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A Pro Photographer in the Stands: SuperBowl xlii

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It doesn’t matter if one is a novice photographer, a serious amateur, or a working professional photographer, everyone who uses a camera will quickly learn that one of the hidden goals to being a successful photographer is to ALWAYS have a plan “B”.

Whether it’s a backup plan for dealing with faulty equipment, or to cover the change in weather, to models that don’t show up or are sick, or an entire event is changed to an earlier time,  having a back up plan is vital to producing images that you can be happy to call your own.

I was assured by the NFL that I would have a field credential to cover the 42nd Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, a match-up that would pit the undefeated New England Patriots against the brash New York Giants. To make a long story short, I took a long lens with me in the unlikely event that the credential got screwed up, thus creating my Plan B.

Because I had my assistant, Mr. Murphy Law, with me, my credential went from a field pass to a stadium pass, because, well, it turns out, that I was never was issued a field pass. Lucky for me, I had my telephoto lens and was able to still have access to the action on the field, even if I had to be among New York Giants fans.

Because the University of Phoenix Stadium is covered, the lighting was dark, thus I had to increase my ISO setting if I wanted to “stop” the action by using a higher shutter speed. I also used a monopod to help steady the lens from those cheering Giants fans at the end of the game.

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Using a high shutter speed of 640/second at f/4 with a 500mm lens at 1250 ISO for all these photos, shows how Giants quarterback Eli Manning is able to escape from New England defenders #94 Ty Warren and #93 Richard Seymour late in the fourth quarter during the Giants winning drive.

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In sports, to be prepared for the shot is just as important as getting the peak moment. In this case I knew that the New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was going to get the standard Gatorade dunk from teammate #39 Madison Hedgecock, as I was watching Hedgecock try and lift the water by himself for three minutes (he couldn’t tell when the right moment was to dunk his coach!). You can see that unfortunately the photographer at the left on field got in my way (he too, was anticipating the soaking); yet the fast shutter speed still stopped the water in mid-flight.

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Shows what kind of day New England quarterback Tom Brady was going to have as he attempts to escape from  New York defenders #92 Michael Strahan and #72 Osi Umenyiora in the first quarter. Even though this shot was done in the first quarter, it says an important message about how the Patriots couldn’t move the ball against New York. Good photojournalism and sports photography not only capture peak moments, but tell something visually about a particularly event or game.

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New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress makes this fourth quarter gaming winning catch that defeated the New England Patriots.  Again, important play of the game. The higher angle helps clear out distracting folks on the sidelines.

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As Eli Manning scrambles to get out of the pocket of defenders late in the fourth quarter, I cropped this photo in such a way to allow him a little bit of room to run into a the left, but really wanted to concentrate on why he was running, concentrating on the defenders and their faces.

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Coming in tight forces the backgrounds to be out of focus and not distracting to the subject.  A light fill flash lightens up the very dark blue side of the face, and enables detail where there might not have been otherwise.

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Sports photography is about action and reaction—covering the action of the game, big plays, and efforts, but its also about the players, fans, and others at the game as they react to a big play, the score, and in this case the final victory of winning the Super Bowl. Its also a nice image because quarterback Eli Manning, who is holding up the Vince Lombardi Trophy, also won the MVP of the Super Bowl.

Images & Text  © David Sanders/Arizona Daily Star


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