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OK, there is a slight distinction in the headline you see above from my normal football game coverage—I didn’t say “shooting from the sidelines.” This time, I actually shot from up in the stands, because I didn’t have sidelines credential.

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Now, if you’re wondering how I got some “big glass” into the game, here’s the trick. The NFL has a rule that a spectator can’t bring a lens that’s more than 6 inches long (15.25 cm) into the stadium, and they measure the length as you come through the security. So, I measured my beloved Nikon 70-300mm f/3.5 – f/5.6 VR lens, and it measures (without the lens hood, and attached to a camera body), about 5-3/4″—just under the wire, so they let me in with it.

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I shot with a D700, so to get even closer (I was a ways back from the field), I used the DX crop, so although it got me in much closer than I would set at full frame, it does crop your image down to 6 megapixels.

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Our seats (I went with my brother-in-law), were right on the goal line, so when the action was down on our end of the field, we both took some shots, but when they went past the 50-yard-line in the opposite direction, we pretty much just put down our cameras and watched the game.

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The half-time show was absolutely amazing to see in person (and especially seeing them build that huge stage and lightshow in less than 6 minutes). The Who sounded just fantastic in person (much better than I expected), and the stage looked so cool I had to snap a few shots of them, too (but again, I didn’t really have the right access or the right lens, but it was fun shooting them anyway).

Although I didn’t get a sidelines pass, as I was walking into the Stadium, I ran into my buddy Jeff Snyder from Adorama, who had sideline media credentials, along with his son (who was shooting his 9th Super Bowl). You can check out his blog about shooting Super Bowl week right here.

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As I write this, I’m back in my hotel room in Miami (heading back home first thing in the morning), and I really had a blast. A good friend hooked me up with the tickets, and we hung out with him and his family during the game, and just had an amazing time (plus the Saints won, and as an NFC guy, with a few buddies as die-hard Saints fans too, I had to root for New Orleans, but honestly, I thought the Colts would take it. Glad they didn’t though!).

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Saw lots of celebrities at a party before the game (Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Harry Connick, Jr. [he’s told me he’s been using Photoshop since version 1.0], Jerry Rice, LL Cool J, Hillary Swank, and we saw Brad Pitt and John Travolta a little later).

What a fun day. I know, I know—the fun’s over—now back to work. :)

About The Author

Scott is a Photographer, bestselling Author, Host of "The Grid" weekly photography show; Editor of Photoshop User magazine; Lightroom Guy; KelbyOne.com CEO; struggling guitarist. Loves Classic Rock and his arch-enemy is Cilantro. Devoted husband, dad to two super awesome kids, and pro-level babysitter to two crazy doggos.

51 Comments

  1. Hey Scott,

    Great shots! I watch the game at a Superbowl party and we were jumping up and down on the plays you shot. We all know that your a pro with this, but sometimes you have to go as a fan and enjoy it from the fans perspective. I live in Chicago and am developing my skills as a photographer. When I get the opportunity to go see the Bulls, This is what I do. I run around the stadium to shoot pre-game practice and I love it. I enjoy the fact that your willing to do what someone like myself would do just to get some experience. This is a true love for what you do. Keep it up!

    P.S. Take the D300s next time and get the full resolution image…LOL

  2. Hi Scott!

    I’ve seen many of your photos from various football games, but not a single pic of a cheer leader! So next time I hope you’ll document this important part of the game, too ;-)

  3. I would have rather been at the game shooting from the stands instead of watching it on TV. : )
    I do have a question. You mentioned a website a great while back called, “Where the Pros Shoot.” I have visited the website and it is still says, “coming soon.” Any idea when it is going to go live. Talk to you later.

  4. Great shots. I too am pleased the team from New Orleans won. Hope none of the chaps hurt their heads (the players, not The Who).

  5. Somehow I knew you would be there and have some pics, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if it was from the sidelines. ;) I timed the stage build at about the same time, pretty incredible. Glad the city of New Orleans could use the boost in spirit. :)

  6. Have the NFL not heard of Scott Kelby?? :) :)
    Considering your position up in the stands, you got some great coverage of the game and of the half time show.
    The six inch rule is interesting – as you’ve proved, a photog can still do some damage with less than six inches of kit. I’m off to find a ruler!

  7. Hey Scott,

    You are so blessed! Boy what a game. I am glad that I have someone I call a friend who has the opportunity to enjoy life the way you can.
    Not to be picky because you must be exhausted after a day like you had, but you do have one little typo in your entry. Right above the last picture, … but honestly, I though the Colts… needs a ‘t’ at the end of though.

