Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tuesday evening the Terps took on Boston College. I shot the game without doing any remote setups this evening because I wanted to collect my thoughts from the last shoot. It's also nice having both bodies available to me during a basketball game (1 on the 300mm and 1 on the 70-200).

The game was fairly uneventful from a photographic growth standpoint. I shot the same exposures and angles I've shot in the past and my post processing was very quick and painless. I remember discussions with other sports photographers who have become jaded with this genre and have looked elsewhere (other teams, other events, etc) for inspiration. I understand what they're going through but I still believe that every event is what you make of it. You can choose to try something new (e.g. 400mm from the rafters, remote on the backboard, 400mm on the baseline, wide angle from the stands).

I definitely understand the monotony of this occupation but I resist the conclusion that the profession is boring. Instead I look more towards the photographer that lacks the inspiration to try something new and think: you're boring. It's true that shooting the same thing day in and day out is monotonous, dull, uneventful, and uninspiring. Creative motivation has 2 high level sources: outside and within. You can rely on your subject for fresh new angles or you can look to yourself to keep things fresh. I believe the folks that pursue the latter strategy are successful and the folks that pursue the former wash out.

This evening I lacked creativity in my shots and I didn't look for a new angle to give me a fresh look at the court. I have reasons for that but they exist outside the realm of why I maintain this blog. The point is that tonight I went to the dark side and I see what's going on for folks that don't make an effort to keep shots fresh. It's a good learning experience for me because it reinforces the need to find new angles, new exposures, and new moments to capture.

I'm looking forward to the start of the Spring season and the return of more Olympic sports at Maryland. I'm really looking forward to Water Polo and Lacrosse matches using my remote. I really feel like I have a lot of potential to try some new angles this Spring and I'm looking forward to giving it a shot. Maryland has been very good to us (the DC Sports Box) in so far as access and I'm excited about what I can do to pay that favor back through stunning imagery and interesting articles.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The problem with photography is that a shoot is always out of reach. It always boils down to equipment, time, or access to a particular spot to capture a moment. The latter (time and access) are often out of the range of your control as a photographer. You are largely influenced by external factors that give (or takeaway) the time you need and the access you require in order to make a particular shoot. It's difficult to influence those 2 components because they are usually out of your control.

Fortunately Julie has not placed any constraints on my time and has deeply encouraged me to pursue this creative thread. And also thanks to the DC Sports Box I've been able to gain the access I need to capture some of those compelling moments in time. I'm very fortunate that both of those external forces have lined up in my favor. I'm very grateful to both Julie and Al for making my photography possible.

The one variable over which a photographer has complete control is their equipment. Even then there are some external forces at play because equipment is quite expensive. Every photographer has to make a choice when they swipe their debit card, hand over their cash, or run their credit card through the machine. You choose what lenses and body you'll buy and you have to live with those choices.

I've gone through a couple of spending cycles where I have purchased various lenses and bodies, then sold them, and then purchased higher end lenses and bodies. I lost money in the process but through it I learned more about the economics of the photography business and I learned a lot about my own personal commitment to this creative art. 3 years ago I didn't know if this curiousity would turn into the passion it has become and I spent conservatively on lower end bodies and glass. All the while my interest grew and I felt restricted by the capabilities of the equipment I purchased.

With enormous support from Julie I purchased 2 professional bodies and a variety of lenses all at f/2.8 apertures. The purchases were a stretch but since then I have never felt constrained by my equipment. With Julie's support I eliminated the 1 item over which I had control in my photographic growth: equipment.

Recently my interests have expanded into flash photography and I've expanded my equipment inventory to include some pocket wizards and a mounting bracket from Manfrotto. The costs really start to pile up due to an aggregate effect but it still pales in comparison to purchasing lenses. A used MultiMax Pocket Wizard will run you $230 on, and a Manfrotto 2929 bracket can be had for $100 on Lastly, the super clamp is < $50 on Adorama. The prices are reasonable.

These items open up a whole new approach to photography.

