I love college athletics and photography. When We Are Juxt ( WeAreJuxt.com) offered the opportunity to combine these two passions by covering the Huskies basketball game, I jumped quicker than Aziz N’Diaye at the chance. I have a Canon 35mm digital camera with shutter speed and aperture settings that allow me to control the amount of light entering the camera. I have quality interchangeable lenses that allow me to capture close up shots and different perspectives due to the focal lengths. All you could wish for to photograph a basketball game. But, for this assignment I had to leave all that behind and use only my Iphone.
With the We Are Juxt media pass, I arrived at Alaska Airlines Arena well before tip-off. This allowed me to scout out the arena, locker room locations and try to calm my excitement. Soon, players began to trickle out to begin warm ups and I was able to get in a few test shots. By the time the full warm ups began, I had a pretty good feel for the lighting and how the Iphone camera was going to respond to the action. Being able to shoot up close to the action was an amazing opportunity. I was on the baseline near the Husky bench. It was crazy. I cruised the baselines capturing shot after shot. The student section was pumped and I headed over to get some “action” shots of the fans and the band. I even got a few huddle shots behind the opponent’s bench. It was awesome hanging out near the Husky locker room grabbing shots as the team returned to the court for the second half. As the game progressed, the score tightened and I began to feel and see the tension in the players on the bench and the crowd……that moment in sports that is so great…..when outcome hangs in the balance. I’m very appreciative to We Are Juxt and The University of Washington for allowing me to have this experience as both a fan and photographer.
Using only an Iphone for sports photography can be a challenge. It increases the number of strange looks you get from strangers and fellow photographers using their full assortment of gear. I had to adjust my expectations and goals but not in a negative way. One of the biggest obstacles is motion. Since you can’t really increase the shutter speed it becomes hard to capture motion without blur. I tried to use this to my advantage as in the image below. Here, I used the motion of the Husky defender, jumping out to stop the jump shot, to illustrate action.
Game shots with less explosive action lead to less blur but still a sense of action is achieved that isn’t normally seen in images captured with 35mm cameras.
In addition to game shots, I wanted to capture a sense of the game day environment. Without the “action” factor, this was easier to achieve and more similar to using a 35mm camera. From the stage of the arena:
The festive cheer:
The tension and excitement:
Mobile photography is exploding as illustrated by the emergence of communities like We Are Juxt and athletic departments such as the University of Washington willing to embrace this technology. Snapseed, Camera+, and HDR Fusion are but a few of the excellent apps available for processing the images you can capture with your Iphone. How else can you improve your mobile photography ? I would make the first goal stability. The sharper the image the better and this can be accomplished by finding nearby objects (railing,floor,chair,etc) to rest your phone on to take the shot. If nothing else, just holding your breath to eliminate movement can improve sharpness. You should also familiarize yourself with the basic rules of composition ( http://digital-photography-school.com/digital-photography-composition-tips ) . Lastly, experiment and have fun.
An Iphone cannot replace all the capabilities of professional 35mm gear, but it does have an advantage with the general population in that we almost always have it with us. And most importantly, it is just a tool to achieve a desired result that originates in that space above your neck and shoulders.
Head over to http://www.wearejuxt.com/2013/01/04/thelandslideuw/ to also see the images made by other mobile photographers covering the University of Washington basketball games.