Saturday, December 22, 2007

Things keep getting worse for the Terps. This evening the Terps fell to regional challenger American University in horrible fashion. The Terps were lackluster in their perfomance and didn't seem to put much energy into the game. American hasn't defeated Maryland in over 80 years of play across 14 games. You can read Anthony's article over at the DC Sports Box along with my photos.

I found a nice compromise for my in-game photos. I'm uncomfortable posting them to my blog due to the NCAA rules and questions about whether blogs are journalistic or commercial creations. To play it safe I stopped posting my NCAA photos on here. I created a flickr account and that allows me to restrict access to certain sets of photos to people that are my "Friends" or "Family." If you'd like to see the high resolution versions of the photos head over to my flickr account and add me as a Friend. I'll then look at your photos and add you as friend of mine and you'll be able to see the photos.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

2 games and 2 losses by 3 points in just 3 days. Times are tough for the young Terrapin team. There are quite a few freshmen and sophomores on this team and I think they could really come together down the road but right now they're playing pretty sloppy. I'm sure that's common with a lot of teams in December, but things are going to have to get tighter as we close out the month and head into conference play in January.

We secured a credential to the men's game tonight and our spot was right there on the floor. There were a few more photographers present tonight but not so many that it was really tight. I had room to haul out my 400mm lens in the first half to shoot the Terps on the far side of the court. I love the shots off the 400mm lens - they really blur out the background and draw my subjects into focus.

I looked at some prices on 300mm lenses. The AF-S II looks to go for around $3k used. I was hoping to pick one up for $2k, but it looks like those are AF-I (considerably noisier and slower to focus). Looks like I'll be saving up a bit longer than I had expected! I'm still not convinced I need the 300mm lens. The 400mm is ridiculously tight in basketball, but as you can see from my photos over at the DC Sports Box I'm able to get a few action shots with it. While I could get a ton more with a 300mm I'm having a hard time justifying the cost. I have a feeling I'll stick it out with the 400mm until I see a 300mm AF-S II that is remarkably cheap (sub $2500 range).

Please go give my DC Sports Box article a read and tell all your cool friends about it!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Heading into this weekend I knew I was going to be busy. I shot the Maryland Women's Basketball game on Friday night, then 2 wrestling matches on Saturday, my company holiday party Saturday night, a Maryland Women's basketball game on Sunday, and lastly the Maryland Men's basketball game on Sunday night. Heading into a 2 day 6 event schedule is pretty challenging - you must have all your batteries charged and all your equipment packed and ready to go. While you're at the events you have to stay on top of your game and work through your photos as efficiently as possible.

While I shot the women's game on Friday night I went back through and deleted bad photos during media timeouts. I wrote my article and posted all my photos to my personal archive and to the DC Sports Box before I went to bed on Friday evening. My batteries were on the quickcharger so that they would be ready for wrestling tomorrow.

I did the same thing while shooting wrestling. I went through my photos during the match to reduce my post-processing workload. I managed to get through almost all of them by the time I had to leave to go shoot my company's holiday party.

I finally got around to posting my writeup of the Rutgers wrestling match. Please have a look over at the DC Sports Box.

The Terps dualed with Rider this afternoon in the Comcast Pavilion. Maryland performed solidly and scored 2 out and out pins, and 1 technical fall. The lighting was difficult to work with as usual. I had a good time shooting the match because I listened to my iPod. Yay.

I snapped about 300 or so photos during the match and reviewed them in the 45 minutes between the Rider and Rutgers dual. Greg was there with his shiny D3. I'm so envious of him. He shoots at 6400 and 1/500th and his shots are brighter, sharper, and less noisy than my 1600 D200 at 1/250th. But his camera costs about $5K and mine ran me around $1500. I'm happy that for 1/3 of the price I'm able to get some usable shots.

Please go take a look at my article and photos on the DC Sports Box.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Terps played out-of-town Northern Iowa this evening and put a lot of points on the board. 91-37 was the final tally. 4 Terp starters scored in double figures (Laura Harper, Marissa Coleman, Crystal Langhorne, Marah Strickland, and Kristi Toliver). Kat Lyons also knocked down 2 3 pointers late in the first half to score 6 points. It was great to see Kat score - she's a freshman guard who's looking to find her feet. Hitting 2 three pointers must have given her a confidence boost.

There really isn't much else to talk about with respect to the Terps in this game. There wasn't much competition offered by the Panthers, so it was a big stats booster for the team. Before gametime Coach Frese presented game balls to Crystal Langhorne and Kristi Toliver. Langhorne became the all time leading rebounder for the Terps, and Toliver eclipsed the 1,000 point plateaus. I believe that 4 current Maryland players are now over the 1,000 point plateau (Toliver, Langhorne, Coleman, and Harper). It's pretty remarkable.