After purchasing the clamp, bracket, and pocket wizards I worked with the Maryland team photographer to arrange a remote setup on the supports for the backboard during a women's game. He was happy to assist and after mounting my camera myself he jumped up on the supports and locked it down tightly. The Manfrotto 2929 support bracket has several different pivot points that allows a lot of flexibility. As my D3 camera and 14-24mm lens dangled there precipitously close to the backboard Greg laughed and asked me if I was nervous. His query made me laugh because I wasn't nervous in the slightest - I had full confidence in the support bracket, clamp, and in Greg. It still made me laugh though - I've been in a lot more precarious scenarios but I rarely am nervous.

Prior to the event Greg informed me that I would need a secondary support strap that would save my camera in the event of a collision with an athlete. I went to Home Depot and spent a considerable amount of time looking through the hardware section for a solution. After much search I settled on a 3/16th" braided steel wire with a plastic sheeth along with a 1/8" chain repair kit and a 180 degree loop coupling. I used a copper pipe tool to unsheath approximately 4 inches of plastic from the cable (I had to cut it in roughly 1/2 inch segments and use pliers to pull it off). It took about 30 minutes to make the cable but in the end it worked out perfectly - the 1/8" chain repair fit perfectly into the metal strap interface of the camera body.

I had a lot of difficulty negotiating the firing of my local Pocket Wizard. In the days leading up to the game I focused on the engineering aspects of mounting my camera as well as the electronic details of configuring the Pocket Wizard transmitter and receiver. I didn't give much thought towards the practical matter of: how am I going to hold my camera and lens as well as fire my pocket wizard at the same time? The pocket wizard can sit on top of the hot shoe and will transmit whenever the shutter is closed. I used that method for awhile but realized I was wasting shutter firings a lot. There were lots of times where I'd shoot through the 300mm lens but the subjects were not under the basket (thus wasting the shutter on the remote). Other times I'd shoot under the basket using the 300mm knowing I was blocked but relying on the remote to capture. It was clearly suboptimal.

In the future I'm going to give more thought towards how to improve firing of my remote camera. A lot of other photographers use gaffer's tape to secure the Pocket Wizard to a monopod that they use. They then rest one hand on the shutter release and body while their other hand grips the monopod and pocket wizard. I prefer to hand-hold my 300mm when shooting the opposite side of the court (which requires two hands). Either way something would have to change - either I have to switch to a monopod and give up flexibility or I have to continue to hand-hold and rely on a mouth-based trigger or some other mechanism to fire the remote. I'm sure I'll figure it out.

Post-processing took a LOT longer than usual because tonight I ended up with over 1100 shots from the game. I deleted a LOT of them because they were blank shots under the basket triggered off my firing of the shutter when looking through the 300mm at something that happened at midcourt. None-the-less, it was good to learn about all this stuff.

I've been thinking a lot lately about where I can place remotes for Maryland Olympic Sports this spring and the mental exercise has me tingling with excitement. What kinds of structures can I build and maybe place in the back of a soccer, field hockey, or lacrosse net to protect a remote? Can I attach a remote to a post high above the goal and grab that perfect shot? The possibilities are truly endless and the potential keeps me up at night thinking about what great angles I can shoot.

Please go cruise over to the DC Sports Box and read about Maryland's win over North Carolina and view my photo gallery.

I covered my second Gymnastics meet a week or so ago at Maryland when the Terps faced the Wolfpack of NC State and Denver.

I shot my first Gymnastics event a week prior and although I was familiar with the lighting in the venue (Comcast Pavilion) I was unfamiliar with the sport of gymnastics. As a result my photos weren't so hot. Giving gymnastics a second shot gave me a chance to evaluate my progress in this sport and I was happy to see that my shot selection and timing improved.

The team photographer was there for the event and offered some invaluable pointers during the shoot. He has some tricks and techniques he shared with me that were really eye opening. He mostly offered some focusing techniques and although I couldn't duplicate his approach I understood his methodology. His technique involved a combination of pre-focusing and angles so that you get a crisp in-focus shot of your gymnast in a particular exercise. His comment on his approach was something along the lines of "that's what 20 years of experience teaches you" and that message is very consistent with my own experience in the field of photography. Experience is king. Reading about photography is no replacement for getting out and taking photos.

