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Preview: Best Seat in the House

Best Seat in the House

Photography, sports and life as seen through the lens of Seattle Times photographer Rod Mar.

Last Build Date: Fri, 12 Dec 2008 10:17:44 -0800

Copyright: Copyright 2009

Halftime of My Career: Leaving the Seattle Times

Fri, 12 Dec 2008 10:17:44 -0800

That sound you just heard was the horn signifying the end of the first half of my career.

The clock has wound down to :00, but the game is not nearly over. There's plenty of action ahead.

However, it is the end of my stay at The Seattle Times.

I have accepted a buyout from the paper and my last day is next Monday, the day I return to Seattle from covering this weekend's Seahawks game at St. Louis.

Leaving the paper is not easy. The Times has been the only place I've worked over nearly two decades -- the cliches you hear when people leave a longtime place of employment all apply here.

The place feels like home (except I don't leave my socks on the floor -- well, most of the time, anyway).

The people are like family (hugs, bickering, hugs, more bickering...)

The family metaphor is not too much of a stretch. The Times has helped me grow, both as a photojournalist and as a person. I will never forget a performance review a number of years ago when then-Managing Editor Alex McLeod said to me, "Kid, you're gone from young and green to old and smelly in record time."

I took it as a badge of honor. Only in newspapers would "old and smelly" be a compliment.

My career here has allowed me to witness history through my cameras, and it has always been clear to me that my way of repayment was to share what I saw with you, the readers.

From Buffalo to Beijing and all points in-between, I've had more fun than anyone should be allowed to have at a job.

Even calling what I've done here a "job" feels weird. I was fortunate to have a career that allowed me to get paid for witnessing moments that others had to pay to see, if there was public access at all.

Though I am leaving the Times, I will continue to photograph, to witness and to explore.

I have a new blog at where I will continue to share my successes, my challenges and everything in-between. The new site will larger images, categories and an area for comments.

It is my sincere hope that you'll head over for a look and join me as I take the field for the second half.

Grab a hotdog. It's just about kickoff.



Seahawks: Good Until the Last Drop.

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 22:10:37 -0800

Seahawks vs. Patriots. Tom Brady vs. Matt Hasselbeck. Okay then, Matt Cassel vs. Seneca Wallace. Laurence Maroney vs. Shaun Alexander. Fine. Sammy Morris vs. Maurice Morris. And at least we still had Mike Holmgren vs. Bill Belichick. So this matchup didn't have the lustre it appeared to have when the schedulers initially made it the Sunday Night Football game. Which is why it got switched back to a 1pm kickoff. As a mediocre game on paper, it was actually a riveting contest on the field. (No, smartpants, they didn't imitate Rosie the Riveter in football pads, the game was actually kind of compelling). Seattle played well for the first three quarters, They ran the ball at will, converted third downs into first downs, and led the Super Bowl runners-up 21-13 heading into the fourth quarter. Much of Seattle's offensive success was due to a superb game by former Patriot receiver Deion Branch, who scored two touchdowns. Maybe it's luck, but after spending the past four weeks watching plays go away from me, all of Seattle's touchdowns ended up in my lap. Branch scored the first touchdown on a little out route in the first quarter, then ran straight towards me in celebration before stopping to bow not once, but twice. The frame I like best didn't have him bowing. To my way of thinking, when one's record is 2-11, one shouldn't actually be accepting applause for a first quarter touchdown. (Nikon D3, 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 44mm, ISO 1600, 1/1250th sec.,f2.8) In the second half, Branch set up his second touchdown with a weaving and wandering 63-yard catch and run that ended up with his celebrating with quarterback Seneca Wallace. (Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 200mm, ISO 2000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0) New England challenged the call, which was ruled as called on the field, and Branch let out a wide smile as he returned to the huddle. (Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 2000, 1/1250th sec.,f4.0) Branch scored on the same drive after catching a little four-yard pass in the back of the end zone. As he got up in front of me, I realized his field suite (where his family watches him play) was right behind me. He rushed by me towards them, and I was lucky to have a wide-angled lens ready. (Nikon D3, 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 24mm, ISO 1600, 1/800th sec.,f2.8) Seattle's fine rookie tight end John Carlson had another good game, hauling in a team-high eight catches including this touchdown in the second quarter after he got past New England linebacker Junior Seau. (Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 210mm, ISO 1600, 1/800th sec.,f4.0) Meanwhile, Seattle's defense followed its same routine of starting fast and ending slowly. They brought pressure on Cassel early, but then began to fade near halftime. New England tight end Benjamin Watson got behind Seattle linebacker Leroy Hill for a touchdown catch making the score 14-10 in favor of Seattle. (Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 1600, 1/800th sec.,f4.0) New England clawed its way back throughout the second half, finally taking a 24-21 lead in the final minutes. Seattle, needing a field goal to send the game into overtime, got a good kickoff return and a nice Seneca Wallace run to get to the New England 43-yard line. They needed maybe 10-15 more yards to get into field goal range. Instead, what happened was a variation on the last minute turnovers of the past few games. Wallace, dropping back to pass, was smothered by New England's Brandon Meriweather who came through untouched on a blitz, forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Patriots and sealing their victory. (Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 2400, 1/800th sec.,f4.0) Here's the cropped version we ran in the paper: (Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 2400, 1/800th sec.,f4.0) After the game, I tried to get Seneca Wallace and Mike Holmgren in the same frame. (Nikon D3, 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 48mm, ISO 1600, 1/500th sec.,f2.8) As after every game, Holmgren is greeted by his daughter Gretchen after the loss to New England. (Nikon D3, 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 24mm, ISO 1600, 1/500th sec.,f2.8[...]