As usual there were very few photographers present. Diamondback was there, as was Greg Fiume. Nick Waas from the AP shot from up in the stands for much of the first and second half. Yuchen has been absent for the last few games - I need to check in with him to see what he's up to. I shot from the baseline in the first half and then went up high for the second. I got some great shots from up there.

Please go read my article and take a look at my photos. I'm always looking for critiques and ideas for places to shoot from!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Two local teams faced each other tonight: Morgan State and the University of Maryland. The Terps emerged victorious due in large part to solid ball handling in the second half and 5 3 pointers by Eric Hayes. Vasquez also got back on the scoring side of the fence and hit 17 points. Gist had 18, and Osby banged in 6 field goals and 4 free throws. Please go read my article over on the DC Sports Box.

I had a lot of fun shooting the game this evening. My only regret is that I used my D2H on my short lens, and as a result the quality of my photos is not very good. They're kind of grainy... I think I might try my D200 on my 17-55 lens during the next game for my under-the-basket coverage. It just does better in low light.

Tomorrow night I'll be shooting the women's basketball game at Comcast. The men play their ACC opener on Sunday against Boston College and I have no idea if we'll receive credentials or not. Hopefully we'll at least get reporter credentials and that will allow me to walk around with my 400 lens and shoot from the stadium.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Terps came home and played this evening against Middle Tennessee. Maryland sure looks tired... I can't blame them - as of December 9th's game against Temple the Terps will have played 14 games in a month. That's almost 1 game every other day!

There's also a flu bug going around the locker room. A couple of players had to leave the post game press conference early to take care of themselves! The team sure has played hard. I'm sure they've learned alot about themselves and each other having played so many games in such a short period of time.

Middle Tennessee shot a lot of 3 pointers tonight. They knocked down 7 of them in the first half and that really kept them competitive. During the second half Maryland had a tough time on rebounding. But Kristi Toliver came through with her offensive prowess and hit a 3 pointer that gave the Terps the lead with 4:17 to go. She then followed it up with a rebound and a coast-to-coast drive and a bucket. That sparked the team's offense and Maryland held on to win it 74-69.

There were about a dozen people present tonight total. It snowed in the DC area today and the roads were in terrible shape.

Please go take a look at my article and my photos over at the DC Sports Box.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Terps traveled to Piscataway NJ to take on Rutgers this evening. I didn't invest in the 3 hour travel up to NJ, but a few people I know went. I saw Yuchen on TV and Greg talked about going. I'm not sure if he actually headed up there or not though.

Terps did well in the first half and went into the half up 10, but fell apart in the second half as a result of Rutger's defense. Epiphany Prince also came to life and shot out the lights. A big 3 pointer by her gave the Scarlet Knights the lead and the momentum. I wrote an article about it and used a file photo for the photo. You can read more about it over here.

Maryland is back in town on Wednesday night to play Middle Tennessee. The men also play on Thursday I believe against Morgan State. I'll hopefully be at both games.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Terps are playing the BB&T Classic and fortunately we have a credentialed reporter and photographer present at Verizon Center. Since I'm trying to spread the wealth around with my fellow reporters I decided to cover the Wrestling dual this afternoon. This was a first for me: I've never shot or written about wrestling before. It was in Comcast Pavilion so I was familiar with the venue, but I was unfamiliar with the players or how the game is tallied.

My photos came out so-so. Wrestling is a lot slower than volleyball so I was able to slow down my shutter to 1/120 - 1/200th. Down around 1/120th I got some motion blur. Up at 1/200th it was dark at times (at 1600 ISO). It was difficult to work with a black mat. The players faces look down for the most part and the black light doesn't reflect very well.

Please go over to the DC Sports Box and read my article!

The Terps played the Braves in the third round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. The Terps were looking for a College Cup but their hopes were dashed after a 2-0 lead dwindled to a tie in the final 2 minutes of regulation. The Terps played solidly in double overtime but fell with 1:31 remaining in the second overtime on a redirected header. You can read more about it and see my pictures over at the DC Sports Box.

This was a very difficult shoot. The lighting was abysmal as usual, but it was unusually cold. It was about 35 degrees at game time and there was some wind to make it feel colder. I had on my convertible mittens (yay) and they helped, but there's only so much heat you can retain after being outdoors in 35 degree weather for 3 hours. Towards the end my fingers and toes were numb. I was hoping for the Terps to pull it out so that we could go home after regulation, but the Braves forced the double overtime.

