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I’m in Chicago for my Photoshop seminar tomorrow (over 600 photographers will be there, which is awesome), and since I was getting in the day before, I got a chance to shoot the Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers NBA game last night with my buddy Mike McCaskey (we were guests of our other buddy, Bulls Team photographer Bill Smith).

The shot above was taken with a 10.5mm fisheye lens. You have to see it big to appreciate the fish-eye effect, so click on it for a much larger version. I used the 10.5mm fish-eye lens, which is a DX (cropped format) lens on an FX (full frame) body, so it crops in a bit, but I like that it doesn’t look too crazy.

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I had a much better time shooting this game than the Orlando Magic game I shot a month or so ago, because of one main thing I learned at that Game—buy aĀ  fold-up portable floor chair for back support (my chair is shown below in the corner of court where we shot for most of the 2nd half).

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Man, that thing is worth it’s weight in gold because you basically sit cross-legged on the floor for hours at a time, and it made the whole experience 100% more comfortable and enjoyable (I had Mike pick up one, too and he thanked me several times during the game).

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Bill Smith took this shot above of Mike and me shooting during the game (that’s us in the left bottom corner, Mike’s in the light blue shirt). Also, you do have to kind of keep your other eye open while you’re shooting, because you’ll get beaned with the ball (at the very least), or run right over if not you’re watching out (by the way, even if you’re watching out, you can still get run over, but at least you can cover up a bit).

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Tech Specs: Here’s what I shot with, then I’ll tell you what I wish I had been shooting with. I used a Nikon D3 with either a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens (most of the night), a 24-70mm f/2.8 (for some wide angle shots and stuff near the close basket), and I took one series of shots with that 10.5 fisheye lens. I shot in Manual mode, at 1/640 to 1/800 of a second, at f/2.8 all night. I used a gray card to set a custom white balance at the beginning of the game, but I shot in raw in case the white balance got squirrely on me. I shot at 2,500 ISO to get that fast a shutter speed (no reduction was applied, which is the marvel of the Nikon D3).

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Now, here’s what everybody was shooting out there. They all did have a 70-200mm (either Nikon or Canon), but then just about every photographer had a second body with a 300mm f/2.8 for when the action is happening at the far basket. The 70-200mm is just that little bit too short to cover the far basket the way I’d like (about 100mm too short with a full frame body).

They would sit the 300mm on the floor, lens facing straight down, and shoot the other lens, but then when the action went the other way, they just picked up the 300mm and starting shooting. That part was a little frustrating, but next time I’ll rent a 300mm f/2.8 from LensProToGo.com

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Mike took this shot of me during a time out using my iPhone. This is about where I was sitting for most of the game. Here, and just on other the other side of the basketball goal post behind me. We thought Lebron James was going to be playing that night, and that he’d be playing toward our basket in the first half, but we found out right before tip off that he wasn’t able to play tonight because of an existing injury.

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So, the good news is I think I made some progress on this, my second NBA shoot. It’s better than what I got on my first game, but not nearly as good as what I’ll get next time (at least, that’s the plan). Either way—-it was an incredible way to spend the night before my seminar (thanks Bill!), and Mike and I both had a ball (we had been shooting earlier in the day around Chicago, and in the Little Italy area. A little HDR stuff at St. Inglesia’s Church, and then followed by a fantastic Italian Dinner at Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap. That place rocks!!!!

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Two Last Things:
(1) Don’t forget the big stuff kicking off on Monday (from Adobe, of course, and from us at NAPP, too!).

(2) Hey, isn’t there an Indy car race in Birmingham, Alabama this weekend? Man, that would be fun to shoot (wink, wink) ;-)

Have a great weekend everybody, and we’ll see you on CS5 Monday!