Sunday, March 1, 2009


There's nothing else I can do to describe the game tonight between the Maryland Terrapins and the Tar Heels of North Carolina. Maryland was inspiring, collected, committed, and stoic in their performance.

Being in Comcast for the wrestling dual against George Mason I was plenty technically prepared for the contest of the afternoon between the unranked Terps and the No. 3 ranked Heels. Before the game I had plenty of time to get my laptop ready to receive photos and make my way out to the visiting team baseline for spot.

Several games ago a couple of photographers assigned to the home baseline grabbed my spot and were unsympathetic to my dislocation from my assigned spot on the visiting baseline. Accordingly I've been diligent in arriving early to retain my spot on the visiting baseline so that I don't get muscled out.

Although the spots are assigned by Media Relations several photographers and TV people fail to appear for an event. This leaves spots open. The regulars know this happens and they grab their seats. Sometimes in the seat-grab my seat gets sat in even though I'm there for every home game in Comcast.

For a game as big as the Terps vs North Carolina I wanted to make sure I was there with plenty of time. Fortunately I was and nobody grabbed my spot.

I shot the opening minutes from the baseline but quickly retreated to the student sections to grab some shots from higher up. This season I've really opened my eyes to the quality of the shots you can grab from the stands. The baseline shots are the standard ones you see in the paper but the ones from the stands can be really unique and inspiring. As a player drives to the basket your view from the stands of their face and upper body is a LOT better than your angle on the baseline and at knee level. A lot of the shots I see in the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post come from stadium perspectives rather than baseline.

As the game headed late into the second half the momentum favored the Terps. While on the home side baseline (I switched at half time) I started thinking about the post-game celebration. I noticed the students congregating near the aisles and I anticipated they would rush the floor. At a free throw with 11 seconds remaining I raced back to the media room to replace my 300mm lens with my 14-24mm lens so that I could capture the breadth of the excitement.

As things tend to happen in basketball games the following 11 seconds consisted of a lot of fouls and free throws. This gave me some time to collect my thoughts and prepare for the ground-swell. As usual I looked to the more experienced photographers on the baseline to see what they were doing. All were perched up on their knees with their spare body safely shouldered on a strap. Most of the time us baseline photos put down our second body on our lap while we shoot with our other body. The fact that they had their second body strapped to their shoulder they were on their knees implied they were ready to run at the conclusion of the game.

I readied myself similarly. I shouldered my 70-200mm while I held my 14-24mm in my right hand. I was torn about this because I wanted to get the inevitable ball-throwing up in the air as the time elapsed. But I figured that getting to the center of the team before the ground swell was more important.

I followed the TerpVision lead and bolted towards midcourt as time elapsed.

I was overwhelmed by the number of students on the court and I had a difficult time finding the players. I gave favoritism towards the TV and other photographers and let them cross in front of me. In retrospect I probably shouldn't have done that.

I held my 14-24mm lens up high and shot the crowd rush for several minutes. It was difficult to hold my D3 body and the 14-24mm lens above my head by I did it. As the crowd died down I shifted my focus towards the macro and looked for a way to capture a wide shot of the students down on the hardwood.

I grabbed a quick set of photos of Gary Williams talking with Johnny Holiday using my 70-200 before I ducked between the CSC and Maryland Police to head towards the home team basket. The AP photographer and the Washington Post fella were climbed up on top shooting the crowd. The AP photographer shot 70-200, which seemed odd to me, but the WP photographer was going wide.

Since I've climbed up on the basket in the past to rig up my remotes I was experienced and comfortable one-legging it up there. I hustled up there, grabbed a support arm, and hung off from the stantion shooting the crowd. I got intimately close to the AP photographer and was no more than 2 inches from her ear and shoulder while shooting wide. I don't think she minded though - she knew why I was up there.

After snapping a bunch of frames from the basket I raced up into the stands to get a higher vantage point for the photo. At this point I was sweating a good deal from being so close to the players and the students in addition to running around and jumping up on the basket. Climbing a bunch of steps added to the heat and fatigue.

I apologized to about 20 people while jumping up the steps and seats before finding a couple of spots to shoot from. I shot a variety of f-stops to get different exposures while adjusting zoom. I wanted to capture as much as possible.

It took me awhile to get back down to the media room to offload my photos but it was worth it. The sweat and the rushing around were good learning experiences and were exciting to live through.


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