I chatted with Yuchen and Greg for awhile tonight and listened to my iPhone. It was fun listening to Greg talk about some of the jobs he's done. He's gone to the Olympics and it was neat to listen to him talk about working with the media people here and what they're like. Maybe I'll write more about it some time later. But for now I'm sleepy and cold so I'm going to go jump into my warm bed!

Tomorrow I'm shooting a wrestling match. I have no idea what that's going to be like...

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Terps participated in the Inaugural Big Ten/ACC Women's Challenge this evening by facing off against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes were ranked #19 and the Terps are currently ranked #3, so this promised to be a close game. Strangely it was not. The Terps blew the Buckeyes out of the water this evening and really looked sharp. I was over at soccer earlier shooting and it took me quite awhile to make it over to Comcast in time for the jumpball, but I made it in time. The usual folks were there, along with several other photographers I haven't seen before. The game was televised on ESPN2 I believe and as a result it's no surprise there were more photographers present. Anthony Amobi did the game writeup and shot the photos. You can view them up on the DC Sports Box.

On Thursday evening the Maryland men's soccer team took on regional challenger Loyola in their first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. It was pretty cold this evening, but I had a few people to talk with. Al showed up for the first half, and Greg was there for the entire game. The Terps played Loyola to a 0-0 tie in regulation, and the match went into double overtime. Still blanked after 2 overtimes the two teams went to penalty shots to determine the victor. The Terps got by on a 4-2 score on penalty shots to advance to the sweet sixteen. We decided to go with Al's shots from the game and I wrote the article. Please go take a look!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wow what a game. 9 lead changes and 8 ties in the first half, only 10 fouls on Maryland and 16 on Illinois, 4 three pointers by Hayes, 10 assists by Vasquez, and some powerful dunks by freshman Cliff Tucker. Terps basketball is exciting to say the least. We were fortunate enough to be offered a credential for this evening's game, and I was extremely surprised to find that we were able to get a photo coverage as well! ESPN covered the game and there were a lot of media people milling all about. I'm very happy we were able to cover this game and report on it. Please go take a look at my article and photographs over on the DC Sports Box.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Lady Terps took to the court tonight for the 6th time in 11 days, or the 9th time in 18 games depending on how you look at it. Laura Harper crossed the 1,000 point plateau and Kristi Toliver closed to within 23 points of it. Crystal Langhorne returned to home court off of a 5 game ankle injury and scored a double-double. It was lots of fun shooting on the baseline and from the Terp Wall with my 400mm lens. Please head over to the DC Sports Box and read my article and view the photos I shot at the game.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Terps held their senior day for Beth Gillming and Jade Brown this afternoon at Comcast Pavilion and upset the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 3-2. It was a pretty fun game to shoot because it was very tight. Greg was there and I chatted with him for a bit before he had to head over and adjust his strobes for basketball. The match went into 5 games so it took awhile to shoot. I was pretty good about deleting bad photos during the event and as a result my post processing was very quick. Please go read my article on the DC Sports Box page and take a look at my photos. I used ISO 1600 for the most part and 1/320th or 1/400th of a second on f2.8.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I have a nasty cold, but I'm not infectious (no temperature and no green gunk). If I take a lot of Robitussin I can keep my cough under control. My name was on the credential list for UM tonight, and I wanted to help Greg with his mail problem, so I headed to the game against the advice of my wife. It felt good to get out of the house after working from home in the same room all day, and I'm glad I went. I pulled out my 400/2.8 lens and shot most of the game with it. I used my 70-200/2.8 for the other shots. Emery Wallace had a great return game, and Drey Mingo continued to shine. Kristi Toliver was fantastic as usual, and Marah Strickland, Laura Harper, and Marissa Coleman helped finish out the Terps in double figures. You can read more about the game, and view my photos, over on the DC Sports Box.

A Change in Policy...

When I started photography my blog was my only vehicle for publishing my work. I'd shoot an event and post my experience and photos up on this blogsite. There's no advertising on the blog, and it was never a commercial venture. It was a simple way I could post my photos and to document my experience learning sports photography.

When I approached Al I was lucky enough that he gave me a shot with a few assignments, and that has turned into a more steady ongoing relationship between myself and the DC Sports Box. The DC Sports Box is my primary publishing vehicle, and I'm posting all my photos and game articles over on our website. Please check us out at:

We've recently been awarded game by game credentials to a few Maryland sporting events. Maryland's a very prominent Division I NCAA school, and there are lots of complicated restrictions associated with photographic material of student athletes. If used for commercial purposes and not sanctioned by the NCAA, commercial use of photographic material of student athletes can result in player ineligibility.

Nobody knows this better than Kirk Irwin, who stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy at Syracuse University. Kirk is a Sports Shooter and posted several of the photos he took as a credentialed photographer on At the time it was unclear how the NCAA viewed - is it editorial, or is it commercial?

