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Old Jan 25, 2008, 2:39 PM   #1
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Some shots of my daughter's recent tournament in Richmond.. C&C Welcome.

Tough environment for shooting - inside a convention center and the color of the floors had an interesting effect on WB...

Seems like most the best action my focus was off. Any tips or techniques on getting better focusing?

Post processing was done using Picasa2 (adjust color and light, crop, straighten), then Noiseware for noise reduction, then back to Picasa2 for sharpening..

#1 85mm f/2.0 1/800 barely cropped at all.

#2 85mm f2.2 @1/500 cropped to about 2/3 of original

#3 Not cropped at all - 85mm f/2.2 @1/800

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Old Jan 25, 2008, 7:05 PM   #2
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It's a hard game to shoot for sure, however you've show a couple of good shots with #3 being the strongest.

You are only realistically looking at good focus for 2/3 the side of the court you are working on as outside of that you are pushing close to infinity so going to be soft. Also the closer to the player the better which is what makes number 3 so good (as well as the timing and facial expression).

There are two approaches to shooting volleyball..... either volume or quality. If shooting for volume then go for the serve, service return, dig, block where pretty much you know where things are going to be (as I sell work at events this is my method). However there are some amazing shots that I miss as I'm going for the easy sell. Look at the work of JohnG, he seems to get volume and quality (hate him!) but some of the dives he gets in a scramble pickup situation etc are tidy to say the least...... bet you are glad I'm back John to big you up LOL.

I've not shot enough volleyball to have it really nailed and the gyms I've been in usually have lights which cycle in colour temp making it even worse!

Good work and looking forward to seeing some more.
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Old Jan 25, 2008, 7:48 PM   #3
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Yep, #3 is the best. 2 & 3 illustrate the margin for error with cropping. #2 is about what I would expect from a shot so far away with the 85. It's not bad but it isn't great. Lenses just have difficulty with sharp focus after a certain range. With the 85, that's around 20 feet. Beyond that it's just really tough to get sharp focus.

And yeah, it looks like the WB has a bit strong red in it. Did you set a manual WB or use auto?

All in all I'd say a good job.

Digs are probably the toughest shot to get - not bumping the serve but diving for a kill. I always seem to miss them or have another player in the way.

I would encourage you to not spend too much time on serves - they tend to be quite boring. I'll take one of kids anyway because you never know what is going to sell. But it's a rare serve shot that's interesting. Try to angle for some of the kills - those can be [email protected]
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Old Jan 26, 2008, 12:18 AM   #4
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I used Auto WB.. Not quite sure about using manual yet.. You are (and were) definitely right about the focus limits of the 85mm. I actually rented a 70-200mm f/2.8 for the weekend as well, but just found that one to be more than I was really ready for..

Mark, I'm definitely interested in selling. How do you market now? I've taken John's advice on contacting the people responsible for events (beforehand - just to make sure its ok) and am just handing out cards wherever I'm taking pictures... So far, not much in the way of results..

John, thanks for the critique as always right on.. Of course, I had to include the first girl serving as that's my daughter ;-) Here's another one at the limit of the 85mm that seemed to come out fairly sharp.. (except I think the chairs behind are in better focus - or is that just my eyes?)

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Old Jan 26, 2008, 6:34 AM   #5
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#3 is really a nice shot. Volleyball is the most challenging of the sports I have shot thus far. Lighting and shooting angles are too often just hard to get, and I always seem to miss the timing, just enough to make a good picture mediocre (at best). And John summed up many of the frustrations that I have had, not just with digs....

"Digs are probably the toughest shot to get - not bumping the serve but diving for a kill. I always seem to miss them or have another player in the way."

You mention trying the 70-200 f2.8. I suspect you may find its results less than what you're getting with the 85mm f1.8. I tried a 135mm f2.5 for volleyball and quickly put it back in my kit because it was simply too slow, and went back to my 50mm f1.4. The better lighting characteristics of the 50mm more than offset the loss of range. In the high school gym where I shoot most of my basketball and volleyball, I have to lower shutter speeds so low for f2.8 that I have real problems with motion blur, even at ISO 1600.

Nice shooting and keep posting.


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