After shooting in Dallas the previous night and a 4am wake up call for my flight home today I REALLY didn’t want to go shoot the nearly worthless matchup of two 4-6 teams. But I already had requested a credential and it looks very bad to not use a credential so I sucked it up and decided to shoot the game. I planned to be VERY lazy but I would still go. Continue reading to check out the results of a lackluster effort.

Sun Devil Stadium at night is as dark as some high school fields I’ve shot at (not being funny, I’m dead serious!). Since I was very tired and lazy I decided to shoot the entire first half from the roof of the stadium.

After I got up on the roof I found some power and set up my laptop so I could transmit some images out early in the first quarter since I would be dealing with a tight deadline.

As you can see from the above photo and below it was a capacity crowd in attendance for this compelling matchup.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/400th

So with the unique angle of being up really high I tried to shoot some cool photos of player introductions.

It was Senior Day, where the seniors would be playing their last game at the stadium so they were introduced one by one where they ran onto the field.

Tailback Keegan Herring ran out and stopped in the 50 yard line and looked up and spit water (or vodka?) into the air.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/800th

When the rest of the team ran out together I tried a really slow shutter speed to try and produce a different looking shot from the normal (boring) player intro shot. I shall title this photo “website sharp.”

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 100iso, f5.6, 1/8th

I then picked up the long glass to shoot some isolated players such as the below shot of cornerback Jarrell Holman running through the fog.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/800th

The game got going and I went to work trying to shoot some cool photos. One good thing about being on the roof is it is a pretty unique angle. Lots of stadiums offer upper deck shooting spots but very few allow you to the very top to shoot so simple plays like a quarterback throwing the ball looked pretty cool since we are not used to seeing many photos from high angles such as the below photo of UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft throwing a pass.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/800th

A little while later things started deteriorating for Kevin Craft as he was hit and fumbled the ball which was recovered by ASU for a touchdown.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/800th

Normal plays that wouldn’t look all that interesting from ground level looked pretty interesting from above such as the below shot of UCLA Bruins cornerback (22) Michael Norris breaking up a pass intended for Arizona State University Sun Devils wide receiver (1) Michael Jones.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/800th

Or the below shot of ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter giving himself a colonoscopy after being sacked.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/800th

At halftime I left my rooftop position and headed to the field to see how lazy I could be there.

I started off shooting ASU players running from the tunnel to the field.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 400iso, f2.8, 1/20th

Something tells me the guy on the right in the below photo isn’t gonna be starting the second half!

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/125th

Right off the bat I got a pretty cool shot as UCLA wide receiver Taylor Embree attempted to catch a deep pass. Obviously with me saying, “attempted to catch” thats your indication he didn’t catch it. Like wet soap in a locker room shower, it slipped right through his hands to the ground complete with the groaning of all his teammates.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 4000iso, f4, 1/800th

Not to be outdone in the missed catch department was wide receiver Nelson Rosario who tried in vain to catch an over thrown pass in the end zone. It certainly would have made the below photo much cooler had he caught the pass but I still like it anyways.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/800th

Normally I shoot football with a 400mm as my long glass but since I knew I was gonna shoot from the roof I lugged out a 600mm instead of the 400. From field level it was too much lens for a lot of plays, but being really tight can also look pretty cool for some images.

ASU wide receiver (16) Nate Kimbrough returns a kick under pressure from the UCLA defense.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 6400iso, f4, 1/800th

It really was a bad day for UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft as the ASU defense was all over him like the TSA on a bottle of water at security screening.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 6400iso, f4, 1/800th

Nikon D3, 600mm, 6400iso, f4, 1/800th

A few plays later Craft lobbed a deep pass to the end zone where it was tipped up and intercepted by ASU safety Troy Nolan.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 6400iso, f4, 1/800th

He then returned it 100 yards for a touchdown.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/800th

He then celebrated with a teammate by getting in his face and yelling back and forth with him. 

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/640th

By late in the fourth quarter it was a blow out game and I was bored. I tried one last shot on a UCLA kick off return by shooting a really slow shutter speed. It didn’t work as planned but I try to show my failures as well as good stuff so here you go.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 100iso, f4.5, 1/15th

And with that it was time to pack up and call it a night.






Posted in Football, NCAA, Sports   | 8 Comments

8 responses to “UCLA accomplishes the tough job of making ASU look good!”

  1. Pierre says:


    I always find your posts interesting, even if you don’t enjoy the assignment. Can you explain the settings that you use for most often for sports? Do you select Aperture Priority, Auto ISO? Keep the information coming.



  2. Andrew Weber says:

    Good Shit! Not bad for being lazy! My favorite shot is the guy walking in the tunnel with his leg on that scooter they can’t afford crutches.


  3. Joe says:

    Always enjoying your blog and pictures, as well as your assignments. One question – on these high ISO pictures 5000ISO – what did you use to remove noise from the pictures (assume you had a lot of noise)


  4. Mark,

    I tried some rooftop shots 2 weeks ago at Wake Forest using my 600/4, but found that using a monopod would not cut it. I could not hold the lens steady enough to get many, if any, shots in focus. Did you use a monopod, tripod or hand-hold your 600? I looked into some sort of gimbal head, but can’t justify spending $600 for something that will be used so infrequently.

  5. Ben Hine says:

    Great shots as usual Mark, always look forward to updates. Has helped greatly in the way that i tackle shooting assingments.

    Joe- he is using a d3, what noise at 5000iso hahaha

  6. Holly Gilliam says:

    Yea…what IS with the guy on the lil scooter?

    FYI: I would enjoy more colonoscopy shots in future shoots.

    Excellent job, just no more Jonus Brothers.

  7. Tim says:

    I gotta get me one of them D3’s…. Seems like you could shoot in a pitch black stadium @ 15 sec exposure – and still have no noise…

    For a guy who was tired, lazy and bored – these are some really great frames!!!

    Thanks for bringing us into the world of pro shooters – this is awesome!


  8. Jeremy says:

    I agree with Tim… I love visiting your blog and getting info on what is possible.
    I love that shot of Rosario in the End Zone… almost!

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