I benefited from having attended last week's gymnastic's meet and that allowed me to pre-position myself for exercises for the Terps. For example, I anticipated the Terps would move to uneven bars after vault and would huddle around the chalk bin before the coach gave them some tips and last-minute motivation in a prep-talk. While I didn't capture that moment I expected it to happen and it was very validating to see it unfold. Next time if I'm looking for a coach shot or a shot of the gymnasts around the chalk bin I'll know where to look.

I found a nice spot for the beam exercise this evening: right at beam level looking straight down the beam. Last week I was off to the side and down low. This evening I rotated a little and I really liked some of the shots I got. I stayed low so that I was out of the way of the team photographer but I definitely recognized that by sitting up an additional 12 inches I would get a great distance shot of an athlete with their chin balanced on the beam. I'm looking forward to the next meet and I'm going to do my best to get that shot. I may even use the 300mm to capture the shot.

Lastly, as the athletes headed to the floor exercise I realized that they perform the same routine as the previous week. That turned out to be a real benefit because it helped me anticipate their position on the mat. In retrospect it made me wonder if all of their routines are recycled. I'll bet that they are and that the athletes work to perfect their routines (rather than alter than) over the season.

Overall I enjoyed my evening shooting the gymnasts. As always the lighting in the Pavilion is a challenge. However, it's good tucking another feather in my cap and being able to say "I've shot more than 1 gymnastics event".

Photos of Maryland's gymnastics competition with NC State and Denver are over on the DC Sports Box along with an article. Please go take a look!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

This afternoon I shot the Maryland Women's basketball squad take on the Hokies of Virginia Tech.

I've gotten into a pattern for tipoff at Maryland by heading up into the stands on the opposite side of both benches. I guess that's because the tipoffs I've seen all have involved the Maryland center using their left hand to tip. Tonight Lynetta Kizer went up and used her right hand, which threw off my whole routine! Seeing that made me think about my opening tipoff strategy: I think it pays to know how the centers tip so that you can plan where you're going to shoot.

After a handful of minutes shooting just beyond the arc on the visiting side I headed into the Terrapin well near the band. I got some decent shots of Terps shooting before I ultimately headed down to the baseline with roughly 7 minutes to go in the first half. There was plenty of room on the visiting baseline (where Maryland shot) - Greg was out on the wing and a guy from the Rebounders was about half way in. I could've nestled in next to Greg to get some wide shots but I opted to go directly under the basket. I knew I wouldn't get decent under-the-basket rebounds but I hoped for some dribble penetrations where I could get the faces of the Terrapin players on the attack.

It didn't work out too well. Maryland shot perimeter for much of the end of the first half and that limited my shooting chances. However, I got some decent stock photos of Terrapins in isolation shooting from beyond the arc.

At half-time I ripped through my imagery. I put on my headphones, turned up my Girl Talk, and managed to process roughly 150 images down to 14 photos to publish. I even cropped all of them and adjusted exposure! I was very pleased with myself!

During the second half I shot from the weak side of the Terrapin court (close to the bench). I've been shooting on the strong side (where I shoot towards the Terrapin bench) for the whole season so I decided that a change would be fun. I was also curious how differently the referees behaved on that side compared to the photographer side. I'm constantly blocked by them while on the strong side!

The real story for me came after the game when I tried out my Manfrotto 2929 support bracket. I purchased one from Adorama for roughly $100 this past week. I also picked up a "Super Clamp" from Manfrotto (roughly $30) that attaches to the support bracket. These two devices allow me to mount a camera to the support structure of the basketball hoop. You also have to use a remote triggering device to activate your camera.

I spent roughly 20 minutes after the game monkey'ing around on the basket familiarizing myself with how to mount the 2929 to the metal. It took awhile to figure out the mechanics of the device but it was well worth the time. It made me think about how the camera was mounted as well as consider the safety implications of my equipment. When I previously looked at James Lang's remote setup I examined it from an ingredients standpoint: what equipment is needed to take this shot. After obtaining the equipment and mounting it I looked at it from a safety standpoint: how can I mount my camera so that it does not interfere with the players and doesn't fall?

