November 26, 2012

The Best Photos: Texas High School Volleyball Championships

McKinney Boyd's Ashleigh Martin (14), center, and teammates celebrate a point against New Braunfels in the Class 5A semi-finals at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, on November 16, 2012. (Stan Olszewski/The Dallas Morning News)

Last weekend I had the great opportunity to photograph the Texas UIL high school volleyball state championships for The Dallas Morning News.  Dozens of top Texas teams traveled from all over the state to compete in a 3-day, do-or-die, tournament in Garland, Texas.

The girls' athleticism and talent were unbelievable for their age.  I have never photographed such great players in high school competition.  I am confident to say, several of the competing teams would hold their own against Division 1 college teams.  In fact, a handful of the players are college bound on volleyball scholarships.

Before we get started, let's talk photography:
The tournament was held at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, about an hour North of Dallas.  The venue was huge, capable of holding 7,000 fans, and relatively modern (opened in 2005).  This meant there was plenty of space to shoot for interesting perspectives and more importantly a good quality of light.  Let me clarify – there was not a good amount of light, just a good quality of light.  Big difference.

Like many sports assignments, I would need fast glass (large aperture lenses) and the high ISO capabilities of newer DSLR cameras.  I used the following:
Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 7D
Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS
ExpoDisc (for obtaining a proper white balance)

If you want to shoot a sporting event like this, but can't justify the money on these great lenses, consider renting from BorrowLenses.

More after the break:


Over the 3-day tournament, I managed to shoot 1,979 selective frames.  That's about one frame every 1.57 minutes.  Considering my cameras can fire up to 8 frames per second, that's not very many frames.  I do not spray and pray.

With that said, 7 of my photos were published in The Dallas Morning News and another handful of them in other Texas publications.


Enough chit-chat, let's get to the photos!  Here are some of my favorites from the tournament.  I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed photographing the thousands of spikes, blocks, digs, tears, and celebrations.

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