My wife and I both enjoyed our time working with the Evansville Rage in 2012. And I kind of kept track of some of our guys in preparation for the 2013 season. Turns out that we had 5 guys from the 2012 Rage playing summer ball for a semi-pro team in Indianapolis, the Indiana Mustangs. So, late in July we made the trek (would have just been a trip; but, thanks to all the traffic and construction on I-70, it was at minimum a trek, more likely a journey) up to Indy to watch Josh Cox, Mike Cupp, Robbie Piper, Jordan Cook, Rodney “RJ” Morris and Dontae Hart play football.
We had a blast and Josh talked to their GM to get me a sideline pass. I had SO many of my favorite things happening right there – up-close, football, outdoors and daytime! Man, I had a blast! The action was intense and the orange jerseys offered some nice change of pace with colors. Football-wise, the Mustangs played a hard fought game against the Indiana Generals, also based out of Indy, and won with a closing minute touchdown. It was an exciting game!
It was a treat to shoot football outdoors. I was able to shoot f2.8 and ISO 250 at first. I ended up at ISO 800 as the skies started to grow dark and the stadium lights started to come on. Shutter speed was pretty nice most of the day – 1/1600 sec. That’s almost like setting your camera to Auto – just make sure you focus!
If you are up for watching OR playing summer football, check out the Indiana Mustangs on their Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Indiana-Mustangs/107632097085?fref=ts. Oh, and if you want to see Jordan Cook and RJ play in the winter of 2013, come out to an Owensboro Rage game – http://www.owensbororage.com or http://www.facebook.com/OwensboroRage. More to come on the Rage…..
I can’t believe how lax I have been in updating my page. A lot has happened since March of last year. Well, almost a full YEAR has passed! I’ll try to catch everyone up in the next couple of months.
So, I just finished enjoying my first weekend in a month with NO football photography. Okay, “enjoying” may not be the right word. I am LOVING my time with the Evansville Rage. And boy am I learning a lot. I made it through the first regular season game photos, the 63-35 defeat of the Indianapolis Enforcers. I shot the entire game on Av and ISO 3200. I am pretty happy with the pictures. I definitely need to keep going to practices and getting my own practice on panning. I have had pretty good success with panning at car races. But, in the big picture, that’s pretty easy since everything moves together. When you deal with body motion, you’ve got SO much movement – head, arms, legs and everything else! I’ve been trying to keep my focal points on either the helmet logo or jersey number. Sometimes that is easier said than done! Still plenty of room for improvement.
Something I am going to try for our next home game, an April 7 meeting with the Dayton Silverbacks, is working my way back to Manual. I’ve been shooting manual for some time now and have been shooting aperture priority for the Rage as I get comfortable and used to the new environment AND sport. It’s easy to shoot outdoors with good light. And it takes more skill (or luck) to shoot indoors with questionable lighting, at least for someone like myself. But, I’m learning and plan to practice hard to get the team and the players the photos they deserve! Anyway, planning to shoot ISO 3200 and 1/320 shutter for our next home game.
In the meantime, the next Evansville Rage game is Friday night, March 30, at the Saginaw Sting. This will be a true test to see where the Rage are as a team as I just heard that Saginaw won three of the last four championships. I have faith in our team though. If we play OUR game, I think we have a good chance of coming back home 3-0! Game time is 6:30pm CDT and will be broadcast on ESPN Radio, 106.7 FM in Evansville. I think you can also listen online at http://goo.gl/nWJeR (I grabbed a shortened link). Let’s go Rage!
Well, tonight is the first regular season game for the Evansville Rage. And I have to admit, I have some pregame butterflies. Seriously? I’m only the stinking photographer – why on EARTH would I be nervous?
My insides are aflutter as it is now go time. I’ve been practicing different camera settings trying to find that sweet spot where I can accept that the shot is crisp enough and that I can also capture the “action”. Blur can be cool sometimes. But not ALL the time. I need to be ready. And I need to be able to anticipate. Do I pick a big playmaker for each play and follow him? Do I just go full wide down the middle of the field and play the part of the mad cropper when it’s time to process the pics? Am I gonna wear my Rage shirt tucked in or out? Am I even going to wear it? Arrrggghhhh!
I feel like Tweek from South Park! Maybe I need coffee? Nah, I just need for the game to start and to find my comfort zone. I’ve been practicing as our players have been practicing and I am ready for this. Thanks to my buddy Cong, I had the courage at practice this week to journey beyond ISO 1600. I worked my way all the way up to ISO 4000 which, at Metro, was allowing me to go up to 1/320 and even 1/400 sec shutter! I am only making my first pass through the pictures but am already liking the results! I KNOW there are grainy pictures in there; but, I am thinking who really cares about graininess?
