Saturday - April 16, 2016

I arrived in the Bay Area on Friday afternoon and went directly to the sand volleyball courts to photograph Cal Sand Volleyball vs. San Jose State. It was a warm sunny day which is great day to be outdoors. The bright sun and the tall trees surrounding the courts created some lighting challenges that limited where I could shoot. The courts were surrounded by nets which meant I had to shoot through the holes in the netting. Sand volleyball is one of my favorite sports to photograph. The emotion of the game and the fast moving game make for great images.

Saturday was the annual Spring Football Game. I arrived at the stadium early and was sitting in the football offices, I looked over my shoulder and saw Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and owner Jerry Jones walk into the offices prior to their private workout with Jared Goff. Photographing the spring game is much different than a regular season football game. The spring game affords greater access. In a regular game you are required to shoot from behind the dotted line that surrounds the field and you cannot shoot from the team bench areas. During the spring game I was able to get closer to the field and could also shoot from the team benches. After a fun day of shooting I went to the media workroom to edit and upload some photographs before I headed to the airport. Today was one of the last college sporting events I would photograph until August.

    PHOTOS: Al Sermeno /
NCAA Tournament - Spokane

Sunday - March 20, 2016

We arrived in Spokane on Wednesday evening for a Friday game against Hawai’i. The team hotel is located downtown and is one of my favorite hotels.  We were hungry ad decided to a try a Mexican restaurant down the street from the hotel.  The food was good and the atmosphere was interesting.  This was a Mexican restaurant where you ordered at the counter and it had a punk band playing on a Wednesday night.  

Thursday’s agenda:

  • Closed practice at Gonzaga University
  • Team media interviews at the Spokane Arena
  • Open practice at the Spokane Arena
  • Head back to my hotel to watch the NCAA tournament

The open practice was a great opportunity to test the lighting conditions in the arena.

I wake up early Friday morning and double check my bag to ensure I have all of the gear I will need for the day.  Cal played the first game of the day in Spokane at 11:00 AM.  Upon arriving at the arena I immediately confirm my shooting locations for the game and get set up in the photography work room.

The game does not go as planned, Cal loses to Hawai’i.  We head to the hotel to pack and prepare for our flight back to the Bay Area.  I am able to use the down time to finish processing my photos from the game.

Las Vegas - Pac-12 Basketball

Sunday - March 13, 2016

Timing is everything.  I was scheduled to be in Las Vegas this week to photograph the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament at the MGM.  The WPPI Conference (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International) was taking place this week at the MGM so I came in a day early so I could take a couple courses and visit the expo.

Wednesday was the first day of basketball.  The day consisted of 4 games, sitting on the hardwood for 8+ hours and thousands of images to sort and edit.  Thursday consisted of an additional 4 games, sitting on the hardwood for an additional 8+ hours, and few thousand additional images.  Friday was a much easier day.  The first game start at 6:00 PM so I was able to sleep in and spend some time by the pool.  2 more games, 4+ hours sitting on the hardwood and thousands more images (Cal loses a heart breaker to Utah in overtime).  Saturday consist of 1 game, the championship game between Utah and Oregon.  The Ducks defeat Utah to win the Pac-12 Tournament. 

Sunday is a travel day and my flight home coincided with the NCAA Tournament selection show.  Thanks to in flight wi-fi and Twitter I was able to follow the bracket reveal while in flight.  Cal is a 4 seed and will play Hawaii in Spokane, WA.  I am home for a few days before I head to Spokane.

4 Days in Arizona - Day 4

Sunday – March 6, 2016

Today - Grand Canyon University Sand/Beach Volleyball Invitational

A late night of editing photos from the photographs from previous evening’s basketball game and an 8:00 AM start time made for limited sleep.  The weather today was much different than Tucson.  It was in the mid 60’s and overcast.  The clouds are welcomed because they act as a natural light filter and you do not have to deal with what can be harsh lighting on a sunny day. 

Today is a shorter day since I have a 2:00 PM flight home.  I photograph the match for a few hours and head to the airport with thousands of images to sort and edit.

A successful to trip to Arizona.  After photographing for 4 days and approximately 20,000 photos later I am back in Portland…for a few days.


4 Days in Arizona - Day 3

Saturday - March 5, 2016

Today – Cal at Arizona State Men’s Basketball

After learning my lesson in Tucson I arrive at the arena 1.5 hours before the game.  I was looking forward to this game.  I was able to get prime seats behind the team bench for my Dad and Uncle for the game. I was also able to spend some time visiting with my parents while in Phoenix. 

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the arena lighting had been upgraded since I photographed at the arena last season.  The lights were much brighter and the white balance was much more consistent which made editing the photos go much quicker.

Despite the high quality lighting, sorting and editing 3,500 images meant for a late night.

4 Days in Arizona - Day 2

Friday - March 4, 2016

Today – Arizona Sand/Beach Volleyball Invitational

Today is the first time I photographing sand/beach volleyball.  The weather is sunny and the temperature is a blistering 85 degrees.  This is a far cry from the cold rainy Portland winter weather.  Sports photography is very challenging because of the speed of the game and the what can often times be challenging lighting conditions.  The bright Arizona sun made for great lighting as long as I ensured the sun was over my shoulder.  The golden rule of photographing on a sunny day is to ensure the sun is behind your shoulder and not shoot into the sun. 

Timing is critical when photographing volleyball.  The players and the ball move quickly and it is important that you anticipate when the ball is going be in the frame.  The speed of the game is not a major challenge when photographing volleyball during the day.  The bright sun allows you to have a shutter speed of 1/2500-1/3200 with a low ISO setting. 

As the day goes on and the sun begins to set maintaining the fast shutter speeds.  The trade off is the sunset and dusk lighting makes for some beautiful images.  Once the sun sets, the lighting creates much more of a challenge.  The sand volleyball court lighting is less than ideal.  I increase my camera’s ISO setting and am able to get a shutter speed of 1/500 at 5000 ISO.

After a full day of shooting I leave Tucson and head to Phoenix for the night with thousands of images to sort and edit. 

4 Days in Arizona - Day 1

Thursday - March 3, 2016

I flew into Phoenix on Thursday to photograph 4 sporting events over 4 days. 

Thursday – Cal at Arizona Men’s Basketball
Friday – Arizona Sand/Beach Volleyball Invitational
Saturday – Cal at Arizona State Men’s Basketball
Sunday – Grand Canyon University Sand/Beach Volleyball Invitational

Today – Cal at Arizona Men’s Basketball

I arrived at my hotel and confirmed my gear was ready for the 6PM basketball game. Batteries charged, memory cards formatted, and all gear accounted for.  I re-confirmed the 6PM game time on the Cal Bears Twitter feed.

I typically arrive at the arena 1.5-2 hours prior to the game to get my gear set up and to ensure I a prime location on the baseline.  Arizona is one of the only Pac-12 venue that assigns shooting locations for photographers.  I arrive and at the arena around 4:15PM and walk in without any encountering anyone to check my credential. I was surprised that there were very few people in the arena.   A few more photographers begin to arrive around 5:15PM which seems late considering the 6:00PM tipoff.  I then realize that 6:00PM start time was 6:00PM Pacific and Arizona does not observe daylight savings time and the game starts at 7:00PM in the non-conformist Arizona time zone. 

The game was a good one.  Arizona defeats Cal 64-61 led by 19 points from Gabe York.

Al Sermeno Photography - Portland, OR - - (503) 522-0476
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