basketball

Cal vs Mississippi 3/16/11

Richard Solomon A week after I thought Cal's season was over, I found out that they had accepted a bid to play Ole Miss in the NIT (National Invitational Tournament). It was at that same time that I found out that there was still such a thing as the NIT. But coming during a relatively quiet week, I was actually looking forward to checking out how the young Bears team would react to tournament pressure. The answer was: just well enough.

Playing without lone senior Markhuri Sanders-Frison (shoulder injury) and with a hobbled Harper Kamp (flu), Cal played an even younger team than usual. Despite iffy rebounding and some poor free throw shooting down the stretch, Cal pulled out a 77-74 win and advanced to play top seed Colorado Friday in Boulder.

Two views of the same play:

Handheld from the baseline, 85mm: Richard Solomon & Chris Warren

Remote clamped to the support, 32mm: Richard Solomon & Chris Warren

Steadman Short & Richard Solomon

Jorge Gutierrez

Richard Solomon

Brandon Smith & Zach Graham

Terrance Henry & Richard Solomon

Zach Graham

Cal vs Stanford 3/5/11

On senior day vs. rival Stanford, Cal's only senior, Markhuri Sanders-Frison
takes the court with his parents before the game...
© Matt Cohen 2011

...and then huddles with teammates. © Matt Cohen 2011

Allen Crabbe: © Matt Cohen 2011

Brandon Smith and an interestingly placed shadow: © Matt Cohen 2011

Jorge Gutierrez: © Matt Cohen 2011

Harper Kamp: © Matt Cohen 2011

Sanders-Frison: © Matt Cohen 2011

Gutierrez forces Stanford guard Jeremy Green into a turnover: © Matt Cohen 2011

Stanford Dwight Powell shoots over Cal forward Richard Solomon: © Matt Cohen 2011

Kamp takes a charge from Stanford center Josh Owens: © Matt Cohen 2011

Sanders-Frison battles for a rebound: © Matt Cohen 2011

Crabbe shoots under pressure from Green: © Matt Cohen 2011

Stanford forward Andrew Zimmermann takes a charge from Gutierrez: © Matt Cohen 2011

Powell comes up with a loose ball after scrambling with Sanders-Frison: © Matt Cohen 2011

With Cal running up the score, I started looking for some more abstract pictures.
Here Sanders-Frison is framed by a teammate's jersey as he looks for a rebound: © Matt Cohen 2011

Owens is framed by other players as he watches a shot: © Matt Cohen 2011

Sanders-Frison celebrates with fans after the Cal's 74-55 win: © Matt Cohen 2011

Solomon reaches into the crowd as fans go crazy after the game: © Matt Cohen 2011

Cal vs UCLA 2/20/11

UCLA visited Haas Pavilion on Sunday to face Cal, and the PAC-10 game
between the streaking Bruins and the slumping Bears did not play out exactly
the way the teams' records would have suggested. Cal led most of the way and
held on for a 76-72 win in overtime.
© Matt Cohen 2011

Cal guard Brandon Smith squeezes through the UCLA defense for a layup. © Matt Cohen 2011

Cal forward Richard Solomon shoots over UCLA forward Reeves Nelson. © Matt Cohen 2011

Cal guard Jorge Gutierrez blocks a shot by UCLA guard Malcolm Lee. © Matt Cohen 2011

Cal guard Jeff Powers and Nelson fight for a rebound. © Matt Cohen 2011

UCLA center Anthony Stover puts back a rebound for a layup. © Matt Cohen 2011

Brandon Smith loses the handle under pressure from Lazeric Jones. © Matt Cohen 2011

Gutierrez took control of the game down the stretch, consistently finding a
path to the hoop, even through traffic.
© Matt Cohen 2011

© Matt Cohen 2011

UCLA guard Malcolm Lee celebrates after tying the game with a three-point
shot as time expired in regulation. I don't ordinarily have a rooting interest in
the games I shoot, but after this picture, I was really hoping that UCLA would
win. © Matt Cohen 2011

But Gutierrez's hot hand continued in overtime, as he scored nine of his
career-high 34 points.
© Matt Cohen 2011

Bak Bak, Robert Thurman, and Jeff Powers celebrate as time runs out in overtime. © Matt Cohen 2011

Cal vs Arizona/Arizona State

Cal guard Jorge Gutierrez lets go of the ball after drawing a foul against Arizona
State.
© Matt Cohen 2011

The Arizona schools visited Cal this week, both sporting head coaches from...
Pittsburgh, PA. 412 Represent!

Cal guard Alan Crabbe takes the court before the Arizona State game. © Matt Cohen 2011

Arizona State guard Trent Lockett shoots around Cal center Markhuri Sanders-Frison. © Matt Cohen 2011

Arizona State guard Keala King pulls up for a shot over Cal guard Allen Crabbe. © Matt Cohen 2011

Cal center Markhuri Sanders-Frison reaches for the slam... © Matt Cohen 2011

...and battles for a rebound with Arizona State forward Kyle Cain. © Matt Cohen 2011

Cal guard Jorge Gutierrez drives to the hoop and draws a foul from Arizona State
guard Rihards Kuksiks.
© Matt Cohen 2011

Cal guard Brandon Smith races Arizona State guard Carrick Felix to the hoop. © Matt Cohen 2011

© Matt Cohen 2011

© Matt Cohen 2011

Felix had the last laugh, swatting Smith's shot against the glass and away from
the hoop. Unfortunately, he got just a little too close to the camera and out of
the zone where I was focusing.
© Matt Cohen 2011

After going up big, then down, Cal pulled out a 66-62 win.