This is kind of a philosophical topic – graininess. We all know that as ISO increases, so does graininess. How does that REALLY affect us? If I was a fine art photographer or a portrait photographer, you’re darn right – I want my ISO at 100, 200 tops! But in sports where we are shooting action, does it really matter? What’s the biggest anyone will ever see my photos? 3×5? 4×6? MAYBE someone will blow it up on screen. But, I’ll bet folks almost NEVER zoom in to the detail that I do when I run the shots through Lightroom. Any other photographers out there agree or disagree? I would really love to hear different views on this topic.
So, here I am about to head out to wash windows before tonight’s game. Planning to shoot ISO 4000 pregame, see how things come out and then make a decision for the next home game. For the game, I will shoot like last week – ISO 1000, f2.8, aperture priority. I will try to keep getting better at metering as that made a WORLD of difference.
Peace out and we’ll see you after game 1!
Inspiration. Have you ever been inspired? Have you ever been so driven that you were willing to do ANYTHING to achieve your goal? I want to share with you something happening right now, TODAY, that has inspired me. And that thing is a brand new football team called the Evansville Rage.
On January 22, my life took a very cool little turn as I took the red pill to see how far the rabbit hole goes. As I was having an audition of my own for a chance to broaden my photography skills to football, 40-plus men came out to Metro Sports in Evansville to see if they had what it took to become members of the city’s newest professional sports team, the Evansville Rage, an indoor football team and new member of the CIFL. One week prior, the Rage had their first tryout near Cincinnati. And then a month later, February 26, there was a second tryout in Evansville where 30-plus guys came out, but only a couple were invited to stay in Evansville for the next two weeks for training camp which would begin the following day.
My small role in this story is that I am an avid sports photographer and I wanted to be even just a little part of this new team. I love photography and have loved football since I was a kid – I had pictures of the likes of Bob Griese, Larry Csonka, Dick Butkus and others on my bedroom door and would say all their names before bed each night. As I have grown older, my love for football has grown and now I wanted to photograph this game I love and I wanted to meet new people in my new town. The regular season hasn’t even started and I am happy to say that I have already achieved those goals. Now there are new goals that include honing my football shooting skills (learning to get crisper photos and to anticipate big plays) and giving the team and fans alike exciting photos of THEIR team! The fact that my wife also has a role with the Rage makes this journey all that much sweeter. But, this is not about my wife or me, at least not directly. It’s more about the effect the past few weeks with the Evansville Rage has had on me.
When you think of football, what kind of people do you see? I’m talking about both fans and players. Think of all those folks and I’ll bet at least one of each showed up to tryout for the Rage. There were short guys, tall guys, skinny guys, big guys, fast guys, slow guys and the list goes on and on. I’m sure every one of you could have found someone you could pull for to make the team. Some of the players who tried out are natural athletes who have a gift. Others had to rely on heart, desire and sheer effort to have a chance at making the team.
I don’t have a lot of direct experience with professional sports – neither minor league nor major league. Sure, I’ve taken my camera with me to NBA and NHL games; but, I’ve never been a PART of it. I have enjoyed watching and learning about the business of building a new team. I have watched how different people react to the stress of making it all come together. I can tell you that budgets are plenty tight, especially in this economy that has been struggling for several years now. Hopeful Rage players had to pay a small fee just to tryout. I wouldn’t doubt that there were even a couple guys who had to take those last couple laundry quarters just to be able to afford their tryout fee. I certainly have more humility than I had going into this. I appreciate more what I have. I also have a greater appreciation for what it means to these men just to have a chance to make the team. And for what? Money? I highly doubt it. This is about MORE than simply playing professional football. This is a story of desire and the love of football and the reason I am inspired by the Evansville Rage players.
With a few days to go before the season starts, I have to say what an amazing experience this season has been already. I am loving doing my thing for the Rage, photography. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE in this organization has been friendly, cooperative and most of them even offer a smile when I point the lens their way. The Evansville Rage players are not here to make bank. Oh no, these men are here because they love football. Some of them may want that last hurrah before they accept that their knees can’t make it any longer or that their shoulders can only take a couple more hits. I never played football myself. But, I can imagine how it feels for these guys to put on their pads, strap on their helmets and step on the turf. Indoors or outdoors, football is football… well, except when it’s soccer. This is hard-nosed, only-the-strong-survive FOOTBALL!
