Tag Archives: Nikon 85mm lens

Baby Boy Basketball

Zach focuses on tough defense.

Zach defends.

With my focus these days squarely upon my high school senior and his final-year activities, I must admit that I’ve totally forgotten about his school’s underclassmen.

Specifically, my friends’ baby and almost-baby boys.

So when my pal Beth told me that her middle son, Zach, was playing his last home basketball game last Saturday morning, I decided to put my Nikon 85mm lens on my Nikon D700 and head to our high school’s gym to catch some freshmen action.

Matt shoots.

Matt shoots.

When I walked in, I saw my long-time friend Donna. I checked out the court and, sure enough, her baby boy, Matt, also was playing. Cool beans! Two for the price of . . . well, none, because there’s no charge to watch subvarsity teams.

“Not in MY house!” Matt blocks a shot.

“Not in MY house!” Matt blocks a shot.

Not having shot indoor sports since volleyball last October, it took me awhile to adjust to the fast-paced flow of the game. Fortunately, the lighting was pretty good (ISO 1000), and the company (Beth at first and then Donna and her two daughters) was great.

Carter tries for two points.

Carter tries for two points.

After the game, I walked into the hall, where I saw more parental friends: Diana and Charles (our very own royalty!). Sure enough, their baby boy, Carter, would be playing in the B game. So I figured I might as well stay and continue to snap away.

Clayton beasts it up on defense.

Clayton beasts it up on defense.

As I did, who should I see but yet another bud, Mary S. Her #1 son is Jared #1, one of the kid’s besties. She was there to watch her baby boy, Clayton. Once again, I could shoot two birds with one camera, while sitting between Diana and Mary.

Carter contests the layup.

Carter contests the layup.

Of course, for me the best part of the morning was the gabfest rather than the (rebound) grabfest. It’s nice to share some time and thoughts with a great group of gals. Getting decent photos of their handsome, young men? Icing on the proverbial cake!

Social 4/4 Time

Billy pre-Photoshop: So yellow!

Billy pre-Photoshop: So yellow!

That little tremor in the world’s equilibrium yesterday was merely me leaving the 10-mile radius of my comfort zone . . . at night. For several hours.

Shocking, right? I cherish all the time I spend comfortably ensconced in my community’s little bubble. Usually everything I could ever need or want . . . including two Chipotles! . . . is right around the corner.

However, last night it was time for the Mister and I to pull on our social pants and mingle with the masses in Houston (where only 18th Street could magically become 20th Street). We met at the Corkscrew wine bar—the Mister zipped over from work, while I actually took on the mean streets and spine-tingling traffic of the big city with a few nerves left still intact.

Wonder where the yellow went?

Wonder where the yellow went?

Luring me to Houston was our disc golf pal Billy. He’s been featured in my blog before, famously wearing a blue dress, as well as wrongly advising me that chickens are harmless. Now that Billy has retired, he’s pursuing his dream of pop stardom. Too bad he’s too old for “American Idol”—this white-haired cat definitely can sing and strum!

Billy took to the Corkscrew’s horribly lit stage with his 12-string guitar and an eclectic song list that included tunes by the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, assorted artists I’ve never heard of, plus several that he wrote (the Mister and I liked those the best). We were joined at our table by the Mister’s brother Mike and his wife Paula. Several other disc golfers also attended.

Naturally, I toted my beloved Nikon D700 for documenting the event. The Nikon 85mm (f/1.4) was the perfect lens for the job: It lets in a lot of light, plus it gets me close to the action without being intrusive. I just wish that there had been a lot of light. Talk about your dim bulbs!

Billy gives it his all.

Billy gives it his all.

As you can see from the top photo, the white balance was totally wonky. I put mine on bulb after taking pics on every setting and seeing that it was the “best” and hoped that I could wash away the yellow in Photoshop. My ISO was 4000; Noise Ninja helped tame the grain, which really wasn’t too bad.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening filled with great singing, wonderful family and friends, and Diet Coke and delicious thin-crust pizza.

I might have to shake up the globe a little more often!

A Jumpin’ Good Birthday

Ricky and RJ helped C.J. celebrate his birthday.

C.J. had no trouble deciding where he wanted to spend his 17th birthday last Friday: At the Sky High trampoline park. We went there back in January, and he loved it.

The three boys jump and chat.

Joining my two sons once again were my “third son,” Chase, and Tanner. New to the Sky High experience were my baby boy’s friends RJ (who he’s known since kindergarten) and Ricky.

Tanner defies gravity!

Like before, Tanner was our star, flipping with the best of them. He’s so much fun to watch! The other five? Entertaining in their own (often inept) ways.

Jake is about to land head-first in the foam pit.

