On the heels of the biggest college football game of the year, the BCS National Championship, I found myself laying in bed the next morning (yesterday) when the phone rings and the lovely voice of Brad Moore is on the line. “Why are you calling me this early?” I mumble. Well it turns out Brad was asking me to write this guest blog about my experience at the big game the night before. So with that in mind, I don’t think I’ll have any life-changing epiphanies or deep, touch-your-soul revelations, but I hope you will at least be able to get a glimpse into what things were like Monday night and enjoy some decent images.
As I write this, I’m not sure what the time is. I can read a clock, but I’m not sure how my body feels. As is the case with many of the shooters last night who cover both teams, I live in the Eastern Time Zone, and obviously the game was on the West Coast, so it felt like the game started at 5:30 and ended at 3 o’clock in the morning. But I digress.
I feel like the most asked question I got when telling people I was going to the game: “Who are you shooting for?” So to get that out of the way, I am the team photographer for the Tennessee Volunteers and my counterpart at Auburn, Todd Van Emst graciously extended an invitation to help cover the game for Auburn. So out to California I flew.
(3) Canon 1DX camera bodies
Canon 16-35 f/2.8
Canon 24-70 f/2.8
Canon 70-200 f/2.8
Canon 600mm f/4
Canon 1.4x extender
Shutter speeds were at 1/1000 or higher and fastest available aperture except for the fireworks shots which were f/11 – f/22.
Note: It was my first time putting a 1.4x extender on a 600 and it was great shooting downfield like that. Will definitely do it again.
If you watched the game, you know it was not a disappointment to football fans. Big lead. Big comeback. Down to the last few plays. Everything you want in a game (except the team I was shooting for didn’t win).
Sidelines were exceptionally crowded, as you would expect from a big game, but I was extremely impressed with the organization and communication with photographers out there. It was shoulder-to-shoulder with shooters most of the way around the field. As you can see in the photo here, there wasn’t a lot of room to move. But I never heard anyone having any trouble, which is unusual for a historically curmudgeon-y group. One thing I thought was pretty cool that you’ll probably see more often was the use hard-line ethernet cables run to the field. With the technology in cameras to now shoot tethered via Ethernet cable, this was huge for the shooters who had them to send their images instantly to an editor in the digital workroom. In a world of instant gratification, I can’t imagine it can be sped up much faster than that.
You’ll notice looking my photos that there are no photos of FSU raising the crystal ball. I was there shooting for Auburn so I followed Auburn off the field. I’m sure there are hundreds, if not thousands, of those somewhere else if you really want to see them :)
Lastly, and most notably among the photography world, I want to make one final note. It was a wonderful night of College football. The BCS had its final game, as there will be a playoff next year. The weather was perfect, per usual in Pasadena, CA. And the crowd was loud and proud. It was a who’s who of sports photography, with staffers from Sports Illustrated, Getty Images, AP, USA Today Sports Images, other top agencies, and even a bunch of bums like me who managed to get in. One person who was not there was the legendary Dave Martin. As many of you may know Dave Martin, aka “Mullet” died tragically while shooting the Chick-Fil-A bowl in Atlanta, GA.
There were several events Monday night to celebrate his life and what he meant to the photojournalism industry. I believe these events were the workings of USA Today Sports Images C.O.O. Bob Rosato. There was a group photo of photographers who knew Dave, there were T-shirts for people to wear, there was time on the Jumbotron dedicated to honoring Dave, and even graphic stickers for shooters to put on their gear to show their support.
But the thing I thought was the coolest of all, was a spot reserved for ol’ Vern (the name he affectionately gave to many of his fellow photographers) on the sidelines. With shoulder-to-shoulder shooters, and people standing behind those who were kneeling, it was very cool to see a space left open for a man who was dear to many fellow photojournalists. An honor that stood above the rest. If you don’t know who Dave Martin is, please search his name or visit his tribute page on Facebook.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this and look at some of the images I captured Monday night. My hope for all of us is that we continue to work, continue to learn, and continue to get better in everything we do…
“Just shut up and make a picture.”
– Dave “Mullet” Martin (1954 – 2014)