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Seattle Storm

It’s that time of year! Season’s over so time to roll out the Seattle Storm 2015 photography stats. Here we go!

Overall Statistics

Total kept photos: 5,122
Web gallery candidates: 659 (13%)

I typically keep about 10% of the total shots taken at any given game so I fired the shutter somewhere north of 50,000 times this season.

Game with the most kept photos: Lynx v Storm, September 11, 2015 (268)
Game with the fewest kept photos: Mercury v Storm, May 26 2015 (132)

The Lynx game isn’t a surprise since I spent a good part of that game capturing photos of all the LED displays in KeyArena for sponsorship season-recap packets. It was also the game where Legacy season ticket holders had their photo taken with Ramu Tokashiki.

Fewest photos isn’t a surprise either, since that was the preseason game 🙂

Non-game event with the most kept photos: Media Day, May 23, 2015. (184)
Non-game event with the fewest kept photos: WNBA Fit open practice, July 14, 2015. (57)

Players & People

Most photographed player: Sue Bird (385)
Least photographed player: Monica Wright (40)

Technical Details

Shots by Camera

Canon EOS 5D Mk III: 1562
Canon EOS 1Dx: 3560

The 1Dx is my primary camera, it takes the most photos. The 5D is usually for downcourt action with the 300mm lens, and most of those don’t work out.

Shots by Lenses

Canon 17-40 f/4.0L: 101
Canon 24-70 f/2.8L: 3217
Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II: 1502
Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II: 302

The 24-70 at the top of the list is no real surprise as it is my workhorse lens for all non-game activities. Every sponsor event, fan shot, etc. gets taken with it. The 17-40 count is low as I rarely use the lens for game activities. Typically it’s only for the occasional VIP event or post remote photo (most of which never turn out anyway).

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Earlier this year the Storm announced that Camille Little was traded to the Connecticut Sun. Today came the news that Tanisha signed as a free agent with the New York Liberty.

I’ve had the privilege of photographing the two of them for the last four years, and some of my best Storm photos of all time involve either one, or more often both, of them. Here’s a sampling of a few of my favourites.

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Tanisha takes a break from studying her lines during Media Day on May 27th, 2011. This was the first Storm event I ever covered and I still remember how happy I was finding this photo at the end of a long day of shooting. I love how it gives a peek into some of the players’ obligations off the court.

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Every player has a pre-game routine, and every game for four years I’ve watched Tanisha come out and give an explosive high 5 to Doppler. This is just one example from a game against the Tulsa Shock on June 1st, 2012.

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Camille isn’t shy about throwing her body around to get a foul call, but as I saw during a game against the Indiana Fever on August 23rd, 2012, sometimes even the opposing players can be surprised by her drives.

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Remember how I said Camille isn’t afraid to throw her body around? At least once a season this is the view I got through the viewfinder before Camille came crashing down near (or sometimes on!) me. Thankfully neither of us ever got hurt, and the cameras always escaped unscathed!

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The Storm under head coach Brian Agler were known for their strong defensive skills. During a game against the Tulsa Shock on June 7th, 2013, Tanisha and Camille teamed up to show how it’s done.

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Sometimes the battles are at the offensive end of the court. Here Camille manages to pull in the offensive rebound while Tanisha holds back pressure during a game against the Minnesota Lynx on September 30th, 2012.

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It was always a thrill to see Tanisha drive to the basket against a star player and somehow make the layup. During a game against the Phoenix Mercury on June 2nd, 2013, Tanisha did just that: taking it right to Britney Griner for two points.

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On June 27th, 2014, Camille scored a career-high 31 points during an 81-71 win against the Minnesota Lynx. After the game she realized what had happened and smiled in amazement during a post-game interview with Voice of the Storm Dick Fain.

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On May 14th, 2013, Tanisha and Camille pose for a selfie. Media Day is the best.

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Thanks for all the great memories guys, and best of luck on your new teams!

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The Seattle Storm announced today that Head Coach Brian Agler was heading to Los Angeles to be the new coach for the Los Angeles Sparks. I’ve had the pleasure of photographing him with the team over the last four years and thought I’d share a few of my favourite photos from his time with the Storm.