Atlanta Photojournalism Workshop: Bill Eppridge.

Sat, 06 Dec 2008 11:46:03 -0800

Just got back from a nice three day trip to Atlanta, where I was asked to lead the Sports Photography Workshop at the famed Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar.

Founded in 1973 by a group of working pros, the Seminar has continued its fine tradition of promoting photojournalism via an impressive list of speakers, a photo contest and other associated events.

I was responsible for two 90-minute sessions, and it was fun to talk about the Olympics, this blog and the job of sports photographers in the ever-changing climate of newspapers.

It's always fulfilling to meet young talented students and to see the passion in their eyes as they pursue their dreams.

Of course, I had to inject a dose of reality and spend some time talking about the challenging economic times, but I also reminded them that there will always be a place in the world for great visuals.

One highlight of the trip was reacquainting with legendary photographer Bill Eppridge. For those who are not familiar with the name, Bill was a longtime photographer for Life magazine. His most famous photo (of which there many) is his image of the slain Robert F. Kennedy lying in the arms of the busboy who was holding him after Kennedy was shot in Los Angeles on that fateful day in 1968.

Bill has a new book out, entitled "A Time It Was: Bobby Kennedy in the Sixties", documents the time that Eppridge spent with Kennedy during his campaign up until the time of his death. It's a beautifully photographed book, and Eppridge was kind enough to sign copies for many of us during a dinner before the start of the seminar.


In his presentation, Eppridge noted that while the book is timed to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Kennedy's death, he sees amazing parallels between R.F.K. and another current politician, President-elect Barack Obama. Those parallels, he noted, not only referenced the popularity each politician had with the public, but also the inherent danger that each lived with on a day-to-day basis.

Eppridge's was a compelling talk and slideshow that earned a standing ovation and rave reviews from everyone in attendance.

I was sitting next to Blake Discher, a noted speaker and commercial photographer based out of Detroit, and we were both enraptured. At the end of the talk, I said to Blake, "you know, I've seen him speak twice, and it's still amazing". Blake turned to me and said, "I just saw him speak in New York in October and I'm back for more".

Amazing stuff that inspires. You know I don't do a lot of linking/endorsing on this blog, but if you are looking for a great holiday gift this season, Bill Eppridge's new book is a great choice.

Seahawks: Stuffed on Thanksgiving.

