Category Archives: high school volleyball

The Photographer’s Psyche

What in the world?!?

What in the world?!?

It’s nice finally being a popular gal in high school . . . even if it is 42 years late. And even if it is a different school.

Of course, I realize that my likability status rises only when I’m toting Nikon equipment. But, hey, I’ll take what I can get!

When I sat down on the hard, wooden bleachers in my sons’ former high school gym last Friday night to shoot volleyball, I saw smiles on friends’ faces and cameras being put down. Then I started snapping away and chimping to check my results.

See the above photo? Those grins would’ve disappeared quickly if anyone else would’ve looked at my Nikon D700’s LCD. Yep, I did capture the ball, but where’s the action? What kind of pathetic excuse for a sports photographer am I?

Carly can dig it.

Carly can dig it.

At first I inwardly groaned and considered a quick exit. But then I remembered why I was at the gym that I had successfully avoided for two years (opting to only shoot the varsity at the better-lit Wheeler Fieldhouse): I wanted to capture good memories for Carly, who is a freshman.

Hannah-Grace spikes.

Hannah-Grace spikes.

As well as a couple other girls who I’ve watched grow up over the years.

Dani K slams the ball over the net.

Dani K slams the ball over the net.

Hard to believe that they’re in high school! Plus they’re so talented!!

The solution to my poor-shooting woes was obvious: I also needed to get my game face on and do a better job.

After the thrilling win, I put my camera down and just watched the junior varsity match, because I didn’t know any of the girls on the team.

Paige passes.

Paige passes.

But then it was time for the varsity to take center stage. I’ve been shooting our high school volleyball for about six years, and we’ve always had good teams.

Erica serves.

Erica serves.

We also have a great fan base that fills the gym and inspires the girls to aspire higher.

An in-your-face block by Erin, Madison, and Erica

Love this in-your-face block!

Which is a good message for action photographers with fragile psyches, too!

One-Word Wednesday

Grace skies high to attack the volleyball during a recent high school game.


Looking Back at 2009, Part II

Snack time! (July 14th blog post from Seattle)

Happy one-year blogiversary! It’s hard to type while there are streamers and confetti flying all over my home office, but I’ll try my best!

Today I’m continuing to look back at my 2009 blog entries. Yesterday’s post took care of the first six months. Now let’s check out some of my favorite posts and pix from July through December.


"Palm trees" swaying in the air

I had fun taking photos on the fourth of July in our community: Fabulous Photo Fourth!

Purple hydrangeas on Bainbridge Island

Flower power was in full bloom while we vacationed in Seattle: Flower Fix.


The happy #2 son during a good round.

My #2 son competed in the disc golf world championships in Kansas City: Lessons Learned at the Disc Golf World Championships.

The #2 son and his good friend Marcus talk.

The Mister and I actually managed to embarrass our 14-year-old #2 son: Partying With the Dinosaurs—A Night at the Museum.


"You looking at me?"

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed shooting with my beloved Nikon 70-200mm lens until I used it at a disc golf tournament: Visiting With an Old Friend.

Who can resist #1’s baby blues?

A somewhat-heavy envelope addressed to my #1 son left me feeling suddenly blindsided and teary-eyed: A Large Envelope Makes Me Sad.

Our team celebrates a good block.

I shot a lot of high school sports photography this month, from cross-country (documenting my #2 son) to volleyball to football. The toughest to shoot? Volleyball! Photo Friday: Meeting the High ISO Challenge.


Christin, Cameron, and Grace take their bows at the end of the play.

Readers’ eyes probably were rolling, as I discussed using exposure compensation when shooting a high school play: The Non-Delightful Light Battle; Warning: Eyes May Glaze Over (what a long title!).

The #2 son shows off his team and seventh-place medals.

The #2 son’s high school cross-country team won its first freshman title: We Are the Champions, My Friend!


Victor tries to outjump the defender for a potential winning touchdown pass.

My sons’ high school football team almost won its first game amid the distractions of Homecoming: The Many Facets of a High School Homecoming Football Game (yet another long title!).

