Daily Photo – The AVP In Black And White (Nicole Branagh Setting)

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: Nicole Branagh sets during the 2007 Las Vegas AVP God and Goddess of the Beach Tournament.


  • Shutter:  1/2500
  • Aperture:  f/2.8
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1D Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM (at 78mm)

Composition and Processing

  • Branagh’s skin tones in the original shot look really close to the covered bleachers behind her.  Going to black and white revealed the difference though, making her easier to see her against the background.  In fact, there’s even the illusion of a rim light on her right side, enhancing the separation.
  • This shot was part of a sequence intended to capture the interaction between the setter and hitter.  None of those looked particularly good, so I pulled the image of Branagh setting and re-cropped vertically.  That aligned nicely with the bottom to top motion of her body.  She was leaning slightly to the left (her right), so I pushed her to the right side of the frame, creating a sense of isolation (i.e., there’s a hitter involved, and it’s the middle of the game, but none of that’s even remotely suggested by this positioning…the shot is entirely about her and nothing else).
  • The lines in this shot lead to the ball, but the second thing you notice are the taut abs of Branagh’s torso.  The tensed muscles add energy to one of the (relatively) passive movements in volleyball;  I was fortunate to catch her right at the peak extension of her body.


April 01 2009 12:07 am | Photography and Volleyball

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