Sunday, November 11, 2007

It was thrilling sitting on the sidelines for a Maryland men's basketball game. It was also exhilarating attending the post-game press conference, getting quotes from Gary Williams, and interviewing some of the players. You can read all about it in my DCSB article here.

For this game I showed up with plenty of time to spare. Earlier in the day I covered the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament when I reported on Maryland's loss to Penn State. I've been working a lot of hours lately covering all kinds of different events, and I've been putting a lot of cycles towards improving my post processing workflow.

In the past I took 800 - 1200 shots per event and then worked through them a few hours after getting back home. I'm now trying to shoot less overall exposures (but still get the shots I want), and I'm trying to do some cursory filtering during the game at half time.

To accomplish this I typically set up my laptop and card reader prior to the first period and have everything ready to go. When half time hits I rush into the media room and load my 2 CF cards (one from my long lens and one from my medium or short lens) and copy the files over to a "processing" directory.

While the copy takes place I open a Terminal and do "open *" to bring up all the files in Preview. Since I upgraded to Leopard my speed in Preview has shot up remarkably. I'm able to whip through pictures and discard them while the next photo is loaded. It has really cut down on my first-round filtering of my photos.

If I'm lucky I can get through all of my first-half shots during half time and get 300 or so shots down to 50 or 75. If I can do that I head out into the 2nd half comfortable of the progress I made.

When the game concludes the head coach typically remains on the field with the team (or the TV crew) for a little bit. While the coach gives out some sound bites or congratulates the team on their success I rush to the media room and break down my gear. While that happens I also remove my CF cards and start dumping the 2nd half shots to my processing folder.

I always manage to get my gear stored in my Think Tank before my cards are finished copying. I then usually grab my laptop, card reader, cards, and microphone reporter and race to the press conference area.

Some coaches are quick to make it to the press conference room. Others take a bit. Either way works out for me because I simply start going through my photos in Preview while waiting for the coach to arrive. When they do arrive I place my recorder up on the podium to capture some quotes and I retire back to my seat to continue post processing.

If I'm lucky I can get through the first round of post processing by the time the press conference ends. I then half to do my second round of post processing, which involves additional filtering out of photos, rotation, cropping, and lightening. I then export my "vault" (usually 50 or so photos) and then go through a final round of filtering where I reduce my shots to a maximum of 25 exposures I want to publish.

I then caption each photo, and export three versions: 1 full size, 1 800x800, and 1 75x75. Once those 3 versions are complete I can upload my gallery to the DC Sports Box and my photography job is finished.

I typically then head home to write my article. I listen to the tape recorder in the car and gather my thoughts about the game. When I get home I then listen to the tape for quotes and write my article based on the player interviews and the coach's comments. It makes the article flow nicely when you can combine stats, opinions, and quotes seamlessly.

In the best situation I can have all my work finished within an hour of the game concluding. Other times it takes me awhile because I took too many photos or I was distracted in some way (e.g. a friend came up and talked to me during half time or after the game and I was unable to stay focused and work).

The field hockey game this afternoon and the mens' basketball game is an example of optimizing time. I stuck around the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex until Sandy kicked me out (she wanted to lock the gate) and then I headed over to Comcast for the men's basketball game. It was only around 4:30pm and the game didn't start until 8pm but I figured I would have plenty of time to write my article and post my gallery if I just headed straight over there.

Plus if I just hung out in the media room it would give me time to catch up on the blog and other site related work I've been performing. If I go home I'll be distracted with the mail, or the kittys, or something in the back yard that needs attention. Since Julie was occupied with some other activities I figured it wouldn't make much difference if I just stayed at Maryland for the men's game.

The men's game was a lot of fun to shoot and it was pretty tight. The ball hit me twice, and it reinforced my desire to use lens hoods while shooting men's hoops. I think that if I didn't have a hood on my 70-200 the ball would've contacted the UV filter I have over the front element. It probably would not have damaged the glass itself, but I'd still rather have the ball hit a piece of plastic I can easily replace rather than the filter or the glass.

I got a bunch of shots of Bambale Osby dunking. They put me in spot #1 again, but I was just happy to be able to shoot. Boom is really a huge player. It doesn't come out on TV or from up in the stands. When you stand next to him he's definitely intimidating.

At half time I raced in and managed to get through all of my first half shots. I felt good walking out in the 2nd half knowing I had accomplished that goal. Getting through that allows me to get home earlier, and that makes my wife Julie happy.

It's been difficult shooting so much because it takes me away from home. It's fun and exciting to shoot but I think about Julie at home a lot and how I'm not there. I'm lucky she's so supportive of my 2nd job (as a sports reporter), but I have to also be careful not to push my luck.

That's why I try to go home after games as quickly as possible so that I can write from the house. I think it makes a difference for her. Some nights I didn't make it home until really late and I didn't get a chance to say good night to her. That made me pretty sad. So I've been making a bigger effort lately to get home in time and to write from there. At least that way I'm here and I can say good night and tuck her in.


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