Friday, June 15, 2007

Men's Soccer: NOVA Royals vs OC Barrons

Here it is Friday evening and I'm just now having time to do my writeup of the last of last weekend's games! I've been really busy this week with my dayjob. I'm a software engineer and I work for a small company, so I wear several hats: programmer, accountant, and customer relations manager for the 2 clients I work for. The timesharing is difficult, but rewarding. Photography "fits in" where I have time, and fortunately I'm in the DC Metro area so there are a lot of shooting opportunities for sports shooters.

The last game that I shot on Saturday featured the NOVA Royals vs the Ocean City Barrons. The Barrons are rated 1st place in the league or division, and were a very physical and aggressive team. The match took place immediately following the Majestics vs Renegades games, and thus the lighting continued to be superb for the first part of the game. As the game progressed and the sun set the quality of the shots steadily degraded. This resulted from my transition from ISO 100 down to ISO 3200. It's sad walking down that ladder...

Prior to the game Mo offered me a polo shirt from the team in exchange for me agreeing to take a team photo. He also asked me to get several pictures of the players with their new jerseys. This may have something to do with sponsorship, but I was happy to honor the request. Unfortunately my gear really presented challenges. My shortest lens is a 50mm/1.8, and that's simply not good enough for a team-photo. Despite my repeated "get closer!" requests I just could not fit all of the players into the frame, even after backing up into the first row of the bleachers! If ever there's been a case for a shorter lens this was it! I kept thinking: "If I only had a 17-55 I'd have a great shot right now." Obtaining such a short-range zoom lens is on my "short-list" right now, and I'm giving a lot of consideration to the 17-35/2.8 and 17-55/2.8 DX lens. If you have any comments on either I'd love to hear them!

I was very happy to move out onto the field during the player introductions. I've seen Greg (from Maryland) do so, and I've always marveled at the shots he's managed to take. As usual, my first go-around at taking these types of shots failed miserably. In all of the shots I was too far away from my subjects and out of focus. I've noticed that this tends to happen with me: whenever I shoot a new sport for the first time my shots stink! But then on subsequent shoots I get better and better. I think my problem with this particular instance was that I hesitated to get close to the players. As a result my subjects were distant and my ability to manual focus my 50/1.8 was reduced.

I had a good time shooting the event, but I was a bit fearful from time to time. The Barrons were a very aggressive team, and on one than more occasion they managed to draw blood from the Royals without a Yellow Card being raised. This riled the Royals and the head coach almost got into a fistfight with the Barrons coach. I realize that there are etiquette rules about shooting injured players, but what rules exist for capturing fights between players and coaches? I thought about that as I watched the steady escalation of exchanges between the two coaches and wondered when the inevitable altercation would take place. Again, if anyone actually reads this blog and has some insight into what's appropriate and inappropriate I'd like to hear it.

On another note, I'm very happy to report that my drive to "shake up the hornets nest" during the summer has been moderately successful. In my posts this Spring I was concerned about the Summer drought with respect to shooting opportunities. Most of my shots this Spring focused on the Maryland Terrapins, and with the students heading home for the summer my opportunities quickly dwindled. I contacted several different teams and media outlets volunteering my time to cover their events, and for the most part I was unsuccessful. Although I contacted the Maryland Pride, Maryland Exiles, Washington Freedom, Bowie Baysox, and NOVA Majestics only 2 organizations responded positively. Of those 2 only one panned out. Hats off to Mo from the NOVA Majestics for taking a chance on me shooting his events for free. Unfortunately I haven't heard back from the other organizations.

However, I've been capitalizing on the sports editor from the Bowie Blade (Jake Linger). When I first contacted him I volunteered my team and he was hesitant to offer me an assignment. However, after shooting the Southern Maryland Youth Lacrosse Association Tournament he offered to hire me for summer assignments. I've been hugely successful because of Jake: he exposes me to events, and I gain a tremendous amount of experience covering those events. I don't care about the money, I'm just happy to have exposure to events, and I'm excited every time I have the opportunity to cover a new sport. I'm very grateful to Jake for giving me a chance when all of the other sports organizations I've contacted haven't even bothered to respond.

I'm also very appreciated of the opportunity that Mo has offered me in shooting the Majestics and Royals games. When shooting these games I've worn two hats: one as a photographer and one as a fan. My wife and I are benefactors of the University of Maryland Athletics Department through the Terrapin Club and Maryland Gridiron Network, but we haven't donated money to any local sports teams. In attending the NOVA games I've been very impressed and inspired by the athleticism and dedication of the players. It has definitely made me think about donating some money to the organization given how much heart the players put into the game.

My success with Jake from the Blade has been good, and it's starting to trickle into other areas. I contacted Al Santos from the DC Sports Box last night and asked him a question about the lens equipment he used to shoot a guard from the Mystics. I also offered a link to this blog. In his response to my question about his lens he offered some suggestions on the shots I've compiled. He also offered me an assignment for the weekend: the Soapbox Racing Derby on Capitol Hill. I'm sure that the pictures I've assembled on this blog have something to do with Al offering me a volunteer assignment, and I'm thankful to Jake and Mo for giving me a chance to shoot events and post my pictures.

As we roll into another weekend I'm looking forward to the events I'll be covering. Tomorrow morning I'm planning on covering the Soapbox Racing Derby for Al, and at noon I'm covering a baseball game in Bowie for Jake. On Sunday evening I'll be traveling to Germantown MD where I'll cover the Majestics vs Washington Freedom game courtesy of Mo. I'm sure I'll have a lot of photos to sift through next week, and this blog will be quite active!

On an unrelated note... My 2 backup EN-EL3E batteries arrived this week from I paid about $75 for the two, and I haven't looked back at all. I'm so impressed with their performance, and I'm happy to have 2 backups in my go-bag. Hopefully I'll no longer need that power inverter in my car and I won't have to worry about running out of batteries!


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