Double Entendre

This photograph will never hang in a famous gallery. Nor will scholars decipher its true meaning. But you have to admit, there may be more than one way to look at it.

These photos were taken at Lodi High in December of 2019 after the school upgraded its gym lights. Camera settings were ISO 4000, aperture f/2.8 (24-70mm zoom) and a shutter speed of 1/640. The improved lighting conditions are now well within the capabilities of many consumer grade digital cameras.

This game was shot in the “M” mode. As a reminder, in “Manual” you take responsibility for adjusting the three exposure variables (ISO, f/stop and shutter speed). In this case, if I had wanted to use a lower ISO (to reduce sensor noise and improve color quality), I could have maintained the same exposure by either opening my lens one full stop to f/2.0 or slowing the shutter speed to 1/320th of a second. At first it may take you some time to get things right. You may want to note your camera’s AUTO settings and adjust from there. With experience you’ll be able to guesstimate and come really close.

So, why not set the camera on AUTO or one of the priority modes and forget it? Because once you manually set the exposure it won’t matter if you’re shooting down towards the floor at players scrambling for the ball or shooting up towards the glaring overhead lights at a player dunking the ball. All your shots will be exposed within a usable or adjustable range.

There are exceptions, of course. One exposure challenge comes to mind when shooting in a gymnasium with high windows. Daytime will have a mixture of artificial and sunlight … at night, just artificial. You’ll be forced to make adjustments during the in-between times.

Another challenge is afternoon baseball with half the infield in full sunlight and the other half in shade. When the action goes from the batter’s box to second base in half a second, you’re better off in aperture or shutter priority mode until about the 5th inning.


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