…especially being rusty (regular season football has been over for nearly eight months), and for making some stupid mistakes (coming up in a moment), so you can totally understand why I did a BIG happy dance when I saw one of my shots from Friday’s Bucs vs. Titans NFL Football game (above) on the front page of SportsIllustrated.com’s NFL home page.

That came after two of my shots had been on Zumapress.com’s Sports “Pictures of the Day” (shown below).

(Above: I’m not certain, but that just may be a “hold.” Wink).

Mistakes were made
I’ve shot in Raymond James Stadium a number of times before, so I knew in advance what settings to use for a night game (which this was), so as soon as I took my camera out of the bag, I set up my camera with those settings. [Aperture Priority mode, f/2.8, and my ISO at 1,600 which is enough to get me the 1/1000 of a second shutter speed I need to freeze the action and have sharp non-blurry shots).

So, I attached my lens and set out to shoot and about 1/3 of the way through the first quarter, I zoomed in tight on one of the images and it was blurry. I started looking at other shots and a lot were blurry. I was freaking out until it finally hit me that I had added a 1.4 tele-extender to my 400mm f/2.8 lens, and when you do that you automatically lose 1-stop of light, so it changed my f/stop to f/4 (agggghh!!!!) and so my shutter speed fell to 1/640 of a second and I had blurry shots. No need to tell me all the things and features I could have used to avoid this — it won’t happen again.

I didn’t test my 2nd body…
And sure enough, there was a problem with the dial on top and when I had to quickly switch to my 2nd body to get the touchdown catch happening right in front of me, instead of firing in High-Speed Continuous mode (burst mode) it took just one single shot……and stopped. Sure enough, he caught it. I was (for once) in the perfect position, with the ideal angle, and just one single “click” before the ball even got near him. I was really cranked. It took me 10 minutes to figure out the dial on top was sticking. Totally, my mistake (but I did have a back-up body if all were lost back in the photographer’s work room).

Luckily, I recovered
After that very rusty (and frustrating first quarter) I was able to shake the rust off a bit and focus back on the action instead of messing with my equipment, but at the end of the day, I still felt like it was my first game of the season (which it was), which is why I was so doubly-psyched to see that shot on SI.com and making Zuma’s “Photographs of the Day” especially since this was my first assignment for them.

(Above: that’s me and my buddy Donn Jones, Team Photographer for the Tennessee Titans. They give him a green vest so he’s an easier target for the defensive line. Kidding, it’s to designate that he’s with the team and he has access to areas, like the Titan’s bench, that the rest of us “khaki-vesters” can’t. Photo by George Walker).

And then, where was this….
There was also an issue with my new Apple MacBookPro with the Retina Display (unreleated to the display itself), but I’m hoping to write about that separately tomorrow), that caused a mini-nightmare, but that’s what Tuesday’s are for, right. :-)

Bring on the Patriots!
This Friday the New England Patriots are coming to play the Bucs at home and I’m excited because:

(a) It’ll be my first-time shooting the Pats, and…

(b) I’ll get another chance to shake some more of the rust off before the regular season begins in two weeks, and I know I won’t make those same mistakes again.

I am still struggling with my post-processing workflow (tagging, editing, adding metadata and uploading at the speed I would like to), but that’s yet another story. Can’t wait for Friday’s game now, but first I’m off to Sacramento to teach my Photoshop for Photographers seminar on Wednesday.

Here’s wishing you a “Big Happy Dance” Monday! :)