Small Town Photojournalism

A Photo Blog by Matthew Jonas

Friday Night Darkness (Lights?)

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© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

Fall sports started a couple of weeks ago and I have been busy Friday nights ever since. For many of us that means high school football. This is a time of year that I both look forward to and dread. The weather is finally cooling off and the days are becoming shorter. Unfortunately that means that the sun sets earlier and with game times starting around 7pm I am forced to deal with awful stadium lights (hence the phrase Friday Night Lights). This used to mean that I had to break out the flash-bracket-battery-pack-monopod contraption in order to stop action and get a decent exposure. Not anymore. I recently acquired a Canon EOS 7D which I have blogged about here and there. With fast lenses (f2.8 or better) and lower noise higher ISOs, football has become fun to shoot again.

The first photo was made with an EOS 1D Mark II N and wide angle lens. I arrived at the game a little early and tried to make a few feature photos to go along with game action. The sun was setting fast and I noticed the Columbine players warming up. I wanted to get as much sky and sunset as possible. So I placed the camera on the ground, pre-focused and fired away while players ran past. It was a gamble but a few frames actually turned out.

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

The second photo was made using the EOS 7D and a 70-200mm lens. I look at this image and think about how hard this would have been to make without ISO 4000, 1/500th and f2.8. It’s a little noisy but it’s sharp, the action is good and besides McDondle had like 5 touchdowns anyway. This might end up as our A1 cover this week.

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

It’s important to be able to cover both action and reaction. This particular game was a big cross town rivalry. I knew that both teams would be emotional afterward. The photo above was an easy one to make. A lot of the teams that I cover regularly have a fight song they sing after the game. This is a frame I liked made with an EOS 1D Mark II N, wide angle lens, 1/25oth, f5, ISO 1600, fill flash.

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

The photo above was a little harder to make. While the winning team sang their fight song, many of the Chatfield players made their way to the locker room. This didn’t give me much of an opportunity to find a make rejection photo. I made a few frames here and there and made sure to keep my distance to let the players collect their emotions. I approach these situations as respectfully as possible. No motordrive, no in-your-face wide angle shots. Both teams played well but in all contests there is a winner and a loser.

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

The photo here is the second to last play before going into overtime. Columbine tried a 50+ yard field goal attempt to break the tie unsuccessfully on the next play. Again this was made with the EOS 7D and 70-200mm. This is shot that would have been nearly impossible to freeze at a slower shutter speed and lower ISO.

This was a fun game to shoot. I made a lot of good photos but also a lot of bad photos. Some teams just don’t pass the ball much. The challenge with shooting those teams is trying to get a shot where there are not a pile of bodies on the ball carrier. My experience shooting football for the last 5 seasons really helped with this game. I think I am finally starting to feel comfortable shooting football.

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