Archive for March, 2009

Daily Photo – Leslie in Purple

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

Leslie poses in the fading afternoon light.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/125
  • Aperture:  f/2
  • ISO:  800
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Composition and Processing

  • We had a dark overcast sky during this shoot, and the sun was pretty much done for the day by the time we got around to this shot.  I hung a large piece of sequin material on the wall behind Leslie to reflect what little light there was.  That turned out to be a benefit, as it muted the reflections and showed more texture (there’s even a bit of a gradient due to the angle of the light).  In post, I processed it to match Leslie’s eyes, although the blue cast may have made her skin look too yellow in contrast.
  • The question I’m always faced with when cropping is where to chop part of the subject, if at all.  Cropping tight can make a shot more personal;  it can also help re-arrange the lines in a more pleasing fashion.  But it can leave limbs looking amputated or disembodied, and can lead the eye to dead ends at the edge of the frame.  In this instance, with the face being the focus (particularly with the background reinforcing the eyes), I chose to work around the lines that led in that direction:  the arm, the straps of the dress, the bend of the body.  I then tilted the image so those lines, along with the eyes, led to the upper left corner.  Chopping off the right side of her body was a tough call though.  My hope was that Leslie’s gaze into the frame would keep the viewer’s eye from wandering off the left edge of the image.  For much the same reason, I didn’t leave any of the right arm in there — that would have completely distracted the viewer as the eye tried to follow the shortened arm and got nowhere.  The arm at the bottom isn’t so bad — it’s shallow angle nearly matches the bottom border and doesn’t distract.

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March 30 2009 | Photography | 2 Comments »

Daily Photo – Misdirection (The AVP in Color)

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

Another shot in my series on professional beach volleyball.  I’m sorting them into four sets:  “The AVP in Black and White”, “The AVP at Night” and “The AVP in Color” (two sets for that last one).  Those can be found on my flickr account, although I may find a way to arrange them here on the blog at some point.

The shots themselves are from the 2007 and 2008 Dallas AVP tour stops, along with the 2007 Las Vegas AVP God and Goddess of the Beach tournament. I’m planning to attend and hopefully shoot at the 2009 Houston AVP tournament in mid-May.

This shot: Elaine Youngs dumps the ball short at the 2008 Dallas AVP Tournament.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/4000
  • Aperture:  f/3.5
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1D Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM

Composition and Processing

  • Canon’s 300mm telephoto lens is remarkable.  It’s tack sharp, focuses like a demon, and is perfect for sports.  It also weighs a ton.  I’ve tried shooting it handheld, but usually rely on a monopod.  I wanted to give it a try with beach volleyball, even though it’s completely unnecessary:  the sport is so accessible you don’t need anything over 200mm.  In fact, it’s almost impossible to track a subject with a 300mm lens when you’re sitting courtside.  So I trudged up to the top of the bleachers and took shots of just the top of the net.  My hope was to get a tighter shot of the action that didn’t rely on showing how far above the ground the players were (like typical hitting shots). In this instance I was really just trying to capture the interaction of hitter and blocker;  as an added bonus I got Holly McPeak scrambling for the short ball in the background.
  • One of the most important things in sports photography is anticipation.  If you know the sport, you know what’s about to unfold a moment before it happens.  To catch a player digging a hard driven ball in volleyball, I usually focus on the defender and ignore the rest.  I then listen for the hit of the ball, and begin shooting.  If I wait to see the ball in the frame or the player react, it’s too late.  To get this particular shot, I tracked EY only when she was at the net and ignored her partner (Nicole Branagh, who I knew they wouldn’t serve or hit at).  I also lined up at an angle so that the hitter wouldn’t occlude the blocker.  Since I wasn’t watching the ball, I waited until I saw the blocker enter the frame and take off before shooting (the blocker usually leaves the ground after the hitter).  I took several exposures like that — it was just a matter of time before I got one with an interaction I liked.

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March 29 2009 | Photography and Volleyball | 1 Comment »

Daily Photo – Jamie in Black and White

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

Jamie sits on a stool in front of the setting sun.

Back in Austin tonight; posting this from the airport.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/250
  • Aperture:  f/4
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Composition and Processing

  • I wanted to catch the late afternoon light flooding over Jamie, but I was having trouble lining up the sun relative to the subject.  The problem was the window frame.  Whenever I got the light in an interesting position , the frame was too high and distracting.  That’s part of the reason I cropped it this tight.   In the final image the sun appears to be behind her left shoulder.  In the original though, it’s under her left leg.  That drew too much attention toward the feet, so I looked for different compositions to redirect the eye.
  • Cropping the subject to the left let me include part of the window frame in the background.  More important, it gave me a background and increased the sense of depth in the image.  There’s good separation too, since the backlighting of the sun has lit up the edges of Jamie herself.

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March 27 2009 | Photography | No Comments »