Before and After — Hans Stolfus Block

The Before and After 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.

Hans Stolfus jumps to block at the 2009 Houston AVP Tournament.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/2000
  • Aperture:  f/2.8
  • ISO: 200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1D Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM (at 200mm)

Composition and Processing

  • You really don’t need to always include the ball in and action shot to show what’s going on.  The brain fills in a lot, and even though I cropped this tight it’s clear Stolfus is leaping up to block an unknown hitter.  The benefit is that the shot can be more tightly focused on the subject, and potentially take advantage of other elements in the scene.
  • Those other elements in this case were the top and bottom tape of the net (which frame the subject and look like better natural obstructions for the arms and legs than the edge of the frame would have;  and getting rid of most of the distracting yellow wall so that the green seats can be a singular and uniform background.

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April 17 2012 | Photography | No Comments »

Before and After — Ty Loomis At Houston AVP

The Before and After 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.

Ty Loomis passes the ball at the 2009 Houston AVP Tournament.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/2500
  • Aperture:  f/2.0
  • ISO: 200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L USM

Composition and Processing

  • I like shots that show the interplay between two players on the court, and this may be one of the easiest compositions there is when it comes to sand volleyball.    All you have to do is stand at the edge of the court and wait for a serve to come to the player closest to you (it helps if you already know who they’re likely to serve so you know what side of the court to be on).  You don’t want the ball coming in, but rather on the way out, because all the muscles in the receiving player’s body will be tensed from both the impact and stopping themselves on the court.  It also gives just enough time for their partner to get far enough ahead of them to be in clear view as they move in to set the ball.   And the ball coming out will travel at a higher angle than when it came in, making it more likely it isn’t obstructing the other player.
  • Prime lenses are underrated for sports photography, at least those shorter than the big telephotos.  This shot was taken with a 135mm lens normally used for portraits.  That extra little boost in image quality can take an image over the top, or at least give you more flexibility in processing (akin to having more megapixels with which to crop a shot in post if necessary).

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February 12 2012 | Photography | No Comments »

Before and After — Surfer At Steamer Lane

The Before and After 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.

A surfer rides a wave at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/2500
  • Aperture:  f/2.8
  • ISO: 800
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
  • Lens:  Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM

Composition and Processing

  • I cropped this shot pretty tight for a couple reasons.  First, by moving the subject to the upper right corner of the frame, I gave them more room to move into the scene.  While there’s technically the same amount of space in the original for them to move into, it’s watered down (ahem) by the extra room behind them.  The eye isn’t going to travel backwards in the shot, so best to remove the distraction.
  • Second, it increases the perceived size of the wave, making it a little more dramatic.  Cropping out part of the bottom, where the ocean is flatter, helps as well.
  • Third, it’s simply more personal as a shot:  the subject takes up a larger portion of the frame.
  • I also colored the water by tweaking the HSL sliders and putting down a couple blue gradients in Lightroom.  You’ll never see water this color in Santa Cruz.  I wanted something more vibrant to go with the action, and the normally dull green water wasn’t cutting it.

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February 09 2012 | Photography | No Comments »