Sunday, January 18, 2009

Friday evening the Terps hosted a swim meet against Pittsburgh, Villanova, and Penn State. Last Friday evening I shot the gymnastics squad face Kent State and this Friday evening I opted to head to the Eppley Natatorium and shoot the Terrapins in the pool.

Last winter I covered a handful of Water Polo matches between the Terps and various teams. However, I didn't get a chance to attend any of the swim meets. This season I'm trying to expand DC Sports Box's coverage of Maryland Athletics and swimming was one of the teams I wanted to hit.

Having covered water polo gave me some ideas of what to expect at the Natatorium from a lighting perspective. However, my coverage last year was on the D200 and I never ventured north of ISO 1600 due to high amounts of grain. With a D3 this winter I'm free to venture up as high as ISO 6400 and that opens up a lot of other exposure alternatives.

My brother Andrew joined me for this afternoon's shoot. I loaned him one of my D3 bodies and also gave him my 70-200mm lens. I opted for the 300mm on my D3 body.

When we arrived at the pool deck I looked for the Maryland Media Relations representative. Whenever I shoot a new sport for the first time I like to talk with the media relations people to get a good understanding of the rules and places where I can shoot from. The representatives almost always tell me exactly what I need to hear: you can go in these areas in these times, and avoid these places at these times. The last thing I want to do is interfere with a competition and having someone there to tell me where I can and can't go helps a lot.

Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to speak with the Maryland Media Relations representative so I was not familiar with how the meet would take place or where I could and couldn't go. I had to play it by ear and that always raises the stress level.

Andrew stuck to the concrete pool deck while I ventured out onto a cross-beam that spanned the pool. It was a little disconcerting walking out into a pool full of water with roughly $8k of camera gear. However, after swapping lenses at 1,000 feet in a helicopter without any doors while leaning outside I wasn't too nervous.

It was really difficult to photograph the swimmers because I'm very unfamiliar with the sport. I don't know about the different strokes and what to expect from them and I'm unfamiliar with the various relays. I did my best though to adjust and I was pretty happy with my results. Some of the strokes were very difficult because the swimmer only popped up above the water momentarily to breathe before going back below the surface.

White balance was very easy because the lane guards were white and red. It was very easy to adjust white balance afterwards because I could sample the white colors in the lane guards.

I wrote up a very brief article on Maryland vs Pittsburgh, Villanova, and Penn State and posted a photo gallery over on the DC Sports Box.


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