Monday, November 9, 2009

Sports Shooting - McPherson Volleyball vs. Southwestern

My sports photography has been centered on McPherson College football this season. This has been as much due to my personal scheduling as interest. Most volleyball games are either weeknights or on the same day as football, but in another town.

This weekend we got football and volleyball an hour apart in schedule and distance. We took in the Lady Bulldogs vs. the Southwestern College Moundbuilders in a post-season tournament game in McPherson.

The Lady Bulldogs are a young team, and have had their ups and downs this season. They finished the regular season with a 7 - 19 record. This placed them eighth among the ten members of the KCAC. The SWC squad finished ninth, but had beaten Mac in both of their meetings during the regular season.

The Lady 'Dogs started slow, losing the first game 18-15. From that point McPherson stepped up their game, especially their setting, and won the next three games for a 3-1 victory in the match.

McPherson's next match will be against the #1 seed Tabor College at Tabor's gym on Tuesday. Good Luck Bulldogs!

These images were my first try for shooting this sport. I'm really pleased with how they came out. I shot a basketball game in the McPherson gym last year before the upgrade to my equipment. The results that time were pretty disappointing. I'm much more satisfied with these images. To get fast shutter speeds I shot with the exposure compensation set to -2/3 of a stop. The ISO ran 2500 to 3200 to keep the 1/400s shutter speed and f/2.8 aperture I was using. To me the noise is acceptable given the limits of my D90, but I want to look into post-processing options for noise reduction. The lighting is about as the images came from the camera, so they are a little darker than the room appeared to the eye. They are PP'd with black point, white point and contrast adjustments.

There are images that have to be thrown out due to particulars issues of the venue: there is a bright sign at floor level that throws off the automatic exposure, and the camera occasionally captures the 60 hz cycling of the lights.

Volleyball offers different photographic challenges and opportunities from football. Obviously, you can get up close and personal to the participants much more easily, which is one reason I like these images so well for a first try. Inadequate lighting (from a photographic standpoint) and the resulting shallow depth of field make for interesting challenges as well. I would like to experiment with using manual focus, as the auto-focus would seek and find other targets (the net in front, or the crowd or player behind) than the one I was trying to capture.

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