This brought to light some very basic questions like: can the lens stick out beyond the mat wrapped around the support bracket? I took photos of my mounted camera and after a few quick back and forth emails with the Maryland team photographer I realized that I had to place my body back behind the mat.

I'm glad that I spent the extra time after the game today to rig up my camera and familiarize myself with the mounting process. It made me think about a bunch of different constraints and also made me realize that I don't need a tripod in order to shoot slow exposures in low light situations. I plan to use my Manfrotto 2929 bracket on Tuesday during inauguration activities rather than dragging around a tripod. That alone made this 20 minute exercise worth it!

Friday evening the Terps hosted a swim meet against Pittsburgh, Villanova, and Penn State. Last Friday evening I shot the gymnastics squad face Kent State and this Friday evening I opted to head to the Eppley Natatorium and shoot the Terrapins in the pool.

Last winter I covered a handful of Water Polo matches between the Terps and various teams. However, I didn't get a chance to attend any of the swim meets. This season I'm trying to expand DC Sports Box's coverage of Maryland Athletics and swimming was one of the teams I wanted to hit.

Having covered water polo gave me some ideas of what to expect at the Natatorium from a lighting perspective. However, my coverage last year was on the D200 and I never ventured north of ISO 1600 due to high amounts of grain. With a D3 this winter I'm free to venture up as high as ISO 6400 and that opens up a lot of other exposure alternatives.

My brother Andrew joined me for this afternoon's shoot. I loaned him one of my D3 bodies and also gave him my 70-200mm lens. I opted for the 300mm on my D3 body.

When we arrived at the pool deck I looked for the Maryland Media Relations representative. Whenever I shoot a new sport for the first time I like to talk with the media relations people to get a good understanding of the rules and places where I can shoot from. The representatives almost always tell me exactly what I need to hear: you can go in these areas in these times, and avoid these places at these times. The last thing I want to do is interfere with a competition and having someone there to tell me where I can and can't go helps a lot.

Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to speak with the Maryland Media Relations representative so I was not familiar with how the meet would take place or where I could and couldn't go. I had to play it by ear and that always raises the stress level.

Andrew stuck to the concrete pool deck while I ventured out onto a cross-beam that spanned the pool. It was a little disconcerting walking out into a pool full of water with roughly $8k of camera gear. However, after swapping lenses at 1,000 feet in a helicopter without any doors while leaning outside I wasn't too nervous.

It was really difficult to photograph the swimmers because I'm very unfamiliar with the sport. I don't know about the different strokes and what to expect from them and I'm unfamiliar with the various relays. I did my best though to adjust and I was pretty happy with my results. Some of the strokes were very difficult because the swimmer only popped up above the water momentarily to breathe before going back below the surface.

White balance was very easy because the lane guards were white and red. It was very easy to adjust white balance afterwards because I could sample the white colors in the lane guards.

I wrote up a very brief article on Maryland vs Pittsburgh, Villanova, and Penn State and posted a photo gallery over on the DC Sports Box.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

This afternoon Maryland kicked off their in-conference schedule with a game against the visiting Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech.

I headed up into the stands for the opening tip and found my usual spot. The Terps always line up for the tip facing the visiting team's basket. Maryland's Landon Milbourne usually takes the tip and he goes up with his left hand. That opens him up looking away from the Maryland bench. Accordingly, I position myself so that I'm half-way between midcourt and the basket and am facing the Maryland bench. From that spot I'm almost guaranteed to get a decent tip off shot.

Another photographer was up in the stands and he opted to go straight on for the tip. I might try that for the next game just to see how it looks.

I shot the opening 5 minutes from my tip off spot before heading over to the corner behind the visiting team bench. I'm a big fan of that spot in the first half because the Terps drive up the right hand side and often rely on a quick reverse under the basket. You can get some nice finger-roll shots if you hang out in the corner well.

