Friday, October 31, 2008

On a cold Thursday evening the Terps locked up their regular season and showed respect to their senior class. I had the privilege of photographing the senior class with their family, friends, and coaches both before and after the game.

Most senior shoots involves a pre-game ceremony where each player is highlighted and presented with flowers, a plague, or a jersey behind glass. There are a series of standard photos that you're expected to capture from such an event and they're pretty ordinary in nature. Capture each player with their parents and then at the end get a group shot of the players, coaches, and family members.

I planned that shoot at f/7.1 with a 1/8th powered SB-800 flash on a 14-24mm lens at around 14mm. I thought about using the 24-70mm and shooting at 24mm but that seemed too narrow and I'd have to back away from the players too much. Shooting wider allows me to get closer for the group and family shots and since the lens is an ultra-wide I didn't have to deal with much distortion at all.

It was nice working with the CLS and not bumping into the 1/250th second flash sync limitation. With an SB-800 you can sync well above 1/250th so it's quite easy to dial in your aperture (f/7.1) for the effect you're looking for, set your ISO to something sane (e.g. 400 or 640), and then adjust your shutter speed and flash power accordingly. I could've gone straight TTL, locked the shutter at 1/500th and let CLS perform the power setting.

I chose to set the flash output power manually because I'm trying to learn more about flash photography. It seems like letting TTL and CLS take care of all the flash settings is like letting your camera meter control exposure (e.g. Aperture or Shutter priority mode). Sure you'll most likely get a decent overall exposure but you won't learn a whole lot.

Prior to the pre-game photos I took several test shots on the sideline with the help of Ali Morawski. She and Sandy Worth were good test subjects for a variety of exposure and flash settings and I was able to lock in a few different flash scenarios using them as my test subjects.

The previous evening I gave a lot of though to what kind of artistic twists I could apply to a post-game senior shot. During this spring's women's LAX season I had a lot of fun shooting the seniors after the game and I wanted to set something up for the field hockey seniors. I really liked what Patrick Smith did for Liz Snyder of the Centennials and I wanted to go for something similar.

I planned to drop the 5 seniors in the goal and to flash them with 2 SB-800s from down low. By shooting at a narrow aperture (e.g. f/16) I planned to isolate them in darkness and a goal. I thought it would create a cool shot but I couldn't figure out what to do about concealing the flashes from the camera lens.

When you shoot with flash you have to be wary of the light from the speedlights coming right back towards the lens and creating either a halo or a really bright white spot right in the middle of your frame. I needed something that would block the light from coming back towards the camera but I also needed that something to allow an infrared signal from my camera to reach the speedlights.

A goalie mask would be perfect!

So before the game I hunted down the equipment manager and asked if he had any old masks I could borrow. Sure enough he had one and after promising to take good care of it and bring it back after the game he let me use it for the shoot. The mask was perfect because the front allowed the IR signal to reach the speedlights and the top of the mask concealed the light from the speedlights.

I took a few test shots before the game and the f/16 exposures of just the helmet came out really well. I was stoked for the post-game photos but leary of my ability to dial in the correct exposure settings in such a short amount of time.

Sure enough I didn't get it quite perfect. After the game several seniors wanted their photo taken with celebratory banners and I wanted to shoot around f/5.6 rather than f/16. They raced over to the goal after I set up the speedlights and I didn't have time to shrink the aperture down to f/16. As a result my shots didn't come out as well as I had liked but they were good enough.

I'm enjoying playing with artificial light. I introduced Jackie and Yuchen to the practice of dragging the shutter and Yuchen elected to use the technique for a pre-game photo of the team in a huddle. His shot (#3) is up on the DC Sports Box gallery page and it looks pretty good. I started practicing dragging the shutter this summer when I shot a few nightlife crowds at some bars in the Columbia MD area.

By dragging the shutter you set your camera to "rear curtain sync" and set a long exposure (e.g. 1/2th a second). When the shutter opens you move the body around and the flash firing right before the shutter closing locks the subject and makes them tack sharp. It's a great isolation technique in low light scenarios where you are required to use flash (e.g. in a bar). By spinning the camera you can also draw attention to the center of the frame, further creating focus on your subject.

The game was a lot of fun to shoot because it was senior night and I was able to play with flash. Flash photography can be a challenge but also very fun if you're willing to experiment and play with the light. CLS is a great system if you can set it up properly and apply it well.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another scrimmage for the men's basketball team brought me out to the Comcast Center this afternoon. The guys I'm working with also asked if I could bring out the lights again and get an interesting shot of Greivis Vasquez for a cover article they're working on. I wish I had a lightbox or an Alien Bees strobe but I honestly don't do enough flash photography to justify the cost.

Lightboxes, softboxes, strobes, and reflectors are really great tools for serious photographers that shoot a decent amount of portraiture. But they're pretty pricey... An AlienBees B800 strobe will cost you $280 new, the stand will run you $90, two PocketWizards Plus IIs will cost you $360, and the Vagabond II portable power pack for the B800 sets you back $300. All told you're looking at just over $1000 to launch yourself into professional lighting.

Or you can go the speedlight route. An SB-800 can be had used for about $225 on CraigsList and uses a built-in infrared transceiver to communicate with the master unit on the top of the camera. The SB-800s also support the Creative Lighting System (CLS), which allows you to synchronize above 1/250th of a second. That allows you to open up the aperture wider and shoot faster shutter speeds with flash.

When shooting a group photo for the DC Sports Box our photographer, Mike Busada, had to use a 4X neutral density filter to bring down the ambient light to a level where he could shoot us outdoors at f/7.1 under bright sun. He had a really difficult time focusing his camera using the built-in AF system while applying a 4X ND filter. Had he used SB-800s and the CLS he could've sync'ed at a higher shutter speed and avoided the ND filter.

The downside to using SB-800s over true lightboxes is that you don't get nearly the same level of diffusion. You can create stunning effects using a wide diffusion field on a strobe. In that sense you could honestly say that speedlights are no replacement for strobes. But, you could also argue that speedlights may be "good enough" for what you need to do if you're on a budget.

As I mentioned before the subject we wanted to capture was Greivis Vasquez. We weren't granted access to him until after the scrimmage and that probably wasn't the best time to catch him for a photo. He was tired after running up and down the court for 40 minutes and the team was leaned into by Coach Williams after the scrimmage. As a result the subject wasn't too happy and that came out in the shoot. He didn't want to pose the way we were hoping he'd pose and there wasn't any chance of a smile. Oh well...

