Quality vs quantity

I know go on and on about not having enough light at sporting events. I moan and groan about inadequate lighting at area stadiums and gymnasiums ad nauseam.¬† True, it’s nice to have a lot of light to shoot with for¬†higher shutter speeds to stop the action, or smaller apertures for more depth of field or lower ISOs for pictures with less noise. Why, then, would I want to shoot a game with less light? Sometimes it’s not a question of how much light, but the quality of that light.

Last November, I shot the Sac-Joaquin Section boys soccer playoff game between Edison High at St. Mary’s in Stockton. It was about 4 in the afternoon, and the sky was heavily clouded, nearly to the point of being overcast. My exposures were less than they would have been on a sunny day, but there was still enough light to shoot without raising the camera’s light sensitivity to a great extent.

The quality of the light was quite nice. The harsh shadows of a bright direct sun were gone. The range between light and dark was very narrow. The lighting was very even. It was almost like I was using a gigantic sky-sized softbox over an equally large studio flash to illuminate the field.

So when it comes to light, sometimes it’s less about how much of it you have than it is about how good it is.

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