Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Football: Maryland Media Day Poses

As we closed out July the heat really turned up in the Washington DC area. The Sunday before Media Day at Maryland the forecasters predicted the hottest temperatures of the year: high of 98 with a heat index of 105. And there we were: scheduled to photograph the football team down in the bowl of Byrd Stadium on the hottest day of the year.

I've shot 2 other football media day events at the University of Maryland and in both instances the heat was overwhelming. Prior to this year's event I put together a game plan of my own:

  • Wear short-shorts (GAD), light colored shirt, and bring my photo-hat
  • Bring water bottles in a cooler filled with ice
  • Bring towels to put over my cameras so they don't reach 150 degrees in the heat
  • Arrive 30 minutes early to set up and test all of my equipment

I also gave considerable thought about how to pose some of the players. In my bag of tricks was an AB-800 strobe and 2 SB-800 speedlights. I brought an umbrella but didn't pull it out - instead I stuck with a 20 degree bee cover for my strobe. I gelled one speedlight with light blue and rigged it all together with Pocket Wizards. The last speedlight I left as white and I used it for supporting light in different poses.

It was interesting to work with the football player in posed scenarios. Some of them were uncomfortable around the strobe and speedlights while others took quite naturally to it.

I started off the exposure process by starting at f/16 and 1/125th second exposure at ISO 100. That was a little bright during full sun so I brought it down to 1/250th and narrowed to f/18. That looked pretty good. I then worked on the output power of my strobe.

I started at 1/8 and brought it up to 1/4, then 1/2, and eventually full power. The players varied in complexion and their distance to the strobe. Some players were comfortable posing within 3 feet of the strobe while others stood back a good 5-8 feet. Even though I'd reposition them or adjust my own position I found that they'd back up or shift. So I'd work with zoom or I'd dial up the strobe output power to compensate.

Unfortunately there was a lot of noise in the background from other photographers and teammates. There really isn't anything I can do to control that though.

I was very happy, although exhausted, by the end of the shoot. I wound up with 105 shots we can run in the magazine and they look pretty good. During the middle of the shoot I inadvertently smudged the front of my 14-24mm f/2.8 lens. The smudge mark is present on several of the shots and that disappoints me. But I learned a lot from the event. I'm looking forward to the next posed photoshoot of some athletes!


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