Coach’s phone was never far out of reach and he was a constant presence on Twitter. I caught him working away in the back hall of KeyArena during Media Day on May 14th, 2013. A few seconds later he was done and gone, back to whatever the next media activity was.

On April 28th, 2012, the Seattle Storm had a basketball court set up at the Microsoft Campus Jam, an event for Microsoft employees and their families. This young lady just couldn’t, despite her best efforts, get the ball to go through the standard height basketball hoop. Always the coach, Brian fashioned a hoop out of his arms to make sure even the smallest kid could have the satisfaction of making a basket.

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Even though his phone was a constant companion, Coach Agler really did take a break from it occasionally. At Media Day on May 15th, 2012, Brian paused from typing away to check out the hilarity on the court.

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I have many photos of Coach Agler in a huddle during a timeout but this one, from a game against the Connecticut Sun on September 16th, 2012, always makes me smile. There’s some sort of play drawn up on the whiteboard but it just looks like crazy chicken scratches to me.

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Make no mistake: Coach expected the best from players. During a game against the Chicago Sky on August 15th, 2013, rookie Tianna Hawkins was out of position for a play. Coach Agler made sure she knew how to run the play for next time.

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Ok, maybe Coach uses his phone a lot 🙂 I managed to snag this photo of him typing away as he walked past the Storm championship banners in the Storm’s practice facility during Media Day on May 9th, 2012.

Best of luck in LA, Coach!

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Now that the Storm season is over I thought I’d take a minute to go back through all the images from the year and run some numbers. I’ve probably been hanging around with Kevin Pelton too much!

Overall Statistics

Total kept photos: 5,396
Web gallery candidates: 469 (8%)

I typically keep about 10% of the total shots taken at any given game so I fired the shutter somewhere north of 53,000 times this season. Now I know why my shutter finger hurt so much during the month of August (man that was a lot of games in a short span!)

Game with the most kept photos: Shock v Storm, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. (366)
Game with the fewest kept photos: Shock v Storm, Friday, May 17, 2013. (70)

While it’s amusing that both games were against the Shock the numbers aren’t surprising. The top game was the same game as Tina’s retirement celebration. The game with the fewest photos was the one home pre-season game where I was still trying to remember how to shoot.

Non-game event with the most kept photos: Umpqua Bank, Monday, Aug. 19, 2013. (167)
Non-game event with the fewest kept photos: VIP Season Ticket Holder Party, Thursday, July 11, 2013. (16)

I was a little surprised at the top non-game event. I figured it would be Media Day, but it only had 136 keepers. I guess there was something really nice about being at Umpqua Bank!

Players & People

Top 5 photographed players (% of total player photos)

Tina Thompson: 395 (19%)
Tanisha Wright: 305 (15%)
Temeka Johnson: 247 (12%)
Camille Little: 217 (11%)
Alysha Clark: 145 (7%)

Least photographed player: Lauren Jackson (0)

No surprises here. This was Tina’s year, not only because she was retiring but because she had an all-star season. That’s reflected in the photo count. The Storm’s two regular point guards are in 2nd and 3rd place as they were easy to get photos of as they brought the ball down-court. It’s nice to see Alysha, one of the bench players, in the top 5. Part of that is because she kept photobombing me at non-game activities!

Photos of Eva: 76
Photos of Shellie: 76

I swear this is a happy accident. They aren’t both in each photo!

Technical Details

Shots by Camera

Canon EOS 5D Mk III: 5130
Canon EOS 5D Mk II: 164
Canon EOS-1D X: 102

No real surprise here. For the first half of the season the 5D Mk II was my backboard camera which has a low percentage hit rate for keepers. Then I sold it and bought another 5D Mk III.

The 1D X photos are from a single game where I borrowed the camera from Canon Professional Services for a test drive. It’s a great camera. I can’t afford it.