Thu, 27 Nov 2008 21:30:34 -0800

Happy Thanksgiving from Texas Stadium. I'm sitting up in the press box, looking down on to the field, empty except for the roadies taking down the final remnants of the stage used for the halftime show. Seattle came to Dallas without much hope of winning and left, well, without a win. Cowboys 34, Seahawks 9. Seattle players hit their knees for a prayer before kickoff -- it was the only time they'd find the end zone all day. The Seahawks reached the red zone only twice, and settled for three Olindo Mare field goals to account for their scoring. (Nikon D3, 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 25mm, ISO 1600, 1/640th sec.,f5.0) There were Seahawks fans in the house. This woman pretty much didn't get her wish. (Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 250mm, ISO 1600, 1/800th sec.,f4.0) Craig Wrolstad, who was the Field Judge today, is a guy I've known for years. It's great seeing his success -- making the NFL in any capacity is incredible. But it only took one play -- the first play of the game, a screen to Terrell Owens, for Craig to earn the wrath of Mike Holmgren. I was 50 yards away, but I could hear Holmgren screaming that Owens had pushed off. Craig tried to offer an explanation, but apparently Holmgren didn't like it much, because he just turned up his volume. Here's what it looks like when 6'5" and over 250 pounds of snortin', stompin' head coach comes bearing down on you. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens + 1.4 extender, ISO 2000, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0) Because Dallas was scoring seemingly at will, I took positions in the end zone along the sideline. I was hoping for a fade route to Terrell Owens. What I got was a shot of a real cowboy. Okay, he's not a real cowboy, well maybe he is. But on this day, he was a flagboy. You know, the guy who runs around in the end zones with the big flag after his team scores. (Nikon D3, 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 24mm, ISO 1600, 1/1000th sec.,f2.8) (Nikon D3, 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 24mm, ISO 1600, 1/1000th sec.,f2.8) Oh, the football game? Yes, they did play one. Kinda. After the first drive, it felt on the field like there was no way Seattle would compete. Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo shredded the Seahawks for 331 yards and three touchdowns. When Seattle blitzed, like on this play where cornerback Josh Wilson fell short, Romo found ways to escape including just leaping out of the way. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 3200, 1/800th sec.,f2.8) Dallas receiver Roy Williams gets behind Seattle's Josh Wilson for a 38-yard reception that set up a field goal in the first half. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens + 1.4 extender, ISO 2500, 1/800th sec.,f4.0) Halftime came, and because it is Thanksgiving, the NFL provided a special halftime show, featuring....The Jonas Brothers Band. If you know who these guys are, it's because you probably have a tweenaged daughter, or a curious taste in music. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens + 1.4 extender, ISO 4000, 1/640th sec.,f4.0) One story line of the game was pretty easily illustrated. Seattle allowed seven sacks of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck who gamely resembled a boxer who gamely kept getting back up only to get smacked down again. Hasselbeck is swallowed up by Dallas nose tackle Tank Johnson: (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens + 1.4 extender, ISO 4000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0) Dallas linebacker Bradie James got him once: (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens + 1.4 extender, ISO 4000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0) Then once again: (Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 250mm, ISO 5000, 1/640th sec.,f4.0) Greg Ellis who beat Seattle's Sean Locklear as Hasselbeck fruitlessly tried to duck out of he way: (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 4000, 1/800th sec.,f2.8) DeMarcus Ware had two sacks, and used his 4.5/40 speed to pound Hasselbeck with all his might. (Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 270mm, ISO 5000, 1/640th sec.,f4.0) At the end of it, Hasselbeck was beaten up pretty good, and after one being sacked by DeMarcus Ware he just stayed on his knees. It pretty much summed the game. (Nikon D3,[...]

Girls Soccer: Capturing the Thrill and the Agony.

