Monday, December 25, 2006

Ford Field

Merry Christmas!

This is the second time I have spent Christmas in Detroit (which, if you ask me, is two times too many). Why the heck would I do that? Well, both times it has been football related. The first time was in 2003, when Northwestern went to play in the Motor City Bowl (quit laughing, for NU, a bowl game is a bowl game). The second time was this year, when I went up to shoot the Bears against the Lions.

Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, is a pretty nice stadium. It's easy to get around, and has a nice retro feel to it despite being a new stadium. For the fans, there seems to be a great selection of food, and all the seats are built close to the action. Finally, it's a dome! So it keeps the cold, bitter, Detroit winter outside!

OK, so it was pretty awesome shooting a game in the winter without a jacket... 30 degrees outside, 75 degrees inside! However, I think as a photographer, I would take shooting outdoors anyday because shooting indoors sucks! It's a noon game, it's sunny outside, and I'm shooting at ISO 1000. Even darker in the end zones. Boooooo. Well, I guess that's what I get for not being cold...

Anyways, to the game. It was a pretty meaningless game. The Lions(2-13) suck and sure as heck aren't fighting for anything, other than the #1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft, and the Bears have home field wrapped up. So although the game meant nothing for Chicago, they find themselves in a dilemma. If the Bears pack it in and take it easy, they might lose their competitive edge come playoff time, and end up laying an egg in the playoffs like they did last year. So that's one argument to play hard, and they did for the first half.

Of course, in the second half, they relaxed (and also pulled a bunch of starters to prevent pre-post-season injuries) and the Lions roared back and gave the Bears a real scare!

If the Lions weren't being the Lions, turning the ball over and dropping a lot of passes - including a potential game winning TD (below) on the last play of the game - the Bears would have actually lost this one!

Thursday, December 21, 2006


The Blackhawks are rolling! Since Denis Savard made his coaching debut a few weeks ago, the Hawks have gone 7-1-3 and have been climbing up the NHL standings. I don't want to jinx it, but if they keep this up, they will finally get back to the playoffs!

Well, I guess I jinxed it, because after last night where they lost to the Nashville Predators (who imo, have one of the ugliest uniforms in all of sports), they are now 7-2-3. The Preds are one of the best teams in the NHL, but the Blackhawks have had their number this year, winning the first three head-to-head matchups here in 2006.

Ironically, the Hawks probably played one of their better games of the year against the Preds, but ended up losing anyways. They scored first and had many other scoring chances, and then they played solid defense with hard hitting and shot blocking for the first two periods.

I really like that last shot I posted. People getting checked into the boards happens a lot, but most of the time, it doesn't make a good picture. This one did, but do you notice that weird haze at the bottom of the photo? That's kind of freaking me out. I keep thinking its a blown shutter, because my 1D Mark II is definitely near 100,000 actuations so it's close to that time where shutters start failing (even though Canon says it actually goes to 200,000....). Blown shutters normally present as streaks of light on all your images in the same place, so I think in my case, I'm just being weird. I mean, I don't see that weird "light fog" in a majority of my other images (although it's hard to tell because I shot that frame near the end of the game so I don't have much else to compare it to, plus bright ice would mask a lot of the fog in other pictures anyway), and those that do seem to have that "fog" move to different spots in the frame. So therefore, I'm pretty sure it's just the borders of the hole that I shoot from that is creeping into some frames. I hope...

Anyways, back to the game. Unfortunately, the Preds turned the tables on the Hawks in the third period with their own solid defense and two quick scores to escape Chicago with a 2-1 victory.

One final observation: This guy has the best name/jersey number combo in all of sports. His name is Jordin Tootoo, and he wears number twenty-two. That's two-two.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Rock Chalk Jayhawk

So I shot my first basketball game of the 2006-2007 season the other day, and surprisingly enough, it was not an NU game. It was a DePaul game. So how did that happen? Well, Northwestern basketball is predicted to finish last in the Big Ten, so quite frankly, nobody really cares about them. But what about DePaul? Northwestern beat DePaul by ten earlier in the year! Yeah, but DePaul just happened to be hosting the #5 ranked team in the country: the Kansas Jayhawks.

Now I'm not really a big basketbally fan, and as you'd expect, it's not my most enjoyable sport to shoot either. I mean, I guess it's true for any sport, but I just feel like all basketball photos look the same: it's a dunk, a layup, or two people chasing a ball. Whoop-dee-doo. I just feel like because the actions these athletes perform doesn't really make for those really "blow-you-away" type photographs. What I'm saying is, in my opinion, a great basketball photo is not as cool as a great baseball, football, or hockey photo. Then again, the lead image in my sports portfolio is a basketball photo.... go figure! The fact that basketball arenas are not usually well lit does not help the matter: funky color shifts, spotty autofocus performance (because autofocus works by detecting contrast), and the high ISO noise!

Anyways, back to the game. I think I've said before that one of the biggest reasons why I love shooting sports is just to be in these venues and feel the energy of the crowd, especially on a big stage like any game against a highly ranked opponent. Unfortunately, that energy quickly disappears when said highly ranked opponent builds a double-digit lead in the 2nd half...

Obviously, comebacks from 14 points down in the 2nd half doesn't happen very often, and certainly not with a very well rated team, and certainly not against the 5th ranked team in the country... but it happened! DePaul made a furious rally, and came back to actually win this game 63-57! I didn't know the Allstate Arena could get as loud as it did!

What annoys me about this comeback victory was I was totally out of position for it. Instead of shooting DePaul's offense in the second half, I decided to stay with the Kansas offense. I figured with a big lead, there was no chance in hell a "crappy" team like the Blue Demons would come back and put up a fight against the mighty Jayhawks. Why was this bad? Well, because I could not get any real jubilation shots of the big comeback, other than maybe students rushing the court after upsetting the nation's #5. Oh wait, that didn't happen either. Damn security guards stopped the students from mobbing the court. Lame....

Luckily, I was able to sort of make due with the situation, and made a decent frame as the weary but very happy Blue Demons players exited the court.

Although I wasn't too overly pleased with my overall game take, my editor was happy, and I guess in the end, that's all that matters, right?