This post has a TON of content. Two plus weeks, to be exact. But I think there is a lot of SOLID stuff here – both images AND editorial written features. If you want to see the images, feel free to scroll through, but if you happen to be a dedicated reader, then thank you ahead of time, and I hope you enjoy!
The last you hear from me, was January 30th, when I lamented the poor lighting in the FSU Leach Natatorium, and then my rather dreary results at the basketball game that day.
That being said, as my weeks have been unfolding recently, I’ll have a great day, and then I’ll have an extremely mediocre day. And so while my Sunday photo performance in the Leach Center wasn’t AMAZING, the daylight that filtered through the windows made the pool roughly twice as bright, and the following Monday saw FSU face off against NC State in Men’s Basketball and I was VERY pleased with my performance there.
Below, you will find a small selection of images from Sunday; I am not sharing them all here, as I posted all of them on Facebook, but I know that some people don’t make use of the social media giant…
As a side note – even though the lighting was next to terrible in the natatorium, I LOVE the way indoor pool lighting gradually fades off…there’s just a wonderful aesthetic quality to it, and although it doesn’t always produce the most eye-catching, contrasty images, if you can get your exposure correct, and freeze the action, even at narrower apertures and shorter focal lengths, the background just seems to, fade…away…
The following Monday’s basketball game was one of the better games I’ve seen FSU play. Take that with a grain of salt, since I have never been a big hoops fan, and have only shot a relatively small number of games. But even the more experienced photographers around me said that we were performing really well. And as one of the guys I met shooting soccer told me: “When the team is playing well, it’s a lot easier to take good images.”
I also had the pleasure of meeting a local legend among photographers…a man who has since then, impressed me by remembering my name, generating extremely impressive photos, and being one of the nicest, most generous photographers I’ve interacted with.
After sharing my album of images from the game on Facebook, he took the time out of his day to go through them and recommend certain cropping and other advice, and so I went back though and cropped and re-edited some of my shots…
And although I don’t have the “before,” here is the “after” re-editing image.
To be entirely honest, that game was one of the most excited I’ve ever been after shooting an FSU sporting event – I actually went back and re-watched the entire game the next day and made this highlight video!
The rest of that week I shot very little. An iPhone picture here:
Documenting the life of engineering students there…
And I picked up the D7100 to play around with the AF fine tune and my new teleconverter, and shot some candids around the pool before coaching Friday evening.
Saturday the sixth, I got to shoot some senior portraits for a friend and former coworker. Portraits (especially when I strobe them) always challenge my creativity and technical knowledge – especially when it comes to posing. However, the lighting was very even, and the skies were overcast, which although kept the pool from lighting up and turning into a shimmering blue, photogenic backdrop, it made balancing flash significantly less of an issue.
I was very proud of this shot – which I thought up randomly in the middle of the shoot:
And a candid shot of me at work taking it…
And then some shots from the rest of the afternoon working on portraits…
He wanted a water-bending picture, so I obliged, and like that you can see his name on his cap, and his arm frames the head quite nicely.
And although this isn’t the most amazing portrait ever, I had a vision in my head from earlier in the week while I was planning the shoot, and managed to fulfill it in this image.
This one…although one of the other professionals that I know thinks his face is a bit bright (and I agree, but don’t mind it), is probably the shot I’m most proud of getting. Yes, it’s a normal portrait, but like I said, balancing flash is a challenge for me, and I had two strobes I was triggering wirelessly, and thought everything came together nicely in the image.
And, despite not being the strongest at posing, I was able to alter the look of this entire frame just by having him give me the slightest smile instead of a neutral look.
That was all on Saturday. Sunday, I shot FSU Women’s Basketball for the first time, since the Men didn’t play at home until the 14th. I thought the game was interesting – very clearly different in tactics than Men’s Hoops, but still entertaining to watch and shoot.
It also gave me an opportunity to try out a new idea I had for my sports workflow: using an iPad Mini.
I dug my old iPad Mini (circa 2012/2013 I think) out from the pile of stuff it was in on my desk, and just out of the blue thought it could be a really useful tool, as it easily fits in my camera bag, can crop JPEG images with ease, and then upload straight to DropBox.
And LO! It did improve my workflow speed! Flipping through JPEG images on the iPad is a much easier preview than looking at thumbnails on the computer, or waiting for LightRoom to render full-size previews. It meant I only had to buy a $29 adapter, and not a $150 piece of software. It also eases the burden on me to edit the RAW files, (which I’m still shooting; RAW to one card, JPEG fine to the other), so that as long as I get JPEGs cropped relatively timely, then I can take a few days editing whichever RAW files I want to. And although it certainly doesn’t look very professional, and I still don’t caption my images unless mandated, I think it ups my “pro” game significantly.
Nonetheless, enjoy the Women’s Hoops shots.
I also had the opportunity to set up a remote camera on the floor on the opposing end of the court, since the population of photographers at women’s basketball games is significantly smaller than the men’s games…you can just see it on my twisty GorillaPod under the feet of the players in this shot.
And from the remote:
And the original shot and a crop that I thought drastically improved the image:
And then, backtracking a bit – I shot this image of two other photographers working in the rafters while I was up there, and it actually end up getting…well, for lack of a better (or more humorous) phrase: it got featured on a feature! The photographer on the right used it in a guest blog post on one of the largest photography blogs on the web! And rightly gave me credit!
Then, with one exception, I didn’t touch either of my cameras from Sunday through Saturday the 13th.
Said one exception was the swim team had to relocate to another pool because of heater issues, and I thought a fisheye image of the interior of the inflatable bubble over the pool would be cool.
And for the sake of variety, here’s a shot of one of my two dogs enjoying a warm afternoon sunbeam.
