Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Volleyball let out and I high tailed it over to Ludwig Field to see if I could catch the end of the men's soccer game.

As I raced across campus I saw the lights from Ludwig on and I crossed my fingers for a late game. They keep the lights on at Ludwig on for hours after a game lets out so I knew that just because the lights were on it didn't mean the Terps were still playing.

I screeched into Lot-1 and I saw the clock read 3:25 and was ticking down fast. I parked, jumped out, and popped the back open on my red Ford Explorer Sport. I opened my Think Tank International and pulled out my 400mm lens. There was very little time left...

I skipped the lens hood assembly (no time for that) and I swapped out my 70-200/2.8 lens for the 400mm lens. The time was now 3 minutes to go... As I rushed through connecting the 400mm lens and attaching my monopod I heard an announcement over the loudspeakers: "The Maryland Women's Volleyball team has just defeated the Miami Hurricanes by a score of 3-1."

I checked my pocket for a ticket, slammed the door on my explorer and ran for the entrance. I could see the fans on their feet as I raced towards the entrance. The regular guys were there and I presented my "free entrance" ticket I earned from being a season football ticket holder. He waved me through without checking my stub and uttered "hurry up" as I passed him.

I jumped over the electric cords laid out across the track and headed towards my regular position (right corner side where the Terrapins shoot). There were a lot of people in the stands and Maryland brought in additional bleachers for this game to handle the crowd.

When I got to my spot I realized I would block a lot of fans. I tried to move out of the way while I extended my monopod and started shooting the last minute and a half of a 1-1 tie game. The CSC staffer that guards the media entrance was there, and she motioned towards me. She explained I would be in the way and let me into the media area.

I thanked her and said I would stay off on the side. I was happy she let me in because I would have been in the fans way and would have had to find another spot. With only a minute and a half left in the game I wouldn't have gotten off a single shot.

The settings from Volleyball were close to the settings I would use for soccer so I had to make minimal adjustments. I bumped the ISO from 1000 to HI.7 and kept my shutter at 1/320th and my aperture at f2.8 and started firing.

I shot as much as I could anticipating a last minute goal would end the game and I would end up with a dozen or so photos tops. Fortunately the game went into overtime and that allowed me to take some more photos.

At the end of regulation I moved to the opposite side of the field. I walked through the media area since moving through the crowd would have been disruptive. There were a ton of fans present and there were a ton of people getting up and walking around before overtime started. I didn't want to walk amongst them carrying $5k worth of camera equipment.

I think it was that point when my friend Reza noticed me. I left my phone in the car in my rush to get to the field, and when I got back after the game I noticed a text message on my phone: "How the hell did they let you in here?" Heh...

I moved to a similar media-privileged spot on the other side of the field in anticipation of overtime. Realistically there wasn't any difference in the photos I took from that spot vs where I would have to stand as a regular spectator. They are literally 2 feet from each other. The difference was that I was out of the way and not in anyone's direct field of view.

The Terps took Virginia Tech to a double overtime and that gave me 20 minutes of additional shooting. I was happy to see that because it gave me about 200 or so photos to work with. Some came out pretty well. Most didn't. The lighting at Ludwig sucks...

The game write-up was difficult because I wasn't there for the entire game. As a result I had to base my write up on the box score and just talk about the individual stats of players. I was able to write up overtime in detail, and that may have been the most exciting part of the game anyway.

As the final minutes of overtime ticked down I headed towards the exit of the stadium. I noticed that Lot 1 was packed and I remembered the traffic nightmare on Friday night when Madness ended. I was pretty hungry having not had dinner, and I wanted to get home promptly after the game let out. So moving to a spot on the field that was closer to the exit seemed like a good idea.

As soon as the buzzer sounded the end of the game I booked to the car, disassembled my lens, extracted my batteries and CF cards, packed up my body and headed out. I drove down past Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center to avoid the Lot 1 pileup and that worked pretty well.

I got back to the house and made a nice juicy sandwich and post processed both the volleyball and soccer photos. I wrote up my articles and got them posted that night and headed to bed around 2:30am.


Post a Comment