Best of Sport 2014: Time to Vote!

Every year at the end of December (or beginning of January) I am doing some archiving tasks on my photo collection and take some minutes (better say hours ...) to select a set of "best of the year" images - or to be more precise: my "Best of Sport 2014" set. 

For those who are interested in numbers: my 2014 collection has more than 11.000 images from 60 basketball (all with TB Erlangen teams) and 5 football games of the Erlangen Sharks. I assume that I originally had about more than 20K - but as I am deleting the really bad ones directly after uploading to the laptop it was just about the half size. To be honest: when shooting sports I often have the problem to decide whether to capture or to participate as an active spectator .... and this is really a conflict which isn't easy to solve!

A note to anyone who remembers my "Best of Sports 2013" from last year: this year it was a hard job to strip down the set just to 11 members. My main criteria to become a member of this "best of" set is to have have a view directly to the main player, the ball should be part of the image and it should be some kind of interesting action. Of course, I shot more photos that matched this three requirements but for different kind of reasons I like the following ones most - and I invite you to vote for the further selection of the best ones. OK. I will stop talking here and let us jump to the candidates.

(1) Close-Up 

Lumix G6 with Sima 60mm F2.8 DN, ISO 1600, 1/320s

This is a kind of image I wanted to shoot for quite a long time! You may ask "Why?" and I need just some room for an answer. Well, you have to know that during basketball games one of the referees has his position at the baseline of the court. Usually, she/he is moving along baseline together with the action. And as the games are often running in multi purpose halls the board is typically fixed on the hall ceiling (or on the wall in smaller halls) - which gives the referee a lot of room at the baseline, espacially behind the board. And as a photographer you have to take care and to avoid any interference with the referee.
But in this game it was different: it was on March, 22nd, when our team had an away game hosted by the BG Regnitztal team. When I entered the hall I got really surprised because it was a "basketball only!" gymnasium! So there have been no other marks on the floor than the ones needed for the basketball court! Additionally - and most exciting - the backboard has been a real pro version! Just like the devices the professionals use and which is not mounted on the ceiling - instead it is fixed on long and heavy arms standing on the floor. And now I come back to my initial question: the benefit of this kind of backboard is that the referee tends not to stand directly in front of the arm (in order to avoid contact with players crossing the line) and therefore the view to the players directly under the ring is free! As as photographer you can use the space directly besides the heavy arm in this moements - that gives you a perfect perspective! For this shot I used the Sigma DN 60mm/2.8 lens and was able to get a real close-up of the action. Here you see Florian (player #6, red) with his eyes fixed to the basket on top while he gets fouled during his shot (unfortunately, this foul was not caught by the referees). 

 (2) Take Off

Lumix G6 with Olympus 45mm F1.8, ISO 1000, 1/640s

It was the same game as in the first picture, but this time I stood sidelined with a perfect view of the action. Kevin (with the ball, red) made a steal at the other end of the court and sprinted across the whole field in order to finish this fastbreak with a layup. Here you can really feel how Kevin is jumping and the grey dressed oppenents fear that he will be finishing with points. The only player who can interrupt here is the one with the beard, who has beaten down his arm just a millisecond later and hit Kevin during his shot. BANG! Hard work, no points! Of course, this foul got caught by the referees but in this game the rate on the freethrow line of our team was really a .... well, I just say "below the average" and assume you would understand. Another point to note here: the diagonale from the upper left corner, Kevins arms, the shoulders of the other players down to lower corner on the right.