I decided to switch over my WB preset this afternoon to the Comcast Center. I previously had it adjusted for Ludwig Field's lighting, but since soccer is winding down and basketball is quickly coming upon us I decided it was time for the transition. I believe there is a way to store WB presets but I haven't read the manual about it. I also don't know how much use I would have for such a feature since I can always reset the WB preset in the Spring when lacrosse takes over.

I learned a little bit about bracketing for exposure this afternoon, albeit completely accidentally. Somehow I managed to set a +2 exposure bracketing strategy and that impacted the number of frames I could shoot continuously. Rather than the normal 9 FPS my D3 gets I could only grab 2 at a time. Likewise I noticed that the exposure changed. I double checked my settings to see if maybe I had flipped to Aperture or Shutter priority but I was still on Manual at 1/500th and ISO 3200 (f/2.8).

I noticed the BKT displayed on the top display on the camera but I didn't know how to change it because I never do anything with bracketing. I poured through ever setting in the shooting and utility menus without luck. It wasn't until I got home and read my D3 manual that I realized that I could adjust the exposure bracketing by holding down BKT and using the spinner on the camera. A few quick adjustments and I was back to firing off 9FPS.

I'm anxiously looking forward to tomorrow evening's Field Hockey Senior Night photos. Greg Fiume asked me if I would be willing to photograph the seniors, their parents, and the coaching staff while he worked the women's soccer match. I was happy to take the assignment because I enjoy working with the Field Hockey coaching staff and the players have been very kind to me on the field (I don't think it's personal - I think they're just happy to have the coverage!) None-the-less tomorrow I get to shoot some more flash and that will be fun.

Lately I've been playing with light a lot for the mens and womens media days for basketball and today for the shot of Greivis Vasquez. Tomorrow I'll be firing the lights at the seniors. Maybe one day I'll give up the f/2.8 glass and go the strobist route... Nah probably not!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Women's Basketball: Media Day 2008

This afternoon the Lady Terps held their media day for 2008 and I attended. Women's basketball at the University of Maryland is the first sport I shot roughly 2 years ago and I've had a fondness for Comcast ever since I took my first steps onto the hardwood.

A lot has changed since then but the excitement of being a part of Maryland Athletics remains constant.

A few weeks ago the men had held their media event and I managed to capture a decent shot of Coach Gary Williams at midcourt. For this event I wanted to go for something slightly different but consistent with the first shoot. I elected to ask Coach Brenda Frese to stand in front of the bold ACC logo at the free throw line.

I didn't have any Pocket Wizards to help in the setup for the shot and instead had to rely on the Nikon CLS. It uses infrared beams to transmit flash signals to remotes and it works really well when you have line-of-sight on your side. In the middle of a basketball court that worked out just fine.

The only oddity I experienced during the shoot was that my remotes fired whenever another photographer fired their strobes in the ceiling. I was on Channel 1, Group A and they fired. I didn't think that Pocket Wizards could trigger SB-800s using CLS over infrared. Maybe my SB-800s were firing because they detected the strobe. It was odd whatever it was...

I met some nice photographers from a couple of different companies, including Richard from the Washington Times (I didn't catch his last name). I arrived first at the event and he arrived shortly thereafter. He stood in as a model for some lighting tests and I did the same for him. He took a really cool silhouette shot of 3 players on the baseline that were side-lit. He stood on the opposite end of the court with a 400mm lens on a DX sensor so he was really up close and personal. I took a look at the shot on his LCD and it really came out nicely!

The best shots I captured from today involved some fun action shots of the various players under the basket. I asked Sam to send any players that had some time down to underneath my basket so I could get a few shots of them shooting layups, jumpshots, and doing other fun stuff. Before each one left I had them pose for a serious shot with the net and the basket in the background. Those shots came out really well and I'm going to make a mental note to take those shots next year with the men. I bet I can get some really good ones!

Seth was present and taking notes, interviewing players, and conducting other reporter business. We chatted about upcoming games and he asked if I could shoot the men's scrimmage tomorrow. He also asked what games I could cover this Fall for women's hoops as well as men's hoops. He assured me that credentials were not an issue and that's certainly a welcome change.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Just as I arrived back at Byrd Stadium the rain began. It was a solid soaker throughout the entire football game this afternoon and that made shooting very difficult. The light was also variable due to the inclement weather. At some points I'd have to throw the shutter speed around to get an extra 2 stops of light because the clouds shifted and a bunch of rain came down.

It was also difficult because the rain itself reflects the stadium lights. Under normal circumstances the players on the field reflect the light we're interested in capturing but when you have driving rain it serves as a diffuser. The players become softer and the whole image has less contrast. In post processing I did a lot to turn up the blacks and increase contrast to bring out the players rather than the rain.

I accidentally handed my car keys to my wife Julie back during the basketball scrimmage and thus I wasn't able to get back to my car before the game to pick up my knee pads. With the field already soaked I thought I was going to wind up completely drenched by the first play.

I could not have been more wrong.

I am thoroughly impressed with the performance of REI waterproof camping gear. Having a waterproof pair of leggings saved me during the game. My jeans and most importantly my knees remained dry the ENTIRE game. I was shocked at how well that rain proof gear worked - I've had "waterproof" gear before but it never performs well. If you're a photographer and you want to stay dry I highly recommend picking up a pair of camping pants that are waterproof at REI.

The field being wet actually helped me knees because it made the ground squishy. As a result I didn't kill my knees when I knelt on the sideline.

I had a lot of trouble keeping rain off the front element of my lens. In addition to the rain there was some decent wind down on the field. Since I only have half of a lens hood I couldn't keep all the rain off the front of the lens. I also burned up the dryness on my little lens cleaner by the second time I pulled it out to dry off.

Larry, a photographer I've worked with in the past, recommended a cloth he purchased at REI. He says it sucks up moisture really well and is soft enough to use on lenses. He carried 2 or 3 of them with him and his front element looked good.

I also had some problems with my "utility belt" (the belt that I use to carry my spare lenses). It was made by Think Tank and contains lens pockets that have a water-tight bag. However, the internal linings don't cover the lens perfectly or more accurately I didn't cover the lens perfectly. Accordingly some of my glass had some moisture on it after the game. That was to be expected though after being out in the rain for roughly 3 hours.

My jacket worked well and kept me fairly dry. I was a little wet on my arms and chest but for the most part I stayed dry. My only complaint about the jacket is that it wasn't wide enough to wrap over my lens belt. I should've bought a longer jacket that extended to my thighs or I should've purchased one that was a lot larger so that I could fit my belt underneath it. It's not too big of a deal though...