After a lot of discussions by various NCAA officials and members of the athletics staff, the group settled on the decision that is an editorial site, and thus game photos of student athletes can be posted without jeopardizing eligibility. You can read more about this decision here.

Given the controversy that erupted at Syracuse, along with our recent successes in obtaining Maryland credentials, and my publishing vehicle at the DC Sports Box, I've decided to voluntarily stop publishing game photos of collegiate athletes on my blog. Even though I don't receive a dime off my blog from advertising, nor do I receive any paid work as a result of maintaining this blog, nor do I sell prints of any of the athletes I shoot, I don't want to create any reason for any organization to complain about the content on this site. I also do not want to cause any problems for the DC Sports Box in obtaining additional credentials to any sporting event.

As a result, my future posting will simply be a paragraph summary of the event and will contain a link to the DC Sports Box for the full article and photo gallery. I think that by doing this I avoid any potential complications or conflicts of interest that might arise.

Thanks for your understanding!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

We were fortunate to receive credentials for the Final Four in the 2007 NCAA Field Hockey Tournament, and I was very happy to attend and report on the success of the various teams. North Carolina played very well and soundly defeated Penn State 3-0 to claim their 5th national championship. Rachel Dawson played very well, as did Jesse Gey. You can read all about the game, and view my photos, over on the DC Sports Box.

Friday, November 16, 2007

After UNC defeated the Huskies there was a brief period of time before the Penn State Nittany Lions took on the Wake Forest Demon Decons in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament for Field Hockey. I spent the time working through my photos and writing my article, and by the time the second game started I was in good shape. You can read all about how Penn State shut down the Decons 2-0, and view my photos, over on the DC Sports Box.

The DC Sports Box obtained media credentials to cover the 2007 Field Hockey NCAA Tournament held in College Park MD. The first game I reported on involved the North Carolina Tar Heels and the UConn Huskies. It was a night game and I used ISO1600 for my shots. I've become numb to the noise at ISO1600. In the past I used to try to get away with ISO1250 and slower shutter speeds, but now I'm ok with ISO1600. My article for the DC Sports Box, along with a photo gallery, is posted here. Please go take a look!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Lady Terps played Delaware this evening in the PreSeason WNIT. Kristi Toliver played a tremendous game and scored 19 points. Marissa Coleman was a force with 16 points. Jade Perry came up with a double double with 11 points and 15 rebounds. The Terps won 91-43. It was a lot of fun to cover the game and report on Maryland's success. My DC Sports Box article, including a photo gallery, can be viewed over here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Terps only had 24 hours to rest before playing the Hampton Roads Pirates. Fortunately we were invited back to cover the event. You can read my writeup of the game over here.

The Terps had James Gist and Landon Milbourne back in the rotation for the game and that certainly helped. They had to sit out the first game of the season for playing in a non-sanctioned game in Ocean City earlier this summer.

Like the last men's basketball game this matchup had a lot of intensity. On the sidelines of soccer you can miss a beat and still know what's going on. That sure is not the case in basketball - if you close your eyes for a second or glance off into the crowd you miss a key play!

The men are so fast when moving up and down the court and you really have to stay on top of them. Fortunately there aren't too many people on the sidelines for these early games and that gives me a little bit of room to place my secondary camera.

It's still tight though. During last night's game an older gentleman and Yuchen got into it because Yuchen inadvertently bumped him. The CSC Staff came and it was a whole big production. It all stemmed from the older gentleman not taking kindly to Yuchen moving around right in front of him and bumping him.

When I headed out to my assigned seat tonight I introduced myself to the gentleman behind me and said that if I was blocking him or crowding him to just let me know and I would do my best to move out of his way. The folks that sit court-side at Maryland Basketball events are the largest benefactors to the University, and they deserve tremendous respect for what they have done for the University. I can definitely scootch an inch or two over it makes a difference for them!

The person behind me thanked me for introducing myself and said that he thought it would be fine. I sat in front of him last night for the North Florida game and I did my best to not disturb him. It's difficult because you have a couple of different competing desires going on: 1.) stay out of the way of the referee. 2.) stay out of the way of the players. 3.) stay out of the way of the fan behind you. Sometimes those 3 things don't line up, but you do your best to make them all work out to some reasonable balance.

I think Yuchen got into trouble because he wasn't trying to find the balance. He was just paying attention to #1 and #2 and wasn't doing much for #3 (at least that's what he told me).

I swapped the D200 bodies I used for the game tonight. During the North Florida game I used Al's D200 on my 70-200mm/f2.8 lens and I used my D200 on my 17-55/2.8 DX lens. The colors on my D200 are so much more vibrant and there is considerably less noise. It's very strange.