Before we left for Sky High, I wrestled with my usual photographic quandary: Which lens(es) to use to document the poorly lit event. The first time I opted for my trusty Nikon D700 and Nikon 70-200mm lens. The results? Basically meh.

Ricky flies into the foam pit.

So I decided to change things up, pairing my Nikon 105mm and 85mm lenses with the D700. My ISO still was high at 1600-2000, but I think I got more in-focus pix.

The pit is the place for RJ.

Of course, the guys only cared about that basic rule of gravitation: What goes up must come down.

Chase is suspended in space . . . but not for long.

Again and again and again!

Up Top, Part II

What goes up, must come down . . . but will it be through the basket?

A couple weeks after I took photos of our high school’s girls’ basketball team, it was time to snap a few of the boys. Hey, I’m nothing if not an equal-opportunity action photographer!

Our opponent Aaron slices through our defense on his way to a layup.

The lights still were bright, thank goodness. I stood at about the same spots on the walkway and tried to keep up with the elevated speed of play.

Jamarkus and Trevon try to corral a rebound.

Our opponent was our school’s arch rival as well as one of the top teams in the entire state of Texas. They could go all the way and win the title!

Mike hangs in the air as he shoots a jumper.

Even though our guys clearly were outmanned and ultimately outgunned, they never lost their spirit and motivation.

Austin drives down the court.

No team has ever won a game by just rolling over and giving up. Our boys played hard until the final buzzer.

Trevon makes a strong move towards the basket.

It’s hard not to be pushed to do your best as a photographer when your subjects are playing their hearts out. Thanks, guys!

Up Top, Part I

Pearl puts up a shot.

Usually, the best part about shooting high school sports at our district’s closest fieldhouse is the walkway above the court. It’s easiest for my Nikon D700 and Nikon 85mm lens to isolate the plays from up top, above the action.

Intensity adds to the layup’s momentum.

But a few weeks ago when I was snapping shots of our high school’s girls’ basketball team, I noticed something equally important: New lighting!

Alexis shoots.

Those brighter bulbs over the court meant that my ISO was at a rather sedate 800 instead of its usual 1600-plus in this venue. Made it so much easier to process my photos.

Nicole drives in for two points.

And what about the athletes’ play on the court?

Natalie hones in on the basket.

Equally brilliant!

Like Father, Like Son

The Mister shows his muster.

As you well know, my younger son excels at disc golf.

And the Mister plays, too.

They both started learning the sport at the end of 2007. Since then they’ve both improved, of course. It’s just that our little guy got bigger and stronger, while his dad got, well, older. That’s not to say that they don’t enjoy competing in doubles or practicing together. It’s just that our #2 son plays a long, power game, while his shorter-distance-throwing father has to be craftier. Kind of sneak up on the basket.

Keeping an eye on the ball

But now the tables literally have turned. Our little big guy suddenly has become obsessed with table tennis for some reason.

Father awaits the son’s hit.

Guess who’s a prime ping pong player? Yep, the Mister! He started competing years ago, and his skills still are sharp enough to beat most recreational competitors, even though he’s rarely played or practiced.

Returning a shot from Pops

Lately, father and son have been practicing ping pong at the Jewish Community Center in Houston. I tagged along last weekend to document the occasion and photographically battle the atrocious overhead lights that turned everything yellow (especially the top of the Mister’s bald head!).

It was my first time shooting table tennis (I opted for my Nikon D700 and Nikon 85mm lens), and I found it to be a difficult task.

Much like it’s been for my son to beat his father in ping pong . . . so far.

Battling the Stage Lights Once Again

Uneven lighting . . . ugh!

When I got an e-mail from my “twin” sistah Joyce that our high school would be presenting its excellent one-act play, “Fire in the Hole,” for everyone’s viewing pleasure, I knew I needed to attend. Especially when she said that cameras were welcome.

Normally, the play is performed during competition when no cameras or camcorders are allowed. This was a great chance to see these talented actors and actresses in action. And to do battle with the challenge of uneven lighting that our school’s auditorium loves to feature.

I had just moaned and groaned about those sometimes-blinding bulbs last week when my #1 son walked across that stage to receive a math award. And I went on and on about them in this post when many of these same kids acted in our fall school play.

As you can see from the first photo, I had to compensate for uneven lighting. Justin, on the right, is overexposed, while Grace, David (lying on the table), and Daniel (Joyce’s son) are well lit.

The lighting is better for David, ghostly Nora in the doorway, Grace, and Justin.

Overall, the stage wasn’t very dark. I had the ISO on my Nikon D700 set at 1000–1600 (of course, I used my beloved low-light champ, the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens). My exposure-compensation to tone down the keylights mostly was at –.7.

Daniel, Justin, and Alec look good on a different part of the stage.

