Sunday, May 20, 2007

Jake from the Bowie Blade put me to the test this weekend by offering me an assignment to cover the annual Southern Maryland Youth Lacrosse Association Tournament held in Bowie MD. It was a 2 day event held at Mitchelville Field, and it featured a ton of games! There were 7 fields, and all the fields were running games non-stop from about 9am until 6pm on Saturday. On Sunday 3 championship games were held. There were a ton of families in attendance, many bringing out tents, chairs, food for their teams, t-shirts, and other kinds of fare.

I was looking forward to this shoot during the week because it was my first non-collegiate sporting even to cover. I didn't quite know what to expect in terms of the performance of the teams. To my surprise the players were extremely physical and competitive. I managed to capture shots of many players flying through the air or being flipped over. It's definitely changed my opinion on youth sports - they're violent and highly competitive! Definitely a plus for a sports photographer...

During the week we were watching a low pressure system form north of Bermuda and drift westward towards North Carolina. Many models disagreed on if the Low would deepend off the Carolina coast and bring clouds and rain to the Maryland region on Saturday. Fortunately for all of us the low moved northward and just gave us wind and some cumulous clouds. It was superb shooting weather - mid 70s temp, low humidity, windy, and abundant sunshine (although there were a few clouds in the afternoon).

I started off using my 200mm/2.8 lens with my 2x TC but then quickly switched to just the 200mm/2.8. Because Gary (the event organizer) expected me to be there covering the event, and Jake had assigned it to me, I didn't hesitate to walk around the various parts of the field and shoot pictures. Maryland is a Division-1 NCAA school, and sometimes the referees, coaches, and event staff are aggressive in keeping "freelance" photographers from shooting from privileged vantage points (on the field). But since I was "official" for this event I was able to move about without any problems or without any questions being asked.

Because I was shooting such fast glass on such a bright day I set the ISO down to 100. In my previous post I commented on how I learned about passive autofocus and white balance settings... Up next on my list of things to learn and understand is the difference in ISOs when you shoot below 800. I understand that anything above 800 produces noise but offers more sensitivity.. I'd like to know what the difference is between shooting 100 ISO vs 200 ISO. Maybe it's clarity?

After covering an event in 2.8 glass at ISO 100 I believe I must've made a mistake at the race track. Using ISO 100 and 2.8 glass my meter indicating a shutter speed of 1/2000sec in some instances. Granted that I was shooting children on a grass playing field (a lot less reflective area than a white parking lot with shiny race cars!) but still... Maybe I didn't properly adjust my ISO when covering the SCCA event. I'm going to ask Greg when the next event will be held at FedEx and I'm going to attend. I'll bet I just made a mistake... Live and learn I suppose.

I noticed that at the game there were some people handing out "trading cards" and "player profiles" of the various players. I had a mixed reaction to seeing those cards. I definitely understand that the economic life of a photographer is not pleasant: glass is expensive, digital bodies are outdated every 2 - 3 years, and travel to events is becoming increasingly expensive due to high gasoline costs. Those 3 negatives are all on the cost side of the profit equation. The revenue side doesn't seem very positive other: I haven't spoken with any photographer who's said "I'm making a TON of money selling my photos!" This business seems to be full of high equipment cost and low revenue... It seems like you really have to love sports shooting in order to be successful at it, or heavily subsidize your sports shooting with income from your day job.

Anyhow... I understand that photographers have to make money, and so printing up trading cards and player profiles are ways for photographers to continue doing what they enjoy doing. And I understand that kids grow up and parents really have few chances of capturing those moments in time before their child grows up. Hence demand and supply meet and a market is created. None-the-less, it was kind of sad to see: parents paying lots of money for a few pictures of their kid in a posed shot.

Going back to the mechanics of covering this event... I learned several things during this outing. As I wrote earlier I learned about using low ISOs to make my 2.8 glass work well in a sunny environment. But, an equally important lesson I learned (although somewhat less interesting) is the use of "folders" on Nikons. When I shoot the pictures always end up in a folder named 100DSCN. I always wondered why they weren't just up at the top of the media card. Well, as it turns out, Nikons can create folders and this turns out to be quite handy.

I was assigned to primarily focus on the Bowie teams, but I tried to cover as many of the games as possible. I wanted to keep track of which teams were playing and what photos were part of which game. At first I walked the 7 fields and spent some time on each game, and then I went back to my car and moved the pictures from my camera into a "round_1" folder on my MacBook Pro. Then I went back out and shot "round_2". This didn't seem like a very efficient use of my time (walking back and forth to my computer), so I started looking up how the folders work. That's when I realized I could easily make a 101DSCN, 102DSCN, 103DSCN, ... folder and drop pictures directly into those folders on the camera. Then I just needed to carry a little notepad with me that mapped folders to games and times. It was a pretty good lesson because it meant I could cover more games without going back to my car to offload my pictures.

I also was impressed with my EN-EL3E batteries. I have a MB-D200 battery pack, and I've noticed that the camera is smart enough to deplete a single battery fully before it moves onto the second battery. This is nice because it allows you to start charging the depleted battery after it dies while you continue shooting off the first battery. I was able to cover all of the day's events on 2 EN-EL3E batteries, and I then used a car power inverter and my quickcharger to recharge one of the EN-EL3E batteries before I moved on to my night time events. It was definitely handy to have that inverter in the car for the 1 hour drive from the lacrosse fields to the soccer fields. By the end of the day I had been shooting almost continuously (except for the drive) for 14 hours and I still had some life left on one of the EN-EL3Es.

PS - All of the shots on this page feature Bowie. That's because I'm still processing the shots from the other games and I wanted to get my blog updated with some photos from the weekend. I easily spend an hour after each game rotating pictures, cropping, writing up my blog, selecting pictures, and arranging them.

1 Comment:

  1. Anonymous said...
    go bowie. put juniors/midgets on website

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