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Volleyball is tough to shoot Monday, November 10, 2008

Volleyball is a tough sport to photograph, especially when you only do it one weekend a year.

The ball moves quickly when it is near the players, and spends much of its time high above their heads and out of the frame. The players generally keep their backs to the sidelines, forcing you to shoot through the net for many of the shots. In that case, not only do you have the net to contend with, but half a dozen opposing players wandering between you and your subject. And the best shots usually involve the player(s) jumping or diving, making it that much harder to focus on them.

My solution, for the most part, is to concentrate on one particular shot—line up the player, and wait for the ball to come to her. Of course, by the time you see the ball in the frame it's too late to shoot. So you have to watch with both eyes—the non-camera eye on the play as it develops, and the camera-eye on the subject, waiting for her reaction. Meanwhile, you see the other five girls making all kinds of miraculous plays that you aren't capturing. C'est la vie.

Even if you get the timing right, you can still have problems—cluttered backgrounds (above), soft focus (below right), and ball-head (below left). So you shoot lots and hope for the best.