One of the many perks of being married to an MBA student at the University of Washington is getting to attend the annual Challenge for Charity Sports Weekend. Students from eight California graduate business schools, along with about 120 students from the UW Foster School of Business, gathered at Stanford University to compete in a wide variety of sports and performing arts events, hang out in the sun, and do a lot of eating and drinking – all to top off and celebrate a year of fundraising and volunteering for charities. Since my main sport was canceled due to thunderstorms and downpours (still bitter about it, but starting to move on), I had a lot of time to go shooting. I ended up practicing a lot of photography that I don’t normally do (landscape, sports, and concert), which was definitely challenging. Also, I was so caught up in covering the scheduled events, I somehow forgot to take any candid photos of people outside of the events, which is a little disappointing. Below are some of my favs from this most awesome of weekends.
Landscape Photography – The Dish
My wife’s friend studying at Stanford GSB took us on an incredible walk/hike up a hill called “The Dish”, overlooking Stanford’s campus and all the surrounding area. It had some incredible views, and the colors of the sky, grass, and wildflowers made for some beautiful landscapes. As much as I enjoy good views, I struggle to make landscape shots unique and interesting enough to stand out among other landscape shots. Some key aspects of great landscape photographers (which I don’t possess) seem to be patience and planning – finding the right time of day and season to shoot a location, and then plan out everything about how to shoot it. However, considering that I had no control over the timing of this shoot, I’m fairly happy with what I’ve captured on the spur of the moment.
Sports – Men’s Basketball & Co-ed Flag Football
Sports photography is not something I normally get to try, since I’m usually a participant of the sport or sitting in the nosebleed section of a professional sporting event. It can be really exciting, which makes it difficult to focus on shooting instead of cheering or yelling at the ref. I also realized how difficult it can be if you don’t have the right equipment – camera with fast, accurate auto-focus and high frame rate, long, high-quality zoom lens, and maybe a monopod. My Canon 5D has a pretty antiquated auto-focus system and shoots only three frames per second. So for these sports, I had to rely more heavily on what are probably more important tools in action photography – anticipation and timing. I also tried to improve my chances of catching my subject in focus by increasing my depth of field and using a fast shutter speed, which I was able to do on the bright, sunlit football field, but not indoors on the basketball court. In hindsight, I should have used a much faster speed (even 1/500 sec wasn’t fast enough to capture the lightning-quick Foster players) and stuck with an aperture setting of f/10 or higher.
I like the tension in this photo. There’s a sense that, even though the players are still, there’s a lot of potential energy that’s about to be unleashed.
Concert – Death Spiral
I’m not sure if there’s really a genre of photography called “concert photography”, but I didn’t know what else to call it. These photos were taken during the Battle of the Bands, the grand finale of C4C Sports Weekend. Foster’s band Death Spiral rocked the whole crowd with epic covers of Rihanna, Nirvana, and a bunch more. And I’ve decided that one of the best ways you can do photography is while dancing and jumping at the edge of the stage during a rock concert. The poor lighting conditions definitely made shooting tough. I pushed the ISO up to 1600, sacrificing sharpness for somewhat decent shutter speeds. To help cover the noisiness of the images, I used a Photoshop action made by a photographer I found on Flickr. I decided it would be easier and more interesting to make the images even more gritty and outrageous, rather than try to fight the noise caused by the high ISO. Not only did the action disguise the noise, it also emphasized the UW purple and added to the rock and roll/garage band feel of the photos.