I checked the image optimizations and we're using the same configuration. I'm not sure what else to check. There's a noticeable difference in the performance of the two bodies - perhaps it's just a firmware issue?

I was pretty quick in my post processing tonight and managed to get my article and photos posted the night of the game. It's always nice to go to bed knowing that my work is finished and I don't have to worry about it the next morning while at work. It's difficult to explicitly take half an hour or an hour off to wrap things up from last night before starting the current day's work. It's much easier to just do it the night of the event!

Things have been going pretty well with the DC Sports Box. It's difficult to stay on top of all the games that are going on this Fall and I hope that we'll find a way to manage our credential process better. Right now it's very informal with Al serving as the central pivot around a bunch of photographers and writers. This has worked reasonably well but there is room for improvement.

Right now I communicate with Al and Al communicates with other people. There isn't very much photographer to writer communication, or communication across the entire organization. We desperately need to improve that. If we plan to incorporate and be a serious entity we need to communicate on a serious level. A reasonable way to start that is via email or instant messenger.

I regularly report on Maryland Athletics, but I need some other folks to get involved in case I get sick or I'm busy covering another event. Al needs to be involved in order to make the credential request, but there should be a team of people who he can draw upon for covering Maryland Athletics who will step up to the plate when someone needs some backup. Right now we kind of rely on Al to dish out the assignments, and it's worked but it could probably be better.

I think we need some kind of scoreboard that shows people's interest in the various teams we support. Al maintains that in his head right now, but it would be nice to get it down in Trac somehow. We could see that Anthony, Chris, and Kirk are the go-to guys for Maryland coverage. Moreover, we could annotate it by saying that Chris is willing to cover the non-revenue games for Maryland. That way when a scheduling conflict comes up (e.g. Volleyball and Men's basketball play at the same time and day) it's very easy to see who should be assigned what: Chris gets volleyball and Kirk and Anthony get men's basketball.

We're just wrestling through some growing pains right now, and they all come as a result of our success, which is great. I'm trying to think of ways that we can capture our recent successes and preserve them in the long run. I'm also trying to find things we can do to make our jobs easier. That includes scheduling, communication, technique sharing, etc...

I'm very pleased with where we are right now, and I'm so impressed with everything Al and the rest of the team is doing. I'm so honored to be a part of the DC Sports Box and excited to think about where it can go over the next year or so, and I'm also happy to be able to use my software and computer experience to help push us forward to the next level. I can't wait to see what we do next...

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.

On Saturday afternoon the Terps soundly defeated Old Dominion by a score of 5-0. You can read my article about it on the DC Sports Box site over here. On Sunday afternoon they played the Penn State Nittany Lions. Al managed to get credentials for the game and I covered the game. You can read my writeup of the Penn State vs Maryland Terrapins 2007 NCAA Tournament game here.

Unfortunately Penn State was too much for the Terps. The Nittany Lions defense was just too strong and the Terps struggled to get very many shots. Muracco and Katie O'Donnell played well, but they couldn't connect with the back of the net.

The shoot was a lot of fun because it was outdoors in the afternoon in full sun. The temperature was comfortable in comparison to other night time games the Terps have had and I was quite comfortable with a winter coat and a hat.

As usual there were very few photographers present. Yuchen and Greg were there, as was another photographer from a Field Hockey reporting website that I can't recall off the top of my head. No videographers, and no photographers from Penn State. There were some pen and paper reporters present, including a writer from the Diamondback.

It was difficult to capture some good shots of the Terps because the Penn State defense was so strong. None the less, when Maryland did go on the attack I tried my best to capture the moment. I shot 1/3200 or better on ISO 200 for the entire game (at f2.8) except for when the Terps were in the shade. I then had to dial down the shutter speed to 1/500 or thereabouts.

Fortunately I didn't have to go any slower than 1/500th. You can go down to 1/400th in field hockey, but at that point you're starting to risk some motion blur. If you're lucky you can get away with 1/320th, but most of the time you'll get motion blur.

At those speeds you also start getting into focus trouble. I've noticed that I have more difficulties properly focusing while my subjects are in the shade vs in the full sun.

I've been covering a lot of games lately, and as a result I've been forced to speed up my post processing. In many media organizations there's a writer and a photographer who do arguably completely different jobs when reporting. But in a scrappy young organization like the DC Sports Box we have to do everything we can with the limited resources we have. That means that reporters might have to shoot, and more often than not photographers have to write.

I've enjoyed writing, and I've blogged about how you get to know the teams better. It's definitely true that researching the team and writing about them gives you a lot more understanding about the chemistry at work on the field. It also helps you with your shooting. As you write you're forced to report statistics on individual players. The background research into player stats helps you on the field when you raise the glass to your eye and release the shutter.

