Sunday, March 11, 2007

Big Ten Men's Basketball Tourney

It's madness! Well, not quite yet, but it was madness shooting it! I just finished covering my second Big Ten Basketball Tournament, which was at the United Center in Chicago. The first time I covered the Big Ten Tourney was two years ago. However, I had it easy that season, as I was only covering Northwestern, so I only had to shoot two games. This year, I was covering the entire tournament, which meant shooting ten games in four days. Like I said, it's madness!

Although it's a lot of basketball, and you all know how I feel about basketball, tournaments like this are actually kind of enjoyable. Because it is the end of the season, and because there's quite a bit riding on the outcome of these games (NCAA tourney bid, conference championship, etc.), you can really get some pretty nice emotion out of these games: both jubilation and dejection.

The first two days of coverage were the most difficult, for the simple fact that those days say the most games piggybacked on top of each other. There were three games on that opening Thursday, and then four games on Friday (and only two on Saturday, and of course, the one championship game on Sunday). The difficulty of having so many games in one day is not the actual act of shooting it (although it did get a bit tiring), but it was having to try to edit and transmit my images in between each game. Normally, we want to edit and transmit quickly anyways, but with only about 25 minutes in between games, we really had to push it because if you get backed up, you're screwed. Why? Not only are other organizations getting images out ahead of you, but now you're backed up into the later games and maybe miss something important in the following game because you're stuck in the media room transmitting!

Anyways, as for the actual games, other than the Illinois-Indiana game on Friday, they weren't that exciting. None of the games were really that close, and the favorites won just about every game. As a result, there wasn't a whole lot of intensity of action on the court as teams may have eased up a bit. But hey, you shoot ten basketball games, you're gonna get some cool out of it!

Monday, March 05, 2007

I Love Hockey

I've said it fore, and I'll say it again: I love shooting hockey. I don't think I will ever turn down any assignment that asks me to shoot a hockey game. Yes, it's challenging since it's extremely difficult to follow the puck... but when done right, man, are the results worth it! Plus, the games are exciting. The speed, the hits, the emotion of when goaltenders make spectacular saves or when forwards score some fancy goals.

Anyways, on Sunday, I was out at the United Center again to cover the Blackhawks-Senators game. On paper, this game is a tremendous mismatch (heck, every game the Blackhawks play is a huge mismatch), but our Hawks played tough, and sent Ottawa packing with a surprising 4-3 loss! The game started off like any other for me, but like the Hawks, man, did I get in the zone the last few minutes! So many great shots!

This game actually ended in an overtime shootout. It's a rule that the NHL started a few years ago to eliminate ties and jazz up the game, and has quickly developed into a crowd favorite. Basically, if the teams are still tied after the 5-minute overtime period, they have a three-round shootout (if it's still tied after three rounds, it goes to sudden death). Whoever wins the shootout, wins the game.

Now as a photographer, you have three options in overtime. One, you will try to get into one of the photo holes behind one goal. That way you can shoot the near goal and the far goal. However, the way the skaters come in, it is kind of hard getting both the shooter and the goalie in the frame. Two, you can sit in one of the side holes, which is great to get both the shooter and goalie, however, being in a side hole, you can only shoot one team. So if the other team wins the shootout, they're celebrating on the other end of the ice and you're screwed. Three, you can shoot from the concourse. Out of those three options, the concourse is the safest option because you can get an overhead view of the action. The end holes will give you the most "impact" though, so they are the most popular. Unfortunately, there are only four holes behind the goal (two on each end of the ice), so they normally go by "rank." In other words, the end holes always go to the Blackhawks (actually they use two of them), the AP, and the Chicago Tribune. However, I noticed the AP photographer had vacated his end photo hole and saw him up in the concourse, so I took it. Although you can't see the player who scored the game-winning goal, you can see the Ottawa goalie missing the puck and allowing the game-winner, so it worked out pretty good in the end.

On a totally unrelated note, I think goalie helmets are so cool. The Blackhawks' Patrick Lalime has Marvin the Martian on his with Blackhawk feathres coming out of it. However, the Senators' Martin Gerber was far less original, using just a variation of the team logo. Weak.