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Archive 2012 · Volleyball--C&C please
  
 
Lutefisker
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Volleyball--C&C please


I had a year off from shooting sports, I'm shooting volleyball for the first time, and I'm really struggling with anticipating peak action and getting a high percentage of in-focus images. I've been trying to follow the action, but wondering if I should concentrate on particular players/positions instead. Also wondering about switching to fast primes to blur the background more and boost the shutter speeds. I would really appreciate any C&C on these six images, and any strategies for capturing compelling images.

NAU v. Southern Utah. Typical bad lighting, backgrounds & angles. 1Dx & 70-200 f2.8IS. ISO 3200, f2.8, and shutter speeds of 1/400-1/640

1.





2.





3.





4.





5.





6.





Thanks for looking and any comments.
Rick



Oct 31, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Scott Sewell
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Volleyball--C&C please


Rick, I really don't see anything wrong with this set. I'd say if you want faster shutter speeds you've got plenty of room to do that. You're shooting with a 1Dx!!! Bump up that ISO if you want faster shutter speeds (again, I think these prove that one can make nice images like this at 1/400.

As far as the backgrounds...good luck. It's just not likely to happen given that the backgrounds in volleyball are so close to the action (relatively speaking). I often shoot volleyball in a fairly large arena and shoot down on the court from up in the stands with a 400/f2.8 or 120-300/f2.8 and the only benefit I get from doing that is getting mostly floor or other players as backgrounds. But the backgrounds aren't really very blown out just because the subjects in the background are so close to the action. There may be others who have a way to deal with this but, IMO, it's just the way it is with volleyball. It's not like football where players can be at, say, the 20 yard line and you're shooting with a 400/f2.8 with nothing in the background for 100+ yards and the BGs look silky smooth.

Here are some volleyball examples to show what I'm talking about.

Keep shooting and posting!!



Oct 31, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Lutefisker
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Volleyball--C&C please


Thanks for the reply, Scott. I tend to shoot at ISO6400 in this gym (the noise is quite acceptable for most uses), but I was experimenting with 3200 because I like the noise better and I thought I could get away with a slower SS. Although I don't mind the blur on a few images, I'd like to keep the ISO at 3200 and get the SS up to 1/800.

Do you follow the ball/action, or do you concentrate on a particular player/position and wait for the action?

Cheers!
Rick




Oct 31, 2012 at 05:08 AM
Matt OHarver
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Volleyball--C&C please


The only way you are going to get the shutter speed you want, the blur in the background, and the speed is to spend the $$ on a 200MM F2 or a 200MM F1.8. I shot with a 200MM F2 for volleyball and loved the AF speed(much faster than a zoom) but it's also more critical to hit focus at F2.


Matt



Oct 31, 2012 at 05:16 AM
Widgic
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Volleyball--C&C please


Women volleyball is hard... men is just about impossible!

I am still learning, but here are some of the things I learned.

From a background perspective in my experience some of the arena's can get cluttered and you get all kind of weird stuff spoiling your shots (like bright red trash cans). So the best is to move around and find a few spots that will give you the cleanest backgrounds.

Shooting from either a high or a low point will also help. High will give you the floor as a background (the downside is that some of the floors can be really shiny and give you some nasty glare from the lights).

The biggest challenge is shooting tight to get some good quality shots without having to crop too much. The action moves so fast that following / focusing / shooting is very hard. Shooting wide will help to figure out where the action is and get more shots that capture the action, but then you end up cropping too much to get something interesting and with the high ISO a lot of the shots are very grainy / noisy.

When I cover a volleyball match, here is my usual game plan:

First thing I do when I walk in is a custom white balance for all the bodies I bring using a grey card target. If it is an arena I have never been in or not been in a long time, I walk around and do some test shots to measure the light and the light fall-off in various area. This way I know for example that if the center court is 0, the back line might be -1 stop and the bench -1.5. I also use this walk around to fine tune my white balance and get some pre-game shots.

If I get there early enough and the ref / local safety guy allows me to, I climb on or scoot below the ref chair to get some shots with a wide angle (I typically use my 17-35mm). It's also a good time to get in some "safety" shots as the action during warm up is very predictable (this way if I have an "off" day during the game I still have something to send to my editor).

#1 - from standing on the red chair






#2 - from crouching under the chair






#3 - from crouching under the chair






First set I shoot from the side line, usually just at the attack line. This enables me to get the type of pictures like below. My strategy is to point the camera and pre-focus on the player most likely to receive the serve and try to watch out for movement as soon as I hear the serve being hit and find who's going to receive the serve, then fire a series of shots (things happen so fast that 3 or 4 frames is all it takes). I use both my 24-70mm and 70-200mm.

#4 - From the side line






#5 - From the side line






#6 - From the side line






Second set I usually try to go behind the back line. I start at the floor level and then gradually move up. I shoot using anything from 300mm to 400mm.

#7






#8






#9






The break between 2nd and third set is spent on my laptop sorting, cropping, captioning and sending some photos to my editor.

Third set I move high in the seats on the side line. How high and far I go depends on how long a glass I brought with me and how good I am on a particular day and trapping the action while shooting tight. Depending on the arena, I shoot at 200mm, 300mm or 400mm. I usually start at mid-court and move depending on how the action is. This position allows me to get clean backgrounds (floor) and shoot either tight (hard) or wider to get a better sense of what's happening in the game. It's also a good location to pull out a wide angle and do some wide shots or the arena (altho if it's even half empty like for most of the volleyball games, these aren't very attractive). It's also a good place to get some close up "emo" shots (with a long glass) and some coaching / huddle shots during time-outs.

