Commack High School Boys Varsity Basketball vs. Brentwood
Since I've already beaten to death every other subject about photographing basketball I thought I'd talk about how I compose my shots. In my earlier days shooting sports I leaned toward photos of individual players out in the open, or what's known as "bubble gum cards". There's nothing wrong with these types of photos. Certainly the players and their families like them but they can be a little boring after a while. And if the player is out in the open without any opposing players in the photo or spectators in the background the photo looks as if it could have been taken in practice. Lately, I've been shooting a lot wider and getting more of the game in each photo. By that I mean other players, the bench, the coaches, the crowd, the refs, etc. I'm trying to give viewers an idea of how a particular play went down and make them feel they're out on the floor with the players. In order to do this I shoot less with my 50-140mm. For this game I didn't use that lens at all because we had a big crowd and I couldn't get up into the stands where I normally use it.
My go to lens for basketball in the high school's south gym is a 16-55mm (24-70mm full frame equivalent). As I mentioned in a previous post, there's not a lot of room between the baselines and the wall so the 50-140, which I use on the floor in larger gyms, would bring me in too close. The 16-55 is great for plays under the basket and also good for fairly wide shots of the floor that includes the crowd and benches. For the really wide shots I use my 10-24mm. This is a great lens because you can get the entire floor. The only downside is it has an f/4 maximum aperture which means I have to lower my shutter speed to 1/250 sec. at ISO 6400. 1/250 sec. is a slow shutter speed for action shots but, since the lens is so wide, the players' movement in the frame is less, relative to a longer lens, and I can usually come up with a few shots without motion blur.
Shooting a "play" instead of a player takes a little more awareness of what's happening. You're still focusing on the player with the ball, as usual, but you need to keep both eyes open to watch the play come together and shoot at the right moment. I find it's worth it because you get an image of not only the player but the reaction of the other players, the bench, the coaches and the crowd and you've told a story.