James Lang configured a remote on a Manfrotto 2929 bracket. He had it attached to the backboard. I've been thinking about getting one and triggering it using Pocket Wizards. I bet you can get some good shots of players going for the rebound or attacking the basket. I asked James to send me some old photos so I could take a look at how they come out.

I also asked him for advice on purchasing the 2929. He said to make sure you get the one that has a rotating tightening mechanism. The clip based on can become dislodged if a basketball strikes it at a particular angle. I'm glad he suggested that - the thought never would've occurred to me.

During the first half I was very surprised about the tightness of the baseline. In a previous post I expressed my appreciation for assigned seats on the baseline. I should've qualified the post by saying that assigned seating works well when the photographers and videographers sit in their assigned locations. This afternoon I headed down to the baseline after 13 minutes of shooting from above to find extremely little room for me at my assigned location. Other photographers and videographers had slid over to the visiting baseline (where my spot is) making it nearly impossible for me to sit. For about 5 minutes I sat with my knees up while shooting before I finally packed it in and headed for the home baseline.

I opted out of going back to the media room at half time so that I could preserve my spot in the second half. I spent halftime reviewing my photos on camera and deleting the bad ones. After 15 minutes I had it down to around 100 or so photos between the two bodies.

After the game I rushed back to the media room to offload all of my photos. It was a big offload since I didn't offload at halftime. As a result I was late to the post-game press conference by Coach Gary Williams. I ended up standing in the back of the Pavilion while resting my laptop on a garbage can in order to post process. I like hearing Gary's post-game comments while I work through my photos.

Events this week will be pretty quiet as both the men and women head on the road to face opponents. I plan to use the time to catch up on some much needed software development. I also need to close out the books from 2008 and send them off to the tax accountant for return generation.

I was introduced to a new sport this evening: gymnastics!

A few sports the Terps play don't have very regular home schedules. This includes swimming/diving, competitive cheer, and gymnastics. Last year I didn't cover any of them for the DC Sports Box and this year I wanted to improve that record. With so few home contests I figured I could make an effort to get out for them and capture some photos.

The last new sport I shot was competitive cheer and that was a month or two ago. However, before that I hadn't shot a new sport in a long while. Shooting sports is a very patterned occupation - the more regularly you do it the better you are. You understand the game and the flow. That allows you to anticipate the action.

When you shoot a sport for the first time you have no idea what you're doing. You base your actions on previous events you've shot but you don't know where you can go to get the good shots. You can't anticipate the action. All you can do is shoot and pray.

Regular shooting of a particular sport is like sniper shooting. You anticipate and you close the shutter only a handful of times. Shooting a new sport is like multiple shotgun blasts: you have no idea whats going on so you shoot as much as you can in the hopes that you'll get something worth publishing in the end.

This evening I was buck wild.

I ended 2 hours of shooting with 1,306 exposures for 4 competitions (vault, uneven bars, beam, and floor). That's ridiculous! In 2 hours of basketball I'll finish up with 200 shots on a bad night. Winding up with 6x that amount is evidence that I didn't know what I was doing from a "understanding the sport" standpoint.

None-the-less, I had a ball.

It's fun to not know what you're doing and to try to adapt to the environment. Fortunately I was very familiar with the venue (Comcast Pavilion) and the lighting environment. Exposure didn't challenge me, but position for a decent shot did.

I tried a bunch of different lenses tonight, from 14-24 up to 24-70, through 70-200, and eventually up to 300mm. I shot them from a variety of different spots looking for the shot. It was really difficult!

Overall I have to say that the most challenging aspect of photographing gymnastics is that the subjects move very rapidly in and out of the focal plane. At narrow apertures like f/4 it is a real challenge to keep your subject in focus. The uneven bars is a great example of this.

The athlete is going to wrap themselves around one of the bars so it seems logical that you can simply pre-focus on the bar and rip away when their face comes into the frame, correct? Please... No...

The fact that the athlete is spinning around the bar and that their arms can be 2-3 feet throws their face out of focus for nearly every exposure except for when they are straight down (the most boring from an action perspective).

