Trials of the Amateur Sports Photographer

John Rooney and Morris Berman are the polar opposite of the norm, yet they are perhaps my favorite. These did not freeze the exact moment when a ball hit the bat or the precise second the receiver was flying prone above the ground. These photos showed the world the emotional heart of sports. They captured the true agony and ecstasy of an athlete.

Canon 5D body, with a $2,000+ Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. This is a great body and super lens combo that is indeed sharp and fast enough. While shooting wide open at f/2.8 and at 1/1000 of a second, it quickly becomes apparent that an ISO of at least 20000 is required. These requirements are pushing my camera body and lens to the maximum.

Realize, however, that my basic $5,000+ investment may indeed be functional for many settings. However, in football, I am limited to the area of midfield to my sideline. The far side of the field is simply out of range. This limitation is something I can live with as an amateur, but for the professional, this is totally unsatisfactory. They must cover the entire field. For the professional, this requirement easily doubles the price tag of the camera and lens.

Now for the second issue related to light. This time it is not the brilliance of the light, but its actual color. The light in amateur gyms and fields is fine for the parents to watch their children play. However, it is horrible for the photographer. Obviously, it is not color balanced for outdoor shooting, but the problem goes beyond this. The issue is that the balance is not even uniform throughout the gym or field. Some overhead bulbs are new, some others are old, and some are simply vacant. The light balance on the near court is often very different than that on the far court.

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