Sunday, September 30, 2007

Volleyball: Maryland Terrapins vs NC State

After the field hockey game I raced home to post-process my pictures in time to make it back to the Volleyball game at 5pm.

The Field Hockey game let out around 3:15 and I was at home on the computer picking over my pictures by around 3:30. It's so nice living so close to Maryland and covering their events! This weekend is full of events, and I didn't want to get too backlogged on post-processing, publishing of my pictures, and article writing.

The field hockey shots came out pretty well except the image saturation looked too rich. This seemed strange to me because the photos looked fine in Preview but looked really rich in Aperture. I had noticed this before but didn't have much time to investigate it. After the Volleyball game I took some time to look into image saturation in Preview, Aperture, and Photoshop.

I noticed that in the Preferences for Preview there is an Image tab and it allows you to adjust saturation. I also read online somewhere (after lots of unsuccessful google searches for "preview automatic image saturation") that Preview does an auto-adjustment of saturation when it loads the pictures. That sure seems strange to me but I'll buy it...

When I look at the same picture in Photoshop, Aperture, and Preview the Photoshop and Aperture version look similar but Preview looks totally different. I looked into how to make an image saturation preset in Aperture, and to my surprise it was not too difficult.

I set up an image saturation preset that reduces saturation to 60%. It's somewhat difficult to apply this preset to all the images in an album, but it's doable. It takes a long time for that operation to complete because Aperture re-generates it's preview of all the pictures in the album. So don't apply that when you have 200+ photos!

It took awhile to figure out the image saturation issue and that was kind of frustrating. Earlier this evening at the Volleyball shoot I reduced my saturation on the D200 and the images look much more appropriate. I think that when you're outdoors in a lot of light you can get away with +2 image saturation in some instances, but it seems like when you are indoors and in low flourescent light that +2 image saturation just makes all the white players look red and all the black players look pink. Asians turn a weird orange. It's not very flattering!

The volleyball shoot went extremely well. This is consistent with previous "second event" shoots. After learning the ropes in the "first event" my second round of coverage is also remarkably better. I know a few better spots from which to shoot, I know the flow of the game, and I know the players a little bit better. As a result it helps me anticipate what's going to happen and capture a shot.

I spent very little time on the same side as the Maryland players and instead shot 90% of the game from the opposite side of the court. This allowed me to capture the Maryland player's faces as they spiked, blocked, dug, etc. The only time I broke from this pattern was at the end of the game when Maryland was at match-point. I wanted to be on the Maryland side, and down low, to capture the team when they celebrated after the win. I'm glad I moved for that shot because it came out pretty well.

I spent some time at varying heights in the stands. Some of the time I was up on the highest row and got some good shots of the players faces above the net. Other times I was down low and I captured their faces through the net. It's difficult to autofocus on players when you're shooting through the net.

The players stand on the ground, but their faces are still behind the net. You can autofocus on them but it's difficult. Sometimes the AF system gets fooled and locks on the net rather than the player. It's also difficult because when the player jumps you often need to re-focus on them while they are in the air. Since they move so quickly it's difficult to keep them in the center area where AF is being applied.

I also found that shooting portrait style comes out much better than landscape. Much of the game is vertical and shooting portrait style allows you to see how high up the players have jumped. Unfortunately it makes presentation in a gallery somewhat problematic because most galleries are set up to display images in landscape format.

I shot the game at ISO 800 and ISO1000 and a shutter speed of 1/200 or 1/250. A white balanace setting of flourescent was appropriate, but I could have used some tweaking if I had a gray card. 1/250th wasn't enough to completely stop action, but it did the job most of the time. Shooting anywhere faster than 1/250th would have required me to go to ISO1250 and I wanted to keep the pictures as noise-free as possible.

I really wish that my D200 had a microphone in it. I took several pictures of the scoreboard this evening to help me recall the pace of the game. I would have also liked to use the microphone to take notes on some of the shots. It would have helped me in captioning my photos. Rather than just saying "Player X blocks a shot during ..." I could say something more exact like "Player X puts the Terrapins up N-M in the 2nd game during ...". I wonder if the D300 will have a microphone...

Tomorrow should be a lot of fun too. A women's soccer game at 1pm followed by field hockey at 2pm. I'm going to leave the women's soccer game early to head over to field hockey. I think that I'll have enough time in an hour to get some good shots of the soccer team, and I want to spend more time on field hockey.

Without a credential for soccer I'm restricted to a certain area of the field. And even with 400mm there's a lot of action that occurs on the far end of the field that is out of my reach. If I could go into the credentialed photographer spaces it would allow me to shoot from a more central location and I would be able to reach most of the field.

We're currently holding off on requesting Maryland credentials in order to build up our portfolio of Maryland events. At some point in the future we're going to put in requests (probably when women's basketball starts up) and make a case for what we've done this Fall. But for now we don't want to make our case too early.


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