Sunday, October 7, 2007

This afternoon the Maryland Terrapins played against the UNC Tar Heels under an unusually hot sun.

It's been really hot lately, and there's been no rainfall for a month now. The temperature today peaked out at 90 degrees and it's October 7th. It's pretty crazy! I was sweating like crazy during the shoot today.

I spent all of yesterday doing outdoor activities, starting with a tailgate at 9am that led up to the Maryland football game at noon. Then from noon until around 3pm I watched the game from my season tickets in section 6. Unfortunately for me the sun is blazing down on us for most of the game. During the later games that's a blessing. During the early season it's a curse because it's so hot!

After the game I walked home and brewed a batch of beer with my brother Andrew. The brew took place outdoors. On Friday night I slept for all of about 5 hours, and so by the end of Saturday I was zonked. I headed to bed around 10:30 and didn't get up until 11 today!

I managed to get a nice sunburn across my face and it started showing this morning. I decided to grab my old surf hat from the basement before I went out today for the shoot. It's one of those cowboy style hats that has a somewhat sturdy brim around the entire hat. It's good for blocking out the sun from your face as well as your ears and neck. I figured I'd need it for today's game!

The hat helped immensely. I was concerned that it would interfere with looking through the camera but the short brim that is somewhat maliable worked nicely. I was able to wear the hat "back" on my neck somewhat and was able to look through the eyepiece without problem. I'm going to start wearing the hat to all the daytime events.

There was a ton of light at Maryland this afternoon. An open sun without a hint of clouds in the sky. It was burning hot, and I was sweating profusely into my knee pads. I've been wearing the knee pads since my parents got them for me for my birthday in September and they work very well. The only problem I have with them is that my knee sweat (eww) makes the inside of the knee pads slippery. It's difficult to stay planted when it's slippery in there. I'm sure that's not what you wanted to read...

I took my knee pads off during the women's game last night for just a minute to see if I could manage to be on my knees without the pads. It's crazy how much of a difference they make. In the past I used to spend almost the entire game on my knees without pads. Now I can't even go 5 minutes. If you're shooting sports and you don't have a little chair to sit on I recommend you get some knee pads - they make all the difference in the world!

It was actually pretty challenging to shoot today's game because there was so much light! It was great for exposure purposes, but it was very problematic from a review standpoint. There were several times where I went to my LCD to review some photos and I had a very difficult time judging my exposure and focus. It's hard to believe that having too much light can be a problem, but I guess it can be.

The most difficult part about today's game was the lack of action on the near side of the field. The UNC Tar Heels women's soccer team was the national champions last year, and Maryland hasn't won a single ACC game this year yet. Most of the action took place on the far side of the field in the opening half. As a photographer I try to go where the light is best. When that spot is in line with where the home team is shooting it's great. Today that was the case. Except my home team couldn't generate very much offense!

I had a choice to make: do I head down field to where UNC is attacking the Terrapins and shoot into the sun? Or do I stay in a favorable lighting position and shoot the Terrapin defense and hope that the Terrapin offense manages to make it to my side of the field. I chose to stay in place and I shot mostly Maryland defense today.

If I had a media credential I would have adjusted my position and located myself at mid field. That's where Greg was working today and he took some terrific shots. But until I get that pass I can't get into that section...

I also had a difficult choice to make with respect to which game to cover. The women's soccer team started at 1pm but the Field Hockey team started at 2pm. The women's soccer team is 0-3 in the ACC but was playing the nationally ranked and former national champions UNC Tar Heels. And the heels are an ACC team. That's a pretty important game to cover from a story standpoint!

On the other hand, the field hockey team is having an amazing season. They've won 18 straight games since last year's NCAA tournament championship, and are now 14-0. They broke the ACC attendance record on September 22 when they played Wake Forest, and today they were honoring head coach Meharg for 20 years of coaching the Maryland bench. Her "thank you" session was going to happen prior to the 2pm start. The downside of the field hockey game is that they played Boston University. They're not an ACC team, but they are ranked #14 in the country.

Since the women's soccer game only goes 45 minutes in a half I had a little bit of time to consider what to do: do I bail on the 2nd half of women's soccer so I can get to the entire field hockey game, or do I stick around and cover an ACC vs ACC game where Maryland could potentially upset the former national champs at the cost of missing part of the field hockey game.

Well, since Maryland wasn't playing very well I decided to head down to field hockey. In retrospect it probably wasn't the right thing to do but the field hockey game was a blast. The field is so small and the 400mm lens gives you so much reach. And Maryland's field hockey team puts a lot of action into the game. I wish that I could call .split() on myself and send my clone down to field hockey while I remained at soccer.

I shot the game at 1/8000 of a second for the most part and adjusted my aperture to f3.2 or f3.5 when necessary. A few times I stuck at f2.8 and reduced shutter speed, but that was only when the subjects were at the far end of the field.

The shots came out pretty well, but not as well as Friday night's "golden game." I think that a big part of why they didn't come out too well is because I couldn't review my work and make adjustments. I had a really hard time seeing the LCD and as a result I couldn't check to see if I was focusing properly or over/under exposing.

The women's soccer team is off for a 2 week road trip so I'll mostly be working on men's soccer and some volleyball until they return. Women's basketball is starting up on October 31st, and we're putting in a request for reconsideration of our media credential. I've covered 15+ games in the last 3 weeks of September and first week of October and written up original articles and posted my galleries. Hopefully they'll reconsider...


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