A Hard Sport to Shoot

  • Jennifer Buchanan/Staff Photographer
  • Friday, November 2, 2007 3:54pm
  • Sports

The last time I shot volleyball, I was lofted high above the court in the nose-bleed seats of Hec-Ed at the University of Washington. From that vantage point, I could clearly see the players’ faces as they jumped high to spike balls down on their opponents. It was difficult to make a nice photo, due to the speed of the game and the limited playing space, but not impossible. Husky volleyball has been good for many years and they were pretty darn impressive in the years I was at UW. The hitters rocketed off the ground at the corners and the blockers had verticals that would make former Husky basketball guard Nate Robinson proud.

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of photographing the two best prep volleyball team in the WesCo North, the Monroe Bearcats and the Oak Harbor Wildcats at the Monroe High School gym. Monroe’s gym isn’t the darkest of prep gyms by far, but it is, of course, none too bright. In an attempt to make the same kind of photos I knew how to take from shooting Husky volleyball, I trudged my way up the stands to the very top and plunked myself down just behind the very rowdy and very orange student section.

It only took me about a minute to realize that not only did the prep players not jump as high as Div. 1 players, but also I wasn’t anywhere near high enough to get their faces over the net. This discovered, I resolved to move down to the floor level at the completion of the current game. In an effort to avoid the parent with the red flag who signaled “side in” or “side out”, I picked a corner on the Monroe side of the court. In my new position, it again, only took me about a minute to discover that I had again picked an un-ideal location. This time, my position had an unpleasant background. It was nice to look at, but kind of confusing to photograph.

I moved down the line, found a cleaner wall to shoot against and made an okay frame. It’s a little after “peak action”, but clean and clear.

Ultimately, all my moving around didn’t really make a difference in the end. Monroe sealed up the north by sweeping Oak Harbor in three games and my best photo came from standing just behind the Monroe bench and shooting the celebrating players as they came off the court, spraying themselves with Silly String. Volleyball is exceptionally hard to shoot, regardless of backgrounds and players’ verticals, but a good react photo when a team wins a championship, especially when props are involved, are sometimes the best photos you can get, regardless of how hard you work to get a nice action photo during the game.

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