For the second year in a row I’ve taken pictures for my daughters’ volleyball team. The individual shots were pretty much a piece of cake and they turned out great. The set up for those involved spreading a neutral-colored paint tarp on the floor to eliminate the red glow on the girls’ skin, standing the girls on a stool, setting up one speedlight (triggered with Elinchrom Skyports) shooting through a white umbrella for the key light, a strobe flashing the gym behind the girls to add light to the background, posing them with a volleyball, and firing away. These went very quickly as there was no change in setup between each girl. The gym is horrible for pictures but was workable for these individual shots.
We also goofed with some dramatic shots with the girls looking serious and got the shot above. The main light is the same speedlight-thru-umbrella held nearly on axis with the camera (slightly toward high camera left). The back light is simply a speedlight plopped on the floor. These took longer to get the girls set and posed, and as you see above, we never got the posing or the spacing quite right. We didn’t have all day so I had to take what I could get as they say. There are lots of photographic flaws but the girls and parents are plenty happy with the pic, which is what really counts.
I did some basic processing in Lightroom then headed to Photoshop to grunge out and darken the background (mostly with curves), do some very minor edits and retouching, noise reduction, and add the text.
I was saving this so I could post it in honor of the Longhorns making the final four in the NCAA tournament but…they lost in the regional final over the weekend. Illinois managed to win and will face USC on Thursday.
Here it is:
Just for fun, here are some pics from the University of Texas Longhorns vs. Michigan State match in the second round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. I hadn’t ever brought my camera to Gregory Gym but decided to for this last home match of the year. I used only my 17-40 f/4L (“long” lenses are not allowed) and took most pictures from my seat. Right away I discovered that the color temperature is not consistent throughout the place — something I hadn’t noticed until I took pictures — but I didn’t attempt to fix the color at all. It’s amazing how our eyes just adjust to the situation but the camera cannot. Most (all?) of the images were shot in manual mode at f/4, 1/500s, and at ISO 3200 since I didn’t have the benefit of using any strobes like the official photographer (he has four strobes mounted in the rafters). I chose the fast shutter speed in hopes of freezing the action reasonably well. For shots in between the fast action (preparing for service for example) I could have switched to a smaller aperture and slower shutter but I was mostly there to enjoy watching the match and didn’t want to fiddle with settings. “Photography” wasn’t number one on the agenda for the night. The pictures are by no means awesome but in any case recorded a fun evening watching volleyball with my girls.
Of course we cheer for the Longhorns…for now. However, my alma mater (Illinois — the #3 seed) is still in the tournament and should they meet Texas in the finals we’ll be behind the Fighting Illini (we already have our tickets!). My kids know they will be grounded if they choose to favor the Longhorns 🙂
And finally, what happens when your shutter is open and the stadium photographer triggers the strobes in the rafters.
Over the past month or so I’ve gotten the opportunity to take pictures of my daughters’ volleyball team in action. My daughters are both setters and while they’ve been learning the skills associated with the position, I’ve been learning more things about photography (as I always do when I take any pictures). I have many factors to consider — low light in the gym (no strobes allowed), the red/blue floor which throws all color off, and fast action. Long story made short, I’ve settled on shooting my 5D Mk ii at ~4000 ISO, manual mode, shutter speed 1/250-1/500, and aperture f/3.5 – f/5.6. Within that range of settings (and with some software noise reduction) I’ve been getting decent results. I’d prefer the higher frames per second of my 50D for the fast action but the ISO performance is nowhere near as good.
I’ve been fortunate to have free range on the floor and to be able to shoot from many angles. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m glad to be able to help out with the pictures.
Our family recently went to a week-long family camp in northeast Texas where three of my children competed in a sand volleyball tournament. They hooked up with a few others to form a team and took second place in the competitive division. I didn’t spend a lot of time photographing (I’d rather not watch the whole match from behind a camera). The court was in mottled shade…horrible light. In hindsight I’d bump the ISO way up to get a faster shutter speed even though there was a lot of light. I used apertures of f/8 – f/11 because I wanted to keep the crowd a bit more in focus. Since I didn’t spend a ton of time shooting I never really settled into settings that I was happy with but I generally allowed some blown-out highlights to properly expose the overall scene. One issue with that is that the ball itself would blow out when it was in the sun — I really didn’t want the ball blown out. I made do and here’s part of a sequence where my daughter sets my son up for a kill.