Sunday, October 7, 2007

I made it back to the Men's soccer game in time for the opening fireworks. When I left after the women's game I went out the student entrance and said hello to the CSC guys. They noticed me carrying all of my photographic equipment.

On the way back I entered through the same place I left. They don't sell tickets there but I thought I'd give it a shot. The guys waved me on through. They saw my photographic gear and my MEDIA badge from another event and let me come in without getting a ticket. I was very surprised.

I walked over to the protected media area and told the CSC guard I needed to speak with some Maryland people. He didn't seem to believe me but I kept walking and headed over to talk with one of the guys that I recognized from several events. I told him that Greg had to go over to Gossett for a football event and he asked me to take pictures of the fireworks.

The guy told me roughly where the fireworks would be located and that they would go off during the signing of the Star Spangled Banner. I changed bodies and lenses and decided to put the D200 on the 70-200mm lens. I did that because it takes better night time pictures than the D2H.

They placed the fireworks in either endzone and that was going to make for a difficult shot at midfield. I decided to go into the stands in the student sections in the endzone and shoot the length of the field using portrait layout. I had to move quickly to get into position because they were getting ready to sing!

I made it up into the student section and positioned myself for the shot. I tried doing some pre-focus and it was difficult. I wanted to focus on where the fireworks would be but there wasn't anything there when I was prefocusing. My AF system kept locking on the trees in the background.

I ended up focusing on the team on the field and holding the shutter button 1/2 way down. In retrospect I should have just changed to single AF (rather than continuous AF). The shots came out alright - they shot 1 set of fireworks off and so that limited how many shots I could take.

After they finished singing I went back down into the media area. I thought they were finished with the fireworks because the media guys said they were just going to shoot them off during the national anthem. To my surprise they shot some more off when they introduced the Maryland team. I wasn't prepared for it and I missed the shot.

Next time I'm going to keep an eye on the field to make sure they actually remove the fireworks cannons. That will tell me for sure that they're finished!

The game was packed and my normal shooting spots were all covered by fans 3 people deep. I went back into the media area and just hung out right next to where the fans are located. I didn't have a wristband, and I kept noticing several UM people milling around near me. I kept waiting for one of them to ask me why I was there and to kick me out of the area.

I wasn't in anyone's way, nor was I making any noise whatsoever. I just didn't have a bracelet on, and I kept thinking back to how stingy Maryland was with giving the DC Sports Box a credential to some games. I fully expected somebody to say: "you have to leave", and given how packed it was around the field I was going to have to head home.

I also thought about what kinds of questions they might ask me. Who are you working for? Where's your media pass? Why are you in here? I didn't want to have to say the "DC Sports Box" because I didn't want our media organization to continue to get blacklisted from events. The truth of the matter was that I was there for Greg to shoot the fireworks, and by the time they were over all the people were crowding the sidelines. My gear was in the media area, so rather than leaving the media area I just hung out 1 foot from where I would normally hang out.

When the end of the 1st half arrived I felt relieved to leave the media area and retreat to a safer position where UM wouldn't hassle me. I ended up parking myself under one of the stadium lights and shooting the rest of the game from up there. Those shots came out better anyway because of the way the lighting works at UM.

I was also happy to see Greg return from Gossett. I figured that if anyone asked me what I was doing there I could always have Greg verify that he had asked me to shoot the fireworks.

The pictures came out so-so because of the poor light in Ludwig. I'm glad I went and wrote up an article, but it was pretty nerve wracking sitting on the sidelines and waiting to be yelled at by a Maryland person. I hope that we soon get our credentials for Maryland events and I can stop being nervous while covering events...


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