Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Heaven in San Diego: Shooting Sports Photography With The Dallas Cowboys

So I was fortunate enough to be able to gain a field pass through Dallas Cowboys TV, and shoot stills of the Cowboys vs San Diego Chargers NFL football game.  As a lifelong Cowboys fan, and avid photographer, this was a great opportunity for me to experience something very rare.  I don't have much experience shooting sports, but I have a love of football that transcends my mortal shell.  I did my best to stay out of the way, and shoot photographs that many of the pros don't get the opportunity to shoot since they have actual professional  responsibilities.  Anything I can do to create "different" photos is a good thing.
Scott Purcel is the director of Cowboys TV media relations. Scott handles all the video and still photography from the Cowboys, and is also responsible for the really cool GoPro helmet cam angles from training camp.  He inspires, rather than tries to control me, and gives me the freedom to create whatever I want.  Most of the time, he's very busy managing his pro staff of video people, so I simply drift around, and look for the human element in football.  There's so much happening on the sidelines between the players and coaches that never gets seen, so I gravitate to the bench for the faces and raw emotions.  A friend turned me on to fine art photographer Neil Leifer, who is now a major influence on anything I do (Thanks, Dave Katz).  And, many thanks to Scott for having me.  I only hope I shot something different.






< Tony Romo in black and white.  After I finished with the color version, I let my creativity run free with an infrared filter.  The results were stunning, and the sheen on Romo's helmet was just so cool.

















< Jason Witten (TE).  This man is larger than two of you, can outrun you, can bench press you, and has some of the best hands in football.  I enjoyed watching him interact with the younger players, and be a leader on and off the field.





< Dez Bryant (WR).  Here's Dez watching the replay of the defensive interception.  Dez is not-so-quietly emerging as one of the elite receivers in the NFL.  His intensity was amazing, and he carried a lot of respect from the other players.



< This is a good example of the face to face emotion that rarely gets seen on the sidelines.  When you can see the whites of their eyes, it's a good bet you snapped a good photo.







< Gratuitous cheerleader shot.  I loved this snap for obvious reasons, but the composition was really cool.  These women were serious about their job, and I was dazzled with their professionalism.  Their ability to dance in the hot sun with a smile and go-go boots was impressive.
< Philip Rivers plods for his life.  To shoot sports, you need to use a very fast shutter speed to capture the action in a freeze frame.  I try to find a sweet spot of about 1/800 sec using my 70-200mm lens with a 2x extender.  With shutter speeds that fast, you need a lot of light.  Even with the crazy bright sunlight, I still crank my ISO to 800 or above in order to get enough light for a frozen image (with a full frame 5DMKIII).  If I'm using shutter-priority, I don't need to worry about my f-stop, but in manual mode I try to stop down between f/11-f/22 for some deep focus.






< RB Danny Woodhead cuts up the middle.











< Thank you, Qualcomm Stadium, Scott Purcel, and Dallas Cowboys TV.  Stay classy, San Diego.






TO SEE THE REST OF THE PHOTOS, PLEASE CLICK HERE.


< Me on sideline shot.



< Wrangling an overhead shot of the action.




< Sideline selfie.







FROM THE VAULT:


< Me and friend (Mike Medina) with the great Tom Landry at Cowboys training camp somewhere in the dark ether of my timeline.









< My autograph board from the late 70's championship team.

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