Often people can get stuck in a rut. They find something they are comfortable in and just keep doing that same thing. I think about a character in the movie The Four Seasons. She photographed food. She did the same thing over and over and just could not break out of the rut. BTW, it is a great movie. Check it out sometime. Anyway, I try hard to not get in a rut. Some would say I don't have to work hard at it. I am pretty much always willing to try something new, to dash into uncharted territory. For photography sports is sort of one of those areas. I did a fair amount in high school, but that was over 30 years ago. So when a chance came to start shooting for www.westmiallstar.com
doing high school sports photos I jumped at the opportunity. I don't get paid for it. So some would wonder why I cram it in my already busy life. Well first I get to learn by doing. Reading is fun and all, but at the end of the day you just need to pick up the camera and start shooting. Second, I get exposure for this site and my other photography work. And they get exposure to their site from this site. A win win situation.
Well I got to go out on my first "assignment" this weekend. It was an incredible game between Rockford and Hudsonville high schools (in Michigan). The game ended up being a nailbiter, with Rockford winning by one point. There is an incredible write-up on the game
by one of the writers. And at the top of the article is a photo taken by yours truly. It was pretty cool to see one of my photos on an article on someone else's site, and one that has started to get a lot of respect in West Michigan. I put one of the photos on the top of my site, and another here in the blog posting.
This was the first time I ever shot a basketball game, ever. I have done football (in high school and college). I have done hockey a few times at Griffins games here in Grand Rapids, MI. I did some baseball with my kids this last year. The photos came out pretty good. The hockey was pretty fast paced, but nothing like basketball. I think that the biggest reason the basketball was so much of a challenge was I got to be right down courtside (the beauty of a press pass). So I was almost right in the middle of the action.
I was unsure what lens to use for this. It was all new to me. I did tell Justin that this was a new experience. He was so cool about it. They are just happy to have people volunteer to shoot (he did say afterwards that he was happy with the photos I sent him - yea). I was shooting with a Nikon D80. The D80 is not known for high ISO. As a matter of fact it tops out at 3200, and gets kind of noisy there. I only have one fast lens, my 50mm f/1.8 prime. So that is what I shot most of the night. It worked like a dream, and I was able to stay down at 1600 with that lens.
Shooting with a 50mm prime was rather interesting. The first thing I noticed was that it was surprisingly too long sometimes. I would have to back up. I also lost a number of shots simply because they people were too close for that lens. The D80 is a crop sensor body, so the 50mm is effectively like shooting a 75mm lens. So it is technically a telephoto lens on the D80. I did like the shallower depth of field. I thought it would be too shallow, but that was not the case. It really helped focus the attention on the subject. Although you definitely need to get the focus point on the subject dead on. I did lose some shots because I ended up targeting someone just behind the main subject. Well that is why you take a lot of shots when doing sports I guess.
It was nice having the 50 on the camera for fan shots. A good fan shot is like an action portrait I suppose. So since the 50 is my fav portrait lens it makes sense it would work good for that. Now the depth of field is very short. Being so much closer to the subject shrinks the depth of field a lot! It also gives a very intimate feel to the photo.
I was also happy with the lens when the Rockford Competitive Dance Team came out during the half (is that what it is called in basketball?). I was able to get some good shots. I almost wish I had the 35mm prime (one of the lenses on my shopping list). I lost a lot of shots simply because they were so close I missed the framing. I included some of those in the photo gallery below. I am looking forward to more games. I am also looking forward to getting better at sports photography. It is fun partly because I am understanding photography so much more now than I did 30 plus years ago in high school. Many things are just clicking well. So I am able to adapt so much faster now. That is something I tell my students. Get to know the camera and subjects like exposure until those become second nature. That way you don't have to think about them and you can focus on the subject at hand, getting a good photo of the subject. Good shooting.