This past Columbus Day weekend the Washington Wetskins hosted their annual water polo tournament, held in DC’s Takoma Aquatic Center. As a former member, I had long been meaning to visit to photograph a game. Water polo requires endurance, strength, and skill from the players, and also poses challenges for photographers. The players sprint from end to end as each team takes possession of the ball. When swimming, the water-polo stroke tends to keep the head above water, but their faces are still obscured by a wave of water. When they stop in their positions, the offense players typically face the goal. The quick actions, and the fact that the playing field itself is in constant motion, makes auto-focus a challenge. Without a lens designed specifically for sports photography, I tried to make do by sticking to subjects close to the edge of the pool. The light was a mixture of ambient sunlight through glass-block windows and indoor lighting; I kept the white balance on auto, and tried to adjust the color balance in post-processing, though in most cases I gave up on making it look natural. I used the weekend to experiment with manual mode, trying different apertures and shutter speeds, but kept the ISO on automatic. The 9 photos below are shown with their aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and focal length.

Back Atchya
f/3.5, 1/800, 2500 ISO, 50 mm

Swimming Pool Sportsman
f/4.5, 1/640, 3600 ISO, 98 mm

Ball Overhead
f/2.5, 1/800, 4500 ISO, 50 mm

Coming Atchya
f/4.8, 1/640, 6400 ISO, 120 mm

Wave Theory
f/5.6, 1/640, 5600 ISO, 200 mm

Right for the Goalie
f/4.0, 1/1250, 6400 ISO, 50 mm

Just Try It
f/4.2, 1/1000, 6400 ISO, 72 mm

The Creation of Water Polo
f/4.5, 1/500, 4000 ISO, 65 mm

Battlefield
f/2.0, 1/1000, 1800 ISO, 50 mm

Many thanks to all the teams who participated. More photos via the wetskins2012 tag.

Water Polo Tournament in Washington

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