There are more photos available from this blog entry by clicking here
I wasn’t going to let a sore toe stop me (actually, I would have, but the toe is getting a little better day-by-day). This was my day to shoot pictures at the UConn – Army game.
I left the house around 10:30 and drove to Rentschler Field in East Hartford. I knew where the field was, sort of. I had printed out directions off the computer, but chose to listen to the DOT’s radio station on 1610 kHz to get me where I was going.
Any time I’ve listened to DOT’s network of low power highway stations I’ve been disappointed. Usually, there was no usable timely info at all! Adding insult to injury, the broadcast is sometimes padded with time killers, moving you farther from the content you really want to hear. And the signal strength and audio quality are awful
Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?
This time was different. The station repeated a recording of simple directions to the field from all the major access roads. This is exactly what should be on.
I turned past the Pratt and Whitney property and followed the cars. If had no idea where to go with my parking pass, but the attendants along the way saw it and waved me in the right direction. I parked about 4-5 minutes walk from the stadium on what looked like well manicured grass.
Thank heavens it wasn’t raining! In fact it was partly cloudy and well into the 70s. In other words, perfect.
I met John Pierson, our sports reporter and Kevin Frederick (who normally shoots video for sports, but was at the game as a ‘civilian,’). I’m glad I ran into John because I don’t think I would have known where to go or what to do once I got into the stadium.
We made our way down to the field level. Both teams were on the field warming up. The stands were 25% full. By game time the teams would have left and returned for their official introductions and the stands would have filled closer to capacity¹.
I carried my Canon Digital Rebel with the Sigma 70-300 mm lens attached. Over my shoulder was a small camera bag with an 18-125 mm lens, a spare battery and two extra compact flash cards.
By the end of the game… actually before the end of the game, all three cards were filled. That’s over 1 gigabyte of photos! The final count was 317 actual. That’s fewer shots than I anticipated by nearly a hundred. I’m not sure why this particular shoot created such big files.
If there’s one thing I learned at the game, it’s that I need one more card. The prices are down. I’ll order one later today.
John took me to the end zone section adjacent to where the Huskies would enter. He introduced me to four girls, including quarterback Dan Orlovsky’s sister. Then we went and met Dan’s father who has better seats than his daughter!
Dan Sr. and I chatted for a few minutes. Not knowing him, but knowing who his son is, I addressed him as Mr. Orlovsky. Respect under these circumstances is appropriate and fair.
I later found out he’s two years younger than me. Maybe the mister part wasn’t necessary?
There’s an interesting observation to be made here. I have often equated hurricane watching to seeing a car accident in slow motion. Watching Dan Orlovsky is like watching a Lotto winner in slow motion. You know it’s just a matter of time before he’s worth millions of dollars from the NFL. He’s got to know that too. He’s that good – probably a first round pick.
I was afforded an incredible amount of access and freedom on the field. Back a few feet from the out of bounds line and end zone was another line – a dashed line. As long as I stayed behind it, I was fine. It gave me an amazing view of the field.
I started shooting on the first play and soon learned it was very difficult to follow the action on a pass play with a lens. Following with a TV camera is one thing, but my still camera rewards someone who can anticipate where the ball will be in the fraction of a second it takes for the mirror in the camera to flip and the shutter to open.
Often, I’d have my camera at the ready as a play would start, but I’d never get anything to shoot. Other times the player would be turned away from me or blocked by someone else. Sometimes my camera, which is supposed to continually focus while shooting sports action, just wouldn’t focus quickly enough or would focus on something other than what I was tracking.
You can be the judge. I’ve taken forty of the best shots and put them in my gallery. The thumbnails don’t give you a sense of what was shot, so please click for larger versions.
At halftime I went under the stands to a small room for the on-field media. It was surprising to see a number of newspaper photographers downloading their shots onto laptops and sending them on their way. At least one photographer (New Haven Register, I think) was using Photoshop – processing and cropping her shots before an editor even saw them.
As I expected, I saw a lot of much faster lenses – big lenses with wide openings. One of the photographers had a humongously telephoto lens with f1.8 speed. He’s getting 8 times as much light as I am, giving him a great deal of latitude. On the other hand, I can still buy food, something I wouldn’t be able to do as the owner of that lens.
Most of these big lenses demand a monopod. They are too heavy to hand hold for long. The monopod is actually attached to the lens and not the camera body itself.
As the second half was starting I walked by the UConn bench and said hello to Jeff Fox, one of the players. I’m not sure if he got what I was trying to say… that we both had the same name (though one of us spells it incorrectly).
It is cool to have a player with the same name as me. He can’t be related though. None of my relatives, or their families, have any athletic ability at all!
By the time I was finished shooting the stands were back to being 25% full. UConn had cut through the Army like a hot knife through butter. It wasn’t a contest.
This was fun. I’d like to try again. I’m not sure I can quantify what I’ve learned from this, but I’d look back at my shots and try and figure out what worked and why and how I can do it again.
There are more photos available from this game. Just click here
¹ – The game was a sellout, though that doesn’t mean everyone attended. There were plenty of empty seats.