Tuesday, May 22, 2007

After covering the Southern Maryland Lacrosse Association Tournament during the day on Saturday I headed south to Woodbridge Virginia to cover some soccer games. I contacted the Northern Virginia Royals and Majestics earlier in the week and asked if they needed a volunteer photographer to cover their games. If you've been following my blog you know that I'm looking around everywhere for games to shoot.

After having a great time covering the Southern Maryland Youth LacrFortunately somebody from the team responded and invited me out to the shoot. The teams play at Gar Field in Woodbridge, which is about 40 miles from College Park. However, I drive about 35 miles to work every day so I wasn't too concerned about the distance. It also seems like most of the Majestics/Royals games take place on Saturday nights, which means that traffic around the Capital Beltway and down 95 shouldn't be too bad. I was able to make it from the SMYLA field in Mitchelville to the soccer field in less than an hour. And, while I drove I recharged one of my EN-EL3E batteries.

I didn't quite know what to expect because I've been to very few soccer games. I attended a Freedom game a few years ago, but it was in RFK and this was at a high school field. So I didn't know if there would be a large crowd or other photographers present.

The crowd was decent, and there was another photographer present. After speaking with him I found out that he's just covering the women's games for his website. To my surprise he wasn't hostile towards me (I expected he would because I thought I might be trespassing on his turf!). We exchanged notes and contact information, and he offered some interesting advice.

He was shooting with a D1H and a D1X using my 70-200/2.8 lens as well as a 300/2.8 prime. He told me that he typically shoots single frames at a time (no continuous shooting). He said he prefers that way because it reduces his post-processing time. I suppose if you're good enough to only need 1 shot to capture the moment then that works out great. But for me I need several shots before I can get the one great shot. None-the-less it was interesting to hear his perspective.

Another photographer from the Terrapin Times has a similar system. He insists on making your 1 shot count. Interestingly, he shoots with a D1H as well. The frame rate on those cameras is 3fps I believe - I wonder if they would use the same approach if they had a D2XS (8fps)...

Overall the shoot went pretty well. I made a pretty big mistake tho when I started shooting. The Royals and the Majestics share the same website and the same color-theme for their uniforms. When I looked at the site I focused on the Royals, who's pictures showed them wearing blue uniforms with yellow highlights. When I arrived at the field the Majestics were playing. The uniforms for the Majestics and the Wildcats both lacked any recognizable logos or team names (although they did have the name of their sponsor prominently displayed!). I mistakenly believed that because the Royals wore blue that the Majestics wore blue as well. As a result I focused on shooting the wrong team for 1/2 the game!

At half time I changed my position on the field and shot from behind the benches. At that point I noticed that the players I thought were the Wildcats all had backpacks that said Majestics. At that point I quickly started shooting the "other" team!

It's pretty embarassing but understandable. I hadn't ever met the team before, and the website made it appear as tho the Majestics wore blue. And since the uniforms didn't not have anything recognizable on them how could you tell? I was just happy that I switched positions at half time and was able to get some decent shots in the 2nd half.

As my experience increases I've learned that a lot of the best shots occur after the action ends. For example, after a player scores there's often a celebration on the field that makes a great shot. Also, getting shots of the team's reaction is a great opportunity. Coaches often present opportunities as well. After the game there was a great opportunity as the players signed autographs for the fans. In doing so the team happened to look towards the light and as a result their faces were lit up perfectly. You literally couldn't have positioned them in a better place. I was torn when selecting which photos to use for this blog: many of the best ones are of the players after the game. As a result I chose to use one of them for my opening photo, but stick with action shots for my other pictures.

Tomorrow I'll be posting my write-up of the Royals game. That was a more difficult shoot due to lighting and focus issues.


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