27
Sep

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Still tired from shooting the football game at BYU the night before, I landed in San Diego and was picked up by my buddy Rob Benson and off we went over to Qualcomm Stadium to shoot the San Diego Chargers home opener against the mighty Baltimore Ravens.

It has been three years since I last shot a game at Qualcomm, during that time I had totally forgotten how old and run down the facility is compared to most other stadiums (including colleges) I shoot at.

After getting into the photo work room and setting up shop it was time to head out to the field to shoot some pre game photos.

Below, as I headed out to the field I shot Baltimore Ravens cornerback (25) Chris Carr and cornerback (21) Lardarius Webb as they walked in front of me.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/125th, Aperture Priority

Over on the Chargers side of the field quarterback Phillip Rivers headed out to the field to warm up (below).

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

By moving my position by a few feet I was able to clean up the backgrounds a bit for the below shot as San Diego Chargers wide receiver Legedu Naanee led teammates out to the field.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

Further back in the tunnel I spotted San Diego Chargers guard Tyronne Green (below) as he stood by himself for a few minutes.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1250iso, f2.8, 1/250th, Aperture Priority

I had mentioned in my previous blog about how I was upset I was missing all the action over at the drag boat races but I was very excited to be at this game because in all my years of covering football I have never shot a Ravens game. I really wanted to cover them because they have some big name players that are missing from my archive of images.

One such player is Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (below).

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

Prior to the start of the actual game an inflatable Chargers helmet was set up at the exit of the teams tunnel to the field.

Inside the tunnel was a great place to shoot because the light looked much nicer than the harsh sun light on the field. The below photo of Shawne Merriman was probably one of my favorite images of the game. It almost looks like a set up portrait.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 640iso, f2.8, 1/500th, Aperture Priority

Some teams are very anal about access to the tunnel when the players are in there but the Chargers security didn’t care one bit and before I knew it I was one of like eight photographers in the tunnel shooting pics.

Below, Merriman starts screaming and going nuts as he waits for his name to be called……

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

…….he continued screaming as he headed past me to the field…….

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

……..once out of the tunnel he screamed some more at the fans….

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f2.8, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

….then proceeded to do his famous “lights out” dance where at the end he throws a punch towards the ground. AN overzealous TV cameraman got slightly too close….

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f2.8, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

……and got knocked down by Merriman as he headed out to the field.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f2.8, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

Once the game began I headed to the Ravens sideline to shoot backlit. With the harsh light of a 1pm game I think shooting backlit makes it much easier to get useable images.

Below, Chargers quarterback (17) Phillip Rivers throws a pass.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

Below, Baltimore Ravens running back (23) Willis McGahee falls into the end zone for a first quarter touchdown.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

The one Ravens player I was most excited to shoot was super star linebacker Ray Lewis. Unlike star quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs, there aren’t many famous linebackers in the NFL. Ray Lewis is without a doubt one of the most famous linebackers in the game so I made sure to go nuts shooting him.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f3.2, 1/640th, Manual

After the above photo he put on his helmet, it was so clean and shiny (below) that the stadium and sidelines reflected off it. (Kind of reminded me of an old episode of the Simpsons where Homer waxed his head in the bowling ball waxer.)

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f3.2, 1/640th, Manual

Below, Baltimore Ravens head coach Jim Harbaugh yells at a referee in the first half.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

I always like to get photos of the quarterbacks signaling down the line.

Below, Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers points to a receiver down the line.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

Below, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco throws a pass downfield.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

Good buddy and fellow Navy shipmate Robert Benson helped me out by picking me up at the airport and letting me ride to the stadium with him. Below you can see Benson in action on the sidelines.

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Check out Roberts blog.

I typically like to stay ahead of the line of scrimmage to have the plays coming at me but there are definitely times where you can get some nice stuff from behind.

Below, behind the play I shot Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco throwing a pass under pressure from Chargers defenders.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

Another photo I love to shoot is when the subject gets partly obstructed by something coming across the frame in the foreground. Obviously it is a matter of dumb luck but when you get it right the shot ends up with a cool layering (almost 3Dish) effect.