There's my boy!

This was the first of a three-day series about giving thanks. Here I was very thankful that my #1 son has a part-time job at the public library: Giving Thanks, Part 1.


Snow in my backyard.

Holy cow! It snowed here in the Houston area; that’s a rare occurrence (it was only the third time my sons had seen the white stuff): Let It Snow . . . For Real!

Both sons smile at the halfway point of Chanukah.

Chanukah lasts eight nights, and I was able to squeeze five blog posts out of the holiday! This one was the second of those five: At the Halfway Mark.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this sentimental journey as much as I have. I really had fun blogging in 2009, and I’m looking forward to even more random snippets and apertures in 2010!

Photo Friday: Meeting the High ISO Challenge

Kaityln tries to spike past Ashley B.

Kaityln M. tries to spike past Ashley B.

When photographers talk about the toughest sport to shoot, one activity in particular gets our Nikons and Canons a-quaking: Volleyball.

Ah, I could wax rhapsodically about volleyball as a sport to play or watch until the Chick-Fil-A cows come home. Believe it or not, I actually played on the volleyball team my freshman year at the venerable University of Illinois (pre-NCAA days) until I realized that I was a much better writer than player. After that, I opted to be the varsity team’s manager, so I could travel with the squad and write about them for the school newspaper (“The Daily Illini” was award-winning back then, but probably not because of my contributions).

Kaitlyn B. jump sets Mary Ellen.

Kaitlyn B. jump sets Mary Ellen.

And watching volleyball? A good match, like the one pictured here featuring our high school versus a fierce rival this past Tuesday night, is like watching poetry in motion. Looks like its choreographed even though it isn’t.

Breezy gets her fingertips on one of the mighty Ashley B.'s spikes, as Kaitlyn M. tries to help.

Breezy gets her fingertips on one of the mighty Ashley B.'s spikes, as Kaitlyn M. tries to help.

But shooting volleyball? Ugh times 150! Hmmm . . . where to start with the reasons why volleyball is so tough to photograph well?

Savannah is ready to pound the ball past the defense.

Savannah is ready to pound the ball past the defense.

First of all, it’s a fast-moving, indoor sport where you often don’t know where the ball is going. PWCs (Parents With Cameras) using a point and shoot? Take a seat on the bench; you’re never going to stop the action. I use my Nikon D300 and the Nikon f/1.4 85mm lens (the f/1.8 model works well, too).

Second, the lighting usually is terrible plus it’s the bulb type that cycles through the color spectrum. It’s hard to get a consistent white balance—some photos look great, others have a little too much magenta, while still others are too yellow. That leads to some frustrating post-processing in Photoshop.

Our team celebrates a good block.

Is it a tribal dance or is our team summoning some voodoo magic?

You need to use high ISOs (almost all these photos are at IS0 1600 and cleaned up with, what else?, Noise Ninja) to help stop the action. Flash isn’t allowed.

Our coach takes a timeout to talk strategy.

Our coach takes a timeout to talk strategy.

Of course, I love a photographic challenge, plus I’ve been shooting volleyball for several years now . . . not that that makes it any easier. This particular match was played at a local fieldhouse with high bleachers and a walkway above the court, not in our dimly lit, small gym (thank goodness!). The view from up top and the side made it easier to get compelling photos.

Our cheerleaders try to motivate our team.

Our cheerleaders try to motivate our team.

My strategy was to shoot from above in basically the same spot for the first two games. That enabled me to get good photos of both teams. Then I roamed around for the final game.

Kelsey W. serves.

Kelsey W. serves.

Normally, I don’t like a lot of shots from behind; I prefer seeing faces. But some of the volleyball action is more interesting from that backside view.

Kaitlyn M. and Mary Ellen signal their teammates.

Kaitlyn M. and Mary Ellen signal their teammates.

Kelsey M. digs the opponent's serve.

Kelsey M. digs the opponent's serve.

Even though volleyball is a photographic challenge, it’s a great sport to watch with wonderful action to try to capture. It may be high-ISO, wacky-lighting action, but it’s still delightful to see!