This first shot is another UMass basketball game. I know some of you ask, "Why UMass?" Well, it's my father's school, it's where I got educated, and I endow scholarships there today.
If you want to practice sports photography, colleges are good because they have the facilities and the action, and you have freedom to use the images pretty much as you wish. For example, if I went to Boston and shot at a Celtics game, I would not be able to put up and discuss the shots as I can here. There would be issues of who owns the copyright, where they will be used, etc. I used to have the patience to deal with that, but not any more. Now, I only shoot for my own editorial use.
What I'd like to illustrate with this shot is shutter speed. This shot was taken using the natural arena lights at 1/80 second, so there's some motion blur. I could have raised the ISO, or used flash and gotten the shutter speed to 1/250 or 1/500. If I'd done that, the picture would have had a harder, sharper quality to it. Many images published in sports magazines today illustrate that. I feel the blur makes for a more alive and natural shot, but that's just me.
You'll also note the perspective and my "down low" viewpoint. The shot was taken from near the base of the basket with a 135mm lens at f2.8. That's the best place to sit for photographing basketball. I prefer to be out near the edge. Other photographers want to be right near the basket.
This next shot shows the result of lots of practice, an essential thing for good action photography. Every basketball game has foul shots, where the players stand still for 1,2, or 3 shots. I try and hone my shutter reflex by shooting the balls as they hit the basket. Try it yourself . . . you have a few millisecond's of window to hit the shutter if you want to catch the ball mid-basket.
Some people try and accomplish this by brute force, by using a camera that shoots 10-12 frames per second and machine-gunning a lot of frames hoping to hit the right moment. That seldom works. First, it wastes a ton of pictures. You have to sort and toss 99% of your work and that's very time consuming. Second, it doesn't work at all much of the time. With a shot like this, the key is hitting the shutter as soon as the ball comes into the frame. If you do, you'll have the result I got. If you miss, you'll have 25 frames of empty basket.
My camera actually has a high frame rate, but like many sports shooters I use it in single shot mode and rely on reflex.
Finally, I have some tropical images. It's 15 degrees here in Massachusetts, but it's 70 and foggy in the Smith College plant rooms.
These wide angle shots were taken with a 14-24 zoom lens at f8