As the Evansville Rage roster becomes finalized, I am learning some of the players’ different personalities and quirks. There are players who motivate and inspire their teammates. There are players who are more workmanlike and just go out and do their job. There are also players whose hearts have to make up for lack of size or football pedigree. This past Friday night, the Rage played their second and final preseason game, a win over the Kentucky Xtreme. It was a chippy game with the visitors getting in several hard shots on the Rage. But, our guys fought back and refused to back down. I believe that the Rage dressed 29 men for this game, several players having to share jerseys and gear come halftime. Think about teams you have played for – did you ever have to go into the locker room and put on the sweaty jersey from a teammate at halftime so you could get in the game for the second half? Not trying to gross you out – I simply want you to think about how much making the team means to these men.
For the regular season, it is my understanding that the Rage will dress only 19 and will include another 6 or so on the practice squad (if I get that right). This means that some of the guys we’ve been watching for the past couple weeks might not be at Clarion Field at Swonder Ice Arena this Saturday night for the season opener against the Indianapolis Enforcers. Instead, they may already be on their way home and that breaks my heart.
Heart. I have seen SO much heart in the past two weeks. Some people find it difficult to understand why others (especially guys) like sports. And others find it difficult to understand why we PLAY sports. It’s because of moments like this. You watch regular guys, many of them excellent athletes mind you, leave everything behind for awhile to play a sport for which their passion runs deeper than everything they know. They don’t know the word ‘quit’ and they leave absolutely every ounce of their being on the field. They sacrifice their bodies. They take risks. They do whatever it takes to a) make the team and b) win the game. These should probably be labeled a) and a) as I think both are right at the tops of everyone’s minds. Inspired yet?
Over the past couple months, I have seen players with impressive Big Ten football resumes, guys who played JuCo football, guys who are coaches, guys who drive cabs for a living, guys who may already know more about manual labor than the rest of us will ever know and also probably some guys on the other end of the spectrum who have flourishing new careers outside of sports who put everything on hold for awhile so they can have a chance to play the game they love.
Three qualities that I have seen from our Evansville Rage are desire, passion and HEART! These are the reasons I love this team and why I am inspired by our Rage players. Believe me when I tell you that they are most worthy of your adoration and support. City of Evansville, you should be proud to call the Evansville Rage YOUR team. If you are in the area, please come out to a game. It’s great family fun and every single player, coach and staff member will be glad you’re there. You can even hang out after the games to meet the players, YOUR Evansville Rage players.
You will see posts from me throughout the 2012 Evansville Rage season right here and I will post to Twitter (follow me at the little button at the upper right hand corner of this page) when I can. For game and ticket information, you should check out the Evansville Rage website (click here) or their Facebook page, what I have been calling the Rage Page (click here).
Come out and Feel the Rage!
The last couple of weeks have given me an opportunity to really get myself into football photography. Prior to this past January, I had NEVER shot football save one practice for the Chicago Force, a Professional Women’s tackle football team who practiced near our old home. Now, I am taking my game indoors where I’ve already learned a lot and have been having a blast!
I’ll be writing another post about my recent experiences with the Evansville Rage shortly after this one. First, I want to talk about the photography aspect and then I will get a little philosophical, perhaps mushy, with the second one because I have really grown to appreciate the team (players, coaches and staff) and have become a fan of OUR Evansville Rage!
So, what am I learning about photography? I am definitely learning to be patient and not force the shot. I am used to shooting outdoors, specifically auto racing and cycling, two of my absolute favorites where bright sunshine is my biggest obstacle. I also love shooting hockey, which is similar to indoor football in the fact that they are both indoors. Football has a green floor though while the floor in hockey is, well, white ice. The Rage also give us two different environments – practice and game.
The two Evansville tryouts were and practices are held at Metro Sports. The lighting is dim and the action is fast, a tough combination for a guy who is trying to get used to panning with football players. Actually, the lights are plenty bright, they are just some 15-20 feet in the air AND there is netting between meaning that whatever light we get on the field is already diffused. My main lens is a Canon EF 70-200mm, 2.8L IS II, my BABY! So, when I talk, know that I am almost always shooting f2.8. Also, I try to shoot Manual when I can. Anyway, I ended up shooting ISO 1600 and about 1/160 sec shutter. Hello grainy! This week, I went to the final practice before gameday, a walkthrough. The action was not intense and I had the chance to practice. I kept f2.8 all night. I practiced with shooting mode, ISO and for probably my first time ever, metering! Thanks a lot to my friend Nancy for helping me with metering.
