the court while a player served. From my vantage point the player looked up at the sky with their racket poised backwards and their forward arm raised. These turned out to be some of the greatest shots of the match, and if I cover the Legg Mason classic next year I'll definitely return to this spot to shoot.

For the rest of the match I primarily focused my attention on the far end of the court. As crazy as it sounds, 400mm was actually really tight for this match even though I was standing at the top of the stadium and covering action on the far side of the court. I could literally read the letters on the player's shoes, and I could very clearly read the amount on the check that was handed over to Roddick at the end of the match.

It was very challenging shooting the entire game at 400mm. Isner is 6' 9" and Roddick is 6' 1". When they stretch their body out to chase a shot they're really really long! In several cases they exceeded the size of my frame. As a result I had to do my best to lead the shooter. I still used group weighted continuous autofocus but I kept my thumb on the focus area button. When I saw the player going for a backhand I'd move the focus to the left so I could catch the player reaching.

I let the D2H do the metering for me and it worked out pretty well. There was solid overcast, my vantage point was fixed, and the background didn't vary much. As a result, the camera's meter did very well. I used ISO 200, cloudy white balance, approximately 1/2000 of a second shutter speed, and f2.8 aperture. I thought about stepping down to f3.5, or even f5.6, but I wanted to see how well the lens would perform at f2.8 during the entire shoot.

The shots were fairly sharp and look pretty good. They actually came out a lot better than the women's game. I don't happen to think they're very exciting in comparison to some other sports, but I believe that's a personal opinion. Al said they were of good quality, and at this point that's all that matters: the quality of the shot.

Al and I are planning on getting together to cover the Maryland Football Media Event on Monday. I'm not quite sure what this event is about, but I hear that the media relations people will be there. I typed up a brief company synopsis that describes the DC Sports Box, and I'm hoping to hand it to one of the Maryland guys. I'd really like to be on the field for Maryland Football this Fall.

Overall I'm happy with my 400mm lens. I can't even begin to give justice to how poorly PayPal handled the entire transaction, so I won't go into that subject in detail. The only artifact I don't like about the lens is that the lens hood is missing the 2nd piece and is also missing a screw that keeps it secured to the body. Because it's missing the screw I have to rely on insecure tape to keep the hood in place. I may take it in to a local shop to get a quote on installing the part. Hopefully they'll do it for an affordable price.

I'm also giving some thought to purchasing Al's D2H as a second body. After using the D2H at the Capital's Uniform Unveiling as well as 2 tennis matches I'm pretty happy with it's results. I don't plan on printing anything above 14"-19" for now, and 4.3MP is plenty for me. I'm relying on optical zoom for everything because I have the 70-200mm and the 400mm, so pixel-cropping isn't an issue. If I need a really high resolution shot I can always use my 10MP D200.

Things are really heating up around the DC area both temperature wise and sporting wise. The Nats are doing well, the Redskins and the Ravens are practicing (even scrimmaging), and Maryland Football is starting up. I'm really excited about all of the practice I've had over the past 8 months, and I'm looking forward to the fall and being able to apply what I've learned to some new sports. Can't hardly wait!


Post a Comment