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.
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.