My first volleyball game…

So last night I was asked to take pictures at the volleyball match between MTU and NMU. I thought, “Sweet, this should be fun. Something different to shoot. A new experience.” Well, it was that and then some.

I wish I would have looked at some other volleyball images before I headed off to the game. When I initially arrived, I just wasn’t sure where to shoot from. Part of this was that I wasn’t very familiar with the game, the other part was that I wasn’t familiar with the players.

Had I know that most of our players were right-handed, I would have tried to set up on their lefts most of the time. Other things I had issues with were what height to shoot from, and what angle relative to the net to shoot from. As far as height goes… our bleachers aren’t that tall, and it seemed like you would have to get up really high in order to keep the top of the net from obscuring the players face. So, what if I shot from a seated position on the floor? Well then there was a tendency for one of the strobes to cause a lens flair. Oh yeah… I was shooting using the permanent strobes in the gym via pocket wizards.

So, once I figured out what height to shoot from then there was the question of angle. If I shot right along the net, the players arms usually obscured their faces. If I shot from the baseline, there were good images to be had, but it was hard to get a really tight shot.

So, in the end, I found that the position I liked most was seated on the first row of bleachers about halfway between the net and the baseline on the players left-hand side. Now this is a pretty specific position, and I wouldn’t recommend to anyone that they stay there the entire game. However, if I was short on time and had to make a couple of images, this is where I would go.

The other things that I wish I would have spent more time looking for were reactions from the players. I was too busy trying to figure out how to get a great action shot, that I wasn’t paying much attention to the players before or after a volley. Honestly, these are probably the most powerful moments. In the future I will spend more time looking for those moments, and trying to find a location best to capture those instances.

The one thing I do want to mention is how impressed I was/am with the autofocus performance of Nikon’s D300 paired with Nikon’s 70-200 2.8 VR lens. I had the VR “on”, the focus limiter “on”, and the camera was set for 9 point dynamic area, continuous focusing. I typically chose one of the AF points towards the right (top when held vertically) and then just chose a victim and followed her till I saw an opportunity. I was surprised at how many of the photos came out with acceptable to perfect focus. Maybe, I am that good… but really I think I received a lot of help from the equipment.

Anyway, here are some of the pics that I took during the game.

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