Sunday, October 14, 2007

Saturday was a busy post-processing day, but it also had some shooting in it as well.

The Maryland women played the Miami Hurricanes in Volleyball at Comcast Pavilion around 7pm and I attended the game. I've enjoyed shooting and writing about Maryland's volleyball games and I was looking forward to this match tonight. You can read my DC Sports Box article here.

I've been shooting volleyball with pretty good results at ISO 1000 and 1/250th of a second on f2.8. Every now and I then I'll slow down to 1/200th or even a bit slower. You can get away with that when the players are at the net waiting for service. But if you get any slower you risk some shake from the camera or the players moving around in a noticeable fashion.

I continued trying to shoot more of the players in the backcourt, and I paid particular attention to Kenning, Gillming, and Schmelzle. I wanted to get a good photo of them for Kenning's dad to their high school and I managed to get my shot pretty early on. The 3 were lined up and I grabbed a shot of them prior to a serve. I think they'll like it.

I also continued getting shots of the attackers at the net. I decided not to go up to the top of the stands and shoot because you're pretty far away. I'm not a physicist but I was thinking about how light bounces off of subjects and is collected by the sensor in the camera.

The basic idea is that light bounces off of a subject from all kinds of sources. Let's say you are shooting outdoors. The sun is the primary light source, but there are additional sources of bounced light from trees, the ground, and other inanimate objects. Even the photographer is a source of bounced light.

With multiple light sources the light reflected off of the subject is going to be going in all kinds of different directions. The light bouncing off the ground and back up at the subject is going to reflect off the subject and head up towards the sky. The light bouncing off a tree to the left of the subject is going to reflect to the right of the subject.

Imagine the camera as a bucket that catches light. If you position that bucket far away from the subject you'll only get a limited amount of reflected light off your subject that happens to correspond to some particular angle.

However, if you position the same bucket close to the subject and you keep the radius of the bucket the same size you'll collect more light because you'll catch reflections from the other light sources (floor, teammates, trees, etc). That's my thought at least...

I'm not sure how zoom fits into this bucket analogy. I need to do some more thinking about it and reading about f-stop ratings. It's still too early for me to tell if it's bunk or not, but I know that anecdotally my shots from up high don't seem as bright as much shots when I'm closer to my subjects.

I also observed something interesting while post-processing my shots from last night's volleyball game. I took some shots with the 17-55/2.8 lens, and the depth of field is way way wider than with my 70-200mm. I should have realized this, and while post processing it was immediately apparent to me.

Depth of field is a factor of aperture and focal length. When you're at shorter focal lengths the depth of field is larger. If you're shooting at 400mm and your subject is standing 20 feet from you the depth of field is very narrow. But, if you're shooting at 17mm and your subject is 20 feet from you the depth of field is wider.

This was overly apparent to me when I looked at my shots of players during serves. The player in focus is sharp, but to my surprise the background was also pretty sharp. I didn't realize this when I bought the lens even though I've looked at depth of field calculations a dozen times.

During the final game of the match I adjusted my position and prepared to shoot the Maryland team after the game. They were poised to win it and I wanted to capture the moment when the celebrate after the final point is won.

A Maryland representative approached me and we had a brief conversation about who I was shooting for and credentials. I'm giving some thought to offering my business card to the gentleman during the next game so that he can take a look at our coverage. Maybe it will help us get credentials for these events...

It seems pretty silly to me that we wouldn't be able to get credentials. I've been to 4 volleyball games now and have not seen a single photographer or writer from a media outlet. If we're out there writing about Maryland we're doing Maryland a service by promoting their athletics.

At the same time I think Maryland should be involved with what we're doing. They wouldn't appreciate it if we're going out and shooting events and writing articles that are poking fun at the players or making other inflammatory negative remarks. We're not going to do that, but somebody else certainly might. As a result, Maryland should be reviewing what people are writing and should be in the business of actively approving or denying media credentials to organizations like the DC Sports Box.

Right now we're kind of just out there shooting and writing without any oversight. There are certainly freedom of the press issues, but there should be some oversight on Maryland's part to make sure we're conforming with university, ACC, and NCAA regulations. If I were in Maryland's shoes I wouldn't be comfortable knowing someone is out there shooting and writing about games and I don't know about it...

That's why I'm thinking that it might make sense to approach the individual media relations person during a game and give them my business card that has the URL for our site. Under normal circumstances we would submit our credential request for the game and be granted the credential and then Maryland would have full oversight or the ability to review our coverage.

But we're in this weird state right now where we're being denied credentials because we haven't covered any other Maryland athletic events. So while in this weird state we're doing this rogue coverage and at some point it's going to have to happen "on the level." The question in my mind is: when will we get to a point where we've done enough "rogue" coverage to populate our "Maryland Terrapins" section and demonstrate our commitment to regular and substantial coverage of athletic events?

I benefit from the knowledge of my own personal commitment to Maryland athletics, but the media relations people don't share that same knowledge. They can't tell if DC Sports Box (or me for that matter) will be here 3 months from now. But it seems to me like Maryland is in an awkward position right now because they don't have any visibility into the product we produce (our articles and photos). From my perspective the solution is overwhelmingly clear: work with us so you have oversight.

The sooner Maryland realizes that we're committed to covering their events the sooner they can have oversight and visibility into our work. And the sooner that happens for them the better off they'll be... I hope they come to realize this soon...


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