First thing I wanted to accomplish was to get some of the graininess out of my shots; i.e., reduce the ISO. I honestly don’t like shooting higher than ISO 800. But, sometimes you do what you gotta do until you learn to be better at panning. Panning is easier in a game as everyone is wearing the same thing and there are small targets on the jerseys, helmets and elsewhere to serve as points of focus. By the way, when I shoot sports, I am almost always on single-point focus mainly because it lets me use the # button on the back of the camera body for quick autofocus – this let’s me push forward when I click rather than push down. If you’ve tried this, you know what I mean. Anyway, practice offers a number of obstacles both in contrast and minimal focal points. We get a lot of high contrast (dark clothing/light skin and dark skin/light clothing). This is really a matter more in metering which we will discuss in a second.
Okay, I’m rambling. Where were we? Oh yeah, ISO. I wanted to shoot ISO 800. I tried it; but, the 1/40 and 1/60 shutters gave me troubles when guys were moving. I ended up shooting about ISO 1000 at practice and on gameday which offered better lighting meaning that more light could reach the sensor resulting in shutters between 1/100 and 1/125). I also decided to give up some of my photo-machismo and change my shooting mode to Av, aperture priority. If you haven’t shot in Av (on Canon, might be AP on Nikon and others), you are telling the camera, “hey, I want my f2.8 or whatever) to be constant and you go ahead and choose my shutter speed.” At ISO 1250 (practice), I ended up shooting right around 1/100 sec shutter speed. At the game Friday night (Clarion Field at Swonder Ice Arena), I was able to shoot ISO 1000 and generally was shooting between 1/100 and 1/125. I admit that I dumped a bunch of shots. But, I was SO happy with how crisp the keepers came out and , how about this, how some of the blurred shots looked. Sometimes blurry looks pretty cool. This was true for both Thursday practice and the game on Friday.
So, we’ve discussed ISO and Av. I also practiced with and REALLY loved the effects (or is it affects) of metering. On the back of the camera body is a * button that allows you to meter to the lighting conditions. I used spot metering and I think this button only works when you set it for spot. If I use the wrong terminology here or just plain have it wrong, please do leave a comment as this is something with which I have VERY little experience and I want to improve. For practice, what I did is before I shot in a certain part of the field (since the lighting changed), I would autofocus on an area (sometimes I would use skin for lighter complected guys or lighter colored clothes), hit the metering button and then recompose and shoot. Does that make sense? I also made sure not to meter on white as the darks would have been really dark! On gameday, there was a strip of turf right around midfield that was lighter than a lot of the rest and I often metered on that which I REALLY attribute to the improved photo quality.
So what’s left for this season? The next game is the Evansville Rage season opener against the Indianapolis Enforcers at Clarion Field at Swonder Ice Arena; Saturday March 17; 7:30pm CDT (you know the time changes this weekend, right? Spring forward.) I plan to shoot Av, f2.8, ISO 1000 and will meter on midfield much of the time. I will work on panning and will hopefully be able to work my way down to ISO 800 in a game or two and hopefully below 1/100 shutter speed in a few games. Fingers are crossed.
One more thing – if you read this before the Indy game and want to help me with window duty (I clean a bunch of the hockey glass before each game so that I can give the Rage clear photos), I’ll be out at Swonder around 5:30pm. I’ll bring the cleaning supplies!
Evansville Rage website - http://www.evansvillerage.com/
Evansville Rage Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/EvansvilleRage
It’s go time kids! Time for the first preseason game for the Evansville Rage! Evansville, IN; Swonder Ice Arena; 7:30pm CST. That’s what you need to know. Check out the Evansville Rage page (ha, that rhymes) on Facebook or go to www.evansvillerage.com for tickets and other information.
So, what’s been going on? Last Saturday, I shot Pick Your Seats Day where the Rage season ticket holders were able to choose their seats for the season. It was fun being around fans, players, cheerleaders, staff AND out mascot, Rage. He is awesome with the kids and I think the team had a lot more fans at the end of the day. Photos… I will be the first to admit that I am not a flash photographer. I struggle with the flash – where to bounce, when to bounce, how to decrease the intensity of the flash and so on. So, we ended up with some nice photos and others that I struggled with. Yeah, I shot on automatic. The highlight was a bunch of kids getting Rage to Tebow with them. Fun times! I used my Canon EF28-135mm, f3.5-5.6 lens for most of the time. Then, I decided to try out a different lens, my Tamron 28-75mm, f2.8. I struggled with it the first time I used it last year. AND I read reviews saying it has soft focus. I figured I would give it another chance and was again disappointed. SO, if you or anyone you know is looking for a lens like that, let me know!
