Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Men's LAX: Maryland vs UMBC

The Maryland Terrapins opened their NCAA tournament run on Sunday evening at Chevy Chase Bank Field at Byrd Stadium. Unfortunately, their 2007 tournament hopes ended in a 13-7 loss in front a predominantly UMBC crowd. The weather was ideal: clear skies and warm, with very little wind.

Earlier in the day I shot the Maryland Women's kick off their NCAA tournament in a win over Yale, and I had high hopes for the men following suit with a crushing of UMBC. Unfortunately that didn't happen, with the Terps barely showing up to play in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. For playing 1/2 the game they didn't too badly in retrospect...

I was looking forward to this shoot because I thought the late day sun would offer some great colors for the shoot. I anticipated using my 2x TC for at least the first half, and possibly into the second half because sunset was at 8:15pm and the game started at 7:30pm. However, I failed to account for the depth of the playing field. It's easily 50 - 100 feet below street level. As a result, the sun sets plenty early on the field. When the Terps came out to play at 7:30 the field was pretty much entirely dark. Fortunately there was enough reflected light from the stadium that I could still use the TC and have a reasonable ISO and shutter speed.

I adjusted the white balance several times throughout the evening. I started with sun, then moved to cloudy, then to shade, and eventually to artificial light. Overall the sun shots are by far the best, followed closely by the artifical light shots. I shot most of the night shots at 1600 ISO and f2.8 and in aperture priority mode. The shutter speed ranged from 1/360 to 1/600 when I was lucky. During this whole process I gave some thought to Auto-ISO and how that might effect my shots.

One thing I've realized lately: you can reduce noisy photos, but you can't fix blur. As a result I would like to use Manual mode as much as possible and let the camera adjust the ISO to properly expose the photo. I'll try and give that a shot at another night game - maybe I can get some less noisy photos when the players are close and reflecting a lot of light. Most of the time the close-ups are the shots I choose for the blog.

I also paid a lot of attention to where Greg shot from, and I took a look at his photos after the game. They're great. I wish I could shoot the same quality shots he gets! I don't think there's a lot I can do because many of his shots are from further away (he uses a 400mm lens). So for now I'm taking note of where he shoots from and hopefully if I one day manage to obtain press credentials I'll use my 2X TC and my 200mm lens to shoot from similar vantage points. He took some shots from up on Gossett where the Terps are shooting at the UMBC goal that are spectacular. You can view them on http://www.umterps.com/

Lastly I'm still sending out emails various organizations offering to be a volunteer photographer. When I spoke with the Baysox today the marketing staff member seemed confused about why I was calling him. He said that normally photographers go through newspapers and other media outlets and then request credentials. Since I was bypassing the media he wasn't quite sure what to do other than say "we have a staff photographer." As a result I've changed my strategy slightly: I'm still pursuing volunteer work directly with sports organizations, but I'm also pursuing volunteer work with local newspapers and media outlets. If I can get hooked up with a media outlet I can meet other photographers (and hopefully volunteer to be an assistant for one of them), and I can hopefully shoot some games this summer.

To-date I've sent offers to: Bowie Baysox, Maryland Exiles, Maryland Pride, NOVA Majestics/Royals, Baltimore Press Box, Bowie Blade, and Annapolis Gazette (Capital Newspaper). The royals/majestics and the exiles have expressed some interest, as has the Bowie Blade. Hopefully I'll be able to volunteer for them and get some more exposure. It's so much fun to shoot!


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