Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Maryland men's soccer team was supposed to face the NC State Wolfpack on Friday evening but the rain over the past few days caused poor field conditions and the game was postponed until Saturday evening. This worked out perfectly for me because it meant I didn't have to choose between Volleyball and Men's Soccer.

On the other hand, the Maryland Terrapins volleyball team cleaned out Wake Forest in straight sets and by the time I made it in out of the rain after the field hockey game the lady Terps volleyball team was headed for the locker room with a win on their shoulders.

The football team played on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 and that game went horribly. Of course I didn't have a credential, so I set my eyes on the men's soccer game at 6pm that evening. When halftime came around and the Terps were down 20-3 I punted and headed home to get my photo gear. It was 5:15pm.

I returned to Ludwig field in plenty of time to catch the entire soccer game. I was very happy to attend the game because it started at 6pm and there was still some good light around for a bit to take some decent shots at low ISOs.

I used the 400mm for most of my shots before the night fell, and then I switched over to the 70-200mm lens. The lighting right before and after sunset is ideal. There aren't any sharp shadows and the light has a lot of color to it. You have a lot of flexibility in your settings and you can get some wonderfully in-focus shots.

The autofocus system on DSLRs is passive, meaning that it will only work if there is light bouncing off your subjects. In point and shoot cameras the AF system is active and an LED sends out an infrared beam that bounces back to the camera. The camera can detect the time delta between when the light was sent and when it returned to the camera and it uses that figured to determine the distance to subject and what the focal length should be.

Thus if you have very low lighting conditions a P+S with active AF can still focus properly, but a DSLR will struggle. Anecdotally I've noticed a huge difference in AF performance between day games and night games: during the day my AF is fast and almost always accurate. At night sometimes my AF goes all the way to one side and then back to the proper setting.

My shots for tonight were pretty good, and I opted to just publish the ones before night fell. I thought it would look crappy to lead with some good well lit natural light shots and then follow up with some high ISO noisy dark shots. You can read my article over here.

I also made a point of approaching Matt Lynch at half time and giving him my business card. We've been blocked from credentialed shoots of Maryland Athletics and his advice was to attend as paying fans to cover the games. I wanted to let him know that we had done that and I wanted to give him a card with a link to our site that showed all of our writeups and photos. Even though the Maryland gave us the cold shoulder I wanted to give Maryland a thank you and a link to our content.

Matt seemed somewhat sympathetic to our situation and thanked me for the card. I'm not sure if he'll actually look at the site. But I can rest easy knowing that I gave him the opportunity to review my work and comment on it in the future.


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