If you know that O'Donnell is closing in on some particular scoring record, or coach Meharg is about to surpass some coaching record with the next goal, you can anticipate the moment and position yourself to capture it. I've blogged in the past about how so much of sports photography involves anticipating the next action, and I've found that writing has helped me to do that.

Unfortunately the Terps lost this afternoon, and that means that my research on the Maryland Field Hockey team will draw to a close this weekend rather than continue on to the 2007 NCAA Final Four next weekend. They've had a remarkable season but I'm sure they are disappointed with their post-season performance. They were shut down in the ACC Tournament and their effort against Penn State this afternoon could have been better.

I'm sad that the Field Hockey team is hanging up their sticks for the long winter because it's been one of my favorite sports to shoot. I've had a great time reporting on the 2007 Maryland Field Hockey team, and I'm looking forward to next Spring's practices and the games next Fall. The field is sufficiently small for a 400mm lens, and the action is good.

They also play a lot of daytime games in comparison with the soccer team. I think the Maryland men's soccer team played 1 day game this year, and the rest were all at night. One was at dusk and there was about 20 minutes of shots you could get with decent exposure before you had to crank up the ISO and go to a 70-200mm lens.

The field hockey players also celebrate a lot when they score. I suppose that's true in any low-scoring game (like soccer), but I've noticed that this team has some great moments.

It was truly a pleasure to attend 8 or 9 games this fall for the field hockey team and report on their success this season. I enjoyed my travel to North Carolina to report on their play against the #1 UNC Tar Heels (even though they were held shotless), and I think my skill as a sports photographer has improved. I definitely know that my writing has improved since covering them.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

When I awoke this morning the streets were moist and wet leaves littered the lawn. There was a light fog around, and the clouds were thick. I wondered how the field hockey games would go today...

By mid-morning the clouds started to clear and every now and then a ray of sunlight appeared in my backyard. I was happy to see that. Shooting outdoor sports in full sun is a lot of fun. By the time game time came around (11am) there were high clouds and plenty of sunlight.

I headed over to the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex near the Comcast Center at Maryland and took my backpack and photo suitcase out of the trunk. Today was the opening round of the 2007 Field Hockey NCAA Tournament, and the University of Maryland was fortunate enough to host the event.

The Terps were set to play Old Dominion, a team they played twice earlier in the season and beaten 4-1. I looked forward to this game because it promised to have a lot of offense and a lot of sunlight. A perfect combination... You can read my DCSB article here.

The person working the media desk had my pass and I happily attached it to my belt. This was my first time at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex with an official pass. I shot 8 or 9 home games this season, but none of them were as a credentialed reporter.

It was a brisk day. A cold front came through the region the night before and brought with it some cold Canadian air and a lot of wind. The media tent was an island of heat and it was so cozy inside. The Maryland folks set up tables with food and plenty of chairs. I left my laptop in my backpack and instead focused on assembling my camera.

Yuchen was there and he was eating some food from Maryland. I also noticed that Greg was out on the field taking some photos. I chatted briefly with Yuchen while we both assembled our equipment.

I debated wearing a jacket out to the field but decided to go with it in the end. The media tent was so warm and I was practically sweating in there while assembling. It was pretty brisk outside though and I didn't want to catch a cold.

When I got out there I chatted with Greg, who had on a stocking cap, gloves, and a winter coat. Greg is a few years my senior, and Yuchen is a few years younger than me. The three of us remarked about how chilly it had become overnight. Yuchen was wearing a t-shirt and some exercise shorts over some leggings. Both Greg and I had on our winter coats, gloves, and hats.

I jokingly said: "ya you'll be picking up a Z-Pak on Monday." Yuchen had no idea what I was talking about, but Greg got the joke. Z-Paks contain some powerful antibiotics that can counteract the effects of an infection. They work really well but you typically only get one when you're really sick.

I guess I'm getting old because I'm at a point where I care more about NOT getting sick then I do about my personal comfort on the field. If I have to wear a scarf, 2 hats, sweatpants and jeans over them, 3 tshirts, 1 sweater, 1 hooded sweater, and a double layer Gortex jacket to stay warm and avoid getting sick I'm going to do it! I think Greg feels the same way...

The lighting during the shoot was difficult to work with at times. There are tall oak trees that line the sideline, and the sun was just slightly behind the trees. And the trees dropped some leaves the night before.

In the middle of the field the lighting was strong enough for 1/6400th shutter, ISO 200, and f2.8. But in the shade I struggled to hit 1/500th shutter. I didn't want to go to aperture priority mode because I haven't had much success with the camera's built in meter when shooting high action sports.