Last Sunday, I shot the second and final Evansville tryout at Metro Sports. There were a lot of guys with a lot of heart. I used what I learned last time and shot at ISO 1600 and varied between 1/125 and 1/250 shutter speed depending on where I was shooting. Tough lighting there – high lights with netting in between. So, the light source is far away AND diffused by the time it gets to the subject. Yuck! Still managed to get a few good shots and honestly, I am still working on them. Better hurry up! Oh yeah, lens I used was my trusty Canon L70-200mm, F2.8 II. Love love LOVE that lens!
Making it three straight days, on Monday I took player photos for the program. I emailed some photo friends asking about shooting flash and received some really good tips. After thanking them for their input, I proceeded to violate about every single rule! I had two separate shoots – one for defense and one for offense. And each room offered different conditions. Anyway, let’s talk about the rules I violated. 1 – I shot automatic (should have given AP a try); 2 – I shot straight on which helped give me lovely yellow shadows behind and below the ears; 3 – maybe this should have been #1 or 2, I had white jerseys on a white background and the guys were too close to the background. Okay, there’s three-plus mistakes. The first room was dim, too, which didn’t help. The second room had much better lighting and I kept the guys farther from the screen which helped me avoid most of the shadows. Oh and something else that I need to work on – metering. I need to work on my point of focus and properly metering my shots when I do portraits like this. Keep in mind that we had white jerseys with white backgrounds. Likewise, we had several players who were quite pale and some whose skin color was quite dark. If I am not mistaken, situations like this SCREAM for proper metering. Before I shoot the staff portraits, I will have to read up on my own notes – attended great exposure and flash classes with Chicagoland Digital Photography. Good notes are no good if you never refer back to them!
So, that brings us to today. First preseason game is tonight. And I found out at the staff meeting on Thursday that I will probably have NO good access to the field. What I am saying is that our turf will be rolled out on the ice – Swonder IS an ice arena. The glass will not be lifted (and it’s NOT the cleanest glass) AND there is netting all the way around. I’m heading over there in a bit, after a stop by Ace Hardware to see if they have any really good glass cleaning stuff, to see what is in front of me. I also plan to help with some gameday setup if they need.
I’m really excited for this football season to begin. I love football and I am kind of looking forward to the challenges ahead if I do, in fact, have to rely on through glass or through netting shots. I hope to be able to give the team AND the fans some quality photos and maybe even some cool desktop wallpaper! If you are in the area, come on out to a game. Bring the whole family. And LET’S GO RAGE!!
It’s official, I will be a team photographer for the 2012 Evansville Rage (www.evansvillerage.com) of the CIFL (www.ciflfootball.com)! I admit that I struggled with lighting at tryouts. We had dim lighting and I ended up shooting at ISO 1600 (something I do NOT like doing), f2.8 and shutter speeds between 1/100 and 1/200 sec. With constant body motion and many different colors ranging from whites to blacks (and everything else in between), it made for a tough day. The next round of tryouts is next weekend. So, hopefully I can use what I learned last time to make for better photos THIS time.
A little push for the Rage, if you are in the Evansville area and want to take in a game, all home games will be played at Swonder Ice Arena. I haven’t been there yet, but have been told that the lighting is significantly better. I’m glad because I want to make sure to give the Rage some really great shots this season! And to my Chicago friends, we have a road game up there against the Chicago Vipers on April 15. Come on out!
I will post through the season. However, I do not expect to be allowed to post any photos. I would imagine that all photos will be the property of the team and the league. I’m sure I will be able to keep some for my portfolio; but, that is not able to be published here. Oh well. I’m STILL excited to get to shoot football this spring! Can you feel the RAGE?!?!?
It took the better part of two months to take the camera out in Evansville. A new life, new job, new location and so much else that is new has given me little time and little inspiration to take the camera out. A couple weeks ago, my lovely wife and I decided to go check out the Evansville IceMen game downtown at the new arena, http://www.evansvilleicemen.com/. We took the camera and BOTH took a bunch of pictures. We had a blast and it felt really good to have that big 7D back in my hands!
Last week, we went to check out a UE basketball game where they got completely outplayed by Drake. The game stunk; but, we had fun. Next time, I think we’ll take the camera.
Now for the fun stuff. This weekend, I will be trying out as a photographer for the CIFL’s Evansville Rage, http://www.evansvillerage.com/. The Rage will be holding tryouts for players and cheerleaders. They will also be trying out a certain photographer who, might I say, has not only a love of sports photography and football but also sports boyish good looks. Ha! I’m really excited and hope to be able to report to you soon that I am the newest photographer for the Evansville Rage. Bring it on!
I hope you all enjoyed your holidays and have a wonderful, safe and healthy 2012. Until we chat again, smile for the camera!