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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 1999-09-27

Open & Shut Case
By Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

Photo by
Covering the Open is an exercise in stamina... fourteen days of tennis from 11am to midnight. (Ok, I cheat...we take off a few days on the first weekend). After Kosovo, I was dreaming of some big-assed steaks. After two weeks of tennis, I was dreaming of little yellow balls. (I need to get a life!)

The main action is centered on 2 large stadiums, and after the first week most big matches are on the new Ashe Stadium court. Night matches are fairly well lit...640 @2.8 at 800 asa for digital works well. Camera positions are poor: lots of chairs, water storage cans, umpires chairs, TV cameras, and ballboys in the way. Backgrounds are horrible. No overhead's except for very high up in the stands. But the photo facilities inside are great, with lockers, an editing room and Canon CPS repair and Fuji there to assist. Neg film is processed on site quickly. Chrome in 1 day.

Photo by
In the old days of USA TODAY, covering the Open meant shooting the first match of the day, and maybe a set of the second, and racing to LaGuardia to put film on the Eastern Shuttle. That usually left us with 2 unknown qualifiers as our coverage. Now, I have a PowerBook set up in front of me at courtside in a small table built into the front wall. With digital cameras, I can shoot, edit, and transmit without moving anywhere. Power and phone are right there also, and TeleFinder lets me chat quietly with my office at the same time. This requires, however, a very substantial seat cushion!

Most of the wire and newspaper shooters here use digital cameras, either the DCS520/D2000 or the Nikon 620. This leads to a whole lot of "Chimping" ...5 or 6 of us looking at our preview screens to examine each backhand.

("Chimping"...a series of photographers all looking at their screens like monkeys!). Or better yet, "cross-chimping": defined as comparing your shot to the others.)

Someone will always announce "I'm done!" after the first backhand. This brings up a whole new category of reasons for missing pictures: looking at the previous shot and missing the next! But the ability to see when you have the required tight action shot means that you can stop looking for any more, and concentrate on getting something else, something different. We do like the preview screen...just bring lots of batteries!

But perhaps the most important use of the new digital technology at the Open is the "Slam Cam". The USTA has a camera set in the corner of the court that is controllable through their web site. Thirteen hours of tennis are then broken up by us taking self portraits during the match using the Slam Cam, directed by my PowerBook... point and click at it's best!

(Robert Deutsch is USA TODAY's New York - based staff photographer and resident "chimping guru".)



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