As the United Football League (UFL) season approaches I once again found myself down in Casa Grande, AZ to cover a practice. Instead of a daytime practice like the previous shoot this would take place under the lights. I expected the lights on the practice field to be crappy but I would find out it wasn’t too bad. With a trunk full of gear, Jennifer and I headed 49 miles south for what would be my last UFL shoot before the season begins with the inaugural game set to kick off Oct. 8th in Las Vegas.

So far my favorite thing about shooting events for the UFL is the all access I am granted to shoot wherever I want. This shoot would be no different as I kicked things off by shooting in a trainers office as California Redwoods players got taped up prior to practice, below.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

From there I briefly went into the Redwoods locker room (below) to see what was going on. A few players were getting suited up while others studied their play books.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/320th, Manual

I looked at my watch and it was nearly time for practice to begin so I headed outside and walked behind a group of players as they walked through the dirt construction zone on their way to the practice field, below.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/320th, Manual

With the sun having set 10-15 minutes earlier there were nice pastel colors towards the west. To take advantage of the scene I put my camera on the ground and shot silhouettes (below) as players walked past me towards the field.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 800iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

The really cool thing about the post sunset glow in the sky is the colors rapidly change as darkness falls. Just five minutes after the above photo I shot a trio of players heading out to the field and the colors were completely different.

In the below photo I duck walked alongside the players with my camera nearly cultivating the dirt as I fired numerous images hoping for one good one.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 800iso, f2.8, 1/125th, Aperture Priority

By using a zoom lens in the below photo I was able to fill the frame with a deep orange colored sky as a local youth football team got to mingle with Redwoods players on their way to the field.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1250iso, f3.2, 1/320th, Aperture Priority

Below, California Redwoods running back (20) Cory Ross interacts with players from a local youth football league.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 800iso, f2.8, 1/200th, Manual

Below, with the fading sunset providing a great backdrop, California Redwoods quarterback Shane Boyd warms up on the field during practice.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/400th, Manual

A nice red glow lit the horizon in the last few minutes before complete darkness took over and I was really trying to find a cool photo to take with the light but unfortunately the below photo with players standing around a guy tying his shoe was the extent of the action I was able to find!


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 800iso, f2.8, 1/160th, Manual

California Redwoods head coach Dennis Green (below) eyes his players as he speaks to the team.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Redwoods players line up for the national anthem during a brief field dedication ceremony prior to the start of the practice.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/500th, Manual

As the California Redwoods practiced on one field, the Las Vegas Locomotives players practiced on another field. Since I needed to shoto both teams I did my best migrating between the two fields.

Below, Las Vegas Locomotives linemen practiced hitting each other.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

I can’t stress enough how much I loved having all access. As Locomotives players stretched in the middle of the field I was able to simply walk out there and get up close as wide receiver Casey Flair stretched, below.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a commotion alongside one of the fields. Upon closer look I realized that Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald of the NFL had decided to show up to watch his younger brother Marcus Fitzgerald as he practiced for the Redwoods.

As he walked along the field (below) he was bombarded by young fans.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/250th, Manual

Back at the Redwoods field I shot the below photo of California Redwoods head coach Dennis Green (left) with team owner Paul Pelosi (Nancy Pelosi’s husband).


Nikon D700, 400mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

Standing in the middle of the field I shot the below frame as California Redwoods quarterback (6) Tyler Palko throws a pass under pressure from defensive tackle (92) Jeff Littlejohn.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Evidently Larry Fitzgerald (below) was bored as he volunteered to hold the first down marker on the Redwoods sideline during the practice.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

Below, I shot Larry’s brother Marcus Fitzgerald as he listened to teammates on the sideline during the practice.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

In the closing minutes of the practice I got a few cool shots (below) as Redwoods wide receiver (17) LeRon McCoy made a great catch under pressure from defensive back (21) Ronnie Prude.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

After bobbling the ball, McCoy was able to haul the pass in with a one handed grab. I love the determination in his eye as he made the catch.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

As the practice came to an end I shot Redwoods defensive back Ronnie Prude as he took a drink of water on the sidelines.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 5000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

That wraps up the practice. Next time I blog the UFL it will be the leagues inaugural game in Vegas!

A few web clips from the shoot:






Posted in Football, Sports, UFL   | 4 Comments

4 responses to “UFL under the lights…..in Casa Grande”

  1. Calvin says:

    Loved the first pic, the Silhouette one and the ‘determined eye’.

  2. aradilon says:

    Cool photo’s, though i still don’t understand why they need all the protection they have.
    Sorry to say but American Football is alot of words and show but thats it, its like rugby but for scared people.

    Though keep up the good work,i allways like to see your photo’s they allways make a smile on my face.

  3. Hey Mark,

    I do this thing on my website where I post my favorite photos of the week every Saturday. I was wondering if I could feature this photo (http://markjrebilas.com/blog3/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/ea09b_3738.jpg). I’d include your photo credit and a link to your website if its okay. Drop me a line at josh.d.weiss@gmail.com to let me know. You can see last week’s here (http://www.joshdweiss.com/photoblog/2009/09/25/photos-of-the-week-919-925/).


  4. Ted says:

    Great photos Mark, the silhouette photo is fantastic.

Leave a Reply

Check out my Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to "like" the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!