Other photographers that were not prepared for the weather were miserable and cold. Several of them bailed after the first quarter. A few of them didn't have a jacket or any kind of protection for their camera. By the end of the half they were shaking with goose bumps. I didn't see them in the third!

I think my iPhone died due to water injury. I thought that the Think Tank belt case for carrying business cards was weatherproof but I guess I'm wrong. I kept my phone, business cards, media, and spare battery in there and they wound up pretty wet in the end. Hopefully the iPhone will come back to life in a couple of days...

Lastly I was perplexed by some water landing on the sensor towards the end of the fourth quarter. I have no idea how this happened. I used a 400mm lens the entire game and didn't switch out until after the game when the players ran over into the student section. I also used an Aqua Tech that thoroughly wrapped the lens and body. The camera stayed relatively dry with the exception of my went hands touching the shutter release button.

Towards the end of the fourth some water droplets landed on my sensor. I'm really confused how it happened since I didn't disconnect the lens and didn't even pull it out of the Aqua Tech. I thoroughly cleaned the sensor when I got home to protect against any debris remaining on the sensor but I'm still wondering how that happened.

I also did a thorough clean-job on my glass. The front element of the 400 was pretty dirty from all the rain and the UV filter on my 24-70 was pretty dirty. It felt good to sit down in my little office and clean everything up after the event.

We're now off for a week and then it's down to Virginia Tech for a Thursday night game on ESPN. Hopefully it won't be a downpour!

When basketball finally let out I walked out of Comcast Center and into Lot 4 to take a gander at the Field Hockey scoreboard. The brick building of the complex occludes the score but you can still see the time remaining. Fortunately there was 15 minutes to go...

I decided to race down to the complex and catch the final few moments. Prior to heading inside I remembered to change the folder in the camera. When I have multiple events on the same day I change the folder in the camera so that importing the photos into Lightroom is easier. Rather than having to know that event #2 began with photo DSC_2335.JPG I can partition the events at the directory level. Event #2 is in the 102 folder, event #3 is in 103...

I only captured 11 minutes of field hockey but it was worth it. I got a good isolation shot of Reilly as well as a cool shot of Amanda Himmelheber. Greg Fiume was at the event as well and I hardly recognized him because of his rain gear and hat.

Immediately after the event I packed up and hoofed it back to Byrd Stadium for football. I didn't want to be late for the kickoff and I still had to pick up my TERPHOTO sticker.

Seth and Jeff from the Turtle Sports Report assigned me to photograph the scrimmage at Comcast on Saturday. I gladly took the assignment since any opportunity to be inside Comcast Center is worth pursuing!

Saturday was a busy day for me with men's hoops at 12:15, Field Hockey at 1, and Football at 3:30. I didn't have a copy of my credentials for football so prior to heading to Comcast I stopped off at Tyser Tower at Byrd Stadium around 11:15. I wanted to give myself enough time to pick up my football credential, walk over to Comcast, and get settled in there for the practice.

Tyser was a ghost town. It's understandable though - who's going to show up 4 hours before game time. Even as I left the IT folks were just starting to show up. I headed over to Comcast without my football pass in hand but I was confident that I could resolve the issue later on in the day.

Walking across campus is always an enjoyable experience. Having grown up around campus, spending 5 years studying for my undergraduate degrees, and meeting my wife while an undergrad every building has some kind of memory associated with it. Most of it involves late-night rollerblading around campus, but some of it involves going to class.

Once I arrived at Comcast I headed to the media room to put down my gear and get prepared for the basketball scrimmage. That basically meant shedding 2 layers of rain-proof gear (sweatshirt, leggings, and a rainproof jacket). Mr Dull was in the media room and he connected me with the credential I would use for football.

After disconnecting my 400mm f/2.8 lens from my body I hooked up my 70-200mm f/2.8. Since there weren't any photographers in the media room I expected I would be one of the few media people to attend the scrimmage. I was correct - there were a few TV people as well as Doug from the Baltimore Sun and that was about it. Mark Clem from the Terrapin Times was on the sideline shooting as well.

I spoke with Seth before the game and asked him what photos he needed. He said that Scout is doing a feature on one of the assistant coaches and asked me to get some shots of him coaching. He also asked for shots of Braxton Dupree, Greivis Vasquez, and Adrian Bowie.

With so few photographers present I had my choice of spots along the baseline. I grabbed the position Greg normally takes - right on the 3 point line. Choosing which side of the basket to shoot from was nice and easy - normally photographers are contained on one side of the basket while cheerleaders are on the other side. With nobody present today you could sit wherever you want - it was great! I chose the left side of the basket when you shoot because most players are right handed and penetrate from that side. By shooting at them from the left I get their chests and faces as they drive to the basket.

I originally planned to head off to Field Hockey at 1pm but the scrimmage went a lot longer than I expected. It consisted of 2 20 minute halves that actually went pretty long due to timeouts for coaching. Since I was there on assignment for Scout and Yuchen was down at Field Hockey covering the event I thought it would be best to stick around for the entire event.

The shots from basketball came out pretty well. I moved around a lot and pulled out the 400mm for some isolation shots of players and coaches. Overall I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the performance of the D3. I shot at ISO 2500 for the entire day on auto WB and 1/500th of a second at f/2.8. The AF system tracked well and I had very few OOF shots.

Monday, October 20, 2008

After volleyball I headed down to the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex to photograph the Terrapins play the Delaware Blue Hens. I enjoy the field hockey games because the coaches smile, the support staff is great, and the players are pretty friendly.

I was looking forward to this game because it was a chance to introduce myself to a new member of the Maryland media relations staff: Sam Angell. Sam joined the staff and will temporarily fill in for Field Hockey and Women's Basketball until a permanent staffer can be located. I wanted to introduce myself because the DC Sports Box covers Terrapin sports extensively and being able to map a face to a name will help both Sam and our organization work smoothly. I waited until after the game to introduce myself because I was sure that Sam was busy coordinating his first solo game.

While on the sideline I noticed that the MVP Testudo was absent. After each game Coach Meharg identifies the MVP and has them sign a porcelain Testudo. There's some algorithm they have for identifying who will get to receive Testudo after they graduate that I don't quite understand but it's important and that's what Sandy conveyed to me. She also explained that it was accidentally broken while the team played at ODU and the players picked up the pieces and attempted to glue it back together again. They apparently used rubber bands as supports but it didn't work. In the end they chose to place the pieces in a plastic container and attach some take-home gifts the Pan-Am players brought home. A sombrero, a tequila shot glass, and some sort of spanish rug...

