The Billie Jean King Tennis Center actually had quite a large food court area of pretty solid food (and umbrellas over the tables). Off the top of my head, they had maybe 10 official food places (burgers, pizza, sandwiches, crepes, ice cream, etc), along with some scattered stands around the grounds. They also had a really high number of alcohol stands — plenty of $14 mojito stands were seen.
Although we used public transportation based on recommendations online that said the lot fills up quickly, when we got there (a little after 11 AM) the parking lot appeared to be quite open (at least as seen from the MTA). Considering the cost of public transportation for us ended up being a $10 round trip, the $20 parking lot probably wouldn’t have been a terrible plan considering it would have taken less than half as long to get there driving.
Although I wish I had a stronger zoom lens to get more intimate photos of the players, I had a fun time playing around with camera settings and taking some shots. Admittedly I felt a bit more hesitant to take photos on the courts with the bigger audiences as it seemed like no one else was taking photos, but once we found our way onto the smaller courts it was more of a photography free for all as I watched spectators take plenty of photos. Perhaps people in the stands lacked a strong enough zoom to make taking photos worthwhile. I think next year I might take the opportunity to rent a lens for the occasion (I’ve had success with LensRentals in the past when I wanted to try out a lens).
I did spend a bit of time the day before doing some research to make sure I’d be allowed to bring in my camera. The internet forums mentioned that if you had a larger lens, you might get denied at the gate, which (fortunately for my bank account) I do not own. The security at the gate was very strict in disallowing backpacks, sending people back to the entrance where there was a $5 bag check. I brought my Lowepro Slingshot 102 AW and they didn’t flinch, so you could probably get away with a slightly bigger camera bag (I think the single shoulder strap puts it in a category separate from a backpack). If you don’t bring a bag at all, you get to go through an “express” line since they don’t have to bother with bag checks.
One of my regrets is that I didn’t do any research about ideal settings for sports photography. I tend to play around with using high ISOs and try to capture action shots with my current lens (which reaches out to 105mm at a maximum), but it would have been nice to find some photos of action shots that professional took and taken a look at their EXIF data to see what settings they used. A lot of photos on the internet have EXIF metadata embedded into the photo that let you see things like the camera used, the lens used, shutter speeds, etc. There are probably a bunch of ways to look at this information, but I just use a website like Find EXIF and paste the URL into it. Unfortunately I usually don’t think about doing this until after whatever event I just photographed, but it is worthwhile to check out particularly for subjects that move. Looking at these and reading forums online taught me how to take good pictures of fireworks.
While I didn’t take too many photos, I did find a few that I liked enough to post online. I don’t really do any photo-editing (or more correctly, have never learned), so there is definitely room for post-processing improvement. My bigger regret is not having a lens that had one more f-stop (my lens only goes to f/4) in an attempt to get my subject to stand out a bit more from the crowd.
As a very casual fan of professional tennis (someone who watches maybe the semifinals and finals of the mens tournament on TV), I found attending the US Open far more entertaining than I would have expected. There is something that is really captivating to me about watching people in person who are incredibly good at their craft. Although I started to tire by the last match of the night (which ended around 9:30 PM), I would definitely recommend attending the tournament for anyone who has the means to, particularly if you are only paying $65 for a Grounds pass and live in the area.
Next year, I think I’d like to try out going twice — once to walk the Grounds again and take in that environment (and take photos), but another day to Arthur Ashe Stadium to see some of the big names (probably later in the tournament so there is a stronger opportunity of seeing two ranked players). Some of the research that I did mentioned that sitting up high at Arthur Ashe provided poor viewing angles, but hopefully trying to buy tickets whenever they go on sale will allow me to pick up some decent seats.