I just memorized that it was N clicks to go from 1/500th to 1/6400th and watched through the viewfinder as my subjects transitioned from partial shade to full sun. Of course mother nature threw a monkey wrench in the plan by providing some high puffy clouds. As a result I would often have players at midfield while I was on 1/6400th and then a cloud would pop over. When that happened I'd knock it back down to 1/500th to correct.

It was difficult but I managed to get some decent shots. I need to do some research to figure out if there's something I can do on my camera to help me with situations like this. I wonder if that's what the "shooting banks" are used for. I know you can adjust the AF system in various banks, and I wonder if I can actually apply exposure presets in there as well. If that's the case then it might not be too bad to set up some presets before a shoot.

I shot the game using my Nikon 400/2.8 AF-S lens on my D200 and my Nikon 70-200/2.8 AF-S II VR lens on Al's D200. The results were interesting. Al's color saturation was completely different than mine even though I applied the same image optimizations. I swear there are differences between his camera and mine that I don't understand. The basketball pictures from earlier in the week are evidence of the difference.

After the Terps won I started post processing my pictures in the media tent. It was a lot of fun post processing there on site because there were a lot of people from Maryland and from the NCAA milling about. Whenever someone is looking at pictures it attracts a crowd, and a lot of people were looking at my photos.

It was a little awkward though because every photographer knows that in sports you shoot a ton of throw-away footage. This material is often extremely unflattering. It either shows the subject in an inappropriate position, or it illustrates some undesirable aspect of the player.

A very common example of this in women's players is the appearance of what appears to be cellulite. This occurs when a player makes a sudden stop and all the muscle from their thigh moves forward to the front of their leg. Lots of times you'll get wrinkles in the front of their leg that look like cellulite. It's not, and you just have to delete those photos.

It's a shame because I've taken some great shots that I've had to throw away because my subject has the false-cellulite or some other unnatural thing happening to them at the time of exposure.

Other times you capture a player while their tongue is hanging out of their mouth, or while their eyes are closed. Or you may get them bending over in a way that is inappropriate to photograph.

As sports photographers we realize that this is simply part of the business, and you just delete those bad shots and move on. But to the untrained eye it's quite suspicious. One of the referee's remarked: "oh she's not going to like that picture!" She didn't realize that before she finished making that statement I had already deleted that photo (and the 2 photos I shot immediately after).

Non-the-less... It was good having some people around over my shoulder while I was going through my shots. I wrapped things up about 30 minutes later and got my shots down to 25 that I wanted to publish. When I was finished the same referee came up to me and asked if I had any pictures of her. I was working on my camera equipment and so I allowed her to look at the photos in Aperture. She went through them all and said: "wow these are really good!"

So there's a small glimpse into the post-processing life of a sports photographer. You have to be careful about what you shoot, and you have to be aware that people who don't shoot sports don't understand your process. If all they see is the raw material before the final polished product is published they may have some false ideas of what you're doing.

Fortunately the referees that were present immediately after the game stuck around awhile and saw my final product and were happy with it. If they didn't stick around they might walk away with some false impressions!

Field Hockey: PSU vs Virginia

After the Maryland field hockey team won there was about an hour and a half period if inactivity before the next game started. This gave the officials time to water down the field, and it gave me time to post-process my pictures and work on my article.

I debated going home, but packing everything up just to go home and then come back in an hour seemed impractical. Instead I stayed in the media tent and worked on my post-processing. Coach Missy Meharg did a post-game press conference in the field hockey complex, and there were 2 other reporters present.

One guy was from the Diamondback and the other gentleman was from the Terrapin Times. Both had microphones and asked several questions. Coach Meharg looked over towards me at the end and asked if I had any questions. I didn't... I don't have any intelligent comments to make or questions to ask so I just thanked her for her time and wished her good luck in the off season.

I mostly attend the post-game press conferences to grab sound bites and to post-process my pictures. I'm currently a writer out-of-necessity rather than desire, meaning that I write in order to get my photos published. If another writer was present to cover a game they would do a 1000x better job than me. There's a skill to writing that takes years to develop, and I'm pretty darn sure I ain't got it!

On the other hand, writing has grown on me since I started working with Al at the DC Sports Box. Originally I despised it, and I believe asking Al to only send me to events where a writer was present. It seems kind of unlikely that I would make a request like that, but it was definitely my disposition.

As I'm shooting more I'm finding that the writing gets you in touch with the team. Captioning was my first entry into the writing world, and it came as a natural extension of shooting. In order to caption you have to know the players and their story. Captioning a photo with: "#22 Sarah Scholl scores her 4th penalty corner in 5 games" is much more compelling and interesting than "#22 Sarah Scholl waits for the inbound pass on a penalty corner."