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 23:54:01 -0800

One thing you know when you are shooting the championship game of any sport, at any level, is that you will have to opportunity to make great reaction photos. Note that I did not say "you will make great reaction photos" -- it's an opportunity, not a guarantee -- and I mess up those chances often. Let me explain. It's really easy to make an average photo at a title game. It's like shooting a protest or a rally. There is a prescribed set of events, and just pointing an autofocus camera at them should yield decent results. I don't know how many local photographers have images in their "best of" collections from the W.T.O protests, or more recently, the post-election celebrations after Barack Obama was elected. But I do know it's a large number. I really don't mean to rain on anyone's parade, but many of those images are pretty easy to make. The images that really, truly stand out have that something extra to them that give them a visual energy and depth that others don't have. That is what I try to keep in mind when I shoot jubilation (aka "jube", in shooter parlance) and dejection. If the outcome is decided near the end of the game, there's a mental checklist that I run through. Do I have a wide-angle with me? Are all settings correct? Where are the winners? The losers? Will I shoot with a long lens as the contest ends and then wade in with a wide-angle? Does it appear that there will be an angle in which to combine winners and losers in the same frame? Who is important -- why shoot the girl who didn't play if you can shoot the one who scored three goals? Etc. As you can see, it's not an exact list or set of rules. As both Peter Venkman and Captain Barbossa have famously said, "it's more of a guideline, than a rule". During the semifinal between Shorecrest and Seattle Prep, I was just coming down from the press box where I was transmitting when the game ended (and yes, the following is a rule and not just a guideline: DEADLINES WILL OFTEN PREVENT YOU FROM SHOOTING THE END OF A CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. Shorecrest's Jessica Rankin, fell to her knees at the end of the game and I made a pretty mediocre frame. (Nikon D3, VR 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 160mm, ISO 5000, 1/500th sec.,f2.8) Didn't have time to mess around, and had to get back upstairs to move this frame quickly as I had another game to shoot right afterwards. Shoot action, transmit, shoot end game, transmit, lather, rinse repeat. By halftime of the second semifinal it was pouring rain with a wind blowing the rain sideways. Good times. Shooting in the rain is a pain -- you have to limit what you try to do. I try to get very simple in my equipment and technique so that I can really concentrate on making one or two strong images. The other important aspect of shooting in bad weather is the mental aspect. Know that if you can shut out the bother of the wind, rain and cold, you have chances to make different, dramatic pictures. As the clock ran out on Jackson's hope of a state title when they fell to Woodinville, I noticed a player sitting on the ground in the rain, unable to move. I ignored the rest of celebration and just concentrated on Jackson's Ellen Favale as she sat dejectedly on the turf. There's a security guard in a yellow jacket who is not helping this frame, but I'm pretty sure he was just headed somewhere warm and dry. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 1/320th sec.,f2.8) Teammates approached Favale on their way to the bench. One eventually stopped and tried to help her up. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 1/320th sec.,f2.8) In the end, she walked by herself, wiping rain and maybe tears off her face. Notice that I say "maybe" on the tears. Yes, it is easily assumable that she was crying. But I can't assume that from all the way across the field. If I can't verify it, I can't publish it. So being careful about cutline information is a must. I was taught very early in my career to avoid words like "ponder" ("Seattle quaterbac[...]

Girls Soccer: Alive and Kicking...and Shoving...and Grabbing...

Sat, 22 Nov 2008 23:22:32 -0800

While most of the state's media contingent descended upon Pullman, Washington for the Crapple Cup game between Washington and Washington State, I found myself in Lakewood, just south of Tacoma for the semifinals and the finals of the high school girls state soccer tournament.

I watched some of the Apple Cup on TV, and I'm pretty sure that the soccer matches I witnessed were harder hitting and more physical.

The soccer was awesome to watch. Every girl on the field could play, and play smartly. That wasn't surprising to me. What was a bit of a shock was how rough the game is at that level.

I've photographed the boys soccer tourneys in the past, and they're not nearly as physical. I guess that should n't be surprising, given that girls basketball is often scrappier than the boys game.

Here's two frames from a play that symbolized the physicalness of the games. Everett's Annie Sittauer tries to escape the jersey hold of Seattle Prep's Ellie Harrington during the 3A girls finals as they battle for the ball.


(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens @ ISO 6400, 1/500th sec.,f2.8)

Sittauer controls the ball and as she dribbles gets a little payback as she grabs the jersey of Harrington.


