Thursday, March 18, 2010

A wider view of things

My college photojournalism instructor told me to always take a wide angle lens to a sporting event. It sounded contradictory at first. "Don't you want a tighter shot than that," I asked myself. As my skills improved I started to take the advice to heart, and was rarely disappointed by the end result. Still, even though I would occasionally pull out my 17-35mm for sports action, most times I felt more comfortable with my longer lenses.

Of course, I realize that my bag full of cameras, lenses, flashes and other gadgets are tools to be used in the creative process. But like most people, I gravitate toward the familiar and comfortable sometimes. While that feeling can sometimes lend itself to good photographs, it can also contribute to a creative rut.

Denver University's Matt Glasser hits Minnesota State University, Mankato's Andrew Sackrison in a photo I took with my wide angle lens in 2008, probably the last time I committed to shooting wide at a sporting event.

These days I rarely shoot game action with my wide angle lens, though I often have it with me for celebration photos at the end of big games. I shoot most sports with two cameras, but they are usually a 70-200mm on one camera and a 300mm on the other, tight and tighter. Last night, while shooting the St. Peter girls basketball team's State Class AA quarterfinal game at Target Center,  I decided to break out of the rut and shot the game with my trusty 17-35mm wide angle instead of the 300mm. Once again, I unconsciously proved my instructor right by coming up with this photo.

St. Peter's Katy Kuiper saves the ball from going out of bounds, but is pinned in the corner by Rochester Lourdes' Aubrey Neumann (23) and Stephanie Helt (5) during the second half of their Class AA state quarterfinal game Thursday at Target Center.

When shooting sports, I tend to gravitate toward the close in, intimate, in your face-type shots that bring a viewer into the action, shots that I typically get with a longer lens. I wonder how many times I'll have to prove to myself that I can get that same feeling out of my wide angle lens too?

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