Monday, November 24, 2008

After a bit of sleuthing around of aerial photographs with my Dad on Sunday morning I packed up some glass and headed over to Comcast for an afternoon tilt between the Terps and the visiting UCLA Bruins.

While sitting on the baseline I thought about a comment Mike Busada made on Friday night: "You never seen Canons out here anymore. It's f***in' awesome, man!" I laughed when Mike made that comment on Friday evening but this afternoon it really sunk in. Nikon has really turned the market around. Last year I was definitely in the minority with my Nikon equipment and the 1D Mark III was all the rage by everyone. I constantly was enticed to "switch to Canon now before I invested too heavily in Nikon gear." I resisted for mostly financial reasons but I was very tempted at the time after seeing the high ISO capabilities on the 1D line.

In retrospect that would've been a huge mistake. Nowadays Nikon dominates the sideline and the D3 is essentially the de-facto standard. At the football game I took note of the photographers and what brand they shot - I counted 3 shooting with Canon gear and 14 with Nikon gear (D700 and D3 mostly, but some D300). Last year it primarily Canon with a spattering of Nikon. In fact, I remember having conversations with Greg Fiume about if he was going to switch to Canon given all the glass and bodies they were kicking out at the time.

It is truly remarkable the turnaround that has occurred in the market. I'm kinda surprised for not having taken notice until Mike pointed it out but now that I'm looking for the trend it's really in your face. I'm so glad I stuck with Nikon gear!

In my last women's basketball post I stated that I was going to take a stab at shooting single frame from the baseline for at least 1 full half. I decided to have a go at it in the first half and boy was it difficult at times! Shooting single frame allows you to time your shots for the exact moment. The downside is that you have to be very skilled to hit that exact moment! In perimeter shooting plays it's not too difficult to time a players release, but when they drive or penetrate it becomes a lot more difficult.

During the game I was so tempted to flip back to continuous high speed so I could rip 9FPS while KT drove the lane or Marissa backed in for an in-the-lane shot. But I resisted and stuck to my plan of 1 frame at a time. The nice part of this shooting strategy is that it didn't yield many photos to post process! Nearly every shot was a keeper and I only had around 30 or so frames to import by halftime!

While shooting 1 frame at a time I thought a little bit about how I would approach this learning exercise with 2 bodies. Would I shoot 1 frame at a time on both a long lens and a short lens, or would I switch to CHS on the short lens so I could get the dribble penetration shots? The truth is I don't know how I would approach it...

I also wondered how other photographers that use strobes would approach this. If Greg's strobes were down would he shoot CHS or would he switch to single shots and rely on his timing to get the right shots? I'll have to ask a few people the next time there's a Maryland event.

A week or so ago I blogged about the importance of keeping an eye open for things going on off the court. This afternoon such an opportunity came up when Greivis Vasquez showed up and signed a bunch of autographs for a middle school girls basketball team that attended the game. I noticed him walking along the sideline and saw him head up into the stands and towards the invited guests. A few minutes later I noticed him sitting down with them while they all practically climbed on top of one another to get his autograph and talk with him. With a 20 point lead and 6 minutes remaining in regulation I decided to run back to the media room to grab my 14-24mm ultra-wide lens and SB-800 speedlight.

I raced back out and up into the stands where I said hello to Greivis and asked the girls if they wanted a picture with Vasquez. They all jumped up nearly simultaneously and formed a circle around the iconic Team Captain for the Terps.

Without a light meter I was basically shooting blind there in the stands. I set the ISO to 1000, WB to flash, and slowed the shutter down to around 1/400th with an aperture of f/5. The power correction was set to something ridiculous like -2.0 but I fired anyway. The shot came out really dark so I quickly stepped up the correction to -0.3 and took another shot. The second one came out much better although the colors were still slightly off in the end.

I handed a business cards to one of the players who frantically whisked it away to their coach sitting in another section. A few hours after the game I received an email from the coach who didn't seem to believe the players who told them that a professional photographer took their photo with Greivis. I laughed and replied to him with the photo and said that I hoped he had enjoyed the game. He responded today that he and the team had a great time at Maryland and that the photo would add to their memories. I was happy I could capture it for them.

At the football game on Saturday a similar situation arose when Testudo boosted a 6 year fan out of the stands and brought him down onto the field. I quickly spun around and snapped a few frames and then later found the mom and dad and gave them my business card. After a few emails back and forth it turns out that the 6 year old took the photo to school the next day to show all his friends and his teacher.

Photography is a great skill. I'm so fortunate to be learning about it and have Julie that encourages it in me. I can't wait to see what the next things are that I'll shoot.


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