Monday, November 17, 2008

After the Maryland Field Hockey Game I high-tailed it home to scoop up an awaiting Julie and race off to the campus of George Washington for an afternoon matchup against regional challenger UMBC. The Lady Retrievers were the first on the regular season schedule for the Lady Colonials and it promised to be an interesting shoot.

Marc Irlandez, a GWU alum, agreed to cover most of the 2008-2009 season for both the women's and men's teams. He lives down near the GWU campus so the travel time for him is quite reasonable. In comparison it took Julie and I approximately 45 minutes to travel from College Park MD up around the northern side of the beltway, down the GW Memorial Parkway, and then into Washington DC before we arrived at the Smith Center. Fortunately with Julie in the car I was able to bail out and shoot while she drove around looking for a parking spot. In the end she ended up parked in a No Parking spot just outside the stadium while she waited for me. I don't know how many other wives would hang out in a car for an hour while their husband shot a women's basketball game so I consider myself extremely lucky.

It is very challenging to find decent photographers to work with that are skilled and reliable. Most people that are skilled want to shoot the high profile NBA, NFL, or NHL games. Very few want to sit down at a collegiate women's basketball game and rip off a thousand frames. As a result we have limited resources to work with when lining up coverage for certain teams and games.

Accordingly, my plan this afternoon was to capture enough action photos for a gallery while also capturing isolation shots of as many players as possible. This posed a real challenge because I promised my wife waiting in the car that I would leave the arena no later than 3pm.

Having a single camera body made this a real challenge. I stuck with the 300mm lens for the most part so that I could focus on isolation shots but I switched up to my 70-200mm "go anywhere" lens for some action shots. I also used the 24-70mm lens under the basket for a handful of wide shots that showed the arena and the players.

The only issue I had during the afternoon was the varying color temperature of the overhead bulbs. I've read in the past (but cannot find the link) about variations in color temperature in certain bulbs as the intensity in them oscillates in relation to the 60Hz electrical current. The idea behind the article was that as power enters the bulb the bulb begins to emit light at a certain temperature. As more power enters the bulb the temperature changes. Eventually the bulb powers off and there's no light emitted. This happens 60 times a second because that's how electricity in this country oscillates.

If you shot at a shutter speed of 1/60th of a second or slower you would have received light from all the different temperatures from the bulb and every shot would have a consistent color in it. But if you shot faster than 1/60th you'd only get a small segment of those colors and the faster you shot the narrower the sampling your camera would have. If you had 1 bulb producing all your light you might be able to compensate but with N bulbs overhead each oscillating at slightly different schedules it makes it nearly impossible to correct automatically.

The Volleyball and Wrestling teams at UM play in the Comcast Pavilion and I've experienced this problem first hand. You can fire 4 shots at the net using a fixed WB setting and come up with completely different tints on your shots. Unfortunately the arena where GW plays basketball suffers from the same issue.

Most of my isolation photos of players from my GWU will have to be touched up with manual WB adjustments. In Volleyball you often have the white stripe of the net you can use as a reference point. In the case of basketball the Colonials where a white jersey but the imperfections in the fabric make adjustment difficult at times.

Ahh, if only we just had strobes...


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