My nephew’s graduation took place at Ann Arbor MI. I had not been there before but the main graduation ceremony was held in the football stadium. It might be able to hold 100,000 but on this day there were not so many. We had more space to spread out than would be the case in a football game and behind the stage area was left empty. While we waited for things to “kick off”, I figured I would grab a panorama or two of the Big House.
This post was originally going to be based on a shot I got of the University of Washington’s football stadium that I took while were hiking in the park nearby. However, things moved on a bit and I wasn’t too bothered by the shot. Then, as I was coming home from a trip, I was sitting on the left side of the plane as we made our approach over Seattle. I was looking straight down on the university campus and the stadium. I figured this would be a more interesting view for a post so finally the topic makes its way on to the blog.
NFL fans in a couple of cities are still mourning the loss of their teams to Los Angeles. With the Rams and the Chargers both now based in LA, a new stadium is being built to accommodate them. Meanwhile, they are playing in existing stadiums. The new stadium, when it is finished, will be one of the most extravagant designs and will be used for other tasks including the future Olympics. Right now, construction work is underway. I saw the work site from my plane as I came in to LAX but didn’t have the camera to hand. However, when flying above LAX in the helicopter, I was able to get some shots at a bit of a distance of the work in progress.
The Sounder commuter rail service takes passengers from both north and south of Seattle in to the city. The service from the south end is a very popular one and is expanding. The northern service from Everett has not been as popular and is not growing in the same way. However, on both routes, special trains are run on days with big sporting events such as the Seahawks playing at home. There is normally no service on the weekends so this is an unusual sight.
I was after some Sounder shots for possible use in a future project so headed down to Shoreline where the trains run alongside the beach. The beach is accessed by a footbridge over the tracks. It has some good sightlines for shots but also fencing that is not so helpful. I tried out a location further down and close to the tracks and it was not a bad spot. Since two trains were heading to the game about 15 minutes apart, I did go back to the bridge to see how that looked too.
As the train was past me, I could continue to watch it as it ran along the shore a good portion of the way to the city. It did go around a headland but again popped into view as it got closer to the downtown area.
My brief trip to the UK was concluded by a flight back to Seattle from London. I ended up in a seat on the right side of the plane and, as we came across the city, I had a good view of the downtown. The seat was rather low compared to the window but LiveView came into its own and I could hold them camera above me pointing down and frame the shot using the rear screen. Technology is a wonderful thing. The Space Needle and the football and baseball stadiums both stand out from above.
Another throwback sports event today. The Chicago Fire MLS team opened their stadium at Toyota Park shortly after we moved to the city. We only went to watch one game so I don’t have a whole bunch of pictures of them playing. I did not know what their policy was for cameras being allowed in to the stadium so I took a long zoom in case they didn’t object. It turned out they really didn’t care at all!
I was watching the game rather than trying to cover it so I didn’t take a lot of shots. However, I did happen to have the camera up a couple of times when the play got exciting and these shots were the best that I got.
Our local high school has a strong sports setup and Nancy and I had been to see a football game last year. I blogged about that here if you want to check back. I was recently discussing this with a couple whose son goes to the school and plays football and soccer. The soccer season is underway at the moment and the last game of the regular season was imminent. I decided I would head along and have a go at shooting the game.
It was played on the same field as the football so we had the same lighting to deal with. While the lights are good, they are not great for photography. I had both cameras ramped well up on the ISO settings. This worked okay in most situations although the noise is still a bit noticeable. More modern bodies seem to have very impressive noise characteristics but my gear seemed to do okay. I hadn’t shot soccer before so it was interesting working out who to follow and what shots to go for.
Some of the shots I envisaged did not look good at all in reality. There are certain aspects of kicking and throwing a ball that look good in motion but make for rather odd poses when stills. A good lesson to learn I guess. Meanwhile, I did manage to get some more action packed elements sometimes. Keeping the ball in shot and showing what is going on was fun to try. It was also fun to see shots that show something you don’t normally notice. The expressions on faces during the game are quite funny and sometimes it looks like the game was far more violent than was the case.
I put together a compilation of some shots for the families to take a look at. They have had some basic editing but not more. If you want to take a look at those, there are at http://robedgcumbe.com/client/gaels/soccer/ so have a peak.
The team are now into the playoffs so hopefully they will have a good run!
Just south of the station in Seattle is the pair of sports fields that house some of the cities franchises. Century Link Field is the home of the Seattle Seahawks and the Sounders MLS team. Beyond that is Safeco Field where the Mariners play. I had a quick look at Century Link Field while I was passing. Since the season was over, everything was very quiet. The field was gated so I couldn’t go in. There may have been tours available but I wasn’t there with enough time to look around properly.
The field was quite open next to a large parking lot so getting a full view of it was not tricky. The evening light was very directional with the harsh shadows but it was still not too bad. I also climbed up the steps to peer inside. You could see a good portion of the ground but the light was again quite harsh. Below I also include an aerial view taken when I was coming in to Seattle.
Devoted followers of this blog (that’s all of you, right?) will know I have had a couple of attempts at photographing football (the American version as opposed to the one that uses a foot to kick a ball). This involved preseason training camp for the Chicago Bears but not a real game. For my first attempt at a live, unplanned action, I did not have a professional game. It was time for High School.
My nephew plays for his high school JV team and they had a game when we were going to be visiting so I took my camera along – like I wouldn’t have done so anyway! I checked that there wouldn’t be a problem photographing at a school event and was reassured that it would be fine.
First something about the surroundings. There was a fence around the field that no-one was to enter. This limited me from some of the things I wanted to do but wasn’t too big a deal. Second, this game was taking place in October in Syracuse NY. This is not a combination that you select for good weather. While I wasn’t bothered about the rain, the lack of light would be an issue.
More of a problem initially was keeping track of what is going on. When watching football on TV I have little trouble keeping track of how the plays are developing. Doing it from the side of the field is a surprisingly different experience. For a while, I could easily lose the ball completely. A bit of practice and this improved considerably.
When the game started out, there was plenty of light and I could get the shutter speeds I was looking for. As the game progressed, the light faded a lot. I kept ramping up the ISO to compensate but it was still a struggle to get a high enough shutter speed. Eventually the lights came on but they were only some compensation. Even at the higher end of the ISO range I was happy to try, the shutter speeds were getting low. Consequently, some of the later shots were as much luck as judgement!
I shot a lot of images during the game. You don’t get a chance to decide in advance whether a play will be any good. Moreover, it is hard to see at a given time whether the key components of the shot are there. I got plenty of shots with some dynamic movement from the players but no visible ball. Without the ball, they really could be anything. Off to the trash with them!
I wandered around the field to try different angles. Starting at the side was fine and I could try some shots along the line of scrimmage. I could also move up and down with the play as the teams advanced. Later I tried shooting from both ends of the field. That provided some quite satisfying angles but you also ran the risk of being at the wrong end when something happened or you saw the back of everything – again, no ball to be seen.
I was not alone on the sidelines. Several parents of the players were also trying to get shots. Between all of us, we probably managed to get a fair few that would be of use. It was fun to talk to them as the game moved on to compare notes on what we were trying to get and what we had got so far.
When I ran through the pictures afterwards, I wondered whether any of them would be useful to the team. You can see some interesting things about the way players lined up and engaged with the other team. You also get to record all of the penalties that the officials missed!
I had a great time (and stayed a lot warmer than the rest of the family since I was always on the move). I would certainly like to try it again although next time it would be nice to have a bit more light to play with. It was the penultimate game of the season for my nephew’s team I guess I won’t see them play again until next year. Oh yes, they won so well done Jamesville Dewitt!