Sunday, October 26, 2008

Football: Maryland Terrapins vs NC State

Just as I arrived back at Byrd Stadium the rain began. It was a solid soaker throughout the entire football game this afternoon and that made shooting very difficult. The light was also variable due to the inclement weather. At some points I'd have to throw the shutter speed around to get an extra 2 stops of light because the clouds shifted and a bunch of rain came down.

It was also difficult because the rain itself reflects the stadium lights. Under normal circumstances the players on the field reflect the light we're interested in capturing but when you have driving rain it serves as a diffuser. The players become softer and the whole image has less contrast. In post processing I did a lot to turn up the blacks and increase contrast to bring out the players rather than the rain.

I accidentally handed my car keys to my wife Julie back during the basketball scrimmage and thus I wasn't able to get back to my car before the game to pick up my knee pads. With the field already soaked I thought I was going to wind up completely drenched by the first play.

I could not have been more wrong.

I am thoroughly impressed with the performance of REI waterproof camping gear. Having a waterproof pair of leggings saved me during the game. My jeans and most importantly my knees remained dry the ENTIRE game. I was shocked at how well that rain proof gear worked - I've had "waterproof" gear before but it never performs well. If you're a photographer and you want to stay dry I highly recommend picking up a pair of camping pants that are waterproof at REI.

The field being wet actually helped me knees because it made the ground squishy. As a result I didn't kill my knees when I knelt on the sideline.

I had a lot of trouble keeping rain off the front element of my lens. In addition to the rain there was some decent wind down on the field. Since I only have half of a lens hood I couldn't keep all the rain off the front of the lens. I also burned up the dryness on my little lens cleaner by the second time I pulled it out to dry off.

Larry, a photographer I've worked with in the past, recommended a cloth he purchased at REI. He says it sucks up moisture really well and is soft enough to use on lenses. He carried 2 or 3 of them with him and his front element looked good.

I also had some problems with my "utility belt" (the belt that I use to carry my spare lenses). It was made by Think Tank and contains lens pockets that have a water-tight bag. However, the internal linings don't cover the lens perfectly or more accurately I didn't cover the lens perfectly. Accordingly some of my glass had some moisture on it after the game. That was to be expected though after being out in the rain for roughly 3 hours.

My jacket worked well and kept me fairly dry. I was a little wet on my arms and chest but for the most part I stayed dry. My only complaint about the jacket is that it wasn't wide enough to wrap over my lens belt. I should've bought a longer jacket that extended to my thighs or I should've purchased one that was a lot larger so that I could fit my belt underneath it. It's not too big of a deal though...

Other photographers that were not prepared for the weather were miserable and cold. Several of them bailed after the first quarter. A few of them didn't have a jacket or any kind of protection for their camera. By the end of the half they were shaking with goose bumps. I didn't see them in the third!

I think my iPhone died due to water injury. I thought that the Think Tank belt case for carrying business cards was weatherproof but I guess I'm wrong. I kept my phone, business cards, media, and spare battery in there and they wound up pretty wet in the end. Hopefully the iPhone will come back to life in a couple of days...

Lastly I was perplexed by some water landing on the sensor towards the end of the fourth quarter. I have no idea how this happened. I used a 400mm lens the entire game and didn't switch out until after the game when the players ran over into the student section. I also used an Aqua Tech that thoroughly wrapped the lens and body. The camera stayed relatively dry with the exception of my went hands touching the shutter release button.

Towards the end of the fourth some water droplets landed on my sensor. I'm really confused how it happened since I didn't disconnect the lens and didn't even pull it out of the Aqua Tech. I thoroughly cleaned the sensor when I got home to protect against any debris remaining on the sensor but I'm still wondering how that happened.

I also did a thorough clean-job on my glass. The front element of the 400 was pretty dirty from all the rain and the UV filter on my 24-70 was pretty dirty. It felt good to sit down in my little office and clean everything up after the event.

We're now off for a week and then it's down to Virginia Tech for a Thursday night game on ESPN. Hopefully it won't be a downpour!


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