After beating Arizona State, Arizona was next up for Cal. A 5pm start meant
that I needed to be at Haas by 1pm to set up and test my remotes. A triple
overtime game won by Arizona 107-105 meant that I didn't leave until 9pm,
altogether way too much time to invest in a regular season basketball game.

Arizona guard Lamont Jones loses the ball after running into Cal center Markhuri
Sanders-Frison and guard Jorge Gutierrez.
© Matt Cohen 2011

Arizona Wildcats forward Derrick Williams (23) dunks during the NCAA basketball
game between the Arizona Wildcats and the California Golden Bears at Haas
Pavilion. Arizona survived three overtimes to beat Cal 107-105.
© Matt Cohen 2011

Cal guard Jorge Gutierrez drives for a layup. © Matt Cohen 2011

Cal center Markhuri Sanders-Frison celebrates after scoring and drawing a foul. © Matt Cohen 2011

Arizona forward Solomon Hill drives for the basket. © Matt Cohen 2011

Arizona guard Kevin Parrom puts up a shot. © Matt Cohen 2011

Cal head coach Mike Montgomery argues a call... © Matt Cohen 2011

...and then does the twist? © Matt Cohen 2011

Sean Miller was a freshman at Pitt when I was a freshman in high school. Miller's
Pitt teams with Charles Smith, Jerome Lane, Demetrius Gore, Jason Matthers,
Bobby Martin, and Darelle Porter were a whole lot of fun to watch, especially this
Miller pass to Lane who shattered the backboard with a monster dunk.
Miller was the calm point guard, but he's grown into a fiery coach. Here Miller
argues a call, not as well as Montgomery, but he's still young.
© Matt Cohen 2011

Cal forward Richard Solomon beats Arizona forward Jamelle Horne to a rebound. © Matt Cohen 2011

Arizona forward Jamelle Horne tries to get over a block from Cal forward Richard
Solomon. No ball in the frame, but Solomon's expression makes it a picture,
I think.
© Matt Cohen 2011

File under: something you don't see every day: An actual credentialed photographer, sitting two spots away from me on the
baseline, checking and applying makeup during a time out. Sorry to pull your
card, hun, but better you learn now than when you get caught doing it on TV.

Cal vs Oregon/Oregon State

California Golden Bears center Markhuri Sanders-Frison celebrates
after scoring and drawing a foul vs Oregon State.
© Matt Cohen 2011

As I was mourning the end of football season, I figured out that in
order to make it through basketball season, I was going to have to find
a way to make it more interesting. I don't sit still very well, and basketball
is (mostly) a sitting still sport for shooting. So I started out putting a
remote on the column that supports the basket to get eye level coverage
of all the action under the hoop.

I've also been leaving the long lenses at home and in favor of what is
usually thought of as a portrait lens (85mm 1.4). This lens is very slow
to focus, awful at tracking action and simultaneously too short and too
long. But with a bit of patience, it gives a look that can't be duplicated
by standard sports zooms, isolating the action and softening even the
busiest backgrounds, not to mention being able to shoot at 640-800
ISO rather than 3200-4000.

Some examples:

Cal forward Harper Kamp goes in for a layup as Oregon State forward/center
Angus Brandt covers his eyes.
© Matt Cohen 2011

Cal guard Brandon Smith drives through the Oregon State defense. © Matt Cohen 2011

Cal forward Richard Solomon eyes the basket. © Matt Cohen 2011

Cal forward Richard Solomon hangs onto the rim after a dunk. © Matt Cohen 2011

Cal guard Allen Crabbe drives toward the hoop under pressure from
Oregon State guard Jared Cunningham. The true freshman Crabbe has
really stepped up since the start of Pac-10 play.
© Matt Cohen 2011

Crabbe pulls up for a shot. Notice that literally everything but Crabbe
and the ball is way out of focus.
© Matt Cohen 2011

For comparison, this picture was made with a 70-200, a standard
basketball lens. Note that the Oregon player to the right of Cal guard
Jorge Gutierrez is still in focus, something that would not have been the
case with the 85. Subtle, but there if you're looking.
© Matt Cohen 2011

I had the idea during one of these games to do a slideshow with only
pictures of Cal head coach Mike Montgomery's many faces of frustration.
I think I will actually do this at the end of the season. With new crazy
faces every game, I don't want to leave any out. Here are two from a
fairly long series as Montgomery let one of the officials have it:
© Matt Cohen 2011

© Matt Cohen 2011

Here he can barely watch during a run of Cal mistakes. © Matt Cohen 2011

After a few games using the baseline remote, I decided to set up a
backboard remote. The baseline position does well for action that
happens on the floor, but once things go vertical, the action becomes
implied. Shooting through the backboard brings the faces and back
into view, but at a price. You can clamp a remote to the support column
at any time because it's a few feet behind the baseline and not in
anyone's way. But to set up a backboard remote, you need a ladder on
the court itself, and that means getting to the gym four hours before
tipoff so that everything can be set up and checked out before the teams
warm up. For this reason, most people don't deal with this hassle unless
it's a big game.

