Darren CarrollComment

2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship

Darren CarrollComment
2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship

It had been a while since I'd photographed the Final Four--the last time, in fact, was in 2014 in somewhere the NCAA calls "North Texas"--although you can't find such a place in any atlas, Google Maps will tell you it's somewhere near Arlington which, in turn, is somewhere between Dallas and Fort Worth. Not so geographically challenged this time around, the lords of college sport were willing to concede that this year's contest was indeed taking place in an actual city--San Antonio, to be exact, in an aging, dingy, gray-colored dump of a concrete monstrosity called The Alamodome. 

ESPN had sent me down to cover the weekend's festivities with an eye toward doing an online gallery of the semifinals, which you can find here, and Monday night's national championship game was more of an afterthought. Nothing was really expected other than game coverage, which gave me the freedom to roam, to wait, and look for pictures.

  Villanova head coach Jay Wright gets a kiss from his wife Patricia as the team arrives at the Alamodome.   Sony A7rIII, Sony 12-24mm f4G

Villanova head coach Jay Wright gets a kiss from his wife Patricia as the team arrives at the Alamodome. Sony A7rIII, Sony 12-24mm f4G

  Donte DiVincenzo puts up two of his game-high 31 points.   Sony A9, Canon EF 600mm f4L

Donte DiVincenzo puts up two of his game-high 31 points. Sony A9, Canon EF 600mm f4L

  The opening tip-off from way up in the dome.   Sony A7rIII, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM

The opening tip-off from way up in the dome. Sony A7rIII, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM

Also significant for me was that this was the first real indoor test of the Sony camera system since I've made the switch. Sure, I've used it for golf and other outdoor work, and in studio-type settings, but never in its ultimate test as a true sports camera--in a high-ISO situation in an abysmally-lit building, tracking fast-moving players. I kept the cameras--a couple of A9's and a couple of A7rIII's set to auto-white balance, manually toggled my ISO somewhere between 1600 and 3200 depending on the situation, and then adjusted exposure manually, based in large part on the exposure preview as shown in the camera's viewfinder. I was impressed--the AF was spot-on, not only with the Sony G Master 24-70 and 70-200mm 2.8 lenses, but also even when using long Canon glass--a 300mm f2.8L, 400mm f2.8LII and 600mm f4L--adapted with a Sigma MC-11. And the files needed only a minimum amount of post-processing--a bump in contrast here or shadow detail there--far, far less than I'm used to doing with other systems just to get a usable file. For the most part, everything you see here is pretty much straight out of the camera.

  The Villanova bench celebrates in the second half.   Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

The Villanova bench celebrates in the second half. Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

  Michigan's Moritz Wagner and Villanova's Omari Spellman vie for a rebound.   Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

Michigan's Moritz Wagner and Villanova's Omari Spellman vie for a rebound. Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

  Michigan coach John Beilein gives Jordan Poole a few words of advice.   Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

Michigan coach John Beilein gives Jordan Poole a few words of advice. Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

  John Beilein is not happy.   Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

John Beilein is not happy. Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

  Michigan's Zavier Simpson drives to the basket against Villanova's Omari Spellman.   Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

Michigan's Zavier Simpson drives to the basket against Villanova's Omari Spellman. Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

  Donte DiVincenzo scrambles for a loose ball against Michigan's Charles Matthews.   Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

Donte DiVincenzo scrambles for a loose ball against Michigan's Charles Matthews. Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

  Jay Wright hugs Phil Booth as the game draws to a close.   Sony A9, Canon EF 300mm f2.8L

Jay Wright hugs Phil Booth as the game draws to a close. Sony A9, Canon EF 300mm f2.8L

  Michigan's Jordan Poole watches the final minutes of the game tick away.   Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

Michigan's Jordan Poole watches the final minutes of the game tick away. Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

  Game over.   Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

Game over. Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

  Phil Booth kisses the championship trophy.   Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

Phil Booth kisses the championship trophy. Sony A9, Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM

  Keeping the barbaric media hordes at bay during the postgame trophy presentation.   Sony A7rIII, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM

Keeping the barbaric media hordes at bay during the postgame trophy presentation. Sony A7rIII, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM

  Villanova cheerleaders celebrate on a court full of confetti.   Sony A7rIII, Sony 12-24mm f4 G

Villanova cheerleaders celebrate on a court full of confetti. Sony A7rIII, Sony 12-24mm f4 G

  Sony A7rIII, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM

Sony A7rIII, Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM