04
Apr

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While in Texas on a mini vacation I was offered the opportunity to head down to Houston and cover a few rounds of NCAA Basketball March Madness. While I always make it a point to tell anyone who’s listening that I hate basketball for some reason I eagerly accepted the gig and off I went for three games of college hoops.

Most college basketball is played at relatively small arenas which can sometimes be good but its usually bad. These games would be played at Reliant Stadium, the home of the Houston Texans of the NFL. Like last year when I shot two rounds of the tournament in Phoenix at the Cardinals stadium I was excited to shoot basketball in an unordinary location.

The day before the two games of the Sweet 16 round I had the fun of covering the practice day…..and when I say fun I mean I would rather be shot in the head than cover practice day for basketball!

Since the final four will be held in Houston next year I decided to go to the upper deck and shoot an overall photo of what I hoped would be a totally empty stadium (excluding the players practicing. Instead I got the crappy photo below.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f4.5, 1/800th, Manual

After quickly giving up on getting any cool overall photos I headed back down court side to try and shoot some images that would be different from the normal stuff I would get the rest of the weekend.

Below, St. Marys Gaels forward (25) Tim Williams shoots a shot from a chair during practice for the semifinals of the south regional in the 2010 NCAA mens basketball tournament at Reliant Stadium.  For the record he actually made that shot.

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

I always like to incorporate random things into the foregrounds of my photos to add some depth to my photos. What better object for a foreground of a basketball photo than an actual basketball?

Below, Baylor Bears forward (4) Quincy Acy during practice.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/800th, Manual

One of my buddies had a tilt shift lens lying around so I slapped that on the camera for a few minutes to mess around.

I had never used a tilt shift lens before and it took a few minutes to get acclimated to it. I really didn’t get anything I liked but since I mentioned the lens I may as well show off a photo taken with it.

Baylor Bears center Josh Lomers (below) dunks the ball during practice.

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Nikon D700, 85mm tilt shift lens, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

I always like to photograph famous athletes/coaches that I have never shot before since it makes my archive better and better with the more superstars I have in it. On the coaching side of college basketball there really isn’t anyone more famous than Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski, also known simply as Coach K.

Below, Mike Krzyzewski speaks to the media during a pre practice press conference.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 4000iso, f4, 1/400th, Manual

As I always seem to end up doing I would find a way to do yet another cheesy reflection shot (below) as the Duke Blue Devils took to the court for their practice.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 4000iso, f4, 1/800th, Manual

While shooting coach K watching from the side a Duke player stood right in front of my angle and pretty much blocked most of the coach in a giant blue blur. After initially getting frustrated with being blocked I quickly realized it could make for a cool photo so the below photo was the result.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 4000iso, f4, 1/1000th, Manual

That wrapped up the practice day.

Fridays action would consist of two games.

First up was St. Marys vs Baylor:

Prior to the game St. Marys Gaels players (below) huddle up prior to the game against the Baylor Bears in the semifinals of the south regional in the 2010 NCAA mens basketball tournament at Reliant Stadium.

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Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

A fair amount of talk prior to the games in the media was devoted to St. Marys Gaels center Omar Samhan, who on top of having a great season was also great in the personality department.

Below, Baylor Bears forward (13) Ekpe Udoh defends St. Marys Gaels center (50) Omar Samhan in the first half during the semifinals of the south regional in the 2010 NCAA mens basketball tournament at Reliant Stadium.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

The below photo doesn’t do it justice but in the first half Baylor Bears forward (4) Quincy Acy made an amazing windmill type shot under pressure from St. Marys Gaels center (50) Omar Samhan.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Baylor quickly pulled away from cinderella story of St. Marys.

Below, Baylor Bears forward (4) Quincy Acy made a huge dunk above a St. Marys defender in the second half.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

As he landed from the dunk he looked directly at me with his tongue hanging out, below.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Big games tend to bring out some celebrities. in the front row of the stands I spotted R&B singer Chris Brown (below), on top of singing he is also an accomplished domestic abuser. Thankfully the stadium staff was smart enough to only surround him by men so that he would behave and not beat any girls up.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

In the closing minutes of the game the outcome was a foregone conclusion with Baylor up by more than 20 points. Below, St. Marys Gaels center Omar Samhan (center) reacts on the bench.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Baylor Bears players (24) LaceDarius Dunn (13) Ekpe Udoh and (4) Quincy Acy celebrate their victory and advancement to the Elite 8, below.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, St. Marys Gaels center Omar Samhan sadly walks back to the locker room following the game against the Baylor Bears.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 6400iso, f2.8, 1/125th, Manual

30 minutes after the game it was time for the second game of the day.

Purdue vs Duke.

A few minutes into the game Purdue Boilermakers forward JaJuan Johnson had a huge dunk, below.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

Following the dunk Johnson let his excitement be known as he screamed at the top of his lungs.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

Below, while shooting a very animated Mike Krzyzewski I focused on his hand as he pointed my direction. I also shot it with his face in focus but I liked this photo a lot more.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

For awhile, when I shot basketball I always thought the best shots were of people dunking the ball. With all the basketball I have been shooting this year I have learned the best shots are typically of players scrambling for the ball or fighting for position beneath the baskets.

