Sunday, October 7, 2007

All week I had been looking forward to Friday evening's women's soccer game between the Maryland Terrapins and Wake Forest.

The women's game was the opener of a double header where the women played first and then the men played at 8pm. I was looking forward to this game because it started at 5pm, and the light towards the end of the day is always great for shooting. It has an orange tint to it and really lights up the players faces with a soft glow.

Daytime shoots are also great, but you can easily overexpose when there is full sun. This is especially true when your subjects wear white uniforms. However, the difference between the two (daytime and late afternoon shoots) is very small and they're both leaps and bounds better than night time events.

For today's event I took up position at my usual soccer location: on the left hand side of the endzone. It's a toss up with respect to which side you choose to sit on during a game (the right hand or the left hand). If you sit the left hand side of the field (the player's strong side, or on the players right as they come towards you) you get some great looks as they players move through the midfield.

You can also get some fantastic looks at the players in the center of the field when the attacker eventually centers the ball. It's tough to get those shots but it is very achievable. On the other hand, if you sit on the right hand side of the endzone (the player's traditionally weak side, or on the players left as they come towards you) you get some decent looks at the attacker before they center. However, lots of times your view of the action on is occluded by the players in the middle of the field.

If you're shooting from the right hand side of the field the players in the center block your view of the oncoming rush from the left hand side. You also are shooting the backs of players heads when the attacker centers the ball.

I bumped into Greg Fiume at the game and had a good time shooting with him. I've remarked in the past about how much more enjoyable a game is when you recognize and know someone at the game. 90 minutes (with a 15 minute half time) is a long time to be silent and shoot, and it's nice when someone is there you can converse with. Maybe I should get Julie into shooting these things with me.

I decided to go with Greg's advice from the last game and shoot as wide open as possible. I used f2.8 for the most part but at times I had to go to f3.5. My shutter speed was usually up around 1/6000th of a second, and I was on ISO200. I'm not sure what the difference is in picture quality between ISO100 and ISO200...

My shots came out really well. I thought that a lot would be out of focus as a result of the f2.8. But they didn't turn out badly at all. In fact I think it was one of my best shoots!

There was a decent crowd present and that always helps improve the quality of your shots. If you shoot someone and the entire background is empty seats it takes away from the quality of the picture. On the other hand, if the stadium is filled it tells the viewer that this game was important (well, important enough to bring people out to watch it!)

My shots during the 1st half were great because of the light, and my shots during the 2nd half were somewhat decent. The colors were pretty washed out tho because I was somewhat shooting into the sunset. The Maryland players had their backs to the sun and this created a shadow across the entire front of their body. There was very little variation in color as a result.

Towards the end of the game Greg asked if I could shoot the fireworks that they were going to ignite when the men came out. I said I would try to do it but I was kind of nervous because I've never shot fireworks before. I've heard from Al that they are pretty difficult to shoot, and so I asked Greg what settings he recommended.

He said that you can shoot fireworks pretty well with 1/500th of a second, ISO 1250, and f2.8. With that information I headed home during the 65 minute period between the end of the women's game and the start of the men's game. I ate a sandwich and offloaded my pictures and started post processing them.

I kept a keen eye on the clock because I wanted to get back in time for the fireworks. But I also wanted to go home to get a drink and eat a sandwich. At this point it was around 7pm and I was starving. I didn't want to have to go until 10:30pm before eating and having a glass of milk, so I headed home.

Home is very close to Maryland. Using line of sight we're about 0.25 miles away from campus. But driving it's about a mile. It's close tho, and I can get home and offload and get back to campus very quickly.

The glass of chocolate milk and my buffalo chicken with chipotle mayo sandwich was delicious. I had such a good time thumbing through the shots from the women's game knowing that I was heading back to campus about 45 minutes later for the men's game and for fireworks. I got through almost all of the photos and was really pleased with how they looked. That gave me encouragement before going to the men's game.

I rushed back to the game and made it into the stadium with a few minutes to spare before the fireworks were set off. You'll have to read about it in my next post!


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