Out here in small town USA, I Am usually shooting single A high school or NAIA sports venues. These do not have the lighting standards that NCAA D-I or NBA level courts have. That goes without saying! Over the years, I have developed my coping mechanisms to deal with that, and consider myself very much at home under less than ideal conditions trying to capture peak action. Tonight, I was dealt a whole new deck of cards!
That's right, I got to shoot a game for my alma mater, a Div II school, and the venue was the University of Charleston, another Div II school. Now, I am not going to say it was dark in there, but the referees were using flashlights. I have been in community Rec centers that were better lit than that place! I never thought I would say this, but the lighting in most of the WV single A high schools is better that what I had tonight, and the WVU Tech gym is light years ahead of UC. (I can't wait to shoot at the state basketball tournament again!) The light on the floor was uneven, to the extent that it was usable at one end of the court, but almost non-existent at the other.
I didn't bring my lights tonight, only one speedlight, which I (gasp!) mounted on camera and used about half the time. The gym posed more problems than usual for me, but I still managed to come out with a couple decent shots. Thank God for the newer cameras that have managable noise levels even above ISO 6400. I had to shoot ISO 16,000, 2.8, 1/500 to get a reasonable exposure. The few lights in the gym cycled badly, so that meant touching up white balance on every single shot when I got home .... Oh, and that ISO 16,000 ... that means 30 MB file size for each shot. At least there was enough data to be able to use for developing.
Perhaps the most amazing thing was that the auto focus worked! Yes, even though there was barely enough light to read a book, the AF system on the 5 D Mark III was able to work. I can't say that it kept up, since I ended up deleting at least as many I as were in focus. Yes, it was slower than normal, but it still worked! That thrills me for the possibilities next year when football season rolls around and I am shooting in those kinds off conditions again.