Tag Archives: sports photography

Basketball Jones, Part I

Ryan leans in for a shot.

The main reason I bought the Nikon D700 was for indoor sports photography. The D700 has a well-deserved (so I’ve found) reputation for being a low-light (nonflash) champ. That capability is important when the ISOs are high, and the court action is fast and furious.

I put the D700 and its low-light action-shooting companion, the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens, to the test at two basketball games last week—our high school’s boys’ and girls’ varsity teams both played at the same indoor facility where I shot these volleyball pix (with my Nikon D300 and the 85mm).

Mike is ready to make his move.

What’s great about this facility is that there’s a walkway above the court that brings the play at the basket right below you up close and personal.

Richard takes the ball to the basket.

My ISO was mostly set at 1000–1250, so my shutter speed was fast enough to stop the action.

Austin makes a free throw.

And there was plenty of action to shoot!

Colin tries a close-in jump shot.

The boys play a very quick, physical game.

Mehdi looks for room under the basket.

The defense doesn’t like to budge an inch!

Our defense surrounds the shooter under the basket.

I mostly shot from one end of the court up above.

Ry tries to block the shot.

But the 85mm also did a fine job when the action was at the opposite basket. Thanks to some judicious cropping, I snagged some good close-ups at both ends.

Frank (#15) and Austin try to stop the shot.

I even moved into the stands near the end of the game to get a photo of the coach’s huddle.

Coach Wilson talks strategy with his players.

Yes, the D700 performed admirably!

A 64-63 victory!

And so did our team!

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.

July:

"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.

August:

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.

September:

"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.

October:

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!

November:

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.

December:

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!

Knocking the Photographic Rust Off

The #2 son huddles with the team he coaches.

The #2 son huddles with the team he coaches.

Whew, it feels good to toss that crying towel and turn the lights off on that pity party I threw myself in yesterday’s blog. Let’s get back to something real, something important, something photographic . . . like flag football!

The last time I featured flag football photos was back in the spring. Now it’s the fall season when we’re hoping the temps will drop enough to make it actually feel like football season here in the Houston area. The opening games last Sunday had red-hot action that only added to the 85-degree temps. That meant lots of sweating on the sidelines by a certain photographer, who had lots of photographic rust to knock off her flag football-shooting skills.

Even though I had been shooting high school football with my Nikon D300 and Nikon 70-200mm lens (the combination used here), there’s a big difference between the larger stadium field and huge, padded players vs. the smaller flag football field and younger kids.

Flag football is five on five and often resembles a three-ring circus. You have to focus fast to stop the action, which is hard when you have no idea where the ball is going to be thrown (the running plays are much easier to photograph). I trashed plenty of blurred photos that evening—glad I have lots of games to improve!

Caleb runs for yardage.

Caleb runs for yardage.

The #2 son is coaching the same younger-division team (plus two new players) for the third straight season. This time they’ve moved up to the fifth-/sixth-grade group.

Alex tries to evade a flag-puller.

Alex tries to evade a flag-puller.

The good news about the first game of the season? We found out that the team #2 is coaching is da Bears, the team I grew up with back in Chicago. Easy for me to cheer for the Bears! When the kids were the Titans that first season, I just couldn’t muster one, solitary “Go, Titans!” for them. Ugh!

Cayden stops the ball from reaching Alex.

Cayden stops the ball from reaching Alex.

I’d love to report that our little guys notched a win in their opener. But, sadly, they were outplayed by their opponents, who had some taller, more-capable players. Like Cayden, shown above. Look at how he deftly snatches the pass away from our Alex.

Cayden keeps his eyes on the prize.

Cayden keeps his eyes on the prize.

Here Cayden is tipping the ball to himself for the interception.

Christian makes a catch.

Christian makes a catch.

Even our foes’ little guys shone. Look at Christian about to corral a catch.

Nick throws a bullet pass.

Nick throws a bullet pass.

