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A new SPiN on low light photography

Steve Russell - Staff Photographer

If you were to tell me that I was going to shoot a sport being played in low light, I would guess that I was being sent to cover a high school basketball at Jarvis Collegiate, a hockey game at any number of city arenas or the annual Rock Paper Scissors competition.

Sunday night it was Ping Pong or Table Tennis if you prefer.

Table Tennis is usually played in better lit gyms and rooms (unless it is the gym at Jarvis Collegiate) but at SPiN Galactic the lighting is more in line with pool hall meets club.

SPiN Galactic features 12 tables in a club light setting, there is some very cool lighting but very challanging to photograph. Each table is lit with a square of light directly above the table simular to a pool table, there are several other sources of light that make it difficult to find a white balance that works. To make things a little more difficult as the player backs away from the table during a volley they move out of the light falling onto the table.

At SPiN Toronto at 461 King Street West, ping pong players can play at the 12 tables and 12,000 square foot clubhouse. SPiN was founded in New York and has Susan Sarandon as an investor.

Players enjoy unlimited buckets of balls, meaning that you never have to run to retrieve balls. When staff are not serving up food or drinks they collect balls.

Kai Bent-Lee and Levi Bent-Lee play under the lights, that include blacklight, a photographer's challenge.

Susur Lee returns a serve at SPiN Toronto. The light on the players was okay and quite dramatic as long as they were near the table. But.....

..... as they moved back during a volley it became sketchy. Most of these pictures were shot at 2000 ISO and anywhere between 125 and 250th of a second. 

Levi Bent-Lee waits on a serve.

David Giles volleys at SPiN Toronto.

David Giles and Kathryn Aitchson play a game.

Kathryn Aitchson loads some the unlimited ping pong balls into her back pocket .

Ashley Dixon keeps her friends supplied with ping pong balls.

Sonia Passmore has a laugh after a point as she plays with Trina Knapp and Ashley Dixon supplies a new ball.

With 1300 balls being wacked around at 12 tables, balls end up everywhere, even one of the two bars.

About 20 of the 1300 balls a night meet their end through aggressive play or being stepped on. 

See Josh Tapper's story and video on SPiN Galactic here



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