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Old Sep 1, 2008, 5:57 PM   #1
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Here are a few shots from this past weekend at the Pro Beach Volleyball tour from Mason, Ohio. I've shot indoor, middle school volleyball, but this is much faster, and a new experience. Most were shot with my 70-300vr lens (left the pro glass at home, as I wasn't sure if they'd let me take a huge lens in) with my D300.

1. Kerri Walsh
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Old Sep 1, 2008, 5:59 PM   #2
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2. Phil Dalhausser
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Old Sep 1, 2008, 6:00 PM   #3
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3. Kerri Walsh again
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Old Sep 1, 2008, 6:01 PM   #4
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Old Sep 1, 2008, 8:29 PM   #5
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Hey, welcome to the sports forum! Glad to see you posting here. I have family in Mason and keep telling myself every year I need to go to the tournament to get some shots. They also have women's tennis go thru there as well.

I hate to say it, but the focus looks off in all 3. Even the portrait of Phil looks out of focus. Were these cropped heavily? As that can make images look like the focus is off. At f5 you should have plenty of DOF. Or is it just the lens?Or perhaps the re-size for posting? I've seen resizing turn good shots into poor. I like the timing of shot 1 but I just can't make out the expression.


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Old Sep 2, 2008, 4:14 PM   #6
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It's a combination of the lens and resizing. The originals are sharp (not tack sharp, but should print well at 8x10). The logos on the bathing suits and ball are clearly readable on the originals. I did crop them a bit, and that doesn't help, but to get to the right file size I resized and saved as low quality JPEG's. The lens I was using is also a bit soft above 200mm. I have a 70-200vr, but didn't bring it because I've never been to that venue and wasn't sure if they'd let me in.

Honestly, I had a hard time keeping up with the action. The action is fast, and players are tall. I'm used to shooting kids, and there were a lot of frames where I cut off feet or hands. I also had a bit of trouble locking focus when the players were on the opposite side of the net. In hindsight, I should have reduced my focus points (I normally shoot sports with 21...9 probably would have worked better, sometimes less is more). I've got lots of notes, and will be more prepared next year.

Access to the players is pretty amazing...you can get really close on the matches not in the main draw early in the morning. It's a great event to go to if you get a chance.
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Old Sep 3, 2008, 3:04 PM   #7
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rjseeney wrote:
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In hindsight, I should have reduced my focus points (I normally shoot sports with 21...9 probably would have worked better, sometimes less is more). I've got lots of notes, and will be more prepared next year.

Access to the players is pretty amazing...you can get really close on the matches not in the main draw early in the morning. It's a great event to go to if you get a chance.
Cool on the access. Are you still in seats? Or can you get down in the sand? I.E. would I be able to bring the sigma 120-300 w/monopod? Or something less large? I'd definitely like to go next year.

As for focus points - yes I would definitely reduce to 9. Since I don't shoot Nikon I don't know how well the camera does at staying with the selected point vs. deciding to use the other 8.

I would also suggest with a sport like this it will be extremely difficult to follow the action. As I'm sure you can attest :G- so you'll have better luck by choosing ahead of the point which type of shot you're going to go for (block, dig, set, kill or block). Once you decide you track your player not the ball. React to the PLAYER - not the ball. Sure there will be times where you guess wrong and they do a quick set. But you'll end up with much better shots that way. And, at least in beach volleyball you've only got 2 players to choose from and you almost ALWAYS know who will do what - who is the blocker, who is the setter and who kills. So follow the PLAYER with the camera and keep your other eye on the match so you get your timing down. But don't follow the action with the lens. Which means it's more difficult to enjoy as a fan. As a fan you watch the ball. As a photographer if you try to do that thru the lens you'll almost always be too slow.

Now, as for 'thru the net' shots: plan ahead. If you're going for that type of shot change your focus point. First, focus ON the net so the lens doesn't have very far to go to get accurate focus (keep re-focusing as the players move around the net). If it's guys and they're clearing the net choose a higher focus point and lock focus on their face as they jump. If they're not up there long enough or for women - try shooting with a point UNDER the net and using a leg. It's worth a shot - you might have issues with not enough contrast in a leg but the focal plane will be the same at the distance / aperture involved. Bottom line is choose something above or below the net to focus on.


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Old Sep 3, 2008, 4:28 PM   #8
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I was in the seats, in the front row, in the VIP section for the shots I posted (I got the tickets from a vendor from my real job). If you go on friday, Saturday or Sunday AM, you can almost stand in the sand for the matches not in the main draw. I was close enough that 70mm was too long for those Sunday AM matches. I'm sure I could have gotten a bigger lens in...they didn't even blink when they saw what I had, and I saw plenty of bigger cameras and lenses with people without press passes. I'm sure you could get the gear in that you mention. Hopefully I can get the same deal next year....maybe I'll save a ticket for you!!
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