    See ya,

    Mike

  8. Way to go Scott, they’re great pictures accompanied by a great story.
    The Who?? Saw them with Keith Moon years ago. To me they’ve not been the same
    alas I still like their music.
    The game? one of the historic superbowls that reminded me a little of the Jets Colts game in 69.
    Loved the outcome.

  9. Great pics from the stands! You still managed to capture the game, even though you weren’t at eye level with the players. How about sneaking in an extension tube?

  10. Scott, You may have been just as good in the stands (except for the lens length). Very few were actually on the sidelines. They had a “photographers pit” where most of the photogs were that got a pass(I bet that was worse than the mosh pit). Hey, they can run but they can’t hide!

    • PS, Scott, my wife and I have custody of two of my five grandkids and my 10 year old (who I’ve acclimated to Rock & Roll) had the funniest comment. He said “They are old but they still have got it”. Thats from a ten year old who has been listening to R&R around me all his life. (Queen is his favorite group, god help him).

  11. Oh my gosh, Scott! Thanks for sharing with us! Those are some really great shots! I really like photo number one with the controversial two point conversion! Really great capture! Nice work on the half time show too. Did you use a mono-pod to get these shots? Really clear and sharp!

    Well done, and thanks again for sharing with us!

    Dennis

  12. Scott,

    I was to one up you, ha ha, I was given seats behind the coach tonight. Syracuse smoked Cincinnati Bearcats 71-54. Syracuse is now 23-1 season. Since I live in Wildcat Country (UK) please don’t rat me out that I was rooting for Syracuse.

    You can see one I posted on NAPP. http://www.photoshopuser.com/members/portfolios/view/image/212656.

    I gave my self a D- since I have done few sport events. But it was fun watching a talented team play

    Ken in KY

  13. I saw all the photographers and wondered if you were one. I guess you were but not where I thought. I was hoping for NO as well, even though I’m not a fan of theirs.

    I have to tell you though. I watched it on TV and The Who didn’t look as good. Daltrey kept forgetting the lines and his lip synching was terrible. He smartened up after a little bit and kept putting the mike and his hand in front of his mouth to block. Townsend was a little off too.

    Even so, great game.

  14. Hey Scott,
    Looks like your portfolio page is not loading. I wanted to check out the flash plugin you were using before buying it myself.

  15. Great shots of The Who. From the end zone? Wow! Did you use a monopod for your pics?

    • Hi Steven:
      I wasn’t in the end zone—I was on the goal line, so I had a side view right down the goal line. The lens is too small and light to use a monopod (which is what I love about that lens). It’s only like a $499 lens, but what made it work was the fact that I had a D700 that could shoot at 4000 ISO (which is what those shots were taken at).

      Hope that helps. :)

      -Scott

  16. Congrats on getting the play that sealed the deal :)

  17. Ok so I was in New Orleans for the game and everything there was absolutely nuts.
    Brad knows how I ended my night but I plead the 5th as to not loose my Man-card.

    The link on my name has photos on my blog from the Saints/Cardinals Game and Ill be putting up the Saints/Vikings game here pretty soon. I know im a slacker for not having done it in 2 weeks

    Go Saints, Who Dat??, and as a native new orlean-ian and die hard saints fan, im pretty sure last night was one of the greatest moments of my life

  18. Thanks for sharing Scott, and letting us “live it” a little bit with you. Sounds like it was a blast.

  19. Hey Scott! Great pics of the game!

    I’ve got a question about your “beloved 70-300” :)
    I picked up that lens as a refurb, but it seems to have a lot of trouble focusing when I’m zoomed all the way in. It never seems to be able to lock in to a focus. Sometimes it hits it’s focus, pauses, and then keeps going until it hits the end of it’s focus range and then just stops. Only way to get it to go back is to manually turn the ring.

    I’ve already brought it back over to Nikon (corporate HQ is about 20 minutes from me) and they’ve “fixed it” by completely replacing the focusing mechanism, but it’s still giving me problems, or at least what I perceive as problems. Is this normal operation for this lens? I don’t have any other bigger lenses, so I don’t really have anything to compare it to. I just have a gut feeling that something isn’t right, despite the fact that Nikon has replaced the insides and re-tested it as working. I think this is the last time I buy refurb…

    Thanks!
    ~Chris

  20. Next time put that 2x teleconverter in your pocket and get even closer LOL!! Great images Scott!

  21. Scott,

    I was in the tailgate before the game and noticed you walking around taking pictures. I too was in the stands, but only brought a point and shoot. I was scanning the sidelines all night as I thought you might have ended up down there.