I'm not going to go into every detail about what generally goes into
setting up a backboard remote, because that's already been done in
great detail here. I will say that being scared of heights
doesn't help, and there's not much difference to me between being
on a ladder 10 feet up with a bunch of cables and several pounds of
gear, and standing on the observation deck of the CN tower. Other things
I learned during setup: controlling reflections from the floor and the
stands is challenging when shooting at 18mm. I used blackout foil, but
it's pretty hard to get every last light source blocked. Also, you need to
make compromises when it comes to focusing. Depth of field is usually
not an issue when shooting at 18mm and f/5.6. But when the action is
taking place only a couple of feet from the camera, it becomes an issue.
I spent way more time on the ladder making self portraits than I would
have liked just to get the focus right. Then when everything was locked
down and safety cables were in place, I turned everything off and walked
around Berkeley for a while.

An then when i posted this picture on Facebook, a couple of photographer
friends said UR DOIN' IT RONG!

And they were right, but there was no time to fix it in time for Thursday's game.

Cal forward Richard Solomon blocks a shot. © Matt Cohen 2011

Oregon State forward Devon Collier lays the ball in. © Matt Cohen 2011

As you can see, too much space above the hoop and not enough below. So
on Saturday, I found a taller ladder and changed up the remote position:

iPhone picture of the remote position (second attempt):

This worked much better, but I still have some issues to work out with
controlling reflections. The other interesting thing about Saturday's
game against Oregon was that there was apparently someone in the
stands messing around with a Pocket Wizard which I discovered after the
game when I took the remote down and saw that there were 1218 pictures
on the cards, many taken during warmups and halftime when I was not
even on the court. All I can say is I'm really happy I don't shoot RAW
because the cards would have filled before halftime.

Oregon forward Joevan Catron shoots under pressure from Cal forwards
Richard Solomon and Bak Bak.
© Matt Cohen 2011

Cal forward Richard Solomon drives into Oregon guard Nicholas Fearn for a shot. © Matt Cohen 2011

Cal forward Bak Bak and Oregon forward Jeremy Jacob battle for a rebound. © Matt Cohen 2011

Cal center Markhuri Sanders-Frison throws up a shot. © Matt Cohen 2011

Not perfect, but with a couple of adjustments, it will be close. Thanks again
to my friend Michael Pimentel for the logistical help.

Cal vs Washington/Washington State

Cal forward Harper Kamp gets a shot off over Washington State forwards
Brock Motum and DeAngelo Casto.
© Matt Cohen 2011

Cal's Pac-10 schedule kicked into gear last week, and after beating up on
smaller schools and getting hammered by ranked teams like San Diego
State and Kansas, it was time for Mike Montgomery's young Golden Bears
to start their home conference slate. First up was a surprisingly athletic
Washington State team that fought back to take Cal to overtime before
succumbing 88-81.

Cal guard Brandon Smith puts up a shot around a block from Washington
State guard Klay Thompson.
© Matt Cohen 2011

Washington State guard Klay Thompson drives the lane for a dunk.
© Matt Cohen 2011

Washington State forward DeAngelo Casto tries to shoot under pressure from
Cal guard Allen Crabbe and forward Richard Solomon.
© Matt Cohen 2011

Washington State guard Marcus Capers passes along the baseline under
pressure from Kamp.
© Matt Cohen 2011

Casto drives for a layup under pressure from Cal guard Jorge Gutierrez. © Matt Cohen 2011

Montgomery complains to officials after one of many questionable calls. © Matt Cohen 2011

Next up for Cal was the top-25 Washington Huskies led by junior guard
Isiah Thomas. Thomas is a dynamic point guard who can really dominate
a game when he is on. I had the opportunity to shoot him last year during
the NCAA tournament and since then, he seems to have bulked up which
helps him get to the basket on slashing runs through the paint. Cal had no
answer to Thomas and ended up on the wrong side of a 92-71 final.

Cal center Markhuri Sanders-Frison takes the court during introductions. © Matt Cohen 2011

Solomon and Gutierrez stop a drive from Washington guard Terrence Ross. © Matt Cohen 2011

Thomas drives to the hoop and draws a foul from Sanders-Frison. © Matt Cohen 2011

Washington forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning scowls after being called for
an offensive foul.
© Matt Cohen 2011

Kamp drives to the hoop through a crowd. © Matt Cohen 2011

Thomas drives to the hoop. © Matt Cohen 2011

Gutierrez shoots over Washington forward Justin Holiday. © Matt Cohen 2011

Bryan-Amaning shoots over Cal forward Bak Bak. © Matt Cohen 2011

Montgomery once again complains about a call. © Matt Cohen 2011