31
Mar

Anyone who knows me knows that I totally despise shooting basketball, however when a big game or tournament comes to town I usually find myself shooting it. With March Madness making a trip to Glendale, Arizona with two Sweet 16 games I added the games to my schedule.

A day before the tournament I made the long drive to Glendale to pick up credentials and parking pass as well as check out the set up and mark spots in the media room.

Thankfully I went there for the practice day because when I got there I had no floor position to shoot from. After talking with the friendly stadium media staff I was able to get a nice spot front row near the hoop.

As with the last time I shot basketball at the University of Phoenix Stadium they had the court set up where the end zone for the football field would be.

With that in mind I began to look for a good place to set up my remote cameras. Unlike during the regular season where you can mount backboard cameras or clamp cameras on the post, with the tournament they won’t allow either of those spots to have cameras so I had to look elsewhere.

The only places we could put remotes were on a floor plate right in front of us, under the scoring tables on the side of the court and elevated remotes from the grandstands or upper deck.

Being the lazy man I am I looked at doing a remote under the scoring table since it would be very easy and fast to set up. Here is how it looked in my test shot.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 1000iso, f4.5, 1/500th

I liked the angle and the reflective floor would certainly add an element to the shots so that looked like a winner. I tried another test shot from a slightly different angle as the Purdue team was practicing.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 800iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

I liked that angle more since it showed how big the stadium was and would look great if it was a full crowd in attendance.

After shooting some more of practice I headed out to run to Tempe Camera to pick up rubber lens hoods that they required to have on all remote cameras. While there I also picked up an extra pocketwizard transceiver since a friend needed to borrow a set of mine for his remote.

On game day I got to the stadium about 3 hours prior to the game to allow myself plenty of time to set up my 2 remotes as well as simply relax and not be rushed.

While unpacking at the stadium I received a call from a frantic ESPN Magazine editor asking if I was available to fly to Dallas in less than 12 hours to shoot an assignment for them on Stephen Strasburg, a San Diego State pitcher who throws 103mph fast balls! It was someone I really wanted to shoot so of course I said I was available even though I had other stuff scheduled for the day.

But anyways back to the job at hand.

While setting up one of my remotes I broke the pocketwizard to Nikon camera plug. Since I didn’t have an extra plug with me I was relegated to only one remote for the game, grrr.

I decided to use my D300 as the remote since the only wide lens I had available to use on a remote, the 17-55mm was a lens that would go into crop mode on a full frame camera like the D3.

I placed it under the table and gaffed the table cover around the lens hood so the fabric wouldn’t cover the lens. Reuters and Sports Illustrated also had cameras in the same spot.

After the camera was all set up I did a focus test to make sure I would be good to go with that. Since I didn’t have an assistant I had to use myself as the focal point for the shot. I focused the camera where I thought it needed to be then walked on the court and stood directly beneath the hoop and fired off a test shot.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, 1250iso, f2.8, 1/800th

As you may notice the camera was set up different than the test shots from the previous day. I did that because the stadium was in no way gonna be full so the shot would have looked terrible with a bunch of empty seats. I also moved the camera to the other basket from the one I would be under so that I would have both ends covered.

Ok everything is good to go, lets get to the actual game.

Since I am 3 blogs behind at the moment and am busy as hell I am gonna half ass this one and not provide all the standard commentary that everyone loves oh so much! (sarcasm aplenty)

First game up was the Connecticut Huskies against the Purdue Boilermakers. (wtf is a Boilermaker btw?)

Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/800th

Connecticut Huskies forward Stanley Robinson drives to the hoop to score in the first half against the Purdue Boilermakers during the west regional semifinals of the 2009 NCAA mens basketball tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Connecticut Huskies center (34) Hasheem Thabeet puts up a shot in the first half against the Purdue Boilermakers during the west regional semifinals of the 2009 NCAA mens basketball tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium. 

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Connecticut Huskies guard A.J. Price (12) fouls Purdue Boilermakers forward (4) Robbie Hummel in the second half during the west regional semifinals of the 2009 NCAA mens basketball tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium. 

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Purdue Boilermakers guard (3) Chris Kramer reacts after being called for a foul against Connecticut Huskies guard Craig Austrie in the second half during the west regional semifinals of the 2009 NCAA mens basketball tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Connecticut Huskies guard (12) A.J. Price drives to the basket under pressure from Purdue Boilermakers forward (44) Nemanja Calasan in the second half during the west regional semifinals of the 2009 NCAA mens basketball tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium. 

Below is a great example of a great shot being ruined by a lovely thing we like to refer to in the biz as “back focus”

The first shot of Purdue Boilermakers guard (23) Lewis Jackson flying through the air is sharp and seems like a pretty cool shot that I shouldn’t complain about.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Here is the next shot from the sequence that really would have been a nice shot as he is higher in the air and doing as close to the splits as I would think a man is capable of!

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Oh well, happens to everyone here and there so I quickly got over it.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Purdue Boilermakers head coach Matt Painter reacts during the second half against the Connecticut Huskies during the west regional semifinals of the 2009 NCAA mens basketball tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium. 

