The Best of 2009: Football

I am going to start off with my best of 2009 with a collection of football photos. In 2009 I worked really hard to develop relationships with the coaches, staff and players of the schools that I cover on a regular basis. I shot essays on players that overcame disabilities to play. I showed coaches the respect they deserve by asking first for permission (you know who you are DP shooters) to enter the locker rooms before games. I worked the sidelines during the games for off the field moments. When teams took the field, I took the field along with them. I showed up early for practice and stayed late after games. And while none of the teams I covered made the playoffs I still put in a lot of effort and am looking forward to next season.

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5A Football Play offs: Columbine vs. Chaparral

Football Play offs are upon us. I couldn’t be happier. (Well, I guess I could because I could really use my 300mm lens that was run over on the sidelines last week.)

With only 2 teams left in our coverage area still in the running, my schedule is settling down and I can actually shoot the entire game without having to run off to shoot 2 (or more) games in one night. Speaking of night, so far all the play off games have been during the day. This is great: low ISOs, high shutter speeds and full buffers. It makes finding the right game defining moment a lot easier when I can choose from a sequence of images instead of choosing what is in focus.

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Sideline Dangers Revisited

Last night while shooting at Jefferson County Stadium it happened. I was focused on the action down field and a player was shoved out of bounds resulting in a flag and crashed into me and my 300mm lens. I didn’t take the full hit but I took enough of it to smash the camera into my face, knock my glasses off and completely destroy the auto focus, image stabilization, lens hood and tripod mount ring on the lens.

The camera body which I had purchased literally a week ago was dusty but not damaged. If that wasn’t bad enough my other camera with my 24-70mm f2.8 lens broke my fall. It survived with a few scrapes and appears to focus and zoom fine. The camera body on that lens was my trusty EOS 1D Mark IIN and it takes a licking and keeps on ticking as if nothing had happened. Oh yeah, did I mention that my 16-35mm f2.8 lens was in my belt pack. Somewhere in the tumble I managed to land on it as well. It doesn’t appear to have sustained much damage although the zoom and focus rings now seem to be a little more loose.

If you are keeping score that would be 2 lenses that need to be overnighted to Canon Professional Services on Monday. I really need to get them back by the weekend. Hopefully the 300mm lens is not beyond repair. Its still in one piece, technically. It has become such an asset to shooting sports that I am not sure what I would do without it. I guess if its beyond repair I will just have to suck it up and finally get a 300mm f2.8. That is not really in my budget right now but I have to have something longer than 200mm.

So the moral of this story is…I’m not exactly sure. I was doing everything right by keeping my eye on the action and my surroundings. It was a hit after the whistle that I didn’t see in part because of the other people on the sidelines blocking my view. There probably wasn’t anything that I could do to avoid it. So I will box up my lenses, send them off to Canon and pull out my credit card. I hope the publisher will understand the my next expense report.

Sideline Dangers


A couple of months ago a Colorado photographer/sports reporter was taking notes at a football game and got crushed by 2 players as they were falling out of bounds. He suffered serious injuries that may keep him from being able to walk or at least walk unassisted for the rest of his life (the photo above is not him, its explained below). It happens when you let your guard down an has probably happened on more occasions with lesser consequences. “Knock on wood,” it has never happened to me. I have come very close several times including while I was shooting at a 76ers game in Philly. NBA players are a lot bigger and heavier in person than they look on TV. I saw this at a game I was covering last week.

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I thought this was a football game


There are many stresses to my job: deadlines, scheduling 3 assignments in 2 hours, dealing with unhappy subjects, trying to get a hold of subjects for stories, coming up with cover art every week, deadlines, updating the photo galleries online, deadlines, i could go on and on.

Dealing with the emotions of parents at a high school football game is part of my job. I generally try to tune out a lot of the “noise” at football games and concentrate on the action. Last nights televised game between Columbine and Bear Creek was no exception. Emotions were running high in a typical rivalry.

Columbine quarterback Danny Spond was having an off night. He had fumbled the ball a handful of times in the second quarter just before the end of the half. He seemed to struggle throughout the third quarter. In the fourth quarter Spond was having many of the same problems he had earlier in the game. He was also suffering some brutal hits from the Bear Creek defense.

When he finally stepped off the field late in the fourth quarter he nearly collapsed. Spond was quickly rushed to the bench and things would quickly get worse from there. He was fading in and out of consciousness. Coaches acted quickly and moved him from the bench to the ground and called 911. His jersey and pads were cut off of him while waiting for paramedics to arrive and his feet were raised. Spond was eventually taken from the field by ambulance and transported to Swedish hospital appearing to be suffering from a concussion.

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