Sunday, September 7, 2008

Volleyball: Maryland Terrapins vs Kentucky

Thanks to Tropical Storm Hanna my wife Julie and I cut short our vacation by a day to head back to DC. Arriving home a day early gave me the chance to take a look at the Maryland schedule and figure out what games I'd like to attend.

The first on the chopping block was women's volleyball.

The volleyball team and the wrestling team both play in Comcast Pavilion. There are about a dozen challenges associated with Comcast Pavilion but the biggest problem I've faced is the lighting. It's really difficult to work with.

Volleyball is a sport where the player moves extremely fast to spike the ball. You have to use 1/500th of a second for shutter speed and even then you'll get some motion blur. With the lighting in the Pavilion I have to shoot at ISO 4000 using an f/2.8 lens if I'm going to get anything decent to work with. Dave suggested an 85/1.4 and I think that'd work pretty well in there.

The bigger issue is that the bulbs are inconsistent. Some are blue, some are white, and some are orange. Given that they don't shine uniformly bright it makes exposure and white balance a real challenge. They also are the types of lights that slowly bleed off light as they cycle every 1/60th of a second. As the bulb distributes light over time the color of the light changes. If we shot slower than 1/60th of a second we'd get all the shades of light and you could set some WB adjustment to get some sort of a better color. But since we're up at 1/500th of a second or faster we only get 1 sliver of the different colors that are thrown off by the bulbs.

Every photo I kept I ended up adjusting the tint and WB on. It slows you down and it makes post processing really difficult because you're trying to avoid making the players jerseys appear blue while also avoiding making their skin tones appear yellow or orange.

I bumped into Dave Lovell at the game and he was working with a 300mm lens in addition to a 70-200 on a D300. I stuck with my 70-200mm on my D3 with ISO 4000 for most of the match and was very happy with how it performed. The shots came out a lot better than my shots last year on my D200. Of course last year I was working with ISO 2000 as the highest ISO I realistically wanted to use so I'd dip down into the 1/250th of a second shutter speeds to get some exposure.

I also bumped into Joey Flyntz. I've met him a few times at Maryland but can't recall the specific sports. I had to ask for a media bracelet since one of the operations people gave me a hard time about being on the sideline. He kinda laughed because very few people request credentials for volleyball and he had a difficult time locating a bracelet to give me.

Please go take a look at the article I wrote about Maryland Volleyball's loss to Kentucky on the DC Sports Box. I also have a photo gallery posted of the Maryland vs Kentucky volleyball match over on Flickr.


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