Saturday, January 10, 2009

On Thursday evening the Terps opened up their conference schedule with a matchup against the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest.

This evening's game was very enjoyable to shoot. The competition on the baseline for men's games is pretty intense and there are a lot of photographer who'll gladly bump you or give you the cold shoulder. That's not the case at women's games. It is considerably less stressful to shoot a women's game than a men's game.

I've realized this for a year or so now. It makes me think about what some of my other coworkers go through shooting the Wizards or the Redskins. I've seen some rough patches just shooting the men at Maryland but I'm sure that's only a fraction of what goes on in the NBA and NFL. It definitely makes you think...

I moved around a lot in the stands for the first half and continued shooting at f/4.5. I've been so happy with the sharpness and brightness of my photos using f/4.5, 1/400th, and ISO 2500. Towards the end of the first half I actually opened it up to f/2.8 and dropped the ISO to 1600 or so. The results of this experiment were obvious: no noticeable difference in subject isolation due to narrowed depth of field from the wider aperture, and no noticeable reduction in grain in the photo. In summary I sacrificed sharpness and got nothing in return: no increase in subject isolation and no noticeable reduction in noise.

This reinforces my infatuation with the D3 high ISO performance and strengthens my believe that f/4 glass will become more prevalent at sports arenas in the future.

While shooting at f/4.5 this thought inevitably occupied my focus. I questioned why folks like Bill Vaughn and Greg Fiume shoot with f/2.8 glass up at f/7.1 with the help of strobes. Why don't they pack in AF-S f/4 glass and call it a day? Certainly the muscles in their forearms would thank them.

I then remembered my conversation with Mitch Layton a few games ago. He questioned me regarding the unsanctioned use of Greg's strobes at Comcast. His comment was that when he stopped firing flash someone else picked up on the frequency and used the strobes without permission. Up until that point I assumed that anyone that had the assistance of strobes in the rafters strictly relied on them for their game photos. It was 1/250th at f/7.1 and ISO 200 the whole game, or bust. I guess not so...

The fact that Mitch dropped his use of strobes from time to time makes me question that belief. It seems like even if you have strobes you might go down to pure ambient light for your shots.

I deal exclusively with ambient light but I don't shoot at f/2.8. So that begs the question: why get f/2.8 glass? I think it comes back to flexibility. Even if you have strobes and shoot f/7.1 you might want to go down to ambient light at f/4. But, I've also seen Greg shoot at the Comcast Pavilion where he has to open it up to f/2.8 at ISO 4000 to get a decent exposure.

So I think it comes down to flexibility. I may shoot f/4.5 at Comcast at ISO 2500 because the ambient allows me to do it. But I also need to go into the Pavilion and shoot at ISO 5000, f/2.8 and drop down to 1/320th at times in order to get exposure. Without the f/2.8 glass I couldn't do it.

What I've learned through all of this is that observation and analysis goes a long way. Thinking about the different combinations and configurations of helps me understand why more veteran photographers choose one lens and body over another. Without seeing what they shoot with and without shooting it myself (along with all the other venues I shoot) it would be really difficult to figure out what to buy!


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