Daily Photo – Stein Metzger and Matt Fuerbringer (The AVP in Black and White)

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

Over the next eight weeks, along with my normal purview of photo subjects, I’ll be posting a series of shots of professional beach volleyball.  I’m sorting them into four sets:  “The AVP in Black and White”, “The AVP at Night” and “The AVP in Color” (two sets for that last one).  Those can be found on my flickr account, although I may find a way to arrange them here on the blog at some point.

The shots themselves are from the 2007 and 2008 Dallas AVP tour stops, along with the 2007 Las Vegas AVP God and Goddess of the Beach tournament. I’m planning to attend and hopefully shoot at the 2009 Houston AVP tournament in mid-May.

This shot:  Stein Metzger and Matt Fuerbringer celebrate at the 2007 AVP Las Vegas God and Goddess of the Beach Tournament.


  • Shutter:  1/2500
  • Aperture:  f/3.2
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1D Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS USM (at 70mm)

Composition and Processing

  • I know what you’re thinking:  damn that’s a dark photo, why didn’t he at least push the ISO up to 400, or open it up a bit more?  Take a look at the background.  Half the court is brightly lit.  In fact, the highlights are almost clipping.  The shadows, however, are not.  So while the bulk of the tones are in the lower third of the histogram, I’m not losing any information in the scene.  In outdoor sports, everything happens so fast it’s not always convenient to change the settings on the fly.  Even here, where I could have flipped the shutter down a stop or two in time to catch this moment, I would have risked blowing out the feet and legs of Metzger (he had literally just stepped into the shade).  Better to have the entire range covered and figure it out in post.
  • You’re probably also wondering why on earth the original crop is so bad.  While I can be a bit sloppy with my initial composition sometimes, in this case I had been shooting with the (spot) focus dead center.  I definitely didn’t have time to switch it for this shot, so I backed off the lens as quickly as I could and figured I’d crop tighter later.  As long as I got Metzger in focus, I was good.  This is something of a challenge in sports, when you’re switching between shooting individuals and pairs.  Regardless of where the focus detection is, the fact both subjects are in motion doesn’t really allow you to recompose after you set focus.  Maybe I just don’t have the elite skills of some sports photographers, but one thing I’d like to see on modern SLR bodies are a couple configurable buttons that let me instantly swap between focus points with a single press (likewise for a couple exposure settings I could preset).  Oh, and a third dial for ISO.  Most of us aren’t changing film any more, and ISO is just as valid an on-the-fly adjustment as shutter and aperture.


March 20 2009 06:18 pm | Photography and Volleyball

2 Responses to “Daily Photo – Stein Metzger and Matt Fuerbringer (The AVP in Black and White)”

  1. Vadim Grinberg on 11 Jun 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    Completely agree on your ISO comment. Also, I think this came out great, they are nearly radioactive, a lot of energy popping because of your (great) decision to save the detail.

  2. KG on 14 Jun 2009 at 1:47 pm #

    Thanks. I think in hindsight I probably should have cleared a few more background distractions away (the camera tripod behind Metzger’s hands and the ref’s hand sticking out of Fuerbringer’s stomach).

    But I’m mostly pleased with the Mark III’s improved shadow detail, making shots like this possible.

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