Tennis, Justine Henin

During the US Open Finals in Flushing Meadows, the conditions for photographers were not ideal. TV gets the priority so the match is played in the evening under artificial lights. During the week the pro photographers go home and eat in the evening because they hate the color-cast of artificial light. They prefer to get the shots that will end up in Sports Illustrated. Those shots are one or two among thousands upon thousands that were shot during the two week tournament. So you go when the odds are best to capture the critical moment. It doesn’t much matter except that you got that quintessential shot of the eventual winner. The finals are different because you have to be there as the winner falls to their knees in the joy of victory.  There are many vantage points and a pecking order in which the bigger organizations like Sports Illustrated gets prime position. With a guest photo pass I got to roam the stadium but during the finals I was up in the balcony/mezzanine. This lighting requires the fastest glass that I carried – an 80-200 f2.8 zoom. I still used 1/250 to 1/500 sec shutter and let the ISO go. Capturing the tennis ball in the frame is the trick. It comes into and out of the frame in less than the blink of the eye. You don’t get many of these shots. So you focus and shoot with every tennis shot. And the eyes have to be in focus. Low lighting, bad color-cast, fast shutter, high ISO are there enough hurdles to surmount? Plus you are about a mile from the action. Focusing is still on the eyes. If you can put it all together, you get a few frames that you will keep.

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2 thoughts on “Tennis, Justine Henin

    • I never realized how the world of sports photography is so different from still life, flowers and portraits. The photo techniques are completely different. The pace is in the moment and capturing a unique instant of action. We are surrounded by great sports photos and don’t realize that there is only a very small percentage of images which make the final edit. When we used film that must really have been a challenge. It was a great opportunity and learning experience for me.

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