Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Football: Maryland Crab Bowl Media Day

I was assigned to photograph the media day event for the Maryland Crab Bowl this evening at the Gossett Team House at the University of Maryland. While walking down from Lot 1 to Gossett Team House my attention turned towards dinner and I wondered what kind of food would be served. In my past experiences at Gossett they've had the milk machine running and actively churning out 800 calorie glasses of thick chocolate milk at a cool 50 degrees. Since I didn't have much to eat today I was looking forward to a thick cold glass of chocolate milk!

The media day was the standard affair where several reporters make the rounds and interview players. A few photographers and videographers were present but nobody was using flash. That surprised me because the lighting was awful and many of the players had very dark complexions. I used my 24-70mm lens with an SB-800 flash and the built-in diffuser. I set my ISO to 400, WB to flash, aperture to f/5.6, and shutter to 1/250th. I decided to use TTL with a +0.7 compensation so that I could overexpose many of the players. When your subjects start off dark it helps to slightly overexpose because it is often easy to increase the strength of the black colors in post-processing.

Seth provided me with a list of 10 or so recruits that have made verbal commitments to Maryland. I traversed the room carefully avoiding the generous servings of lasagna the players had removed from the buffet table and introduced myself to several of the players. They photographed quite well. I was half expecting them to want to strike a cheesy pose or do something foolish but they actually posed quite well. All of the shots came out without smiles and they looked like football players should look - all business.

While taking a few shots inside the cafeteria I decided to take one of the more energetic recruits out to the hall so I could photograph him next to some trophys. I kept the aperture at f/5.6 because I wanted to be able to capture some of the trophys in the background while still being sharp on my player. I had a bit of a problem with bounced light off the trophy case but I was able to work around it by rotating the flash head away from the glass.

I was really pleased with how the shots came out in the hall. I'd like to get a Terrapin or two out there this Fall.

Afterwards Seth and I hung out and waited for the players to meet with their coaches and go over their respective playbooks for defense and offense. Once they concluded I rounded up the roughly 10 commits and gathered them around a large Terps sign so I could grab a picture of them looking like future Terrapins. Unfortunately I wasn't able to hold onto a couple of the players because they had to leave and head back up to Baltimore. But I got most of them.

For the group photo I went with my 14-24mm lens backed all the way out to 14mm. Those players were HUGE and I needed to be really wide to get them all in the frame. There was no possible way that I could've gotten all of them in that narrow hallway with a DX sensor and a 24-70mm. I barely got them with a 14mm on a full-frame, and on a DX a 24mm would effectively turn into a 36mm. I would have to be roughly twice as far away if I wanted to take a similar shot. And I would've lost a lot of detail in their faces too.

I've enjoyed shooting more flash photography. It's a fun spice to use to add some variety to your photos. And it's definitely enjoyable shooting below ISO 2000!


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