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I mentioned on Friday I had a shoot this weekend, and this was it—-one of the most famous college football rivalries; The Ohio State Buckeyes vs. the Michigan Wolverines.

I flew up to Columbus, Ohio on Friday night (with my brother Jeff who came along to hang with me), and when we woke up Saturday morning (game day) it was 17° (-8°C) Brrrrrrr! Luckily by game time it was up to a toasty 32° (0°C), but I was dressed really warm and the cold wasn’t a factor—-in fact—it was a blast!!!!

It was the most crowded sideline I’ve ever shot on, and I had to jockey for position all day long, which made it one of the most challenging football shoots.

I shot with two bodies; my Nikon D3 was my main rig, with my Nikon 200-400mm f/4 lens (mounted on a Gitzo carbon fiber monopod), and when things got close-up, I switched to my Nikon D300 with a Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 wide angle lens.

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I used the R-Strap (link) on my D300 with the wide lens on it, and I can tell you this; I won’t shoot another football game without it! Being able to reach down and have my 2nd body ready to fire in a split-second is a sports-shooter’s dream. (That’s me shooting with it above—photo by my brother Jeff, taken with an iPhone).

Even though the game started at 12:00 noon, it was so overcast that I had to crank up my ISO to between 800 and 1250 (on my D3), to keep my shutter speed at the minimum of 1/1000 of a second (needed to freeze the action). I left my D300 at 800 ISO, and son of gun if I didn’t get a little blur here and there (I really should have pushed it to 1200, but that’s the point where you start to see noise on a D300, so I hesitate to push it past 800). I shot wide open all day, at f/4 on the long glass, and f/2.8 on the wide.

Here’s a few shots from the day (click on them for larger views):

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I was set-up in the end zone for this one, (you’re required to be on your knees when shooting from the end zone), when Ohio State Running Back Chris Wells broke out and headed straight for me. I shot this with the 200-400mm until he was all the way up to about the 15 yard line then I switched to the 24mm wide.

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Here’s Chris again, later in the game, after being gang tackled by Michigan.

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Ohio State Quarterback Terrelle Pryor on a keeper putting the stiff-arm to Wolverine Safety Stevie Brown.

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This is one you have to click on to see the larger size, to appreciate because it’s the crowd that tells the story, with the Ohio State fans on the left side cheering wildly as the throw connects with Wide Receiver Brian Hartline for the score, while the Wolverine band remains stoic on the right. I also like the way you can see Ohio State Quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the foreground signaling for the touchdown.

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Hartline does it again, and looks to the ref as he confirm that it is indeed—a touchdown.

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Above Two Shots; the reason why I was at the game—my assignment was to cover Ohio State superstar Middle Linebacker James Laurinaitis (2007 Butkus award winner for best college linebacker) in his last game as a Senior (he led the team in tackles that day, with 12 tackles and one sack).

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Here’s another one where what’s happening on the sidelines tells the story, as Ray Small starts what turns into an 81-yard punt return.

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Bodies flying everywhere as Wolverine’s Running Back Carlos Brown breaks a tackle.

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Lastly, here’s something you don’t see every day; a football pano —-click on it for a much larger version.

All in all, it was a great day, and I got lots of shots of James in action, which is what it was all about. The excitement and sheer mania of a Big-10 rivalry like this was just amazing to see, and it made the cold weather, cramped shooting conditions, and dragging all that gear around in small Delta Connection jets all worth it. Can’t wait to shoot my next game! :-)