And then on a whim…I thought I’d make a quick highlight video from one of the biggest FSU Soccer matches last season, but I’ve been missing it, am hoping they’ll let me shoot some of the Spring Games, and was excited about shooting club soccer in the coming weekend.
And then onto club soccer on Saturday!!!!!!
I had been asking the mom of a former swimmer of mine when the next soccer match was that I could photograph, and she let me know about their club’s annual President’s Day Tournament, and I was super stoked to come out and shoot some soccer, as well as test the teleconverter outside, in broad daylight, where it should perform its best.
And then the shot of the day! A very good example of why shooting with both eyes open is a good idea. I was able to not only snap several frames off, but I was able to jump up from my cross-legged position and snag the ball with one hand as it sailed towards my face, and then out of bounds.
Conclusion to what I thought was my only day shooting U12, since I knew I couldn’t make either of the matches the next day: at 300mm+, the backgrounds of the pictures were far nicer than at 200mm and cropped to the same framing. That being said, at longer focus distances, and especially zoomed all the way out to 340mm, the teleconverter combo isn’t sharp, and can’t resolve much detail at all.
But THEN! I received a Facebook message from one of the parents on the team asking me if I could come out and shoot a game at 10:30 on Sunday…and I’m a huge sucker and showed up…but I had a plan! I knew that I wanted to pull back on the teleconverter and shoot 200mm-310mm to see if it was sharper, and it was!
REAL conclusion to shooting U12 and U14 girl’s soccer this weekend: 300mm or so is really nice…I’m out of practice, but managed some OKAY shots, but all of the parents were enamored. And I had fun, and the weather was MINT.
Anyhows, on to the meat of the weekend: Noles Basketball. Women vs UNC, and Men vs Miami. Both HUGE games, and both had solid turnouts. Our Women’s team wiped the floor, and the Men came up short by two points in what was a riot to watch, and a heartbreaker to walk out of.
Sometimes (lots of the time…) I crop an image, mostly to improve composition (over centered), and per some advise, to bring one in closer to the action and draw the viewer in, but other times (infrequently, but getting better), I nail the shot at full zoom. Like this one.
Okay. Yes. It’s not the EXACT same shot…I just realized that, but it’s part of the same sequence. I liked this one better because there are two faces in it and the ball/hand relationship looks better. But it’s not cropped, which is the important thing.
And this one, well…I think it would be damn near close to awesome if it had the ball…but alas, I missed that one key thing.
And this is my favorite image from that game – all of the emotion.
My setup for hoops…oh wait! My setup for basically everything! But it serves very nicely to save my spot on the line.
In this one, I was standing behind the Seminole banner/run-through-y thing that the cheerleaders hold, essentially in the tunnel with the players, and Bacon looks at me and says just loud enough over the din “Get one half curtain, half me.”
After which they ran out onto the court…and I got THIS.
Crop sensor…fisheye…what could go wrong? Well, a bunch of shots that I didn’t keep, but this cool perspective, where it looks like I’m almost in the circle.
Then some first half action, with some super cool block shots.
Then for a different angle during the last few minutes of the first half…
From my point of view…
And two shots that I’m VERY pleased with, barring some noise because I was shooting with the teleconverter at ISO 8000…
Then I hung out during halftime, watched Coach Sue Semrau (the Women’s Team’s Head Coach) “conduct” The Seminole Sound…(and look at all those cookies!!) and I looked at the remote that the Getty Images photographer had set up. He must’ve been real brave and climbed over a railing and risked life and limb, because he’s not a huge dude, and unless you had four-foot long arms, there’s no way I can envision safely mounting his camera.
Working my way back down to court side…
The Golden Girl had given a little girl sitting next to her the set of pom-pons to play with during a cheer…I thought it was sweet.
Finally made it back down onto the court…into this mess of white-vested loonies!
I ended up sitting right there on the far right, next to the guy in the red polo. And to be frank, it was an awesome angle. even if I was in perpetual danger of getting clunked on the head by people whizzing by for TV timeouts.
The coaches and players were hollering and spit was flying…simultaneously one of the coolest sports photography experiences I’ve had, and one of the scariest…I mean, a ref backed up into me the first half, and I had to hold him up…what would happen if one of these players got TOO boisterous?
Almost got sat on after he came off for cramps…
Final sequence that I liked/kept…
And this is where, had we made our last-ditch, buzzer-beater 3-point attempt, I would put a picture of the shot. But we didn’t make it, and thousands slumped out of the arena mucho disappointed.
But for me, this weekend rivaled the best photography experience I’ve ever had. To date, I’d say the weekend when I shot FHSAA Swimming 3A State Champs, then drove back to Tally and immediately shot the FSU Homecoming Football game, well…that was awesome, and I had some awesome rental equipment too. After that, it would probably be this past weekend tied with one of the weekends shooting soccer where there was a game Saturday and Sunday. Or the UNC match.
Regardless, I missed both watching and shooting the FSU v Miami football game, and as I’ve mentioned before, basketball isn’t my favorite…but this weekend, well…it got me AMPED UP! And then really down…but…sport’ll do that to ya. I do think that it’s worth mentioning, that outside of competing in athletics myself, last night was probably the most amped I’ve been outside of the FSU Soccer Pitch, and it might’ve even eclipsed the soccer emotions…
So I hope you enjoyed the commentary if you made it this far, and if you skipped down for the pictures – I don’t really blame you. This will have to keep y’all occupied for a while, as I probably won’t shoot anything huge (I’m scheduled to shoot a small assignment for the FSView tomorrow) until Monday, as I have some major school work and exams coming this week.
Again, thanks, and best regards!