Sunday, March 8, 2009

Senior nights are always special moments for student athletes. However, no two seniors can rack up as many accolades as Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver from the women's basketball team.

From sinking a 3 pointer in Maryland's NCAA Championship berth to Marissa Coleman's 2000 point achievement it's hard to question if two other players had a bigger impact on the Maryland program than these two. Both Coleman and Toliver have left large shoes to fill for juniors and sophomores anxious to expand their impact.

This evening the Terps honored the memory of these two players with a pre and post game celebration where their jerseys were hung from the rafters in a sign of respect. The two took it all in stride and exhibited their usual care-free demeanor off the court. When tipoff came the two where all business.

Coleman and Toliver lit it up and combined for the first 30 points of the Terps. Boston College struggled and trailed behind while the duo bombarded the Eagles with beyond-the-arc shooting. The two were stoic in their performance.

Prior to the game I received special permission from team photographer Greg Fiume to shoot the starting lineup for the Terps. The player introduction of the starting lineup is one of those "protected class" scenarios where precedent dictates you want to receive permission from the team photographer before approaching the bench. This year I've stayed away from the starting lineup and introductions but with this being the last game I wanted the chance to catch the two iconic starters (Coleman and Toliver) in their final home-game regular-season march-out to the floor. Fortunately Greg obliged and I took my position.

The shots from the player intros were a lot of fun. I love sharp light in situations like starting lineups because you can really accentuate the color differences in the frame. You can max out the contrast to really draw the players into a spectacular position. A completely black background helps accentuate the players and draw the viewers focus to their position in your frame.

The game itself was a lot of fun to shoot. I shot all the women's and men's basketball games this season for Inside the Shell magazine and that's roughly 35 games total in a 4 month period. At an average of 10 games per month and 4 weeks per month that's 2.5 or 3 games per week. In that timeframe it's easy to get really locked in on the behaviors of basketball players. I can feel myself improving heading into March and I'm kind of sad that basketball is coming to a close.

I got some great shots of Marissa Coleman this evening as well as DeMauria Liles. Coleman has been such a joy to shoot these past few years because she's a very versatile player and that allows me to capture her in a variety of different positions. I can grab her on the long lens racing up the backcourt after a turnover, or I can snag her at 100mm on the perimeter shooting the 3-ball. I can also capture her under the basket fighting for a rebound, or I can shoot her on the dribble-penetration in the paint. I liken her to Greivis Vasquez in that regard as a highly versatile player that you can't shoe-horn into a shooting guard, point guard, power-forward, or defense player. She's been a lot of fun to shoot and I'll miss her presence on the Terrapin bench.

After the game Maryland Head Coach Brenda Frese made many kind remarks about Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman. I prepared for this by readying my SB-8A battery pack from Nikon along with my 24-70mm lens. The SB-8A is a $150 alternative to the $400 Quantum Lithium Ion pack. The SB-8A offers < 2 second recycle time and it runs on 6 AA batteries (optionally rechargeable). The Quantum is a rechargeable pack that offers a faster recycle time but comes at roughly 3 times the cost. I like the Quantum's $0 variable cost in comparison to the recurring cost of AA batteries for the SB-8A but at the same time I realize that I rarely shoot flash. A pack of 36 AA batteries costs $12 at home depot. That's 6 full recharges on an SB-8A. The $250 difference in price represents 20 purchases of those batteries, or roughly 120 recharges. Since I shoot flash about once a month that's roughly 10 years before I could recover the cost of a Quantum. It's simply not worth it for me...

Before the game ended I grabbed my SB-8A and connected it into my SB-800 on my hotshoe. The 5 AA batteries just power the circuitry at that point while my SB-8A powers the flash and I went pretty wild shooting the two seniors at midcourt. While most went back to ambient light or waited for 6-9 seconds for a recharge I was able to fire away and get some good moments of the two players looking at each other or at the coach.

I also prepared myself for the over-the-shoulder shot looking from down low behind the players while their jersey was lifted to the rafters. I anticipated this shot during a former women's game but was beaten out for it by another sports photographer. I wanted to make sure I got the Coleman/Toliver shot this evening.


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