Daily Photo – The AVP in Black and White (Casey Jennings Pass)

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.

Casey Jennings passes the ball at the 2008 Dallas AVP Tournament, part of my series on professional beach volleyball.  The rest of the series, so far, can be found on my flickr account.


  • Shutter:  1/5000
  • Aperture:  f/2
  • ISO:  100
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

Composition and Processing

  • Last year I started experimenting with super shallow depth-of-field for sports.  Shooting wide open isn’t exactly uncommon in sports photos, where a premium is placed on capturing the action.  But most sports are shot with fast zooms and telephotos, most of which cap out at f/2.8.  So I tried using shorter focal length primes at f/2 or wider.  The results have been mixed:  when cropped in close or when the subject is moving parallel to the lens, you get great separation from the rest of the scene;  in other conditions there’s an odd miniaturization effect not unlike what you see with a tilt shift lens.
  • I’m ok with not seeing Jenning’s face in this shot.  We’ve got Fuerbringer’s face, and even if he’s out of focus it makes more sense since he’s on the receiving end of this action.  His posture should be open and facing the ball, and by extension, facing us.  With Jenning’s back to us, facing the same we are (as the viewer), he’s drawing us into the scene as if we were the one’s passing the ball.  And since he’s the one in focus, it’s where our eye is drawn to first (the fact the ball is there too also helps).
  • This shot could have worked the other way around, with Fuerbringer in focus instead.  Rather than being about the pass, it would have been more broadly about court movement:  i.e. the relative position of Fuerbringer as he moves past the comparatively static Jennings.


April 29 2009 04:51 pm | Photography

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