Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I was sad to take off from Volleyball so quickly because Greg was sticking around to photograph the players and their parents.

But I wanted to get over to men's soccer, and it was 6:50pm. I keep thinking that soccer games start at 7pm, but they actually don't start until 7:30! So I could have stayed and shot the players during the post-game celebration but I left early.

When I arrived at Ludwig Field I put my 70-200 away and put my 400mm lens onto my D200. I decided to not use my D2H at all because of the poor lighting conditions. In retrospect I wish I had brought it. After I saw how well Greg's ISO3200 volleyball shots came out on his D2H I'm interested to try again.

It's tough just shooting at 400mm. You get some great mid-field action, but shooting the goal zone is difficult. You really need a 200mm or a 300mm lens. 400mm is just too much. I compensate for it by backing up 20 or 30 feet whenever there is a corner kick. That kind of works, but it means I can't track any action in the box while the game is in play.

I spoke with Yuchen for awhile before the soccer game. I like him because he looks like he's out there enjoying himself. I suppose that's because he's a student and he's not trying to make any money off of photography yet. He's out there because he enjoys it, and that's going to make you more pleasant.

In contrast, I've sat alongside photographers at events that were completely miserable. I've been ecstatic to be sitting on the floor of the Verizon Center shooting the Mystics and they're there complaining about it. One man's trash is the next man's treasure I suppose...

Yuchen asked me if I was going to NC this weekend. I replied: "for the field hockey game?" He nodded and I answered "no. You?" He said: "a couple of us are thinking about going." That got me thinking... Maryland is ranked #2 and UNC is ranked #1 ... in the country. They're also both in the ACC. This is going to be one helluva game.

We're also trying to prove our commitment to Maryland and covering a road game would go a long way to demonstrating our seriousness level. I also love covering field hockey so it really got me thinking...

At issue here is giving up on a football game and a great tailgate session in order to drive 10 hours to cover a field hockey game. Would my wife Julie go for it? Would my fellow tailgaters give me a hard time for missing the party? Would I miss the football game?

I thought about it the entire soccer game. How long would it take to get there? When would I go down - Friday night or Saturday morning? Where could I stay? Could I make it back for the tailgate?

When I got home I asked Julie about it and she said I should go for it. She's been extremely supportive of my pursuit of sports photography and so I wasn't too surprised by her response. With her sign-off I started strategizing about how I could get to Chapel Hill.

At Zenoss I work with someone that lives in Raleigh who commutes to Annapolis once a week or so to attend meetings. I contacted him and asked him about flights, driving, and hotels. He told me that he had a "bachelor weekend" with his wife out of town and that I was welcome to stay in his suite. Hats off to my friend Mark Hinkle for helping me out!

He recommended Southwest for flights and reported you can get roundtrip fares for $120 sometimes. With gas costing $2.75 a gallon I started doing the math and it would only be marginally more expensive to fly if round trip tickets cost $120. Plus I would turn a 6 hour drive into a 1 hour flight, and I might be able to make it back for the tailgate and football game!

Unfortunately the only Southwest flights home I could take left at 2:45pm and 6pm. The 2:45pm flight is too early for me, and the 6pm game wouldn't get me back in time for the tailgate. And the price for a roundtrip ticket was around $265. That'd be pretty difficult to justify...

Al put in the credentials and UNC responded immediately with a "yes". If only Maryland was as generous...

So it looks like I'll be driving south on Friday evening and shooting the #1 and #2 ranked field hockey teams in the country. I'm very excited about it and anxiously looking forward to it! In the meantime I'm catching up on some book keeping and I'm updating shock to do some more things for us on the DC Sports Box.

My shots from the soccer game came out pretty well. I got a lot of shots of the players celebrating after goals. It was a blowout from a competition standpoint. Maryland blanked the Wildcats 4-0 and there was little Villanova could do to recover. As a result there were lots of shooting opportunities for celebrations.

Since keeper Thorne had kept the Wildcats scoreless I decided to position myself to shoot him after the game. I move to the endzone and waited for the seconds to tick down. As they did Thorne turned around and yelled. I caught a pretty cool picture of him. I wish it was during the day but oh well...

Greg told me that on Sunday when Maryland plays he and another photographer are going to shoot the entire Maryland book. He said Maryland only plays one home game during the day this season and so all the material had to come from that single game. That's pretty crazy and it just reinforces the need for the scheduling people to talk with the photographers.

If scheduling doesn't put any day home games on the calendar it means you won't have much marketing material. Or if wardrobe gives the team highly reflective uniforms it's going to make for crappy shots. Or if facilities lands 6 porta-potties next to the corner kick location you're going to miss some shots.

Pretty much anything the team does has some implication on our photographic output. We can work around a lot of problems, and we're expected to do that, but it's impossible to turn out quality work when you don't have any day games.

And what if you have 1 day game but your star player is injured? Or what if your team is crushed and looks sloppy? Wouldn't it make more sense to play a couple of home games during the day?

I guess those are the challenges a sports photographer at the college level has to face...


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