I like getting the back-story and I feel like I am privy to that information because I attend the games regularly. I also feel like we do a good job reporting and take exciting photographs and that helps the team relate to us. We've had several players (and parents) tell us that they regularly check out our site because we post articles and photos after every home game.

While on the sideline I had a chance to talk with Greg Fiume for awhile about the complexities of licensing images. He brought up some good points about it and we talked about dual-purpose vs single-purpose licensing and how it's different than a wire service. We also discussed "use" of photos and how the rule of "editorial use is ok" is not universally accepted. He specifically pointed out that the NBA and the NHL have completely different rules for what you do with your photos.

At this point I feel like I benefit more from conversations of that nature than conversations oriented towards exposure. While I certainly learn from other photographers I've been to enough games at this point where I'm comfortable getting my shots and then experimenting a little. I may look to other photographers for some inspiration for a different shot but I'm not a fish out of water floundering trying to figure out basic exposure settings (aperture, ISO, shutter speed, white balance).

Conversing with professionals in the photojournalism (note: emphasis on JOURNALISM) industry is becoming increasingly valuable as I'm becoming more aware of the complexity of the rules in this industry. I've always been borderline between "I don't know and I don't even know that I don't know" and "I don't know but I'm aware that I don't know" states but I now feel as though I'm leaning more towards the "I don't know but I'm aware that I don't know".

As a result I look to other professionals in the industry for advice. This is naturally a tricky proposition because this industry is cut-throat. Accordingly you have to weigh the combination of the advice and the giver of the advice. Quite frankly: can you trust that the person offering you advice is not trying to screw you? It's a tough call because personalities and motivations are difficult to judge. It's certainly more difficult than figuring out proper exposure settings.

All in all I trust myself because I don't have any malcontent towards the people I've worked with and I put a lot of thought towards what we're doing. If I had an axe to grind or some other dubious intent I'd be concerned that I would act inappropriately and try to do something foolish. Fortunately that's not the case. I've made a lot of mistakes in my brief career as a photographer and I've learned from them. I try to surround myself with people who are more experienced than I am so I can learn both the techniques and the business. Right now the trick seems to be making sure those experienced people are the people I can trust and are people that have an interest in my success. In such a competitive industry it's difficult to find people like that.

And I thought all I had to do was show up and shoot pictures...

As usual, an article and photos are available on the DC Sports Box website. You can read about Maryland's win over Delaware and view game photos on the DC Sports Box.

After plenty of celebratory beer, bratwurst, hamburgers, and other unhealthy eating at the post-football-game tailgate I stumbled out of bed early Sunday to catch up on my Madness photos from Friday night. After making pretty decent headway I headed over to Comcast where I took in a volleyball game between the Terps and Clemson.

I bumped into Greg Fiume at the volleyball match. He was a little disappointed because he had arranged for a lift to be placed at the end of the court. He had planned to shoot from up high with a 300mm lens and was naturally disappointed when the lift was not in place prior to his arrival. He ended up shooting from up high in the corner of the stands. He got some good looking "over the net" shots.

I elected to shoot from the fans side of the court rather than sit behind the scores table and the players benches. I'm constantly blocked by referees, coaches, and players when I stand on that side of the court. When I sit on the opposite side the only people I have to contend with are the crowd members.

I've struggled to find the sweet spot in volleyball. It's a difficult environment in which to work because so much of the court is considered "off limits". For example, I can't reside in the backcourt because it could be distracting to the players (or so I've been told). I can't sit too close to the sideline because it disrupts the players (again ... so I've been told). The court is small enough where 300mm is overkill when shooting the players on your side of the net but it might be just right for under-the-net shots of the opposite side of the court.

I tried playing with a few different angles today but stayed low for the most part. I noticed that Greg stayed high through the whole match and I wonder if I should give that a shot next time. Generally speaking the players look up as they set the ball, spike, or bump, and that's different than how players in other sports behave (they tend to look down). Perhaps being up higher would offer better views of their faces...

I would still love the opportunity to try out an 85mm f/1.4 lens from Nikon for volleyball. I think it'd be great fun at the net and would let in an enormous amount of light in that venue. Maybe I can find someone that owns that lens and borrow it for a weekend to try out...

My photos from volleyball came out pretty well. For the first time I managed to get some expression on the faces of the players. I don't think that's indicative of my skill level improving (or maybe it is) - it could just be that the players were more jazzed up today. Maybe they were still giddy over the win over Wake Forest in football on Saturday.

Either way ... I had a good time at volleyball before heading down to Field Hockey. Photos and an article about Maryland's 3-0 loss to Clemson are up on the DC Sports Box website as usual.

Jeff Ermann from the Turtle Sports Report contacted me and asked if I'd be willing to shoot the Wake Forest vs Maryland game on Saturday. Since Al was shooting the game for the DC Sports Box I accepted Jeff's offer. Al and I had spoken about this scenario back in August and agreed that it was alright if I pursued opportunities outside of the DC Sports Box. After all, who's going to turn down paid work?

The lighting for the event was perfect - abundant sunshine! The temperature was also perfect - not hot at all! I had a feeling I was really going to enjoy the game.

I shot with the 400mm lens for the entire game. I pulled out the 70-200mm before the game and at halftime to photograph the band members, cheerleaders, and dancers. I was extremely pleased with how the photos came out - the colors and sharpness of the D3 are just unbelievable. I'm constantly wow'ed by what comes off that camera body.

I opted to shoot at f/5.6 for most of the game. With so much light and at 400mm on a football field where the stands are so distant I didn't need f/2.8 in order to isolate my subject. I've noticed that at f/2.8 the pictures are not quite as sharp as at f/4 or f/5.6. I've shot at f/4 and f/5.6 in the past during day games and had good results so I decided to take another stab at it.

My photos came out really well. They were all very sharp and I attribute that to the f/5.6 setting. I talked with several photographers on the sideline and asked them what aperture they were using. Greg kept it locked on f/2.8 but Mitch worked up around f/3.2 and f/3.5. Al shot up around f/4 while Jeff shot at f/4.

I was especially pleased with a photo I took at halftime of a dancer while at f/9. She was a the minimum focal distance (about 15 feet) for my lens (400mm AF-S I) and her face is just tack sharp while the background is a complete blur. She came out really well and I learned from the experience (you can isolate your subject even at f/9 if you are shooting at focal length 15 feet on a 400mm lens).

