And some photos for a cold winter night

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


The Muse said…

I especially love the photos of the palm trees and sunshine radiating through the leaves. (Well composed.) The conservatory at Smith College is one of my favorite places to go in the winter.
AspieMama said…
I also really enjoyed seeing your photos! I haven't taken any pictures for a long time (except for some family photos with my digital camera). This got me thinking about taking some different types of photos again.

Take care,

Ms. TK said…
Gorgeous. I love the hoop. Did you have a good time with Fluffy and Kyra?
Polly Kahl said…
I skimmed over the images w/o reading the post first and it took me a second to figure out what the hoop shot was...coolio!
Dana said…
I recently found your blog (after reading your book) and continue to appreciate your insight and talent.

Today, I really enjoyed the tropical photos - it's 10 degrees F in Chicago!
John Robison said…
Dana, it's five degrees here this morning. But the heat is still on over in the greenhouses.
Anonymous said…
The best part about having a blog is getting comments. I blog, too. I picked up your book from the library on Saturday. I finished it an hour ago. This Wednesday I have an appointment with my son's school to discuss his IEP and placement. He is 7. He is in a class called "Behavior Management". His most recent testing suggests he may have Asperger's. He makes eye contact quite often, so I don't know what to think. On this, I am utterly uneducated. And scared.
mh_ed said…

I've enjoyed reading your blog over the past month. I wanted to write to say "thank you". First, thank you for providing feedback to my university students who are preparing to be teachers and studying approaches to meeting student needs. We were all quite excited to receive a comment and suggestions from you, based on our exercise in reading your online materials.

Second, 'thank you' for so openly sharing so much of your life. You are offering a wonderful resource for those of us who attempt to bring deeper understanding to the craft of teaching. Your work certainly aids in this endeavour.


Sandra Cormier said…
Beautiful shots, John. I once took a closeup motion-blur shot of a harness racehorse at a local horse show. It was so easy to position myself right beside the track.

I used the same technique at a Mexican rodeo.

Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away.

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