As the game was close to done I started looking for some reaction shots since the losing team was 10 feet from my position.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Purdue Boilermakers players react in the closing seconds of the game against the Connecticut Huskies during the west regional semifinals of the 2009 NCAA mens basketball tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium. The Huskies defeated the Boilermakers 72-60. 

On the other bench I figured I could find some nice celebrations but really didn’t see much, its as if Uconn expected to win so it was no big deal to them. 

Hell, the only reaction I got from the Uconn bench was of head coach Jim Calhoun who looked like he was sad. And that was shot with less than a minute in the game with a big lead!

Nikon D3, 400mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

He looked almost as excited as I did in the below photo shot by fellow shooter Chris Morrison, hopefully that guy isn’t shooting a photo of me!

Photo by Chris Morrison

Right after the game ended I hustled into the media workroom to transmit as many photos as I could in the 20 minutes between games and headed back out for the second game between Memphis and Missouri.

Things got going fast as Missouri Tigers guard Matt Lawrence went out of bounds into the scoring table knocking over a drink and a computer monitor in the firsthalf against the Memphis Tigers during the west regional semifinals of the 2009 NCAA mens basketball tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/800th

Nikon D3, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1250th

Memphis Tigers forward (2) Robert Dozier grabs a rebound in the first half against the Missouri Tigers during the west regional semifinals of the 2009 NCAA mens basketball tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium. 

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Missouri Tigers guard (24) Kim English and Memphis Tigers guard (5) Antonio Anderson reach for a rebound in the first half during the west regional semifinals of the 2009 NCAA mens basketball tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium. 

If you haven’t noticed I have shown nothing from my remote camera yet. It was firing but the shots for the most part had people in the foreground blocking the actual play at the hoop. Below is one shot that came out decent on a fast break and dunk by Memphis Tigers guard Tyreke Evans. It wasn’t blocked since the other players didn’t have enough time to run down to block my shot!

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, 1250iso, f2.8, 1/800th

The below set of shots made a couple cool/funny photos as two players scrambled for a loose ball.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Missouri Tigers forward DeMarre Carroll grabs a loose ball in the second half against the Memphis Tigers during the west regional semifinals of the 2009 NCAA mens basketball tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium. 

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

I’m sure people can come up with all sorts of funny captions for the above photo!

Nikon D3, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1250th

Missouri Tigers guard (4) J.T. Tiller grabs a rebound as he falls on Memphis Tigers guard (20) Doneal Mack in the second half during the west regional semifinals of the 2009 NCAA mens basketball tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium. 

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Memphis Tigers head coach John Calipari reacts during the second half against the Missouri Tigers during the west regional semifinals of the 2009 NCAA mens basketball tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium. 

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Missouri Tigers forward DeMarre Carroll during the second half against the Memphis Tigers during the west regional semifinals of the 2009 NCAA mens basketball tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium. 

As the game was in the closing minutes the Memphis Tigers were down by 10 and it was pretty obvious they were gonna lose. I looked over to the bench to see if there was any dejection going on. I was treated to the sight of Memphis Tigers forward Shawn Taggart openly crying on the bench.

Nikon D3, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

After seeing myself and every other shooter firing shots of him crying he covered his face with a towel.

Here are a few more Memphis reaction shots.

Nikon D3, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/800th

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Memphis Tigers guard (5) Antonio Anderson reacts after fouling out of the game as forward Shawn Taggart looks on in the closing minutes of the game against the Missouri Tigers during the west regional semifinals of the 2009 NCAA mens basketball tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Missouri defeated Memphis 102-91. 

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Even the Memphis cheerleaders got in on sadness as they openly cried as the clock hit zero sending Missouri into the Elite 8.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/800th

I was hoping to get a nice jube, smile, ANYTHING of Missouri Tigers forward DeMarre Carroll as he walked off the court following the win, instead I got him looking like he lost. Awesome!

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/800th

After transmitting some more images from the game I hauled ass home to get some sleep before my early flight over to Dallas for the college baseball game.





 
Posted in Basketball, Me, NCAA, Pocket Wizard, Remote Camera, Sports   | 6 Comments

6 responses to “March Madness comes to AZ”

  1. Alex says:

    Very inspiring as usual Mark! If I was to shoot sport, I’d hope my shots were like yours

  2. Frederic says:

    Inspiring and interresting post as usual.
    Looking forward to your next post (college baseball I guess 😉

  3. ross says:

    Love the mascot in the background of the cheerleader shot!

  4. A boilermaker is a trained craftsman who produces steel fabrications from plates and sections. The name originated from craftsmen who would fabricate boilers, but they may work on projects as diverse as bridges to blast furnaces to the construction of mining equipment.

    There ya go, Mark.

  5. Jeremy says:

    Incredible shots as always…

    I am curious – why do you dislike shooting basketball? Is it because of the proximity to the floor and the tightness of the court?

  6. Kelsi Swezey says:

    Nice post! GA è anche la mia più grande guadagno. Tuttavia, non è un altro.:)

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