Shooting a College Basketball Game

During Thanksgiving Week, the MGM Grand Garden Arena hosted a college basketball tournament featuring Alabama, Brigham Young, St. Louis and Valparaiso.  I received press credentials to shoot the whole tournament, but I was only able to go to the two BYU games (against St. Louis and Valparaiso).  I learned a lot of tips to getting good shots.

All the photographers were set up on the baselines for good reason.  Shooting along the baselines gives you the ability to shoot right under the hoop or out at the corner to get more angles of the court.  Being up close to the benches also helps get the great reaction shots.

To shoot these games, I used two set ups.  My primary systems was a Canon 5d Mark II with the 70-200 lens.  The second system was my Fuji X-T1 with the 18-135 lens.  The 70-200 was an awesome lens for shooting basketball and I saw many other photographers using the same. Lens.  My biggest problem was that I never shoot Canon so there was some guess work involved with it.  The Fuji was easier to use for me because I am familiar with it, but the lens (f/3.5-5.6) was way too slow, causing me to bump the ISO too high for that camera.

The other fun thing I did was mounting my Fuji on a Platypod and setting it up right under the hoop.  I then used a remote to start a continuous shutter when action was under the hoop while I shot with the Canon.

Below are my favorite images shot with the Canon:

Eric Mika hitting a reverse layup. With the 70-200, it was impossible to get the full body in the frame under the hoop without shooting in portrait, which was more difficult while sitting down.
I missed focus on this image, which is really sad because Kyle Davis put a slick move that left his defender on the ground.
I love this image of Davin Guinn hitting an acrobatic layup after driving past his defender and apparently leaving a parting gift with his back leg.
Erick Mika hits the fade away jump shot. I had to move to the left side of the hoop as the referee liked to set up to block my view on the right side where I started.
Capturing the moment a foul is committed is even harder than capturing a basket. This foul was an easy call as the defender grabbed Davin Guinn on the break away.
Jamal Aytes with an easy layup.
Kyle Davis with the layup in traffic.
Yoeli Childs with the jump hook over his defender. I couldn’t figure out why his face was in so much more shadow than the rest of the frame. I found including the hoop in the frame made for a much more interesting image.
Zach Frampton drives past his defender. It was easy to focus only on capturing the shot, but other actions shots are interesting as well.
Braiden Shaw elevates above his defender for the easy bucket off the glass.
This image of Davin Guinn about to go up for the shot under the hoop is one of my favorites as it shows the intensity in the paint.

The rest of my favorite images came from the Fuji:

I found it much harder to nail focus with the Fuji set up, but I liked this capture of the acrobatic shot after the foul.
Eric Mika defending the pass right above where I was sitting.
Elijah Bryant blew by everyone to put up this running jumper. Unfortunately, the angle of the ball cast a shadow across his face from where I was shooting.
I had so many images where the ball is blocking the face of the player. In all other situations, I threw the image out, but I had to keep this one because of the height of Nick Emery getting up for the fast break layup.
Nick Emery with the pass to set up the open shot.
Nick Emery and Eric Mika coming out after halftime. You don’t realize how much darker the arena is off court until you try to capture an image.
Nick Emery drives past his defender right in front of where I was sitting.
This image, capturing the last step, was part of the same series of continuous shots as the above image.
I loved that this image showed the impressiveness of Mika’s dunk. I just wish the referee hadn’t stepped into my frame at the last second. It can be difficult avoiding the refs while trying to follow the action.
Yoeli Childs with a slick revers layup. I was set up at the perfect angle under the hoop.

Gear Used:

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