Assignment Breakdown: Pac-12 Tournament
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter Academy
When covering basketball I like to set up at least one remote (I’m not in the same league as Sports Illustrated … I don’t have a dozen D3 bodies but I do what I can) because it gives me — and especially the picture editors at USA TODAY— an alternative angle.
Covering hoops, the easiest remote to utilize is a floor remote: simple to set up, requires little gear (no mounting hardware or radio trigger), accessible and tweak if desired or necessary.
During the recent Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament I used a floor remote at all six games I shot. Here’s the breakdown:
- Nikon D3 camera body
- Lenses used was a 24mm and later 24-70mm @ 32mm
- Triggered by a custom remote cord between the remote camera and my handheld camera (which had a 70-200mm)
- Remote camera is placed on the floor, two AA batteries gaffer taped to the bottom to position it; a small piece of tape to mark the spot on the floor
- I had someone stand-in to focus; the lens and camera switched to manual and taped in place
I got to Staples Center several hours before the first game of the tournament so I could talk to the photo marshal and insure I got the shooting spot on the baseline I wanted: two spots in from the post.
Basketball shooters are either “inside guys” (positioned close to the post) or “outside guys” (in the corner). I’m an “inside guy”.
A spot close to the post is ideal for a floor remote, it gives you a clear view and players will be coming right at you.
During the first couple of games I went with the 24mm prime lens. But later when editing, I felt it was too loose. So I switched to the 24-70 at 32mm, which gave me just a bit of the floor to just above the net.
Using a “double remote” cord — motordrive plug on each end— allows me to fire the remote at the same time my handheld camera fires. This gives me two different, distinctive angles on plays around the hoop.
When using a zoom lens on a remote, zoom it out to focus and then set it to the wider focal length you actually want to shoot at. Zooming it out makes it easier to focus.
Remotes require planning, set-up time, pre-visualization and a lot of luck.
Never depend on a remote — there are too many things that can and often will go wrong, especially if you’re using a radio trigger. Consider a remote for what it is: something extra.
(For a video on setting up a floor remote, check it out here: http://vimeo.com/22172605 )
(Bottom Of The 9th is an occasional column by Sports Shooter founder Robert Hanashiro. He is also USA TODAY’s west coast staff photographer.)