Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Last year we couldn't get credentials to volleyball or women's soccer. This year we have season credentials to football. Oh how sweet it is...

I could've just shot the football game today between Maryland and Cal but I wanted to give the field hockey team some support and be there for their game. After all, the field hockey team is ranked No. 1 and the Syracuse team is No. 7: somebody has got to cover it...

So once the field hockey game concluded I headed back up to Byrd Stadium to join up with Al for the football game. Al was on the field and his 400mm f/2.8 N series glass wasn't autofocusing properly. He could only apply manual focus. It was good that I was there with my long glass so that I could get some decent shots for us!

I arrived half way through the 2nd quarter and started shooting on the sidelines. It was very exciting - I've been on the field at Byrd stadium dozens of times but never when there are 51,000 people up in the stands, the scoreboard is lit, and the announcer is calling out the plays over the loud speakers. It was definitely an experience I'll never forget.

It was also really hot. It wasn't as bad as our Adidas National Lacrosse Classic event back in July but the combination of high temperature, high humidity, and very little natural breeze made the environment a real challenge. I felt like I started off at a disadvantage having brought 300mm, 400mm, 14-24mm, and 24-70mm glass with me in addition to my D3. I also trucked all that equipment across campus and back. By the time I hit the field I was ready for a serious glass of water!

As usual it took a bit for me to adjust to the game. Watching a sport and photographing a sport are very different activities and it takes some time to fall into your rhythm when you photograph a sport. Field hockey had put me in the mindset for sports photography but I still not experienced any serious football games prior to arriving a Byrd Stadium. As a result it took a bit for me to adjust.

I definitely got a taste for why sports photographers love football. The action is intense and the 400mm lens is perfect for the football field. The 400mm can be a bit too much on smaller fields like lacrosse or field hockey, and it can be too short on larger fields like soccer. But for football that lens is perfect. I used my 300mm a handful of times when the Terps or the Bears were in the redzone. But, truth be told, I don't think I ended up publishing a single 300mm photo. I'm pretty confident that all of my best work from the game came from 400mm.

At halftime I headed up to the top of Tyser Tower where some of the TV crews shoot the game. I wanted to get a really wide shot of the stadium. The clouds were really bright and there was a nice blue sky so I thought the shot would come out well. It did and I was happy I went up high. I actually wish I had a wider ultra-wide lens. The 14mm on an FX sensor looked decent but I really needed 10mm or possibly even 8mm.

After the game I hung out in the press-conference room and cooled off. I didn't have anything to drink during the entire second half and I was really thirsty. Fortunately I know a lot of the secret places at Gossett Field House and was able to find some leftover water bottles from the pre-game tailgate. They were buried beneath a bunch of ice and I snagged about 5 of them. When I got back into the press-conference room I handed a pair to Greg Fiume and Mitch, two photographers I know from Maryland. I downed the remaining 3. Best water evar...

My photos from Maryland's win over the California Bears are located over on Flickr. You can also read my article about the Terps win over the Bears over on the DC Sports Box.


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