I had great fun doing this. My initial assignment was to get a few shots for the local weekly newspaper. Since my daughter was on the team, clicking off a few pics would be relatively easy and something that could be done in about 20 minutes. In thinking about how to shoot the event, I also knew that a variety of pics would be nice for the forum. The forum allows up to 8 images, so how should those be gathered? Counting my lenses also yielded the number 8. Perfect! Having a variety meant getting at least a spike, block, return, set, serve, and some jube. The shots would have to include high angle, eye level, and low level. There was supposed to be a low ISO shot (1600) but I blew it (forgot). I spent several hours planning.
With checklist in hand, I started with 3 tough lenses and 1 easy one (70-200).
Using the 400 for volleyball was new experience for me. Top pros make it look easy, but I struggled to get the framing correct. Depth of field is only 7 inches at 50 feet. The action is quick and the vertical capabilities of these girls is impressive. Ashlyn (pictured below #6) was first team all-state outside hitter as a sophomore and junior. She announced she accepted a scholarship with Wichita State University before the start of her junior season. Six feet tall, with incredible ups, she can spike from the front or back row. I could take pics of her all day long. She is a very nice young lady and has a nice family. Using a fast shutter speed (1/1250) helped keep motion blur at bay.
A. 400mm, Ashlyn
D. Meagan with the 400. I verified the callous on her right hand at the base of her middle finger when a bunch of the kids came over to the house to celebrate the big win.
E. With the 300
The 24-105 was my only f/4 lens and not one that focuses quickly, so my plan called for an easy (slow moving) serve shot.
The ‘Nifty Fifty’ is my least favorite lens. Even though I was using a 1D Mark IV, the focus is too slow and imprecise for my needs. Longer focal lengths are my preference for game action. Getting as close to the court as possible meant that I was sitting on the court behind the bench-scoring table area. The ref saw me sitting on the floor and said, “Sir, you can’t sit there because that area (behind the bench) is technically in play.” Well, I’ve courted a good relationship with the Superintendent, AD, and coaches and here it came in handy. When the coach heard the ref, he turned to me and said, “Phil, you may not be able to sit back there but you can sit on the bench with us.” I took his seat and he made everyone move down a seat. That’s why the 50mm shot is so tight. I’m sitting in the coach’s seat.
Then I shot with the next batch of 4 lenses.
The remaining lenses were easy. The 300 was and is my favorite volleyball lens. More people should try it. The 85 and 135 are fast and versatile. Again, I like tight, so the 135 is my preferred of those two plus it focuses fast and accurate. Why did I shoot it at f/4 and 8000? Who knows. I just liked the shot.
The plan was to use the 16-35 for a shot of the venue, and I did, but when we were about to win, I laid down on the floor between the coach and the scorer (different ref) put the camera on the floor (live view) and fired away at appropriate times. Getting a shot of Jessie (my daughter #9) jumping in triumph was a sweet bonus.
I also tried to get a shot from floor level with the 300. The goal was to shoot between the players of the near side of the court, under the net, avoid the front line players of the team on the far side and get a pic of a back row player diving toward the camera to dig up a short serve. I spent one game trying to do this and wound up with butkus. Oh well, nice try.
It was a fun way to push creativity and fight boredom.
PS Any rumors that I suffer from ADD, ADHD, OCD, that I am bi-polar or anal retentive have never been publicly confirmed.