John likes sports and much as I’d like to monopolise our photography projects with endless pictures of cats, it’s only fair that we mix things up a little by varying the shoots we do. It’s true that shooting different subjects requires a diverse set of skills and a photographer has to think deliberately about what looks good in a frame and why. There are many things that affect the composition of a shot such as lighting, patterns, shape and colour. Attention to detail is a must for any photographer and when John and I take pictures of wildlife, we have to be very patient and sit still for a long time while we wait for the animal to be in the right position. Taking photos of the basketball players required heaps of concentration and a quick trigger finger. Exposure control is also a challenge with these fast moving subjects and it’s easy to end up with blurry shots. Of course John and I didn’t take a single fuzzy frame!
It was rather sweaty in the basketball arena due to the vast amounts of running around that the players are required to do and the squeaking of trainers against the wooden floor was an aspect of the game that I did not relish. But even though I’m not a sporty kind of cat, I enjoyed watching the game and even got swept up in the moment a couple of times when the ball went through the hoop or was cleverly stolen from another player’s clutches. (I’m sure any basketball aficionados reading this will be cringing from my poor use of sporting terminology). At the end of the day, regardless of artistic value or balance of form, John and I know from running a photography business that the success of a photograph often comes down to individual taste.
John and I have been looking for a way to build our portfolio and enhance our capabilities so we decided to enroll in Sports Photography School. I dug out my old satchel from the bottom of the wardrobe and insisted that John find my pencil case as I was very keen to make a good impression. But it turns out that photography school isn’t based in a classroom, but is actually an event shooting experience that takes you to all sorts of interesting settings. Like the Copper Box Arena (a multi-sport venue in the Olympic Park in London used for the 2012 Summer Olympics) which was the location for a championship British Basketball League game between the London Lions and the Bristol Flyers last Friday.
Apparently the Flyers are a force to be reckoned with and unbeaten in their last few games. However the Lions triumphed that night due to their mastery of offensive and defensive techniques. Oh yes, I learned more than just how to improve my photography. I discovered that basketball players pass and shoot, but more worrying they also foul, block and dribble. Most of these guys were over 6 feet tall with huge strides and an extraordinary ability to navigate through the crowded areas of the court. As you can see from the pictures, they were also adept at leaping vertically into the air, an essential skill required to perform a classic slam-dunk.
It was a great opportunity for John and I to develop our camera skills and I learnt loads about the importance of backgrounds and the challenges of timing key moments. Some of the fun moments of the evening involved these pretty ladies collectively known as the Lioness’s as they danced their support for the team, always smiling and so cheery. But there is also a role for the more sporty ladies out there and the game is played professionally by women in England. The Women’s English Basketball League is a professional competition that has thirty national league sides and includes teams such as the Rhondda Rebels and the Sheffield Hatters. I just love the names of basketball teams, like the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Denver Nuggets. I discovered that there appears to be great reverence directed towards the feline species demonstrated through the names of teams such as the Charlotte Bobcats, the Detroit Tigers, the San Jose Sabercats, the Florida Panthers and closer to home, the Nottingham Wildcats. I approve!