And then there’s Nick, a multisports star, who, when he wasn’t zipping passes to his receivers, was running all over the field.

Fortunately, just like me, our little guys have more games to improve and knock off the flag football-playing rust. Here’s hoping we’re both successful by the end of the season!

Flag Football Action Photography

 

 

Caleb snags a pass.

Caleb snags a pass.

You say you don’t have enough money to buy a digital SLR (interchangeable-lens) camera? Or maybe it’s the time investment in learning how to take great photos that’s making you shy away from pulling the trigger on that big dSLR purchase. But your kid plays sports, and you want to document his or her season as best you can. What’s a point-and-shoot parent to do?

There are a couple solutions. First, you can hire someone like me to take action shots of your child. You get to sit back and enjoy the game, while someone else snaps away. Or  you can use your P&S camera to get the best-possible game photos that you can. No, you probably won’t come away with too many “real” action pix due to the shutter lag and lack of a long zoom. But there are some basic P&S photos that are better than those of your kid just standing there smiling holding a football, soccer ball, or baseball.

Coach Mike and his mighty mite players

Coach Mike and his mighty mite players

Take the above photo, for example. Yes, it helps to have a zoom lens like my Nikon 70-200mm, which is what I use on my Nikon D300 for my outdoor action shots. But it’s fairly easy to take an interesting coach and the players huddle shot with a point and shoot. Just be sure to zoom with your feet and move to where you can get as many faces in the photo as possible without going on the field or court.

Jamison waits his turn.

Jamison waits his turn.

You also can use that P&S camera for good sideline shots of players waiting to get back into the game. Or a coach talking to a player. Just hold the camera steady and try to keep the sun at your back.

Ben wants answers!

Ben wants answers!

That being said, there ain’t nothing like a good dSLR and a fabulous lens for getting the best action photos! These shots all were taken during last Sunday’s flag football games in our community. There usually are five contests going on at once, which makes for lots of messy backgrounds. The best antidote for all that clutter? Bokeh, my friends! That beautiful blurred effect that only fast lenses (usually f/2.8 and faster [smaller number]—think wide-open apertures) can yield. When I’m using my f/2.8 70-200mm lens, as I did for all these photos, I know I’m going to stop the action and blur the background, which makes for the most-appealing photos.

Sidebar: That’s my buddy Ben who looks like he’s asking the question in the above photo. His older twin brothers are the same age as my #2 son. When all three of them played Little League baseball, the Mister and I would see Ben at the games. As regular reader(s) of this blog know from seeing his photo, the Mister is fairly bald, and his remaining hairs are white. This was a conversation I had with Ben several years ago:

Ben: “Where’s your grandpa?”

Me wondering where he’s going with this: “They’re both in heaven, Ben.”

Ben: “No, I’m talking about your grandpa! Where is he today?”

It finally dawned on me that Ben was talking about the Mister! I about busted a gut laughing. It’s true that the Mister is old enough to be #2’s grandfather and certainly looks like it, but it tickled me that Ben thought he was so much older than me. Ben is such a hoot!

The #2 son has the football in his sights.

The #2 son has the football in his sights.

Speaking of the #2 son, he’s a pretty talented flag football player. He’s a decent receiver and is very fast. I really enjoy taking photos of him, especially when I hit the peak of the action, as I did above.

#2 makes the catch and is ready to run up the field.

#2 makes the catch and is ready to run up the field.

I wish my reflexes had been faster on the shutter button to have gotten the next photo where the pass was just going into #2’s hands (as I did with the first photo of Caleb, who plays on the younger-division team that #2 coaches). Can’t win them all, I guess.

I also like when the photos tell a story. In the next set of three pix, the #2 son took the handoff on the first play of the game and ran for a touchdown. 

#2 is on his way.

#2 is on his way.

A little close for comfort for the sideline photographer!

A little close for comfort for the sideline photographer!

On his way to six points!

On his way to six points!

Capture all that action with a point and shoot camera? Hardly possible!