When I reviewed photos on my LCD during the play and saw that some parts of the stage were too overexposed (too light), I pulled out one key photographic strategy: Avoidance! The problem area mainly was in the middle of the stage; that’s why I have few photos of the action there. I figured I would get decent pics on the left and right sides, and that’s what happened.

Brian thinks about what Daniel is asking him to do.

“Fire in the Hole,” set around a Kentucky coal mine, is one of nine one-act plays from Robert Schenkkan Jr.’s “The Kentucky Cycle.” A union organizer (Justin) encourages Mary Anne Rowen’s family  (Grace, Daniel, and David) and fellow miners into striking against the Blue Star Mining Company.

Daniel, David, and Grace discuss while Brian waits.

The school play became especially poignant with the recent West Virginia coal mining disaster when 29 miners were killed.

An angry Daniel confronts Grace, while David looks on.

Coal mining is a way of life in West Virginia, just like it was in the play. I couldn’t help but think about those miners (dead and alive) and their families, as I watched our students’ amazing performance (they almost made it to the state competition).

Much of the cast gather for one of the final scenes.

Battling those brilliant bulbs seemed so insignificant.

The 4 x 400-Meter Relay . . . the Fat Lady Sings!

#2 warms up for the 4 x 400-meter relay by getting some air.

When the #2 son told me how well he had run a 400-meter time trial, finishing as the second-fastest freshman, I really tried to be happy for him. Really.

I slapped on my best fake smile and told him how proud I was of him. Then I turned away and rolled my eyes. Because I knew what breaking a minute in the open 400 meant: The boy would be put on the 4 x 400-meter relay team. As in the final event of the high school track meet. As in the Mister and I would have to freeze until that fat lady sings. Well, if opera was a track event, of course.

Last night was another cold, blustery junior varsity track meet. For a change, there wasn’t any security keeping the momarazzi away. Which meant I could be next to the track for the 4 x 400 relay. Hey, if I’m stuck at a meet until the bitter end, I at least should be able to get some good photos. Of course, by this time it was 7 p.m. and dark. I had switched from my Nikon 70-200mm lens to the 85mm to let in as much light as possible. Still, my ISO was set at 2000 in order to keep a fast-enough shutter speed to avoid blur.

My strategy was to snap pics of the #2 son in and out of the blocks and then hustle my considerable bustle to the exchange zone to try to capture the handoff to his teammate Nick. In less than a minute. Here’s the result:

#2 is in the blocks and eyes the starter.

The gun is up, and the runners are ready.

Out of the blocks and ready to rumble down the track!

Leg #1 is underway!

#2 stretches out and gets the baton to Nick.

Is that singing I hear?!?

Basketball Jones, Part IV

Sam (#34) battles for a rebound.

My whirlwind photographic tour of our high school’s basketball teams ended with the boys’ freshman A and B squads last Saturday. When I got to our school’s small gym, the game had started. So I pulled out my Nikon D700 and 85mm lens and began shooting at one end of the court.

Dominique tries in vain to block David’s shot.

I really liked this different vantage point; however, I couldn’t get good photos at both ends.

Jacob runs past the defender.

So after the first quarter I climbed into the bleachers for more photo flexibility.

Jordan drives in for a layup.

Even though they’re only freshmen, these boys have a lot of talent, heart, and drive.

RJ and Greg form a defensive sandwich.

They’ll be making us proud on the varsity before long!

Jacob gets ready to pass.

Although basketball is very much a vertical game, I usually shoot horizontally, because I can hold the camera steadier. Then I just crop the photo as a vertical if that seems more logical.

Marcus closely defends the opponent bringing the ball up the court.

I did a much better job shooting the A game, which was first, unfortunately for the B team. I think I just got tired of snapping away, plus I was having fun talking to my friend Steph and taking intermittent photos of two of her kids in the stands.

Big brother Matt brings the ball up.

Not that I forgot to take pix of Megan and Ben’s big brother Matt on the court, though!

Time Out for Cute Kids

My buddy Ben

When I was taking photos of our high school’s freshmen boys’ basketball teams last Saturday (that hopefully will be posted tomorrow to finish up my Basketball Jones series), I couldn’t help but notice two cuties: Ben and his sister Megan.

You might remember my buddy Ben from this flag football blog post. He’s the one who was convinced that the balding, white-haired Mister was my grandfather (it’s become one of our family’s favorite stories; it always makes us laugh).

Megan checks out what Ben is doing.

Ben, who is in second grade, and Megan, a fourth-grader, were at the game watching their big brother Matt play. They were sitting right by me in the bleachers, so I couldn’t help but occasionally train my Nikon 85mm lens on them instead of on the action.

Megan seems amused.

With cute faces like these . . . .

Ben is all smiles!

Is it any wonder I was distracted?!?