Thursday, January 22, 2009

Work and Success

The only place that success is before work is in the dictionary.
--John Wooden (b.1910) UCLA Head Basketball Coach from 1948-75

This is a photo of Milligan College senior Tyler Estepp (Limestone, TN) that I took a week or so ago at a game against Bluefield College. Basketball is notoriously a difficult sport to photograph because of its fast pace and usually poor lighting. You need a fast lens (at least f/2.8), a high ISO (800+), and a shutter speed of at least 1/250 sec (preferably faster). You'll want to set your camera to auto focus continuous so the camera will continue to focus as the subject moves through the frame. White balance is always another issue -- gym lights give off their own distinctive colored glow. You can either shoot raw and adjust this later or use a gray card to remove the color cast while shooting. Obviously every court is different, so it takes some experimentation. You can forget using a flash. First, it's a distraction and many teams won't allow them, and second, the court is huge and the reach of the flash is limited.

I've recently been reading an excellent book on photographic composition and design by Michael Freeman entitled "The Photographer's Eye." It's very well written with lots of wonderful images. I highly recommend it if you love photography -- you'll never look at a photo the same again! As I was sorting through the photos from the basketball game, this photo stood out because it illustrates some basic aspects of composition I had been reading about. For example, I noticed how Tyler is framed by two arms and by the curved bodies of his two defenders -- frames draw attention to whatever they enclose, while curves convey a sense of flow and smoothness. Next, I noticed what the author calls 'eye lines' - the viewer is automatically drawn to the eyes and then follows to see where each subject is looking -- notice the way in which #22 is looking at #42 draws your attention to #42. I recommend this book if you want to understand and articulate what makes an image compelling -- which will then help you make stronger, more effective, more successful photos. (And isn't that what we're all working for?!)

Photo Details: Nikon D90, Tamron 28-75mm lens at 55mm, f/2.8, 1/320 sec., ISO 1600.

2 comments:

  1. Great tips! I attempted to shoot my son's basketball game the other night with minimal success. I'll use your tips and give it another try, and will also check out "The Photographer's Eye". Thanks Mark!

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