What you want to capture is the face of the athlete as they drop down onto the bar and are swinging around. However, that requires you to AF lock onto their face and track it as they spin around. That's really really difficult!

I had a very good time photographing the gymnastic team this evening and I'm looking forward to their next home event. Hopefully I can keep it under 1,306 exposures next time!

I wrote up an article on Maryland Gymnastic's win over Kent State and posted it on the DC Sports Box along with a photo gallery.

On Thursday evening the Terps opened up their conference schedule with a matchup against the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest.

This evening's game was very enjoyable to shoot. The competition on the baseline for men's games is pretty intense and there are a lot of photographer who'll gladly bump you or give you the cold shoulder. That's not the case at women's games. It is considerably less stressful to shoot a women's game than a men's game.

I've realized this for a year or so now. It makes me think about what some of my other coworkers go through shooting the Wizards or the Redskins. I've seen some rough patches just shooting the men at Maryland but I'm sure that's only a fraction of what goes on in the NBA and NFL. It definitely makes you think...

I moved around a lot in the stands for the first half and continued shooting at f/4.5. I've been so happy with the sharpness and brightness of my photos using f/4.5, 1/400th, and ISO 2500. Towards the end of the first half I actually opened it up to f/2.8 and dropped the ISO to 1600 or so. The results of this experiment were obvious: no noticeable difference in subject isolation due to narrowed depth of field from the wider aperture, and no noticeable reduction in grain in the photo. In summary I sacrificed sharpness and got nothing in return: no increase in subject isolation and no noticeable reduction in noise.

This reinforces my infatuation with the D3 high ISO performance and strengthens my believe that f/4 glass will become more prevalent at sports arenas in the future.

While shooting at f/4.5 this thought inevitably occupied my focus. I questioned why folks like Bill Vaughn and Greg Fiume shoot with f/2.8 glass up at f/7.1 with the help of strobes. Why don't they pack in AF-S f/4 glass and call it a day? Certainly the muscles in their forearms would thank them.

I then remembered my conversation with Mitch Layton a few games ago. He questioned me regarding the unsanctioned use of Greg's strobes at Comcast. His comment was that when he stopped firing flash someone else picked up on the frequency and used the strobes without permission. Up until that point I assumed that anyone that had the assistance of strobes in the rafters strictly relied on them for their game photos. It was 1/250th at f/7.1 and ISO 200 the whole game, or bust. I guess not so...

The fact that Mitch dropped his use of strobes from time to time makes me question that belief. It seems like even if you have strobes you might go down to pure ambient light for your shots.

I deal exclusively with ambient light but I don't shoot at f/2.8. So that begs the question: why get f/2.8 glass? I think it comes back to flexibility. Even if you have strobes and shoot f/7.1 you might want to go down to ambient light at f/4. But, I've also seen Greg shoot at the Comcast Pavilion where he has to open it up to f/2.8 at ISO 4000 to get a decent exposure.

So I think it comes down to flexibility. I may shoot f/4.5 at Comcast at ISO 2500 because the ambient allows me to do it. But I also need to go into the Pavilion and shoot at ISO 5000, f/2.8 and drop down to 1/320th at times in order to get exposure. Without the f/2.8 glass I couldn't do it.

What I've learned through all of this is that observation and analysis goes a long way. Thinking about the different combinations and configurations of helps me understand why more veteran photographers choose one lens and body over another. Without seeing what they shoot with and without shooting it myself (along with all the other venues I shoot) it would be really difficult to figure out what to buy!

On Wednesday evening the Terps played host Morgan State. I arrived with plenty of time to spare so that I could get my laptop configured and ready for offloading. After connecting my laptop and assembling my glass and bodies I headed out to the hardwood.

Where to sit on the baseline is a real challenge.

There are regular photographers that shoot for Terrapin Times, AP, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, and UPI that know all the rules. There's a pecking order when it comes to spots on the baseline and for the most part the regular folks know how the algorithm works and they follow it.

However, there are always out-of-towners that come in for a single game and are unfamiliar with the process. That's completely understandable and I've been in the situation before having traveled to remote venues. Saying "hey I'm new here and need some help" is not unfamiliar to me.

