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Best Seat in the House

Photography, sports and life as seen through the lens of Seattle Times photographer Rod Mar.

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March 8, 2008 11:03 AM

Two Views of the Same Plays Shot at the Same Time

Posted by Rod Mar

At the State 3A basketball tournament being played here in Washington this week, I was assigned to shoot the two boys semifinal games on Friday.

The games were played at Bank of America Arena on the University of Washington campus, which is where the Huskies play their games.

We've got strobes in the building, and catwalk access, so I was hoping to set up an overhead remote camera. But because it was a high school game, I couldn't get anyone to let me up to the rafters.

Time for Plan B. Because games were running right after one another, I couldn't do a backboard remote, so I used a floor remote for the first game, and a pole remote for the second.

To do this usually requires three camera bodies, which I have the luxury of having. I used a 300mm lens for one of my handheld camera, and a 70-200mm zoom on the other. For the floor remote in the first game, which was placed right next to the basket standard, I used a 16-35mm lens. For the post remote in the second game, I simply moved the camera setup and changed the lens to a 24-70mm lens.

Not only does using remotes give different angles and looks at the game, it also is completely self-serving for me because it increases my odds of getting a nice picture. I'm no math whiz, but I think it increases my odds by 50%.

I can always use the odds moving in my favor.

I wrote a little about floor remotes exactly one year ago today (how weird is that?).

(And yes, I know my archives aren't searchable past six months ago, but we're working on that. If you want to look further back, just change the year and month in the url header. I started this in September of 2006.)

I used Pocket Wizard Multimaxes with custom channels that only my remotes can "see". I placed one set to "receive" on the remote camera, and placed another Multimax set to "send" on the hotshoe of my camera with the 70-200. The advantage to this is that I don't have to have a separate trigger to fire the remote and so I can shoot two cameras simultaneously. The disadvantage is that I have a lot of blank and boring frames from the remote camera for when I'm shooting the 70-200mm away from the basket.

Helps to have large capacity compact flash cards. Then you can just blast away and sort it all out later.

In the first game, the floor remote was too wide for shots in front of the basket, but that's not what I was hoping for. What I wanted was a player driving, or falling, or crashing beneath the basket, along the baseline, so they would fill my frame. Setting the lens tighter would have made for more conventional shots, but since I was also shooting two handheld cameras, I wanted to take a risk.

You can see in this first frame that it's arty, but maybe too wide. Lakes guard Andre Winston, Jr. beat Seattle Prep's Jordan Hamilton to the basket. It's also a tad soft and most importantly, you don't get a good look at the shooter's face:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark II, Ef 16-35mm, f2.8 lens @ 16mm, ISO 800, 1/500 sec, f2.8)

The same play, shot from the corner of the court, seemed better to me:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200, f2.8 lens @ 85mm, ISO 1600, 1/640 sec, f2.8)

In the second game, with the camera super-clamped to the basket standard, the lens is higher and the angle tighter. With a post remote you can choose to shoot horizontally or vertically. I though horizontal would add more of the environment that said "state tournament".

Here's a shot of me monkeying around with the post remote. It's sent to me by a good friend and very good shooter, Dale Garvey.

(Photo courtesy of Dale Garvey)

Early in the game, Rainier Beach's Ababe Dimisse scores in the paint as Squalicum's Kyle Hooper tries to defend. From the corner, this is a pretty ordinary frame:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 80mm, ISO 1600, 1/640 sec, f2.8)

The post camera reveals a shot with a little more depth. You get a strong sense of the environment as well as the action at the hoop:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark II, EF 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 24mm, ISO 800, 1/500 sec, f2.8)

Later, Rainier Beach's Aaron Dotson (21) drove to the basket but was fouled hard by Squalicum player Michael Greene. From the corner with the 70-200 zoom, his face was partially obscured Greene's arm:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200mm, f2.8 lens @ 100mm, ISO 1600, 1/640th sec, f2.8)

The post remote sees the play differently even though it is the exact same moment, and the impact of the foul and the expressions are strong, especially when the frame is cropped:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark II, EF 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 24mm, ISO 800, 1/500 sec, f2.8)

Here's the sports cover from Saturday's paper:

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