11
Jan

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For the last several years I have spent New Years eve in Tempe, AZ covering the Insight Bowl. I am guessing most of you have never heard of the game and would wonder why I’d waste my evening covering a bowl game nobody cares about. My answer is simple. For the first 30 minutes of the game it has some of the most amazing light that I get at any stadium in the country. Continue reading to see what I am talking about.

For the start of the game I head to the roof of Sun Devil Stadium to shoot down on the field when the light is best. While being on the ground also gives you some awesome light, the photos are typically crappy due to the tons of empty seats this bowl usually has.

The rule for grandstands as backgrounds is you either want the stands completely full or completely empty. Anything in between will typically look crappy.

Below, a wide angle view of Sun Devil Stadium prior to the Insight Bowl between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Iowa State Cyclones.

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Nikon D700, 10.5-17mm, 400iso, f4, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

Below, a hawk flies in the air as a parachutist comes in to the stadium prior to the game.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 100iso, f4, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

Below, Iowa State Cyclones players huddle up for a pre game speech as cornerback Michael O’Connell (top left) speaks.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f4, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

Once the game began I exposed for the highlights (which makes the shadowed areas black) and went to town with my 15 minutes of good light from up high.

Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback (8) Adam Weber calls a play in the first quarter against the Iowa State Cyclones in the 2009 Insight Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium, below.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 320iso, f4, 1/2000th, Manual

My favorite shot of the game was the below frame where Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver (83) Da’Jon McKnight made a great catch under the defense of Iowa State Cyclones defensive back (23) Leonard Johnson, below.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 320iso, f4, 1/2000th, Manual

In another photo from the sequence of the catch you can see the field appearing black since they were no longer in an area where the grass was lit by the sun.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 320iso, f4, 1/2000th, Manual

Below, Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback (8) Adam Weber throws a pass as parts of the field are lit and others in the shadows.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f4, 1/1600th, Manual

Below, the field is completely covered in shade with sunlight shining a few feet above the field illuminating a referee as he makes a penalty call with Iowa State players in the background.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 320iso, f4, 1/2000th, Manual

A unique photo that I really liked was the below shot where I was exposed for the sunlight and just happened to get the ball lit perfectly as it flew through the air during a field goal attempt as players defended against the kick.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 320iso, f4, 1/2000th, Manual

At the end of the first quarter with about 85% of the field in shade I went down from the roof to the field level to shoot.

Having the players in the shadows with sunlit backgrounds is one of the most difficult (and frustrating) shooting situations you can find yourself in. The reason is to get the shadowed players properly lit your backgrounds will be totally blown out (too bright) resulting in images that look like the below photo.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 1000iso, f2.8, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

Since the game didn’t really matter and I wanted to produce some different looking shots I set the exposure for the bright backgrounds and laid on the ground to try and toy around with some silhouette images.

Below, Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Austen Arnaud is pursued by the Minnesota Golden Gophers defense in the second quarter in the 2009 Insight Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/2000th, Manual
Below, Iowa State Cyclones lineman get in position prior to a play in the second quarter against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
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Nikon D700, 400mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual
I figured a silhouette of a quarterback throwing would most likely make for the best looking shot (outside of a running back leaping over a pile into the end zone).
Below is how the shot looked as Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback (8) Adam Weber threw a pass.
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Nikon D700, 400mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual
While checking out that image on the back of my camera I noticed some shadow lines going across the crowd in the background and liked the element it added to the shots. I switched to my camera with the 80-200mm and with a slightly lighter exposure shot the below frame of Weber throwing another pass.
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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual
After a few more attempts to get a better shot I abandoned the idea and headed to the other end zone to shoot as Minnesota was heading towards me.
Below, Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback (8) Adam Weber throws a pass right towards me.
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Nikon D700, 400mm, 1000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual
Below, Minnesota Golden Gophers players celebrate a quarterback sack in the second quarter against the Iowa State Cyclones.
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Nikon D700, 400mm, 1000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual
Just before all the killer light was completely gone I shot the below frame of Iowa State kicker Grant Mahoney lined up for a field goal. The light on the background was phenomenal and is one of those moments where I pray for some good action to go on in the frame but unfortunately thats as good as it got for me as when he actually kicked the ball he was in the shade as well as blocked from a Minnesota defender.
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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1000iso, f2.8, 1/2500th, Manual
For the second half of the game the sun had set and the cool light was all gone.
With that in mind I spent a few minutes toying around with some really slow shutter speeds to try and get something cool.
I hardly got any images that were usable, the closest I got was the below frame of Iowa State Cyclones running back (1) David Sims running the ball.
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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/30th, Manual
A few minutes later I gave up the idea and went back to conventional shooting.
Iowa State Cyclones running back Alexander Robinson is upended as he runs the ball against Minnesota.
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Nikon D700, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual
Below, Iowa State Cyclones quarterback (4) Austen Arnaud fumbles the football as he is tackled by Minnesota defenders.
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Nikon D700, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual
I always like the classic look of shooting right down the line of scrimmage as two teams are knelt face to face such as the below shot.
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Nikon D700, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual
When you shoot sports such as football you lose countless photos due to players running in the foreground covering your intended subjects, however it sometimes can provide interesting framing that puts the focus on the subject.
Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Austen Arnaud (below) prepares to throw a pass downfield.
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Nikon D700, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual
While it was a close game near the end Iowa State Cyclones defensive back (22) Ter’ran Benton would recover a Minnesota Golden Gophers fumble which helped seal the deal, below.
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Nikon D700, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual
At the end of most bowl games the winning coach will get a gatorade/water bath. Its always a tough shot to get (and recently some games have prohibited going on the field up close for the shot). Sometimes you can just position yourself near the coolers and wait for the players to pick it up and head towards the coach. Other times you just position yourself near the coach and at the last second jump out for the shot.
I went with plan B and for once ended up with a good shot as Iowa State Cyclones head coach Paul Rhoads (below) is doused with water following the game.
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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual
Sometimes coaches get pissed when they get doused but Rhoads seemed to love it and cheered with his players.
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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual
In a photo shot from across the field by my buddy Nick Doan you can see me off to the right getting the shot.
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Photo by Nick Doan
WARNING NOTE: Before trying that move at your next game make sure theres no rules against it otherwise you might get jumped in the media room from other photographers who you blocked!
After games where players are all over the place celebrating I typically look for the superstars to shoot them. With Iowa State I had no clue who anyone was so I just looked for anything that would make a good celebratory photo.
I ended up spotting an Iowa State Cyclones player standing on the bench with arms out to the crowd. By getting down low I was able to help clean up the background and below is the resulting photo
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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual
Below an Iowa State fan is detained by field side security for attempting to rush the field following the victory. I love the lifted foothold they have on him.
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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual
With a scream reminiscent of politician Howard Dean killing his presidency bid, Iowa State Cyclones head coach Paul Rhoads celebrates with the trophy following the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the 2009 Insight Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium. Iowa State defeated Minnesota 14-13.
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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual
That wraps up a nice year of shooting for 2009.
On to the next decade!


 
Posted in Football, NCAA, Sports   | 3 Comments

3 responses to “Iowa State drops Minnesota as ball drops on 2009”

  1. Ted says:

    Great photos Mark, thanks for the tutorial on changing light and back lit compositions. Happy New Year.

  2. Masden says:

    Hey mark, Which fisheye lens do you use “10.5-17mm” ???

  3. Rob Hammer says:

    Awesome Mark! These are my favorite shots of yours in a long time. Thanks for sharing.

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