Daily Photo – The AVP in Black and White (Angie Akers Waiting To Block)

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.

More from 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:  Angie Akers waits patiently at the net while the other team receives the serve (2008 Dallas AVP Tournament).


  • Shutter:  1/3200
  • Aperture:  f/2.8
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM

Composition and Processing

  • I took a number of shots at this tournament trying to capture the interaction of near and far subjects.  That can be a bit tricky with four players running around the court obscuring each other, but everyone tends to be relatively far apart during the serve (the receiving team needs to cover as much court as possible;  the serving team has one player outside the court while the other is at the net half the time).  I chose to focus on Akers in this shot, partly because I think motion is tolerated in soft focus better.  More important, I think fewer sharp subjects (relative to out-of-focus ones) help draw the eye better and don’t compete for attention.  Imagine this shot reversed, with the receiving team sharp and Akers out of focus.  It might still work, but the eye would have a hard time latching onto either of the receiving players and the out-of-focus Akers would be a distraction between them.
  • That said, the movement of the receiving team is very important in this image, regardless of how soft.  Akers is standing perfectly still — it’s almost as if she’s part of the same solid structure that is the net and ground.  That suggests a certain amount of control over the scene, which contrasts well with the two players scrambling to pick up the serve (not to mention the crowd in the background, also moving).
  • I cranked the exposure on this one.  The primary subject is Akers, so she’s the one I wanted sharp and reasonably well lit.  Washing everything else out doesn’t hurt the shot;  in fact, it further isolates the subject and draws the eye to her.


April 05 2009 | Photography and Volleyball | No Comments »