Sunday, 17 February 2013

Working at speed...

Ever since I was asked to document Plymouth Raiders basketball the first thing I knew I would have to do is work at speed. If you have never been to a professional basketball game the first thing you'll probably notice is it's pretty much non-stop action. Apart from when the games are being televised the light conditions are tough, and with no flash being allowed you have to push your camera to the limits to achieve the best results.
I'm not a big fan of high ISO, although software has improved and Lightroom 4 has a decent amount of noise removal I like to keep as much detail in my images as possible. During the game I have found the best option, for me, is to shoot with an 85mm prime lens at ƒ1.4 S/S 1/320 to 1/400 at ISO 800. As this is fixed focus I have to move around a lot and try to concentrate on one player at a time. Most sports photographers seem to like 70-200 ƒ2.8 lenses which allows them more freedom, however I don't like to be fixed to one spot.

Mike Ojo Plymouth Raiders ©Matt Elliott 2013

One of my favourite players to focus on is Mike Ojo, he's quick, dynamic and has an aggressive style of play which shows with his competitive edge. He's not the easiest player to capture in camera due to his speed but when you get it right the results can speak volumes about the man. Raiders fans have asked asked for help to achieve better results with their pictures as they seem to get a lot of 'blur'. The fact is if you're shooting on your camera phone or pocket camera that's what's going to happen. I guess that throws the 'it's not the camera, it's the person behind it' quote out of the window. Yes, you have to know what you're doing; you do need to have the 'eye', but in certain situations you have to have the right tool for the right job.

Mike Ojo Plymouth Raiders ©Matt Elliott 2013

When game are televised the house lights are left on. Although this makes my job easier it does take away a lot of the atmosphere (ask the cheerleaders, they hate it). For me I like to covert to black and white with the added detail. Although the images I provide for the club are colour my preference is, and probably always will be, black and white. I also mange to capture the cheerleaders which isn't always possible as they, apart from a few strobes, are pretty much in darkness.

Raiders Cheerleaders (lights on) ©Matt Elliott ©2013

I would say to anyone wanting to improve their camera skills shooting something like the Raiders in low light conditions is the ideal opportunity...and a Hell of a lot of fun. I look forward to the next game and looking for new angles.