In order to caption you have to learn the team, and the story behind the players. It's actually pretty interesting to learn those things, and once you know them you can talk about them in your articles. I now understand why reporters have "beats" rather than being floated around to random teams: they get to know their teams! It all seems so intuitive on the surface, but when you actually experience the connection to a team while taking photos, captioning, or writing it's actually quite exhilarating and unexpected.

So I stuck around after the Maryland press conference and shot the PSU vs Virginia game. While I was shooting it Coach Meharg scouted the teams. Tomorrow she'll play the winner of this match up, and when that happens I'm sure she'll want to know as much as she can about the opposing team.

It was fun shooting while Coach Meharg and her staff were on the sidelines. They are understandably busy coaching during the game, but during this particular match they were talking and remarking on the play of the two teams. It was enjoyable from an out-of-the-norm perspective, but it was also fun to hear her comments on the other teams. It was educational to hear what she observed while watching the teams.

I didn't write an article for the DC Sports Box, and I only stuck around for the first half. During the second half I went heads down in the press conference room to kick out my Maryland Field Hockey article and post it online. I also wrapped up my post processing for the game photos. I wanted to get those wrapped up and published early because after the 2nd field hockey game I wanted to head home and prepare for Football.

During the Virginia vs PSU game I chatted briefly with Sandy from the coaching staff. She's an athletic trainer who has been with Maryland for as long as I can remember. She's a very personable coach and she often takes photos on the sidelines of the team. She asked if I was attending tomorrow's game and I said I was. I also shared with her the photos I took during the Maryland game.

It was unusual taking photos of two non-Maryland teams playing on a Maryland field. I guess I'll have to get used to that though if the DC Sports Box gets credentials to the NCAA Championships next weekend and Maryland is out of contention.

Friday, November 9, 2007

With Maryland giving us the thumbs up for the men's basketball game on Wednesday evening I had high hopes of us obtaining credentials for Friday night's women's basketball game against Princeton. I asked Al to put in the credential request for me and he did so on Thursday.

I think we're on a standby list because we usually don't hear back from Maryland until a few hours before the event. I'm fine with that because it's an improvement over what we've had in the past. Anything they're willing to offer us causes great celebration with us, and we're just happy to be able to cover anything for them.

Sure enough we heard back from Maryland late on Friday with a positive email. We were set for credentials and could pick them up at Will Call. You can read my article here. The game started at 8pm so I had some time to get home and eat some dinner. Maryland offers meals to all the credentialed photographers but they also take down your name and who you're with.

All the places that offer food ask for names and affiliations. I'm not sure why they do that, or if anyone actually looks at those lists. But since I'm trying to put a positive foot forward with Maryland I'm avoiding eating unless I'm starving and haven't had anything to eat since lunch. I may just be acting foolishly, but it's my pessimistic personality in matters like these. I'd prefer to lay low and stay safe for now.

I did pretty well with my shots. The 1600 ISO from the men's game looks fabulous. At 1250 there wasn't enough light in the exposure and I had to do a lot of lightening in post processing. When I lightened it ended up opening up the background and it didn't look good at all. At 1250 ISO I also had to go down to 1/320th of a second exposure in some cases, and that wasn't enough speed for the men to stop the action.

For tonight I decided to go with 1600 on both D200s, 1/400th of a second, and f2.8 aperture. My lens choices were the same as last night: 17-55/2.8 DX and 70-200/2.8 VR.

There were remarkably fewer people at the women's game and the photographer spots were wide open. While this is bad for Maryland's media coverage it's good for us because it means there is not as much competition right now. If we attend and shoot as many games as possible right now we might have a shot at some ACC games.

I had a really difficult time working with the referees during this game. I took the #1 spot so that I could take some shots at 17mm from down low on the floor. I like those shots because they really open up the court in the shot.

The press conference for the women's games is also very convenient. During the men's games Gary Williams holds the press conference over in the Comcast Pavilion, a gymnasium within Comcast but off on the side. Volleyball plays in there. In comparison, Brenda Frese holds her press conferences in the media room itself.

It's very convenient for the media because all of our gear is in the media room. I understand why they have the different room though for Gary - I'm sure there are a lot more reporters present for the high demand games.

It was a lot of fun covering the women's game. I'm looking forward to this weekend as well because we heard that we were granted credentials for football and for the field hockey tournament. Things are really looking up for us lately and that really puts a smile on my face. It was difficult to report on 30 or so odd games in September and October and not make any noticeable progress. But with the approvals coming in these days it's really making me feel like those games did make a difference.

Although it's going to be a difficult weekend because of all the shooting I'm very excited about it all. Lots of opportunities to take great shots, get interviews, and write great articles. I just hope I can make it through the entire weekend!!!