Camera Basics

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 18, 1999

TOMMY WILLIAMS / L’Observateur / December 18, 1999

Because I normally find myself behind the camera instead of in front of it, I forget what it’s like to be blinded by the flash.

During basketball games you find yourself a great deal closer to not only the crowd noise, but the crowd itself, about 3 to 4 feet at times. Frequently when Ilook behind me, I get blasted by a spectator’s flash. When this happens it sort ofreminds me of the movie “Poltergeist,” but particularly that little old lady who spent much of time debating whether or not to “move toward the light.”I’m sure it’s not impossible, but I am pretty sure that not too many of your photographs will turn out that good at that distance, meaning from up in the stands. Flash size and film speed play major parts in getting better photosduring sporting events.

If you’re using a point and shoot camera it’s not likely your flash range extends much further than about 20 feet. Even if you’re using an off-camera flash for a35 mm SLR (single lens reflex camera), your flash will not give you much more than a 5.6 F-stop or aperture setting at 20 to 25 feet. And unless your zoom lenshas an aperture capability of more than 5.6, your restricted to much the samedistance. Besides, it’s just about 20 feet from the center of the basketball rimto courtside, so get closer to the action to improve your photos. Being court-side will not only improve your chances of getting better exposure (good negative density for better prints), it will also allow you to increase the image size of your subject in the final print. It gets a little hard to see who a personis if he’s the size of an ant in a photograph.

When photographing any sport indoors use a higher film speed. This will allowfor more ambient light (or what some may call available light) to be recorded on film. As you get closer to a balance between flash exposure and ambient lightexposure, you will find that the photos take on a more natural look. Photos takenindoors with slower film speeds, like 100 ASA, will result in photos with good subject exposure and dark background, sometimes just a black area behind the subject. Faster speed films, such as 800 ASA or 1600 ASA, should allow you torecord both subject and background area, at least within reason. The subjectwill still appear brighter, but not that much brighter than the background. Keepin mind that as the amount of ambient light reduces, the background will still become darker than the subject, just not as much as if you were using slower film speeds.

So, at the next basketball game or any sporting event, move closer to the action and use higher film speeds to improve your indoor or nighttime photographs.

Oh, I almost forgot, if you’re court-side, don’t move in either direction from the light if you get blasted, you’re either going to get hit by a basketball or step on someone. Remember, you don’t have wings just yet.Back to Top

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