Sunday, January 18, 2009

This afternoon I shot the Maryland Women's basketball squad take on the Hokies of Virginia Tech.

I've gotten into a pattern for tipoff at Maryland by heading up into the stands on the opposite side of both benches. I guess that's because the tipoffs I've seen all have involved the Maryland center using their left hand to tip. Tonight Lynetta Kizer went up and used her right hand, which threw off my whole routine! Seeing that made me think about my opening tipoff strategy: I think it pays to know how the centers tip so that you can plan where you're going to shoot.

After a handful of minutes shooting just beyond the arc on the visiting side I headed into the Terrapin well near the band. I got some decent shots of Terps shooting before I ultimately headed down to the baseline with roughly 7 minutes to go in the first half. There was plenty of room on the visiting baseline (where Maryland shot) - Greg was out on the wing and a guy from the Rebounders was about half way in. I could've nestled in next to Greg to get some wide shots but I opted to go directly under the basket. I knew I wouldn't get decent under-the-basket rebounds but I hoped for some dribble penetrations where I could get the faces of the Terrapin players on the attack.

It didn't work out too well. Maryland shot perimeter for much of the end of the first half and that limited my shooting chances. However, I got some decent stock photos of Terrapins in isolation shooting from beyond the arc.

At half-time I ripped through my imagery. I put on my headphones, turned up my Girl Talk, and managed to process roughly 150 images down to 14 photos to publish. I even cropped all of them and adjusted exposure! I was very pleased with myself!

During the second half I shot from the weak side of the Terrapin court (close to the bench). I've been shooting on the strong side (where I shoot towards the Terrapin bench) for the whole season so I decided that a change would be fun. I was also curious how differently the referees behaved on that side compared to the photographer side. I'm constantly blocked by them while on the strong side!

The real story for me came after the game when I tried out my Manfrotto 2929 support bracket. I purchased one from Adorama for roughly $100 this past week. I also picked up a "Super Clamp" from Manfrotto (roughly $30) that attaches to the support bracket. These two devices allow me to mount a camera to the support structure of the basketball hoop. You also have to use a remote triggering device to activate your camera.

I spent roughly 20 minutes after the game monkey'ing around on the basket familiarizing myself with how to mount the 2929 to the metal. It took awhile to figure out the mechanics of the device but it was well worth the time. It made me think about how the camera was mounted as well as consider the safety implications of my equipment. When I previously looked at James Lang's remote setup I examined it from an ingredients standpoint: what equipment is needed to take this shot. After obtaining the equipment and mounting it I looked at it from a safety standpoint: how can I mount my camera so that it does not interfere with the players and doesn't fall?

This brought to light some very basic questions like: can the lens stick out beyond the mat wrapped around the support bracket? I took photos of my mounted camera and after a few quick back and forth emails with the Maryland team photographer I realized that I had to place my body back behind the mat.

I'm glad that I spent the extra time after the game today to rig up my camera and familiarize myself with the mounting process. It made me think about a bunch of different constraints and also made me realize that I don't need a tripod in order to shoot slow exposures in low light situations. I plan to use my Manfrotto 2929 bracket on Tuesday during inauguration activities rather than dragging around a tripod. That alone made this 20 minute exercise worth it!


  1. allen said...
    Hello Chris, What camera and lens do you use for under the basket?
    Christopher Blunck said...
    I use a Nikon D3 for my photography. It has wonderful high-ISO performance with very little grain. The vertical grip makes it easy for me to grab the camera and shoot quickly (a must for sports) and the high frame rate (9 fps) helps me a lot too.

    The D700 has the same sensor as the D3 but it lacks a vertical grip and has a lower frame rate. You can add a vertical grip by bolting on a battery pack but the body just doesn't feel the same in the end.

    I use f/2.8 glass but most of my basketball shots lately have been at f/3.5 or f/4. I shoot at ISO 2500 or 3200 and the noise on the D3 is so small that I can narrow the aperture and get some extra sharpness/crispness in my shots. In other sports I have to open to f/2.8 and of course the photos are softer.

    Hope this helps.

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