Below, the face of Purdue Boilermakers guard (5) Keaton Grant gets up close and personal with the arm of Duke Blue Devils guard (20) Andre Dawkins as they fight for a loose ball.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

A few minutes after that I would once again get a cool play as Purdue Boilermakers guard (33) E’Twaun Moore and Duke Blue Devils forward (12) Kyle Singler dove for a loose ball, below.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, Purdue Boilermakers guard (33) E’Twaun Moore gets smothered by Duke Blue Devils forward (12) Kyle Singler and center (55) Brian Zoubek.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below is a photo by my friend Andrew Hancock showing me hard at work during the game.

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Photo by Andrew Hancock

For the games I set up a remote camera right in front of me sitting on the court with a wide angle lens on the floor aimed at the basket.

Below, Duke forward Lance Thomas is framed by players in the foreground as he drives to the basket.

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Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 4000iso, f4.5, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, Duke Blue Devils forward (12) Kyle Singler is surrounded by Purdue defenders as he takes a shot beneath the basket.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

The below two photos are a great example of how two images from the same angle with different lenses can have two completely different looks.

In the first pic (handheld camera) Duke Blue Devils guard (30) Jon Scheyer drives to the basket.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

And here is the exact same moment from my wide angle remote camera at my feet.

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Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 4000iso, f4.5, 1/1000th, Manual

While a floor remote can give you cool photos there is always the risk of it getting taken out by a player going out of bounds.

Below is an example of what it looks like when a remote camera gets knocked over by a players foot.

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Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 4000iso, f4.5, 1/1000th, Manual

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Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 4000iso, f4.5, 1/1000th, Manual

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Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 4000iso, f4.5, 1/1000th, Manual

Purdue Boilermakers head coach Matt Painter (below) reacts to his teams play……… or perhaps he was angered that a Duke player took out my camera!

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

As with the first game this one would be a one sided game which doesn’t lend itself to good celebration shots. I did like the below moment with Duke Blue Devils forward (12) Kyle Singler embracing head coach Mike Krzyzewski in the closing seconds of the game.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

After hugging Coach K, Singler went down the line congratulating his teammates on the bench, below.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

After a day off it was back to Reliant Stadium for the south region championship game with the winner getting a spot in the “Final Four.”

Before the game I headed outside the stadium to shoot some exterior views as fans waited to enter the stadium, below.

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Nikon D700, 14-24mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

Early on in the game things were pretty physical between the two teams.

Below, Duke Blue Devils center (55) Brian Zoubek pushes as he grabs a rebound against the Baylor Bears during the first half.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

A few minutes later Baylor Bears forward (13) Ekpe Udoh would be fouled hard by Duke Blue Devils center (55) Brian Zoubek and forward (5) Mason Plumlee.

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Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 4000iso, f4, 1/1000th, Manual

The game really didn’t present many good photos to be taken so lets fast forward to the second half.

After transmitting photos at halftime I quickly made my way up to the upper deck of the stadium to once again try and get some cool overall views of the stadium setup.

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

With a large crowd present it made for much cooler photos than of the stands filled with 47 fans on a practice day!

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

Back down on the court I noticed former president George H.W. Bush in the front row, below.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

The lack of good action continued in the second half leaving me to shoot reaction photos from the coaches.

Below, Baylor Bears head coach Scott Drew is framed by players in the foreground as he yells instructions out to his players.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski didn’t wanna be outshined by Drew yelling so he also got into the action and got all animated with his players.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

In the closing minutes of the game I noticed a razor thin light pocket off the side of the court near the Baylor bench. A yelling Drew entered the light pocket and I frantically changed my camera settings as fast as I could to expose properly and was rewarded with the below photo.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/8000th, Manual

As the final seconds ticked off the clock with the game decided I looked for dejection photos from Baylor…..

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

……and when the clock hit zero I looked for celebration shots of Duke players…..

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

After quickly running to the media room to transmit the end of game photos I made it back out to the court in time to shoot as Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski cut down the net, below.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Following the net cutting Krzyzewski headed back to the locker room (below) with wife Mickie.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 6400iso, f2.8, 1/80th, Manual

That wraps up my season (3 games) of college basketball.

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Posted in Basketball, Me, NCAA, Pocket Wizard, Remote Camera, Sports, Texas   | 5 Comments

5 responses to “March Madness takes over Houston”

  1. Cory Marr says:

    Amazing stuff man. I laughed at the Chris Brown description.

  2. Shannon Frost says:

    Great shots of basketball from someone who does not like it. It shows how your desire for good shots extends into everything you shoot.

    I appreciate your honest, down to earth blog.

  3. You always find a unique, creative shot. Excellent.

  4. Stephanie says:

    I love your blog. I want to take better pictures, and I learn something every time I read your blog, even if the subject you’re photographing is something I don’t ever expect to be taking pictures of. I really appreciate you sharing the info about your settings and setups. It’s really cool to see all the great pictures, and where they end up getting used. The incredible shots you get are an obvious testament to your experience and talent!

  5. Simon says:

    I couldn’t say it any better than Stephanie. I am almost addicted to your blog, It is very interesting and your pictures are just amazing. I hope you keep posting new stuff.
    Greetings from a fan who lives far far away.

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