Not just kudos to Head Coach Douds for his longevity; he still gets it done and with class!
Congratulations, Coach Douds!
Last week I attended the Penn State football game in State College. The Nittany Lions were hosting the Buffalo Bulls for the second game of the new season. I used to buy Manchester United football tickets from Ticket4Football.com and this time I also bought tickets there. I took my good friend and former football coach, Al Van Houten. We met my brother and my son for the pre-game activities and we visited some other friends in the RV tailgate area. Then it was game time! There is nothing quite like college football on a Saturday afternoon!
Just two days before the game I received a call from the Sports Information Director, Greg Knowlden, at East Stroudsburg University asking if I could photograph some of their football games this year. Yeah?! Of course! The only thing better for me than watching college football on a Saturday afternoon as a fan is photographing the game down on the field! So this Saturday I will be on the Eiler-Martin Stadium field to photograph the ESU game.
I covered one game last year for ESU and a few of my photos were published on their website and in the local newspaper, The Pocono Record. However, as I was doing my research before this weekend’s game, I discovered that one of my photos is featured on the 2015 East Stroudsburg University Football Media Guide! (You can see the cover below and my photo is in the upper left.) This photo was also featured in the local newspaper’s pre-season football issue.
Did I say I love football? Well, I do, don’t you?
The third college game I photographed this year featured East Stroudsburg University hosting Mercyhurst. The action was back and forth in the first half and it was fast and furious! It still took some concentrated effort to keep up with the pace of the college game, but I could definitely see a difference in my performance from the first college game of the season.
This photo was not quite as easy to capture as I expected. There were many problems I encountered before capturing this shot. Many times the QB rolled out to the opposite side of the field, going away from me. Other times, the pocket was formed around the QB and linemen were in the way. Still other times, the referee was smack dab in the middle of my frame! It took me well over half the game to capture this pose, but I think it turned out pretty well.
Sometimes the QB pulls the ball down and has to scramble for yardage. And sometimes the play is a designed QB-keeper. Either way, keep the QB in your viewfinder and track his movement. This is probably one of the easier photos to capture. I like this shot because both feet are airborne. I think this pose just portrays action! I really enjoyed the three college football games I photographed this year. I learned a lot and got a little better. All-in-all, it was a very good football season!
Chest pumps, high fives, spikes, and dances are just some of the celebrations you will see on game day after a touchdown or a big play. Photographing these celebrations helps to tell the full story of the game. Keep your camera on the player who scored the touchdown long after the play. Keep following and shooting, and you will get shots likes these.
Touchdown celebrations have changed over the years. Some include a simple spike of the football. Other times it is a complicated and well-rehearsed combination of moves. Either way, these can be great photographic moments! Tracking the players and always being ready are the keys to success.
Capturing the faces of at least one of the players is a good goal with celebrations. Using a wider angle lens is often a good idea, especially if the celebration breaks out in the endzone near your spot. Pay attention to the backgrounds, too.
Chest pumps are all the rave these days. From the pro games down to the pee wees, chest pumps are often seen on the football field. Capturing these celebrations is simply a matter of being prepared and following the players after the whistle blows and the play is over. Give it a try.
Another college game produced some great action for me to photograph this past Saturday as East Stroudsburg hosted Millersville.
It was not a close game–ESU ran away with it actually. But the action was thrilling nevertheless! I was more successful in following the action with my camera and the athletes provided some great action on the field!
What do you think about these action photos?
Today I photographed the Millersville v. East Stroudsburg University football game. It was my first stringer assignment for the Easton Express-Times. They posted this photo and a gallery of my photos from today’s game on their website, which you can view here.
I said before that the atmosphere of shooting a college football game is over the top and today was no exception. Even though ESU won 66-17, it was a thrill to be there and shoot the game! I’ll tell you, being alongside the field sure beats being a couch potato and watching the games at home on TV!
Today I was a little more successful tracking the receivers down field to capture the action on the pass receptions. Knowing some of the go-to players helped. Knowledge of the game and the situation on each down is also advantageous. I believe I am getting better with my sports photography and I hope my sports photos show it!
The Lock Haven v. East Stroudsburg college football game was a thrill for me to photograph on a number of levels. It was my first college football photo assignment. This alone had me psyched up! It was also an afternoon game and I was looking forward to shooting a game in more available light. The thrill of watching these college athletes compete on the gridiron was more than enough to get me excited!
