Daily Photo – The AVP in Color (Nicole Branagh Spike)

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.

Nicole Branagh spikes the ball at the 2007 AVP God and Goddess of the Beach Tournament in Las Vegas, part of my series on professional beach volleyball.  The rest of the series, so far, can be found on my flickr account.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/3200
  • Aperture:  f/2.8
  • ISO:  400
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1D Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM

Composition and Processing

  • I’ve done some experiments lately with shooting and/or cropping volleyball shots above the ground.  Normally you’d want to shoot something like this low, with the ground visible, to show and exaggerate the hitter’s jump.  The closer crop, despite the odd cutoff of the legs, grants us the same perspective as the hitter.  We see Branagh’s gaze in the direction of the ball and the angle of the arm in relation to the ball;  we also her in relation to the net.  Those are much closer, intimate relationships than her position vis-a-vis the court, which is nowhere to be found in this shot.
  • It’s a small thing, but if you’re not going to show much of the face in a sports photo, it helps to have the athlete’s name visible (on a jersey, shorts or in this case, bathing suit).  In addition to providing some information for fans of the sport (Branagh is one of the top beach volleyball players in the world and competed in the 2008 Olympics), it creates identity.  Even if you don’t know who Nicole Branagh is, seeing her name says this is an individual, not some faceless volleyball player.

Original:

April 22 2009 | Photography | No Comments »

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.

Exposure

  • 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.

Original:

April 01 2009 | Photography and Volleyball | No Comments »