Sunday, December 7, 2014


UT's Josh Richardson glides in for the wide open layup
   Wow, been a while since I've used the blog. But I thought it would be a great way to reach some people and explain how I choose and post sports photographs like basketball.  I was told by a good friend of mine that professional photographers only show their best work. This really hit home with me. After watching Scott Kelby's Tips For Shooting Sports Photography a few years ago combined with thinking of that statement, it really has changed first of all what sports pics I will keep and especially which ones I will post. At events like basketball and football games at the University of Tennessee, there are a bunch of photographers there and getting something unique is both hard and key.
  First, the picture MUST be in focus!!! There is no wiggle room here. Even if the picture is slightly over or under exposed you can usually save that in post processing but a shot out of focus cannot be helped and made in focus in post. I will zoom up real close and make sure the image is in focus and have trashed shots that would have made incredible action shots had they not been fuzzy and out of focus.
  Next I will not post an action image if the ball is not visible in the shot. Granted you may be able to catch a decent shot of guys blocking out for a rebound, and I posted one like that this week in a high school game, but I usually only take that low hanging fruit if I have a request to make sure and get a shot of a player that doesn't play much. Otherwise you really don't have an action shot without the ball.
UT's Kevin Punter #0 applies physical full court pressure on Kansas State's Jevon Thomas #1

  The next thing I look for is if I can see at least one eye, and even more so the entire face of the player I'm shooting. If all I have is the back of their head forget it. The only time you will see something like that from me is if they are celebrating the play and the crowd is visible in front of them. Side shots of the head where I can see the player's eyes are fine as long as one of them is visible.
  So let's recap, the shot must be in focus. The ball has to be in the action shot. And the player's face must be visible in the action shot. Check!  Now everything after this is personal preference but very important to me.
  I really love the conflict of a sporting event. So shots that have physical contact are by far my favorites to capture. The first shot in this post of UT's Josh Richardson is a sweet shot but I haven't posted to the web due to him being by himself gliding toward the basket. Nothing wrong with the shot but more than likely 10 other guys have the same shot from the game.
  Now the shot just above of UT's Kevin Punter bumping K-State's Jevon Thomas is one that I really like even though others may not. You have the struggle of Thomas trying to beat the full court pressure of Punter and even though there is plenty of contact on the play there wasn't a foul called. Now the viewer of this picture doesn't know that but you can see the worry on Thomas' face and Punter's expression is of working hard in that he is letting out a huge breath of air. In focus, the ball, both players' faces, and physical contact. My kind of shot.
UT's Detrick Mostella #15 thinks about his next move
  Now the picture above of UT's Detrick Mostella is a bit different but no less compelling. All of the main rules apply, in focus, ball, face. Even though there isn't any contact or even true action in the shot, his facial expression and stance give the potential for action. You can actually see the wheels turning as he looks to make his move against the K-State defender. Almost a desperate look to his face and worried what to do. These type of facial expressions are another way of capturing the emotion of the competition and almost a personal shot.
UT Head Coach Donnie Tyndall and his bench celebrate a UT play
  The last type of picture is not necessarily a unique image but is one that I am absolutely obsessed with capturing. The emotions of the game. Both celebration and dejection. In this case the entire UT bench is excited and stand up celebrating a great play on the court. The way to capture these shots are to either keep following a player after he/she makes a great play or when the play happens turn to the bench. If you have an animated coaching staff you will get gold like the fist pump of Donnie Tyndall in this shot. These celebration shots tend to capture the viewer and mean more than the standard action shots as well.

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