Top Three Lenses

Canon 24-70 f/2.8L: 2430
Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II: 2060
Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II: 856

The 24-70 at the top of the list is no real surprise as it is my workhorse lens for all non-game activities. Every sponsor event, fan shot, etc. gets taken with it. Normally the count would be even higher as I tend to use it for near-court action as well, however to try and handle some of the empty seats at the Key this year I put more emphasis on using the 70-200 for near-court action.

I’m a bit surprised at the high count for the 300mm. I only got it towards the end of the season and it’s a tough lens to get used to. Guess I had more keepers than I thought!

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Canon 1D Mark III with 70-200 f/2.8L IS II. 110mm, ISO 1600, 1/400 sec @ f/2.8. 

I arrive at KeyArena 1.5 hours before tipoff. That may seem like a long time before the action starts, but it takes time to review the requested shots for the game, plan out where I need to be for the various timeouts, and check for any last minute changes to the event script. It also gives me a chance to double-check the camera gear, format the media cards, and get everything ready for shooting.

While I’m doing all those things the teams are warming up on the court. I always keep an eye out during these early warm-up sessions for any non-action shots that might help tell the overall story of the game. On Friday night I lucked out: Lin Dunn, the current head coach of the Indiana Fever (and the first ever coach for the Seattle Storm) was sitting courtside with Lauren Jackson. Coach Dunn was LJ’s first coach in the WNBA. The two of them were just chatting and having a good laugh.

My problem? I was also at the courtside seats, just a little farther down the row, and the angle was all wrong to capture the moment. This is why I wear sneakers to game day! I ran for the other side of the court, aimed the camera, and took a burst of images. By the time I was shooting LJ was already standing, but the all-important smiles were still there.

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Canon EOS-1D Mark III with 24-70 f/2.8L. 24mm, ISO 1600, 1/400 sec. @ f/2.8.

A key part of photographing for the Seattle Storm is capturing the whole game experience. It’s not just in-game action shots that matter. It’s getting photos of pre-game rituals, fans, the 4th quarter Doppler train, varied halftime entertainment, and all the other little things that make attending a Storm game special.

Halftime shows are always fun since they are usually community groups or sports teams that are excited to be performing in front of a large audience at the Key. The June 10th game was a great example: the halftime show was the Laurelhurst Unicycle and Juggling Team.

Since I’m a firm believer that the best shots are up-close and personal, I decided to shoot from on the court instead of the sidelines once they started their routine. I zeroed in on the three boys juggling and went up close to get a photo.

Next thing I knew I was surrounded by a fleet of girls on unicycles. Trapped!

I snapped a few shots and managed to get the above photo, my favourite so far this season. Why? It’s the memory of the girls on the unicycles yelling “HI PHOTOGRAPHY MAN!” as they circled around me while I tried to get a reasonable picture!

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Saturday, June 4th, was opening day for the Seattle Storm at KeyArena. It was also the 2010 WNBA Championship Ring Ceremony, and a nationally televised game on ABC. All of those combined meant the Key would be packed, and that it was a great opportunity to take a nice photo of the crowd watching the game.

During dress rehearsal the Thursday prior I had the idea of shooting down from the upper bowl at tip-off. Since according to the schedule of events I’d have less than two minutes to get from the court (for photos of the players being introduced) to the upper bowl I figured I’d better prepare ahead of time. First I took a test shot at the dress rehearsal to ensure I had the camera settings locked in and my shooting position sorted out. Here’s what the test shot looked like:

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Canon 5D Mark II, 24-70 2.8L @ 35mm. ISO 800, 1/200 sec. @ f/2.8.

The framing looked good and the light was right. All it needed was fans. Lots and lots of fans!

On game day I did another trial run, this time with the assistance of Amanda (one of the Storm staff). We practiced handing off my second camera body on the court so it wouldn’t be bouncing on my hip as I raced to the upper bowl. She also timed my run at 50 seconds. Plenty of time!

Then it was time for the actual shoot. The handoff went smoothly. I raced to the upper bowl. Out of breath I positioned for the shot. And waited. And waited. And waited. Ah, nationally televised games! Finally ABC was ready to go, the ref tossed the ball, and I got my shot:

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I think it looks much better with fans and players in it!

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