Shooting On The NFL Sidelines
Hi Gang: As youï¿½re reading this, Iï¿½m in Philadelphia for my ï¿½Photoshop Tour for Digital Photographersï¿½ seminar, but on my way to Philly, I headed up to Chicago for an NFL sideline shoot at the Chicago Bears vs. Cleveland Browns game on Sunday, with a couple of my buddies; Mike Olivella, and Alex Walker (That’s us above. L to R: Mike, me, and Alex at Soldier Field during the game).
It was perfect weather for a football game; around 55ï¿½ with no wind, and all three of us had an absolute blast! Iï¿½ve included a few shots from the game (but I got into Philly around 12:30 am so I didn’t have a lot of time to go through all the shots yet), but hereï¿½s a few quickies and the details on the gear I used, and settings:
I used two bodies: A Nikon D3, and a Nikon D300s. My main camera was the D3, and with it I used a 200-400mm f/4 mounted on a Gitzo carbon fiber monopod. My secondary camera was the D300s, where I switched between a 70-200mm, a 50mm f/1.4 (used mostly when the play moved inside the 10 yard line), and the occasional fish-eye lens for stadium shots (see below). I carried my gear using a Think Tank Photo modular belt system and used a Black Rapid R-Strap on the D300s (since it wasnï¿½t mounted on a monopod). I also usually lose my Lens Hood once or twice during a game, so Brad finally got me a screw-on, rubber lens hood which worked great.
Mike and Alex are both Nikon shooters, too, and Alex was shooting a D300 with a 300mm f/2.8 lens that he got from the Paul and great folks over at LensProToGo.com (hereï¿½s the link—-I rent lenses from them myself, and I highly recommend them).
I shot in JPEG mode (to get the most frames per second), and I left the 200-400mm wide open at f/4 all day (to get as shallow a depth of field as possible to help separate the players from the background). I shot in High-Speed shooting mode, and set my focus to Continuous as well. It was a day game, so my white balance was set to Auto most of the day (until the field got in shadows, then I changed the white balance to shade), and I shot between 280 and 400 ISO (a little higher than usual because there was a thick cloud cover most of the day).
Anyway, it was an awful lot of fun spending the day shooting with a couple of buddies, plus I got to try out some of the tips I picked up from Sports Illustratedï¿½s Peter Read Miller as well, which were a big help.
My thanks to everybody at the wonderful Bears organization (Go Bears!), and now Iï¿½ve got to get back to my seminar (the next oneï¿½s in Tampa, Florida in just over two weeks, on November 16th, so come on down and hang out for the day!).