    You have some great images from the game.

  22. Wow. Scott, you are a blessed man. Really appreciate you sharing all that you do.
    And for showing us what can be achieve when you combine hard word and dedication with your passion. Helps to make it through those late nights and tight deadlines.

    Thanks

    Brian

  23. Cool stuff…was wondering why these shots looked a bit odd compared to your other ones…
    Also, is it me or was the grass at this pitch not very green like some of your other shots?

  24. Sorry to change the flow of comments here from Super Bowl to snow. We had a big snow here in the DC area. Any helpful hints on how to capture the light of ice, snow melting and the “sparkles” up in the trees. Some great things to see but not so great on my photos.

    Thanks so much,
    Snowed in VA Deb

  25. Fantastic shots, Scott. Hope the NFL doesn’t see them or they’re going to go down to 5″ ;-). You probably could have sneaked in a converter.

  26. Thanks for the grey card from Bluffton, OH. Just got it in the mail. You are very kind.

  27. Thanks for the tip about bringing in a longer lens. Three years ago I brought a long lens to the Patriots/Dolphins game & got through security no problem. The next year I brought the same lens but got turned away so last Dec. I didn’t bring my camera. I didn’t know that their was a specific length that was allowed (I should have looked into it). This time, I’ll bring a zoom and a teleconverter-can’t wait. I’m so happy for the Saints!!! Glad you got to go to the game.

  28. Great shots…I would have loved to see the half time set up and break down! That was amazing…You said it was great in person (I can imagine), but it was pretty good on TV as well!

  29. I’m truly jealous… not of the game but you being able to shoot The Who during the halftime show! I was bitten by the concert photography bug after PSW in Vegas last year udring the pre-con workshop. Would love to see more of the show.

  30. Great photos Scott. You truly are a blessed man. However, from the sheer magnitude of all the endevors you are involved with, you obviously work your butt off to earn it. Maybe your next book should be an autobiography. I think it would be very inspiring.

  31. Some nice pics Scott and from Australia (viewed on HDTV), the game looked spectacular.
    But rugby league it ain’t – it’s a little bit too slow paced for my liking! :-)

    Enjoy your website immensely.

    Max

  32. Scott i love your photography but these shots graphically illustrate the difference between shooting from the sidelines & shooting from the stands with amateur lenses.

    • Hi Dennis:
      I agree. I didn’t take the lens to shoot the game (I didn’t expect to be shooting the game at all). I took it to shoot the concert beforehand, but I wanted a camera just to shoot friends and stuff and the halftime show.

      Shooting from 150 yards up in the stands will never compare with shooting on the sidelines. When it comes to shooting sports, it’s all about access, and I had the same access as 80,000 other people, so the photo look very average, and none of them will make my sports portfolio, where all the shots were taken from the sidelines. You can see them by clicking on the Portfolio link at the top left of the page.

      -Scott

  33. wow! you were lucky enough to shoot there and to watch the superbowl! great shots!

  34. Great pictures Scott! The only thing I can see wrong with them is there arent nearly anough Colts in them!!!!!!! GOOOOO COOOOLLLLTTTSSS!!!!!!! Superbowl 45 here we come!

  35. Wow. Wow. Wow. Feels like I was there!

  36. Great shots, it the NFL would take a look at these shots, and realize that someone “without credentials” were able to take shots like these with a “cheap lens” from “cheap seats” they would probably number one, hire you for the sidelines next year, and two, shorten up on what they allow into the stadium for lenses next year. Again great shots, the stories you are going to be able to tell your grand kids someday, amazing, cheers

  37. I’m glad you used Chase Jarvis’ advice on the best camera is the one you have with you. Thanks for the up close and personal view of the Superbowl.

    And thanks for shooting ‘without credentials’. You didn’t let that stop you from getting shots that we can enjoy.

  38. Scott – you said you had your camera at ISO 4000 (wow!) to get those shots and I assume you were racked out at 300 mm (thanks for that term from one of your Digital Photography books) and were using the smallest aperture you could (f/5.6). What sort of shutter speed(s) did you need for those shots?

    PS – if you keep “shooting friends” you may run out of friends rather quickly :)

  39. Not sure where to post this but I wanted to ask if anyone has heard of National Clicks?

    Can someone help me find it?

    Overheard some co-workers talking about it all week but didn’t have time to ask so I thought I would post it here to see if someone could help me out.

    Seems to be getting alot of buzz right now.

    Thanks

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