Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It hasn't rained in over 30 days in Maryland, and of course it chooses to consider raining when there's an outdoor game...

During the afternoon I was glued to the Weather Underground checking for the line of thunderstorms everyone said would form during the late afternoon and early evening hours. I was watching for them because the Maryland men's soccer team was scheduled to play Lehigh at 7:30pm!

I've been doing a lot of reporting on the Maryland Terrapins over the DC Sports Box. You can all my articles and view my photos here. We just recently put in another credential request, and there's the possibility that Maryland is looking at our sight right now and evaluating if we are credential worthy or not. As a result, I don't want to miss any games until we through this important time.

I got home a little late from work this afternoon and I wanted to grab a sandwich before heading to the game. While eating a sandwich I thought about the potential for rain and decided to bring a towel with me. It's no Aqua-tech waterproof lens protector, but it's not too bad either!

I headed over to the game and arrived only 2 minutes late. Not bad at all. I love covering Maryland events because the competition is great and also because the venue is so close. From my house to the venue is less than 5 minutes. It's great!

I've been debating whether or not to bring my Think Tank suitcase with me to venues. Right now I'm not sure if I really see a need to do that since the only things I would possibly use during a shoot are my 2 bodies and my 400mm and 70-200mm f2.8 lenses. I have the MF 50mm/f1.8 but I doubt I'd use that for photojournalism.

I recently picked up an SB-800 off of Craigs List for $260 and I think I got a pretty good deal. It's sitting in my Think Tank right now waiting for a wide zoom to arrive (that's coming shortly!), and when that happens I'll consider taking my Think Tank with me to Maryland assignments.

But as it stands now, the only thing in the Think Tank that's not on my body during a shoot are my media cards and extra batteries. I can get one of those Think Tank media wallets for relatively cheap, and I'm sure there's a similar bag for batteries.

When I travel to RFK or to remote sites I'll definitely bring the Think Tank, but I think that for Maryland games I'll stick with just carrying my bodies and possibly getting a belt with some bags that can attach to it. I've seen other photographers use bags and belts and it seems to work well for them.

Tonight's shoot was a lot of experimentation. Now that I learned that I can consistently shoot at hi-7 ISO and 1/320th second standing under the stadium lights I wanted to try some other locations to see how I do. I've had trouble on the sidelines with shadows, so I decided to play around with that a little bit tonight.

I used hi-7 ISO and 1/250th of a second at times while shooting players on the field and was selective with when I shot. I avoided shooting the players when I could see the shadows on their faces through the viewfinder, and I only shot when they were standing in front of me facing the stadium lights.

I also backed up a ways during penalty kicks so that I had a wider area to cover. The D2H and the 70-200 don't do well at night at all, and I really rely on my D200 and the 400mm for 99% of my shots. During the day the D2H works really well. It's just at night that it's pretty lousy.

When I backed up I had a wider range and that allowed me to get some action shots of the players when they shot during a corner kick. In the past when I stand up along the side of the field the 400mm is simply too much zoom for that range. 300mm might even be too tight. 200mm is about the right zoom, and I'm sure that on another D200 those shots would look great. But on a D2H at night ... forget about it!

I'm thinking about not bringing my D2H to night time shoots altogether. Or if I do maybe I'll put my SB-800 on it and a wide zoom and use it for before and after game photos. It's just so darn noisy, and even at 200mm I have to do a lot of pixel cropping to zoom on some of the photos. It does so-so on up-front action at 70mm, but when you're at 70mm you get the overhead lights from across the field in the picture and they overexpose, leaving your subjects poorly lit. We'll see...

When I got to the game I could see a lot of lightning activity north of campus, and I wondered if that line of rain would move through. We made it through about 1/2 of the 1st half before it started to drizzle. When a few drops started falling I compressed my monopod and hussled over to hang out under the bleachers in the end zone. I noticed another photographer present with a D2Something and a 70-200mm lens. He didn't have a towel and he waited around a bit.

The mist turned into drizzle, and the drizzle turned into a shower. I was nice and safely protected with my towel under the bleachers but the other photographer was getting wet. He started hoofing it and I was happy I left my spot early and brought a towel!

I waited for a little bit for the shower to pass and when it turned back to drizzle I headed back out. I wrapped my towel around my 400mm lens and my D200 body, and I moved my D2H and 70-200mm lens so that it was located near my chest. There was some overhang from my towel and I used that to cover my second camera body.

I'm going to ask my Dad for some bungee cords. He's a nut for those things and has millions of them. I think they might be useful during potential rain situations. I can take a towel and wrap it around my lens and body and use a bungee cord to keep it roughly secured and in place. It wouldn't be perfect, but I think it might work.

Some of the photos during the rain came out pretty well. They weren't keepers due to focus problems. But the rain drops really looked neat. I bet you can get some amazing shots during the rain!

I didn't see any photographers I recognized, and nobody from Maryland talked with me tonight. One of the CSC staffers said: "hey how come you keep buying tickets and you've got all that camera equipment?". I told him we're trying to work our way in, and he said: "well keep at it!" It's nice getting to know the admissions people. Hopefully one day I'll be able to walk past them with a Terps credential on.

I've been enjoying writing for the DC Sports Box more and more. When I first started I hated writing the articles. I just wanted to post the pictures and be done with it. But now that I've attended 4 or 5 games for men's soccer, women's soccer, and field hockey I'm getting to know the teams. I'm now able to look at several of the players in the photos and know who they are, whether they are upper or under classmen, know whether they've scored a lot this season... It's pretty neat knowing the details of the players.


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