Daily Photo – Misdirection (The AVP in Color)

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.

Another shot in my series on 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: Elaine Youngs dumps the ball short at the 2008 Dallas AVP Tournament.


  • Shutter:  1/4000
  • Aperture:  f/3.5
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1D Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM

Composition and Processing

  • Canon’s 300mm telephoto lens is remarkable.  It’s tack sharp, focuses like a demon, and is perfect for sports.  It also weighs a ton.  I’ve tried shooting it handheld, but usually rely on a monopod.  I wanted to give it a try with beach volleyball, even though it’s completely unnecessary:  the sport is so accessible you don’t need anything over 200mm.  In fact, it’s almost impossible to track a subject with a 300mm lens when you’re sitting courtside.  So I trudged up to the top of the bleachers and took shots of just the top of the net.  My hope was to get a tighter shot of the action that didn’t rely on showing how far above the ground the players were (like typical hitting shots). In this instance I was really just trying to capture the interaction of hitter and blocker;  as an added bonus I got Holly McPeak scrambling for the short ball in the background.
  • One of the most important things in sports photography is anticipation.  If you know the sport, you know what’s about to unfold a moment before it happens.  To catch a player digging a hard driven ball in volleyball, I usually focus on the defender and ignore the rest.  I then listen for the hit of the ball, and begin shooting.  If I wait to see the ball in the frame or the player react, it’s too late.  To get this particular shot, I tracked EY only when she was at the net and ignored her partner (Nicole Branagh, who I knew they wouldn’t serve or hit at).  I also lined up at an angle so that the hitter wouldn’t occlude the blocker.  Since I wasn’t watching the ball, I waited until I saw the blocker enter the frame and take off before shooting (the blocker usually leaves the ground after the hitter).  I took several exposures like that — it was just a matter of time before I got one with an interaction I liked.


March 29 2009 07:26 pm | Photography and Volleyball

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