Shooting My First NBA Basketball Game


Last night my buddy Erik Kuna and I got to shoot the Orlando Magic vs. Indiana Pacers NBA basketball game, and we had media passes that put us right under the basket (well, 6 or 8 feet to the right of it, anyway). It was my first time shooting NBA Basketball (well, for that matter, it was my first time shooting basketball) and as you might expect we had a blast!!!! (plus the Magic won!).

I wanted to include the three-frame shot you see above of a slam dunk from Magic star Dwight Howard (who had a season-high 32 points in last night’s game) but to really see it, you have to click on it for the larger version (I made it a little larger than usual, too).


Although we had just an incredible time shooting the game, and I learned just a ton, I learned a very valuable lesson in the first period. I’m not used to sitting cross legged, and especially not for hours at a time. Beyond that, Erik and I were the only photographers there who didn’t bring a fold-up floor chair (kind of like the lightweight portable chairs you’d use on a canoe, with some back support) and I kid you not, at one point Erik looked at me and said “I’d pay $100 for one of those chairs.” I said, “Not if I get to him first.”


We couldn’t wait for a time out to stretch our legs, and we both hobbled out of there at the end of the night like we were 90-years-old. It made me miss running up and down the sidelines—but I’d do it all again in a minute (with a floor chair, though). Anyway, suffice it to say—everything hurts. ;-)


OK, besides the chair thing, I learned something even more valuable—I need a lot more practice shooting basketball. But hey, it’s a start, and it can only get better from here (I already have a mental checklist of what I’ll do different next time). That’s Pacer’s SF Danny Granger hitting the floor about two feet in front of me. After seeing him hit that hardwood, I felt like a total weenie for whining about my legs.


For gear I used a Nikon D3 with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, and Nikon D700 with a 24-70 lens, with a 1.4 tele-extender, and I popped a 10.5mm fisheye lens on for a few frames, too. Also, I did shoot a little with my 200mm f/2, which I loved, but it was a little too unwieldy without a monopod, so after the first period, I ditched it.


I shot at between 1600 ISO and 3200 ISO most of the night (shooting for around 1/800 of a second shutter speed). I didn’t use any strobes—-just the available arena lighting, which seemed bright, but of course to my cameras—it wasn’t (which is why I shot at such a high ISO). I also shot in Raw the whole time because even though I wouldn’t get as many frames per second, I knew I’d be dealing with some white balance issues, and they’d be easier to deal with in Raw.


These guys play a mean game of keep-away.


Here’s a Lightroom grid of some more (above—click on it for a larger view), but I’m whipped, and I’m going to bed.


The shot above was taken by Erik with my iPhone (Note: This was taken before my legs felt like someone was burning them with a cigarette lighter). ;-)

Anyway, I hope to shoot more basketball this season, so we’ll see how it goes, but in the end—-nothing beats practice, so that’s what I’m gonna do!

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