The rest of the game went really well and I was very happy with my photos from the day. I only carried my 70-200mm and my 24-70mm lens with me on my belt and I ditched the 300mm and 14-24mm lenses I brought to my last football game. I knew I'd want the 70-200 for halftime candids and band/cheer shots and I planned on using the 24-70 for the post-game celebration photos.

I considered using the 14-24mm lens for post game photos but elected against it because shooting at 14mm requires me to get really close to the players. Big bulky football players celebrating after a game plus a 14mm lens don't exactly mix so I wanted the ability to be able to be wide but keep a reasonable distance between myself and the celebrating players. I managed to get my shot in the end and was happy with the 24-70mm lens.

Overall the f/4 and f/5.6 experience was a good one but I got some decent advice from Mitch, a photographer on the sidelines that works with the Baltimore Press Box. He said he would shoot at f/3.5 or so on a day like this but goes down to f/2.8 when he has a background that's a mix between the endzone buildings and the rest of the stands. He wants to take that element out of the photo and by going with f/2.8 he narrows the DoF and really throws the background out of focus. But if he's shooting straight along the sideline and the fans are in the background he'll narrow it down to f/4 because there isn't much variation in the background.

I thought it was interesting to think about selecting aperture based on your background. I never really thought that way in the past - I always thought of working with aperture to control how much of my subject I want in focus. I never thought about using it to control how much I want OUT of focus.

I also enjoyed the opportunity to work with some new individuals on the field this afternoon. With Seth up in the box and me on the field we relied on SMS to communicate between each other. Seth was keyed into the rest of the media network and could hear player stats throughout the game. As he wrote his article he SMS'ed me the jersey numbers of players that were doing well and players that he planned to highlight in his article. I then tried my best to make sure I shot those players even if it was just in isolation.

I still have trouble finding a balance between watching the game vs shooting the game. Through practice I've gotten better at games like Field Hockey and Soccer at watching both the game and the photoset. I have an idea of "who's hot" on the field in the sport of Field Hockey and Soccer. But in football I'm still operating in the dark. When I'm on the sidelines I'm totally cued into getting the best photo and I'm not very cognizant of which players are having a good day. Having Seth relay that information down to me was helpful.

This was my best photoset to-date. Over 60 images published up to the Turtle Sports Report. I got band members, cheerleaders, the crowd, defense, and offense. I was very happy with how it all came together. I can't link you over to the Turtle Sports Report article because I haven't seen it yet, but I can send you in the direction of the DC Sports Box where you can read Abram's review of Maryland vs Wake Forest and view Al Santos' photos.

Basketball: Maryland Madness 2008

I originally planned to hit part of the men's soccer game on Friday evening but elected to dedicate more time to Madness. We've covered all of the men's soccer games this season and Madness promised to have some unique presentations and displays that I really wanted to capture.

I think I made the correct decision to stay and shoot more of Madness. We were able to publish photos from a whole spectrum of coverage and had I not been there we would've missed those shots. Dave stuck around and wrapped up volleyball before joining me in Comcast Center for most of Madness.

Madness was a tremendous learning experience for me in a lot of respects. I was very comfortable working down on the court having spent so much time in the arena last winter covering men's and women's basketball. But I was not prepared for the rapid pace of the events and how that would effect my ability to get good shots.

Before all basketball (and football) events the marketing and media relations folks at Maryland put together a count-down sheet that outlines whats going to happen and when. It helps them keep the event on track and more importantly keeps the night moving on schedule.

If the events during a basketball game are complex then Madness has got to be considered a grandmaster vs grandmaster chess match. Carrie Blankenship primarily is responsible for keeping things on track and this evening she coordinated a Gary Williams look-a-like contest, women's basketball player intros, women's coaching staff intros, a gymkana performance, a dance team performance, a cheerleaders act, and a show by the competitive cheerleaders. The lady Terps also played a scrimmage, and the men were introduced after entering from the stands. Gary Williams arrived in a Bearcat and spoke, and last but not least the men played a 10 minute scrimmage. This all unfolded in about 3 hours.

I kept a digital copy of the schedule in my iPhone and was able to anticipate what the next event was and that really gave me an advantage. I knew when we were heading into a 70 second media break or when the Terps were going to display a 4 minute promotional video on the women's basketball team. It sounds crazy but those brief little respites of time allowed me to race back to the media room and offload photos. When you're shooting with 3x2GB cards and 1x4GB card you start to run out of room pretty quickly!

All in all I shot about 1700 frames across 9.1GB of media just for madness. I also captured about 512MB of imagery at volleyball that I had to keep on my laptop during Madness. I can't say much about the post-processing because there was so much of it and such a wide variety of shots that I could choose from. But I can say that I learned a lot working on the floor Friday night: be prepared with media, and do your best to get a schedule so that you know what's going to happen and when.

I wrote up a history of Maryland Madness and posted it over on the DC Sports Box. You can also view my photos from the evening at the bottom of the article.

On Friday night the Terps held their "Madness" event and beforehand I attended part of Maryland's volleyball match against Georgia Tech.

Shooting in Comcast Pavilion has greatly improved since I upgraded from a D200 to a D3. I can safely set the ISO at 2500 and shoot at 1/400th or 1/500th without fear of noise (grain). White balance is still a big problem for me in the Pavilion, and I don't suspect that's something I can easily correct in camera. Dave Lovell offered the suggestion of using the WB eyedropper in Lightroom to set the neutral color to the white part of the net. That approach works really well in correcting for the color variation.

I've read about certain types of bulbs that actually warm up and cool down as they go through their 60Hz cycle. They'll start out cool and then get warm (or vice versa). If you shot slower than 1/60th you'd get all color temperatures but since we're shooting sports you need 1/400th or faster so that means we're only getting a sliver of the color temperature variation the bulbs go through.

On the other hand there are dozens of lights up there and I'm sure there is some delay in their cycles (not all cycle at the exact same time). There are also variations in the bulbs up in the ceiling - some are orange and some are blue. Most are pretty neutral...

Anyhow... white balance continues to be a problem for me in Comcast Pavilion. Setting the camera on "Auto-WB" seems to work reasonably well, but I just hate relying on the camera to choose settings for me. I feel much more comfortable and consistent when I control all the exposure and WB settings.

So after a quick stint at the volleyball court I headed over into the rest of Comcast Center to start photographing the Madness event.

You can read Dave's article on Maryland's win over Georgia Tech (and view some of my photos) over on the DC Sports Box.

Men's Basketball: 2008 Media Day

The basketball and football programs at the University of Maryland hold annual "media day" events where photographers, writers, and videographers have an opportunity to visit the school and interview the players, coaches, and support staff. It's a great opportunity to interact with the team and other professionals in the industry.

