I wasn’t planning on shooting basketball tonight but I did anyway. I knew there was a men’s game but I didn’t shoot the one on Sunday and Jim was lined up to be the main StanfordPhoto shooter for tonight. But in an email conversation, John mentioned I was going to shoot with available light. I figured no need to question him because I was more than willing to go.
Josh Owens of the Stanford Cardinal men's basketball team during Stanford's victory over North Carolina A&T at Maples Pavilion. Stanford won 76-59.
So again, another lower pressure shoot because I wasn’t going to be the guy submitting the strobed images. Although, I like being that guy too. I’d been toying with the idea of a 400mm on the baseline or really inside the cramped arena at all. I knew a 400 wouldn’t do me a whole lot of good when the ball was on my end but it could provide a different angle from the other side. This is dead week at Stanford so the crowd was on the smaller side. So I thought I’d take advantage and try a couple different angles throughout. I actually spent no time on the baseline besides introducing myself to Jim.
Andrew Zimmermann of Stanford men's basketball fights for position against North Carolina A&T.
Unfortunately going up higher only really gave me the feeling of snapshot taken by someone in the crowd. In fact there was a fan behind me a couple times whose motor drive was going crazy the whole game. All I could think was, “I’d hate to have to edit those later.” It’s an angle that doesn’t really conjure up the superheroness or intimacy I’m looking for. Unless of course I was able to go really high. I’d love to end up in the rafters somehow someday.
Dwight Powell of Stanford men's basketball blocks a North Carolina A&T shot after Josh Huestis (#24) attempted.
This time around though I tried out the empty student section and in the second half I settled on an empty corner of the lower upper deck. This actually got me in a bit of trouble. Not serious trouble because as one of the greatest literary characters, Ray Smuckles says, “Being in trouble is a fake idea.” But a gentleman from the usher staff did come over and tell me in the future that I’m “not to be wandering around the stands.” He let me stay put for the half which I appreciated. Ultimately, I don’t know what that means. I’m always looking for the different shots and the “scene setters” as John calls them. And it is my job as an intern with Stanford to cover athletics and make good images that make the school look good. I will do my best to make that happen. The interesting thing is I was trying out different things because this game was pretty empty (and to the guy’s credit, he acknowledged this). Mainly I wanted to know where to go in the future. I was basically crossing places off my list. The place I was at was certainly nothing spectacular. I’ll see how things unfold at later games. I certainly don’t want to be pissing people off but I also don’t want to be missing good shots. In basketball, it seems a lot of the better ones come from the floor/baseline anyway but I know several of my favorite volleyball images came from up in the stands.
Aaron Bright cheers on his team before the start of Stanford men's basketball's game against North Carolina A&T.
Anyway, not the main point. The main point was I tried some different things and wasn’t super excited about them anyway. I need a good sharp wider lens (my best “wide” lens for available light basketball is my 100mm 2.8) or I need to be using the strobes. It would still help to have a better lens under 100mm even with the strobes. I gotta get out of these Sigmas someday. I don’t know if that will be into some Canons or some Nikons, but that’s a post for another day.
Josh Huestis of Stanford men's basketball checks into the game against North Carolina A&T.
Another struggle was post-processing. Shooting available light creates grainier pictures, even though Stanford’s gym is pretty bright, and white balance is tricky. In-camera white balance does not satisfy me. Auto white balance in Lightroom doesn’t satisfy me either. In my editing, I spent a lot of time with the color and I still don’t know how I feel about it. It’s either really awesome (considering the lighting) or way off. I guess the way to find out is post them and have people yell at me if I’m burning their eyes with some cold-ass picture.
Coach Johnny Dawkins instructs the Stanford men's basketball team during a timeout.
I don’t mean to be listing all my struggles but I hate to also just say, “Shot basketball. It good.” I love shooting all the different sports and, seeing as men’s college basketball ranks as one of my favorite sports at all, this is a great one to cover. It’s so good to get to know the players and their playing styles.