Beach Volleyball


Who knew you could play beach volleyball without a beach? Today I went to Barn Elms with Christiana, Ana, Froso and Xenia to photograph them playing. After some adventure on the way we finally made it there. The weather was great for photography, a bit of cloud cover to soften the sun.

Volleyball makes you happy. I framed the shot of Ana quite closely. This and all other photos were taken with my 50 mm. With all the sand I didn’t feel like changing lenses.

Getting the right shot during a game is tricky, but fun. I’m right now looking through the photos, and writing this as I go. What I see is that getting the combination of correct focus, great facial expressions, movement, good composition and the ball in the photo is akin to winning the lottery. You need to buy a lot of lottery tickets to get a win, and it might help to have a pair of scissors to cut a few lottery tickets together to produce the right combination of numbers. The jackpot is getting an aeroplane in the shot as well. Heathrow was not far off, so there were low-flying aircraft coming in to land. This material has so much potential. Looking at these photos I find myself with a big smile on my face time and time again. They were having so much fun.

I liked the pose in this shot. Added the radial blur in post processing to focus the attention on Froso.

Okay, after stepping away from the blog I am now back to writing. The photos are edited, and I just want to write a few more lines. This was a very fun way to spend a Saturday. The girls were cheering each other on, and I tried to capture it with photos where they cheer, smile, clap their hands and help each other up from the sand. The following day Christiana and Xenia played in a tournament, fingers crossed that it went well!

Christiana takes her field testing seriously, like a dedicated civil engineer. There were only a few photos where I managed to capture the sand spraying. Here I added a bit of sharpening to make it stand out more.
She scores! I like the fact that the players on the other court are looking in the direction of our court, bringing the attention back to the foreground.
Froso looking through the net. I like all the lines leading in to her.
Christiana resupplying. I wanted to get some close-ups also, this was a golden opportunity.


Xenia dives for the ball. I warmed the colours, darkened the shadows and added a vignetting as I wanted to deemphasise the players on the court in the background




Nailed it! 🙂
For me Xenia’s shrug is what makes this photo. Ideally I would not have cut off their feet.
Here I wanted to emphasise the silhouette, so underexposed the photo and decreased the shadows. To me this made it a more interesting shot than just having a white sky.
I am not sure who cheered the most, Ana for scoring the point, or me for getting the plane in the picture. 😉 This is a composite though, since I needed a wider angle than I had, so quickly snapped two photos, one with Ana, and a second one with the plane and Ana, but minus her feet. She had slightly different gestures in the two photos, so if I turned on and off the bottom layer, it looked like she was dancing. The small joys of post processing.


I wanted to capture a glimpse of the camaraderie that I saw on the field. So while there are quite a few action shots, my focus was on getting their reactions between the balls. It should perhaps not have come as a surprise that beach volleyball is played on sand. I had brought along my three lenses, but in the end I only used the 50 mm for all my shots. Even if you try to stay clear of the sand, it will find a way onto your camera, so be careful! It was a great day and we ended it with dinner at Liverpool Street before I had to head back. A big thank you to the girls for inviting me along!

– Johannes

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