Maryland held it's men's basketball media day on Thursday, October 16th at the Comcast Center. Earlier in the week I started scraping together some thoughts for a good photo of Coach Gary Williams. We prepared a pretty in-depth analysis of the teams the Terps will play this season and I wanted to make sure we had a compelling photo to use as a lead-in for the story.

I GIS'ed for "Comcast Center" so that I could re-familiarize myself with the court. The 2 emblems that immediately jumped out were the M at midcourt and the ACC at the foul line. Both logos are symbolic and highly recognizable. Placing Coach Williams in front of either would make for a great shot.

Eventually I settled on a shot where I looked at a 45 degree angle towards the M and realized that if I added some elevation that would put the frosting on the shot. I thought about how I could do that - maybe a 400mm lens from up in the rafters? Or maybe I just bring in my step-ladder and shoot from a few steps up.

Not having been to a media day for basketball and with the desire to play within the rules I reached out to Greg Fiume to ask him if it would be alright if I used an 8 foot step ladder on the court to take a photo of Gary Williams at midcourt. He said that would be fine but to coordinate it with Doug Dull since Coach Williams was going to be extremely busy that afternoon.

I checked with Dave Lovell and he said he was available to help out with media day. That really worked out perfectly because it meant that I had a test subject for the shots. I could've borrowed a light-meter and taken test shots to determine the proper exposure but it seemed easier to just use a test subject.

Dave and I arrived 15 minutes before the lunch was served to the reporters. I wanted to get there early so that I could drop my gear and tag my spot at midcourt. When we arrived a player was out on the court practicing, so we just left our gear on the sideline. As soon as the player was finished we staked out our spot at midcourt and began our metering.

In retrospect we had a huge advantage because we arrived early. We were able to set up our rig and get all the lighting just right without the interference of other media groups. When all was said and done we placed some gaffers tape on the court to mark the positions on our light stands and ladder.

During the press conference Dave used his cameras to photograph Coach Williams while I took notes in the audience. This worked out perfectly because I didn't have to disrupt the settings on my camera or change a lens. We asked Doug for a 1 minute heads-up prior to bringing Coach Williams over so we could drag out our speedlights and ladder. During that 1 minute period I didn't want to have to tinker with my exposure settings or lenses, and because Dave was able to shoot during the press conference I was safe leaving my camera behind.

I fired 2 shots of Coach Williams and looking back on it that was pretty risky. Often times people blink when flashed and it's very difficult to see that on a 3" LCD when you have the pressure of "you have 30 seconds" weighing down on you. Sure enough Gary blinked in the first shot but in my second shot he came out perfectly.

Post-processing the photo was a little difficult because another photographer had a bunch of gear down along the 3 point arc in the background. Normally it's not too difficult to clean up artifacts in a picture when straight lines are prevalent. But arcs are difficult. If you look carefully you can see the dirt associated with my touch-ups in the arc.

You can read a season preview of the Maryland Terrapins Men's Basketball team over on the DC Sports Box.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Normally the idea of a game to shoot in the evening gives me a big boost during the day while I look forward to the event. But today was different - I'm sick with a sore throat, a cough, and a stuffy nose. I just wanted to crawl back into bed today rather than work and attend a soccer game.

I suppose I could've called Dave Lovell and asked him to cover for me but I decided against it. Dave has kids and I didn't want to dump an assignment on him at the last minute. Plus I figured I was healthy enough to work during the day so the least I could do was show up and take some pictures.

Julie suggested just shooting the first half and coming home but I decided against that as well. As a photographer AND a writer (although arguably not good at either!) I have some advantages as well as some disadvantages. The biggest advantage is that I can make sure I have a good lead-in photo for the article since I control the content of the article. The downside, which has been documented numerous times on this blog, is that it takes extra time to write an article after an event.

I remember that when I started sports photography nearly 2 years ago I had trouble sticking around for the entire game and considered it an accomplishment if I didn't bail early. Some of these events are really long and without the proper equipment (400mm for the part) it gets pretty tiring sitting on the sideline without being able to capture the moment. After picking up a D3 and a 400mm lens I've never really had that problem - I'm able to dial up the ISO to 4000 or 5000 in low light situations and the 400mm gives me plenty of reach.

I'm glad I stuck around for the entire game because it was a Towsend shot in OT that did it for the Terps. The funny thing about his gamewinner is that he did the exact same thing in the OT game against Charlotte - a feed from Jeremy Hall inside the 18 yard box and boom the freshman takes the game for the Terps.

When I arrived home I started post processing but was quickly distracted by I've heard about it before and I decided to check it out. You can view my profile over here: It can integrate with iTunes and it uploads your current tracks up to their server. can then make recommendations for music based on what you've listened to in the past. It's pretty cool! The twitters told me about it...

I was up pretty late finishing up my article and posting my photos. Lightroom has gotten a lot slower for me lately and I'm not sure why. It used to be snappy when I first got it but tonight it was doggin!

You can view my pictures of Maryland's 2-1 OT win over Lehigh on Flickr. You can also read my article on the Terps vs Lehigh on the DC Sports Box.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

After arriving home around 2:30am after the Football game against Virginia I put away my camera gear and hit the sack. It was around 3am before I finally bedded down and I was ready for some shut eye after being up and on my feet for a solid 18 hours.

I didn't wake up until 12:30am on Sunday and that was just in time to head out to the women's soccer match against the visiting Miami Hurricanes. As I looked out the window I saw the bright sunshine and smiled thinking about shooting a well lit game.

I hustled to get out of bed, shower, put on some decent clothes, and get over to Ludwig Field in time for the opening kick. Fortunately for me Maryland is really close so making it to the event wasn't a problem at all.

With this being a mid-day game I took up my position in the endzone portion of the visiting team's defense zone and shot with the sun directly over my shoulders. Dave Lovell also showed up and he took up a position exactly opposite of mine - Terrapin defensive zone, right hand side. His angle forced him to shoot straight into the sun.

I also was pleased to see Greg Fiume out on the field. Greg is the team photographer for Maryland and I enjoy shooting alongside him at events. Whenever he's on the sidelines we talk shop about camera gear, sports, teams, work, life, etc. It's a lot of fun speculating with him about where camera gear is going in the next few years and decades. He's shot for awhile so he has some really good perspective on the industry and what trends he saw come and go. I always like talking with him...

During the game I had a bit of guilt wash over me for Dave's position. The two primary drivers for me when I select my position on the field are: 1.) I want the sun to be behind me, and 2.) Where is my team shooting? If I can shoot my team facing into the sun I'm set. If not then I have to make a choice: follow the sun, or follow my team?

