I am quickly falling out of love with photographing indoor tennis events. By that I don’t mean the professional events which are lit for TV cameras. Those offer challenges to photographers but nothing on the level of complexity as smaller events held inside tennis centres. Both Scotstoun (Glasgow) and Craiglockhart (Edinburgh) are fantastic facilities for tennis players but an absolute nightmare for photographers.
Light is the primary requirement for photography and these buildings suffer from both a lack of natural light and poor positioning off the artificial lights. With high ceilings, the fluorescent lighting always seems a long way up but that’s not really the issue. The big problem is that the lights point directly down but are positioned in between the playing areas so as to never present the players with any glare should they have to look up to smash a ball. If the lights were angled inwards to light the playing areas I think I would enjoy shooting in these places more but right now they create sporadic lighting that intensifies towards the edges of the court and feels very flat in the central spots.
The dark curtains behind the playing areas help the players spot the ball as it comes towards them but also make the camera think that it needs more light. Thus exposure compensation comes in very handy. I normally like to get tight in on the player when shooting tennis but in these venues I often find it’s much easier to do full body shots as they are less of a headache to post process.
I had never shot this event before but with only four men, two women and two doubles pairs playing on the day it was a relatively relaxed day compared to other tennis events. Often I can find myself working all day as I rush between dozens of matches to capture shots of as many players as possible. Here I was able to take my time and be a little more creative with my output.
With the outdoor tennis season kicking off shortly I suspect there may be a little more tennis appearing on the blog in the coming months.