Sunday, November 9, 2008

Football: Maryland Terrapins vs Virginia Tech


On Thursday evening I had the opportunity to shoot the Maryland Terrapins vs Virginia Tech matchup down in Blacksburg VA. This game was nationally televised on ESPN and featured two teams ranked in the top 25 in the country so it promised to be exciting.

I drove down to Blacksburg during the day on Thursday and arrived at my hotel in Roanoke in the middle to late afternoon. After checking in and grabbing some food and drink I hopped back onto I-81 and headed south to Blacksburg. The traffic from Roanoke was stop and go and that surprised me considering I left around 4:45pm for a 7:30pm game.

I arrived at the stadium around 7:00pm and headed down to the field to take some test shots. Fortunately it was warm for this time of year (early November) so I didn't have to carry around a winter coat. However, I did bring a light jacket to use on top of a couple of layers of shirts and a sweatshirt.

A handful of photographers were present from the DC area and I said hello to them. The few I bumped into were surprised I made the drive down to Blacksburg for the game. I didn't offer any explanation other than "we received the credential so I came."

The lighting in Lane Stadium is very good. I got away with ISO 1000 (and sometimes 800) with 1/500th shutter speed at f/2.8 for most of the evening. The Terps wore their white uniforms while Virginia Tech was in their traditional burgundy garb. That made the exposures pretty easy to balance - it's difficult when one team wears black and one team wears white.

My shots for the evening came out fairly well but were nothing worth noting. I compared it to other imagery I saw from other shooters and I don't feel like I missed any key plays.

Towards the end of the game I started to get a hunger headache. Sitting in traffic, running up and down the sidelines, and breathing in all the smoke from the fireworks took it's toll on me and by the time I wound up in the press conference afterwards I was pounding bottles of water trying to rehydrate and re-energize myself. It helped a little, and the oatmeal raisin cookie my brother bought and left for me in the car went a LONG way!

The real behind-the-scenes story for me was the drive back to Roanoke. I believe the game concluded around 10:45pm or so. The press-conference for Ralph Friedgen was very short and afterwards I hunted down a golf cart over the course of 10 minutes to take me out to the media lot. When I reached my car and put all my glass and body away I called Andrew to see where I could pick him up. My cell phone recorded the call as being made at 11:15pm.

By the time we made it back to the hotel parking lot in Roanoke the timestamp on our parking pass read 1:15am. It took us 2 hours from when I started my car to when we actually made it back to the hotel.

The traffic heading out of Blacksburg was terrible and I-81 north was packed. I was exhausted, dehydrated, and really wanted to go to sleep badly but had to tack on another 2 hours after wrapping up the game. Some of the photographers actually headed back to DC that night, including a student that had class the next morning at 10am. I don't know how they did it - I barely (and I mean BARELY) made it back to Roanoke in one piece because I was so tired!

I shot around 700 frames during the game and came out with around 35 or 40 I'll send to my photo editor for publishing. I waited to post process until the next day in the car but I managed to offload overnight when I got back to my room.

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