I did not envy Dave's position on the field because he got the raw end of the stick in the first half. The Terps, who dominated the game, shot on the opposite side of the field from Dave AND Dave shot directly into the sun. I felt guilty for taking the prime spot on the field.

Lots of times I have people that would like to meet up with me before or after a game, or would like to carpool to an event together. It gives me a lot of stress because when I'm alone I feel like I don't impact anyone with my decisions other than myself. If I want to arrive an hour early to shoot some practice then it doesn't mean that the people that rode with me are sitting around bored. Likewise, if I shoot a game alone I can just go pick a spot to shoot without thinking about another photographer feeling like I'm intruding on their side of the field or that I'm hogging the good spot (with the sun behind my shoulders).

At the conclusion of the first half Greg said he was going to head towards midfield and get some "rim" shots of the defense. He's referring to the halo effect that occurs when you shoot a player that has their back to the sun. You intentionally overexpose by a stop to properly illuminate their face. In doing so you overexpose their hair, shoulders, back, chest, and legs (anywhere that has sun on the "rim" of it).

Until now I avoided that practice because I felt like it produced harsh shadows and didn't look as sharp as a full-frontal really nice sun-over-the-shoulder shot of a player attacking. Boy was I wrong!

I decided to follow Greg around the field and took a few shots of my own. I was really stunned by now nifty the shots looked! If you do the halo-effect correctly you can balance the overexposure with the light on the players face and produce a really neat effect. You can also REALLY throw the background out of focus and completely out of mind when you view the photo because it is not well lit AT ALL.

During the event I had reservations about shooting "into the sun" but in post processing I was really surprised at how well the photos came out. They have a bit of an artistic touch to them that puts them into a slightly different category than the normal pictures I've shot during sporting events. My other shots, while technically decent (sharp, properly exposed, good colors, etc), seem kind of one-dimensional in retrospect. Everything is sun-over-the-shoulders exposed. By adding in these "rim" or "halo" shots it seemed like my gallery took on a second dimension and I was really happy with the results.

Photos from the Maryland Terrapins vs Miami Hurricanes women's soccer match are over on Flickr. You can also read my game writeup of the Terps vs Miami soccer match over on the DC Sports Box.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dave and I arrived in the media parking lot at the University of Virginia 2 hours before kickoff. We wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to park, get settled in, and familiarize ourselves with the venue.

The University of Virginia provides parking spaces for media in a satellite lot and shuttles us into the stadium using golf carts. It sounds pretty silly but it's actually really efficient. When we arrived in the parking lot there was a golf cart waiting for us (along with others) and it took very little time to get us from the parking lot down to Scott Stadium. I was very impressed!

We used the strong Internet connection in Scott Stadium to upload our photos. It was wifi based but my authentication from Katherine Palmer earlier in the day still worked. Their access points must have a good memory for MAC addresses. We published the gallery for the Field Hockey game and prepared for the football game.

It turns out that UVA granted us 1 media and 1 photo credential. This was unfortunate since both Dave and I are photographers but we also both write. Fortunately the WMUC (a college radio station in College Park) sat alongside us and was assigned a photo credential for one of their radio reporters. We were able to swap photo for media with them and that gave us access to the field for both of us.

The University of Virginia uses a vest based system for on-field access. If you're a photographer you have to obtain a vest from the media department that clearly shows the name of your organization along the back. They pre-print the names on pieces of paper that hey insert into the back of the vest prior to the game. As a result I don't think you can just walk up and ask for a photo vest unless you're on the list.

With the WMUC vest I headed down to the field. I worried about Greg Fiume's response my presence on the field. I didn't know if he would be upset that I had traded credentials with WMUC for field access or if he wouldn't mind at all. Fortunately for me he didn't seem to upset!

I bumped into Dave on the field and we agreed to keep some distance between us for the game so that we could cover as much territory as possible. Initially we thought we'd try opposite endzones of the field but that didn't seem too practical. In the end we settled on separating ourselves by the benches on the field. In the first half Dave took the UVA bench side of the field while I shot the Terps side of the field. In the sceond half we switched.

For the shoot I used my 400mm f/2.8 on my D3. Al loaned me his D3 and I used a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens on it. I barely used Al's body during the shoot - he's monkeyed with the color enhancements on it and turned them cold and took away a lot of contrast. Plus you just don't get many chances on a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens in football because the field is so large.

I ran into Jackie at the football game and she seemed like a ghost. A bunch of Diamondback and WMUC folks headed down to South Carolina to cover the Men's Soccer game against Clemson on Friday night and the party headed north to hit Virginia on the way home. The combination of a long drive, long hours, and a lot of physical work to move around the field, had taken their toll and the reporters seemed more than ready to get back to College Park for some solid sack time.

I also bumped into Patrick Smith from the Baltimore Sun. I've worked with a few Sun reporters in my limited experience as a photographer but none of them have been similar to Patrick. Like me, he's young and enthusiastic about his assignments. He's also pretty tech savvy and maintains a Flickr page. I really look up to him from a photographic standpoint - he's technically very competent (which is easy) but he has a taste for the artistic that makes his photos very compelling and interesting. It was really a lot of fun working with him for the first time and I hope that the Sun sends him to more Maryland Terrapins assignments.

Both Dave and I (along with several other photographers) had a difficult time with the white balance in Scott Stadium. I don't know what it is about reddish colors but they really wreak havoc on the WB code in the D3. I initially set my camera to Auto WB but found that the camera produced unreliable results. I changed it to the stadium lights setting but found the photos to be too warm. In post production I cooled them but after Al looked at them he suggested warming them slightly. I guess I pulled the lever too far to the cool side...

After posting Dave's article and my lead-in photo we headed out from the stadium and back to College Park. It was around midnight before we shuffled off and back onto US 29 north. We arrived back at Dave's house around 2:30am and unloaded his gear. I made it back to my house around 2:45am and put all of my equipment away before jumping into bed with Julie.

After being on the road and on my feet for a solid 20 hours I was very happy to get some solid shut-eye. I hit the pillow around 3:15am and slept until 12:26pm the next morning. It was one of the best sleeps evar.

My photos from Maryland's loss to Virginia are up on Flickr. You can also check out Dave Lovell's article and our photo gallery on the Terps loss to Virginia up on the DC Sports Box.