The organizations that send photographers to Terrapin events receive their credentials and then it's up to the team photographer (Greg Fiume) to assign spots on the baseline. I'm sure that Greg hears nothing but grief from various photographers about their position in the lineup (hint: seniority corresponds to spots out towards the edge), and I've seen a lot of photographers become quite vocal when they believe their position on the baseline does not accurately represent their seniority.

Despite the headache Greg puts the cards out for nearly every game the Terps play. Despite the politics that inevitably fall out of this "who's who on the baseline" game the end goal is to clearly identify where photographers should sit so that there isn't disagreement at the last minute. I think this is tremendously valuable!

If you ignore the bickering amongst local photographers and instead look at how local and remote photographers interact it quickly becomes obvious that having assigned seating makes a whole lot of sense! Photographers on remote assignment from distant schools don't know where they are supposed to sit and having the help of a team photographer to explicitly say "you should sit here" (via a sheet of paper on the baseline) seems like a really good idea.

Greg's been out for the past couple of games covering the Terps on the road and as a result the seating assignments were not handed out. There was some confusion on the baseline that I described in previous blogs and I was happy that with Greg's return the seating assignments were reestablished.

So, after preparing my camera gear I headed out to the baseline to scout out my spot. Almost ironically, I found that the same individual who had given me the cold shoulder a week ago had again grabbed my spot. Again I went through the mental question of "do I make a big deal of this?" and concluded that it was not worth it. I've been shooting from the stands for most of the first half and realized that by the time I moved down to the baseline there would most likely be a space for me. None-the-less, I chuckled thinking about how I had looked forward to Greg's return (along with the seating assignments) but now that it had happened the process broke down and my spot was taken!

I also had the opportunity to meet Adrian Hood, a new photographer we hired at the DC Sports Box. Adrian shot the Terps back in Cole Field House and was able to talk shop when it came to the optics and bodies associated with photography. I tried to help him out by going over some basic ground rules at Comcast that would help him stay out of trouble but I'm sure it was difficult for him to hear it all - the band was playing in our ear for most of the time!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

This afternoon I cut my weekend vacation short so I could head back to College Park to shoot the Terps vs UNC Charlotte. It was the first game for 2009 and there aren't too many non-conference games left before Maryland enters the meatier part of it's schedule.

I shot from the stands for the first half using the 300mm lens at f/4.5 aperture, 1/400th second, and ISO 2500. There were some great opportunities for photos this evening because both teams were highly competitive but I missed a lot of them. There was always a referee in the way, an defender's arm crossing a guard's face on their way to the net, or the player took a shot with their close in arm and blocked their face. It was frustrating because the action was intense but the shots just weren't there in a lot of circumstances.

I headed down to the court for the last 3 minutes of the first half and managed to snatch a few decent frames before heading into the media room at half-time. I think I ended up running 1 or 2 of those shots because they came out pretty well. I'm thinking more and more about trying to avoid running the shots where the face is not prevalent. It's difficult though because so many of the photos that feature players shooting fall into this category - the player looks up at the net while they shoot and I'm down low in the paint. Photographers out towards the 3 point line and beyond have a better angle but then again they can miss a lot of the action that unfolds in the paint.

During the last game I synchronized the clocks on both my D3s and that has helped a lot during post-processing. The clocks were off by about an hour because the previous owner of one of them didn't believe in daylight savings time. As a result my Lightroom albums had out-of-order photos, which made it difficult to add context to each caption. After synchronizing the clocks post processing has become much easier.

I though about changing the camera post-processing for color enhancement from "standard" to "vivid" but then held back at the last minute. I've been happy with how my cameras have performed and tweaking something like that just before a game seems like its going to invite trouble.

During half-time I offloaded roughly 160 photos from 2 CF cards and brought the photos into Lightroom. Lastly I tagged the publishable photos and the photos to delete all before there was 6 minutes left in the halt-time. It's helpful to have a fast card reader (note: I use a Lexar FW800), all your directories in Lightroom created, and your computer ready to import before you head out for the first half!