#10






#11






#12






The if there is more than 3 sets, I just walk around and try to get some huddle shots, coaches, or some interesting angles

#13






#14







Hope this helps.

Denis
www.widgic.com



Oct 31, 2012 at 05:23 AM
rddayton
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Volleyball--C&C please


Denis,

That is an exceptional lesson on how to shoot volleyball. Adding the photos that you get from those positions makes it very helpful. It is thoughtful answers like yours that keep me coming back to the FM Sports Corner each and every day. Kudos to you.

Rick



Oct 31, 2012 at 10:50 AM
MakoShark
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Volleyball--C&C please


Awesome post... Tons of information to go and practice with. Thanks Denis.


Oct 31, 2012 at 11:45 AM
rolette
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Volleyball--C&C please


As Scott said, you don't really need faster lenses. Plenty of headroom on the 1DX for you to shoot at higher ISO. I regularly shoot HS volleyball at ISO 8K on my 1D4 (plus a little NR in LR4).

Feedback on your shots:

#1 - Wrong target is in focus on this one. AF locked on to the blocker, so the hitter is OOF. I would also crop it tighter and get rid of some of the dead space on the right side / top of the photo.

#2 - Only nit here is that a higher shutter speed would help. Amazingly good shot for 1/400, but it could have been better. The motion blur on the hitters hand doesn't bother me (not unusual even at higher speeds), but you shouldn't have motion blur on the blockers' hands.

#3 - Similar comments about SS from #2. Horizon is off a bit. I'd probably go to a tighter vertical crop on this one (outside blocker isn't really in the play), but that's more personal preference.

#4 - The crop is at an awkward spot on the hitter's legs. I'd crop much tighter (also portrait orientation) on this one. I waffle a bit with the tape covering her chin, but you've got her eyes and mouth so whether I would personally keep it would depend on what other shots I got from the game.

#5 - I'd probably delete this one. The blocker's hand is covering too much of the hitter's face. If you want to keep it, definitely go vertical on the crop... Close to half the photo is wasted space.

#6 - Delete. Focus is on the wrong player (left-side blocker). Neither the hitter nor the blocker on the ball is in focus.

For shooting volleyball for the first time, these are pretty decent. Apologies in advance if this was more picky than you were looking for yet.

Jay



Oct 31, 2012 at 11:49 AM
 

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mikepmcs
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Volleyball--C&C please


Fantastic information in this thread. Tagging for future reference.



Oct 31, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Paulthelefty
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Volleyball--C&C please


I track a player, not the ball. You can see when the player is about to hit the ball and you shoot. You will get a lot of misses because the players will anticipate and then the ball doesn't come to them, for example, but you will get good shots this way. I also shoot single shot, not motor. But at am shooting for display and not press, so my expectations are a little different. I don't have to capture the winning point, I'm just looking for a great shot. If I were shooting for the press, I would probably shoot a little different.

I also shoot though the net a fair bit, using my back button as a stop focus. I pre focus before the play since I know the blockers will be within inches of the same place, then use my back button to hold that focus and get some great blocking shots with cool facial expressions. I also usually shoot vertical, and shoot some full body and some waist up.

I like to get low, I think it is a great perspective, and makes the players look larger than life. I mean really low, like even laying down! Shots from the stands, to me, are boring. If I can get a great shot from up there, cool, but I don't spend much time up there.

I push ISO as high as I need to stop action. The noise doesn't really show in prints which is how my shots are normally used. NOTE: I don't do any post, the lab people do all that, so I don't know if they do any noise reduction after the fact, but I don't think they do. I just shoot and hand over the images.

Yours look pretty good for starting out, I think tighter would be better.

Paul



Oct 31, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Lutefisker
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Volleyball--C&C please


Many thanks to Scott, Matt, Denis, Jay & Paul for the very helpful responses. I'll shoot again tomorrow night with a new approach.


Oct 31, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Kenneth Farver
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Volleyball--C&C please


Denis, thanks for all of the tips. Do you shoot vertical, or did you just crop your examples that way.

Rick, love how these have so much detail at 3200 ISO from your 1DX.

I just shot last night and was pleased to be at 6400 with F3.5 and shutter speeds about 1/800. I chose 3.5 to give me a little depth while shooting the 200 F1.8 on a monopod. I prefocused just behind the net to get some slams and blocks. I used the 5D2 thinking the 1D4 would be too tight on the 200.



Oct 31, 2012 at 03:07 PM
gpchase
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Volleyball--C&C please


Great shots..I shoot with 200 f2 where possible (some gyms are too small) and it's a real gem and the 70-200 ll is also very good.
I find your color balance sorta off ?



Oct 31, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Widgic
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Volleyball--C&C please


Kenneth Farver wrote:
Denis, thanks for all of the tips. Do you shoot vertical, or did you just crop your examples that way.
.


I try to mix shooting vertical and horizontal. A lot of my editors are looking for horizontal shots for immediate web publication and a mix for the rest.

Denis
www.widgic.com



Oct 31, 2012 at 06:46 PM
DizzelDel
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Volleyball--C&C please


great post here. i learned a ton. could you do one like this regarding basketball?


Oct 31, 2012 at 07:08 PM
zwilliamson
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Volleyball--C&C please


Denis,

Awesome explanation, some awesome shots in there too! I started shooting women's volleyball a couple months ago, and it's almost a faster game than men's hockey. In the games I did shoot this fall, I found it took me a little while to feel out the rythme of the players...watching for the pattern of dig, set, spike. I found that shooting from above and watching for a player on the approach led to a higher number of 'good' images. That being said, the net would screw up AF a lot of the time...still need to figure that one out.



Nov 01, 2012 at 01:09 AM





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