Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday afternoon at 4pm was the perfect time for a Number 1 vs Number 3 game for the field hockey squad. The only thing that could've made it better was more sun!

Clouds were out in force this afternoon for the game and that prevented any nice halo shots or other brightly-lit photos. However, with clouds you can more easily balance the exposure of the player's uniform and their face. When it's full sun and the player's face is under goggles, helmet, or other protective gear it can be difficult to expose their face without over-exposing the rest of the frame. When the light is diffused by the clouds it's easier.

The game itself was interesting because once again the Terps played a top-5 school. As a result there was a lot of action and a lot of excitement when a goal was scored. It was a lot of fun shooting the match this afternoon.

About 1 1/2 weeks ago I decided to plunk down the change for an Aqua Tech 600 in order to protect my 400mm lens against the rain elements. It was about $220 but with over $13k of glass and body that it protects I figured it was a wise choice. I can't easily hand off my football assignments to another photographer (and I don't want to either!) and it seems like every year you get at least 1 soaker at home.

Watching the forecast Friday evening I noticed the frontal boundary moving north and the predictions that it would stall over the DC area up towards New York. Those systems are classic DC drenchers were moisture moves up from the Tennessee Valley and into the metro area, soaking DC, Baltimore, Philladelphia, and New York City. Game time prediction was 80% rain probability with 1-2 inches possible by midnight.

Sure enough it came true and I was tremendously happy I had my Aqua Tech to help me out.

During our tailgate the rain picked up in earnest and I put on my REI rain gear, Rip Curl "Gilligan" hat, and my Aqua Tech. I considered dropping my second body and lenses and leaving them in the car but I opted against it in the end. I wanted to get some flag shots with heavy rain. In the end I was happy I kept my second body so I could get my flag and player shots before the game. However, it was a lot of work to carry it all around. I need to buy a second Aqua Tech for my 70-200mm lens!

On Saturday morning I checked my Explorer into the Regents Drive Garage and hoofed down to the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex for an 11am contest between the Terps and the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest. Wake and the Terps met last year in the post season and both teams are evenly suited this year.

The match between Maryland and Wake Forest is one of the best field hockey games I've shot. Both teams balanced each other very well and as a result the competition was tight. That always plays out nicely on the shutter. When it's a 15-0 win you don't get much excitement or action in your shots. But when it's a 0-0 game with 5 minutes remaining you get some great shots.

I shot the game using only my 400mm lens and I opted to use some older SanDisk Extreme II cards. I knew I needed 4GB or more but I wanted to do my best to keep it to a single card. I knew I had football in the afternoon and I didn't want to have a bunch of cards to offload when I got home. During halftime and the second half I deleted bad shots during downtimes or when the play was on the opposite side of the field. That allowed me to keep my field hockey shots to 4GB and reduced my post processing time when I got home.

Friday evening I headed over to Ludwig Field for a top-5 showdown between the Terps and the Tar Heels of North Carolina. Ludwig was packed to it's near-7000 seat capacity and Fox Sports Net was on hand to witness the contest.

The lighting at Ludwig sucks. It's ISO5000 at 1/500th f/2.8 and you're still dark. And you can only shoot from the sideline. Shooting from the baseline produces horrible shadows as their is no lighting in the endzone areas of the stadium. None-the-less that's what you're handed to deal with.

I only took my 400mm lens with me and opted to avoid lugging around a second body with a shorter lens. I like the second body with a wide lens for pre-game and post-game shots but doing that at Ludwig at night doesn't make a lot of sense.

My shots came out pretty well because there was great competition. The quality of the exposure is awful but there isn't much you can do about that...

Monday afternoon the Terps faced the California Bears at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex. Game time was set for 3pm and I was crossing my fingers for some good light.

Rather than full sun we got puffy high clouds. This presented some challenges for exposure but it's nothing too unusual. There was a good 2 stops of difference in the light when the sun was behind a cloud vs out shining brightly.

I shot the first half with the Terps backlit with the sun. I really like the halo effect in field hockey due to the water spray off the field. During the second half I changed my position and followed Maryland's shooting to the opposite side of the field. It was a lot easier to focus with the sun over my shoulders. It was also a lot easier to properly expose the shot.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cheerleader: Maryland Terrapins

Golden light is great. The lower the level of the sun in the sky the better. After a Maryland touchdown I was downsun from the cheerleaders as they twirled and flipped through the endzone. I snapped this quick shot of one of them looking back towards the sun. The shot came out well because her face was properly exposed while the rest of the frame was in darkness.

Sharp light can be your friend.

Today was the perfect day for a football game: bright beaming sun, temperatures in the upper 60s or lower 70s, and a light breeze to cool you off if you happen to be out in the direct sun. Kickoff was 3:30pm this afternoon and I couldn't be happier.

Light on the field was superb and the temperature was great. This marks the second week in a row where we've lucked out and avoided the humidity and high temperatures that are typical for the opening 2 or 3 football games at Maryland. The only element that would've made it more perfect is if some high puffy clouds would've settled in.

I chose to shoot the first half with the sun over my shoulders. I could've shot into the sun and gone for some rimlight but I figured that this was football and I didn't want to experiment too much. I stuck on f/2.8 for my aperture and varied the shutter speed to properly expose. It worked well.

During the second half the shadow of Tyser Tower occupied most of the field and I adjusted my position. I shot into the sunlight at times and at a 90 degree angle from the sun at other times. I like the 90 degree angle from the sunlight because you get some decent exposure but you also still get the rimlight.

Towards the end of the 3rd the field entered this interesting state where a tiny sliver was lit by the sun while everything else was in shadow. I positioned myself to take advantage of it and the photos really popped. It was pretty neat because for about 10 minutes we had players in full sun while the background was completely in shadow. Perfect...