The action did not disappoint. It was high energy from the start! The intensity, emotion, and enthusiasm were all present from the start. This first photo above shows some of the passion put on the field by these players. It is absolutely incredible! And to think I have the honor and privilege of being on the field to capture these special moments with my camera… well, it’s just mind boggling!
Homecoming always seems to host an enthusiastic and high-energy crowd. When the home team scores; all the better! Here, wide receiver, Robert Bleiler, is running for the touchdown after a 96-yard run after reception.
Robert Bleiler & Greg Blue are celebrating after a touchdown in this photograph. Capturing the emotions and celebrations after a play can be very successful. Just be very careful about putting a camera in the face of a defeated player.
Kickoffs are not always the easiest play to photograph. There is just so much going on at this time. Players are everywhere and it looks like organized chaos! Here I was able to obtain a clean view of the kicker without another player in the frame. Whew, lucky!
Saturday I photographed the Lock Haven v. East Stroudsburg college football game–my first college photo assignment. It was a thrill to be on the college scene and it was Homecoming to boot!
I arrived early enough to obtain my credentials at the gate. This is definitely a different scene than my usual Friday night high school football games. I also had just enough time to watch both teams in their pre-game warmups. I like to do this in order to determine who the main go-to players appear to be for each team. I also like to determine whether the quarterbacks are right or left-handed.
The National Anthem was sung and both teams took the field to much enthusiasm in the stadium. Being on a college field on a Saturday afternoon was almost surreal! I quickly gathered my composure and settled in to photographing the game. As expected, I found the daylight shooting time to be much easier than my typical high school Friday nights under the lights. It was cloudy at times, which did cause some different problems. The clouds would open up and bright sunlight illuminated the players. Then, as the game progressed, dark shadows from the bleachers draped onto the field. I concluded after the shoot that in those conditions I might have been better off using the Auto-ISO setting.
Nevertheless, I was able to capture some quality photographs of the game. I enjoyed the abundant and glowing light, which appeared through the clouds at times. I also prefer to compose the action photos tightly. Backgrounds were a problem, even at a college game. Some empty bleachers, vehicles at the one end of the field, and other distracting backgrounds came into play at times for me. Backgrounds are critical for a quality sports photograph and I was successfully able to work around these problems some of the time but not always.
I also found myself better able to capture the eyes of the players in the daylight. This is one of the three main criterion for a “What makes a football photo great,” according to Peter Read Miller in his book, On Sports Photography. I highly recommend this book as a resource for sports photographers. It is chock full of great info and tidbits of information to shoot sports more successfully. I am finding it extremely useful in my current photo endeavors and re-read the football chapters again before going out to shoot this college game on Saturday afternoon.
One thing I quickly agreed with Peter Read Miller about was the struggle to photograph a football game between all the officials. There are more referees at a college game than in a high school game. They were all over the place! I found myself having to move upfield ahead of the play more than typical for me. I also agree with Peter that the end zone was the sweet spot much of the time as the teams were driving for a score. Using my 200-400mm f/4 lens was invaluable. I was proud to sport my Nikon cap from my position alongside the field because my Nikon equipment was helping me capture some amazing photographs!
The college game is longer than a high school game, so endurance was more of a consideration than I originally imagined. My knees were more achy than typical as a result. Wearing kneepads certainly helped, as I prefer to keep a low profile in my shooting position. I just think this makes for a much better perspective when shooting football, and just about any sport for that matter. Take a knee (or two) when shooting a game and you will see a big difference!
The college game is also faster than a high school game. I found it more difficult to track the receivers and be on time when they caught a pass from their QB. I did get better as the game progressed, but it was definitely a challenge. In the future, I need to learn more about the QB’s tendencies and who his main go-to guys are in important downs. Knowledge of the game and the teams’ tendencies are invaluable.
All-in-all, my first photo assignment at a college football game was successful. The newspaper printed one of my photos of the ESU quarterback who had a big day. He passed for 462 yards and four touchdowns in this game! My tight photo of him winding up to pass down field was the winning photo picked by the editors.
Now, I cannot wait for my next college day assignment! It was an absolute blast and I can’t wait to do it again! I am sure I will learn more and keep perfecting my sports photography skills.