Pro Tennis With My Camera

I was lucky enough to ‘sneak’ down to the photographers row at the Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament being staged in New Haven, CT. Actually, I was properly credentialed to be there, though my job doesn’t include carrying a camera. I brought my three week old Digital Rebel and my two Sigma lenses.

The press photographers I sat with were evenly divided between pro Nikon and Canon cameras and lenses. Using my ‘thin’ Sigmas, I was giving up at least 2 f stops to everyone there.

The match started well after 7:00 PM. There was little natural light left. The majority of what we got was coming from the stadium lights.

I asked the Hartford Courant photographer to my left how fast he was shooting and he offered up 1/500th. That would be enough to stop the players but not the ball. I switched to shutter priority and ISO 1600.

The top photo is Elena Dementieva serving. This is a crop with my 18-125mm lens at 77mm f/5.6 1/500. All the photos received noise reduction, level adjustment and sharpening.

Next up is Claudine Schaul. It’s a full frame using my Sigma 70-300mm lens at 300mm f/8 1/500.

After returning to my office, a photographer I work with (now video, but formerly still) talked to me about timing shots. While I was shooting I heard a chorus of shutters every time the ball hit the racket. He said everyone’s a little off on the first day, but by the end of a tournament it becomes much easier to time your press to catch the ball in the frame.

I was surprised at how most of the photographers looked at their pictures between serves.

My final shot here is Claudine again. Full frame, Sigma 18-125mm at 125mm f/5.6 1/500.

Blogger’s note: Click on any image to see it in a larger version.

3 thoughts on “Pro Tennis With My Camera”

  1. Nice photos! I NEED to get a digital SLR.

    You might be interested in this great site run by sports photographers. The message boards in particular are full of pros. That’s where I found out that the jargon for looking at your pictures is “chimping”. (Why? Because you look at it and go “ooo, ooo”.)

  2. I don’t think “Digital” is the operative phrase. It’s really the right combo of lens and body. At the moment, you can still buy a similar film body for a whole lot less.

    I think the photos are OK – but not great. Most of the technical details are good (to me) but the actual action I captured wasn’t exactly what I wanted. That would have included more facial expression and better capture of the ball near the racket.

    Meanwhile, I really appreciate your kind comments and the link.

    All the best,

    Geoff Fox

  3. Geoff’s right. You can still pick up a film SLR for a WHOLE lot less. If your content on buying a digital SLR, look at the Nikon D70, or the Canon Digital Rebel. They’re both impressive cameras, that have both broke the “under $1,000” mark for a body kit. Now, the D70 costs just a little bit more, but in pictures there is almost almost no noise, and even though they’re both plastic, the D70 is a little tougher. This has created a heated war between Canon and Nikon. 🙂 Just some help!


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