 (3) Kickoff

Lumix G6 with Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300, ISO 320, 1/800s, F4.7 and 100mm

When the basketball season finishes end of March it doesn't take long time until the American Football season is starting! I visited this sport for the first time in 2013 and enjoyed very much the atmosphere on and around the field - it is really like a summer party, espacially when the weather is nice and sunny! Music and barbecue together with action on the field - so much to explore and no question for me to come back again!
For my second year at the football field I had a new lens: the Panasonic 100-300mm zoom! I just got it two days before the matchup of the Erlangen Sharks vs. Bamberg Phantoms. As I had used an old Canon FD 200mm/2.8 legacy lens a year earlier it was a kind of a quantum leap to shoot now with this long range zoom lens! But nevertheless it took some time to get familiar with this lens and it's features. I like this picture although the ball is cut at the border : the right leg of the player is fully stretched and pointing directly to the ball. And the dust on the ground is moving which gives an impression of the used energy.

 (4) No Escape

Lumix G6 with Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300, ISO 320, 1/500s, F5.6 and 300mm

Here you see the defense of the Erlangen Sharks in action: Phantoms player with the ball but he has no chance to move further or to do any step as the Sharks just caught him everywhere. There is simply no escape and you can imagine that a moment later this crowd is laying on the ground.

(5) Referee's Window

Lumix G6 with Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300, ISO 250, 1/800s, F4.5 and 150mm

A benefit of the Panasonic 100-300mm zoom is that you can get really close to your subjects and I espacially like it when the view is like being part of the audience. Here I managed to catch the snap (the opening of a play when the center passess the ball to the quarterback) through a window of the referee's arm. It gives just a simple new perspective compared to the "so often seen" offense and defense lines looking face to face.

 (6) Matchwinner

Lumix G2 with Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7, ISO 800, 1/30s, F2.8

After the long summer period it is always exciting to start into a new basketball season. As a kind of a prologue our team had a exciting cup match end of September. They lost but nevertheless it was a tight game against a competitor in the league (and in the season earlier the openents had been clear winners). Despite this loss they could enter the league games a week later in a heads-up manner when they had they away game with TB Weiden. Oh what a game! Both teams didn't yield any centimeter, the leadership changed several times and it was a head to head run until the end! With two seconds left on the clock and two points behind Weiden our guys had a throw-in in the opponents half. They managed to pass the ball to Jakob, a good distance shooter, and he fired off just a moment before the siren yelled. He was standing behind the 3-point marking and that ball just flew through the net! SWISH! BANG!! .... Three points, end of game and a 67:66 win!!

I am still annoyed that I didn't push the video button on my Lumix before this throw-in but ... well, this moment was so thrilling that I just didn't think about it. But nevertheless I managed to get a nice team photo and I guess that you might easy recognize which one of the guys is Jakob, the matchwinner.

 (7) Swish!

Lumix G6 with Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F/1.8, ISO 2000, 1/250s, F1.8 

A week after this exiting Buzzer Beater game the thrill didn't make a stop: the home game against the near neighbours of Eggolsheim. Last season, these opponents finished with three clear wins (2x league, 1x cup) but this time it seemed to be different: the guests made a very good job in the second quarter but after the halftime break our team started a great comeback and within the last minute they got leadership again! High Voltage everywhere - even through the breaks due to fouls and following free-throws! At the end of the fourth period the scoreboard showed 59:59 - Overtime required! In the additional 5 minutes the guest team had more luck and managed to leave the court as a winner but nevertheless is was a game of two teams on the same level - and our team recognized that the hard work during summer had pushed them a big step forward!

What I like in this particular photo is that all players look up to the ball falling through the ring. All four tried to be prepared for the rebound as the two guest players look more upset about the successful shot while Martin (#15, yellow dress) and Florian (half hidden) are just in the switch of going to be relaxed after doing a good job in the offense.

 (8) Through the Shield!

Lumix G6 with Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F/1.8, ISO 1600, 1/200s, F1.8 

It is like the old metapher of David against Goliath when William (#14, yellow dress) is taking up with his speed against the much taller defender of the guest team. As I have been following William through the viewfinder the other players here got a little bit blurred by motion (compared to the background which is blurred due to aperture setting). So when looking at this pictures first I had just two thought in my mind: "Speed" and "You can't stop me!".

