On September 14, 2019, I was asked by a parent of a W.T. Woodson High School varsity volleyball player if I would be available to photograph the Cavaliers during the Titan Clash High School Volleyball Tournament at T.C. Williams High School on September 21st. I saw this as just another opportunity to learn how to deal with high speed play and less than ideal lighting.
Here is the status of the photos that I took, and down below you’ll find some of the lessons that I learned (or relearned) in the process.
1. Lens Selection & Camera Settings
I showed up a little earlier than I was expected so that I could take some test shots. I had configured my Nikon D850 DSLR with my 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto lens, but as soon as I zoomed in on some of the images and saw how much noise I was getting, I reverted back to my 105mm prime lens.
Then I had to set the shutter speed. I started at 1/800 seconds to see if it would freeze the ball. I found that it would not, so I slowly increased the shutter speed until at 1/1250 seconds the ball seemed to be frozen.
2. Shutter and Aperture Lock
The previous week I had shot Annandale High School varsity golf, and I found that I needed to switch off between two cameras with different lenses to get the photos I wanted. Unfortunately, when you’re handling two cameras at the same time, it is very easy to accidentally shift the aperture and shutter speed dials (I did this repeatedly, and this messed up a number of images.).
So, for this tournament, I decided that it was finally time to program one of the camera function buttons to make it easy to lock and unlock the aperture and shutter speed dials. I assigned this function to one of the function buttons next to the lens interface, so all I had to do was press and hold the button while rotating either the aperture or shutter speed dials, and that would lock or unlock the function of the dial.
This turned out to be easy, and it worked perfectly. I wish I had done this a lot sooner.
3. Adobe Lightroom Collections
After doing a whole lot of screening out of lesser photos, I ended up with about 1,700 photos from this tournament spread between 9 teams. I needed to get these organized right away so that I could deliver the W.T. Woodson photos to the parent who requested them as soon as possible.
So, I started investigating the Adobe Lightroom “Collections” feature to see if that would be the best way to get these organized.
I ended up setting up a “Smart Collection” for each team. To populate these Collections I had to set up filter criteria for each one. I ended up using the “Caption” metadata field to enter the associated team for each photo (all 1,700). This wasn’t as bad as it could have been, because Lightroom has a string completion function, so that I didn’t have to enter the entire string for each school name. In most cases, I only had to enter the first letter.
Anyway, this seemed to work ok. It didn’t involve renaming the files, which is good. But there still may be better ways to do this.