On Monday Al submitted credential requests for Dave Lovell and I to cover the Maryland Terrapins vs Virginia football game on Saturday. It just so happened that the Maryland Field Hockey team was scheduled to play against Virginia that morning at 11am. I spoke with Dave about it and we agreed to head down early to hit both the Field Hockey game as well as the football game.

I woke up around 6am and drove over to Dave's house to pick him up. My wife remarked "wow you must really care about this since you don't wake up this early for your other jobs." I laughed. It's true...

This week I really looked forward to the trip down to the University of Virginia. Last Fall I drove down to Raleigh to photograph the Terps field hockey team play the No. 1 ranked Tar Heels. It was a bit of a long drive (and I was alone) but it was fun seeing a different campus while also seeing the home team play. UVA is only 2 1/2 hours away from College Park so this seemed like a great chance to go down, see a new campus, watch the Terpies play, and have a good time.

So around 7am I picked up Dave and we drove south. I didn't know what I was going to talk with Dave about in the car for 2 hours though! Whenever we're together it's pretty brief - we just chat to make arrangements for who's going to be where on the field and that's about it. We also have a few years between us and some dissimilar backgrounds. The drive actually went remarkably fast and we found lots of different things to talk about on our way down to Virginia. Most of it was photography related and there's thousands of different things to discuss when it comes to that topic!

I took a few wrong turns on the way down to UVA. It turns out that Interstate 66 intersects with US Route 29 in a couple of locations. I wasn't aware of that and I took the first US 29 South exit that I saw. We got stuck as we traveled down the road and realized that we were actually going the wrong way! After doubling back we got headed in the right direction and made it down to the campus around 9:45 or so.

I wanted to be there and be all set up before the team walked off the bus. Last year I got a pretty good photo of head coach Missy Meharg coming off the bus when the Terps played North Carolina. She was really happy to see some media from up in the DC area travel to follow her team and it was apparent on her initial reaction to a camera being present as she stepped off the bus. We planned to do the same this year but it just wasn't in the cards ... we didn't arrive early enough.

When we arrived at the field hockey stadium Katherine Palmer greeted us and showed us our seats. She provided us with field access credentials and showed us where the power was located and helped us out with the wireless connection. She was great - she seemed really upbeat and happy to be there and was very helpful to both Dave and I.

The game was a little difficult to shoot because of the position of the field relative to the sun. The field was situated East to West and the game started at 11am. The sun initially fell over one corner of the field but steadily made it's way to midfield by the end of the game. You really have to keep a close eye on where the sun is when you shoot outdoor sports because it can make a big difference in how pronounced the shadows are.

Dave took the corner with the sun behind him while I worked the midfield. It was a little difficult for me because I wasn't in the backfield so I couldn't catch the players head-on when they attack. I managed to get some decent backfield and midfield cross shots but I didn't get any attacks on the goal. Everything I would've shot from midfield would've been the backs of the players lit at an odd angle...

After the game Dave and I posted a quick article from the venue and headed into downtown Charlottesville for a bite to eat. On the way we bumped into a couple of Dave's tailgate buddies from Maryland who seemed to be having a great time in the UVA parking lot. They were all decked out with tents and satellite TV watching the Florida State vs Miami game. They seemed to be a really happy bunch with lots of food and drink. Our bumping into them was purely coincidental - as we drove down a street I pointed out some Terrapin tents and Dave said "I think I know those guys ..." When we pulled into the parking lot he said "Ya I definitely know those guys!"

They suggested a brewery in downtown Charlottesville for lunch and after getting the coordinates off their GPS we headed into town with the help of my iPhone. Unfortunately the pub was closed and Dave and I found a soup shop to settle down: Revolutionary Soups. The place was highly liberal, with nearly all of the employees wearing "Obama 'ville" buttons. I felt very out of place but I understood the demographic as it was a University town.

We spent about 2 hours in the soup shop cropping, rotating, and enhancing our photos. It was quite an ordeal - both of us shot around 600 frames and it's a tall task to get 1200 photos down to 25 images to publish. Over a course of 2 beers each, some delicious potato soup, and sandwiches to die for we bridged the gap. At the end of the process I uploaded my photos to Flickr to test the bandwidth in the sandwich shop. It came as very little surprise that the Internet tubes were more clogged than an overweight man's arteries...

At the conclusion of our late lunch we had our article posted including a lead-in photo. Rather than trying to squeeze out a bunch of imagery through a 100Kbps pipe opted to head to Scott Stadium to post our gallery.

You can view my photos of the Maryland Terrapins vs Virginia Field Hockey game over on Flickr. I also wrote an article about the Terps vs Virginia and it's posted over on the DC Sports Box.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Late Thursday afternoon a couple of people came by the office and we started up a conversation about a product we're considering developing. Before I knew it the time had drifted to 6:20pm and Maryland had a 7pm start time for the women's soccer match against the Florida State Seminoles. I haven't been carrying my equipment in the car with me lately so I had to head home with a quickness before heading back to Ludwig.

When I approached Ludwig I bumped into about 30 middle schoolers on some sort of field trip. They were all clogging up the will call section, which is the location where my name is typically recorded on a credential. Since we've been approved for all the games and since I've attended most (all?) of the women's soccer games this Fall I just headed inside.

The CSC guard recognized me and waved me through.

Once inside I headed to my normal location and prepared for the shoot. Somehow I made it there on time despite a lot of traffic on the BW Parkway. I looked around and noticed there was a new photographer on the field. He was kinda scruffy looking with a beard and he had either a 400mm f/2.8 lens or a 300mm f/2.8 lens. I never ended up speaking with him so I didn't catch his name or which organization he worked for.

I also bumped into somebody that I suspect is a new photographer at the Diamondback. He had the typical Diamondback equipment - D300 with a 70-200 f/2.8 VR lens.

As usual I cranked the ISO up around 5000 and shot all of the game at f/2.8 and 1/500th of a second shutter. There is easily 2 stops more light in front of each goal and moving between corner kicks and the regular game play is a real challenge. I've become very accustomed to keeping an eye on the built in meter and making adjustments as necessary, and tonight I did pretty well.

It was a fun game to shoot due to the solid defense and attack on both sides. Despite FSU spending most of their time attacking the Terps the Maryland defenders played aggressively and chased down the 'Noles. That makes for good photos.

It was pretty chilly tonight - a solid preview of what future games will be like. Last year's NCAA Tournament game between Maryland and Bradley soccer was frigid and both Greg Fiume and I were shaking by the end of it.

My photos of the Maryland Terrapins women's soccer game against Florida State are posted up on Flickr. You can also read my article on the Terps vs the Seminoles on the DC Sports Box.