On October 8, 2018, I was contacted by the managers of the local Fairfax Falcons adaptive sports team, asking if I would be available to photograph their upcoming basketball tournament. Having shot one of the Falcon’s practices the previous Spring, I knew that this could be another chance to use photography to give young people tangible evidence of what they can achieve.
The tournament took place on November 2-4, 2018, at James Lee Community Center, in Falls Church, Virginia. Teams came from as far away as California to participate, and they played for trophies in both Varsity and Prep divisions. These teams were as follows:
- Fairfax Falcons – Fairfax, Virginia
- Bennett Blazers – Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
- New York Rolling Fury – New York, New York
- Richmond Sportable Spokes – Richmond, Virginia
- Katie’s Komets – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Ryan Martin Foundation Trojans – Simsbury, Connecticut
- Rancho Los Amigos Foundation Renegades – Downey, California
Clearly, this tournament demonstrated the best in all those who supported and participated. Challenges were faced and overcome, and as a result, lives young and old were enriched.
The photos below are intended to benefit the players, their families, and their teams. Feel free to download and use them for these purposes.
New York Rolling Fury
Ryan Martin Trojans
Fans, refs, venue, etc.
1. Keep better track of what I’m doing
My only plan going into this event was to try to get as many good shots as I could, because in the past I’ve found that, due to differences in playing time, it was unlikely that I could get good action shots of every player. But in this tournament, it seemed like the coaches were getting everyone on the court. Still, there were seven teams to cover, some fielding both Prep and Varsity squads, and Prep and Varsity were playing simultaneously in different gyms. In addition, with so much action going on, I had little chance to verify that my shots of any one player weren’t 1) partially blocked by another player or referee (which happens a lot while shooting from floor level), 2) out of focus, or 3) didn’t catch the player in mid-blink. So, in other words, it was hard to tell when I could shift my attention to another player.
Now that I have a better idea of what is possible for one of these tournaments, I’ll make a more concerted effort in the future to cover all the players (I may need team rosters to help me do this.). It may not be possible, but I’ll take that challenge.
2. The lighting wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be
The last time I shot the Falcons at James Lee Community Center, my first reaction to the gym lighting was, “Ugh”. For that practice, I used my 105 mm, f/1.4 prime lens exclusively, shooting with the aperture wide open to let in as much as possible. This time, on the last day of the tournament, because at least in the main gym we were getting good lighting through the corner window, I decided to try using my 70-200 mm, f/2.8 zoom lens, in an attempt to try to get more close-up shots of the players. As it turns out, as long as I kept the aperture wide open, with the minimum shutter speed to prevent motion blur, I could just get usable exposures without jacking up the sensor gain so much that I couldn’t correct the resulting sensor noise in post processing (My limit for the Nikon D850 DSLR is ISO 2500.).
I really should bring out my light meter to measure the lighting before shooting in indoor venues like these. Apparently, I’m not that good a judge of the lighting myself.
3. The Nikon D850 DSLR has some trouble automatically judging color temperature
I’ll have to review the photos to verify this, but it seemed like my D850 had a harder time automatically setting the proper color temperature when I was shooting in the main gym, versus when I was shooting in the Prep gym. It is possible that this issue is exacerbated by the fact that a lot of the wall surface in the main gym is colored medium grey. The effect was that a lot of these photos came out with the background tinted to either yellow or green. I corrected this the best I could in post processing, but in some cases, if I just couldn’t find an adjustment that made both the background and skin tones pleasing, I focused on the contrast, and I set the photo to black and white.
Dealing with this issue will be yet another area for me to investigate.