Sunday, March 22, 2009

Women's Basketball: Utah vs Villanova

On Sunday afternoon I photographed the Utah Utes battling Villanova in the opening round of the NCAAW Tournament. Comcast has been a great venue to photograph this season and I've learned a lot about shooting basketball this season. I pay a lot more attention to which center is going to tip and which hand they use to tip along with which direction each team will face in the first half. All of this input flows into the equation of where to sit so you have the best chance of catching a great shot.

I changed my approach slightly this afternoon by bringing my 400mm lens into the stands so I could better photograph the far end of the court. I typically shoot the better part of the first half from the stands and focus on Maryland's shooting on one end using a 300mm lens. That usually puts the other end of the court out of reach for the 300mm but today I decided to extend it by switching to the 400mm on the far side. The results were great!

The only problem I had was from crowd density. There were enough people in Comcast this afternoon that I had to take a suboptimal spot in the stands where I wouldn't disturb anybody. My position behind a handrail blocked about 1/3 of the far side of the court. I suppose it wasn't too bad though - the area of the court the handrail blocked was close to the Maryland bench and there would've been a lot of noise from the coaches standing up and directing the defense.

I got some great shots of Utah shooting in the paint in the first half and moved down to the floor at halftime. Rather than offloading I thumbed through my photos on the camera and weeded out the out of focus, cluttered, or boring shots. At the end of halftime I had it down to roughly 100 photos.

During the second half I shot entirely from the baseline and got some great shots of the defense. It's incredible how much difference there is in the quality of the light on a 300mm prime lens vs a 70-200mm lens. I use the same body, same exposure settings, same AF strategy, and same white balance but my 300mm shots come out looking incredible while my 70-200mm shots come out lacking. I wish I knew how to make my 70-200mm shots look like my 300mm shots. Maybe an 85mm prime would look better...

After the game I fired off a quick lead-in photo while I started post processing. I didn't get very far before I had to head back down to the court for the Maryland game vs Dartmouth.


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