US Open Tennis – It’s all about the ball

We are running a NPS operation at the US Open Tennis here in NY this week (actually 2 weeks). Not being a tennis fan, I never have had a real “feel” for the game. Needless to say, I also have never shot tennis professionally. This week gave me the opportunity to develop some new skills.

Since the 1st week is light in photographer attendance – I would not be taking a spot that someone else needed to make a living. A chance to see how difficult this really is. Tennis – fast moving people – fast moving tennis balls and I found out the hard way that it is really all about the ball – or lack of. regardless of the expresion – no ball – no good (maybe I could count the “period” in the JP Morgan sign)

All Images = D4 with 200-400mm f/4.0 AF-S VRII

AF settings – AF-C, 51 AF points, D21 (Dynamic 21)

I had a photo editor in my youth that woud not accept a sports photo if the ball was not in it. As in any sport – knowing the game would certainly help and even then – you have to “sense” the timing. I shot a while and downloaded the images to see how I was doing. The first few sets produced a lot of photos without the ball. Back out on the court and taking a little time to just watch what was going on helped a lot.

After a while you get that “anticipation factor” tuned in and you start to get the images that really show the intensity of the game.

Didn’t take long – just some practice and more practice and more practice.

Then the guys came on and you find that the timing you just worked on – now has to be fine tuned again. The ball is moving faster and you have to anticipate even more.

I did notice that several of the younger shooters were simply putting the hammer down. Holding the shutter button and hoping that 10 FPS would capture the right moment. Sorry – you occasionally get a lucky shot but it’s amazing how far that little ball moves between frames. The real shooters time the shooting and take very few frames to get the one they want.

It was a great experience and certainly gave me an appreciation for the guys/gals that do this for a living.

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  1. George Tiedemann says:

    Not bad, at least there’s something to shoot. Reminds me of the time I was assigned bowling. After looking at my take, the editor asked, “What the hell did you do?” The truth was, not much, there wasn’t much going on. Enjoyed the pictures, thanks, gt

  2. Hey man. you’re getting your sports shooter creds back on, nice stuff, can’t wait to shoot some airplanes next week with you and Mark!

  3. Well, I use to play some tennis but I sure bet I couldn’t shoot it….
    I believe you are right, anticipating is the way to go. BTW what camera and lens did you use. Nice work and another subject mastered….. thanks for showing these. I believe I have a old wooden Stan Smith in the basement…. may have to dig it out and then sell it.

  4. Thanks guys – I added camera info – I appreciate the memory jog

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