WOW!!!! What an unbelievable playoff game!!!!

It came down to literally the last seconds of the game, when Atlanta came back from behind with a beautiful field goal by Matt Bryant for the big win and to take the Falcons to the NFC Championship Game this coming Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. The winner of that game goes to the Super Bowl! I’ll be there  this coming weekend again shooting for the Falcons team (thanks Jimmy, Mike, Matt, Lynn and crew) and I could barely be more psyched! Post season baby! Woo Hoo!!

When they gave out our assignments, besides regular game coverage, I volunteered to not just shoot the action, but to shoot some of the moments surrounding the game, and so I included a few of those here as well. The energy and excitement in the Georgia Dome was just incredible and it was amazing just to be there and soak it all in, but there’s wasn’t much time for that, so here we go:

Above: I took this one during pre-game warmups when the Defense forms a circle and get each other pumped up with some serious “BOOM!” chants and lots of smack talk. It’s an awesome thing to see, but a bit risky to do what I did here: I had my camera mounted on the end of a monopod, facing up toward the top of the dome with a 14-24mm lens (at 4,000 ISO) and shot straight up. The guy who is off-center lead the chant and when he’s done, he jumps up and then dives to the ground and so I had to be careful my camera didn’t get in his way — especially since all those guys would have turned on me in an instant. LOL!).

Above: Here’s one of my remote shots with the 14mm. I went a little too wide and put the camera a little too far forward so you don’t see any of the massive smoke and pyrotechnics going off, but this Sunday I’ll move it back farther, plus I’ll have three remotes going from three different angles. I really like the idea of seeing a lot of the dome, crowd, cheerleaders, drumline, etc, but at this small size you can’t appreciate it. It looks much better full screen on my laptop, but alas, it just needs better execution, and I’m very lucky I get to try it again this weekend. By the way — see that guy holding a monopod up right just player the player on the left. That’s me!

Above: I just love these overhead super-wide angle shots during the pre-game warmup.

Above: This one is right after the win, heading into the locker room from the field. It was a very emotional few minutes of the game.

Above: Falcon’s Defensive End John Abraham between plays. I totally dig his tattoos, and a shot I took of him on the bench last season is in my football portfolio so I was particularly drawn to making this image. The subject of this shot, like the one in my port, are the tats, so I framed it so it was nice and tight, but I really like the way the NFL logo on his towel becomes part of the focus of the image.

Above: Here’s the coin-toss right before the kick-off with the Captains of both team. If you look up at the dome, you can see the coin in mid air. This was a hand-held shot, I’m down on one knee with the 14-24mm at 14mm aiming up.

Above: Here’s a game action shot, but I wasn’t as focused on the game as usual as I was looking for opportunities to shoot things and players surrounding the game.

Above: To stop a Falcon, you have to take flight. See, this is why they don’t let me be a color commentator in the booth — I would actually say lame things like that. LOL!

Above: I kept thinking I was going to capture a great shot of Wilson getting sacked, but that guy is amazingly slippery and got out of some situations that would have gotten most other QB’s sacked for a huge loss.

Above: It’s good!!!!

Above: Shot of kickers get little love, so I thought I’d toss one in here just to say I did.

Above: Sorry, this lane is closed!  (That was courtesy of “Lame Caption Man”).

Above: This is what it looks like when the Falcon’s kicker split the uprights to win the game for Atlanta. I so wanted to turn toward the field and get Matt Bryant’s reaction, or the other player’s reaction, but instead I turned around and saw a stadium cheering on its feet.

Above: Nothing like a genuinely happy fan!!!!

OK, how about some “Behind the Scenes” shot? (mostly taken with my iPhone). 

Above: Here’s a glimpse of the media work room (for still and video crews covering the event). They had some serious Southern Style cooking for us — Fried Chicken, BBQ Sandwiches, Baked Beans, Cornbread, Potato Salad and Apple Cobbler. Just enough calories and carbs to slow you to almost a full stop! LOL.

Above: This iPhone Pano is from the pressroom, where we work after the game getting our final images together for downloading. The Falcons have a runner who comes and takes your cards from you right after the initial player introductions (when the first come on the field through the fire and smoke), and then at the 2-minute warning before Halftime, and then we turn them in again up here, where by buddy Mike Benford and I spend an hour or so sorting images and talking about the game over a soda and some stale popcorn. The food and drink might not be fancy, but you can’t beat the view. 

Above: Here’s my Camera Gear load-out for the game. 

Above: here’s my remote gear, in a rolling Pelican Case. I also have three steel safety cables as well. 

Above: That’s me, testing the remote camera shortly before they do the player intros. Notice the PocketWizard in my hand (I use that for triggering the remotes), and the super-stylin’ neon green vest! ;-)

Above: Oh yeah! Oh yeah! How ’bout we go to the NFC Championship Game next week! 

My thanks to the Falcon team photographers, the always cool Jimmy Cribbs, Matt Lange, Lynn Bass, and Michael Benford. Some of the best and most talented guys out there, and I’m truly honored that you let me shoot for you guys during such an important season.

Also, of course a big congrats to the Atlanta Falcons for pulling off a HUGE win, and let’s do it again this week when a very tough 49ers come to town. Oh yeah, one more thing: GO FALCONS! #riseup!