Sunday, May 25, 2008

Women's Lacrosse: Northwestern vs Penn

Heading into Sunday afternoon I was pretty happy with my weekend progress. My wife Julie headed south to North Carolina with her parents on Saturday morning while I stayed back to wrap up 2008 NCAA Women's Lacrosse Tournament. With 2 games on Friday night and 1 game on Saturday evening I was working pretty hard to stay on top of my photos and articles. I think that other photographers have a pretty easy job compared to mine - at least they don't have to write articles and stay on top of box scores!

At the conclusion of Saturday evening (around 2:30am) I was finished cropping and coloring the Divas and Duke lacrosse games. I was also finished with the captioning process. That just left Sunday to write up 2 lacrosse articles and post process the Northwestern photos. I cranked those out in a couple of hours and smiled as I headed back up to Towson for the championship game.

On Friday night I realized that I only had $3 in my wallet for the event and Al had the parking pass. Since parking was $10 I opted to look for another location. Most of the parking lots that adjoin Johnny Unitas stadium are private parking lots and signs warning of towing and fines were everywhere. I ended up parking in the hospital parking garage and I crossed my fingers hoping the gate would be up when I left. Fortunately for me it was.

On Sunday I had an official parking pass and I knew exactly where to park at the stadium. When I arrived I wasted little time in making it down to the field to prepare for the game. I decided to play around a little more with some f/22 shots while the teams warmed up. Lots of specs in my shots... Lots and lots of specs...

I looked around and saw Jeff from Inside Lacrosse. I wanted to chat with him some more but he was really busy getting set up. I also looked around for Patrick Smith. But since I don't know what he looks like I had a hard time looking for him. I follow Patrick Smith's blog and enjoy reading about his assignments and I was hoping to meet him in person. It didn't pan out...

I found myself running up and down the field this evening like Friday evening, and like Friday evening I was alone in that activity. In fact, most of the photographers didn't even walk back and forth on the field. They simply parked themselves at one end, readied their lens, and shot whenever something came into their field of view. They didn't follow the action. Their loss I suppose...

Towards the middle of the game I walked around the stands and took a few stadium shots with the sun setting and painting some red colors on the high cirrus clouds. They came out pretty well and my wife said they were some of her favorite photos. I like trying to take a stadium shot or two during an event to give the viewer a bigger picture of what happened. It's tough to pull away from the action and take those shots but in the end I like them a lot.

When there were 3 minutes remaining in regulation I headed back to my Think Tank suitcase and extracted my 14-24 lens as well as my SB-800 flash. I also picked up my D200 and strapped a 70-200 lens onto it. I adjusted the exposure settings and white balance on the D200 so that I'd be ready for some post-game celebration photos. One trick I've learned in sports photography is that you can dial down the ISO setting and increase the exposure time in post-game scenarios and get good exposures. You don't need 1/1250th of a second of exposure for players smiling with a trophy. You need 1/400th, maybe... As a result you can reduce your ISO to a lower setting and get less grain in your photos.

Of course it's difficult to remember to do this in the heat of the moment. As photographers rush the field and the team begins to celebrate it's difficult to remember: adjust white balance to flash mode, reduce ISO from 4000 to 640, stop down from f/2.8 to f/6, reduce shutter speed from 1/1250th to 1/250th (for flash sync). I need to mess around with the shooting banks settings - I think they can help me in that regard.

After the game I got a few shots of Northwestern with the trophy and they came out pretty well. It's difficult to capture a team with a trophy because they tend to spin around a lot with it when they have it high in the air. You can be in the perfect spot one moment and firing away but then the next moment the player has turned and you're now shooting the back of their head and trophy. And if you're like me and you don't have an external power pack on your flash you can really struggle while your SB-800 recycles!

You can view my photos and my article on the Northwestern Wildcats winning the 2008 women's lacrosse championship over on the DC Sports Box.


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