Sunday, October 14, 2007

This was the game I was looking forward to all week: field hockey at 5pm... You can read my DC Sports Box article by clicking here.

Late afternoon games are the greatest. They're early enough that you can get home at a reasonable hour and have some good dinner, but late enough in the day that the sun isn't burning your pictures. You can use f2.8 and shoot around 1/5000th of a second at ISO200. And of course, there's the orange and gold effect of a low sun.

I wasn't sure how the late field hockey game was going to play out at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex because I've never been there when the sun is setting. Trees enclose the field on 3 of the 4 sides, and the only spot where the horizon is visible is an endzone at the open end of the stadium.

I didn't know if the sunset was going to happen over that endzone, or if the sun was going to set behind the trees somewhere. I was hoping and crossing my fingers for an endzone sunset, and my wish came true!

When I arrived at the stadium I took note of the sun's location and sure enough it was well into the endzone. Unfortunately the Maryland Terrapins were shooting away from the sun during the first half of the game, and that was going to make for some challenging shots. Either I stay in the Old Dominion endzone and shoot directly into the sun but I capture the Terps on a rush, or I go for the 90 degree effect where I stand on the sidelines and shoot at a 90 degree angle to the sun. Even with the 90 degree shot the sun would be illuminating the backs of the Terps heads while they rushed towards the goal.

But, Field Hockey is a very dynamic sport and the players move in arcs a lot. So I managed to get some decent shots of the Terps when they shot looking away from the sun. I mostly tried to get them as they looked back into the sunlight to find another player to pass to. The shots came out pretty well.

During the last game there was a big crowd control problem that was brought on by unusually high temperatures and direct sunlight. A lot of the crowd moved over into the shady area near the opposing player's bench. This caused some Maryland staffers to push back the crowd and create a barrier.

Since I'm not credentialed and I don't want to make any noise I didn't try to go into the restricted area and instead stayed fully embedded within the crowd. It was a tough shoot with so many people standing so close to me.

Maryland brought in some CSC event staff for this game, and there was a kind older lady sitting on a chair in the corner of the field where there was a crowd problem during the last game. She was all bundled up because it was pretty chilly today. I put my camera together behind the endzone as I always do and I walked over towards her.

I put on my smile and asked her how she was doing. She saw my lenses and said: "how far do they normally let you go?" motioning towards the area that was restricted during the last game. I responded: "usually to within about 20 feet of the opposing team bench." She said: "well thanks for telling me!" and patted me on my shoulder. I smiled and made some small talk with her about the Terps and the great season they're having this year. A smile can get you a long way...

Al Santos came by and dropped off a CD containing high resolution JPGs we're going to use for business cards. He stuck around for the first half and shot with me. I let him use my D2H and 70-200mm lens while I stayed on my D200 and 400mm lens. It was fun shooting with someone and chatting with them. He gave me some pointers that were valuable like: "this is where you focus on the goalie" (while a penalty corner was being shot). Previously I focused on the players taking the shot but I'm going to try to shoot the goalie more often. I wish I had more mentoring opportunities... It would really help me improve...

The first half ended and there was still a good amount of sky left for the sun to traverse and Al and I made our way to the other side of the field. There was another CSC staffer guarding the "Authorized Personnel Only" gate. Al and I walked over and were having a conversation with another and he let us in. He even opened the gate for us!

It was from this spot that I took my best shots of the season. There was about 15 minutes of direct sunlight left and it was almost directly over my shoulder while I shot the second half. The Terps were shooting into the sun and the rays lit up their faces. I was so happy during this period - I could shoot fast, the colors were rich, and exposure was spot-on, and the Terps put 3 points on the board in the second half. I had a great time.

I also got some great pictures of head coach Meharg after the game and after a pair of goals that O'Donnell scored. In them she's smiling at her assistant coach and technical director. It was a great shoot.

There were some Team USA players in the photo area and a few of them asked if I was going to stick around for the USA vs Japan game. I wanted to stay but I also wanted to head over to Volleyball. I've only been to 2 or 3 volleyball games this season and I'd like to expand my coverage of them. There are some Maryland players on Team USA tho (O'Donnell for one) and I was torn about: should I go over to Volleyball or should I stay?

On one hand Maryland has not been kind to us in offering credentials. But we're going anyway and shooting and writing articles and promoting Maryland athletics. On the other hand here's some Team USA players that would like more coverage. Do you cover the team that hasn't expressed any interest in you being there, or do you cover the team that has asked you to shoot?

I ended up going to Volleyball, and I probably made the wrong decision. I debated it pretty heavily with myself but in the end I thought that my continued presence at Maryland sporting events might eventually pay off (with an official credential). But I felt pretty badly having to tell Team USA that I was going to another event. It again goes back to: I wish I could call .split() on myself!

During the volleyball game I misplaced 1 of my 4 CF cards. I was down to 3 and this has happened to me 2 times before. I can't seem to keep all the cards in one place. I really need to invest in one of those Think Tank media wallets.

When I went through my field hockey pictures I thought: hmm, I seem to recall taking more photos. I didn't think too much about it though because I had plenty of great shots from the 2nd half but I definitely felt like I was light on my shots from the first half. Later on in the weekend I located my 4th CF card and it had about 1.2GB of first half photos. I haven't looked at them very much because I'm happy with what I took in the second half. I'll probably post process them as a second batch later on in the week.

1 Comment:

  1. Susie Rowe said...
    Hi there. I am actually a player on the UMD field hockey team (Susie Rowe #6) and I love reading your articles and seeing your pictures. The shots are superb! I'm sure there is a way you can get a credential for next season, as your interest in our team would be much appreciated. I had no idea there was anyone other than our student newspaper photographer taking pictures of our games so I was very excited when I found your webpage. Thanks for you interest in us, sorry we didn't make it to the final four for you to take pictures of us.

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