Sunday, October 14, 2007

Men's Basketball: Maryland Madness

I left Comcast Pavilion and met the CSC staffer right outside the entrance to the Pavilion. I said: "I was just at Volleyball, can I take my bag into Comcast for Madness?" He said: "Sure" and motioned me through. Smiles work again...

I walked down to the elevator and made some more small talk with a CSC staffer who was guarding the elevators. She told me about her 9 kids, and how 5 are older and 4 are younger. Two are "too dumb" for school (haha) but 7 are pretty smart and she's happy about that. Funny how much you can learn about someone while waiting for an elevator.

The elevator dropped me off up on the 3rd floor of Comcast and I exited with my bag and cameras and walked over to see what was going on at Madness. It was around 8:45pm at this point and I didn't know if the women had been announced yet.

I made it just in time. Just as I was walking out into the stands the lights dimmed and the smoke and lasers started. Perfect timing... You can read my full DC Sports Box article on Maryland Madness by clicking here.

And I lucked out with the elevator too. It dropped me off on the far side of the arena that looked directly at where the players would enter. I had a great shot and I took a few sample photos. I made sure to change my folders in order to make post processing easier. I was already on my 3rd event of the night and I was down to about 200 photos left on my cards. So I had to be frugal and sharp in my shot selection.

There were a few fans gathered at the entrance to the section, and the CSC guards hate that. When I attend regular season games the CSC staffers are always shooing fans away from the entrances. I anticipated one would eventually shoe all of us away, but I hoped that he would see my camera and gear and would leave me alone.

My CSC luck continued and he told me that I could stay but everyone else had to go. This was perfect! I had a great view of the women's team entering and very little noise around me because CSC had cleared everyone out! He did ask that I move over to the side so that people don't see me and think they can stand in the entrance ways.

I looked around and I noticed Yuchen was shooting just above me. He had his 400mm lens on his Canon body. I said hello to him but he either didn't hear me or decided to ignore me. My 70-200mm lens was pretty good, but when I saw Yuchen with his 400mm I thought I'd give mine a try.

Unfortunately my monopod was in the car and that meant I had to take a few shots just holding the 400mm on the end of my D200. That worked for about 4 shots before I start weezing in pain from trying to hold that lens up without the assistance of a monopod. I promptly returned the 400mm lens to my bag and went back to the 70-200mm lens!

From where I was shooting I noticed that there seemed to be a wide open section behind the cheerleaders. I wanted to get down closer to get some better shots but I knew I couldn't make it all the way onto the floor. Sitting behind the cheerleaders seemed like a good bet and I didn't see anyone guarding it so after Coach Brenda Friese came out I walked around the arena and headed down the "Maryland Wall" to the lower level.

It was really difficult walking down those steps with my Think Tank International behind me, the D2H with the 17-55/2.8 and SB-800 on one shoulder, and the D200 with 70-200/2.8 with lens hood on the other shoulder. The steps are extremely steep and they're pretty narrow too. There were also a ton of students present cheering on the team.

I made it down the steps and managed to plant myself behind the cheerleaders without the CSC guy at the bottom on the court looking up at me. I was really having a lot of good luck with the CSC staffers today!

It felt so good to sit down and be away from the students and in an open area where I could safely shoot. My timing luck continued too... The women played a 5 minute game and then it was time for the men's team to take the court. It was during those 5 minutes that I moved from the upper section to the lower section so I didn't miss very much action.

The men's basketball team entered from the crowd. I thought about taking some shots but I was too far away and my angle was no good. From where I stood I could only see their upper chest and their face. They were smothered in a crowd of red and white (and they wore red or white). As a result you couldn't immediately look at a photo and say: "Oh, I see that's Greivis Vasquez."

Since I was low on CF space I didn't shoot very many pictures of the players entering from the stands. Greg got some good shots though, but he was in a much better position than I was. Instead, I focused on the slam dunks. When the players came out they were given a ball and they dribbled it down to either end of the court and slammed.

The people with the spotlights followed them, and there was a spotlight on one of the two baskets every time a player entered. The player was supposed to dunk on the basket that was illuminated, but several times the players went to the wrong side of the court. That made exposure difficult... Lots of sharp light from the spots but not a whole lot of soft light on the basket.

The dunk shots came out pretty well because everything else is dark except for some lasers in the background. The players are well lit in some instances, but in other instances they are dark. I think the shots would have looked great on the 17-55 if I had been under the basket. But at least I was in there taking photos.

I took note of the number of photographers present and it was pretty dismal. Greg was present, as was an AP photographer (I think it's Nick Wass but I could be mistaken). Gail Burton was there for the 10 minute practice session. There were 2 other photographers present, but they had variable aperture lenses. It's a shame we weren't offered a credential for this game - there was plenty of space.

Leaving the arena was a nightmare. I did the worst possible thing by letting all of the students leave first and then walking up the tall flight of stairs. I didn't want to be bounced around by the students as they left so I waited. Normally if you're credentialed you'd retire to the media room to do some post processing and to pack up your gear. You'd wait for 20 minutes maybe and then leave after most of the traffic has left.

But since I wasn't credentialed I decided to just follow the crowd out. Traffic was awful. This happens during the first event of every season and I should have realized it was going to happen tonight. The University Police always fail to streamline traffic during the first game. It's like they have a bunch of rookies at the key traffic points who are making bad decisions and blocking all the traffic.

For instance... There were a ton of cars trying to exit Lot 4 near Comcast and head towards the M circle on main campus. There was a University Police officer at the intersection next to the Farm who was allowing all kinds of north campus traffic to turn in front of the exiting Comcast traffic and head towards the Circle M. She was also letting a lot of traffic coming from the M Circle to turn up to go to north campus.

There's no possible game traffic coming from north campus that needs to leave campus. She should've held back the north campus traffic and the traffic that wanted to turn onto north campus in order to let the Comcast traffic out.

Another foul up took place at the M Circle. There wasn't any traffic coming from route 1 heading onto campus towards the M Circle, but the traffic coming from Comcast towards the M Circle was backed up like crazy. Why? Because all the pedestrians were crossing the street whenever and whereever they wanted to. It caused all the cars to stop to let people pass.

A better solution would have been to have a Police Auxiliary person hold up the crossing pedestrian traffic for a bit to let the cars out. Then, when a good size crowd gathers the officer steps in to block traffic for 30 seconds while everyone crosses. It delays the pedestrians for a minute or two, but it avoids automobile traffic taking 20 minutes to leave campus.

I didn't make it home until around 11:15 and I had a ton of post-processing to do. I went through it all doing a first pass and headed to bed around 2:30am. The next morning I plan on writing my articles and posting my pictures.


Post a Comment