Monday, December 29, 2008

This afternoon the Terrapin Classic was played at the Comcast Center and I was assigned to report on it for the DC Sports Box. My mind was notably absent today as I was focused on other events this morning and the shoot was really different. I found myself staring at the court during timeouts before being brought back to the game by the blow of a whistle. None-the-less, it was good to get out of the house and focus on something else. Timeouts were tough though.

I shot from the baseline in the first half but then headed up to the stands for most of the second half. Shooting from the stands provides better light and you can catch a lot more of the players faces when they drive towards the basket. When shooting from the floor you get a lot of chest shots and chin shots but not too many face shots because they players look up at the basket and away from you. The stands are elevated and as a result you can capture a better image.

You can also get some good isolation shots of players as they bring the ball up the court. The only trick is to hold your shutter until all of the player is on the court. If you shoot them on the far side of the court half of their body will be against the fans in the background. You have to wait until they're closer to you and their entire body is surrounding by hardwood. Shooting a subject at narrow apertures using this technique can yield great sharpness and great isolation.

As usual I shot the game at f/3.5 at ISO 2500 on my D3. While in the stands I relied on my 300mm lens but while baseline I switched to the 400mm lens. I hand-held it, as I always do for basketball, and that worked pretty well. I like the reach of the 400mm from the baseline but it is definitely a challenge to get enough of the players in the frame to tell a story. I can get a great rebound shot but I can't capture 3 players leaping through the air to block a shot.

The 300mm lens is great from up in the stands because it backs you away from the action enough to fill up the entire frame. I've considered bringing the 400mm up into the stands though. Come to think of it ... tomorrow I'll probably give it a shot.

The other lens I used this afternoon was a 70-200mm. I carried the 24-70mm and placed myself in the paint under the home basket but I didn't reach for the shorter lens in the second half. I found there to be more shooting opportunities of players driving the lane or orbiting around the perimeter than there were down low and under the rim. There were a few times where I wished I had the 24-70mm lens on the body and wound out to 24mm. Unfortunately I couldn't move quickly enough to swap the lenses. Oh well.


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