Volleyball practice

This was a bit of a spontaneous shoot. I bumped into Christiana Smyrelli as I was going food shopping, and after talking for a bit I was invited over to photograph their volleyball practice the following day. You might have seen my previous post about their volleyball match in Oxford back in March.

Ana Tufegdzic Vidakovic


Everyone has their own style.
As you can see I am experimenting a bit with the editing. Here and in the next few photos I was trying to see how it would look if I added a texture on top to give it a bit of an aged feeling.
During a game I would never be allowed to sit under the net, but for this practice session the girls were happy for me to be on the court.
Agata and Jennifer Bellamy.


It might be just a practice session, but volleyball is serious business.
The new sports hall is pretty bright, but I was struggling a bit with the colours so I experimented a bit with the white balance, in this photo you can see a slight green tint. Here I asked Christiana to do one of her flying serves. This one turned out alright, but my favourite is still the one from the previous volleyball shoot.
Incoming! Here I cropped the photo slightly taking away a bit of the top but decided to keep the lines in the foreground, as they lead the viewer into the picture. If I would have cropped closer to Ana and Agata then you would have lost a lot of the location and presence in the image.
They brought out the volleyball chair that the referee usually sits on so I could get up high enough to see over the net, which they set at the men’s height. For the wide angle to look good I needed to be close to the action. This is shot with my 20 mm lens.
With a lot of these photos there is plenty of empty space around them. Here I wanted to utilise that space to give this photo a bit more speed, so I added a bit of radial blur centred on Jennifer. I then reduced the opacity selectively to make her and Agata a little bit sharper.
Tip!! Maya Wright and Christiana Smyrelli
I love their dedication to the game!
There is a lot of situational comedy on the court, and you just have to be ready to capture it when it happens. I left the person to the left in the shot to give a bit of context, ideally the camera would have been pointing a little bit more to the left.
Agata and Jennifer taking a short break. When asked why, they blame the photographer, which may or may not have been true. Well, I did ask them not to get up once they saw me.
What they felt like… This is a staged shot. I was lying down under the net to get this extreme angle and kept asking them to jump closer and closer. Remember this is the 20 mm lens, Ana is practically stepping on me. The sky photo background was made by Debugger20 on Deviant Art.
What it really looked like! We did quite a few of these photos with all sorts of different styles.

Sunday was a really fun day. After photographing volleyball we played a bit of table tennis together. It was the first time in three years. I used to play a lot in Amsterdam. It brought back great memories! I didn’t go straight home to edit the photos, instead I went out punting in the sun to Grantchester with a group of postdocs. Living in Cambridge you learn that when the weather is this good you have to take advantage of it!

– Johannes

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