Daily Photo – The AVP in Black and White (Next Challenger)

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.

Kevin Wong and Matt Olson wait to their turn in a small King of the Court game at last year’s Dallas AVP Tournament.  The first day of the main draw was canceled due to huge thunderstorms the night before.  The sand looks ok in this shot, but it’s quicksand near the edges of the court.  Ty Tramblie (getting ready to dig near the net in this photo) ran over to grab a ball and sunk in past his knees.

This photo is part of my series on professional beach volleyball. The rest of the series, so far, can be found on my flickr account.


  • Shutter: 1/2500
  • Aperture:  f/4
  • ISO:  100
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM (at 16mm)

Composition and Processing

  • When shooting volleyball from this direciton with a super wide angle lens, I usually look to capture one of the players as close to the camera as possible.  Ideally, they’re off to one side and looking/moving away from the camera and toward the center of the frame.  99% of the time that’s going to be a serve, because the player is off the court and near the camera, with the serve taking them into the court.  In this instance, I got two players waiting outside the lines, each far enough apart that I could position them on either side of the frame.  Then based on where I stood, I was able to use Wong and Olsen to bookend the action going on in the distance (plus, their gaze and body posture helps direct the eye in that direction).
  • There are no faces in this photo, which is atypical for a sports shot.  No one wants to see the back of an athlete’s head when they’re making the great catch/hit/whatever; it’s far too impersonal.  What matters here, however, is the body language of Olsen and Wong, plus their positions relative to each other.  As a pair, they form the expression and intent that I would otherwise be looking for in the face:  anticipation, impatience, readiness (Wong even has a ball in hand, ready to serve the second they’re up).  From this vantage point, we look to them first, but our gaze inevitably pulls the same direction as theirs to the action on the court.  We’re outsiders looking in, with them.


April 15 2009 10:44 pm | Photography

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