Monday, December 19, 2011

OCO Madness

Megan plays in a youth basketball league called Orange County Optimists (OCO). Many of the parents (including my wife Sandy) actually played in this league back when they were a little kids too. Megan's division is called Tinkos which is for the 5 year old kids. Watching these little rug rats run around the basketball court is ridiculously cute.

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On a technical side, shooting action sports in this gym is very challenging. The light quality is very poor. You are going to have to use a lens with the largest aperture possible. I had great success using a canon 85mm f1.8 lens. It is a fast low light lens with a good working distance. The ultrasonic motor definitely helped when it came to focusing on my targets as fast as possible. You might be able to get away using a f2.8 lens but you will have to crank the ISO way up to get enough light to freeze the shots. I was going for a shutter speed of at least 1/250th second.

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The other challenge is white balance. The artificial lights in the gym cast a very strong yellow color tone which looks awful. There are different ways to work around this. The best would be to shoot in RAW and white balance in post processing. I couldn't do this because for some reason, Adobe Photoshop CS2 does not support RAW files from the Canon 7D. You can also try to manually white balance while in jpg before shooting by using a grey card or a white piece of paper. I tried doing this but the results were still quite off. Their uniforms are light blue but with the lighting in the gym, they all came out purple in color. Ah, well at least they didn't have yellow skin tones.

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The last bit of advice is to get down low when shooting. These kids are short and you want to get down to their level to shoot them. I often will sit down right at court side when shooting them. There are even a few shots where I placed my camera down on the ground and took the shots. It helps to give a cleaner foreground like the shot below. Ok enough with the technical stuff, let's see some basketball action!

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