Saturday, December 27, 2008

This afternoon I covered the Maryland Terrapins facing off against the visiting Bryant Bulldogs. The temperature was gorgeous for this time of year (mid 50s) and in stark contrast to a few games ago where everyone shivered on their way from the parking lot to the arena.

There was a decent amount of media on hand for this afternoon's game but it wasn't overly congested on the sideline. After arriving extra early I plunked down a 400mm and 300mm lens on the visiting baseline while I shuffled off to the home court side of the stadium to photograph Coach Gary Williams enter the arena. I don't have any fist-pump shots of the Coach from this year so I figured I'd grab a handful this afternoon. I didn't spend more than 3 minutes on the far side of the court before I realized that my space had been gobbled up by some other photographers!

After capturing my Coach Williams shot I returned to my spot and asked some of the photographers who had descended onto my spot where they were planning on sitting for the first half. One of them didn't utter a word and instead pointed straight towards my gear while showing me a menacing eye. Confused I remarked that I was there before, I was only gone for 3 minutes to get a shot of Coach Williams, and that I had left my lens there as a sign that I intended to return. The photographer was indifferent and shrugged off my questions. Another photographer remarked "I have to be here, I'm on assignment."

I retreated to the opposite baseline where I sat alone for the first half and shot through my 400mm lens contemplating the exchange. I suppose a more forceful or disagreeable photographer would've made a scene, stormed off to find the team photographer, or otherwise would've escalated the situation. I chose to walk away and shoot through my long lens. However, during half-time I remained on the court in my spot so that it would not be taken seconds before the start of the second half.

Most of the first half was spent looking through the 400mm lens at f/3.5 and ISO 2500 at 1/400th. I like the sharpness of the photos at f/3.5 and the noise at 2500 on a D3 is very manageable. I also like having plenty of reach in the optics. Using a 70-200mm lens for across-the-court shots is simply insufficient for what I'm trying to produce. A 400mm or 300mm lens, even at f/3.5, produces sufficient separation between the subject and the background to create a publishable photo.

After the game I headed to the media room where I gave a guest photographer a quick tour of Adobe Lightroom. He has shot a few games for us in the past and his workflow is based on Linux and moving around files by hand. Lightroom really speeds up the post-processing workflow by automating a lot of routine steps. You can create filename templates that are applied at time of import or export. You can create IPTC metadata profiles you can apply to a bunch of photos that greatly reduce the amount of copy and paste. Lastly, you can schedule file exports and resizes to occur while you go off and work on another process (e.g. spinning up a browser to point towards wherever you intend to publish). By the time we left the arena we had all of his imagery fully post-processed and published in under 45 minutes. His last event required roughly 4 hours of post-processing time. Lightroom definitely helps!

Next up are a series of games at Comcast on Monday and Tuesday as the Lady Terps compete in the Terrapin Classic. I'm looking forward to the event and I plan to cover all 4 games for the DC Sports Box. Afterwards, on Tuesday night, the men face off against Elon. I need to put together some tricky scheduling that will allow me to cover the Lady Terps at 2pm on Tuesday, high-tail it home to catch the Humanitarian Bowl on TV, and then book it on back to Comcast in time for tipoff at 7pm. Should be tricky but fun!


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