Shooting Sports 2 – Courts – Volleyball and Basketball

In my first article, I talked about some general considerations in shooting sports – the gear, the camera settings, etc. If you haven’t taken a look at that article yet, you should read it before this one.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the considerations specific to shooting court sports — volleyball, and basketball. These are usually indoors, but the same principles apply when they are played outside.


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Shooting Sports 1 – A Primer

Over the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to shoot a wide variety of sports. I am a people/portrait/event photographer in Frederick, MD, but I also have two active kids.

I also have a wide variety of friends who have kids active in sports, and who ask me to take pictures of their kids doing the things they do – which include sports. When you tote a camera everywhere, people assume you take pictures “everywhere”.

I was also fortunate enough to have the opportunity to serve as the Digital Media Director, responsible for photography and videography, for the U.S. Deaflympics Team at the recent Deaflympics in Taipei, Taiwan. (See the photos here.)

My goal with the next several articles is to help the budding sports photographer (or the involunteered sports photographer) get better pictures. In my experience, it usually takes two to three games of shooting before you learn the tempo of that particular game, and learn where to stand to improve your odds of getting a better shot. With proper instruction and guidance, my hope is that you will be walking away with keepers on the very first game. (more…)

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The Curious Case of Lens Compression

I remember when I started on my journey to become a photographer, I came across the phrase “lens compression” – but it wasn’t explained.

With an engineer’s background, I readily grasped such concepts as the field of view is wider for lenses that are shorter– because if you take a paper tube, and look through it, the longer the tube, the less field of view you can see at the end. Gotcha.

But I still couldn’t find a good example of this strange phenomenon that people kept talking about – lens compression.

Lens compression is what happens when you take a picture with a longer lens – it apparently compresses the foreground and the background, and makes stuff appear closer together than in real life. With wide-angle lenses, the opposite effect occurs.

For example, let’s take a look at two pictures: (more…)

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Pro Bono Work – continued

Recently, Steve Buchanan wrote an article on the value of pro bono work, or working for free.

This has also been a big discussion over at David Hobby’s blog (, as well as Chase Jarvis’ blog (, which led to a scathing rebuttal by John Harrington.

The Strobist flickr forum also had a great discussion.

Personally, I’d like to share what “working for free” has done for me.

First, I think the phrase “working for free” is a misnomer. Nobody works for free. The second you pull the shutter release button, there’s wear and tear on your gear, which costs you money. Processing the photo requires a computer–which you had to buy. At the very least, doing all this costs you time, which is opportunity cost.

Personally, I prefer to call it “working for me”, rather than working for free. If someone else benefits, then that’s gravy–that’s all good–but just because I do something for free doesn’t mean I’m interested in doing YOUR thing for free.

Here’s a few things I’ve had the opportunity to do: (more…)

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Review: The Kacey Beauty Reflector

I was recently given the opportunity to experiment with a Kacey Beauty Dish, so I decided to put together a review/explanation/demonstration.

One of the blogs I read all the time is the Strobist blog ( David Hobby has been writing this blog for a while now, and I have learned lots from him.

One of the great things he did when he got started was he realized that it was not going to be possible for him to answer every question, or respond to every comment. So, being the innovative person that he is, he started a flickr forum that allows various photographers from all over the world to learn, share and teach one another.

That forum is here:

Recently on this flickr forum there was a review and discussion about the Kacey Beauty Dish. Musician/photographer Steve Korn apparently got one to play with, and offered his opinions in a well-written review here.

I was lucky enough to be able to play with one of these beauty dishes (Kacey calls them “Beauty Reflectors”) recently, and took it on several different shoots. (more…)

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How to Host a Meetup – Part 1

As photographers, it seems like a lot of the work we do, we work alone.

So, where do we go for inspiration, and to improve our craft?

The internet has been a huge boost to education for the introverted – they can go online, and get any number of “experts” to tell them everything under the sun.   It seems like everybody is an online expert these days (examines navel momentarily), and the good, old-fashioned “let’s meet in person” concept is from bygone days.

No more, I say!   Let us meet!

I have hosted several meetups here in my local area for photographers; I thought I’d share a bit about what goes into a meetup, how to host a meetup, and how to make sure it’s successful. (more…)

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The Pareto Principle

There is an important principle in business called the Pareto Principle – it says that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your effort.

Applied to photography, it means that 80% of your income is going to come from 20% of your efforts. The other 20% of your income will come from 80% of your effort.

It usually works for larger percentages, too – 90% of your income on 10% of your customers, 95/5, etc. (more…)

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Photobooths for Fun and Profit

I photograph a lot of events – weddings, tournaments, parties.

One of my least favorite situations is when a photographer comes around to the table where everybody is eating, and wants to take a picture of the people at the table.

I have several problems with this. (more…)

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Building the Shot

I was recently doing a baby photography session at a friend’s house, and had an idea for a really nice photograph of the baby. I shared the idea with the dad (who was my assistant for the shoot) and he thought it was a good idea. I am not sure he was able to visualize the end result – nor was he able to visualize what the shot would look like until we were pretty far down the “shot setup” process – but he was delighted with the result when we finally got it. (more…)

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