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JohnG Oct 28, 2006 12:19 AM

Well it's been a while since I last posted so here are a bunch from yesterday's district volleyball championship...

as always C&C welcome.

In case you can't guess, she's a pretty hard spiker...

In the history of sports, has complaining to the officialever gotten an athlete anywhere?

And finally the celebration after the final kill shot. District champions!

Ripsnort Oct 28, 2006 8:31 AM

Great photos and great memories for the girls captured there, JohnG. :cool:

So, occasionally I get the backgrounds that come out semi-focused likea couple of your photosindoors, any way to get a greater depth of field to eliminate this (Other than moving the stands, fans back about 200 feet!) ?

JohnG Oct 28, 2006 8:45 AM


Not sure I understand. Do you really mean "greater depth of field" (meaning more of the background will be in focus) or did you mean "shallower depth of field" meaning the background is more blurred?

I'm going to assume you mean shallower. Unfortunately that's a little tougher. These shots were at f2.0 on an 85mm lens. There are several things that theoretically could be done:

1. use a longer lens - impractical from where I was shooting plus I don't currently own a longer prime :-)

2. get closer to the subect - the refs frown on me being on the court

3. move the fans back - about 30 yards or so

If I had a 135 2.0 I could shoot from the stands and that would improve the subject isolation a bit. But I don't own it unfortunately. Maybe next year.

If someone has some other ideas I'd gladly listen - you know I love subject isolation.

soliz39 Oct 28, 2006 10:19 AM

Johng I take it you're using a cutom WB on these shots? Any shot I take in a gym just coem out looking flat from a color standpoint. Do you get this type of color off post processing?

Mark1616 Oct 28, 2006 12:18 PM

Great series John, I would love to have that lens but the 120-300 comes first :-)

What sort of light are you working with there, what settings were you able to get?

JohnG Oct 28, 2006 12:37 PM

Thanks folks.

This may shock you but I simply usedauto WB. My 20d does an extremely good job at auto WB. I did minor corrections to a few of the 160 or so shots but not many. I was blessed by being in a very well lit gym. I shot at 1600, f2 and 1/500 - but the key was the exposure was dead on. The camera probably would have metered at faster shutter speeds if I was in AV. I'd say I did some minor levels work on about 20% of the shots. So, it was an amazingly lit gym - certainly not the norm. One of the benefits of covering Division 1 teams - especially in the playoffs where typically the best gyms are used. So, I realize I was lucky.

So, as for flat colors - that is completely a matter of proper exposure. If I have to use my 70-200 2.8 colors are a bit flatter. When I do have flat colors I do a saturation boost (set up an action in PS and apply it as part of my workflow when I need it). For these, I didn't need to use it. I more often need to use it for my night football shots where I don't have the luxury of a 1.8 lens.

Thanks for the positive comments.

Mark - I understand what you mean about lens priorities. The problem is, the more sports I shoot, the more I realize I need new lenses - especially in the world of primes. A 135 2.0 would be VERY nice :G

Mark1616 Oct 28, 2006 12:48 PM

Yep very true. I might go for the 85 1.8 at the same time as the 120-300 if I have a some good months at work before the end of the year. I am hoping to do more portrait work so the 85 would double up for that. I also have the 300-800 Sigma a bit further down my wish list but this will happen if I start to sell more and do some weddings etc for extra cash (but if I do that I will want another body and 2nd flash so we will have to see). Also with that bad boy for any field sports I would needa 2nd body with a smaller lens on so I could still get shots when the subjects are closer.

gredan Oct 28, 2006 1:17 PM

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John, I am relavively new to indoor sports photography but I've watched you posts here for quite some time and learned a lot from you.

Pleasetake a look at this photo and give me your opinion/advise on the noise level. (I know it would be easier to comment on a full size image.) It was shot at ISO 1600 and the blue uniform and background showed quite a bit of noise. I worked hard at reducing it, but I reach a point where sharpness suffers.

You seem to have mastered the art of noise processing, from what I can see in your images. Do you have a set formula you've developed for filtering noise and retaining sharpness? Do you ever sacrifice some sharpness to reduce the noise, or am I being too picky about it?

techaide2 Oct 28, 2006 9:59 PM

Thank you for posting these. I always enjoy your photos. I especially liked the photo of the girl complaining to the official.


JohnG Oct 28, 2006 10:43 PM

Thanks for the kind words Karen.


IMO, the key to handling noise is to nail the exposure in camera. Typically for indoor sports like volleyball that means about 2/3 stop difference from what my camera would meter at. So, my camera at f2 ISO 1600 may want to use a shutter speed of 1/640 - I'll drop it to 1/400 to get a centered histogram or preferably slightly to the right of center.

I see from your posted photo that you shot at 1/500 3.2, ISO 1600 - I'd be amazed if any highschool gym was that bright. I'm also guessing (correct me if I'm wrong) that you did some levels work or something to bump the exposure in PP which is what's causing all that noise in the background. If your exposure was on in-camera, the D50 should give you a much cleaner noise signature than what I see in this photo.

Now, the sad fact is: even on the best cameras, at 1600 and 3200 you're still going to have noise and thus still going to need to remove it and lose some detail. When I look at my daytime soccer images for instance and compare them to my nighttime shots It's sad how much less detail there is. BUT, if I get the exposure right then there's less of it.

The second key IMO is framing tight. The noise destroys detail so the more you have to crop in PP the worse your image is going to look. As an example for volleyball, I'll only shoot half a court with my 85mm lens. I like to stand behind the net jugde and shoot from there. The 85 is really too short to shoot from the back of the court and try to get net play.

So, frame tight and expose to the right and you'll have more image detail. Then it's just a matter of playing with your noise reduction software to get the right mix. I still don't batch process my noise reduction - it would save me a lot of time but I honestly prefer to do it on an individual basis.

But as I mentioned earlier, it also helps to have a well lit gym ;)

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