 (9) Delivery

Lumix G6 with Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F/1.8, ISO 1600, 1/320s, F1.8 

In a basketball game you can often see many people in a (more or less) small square on the field so it is not surprising that sometimes a player is stumbling as the legs or feets got in contact with others. Here it is Lorenz (#7, yellow dress) who is just about to get in touch with the floor as the two black dressed players had just impeded him. Although he is knowing that he is just falling down, he is able to forward the ball to Martin (yellow, already getting pressure from the player in his back), who seems to be surprised about the unexpected delivery. Nevertheless Martin managed to finish this turn with a successful layup.
Here I espacially like the expression that all actors in this scene have, ranging from "please, take it" (Lorenz) over to surprise (Martin) and fear (black dressed opponents). Even Kevin (#8, yellow dressed, left) seems to think "Just do it, boys!".

(10)  Pure Will

Lumix G6 with Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F/1.8, ISO 1600, 1/400s, F1.8 
Although the team did a very good job and was four times very close to the first home win, it had to wait until the fifth one to get it! It was on November, 22nd, and it was the last home game before the christmas break as the following games have all been on the road. The team probably had this knowledge in the mind as they played their game with so much energy on the court - it was just as they wanted to have this win with they pure will! And it is just this photo which underlines this mentally willpower and the goal to win this game. Although Lorenz (#7) gets fouled during his layup he tries to finish his move with points. You can see in his expression that it is very hard to get the points! And the red dressed opponent player #69 fears that Lorenz might have success.
Overall, our team got the win (YEAH!) and is was the start of a series with 3 wins out of 4 games until the christmas break!

 (11) For Three!

Lumix G6 with Sigma 60mm F2.8 DN, ISO 1600, 1/640s, F2.8
As you have observed I am usually shooting my photos from the floor as I like it to be near at the court in order to be close to the action. It was on December, 13th, when the last game before christmas was scheduled to be in Würzburg. The location was a school gymnasium with a narrow field and the place around the court square was very small - usually the referees wouldn't like somebody standing there. Therefore I was shooting from the spectators' platform and catched most of the photos with the Sigma 60mm prime lens as the light was good. Our team did an excellent performance with teamplay and although they only had four players on the bench (due to illness and injury) they defeated the hosts (with a complete 7-players bench) clearly - a perfect christmas present they gave to themselves!
You may ask, why I have put this image into my selection? Well, primary because of one reason: the perspective! As mentioned before I am usually standing on the floor and therefore it is not easy to catch an image where a distance shooter, the ball and the basket is part of it (at least not without some kind of wide angle lens). Here you can see Jakob (yes indeed, the matchwinner of picture #6) just a millisecond after letting the ball go up. While the ball is taking off Jakob has his eyes still focussed on the target, the ring on the board, and his right hand has it's typical position after the shot.This  has been one of his seven (!) successful 3-point shots in this game.

And which one is the best?

As I have presented now my selection I invite you to choose which ones you like most. Therefore I am using a voting gadget by blogspot.com for the first time. Unfortunately I can't put it directly here inside the posting but for a voting you have two possibilities: depending on your browser or screen size
  • you have to scroll down below the comment section
  • or look to the top of the page on the right side. 
There you can find the titles of all eleven photos and you just have to click on the photos you are preferring.

Thank you very much for your audience and your help! Of course I am already curious about your selection but nevertheless I wish you a wonderful start into the new year 2015!

Klaus


Kommentare:

  1. I liked no 1 because it has perfect composition: you see the players, the score, so many different tense emotions and the ball. It's a very good shot!
    No 5 has already impressed me earlier. I like its colors and composition, and I give it a point for a really unusual perspective.
    I wish you inspiration and new spectacular games in 2015!

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  2. Thank for very much for your kind words and the time you spent with this post! Of course, I wish you a good 2015, too, espacially with good light and safe travelling. And not to forget: I am already looking forward to meet you and the fotobrauer-gang again soon! ;-)

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