Below was my dumb luck shot as Phillip Rivers looks downfield for a receiver.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Towards the end of the first half Rivers was visably upset by a call from a referee and responded with some nice arms up reaction (below).

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

Then the referee walked through my shot which made for a nice photo as Rivers continued to argue with him.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

At the half it was back up the tunnel to the media room to transmit images. In the below shot I stopped and shot Baltimore Ravens kicker (6) Steve Hauschka as he led teammates towards the locker room.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 5000iso, f2.8, 1/125th, Manual

In the second half I migrated over to the Chargers sideline. Star running back LaDainian Tomlinson was out of the game with injury so I made it a point to find him and get a shot of him out of uniform on the sidelines (below).

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

Below, Baltimore Ravens quarterback (5) Joe Flacco drops back to pass.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

One thing that makes football so exciting to shoot is the element of danger as photographers are a few feet off the playing field with giant atheletes running all over the place. In the below set of images I was a few feet from being taken out as San Diego Charger wide receiver (83) Vincent Jackson caught a touchdown pass at full speed in the end zone under pressure from Ravens defenders….

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/2000th, Manual

…..everything was normal as he made the catch for the score, however the pile of bodies as he was consumed by Ravens defenders didn’t slow down……

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/2000th, Manual

……..and the slid past me at speed out the back of the end zone into a wall.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/2000th, Manual

Below, Ravens safety Dawan Landry suffered an injury on the play and was tended to by team trainers.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

Back on the field, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Kelley Washington gets tackled by San Diego Chargers safety (28) Steve Gregory (below).

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/2500th, Manual

Below, Baltimore Ravens running back (27) Ray Rice runs the ball in some nice clean light in the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/4000th, Manual

San Diego Chargers running back Darren Sproles heads downfield, below.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

Below, Baltimore Ravens defensive end (93) Dwan Edwards tackles an airborne San Diego Chargers running back (43) Darren Sproles in the fourth quarter.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

For the longest time when shooting field goals I would always aim at the kicker kicking the ball. Nine times out of ten the result is a very boring and standard shot. Obviously there are times where the kicker in action is the shot you need to get (like for a game winning kick) but most the time now I am aiming the camera at the linemen fighting to protect the kick from being blocked. It can produce some cool out of the ordinary.

Below, Baltimore Ravens long snapper (70) Matt Katula is mobbed by San Diego Chargers defenders as he provides protection on a field goal attempt.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/4000th, Manual

Late in the game shadows consumed the west end zone. On a kick off return I shot the below frame of Chargers running back Darren Sproles as he returned the kick. Since the background is lit by the sun and the runner is in the shade it makes for a very difficult exposure. I could have exposed for the runner but then the background would have been nearly white as it would have been blown out due to my exposed subject being in the dark.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/5000th, Manual

San Diego gave a good effort to try and win the game but the stellar defense of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis ended the game.

Below, Chargers quarterback Phillip RIvers looks back angry as he walks off the field following the game.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

After several minutes being interviewed, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis ran off the field towards the locker room. The below photo is soft due to a too slow shutter speed but for some reason I still like the emotion of the shot with the sun coming into the frame from behind the stadium.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/200th, Aperture Priority

Perhaps its just me. Regardless, it was a productive day of shooting for me and I couldn’t have been much happier with how the weekend transpired.

Web clips:

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Posted in California, Football, NFL, Portraits, Sports   | 5 Comments

5 responses to “Chargers thunder struck by Ravens”

  1. brian says:

    Jim Harbaugh is the head coach of Stanford. John Harbaugh is coach of the Ravens.

  2. Kelly says:

    The photo of Ray Lewis with his helmet is extremely striking…that’s a big time photo. I also like the first photo of Flacco.

  3. steven bisig says:

    awesome photos as usual. have a quick question. i noticed that you shoot a lot in manual while covering nfl both static and action. what are you metering off when doing so?

    thanks.

    steven bisig

  4. Erica says:

    I actually thought that Ray Lewis’ helmet was really a chrome colored helmet at first. Cool shot!

  5. Pille says:

    Beautiful pics, I absolutely love the colors and backlit shots.

    I’m not a football fan (sorry, this girl adores racing), but with shots like these even a non-believer like me could learn to like it 🙂

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