(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens @ ISO 6400, 1/500th sec.,f2.8)

And you thought soccer was just played with your feet and head.

Later, Harrington gets a little revenge as she gets her elbow up near the head of Everett's Hannah Hawkins in the second half.


(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens @ ISO 6400, 1/500th sec.,f2.8)

Skyline's Kiara Williams attempts a bicycle kick from the top of the box during the first half of the girls 4A title game and is put down by Woodinville's Adrienne Biddle (green) who was called for a foul.


(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens @ ISO 6400, 1/500th sec.,f2.8)

The athleticism of the game -- the combination of power and skill -- was evident all weekend. Skyline's Kiara Williams (11) battles Woodinville's Amanda Coba for control of the ball as both got up in the air.


(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens @ ISO 6400, 1/500th sec.,f2.8)

By the way, the quality of these photos was just not possible even a year ago. Nikon's two new cameras -- the D3 and the D700 have amazing low-light capabilities. I've shot with other camera systems, and none of them can produce such good image quality at an ISO as high as 6400. It's so unreal it still surprised pros who have been shooting for decades (yes, that makes me kinda old -- without the "kinda").

What Nikon's success means for all photographers is that the bar has been raised yet again. The other camera companies will soon follow suit. The technological advancements just don't benefit the camera company who is in front at any given time -- it really benefits us, the photographers and gives us better tools to work with all the time.

This was a fun and exciting weekend for me -- I love photographing high school sports, and the chance to see the best of the best compete is a treat for me.

Seahawks: It's Not in the Cards This Year.

Wed, 19 Nov 2008 23:22:59 -0800

Well, if you're a Seahawks fan, that just about does it. Sunday's loss to division rival Arizona by the score of 26-20 pretty much ended any hopes of repeating as division champions. Fans were blue, with their team holding a 2-9 record. Get it? Blue. (Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 800, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0) Seattle got two of its offensive starters back in quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and receiver Deion Branch. Branch was back in uniform after spending weeks watching from one of the end zone suites, but made his way back to those suites to give pregame kisses to his wife and daughter. (Nikon D3, 14-24mm/f2.8 lens @ 24mm, ISO 800, 1/250th sec.,f5.6) The Seahawks' much-maligned defense came out fired up, and linebacker Lofa Tatupu's blitz on the first series forced Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner to misfire a pass into a teammate's helmet. (Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 300mm, ISO 1000, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0) Even the defensive backs played better early, with safety Deon Grant upending Leonard Pope in the first quarter. By the way -- white bottomed pants are brutal when they dominate a frame. Just my two cents. (Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 800, 1/1600th sec.,f4.0) But to paraphrase former Arizona coach Dennis Green, who once famously said of the Chicago Bears, "they are what we thought they were", the Seahawks are who we think they are this year -- an injury riddled team that has lost all confidence and apparently, a great deal of talent. Pretty soon Warner was throwing the ball around Qwest Field like he did back when he was leading the St. Louis Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf". He passed the ball to bigger, stronger receivers, and the game started to resemble a seven-on-seven flag football game. Defensive backs coach Jim Mora and head coach Mike Holmgren struggled to find answers. (Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 1600, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0) Meanwhile, Warner's counterpart Hasselbeck, trying to shake the rust off being sidelined with an injury, got the rust flat knocked out of him when Arizona's Adrian Wilson smashed him on a blitz. The play left Hasselbeck understandably groggy -- I'm pretty sure that's not where the chin strap is supposed to be worn. (Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 800, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0) A fumble by Hasselbeck ended up being recovered by lineman Mike Wahle (looking on). Because the only luck the Seahawks have is bad luck, Wahle suffered an injury during the game and might be out for a game or two. (Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 310mm, ISO 1000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0) Even as the Cardinals dominated the stat board, Maurice Morris' touchdown just before halftime kept Seattle close. Yes, I'm using a wide-angle, and yes, I brought it down from my eye right after this picture. 'Cause a camera to the face is not a pretty thing. (Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 16-35mm/f2.8 lens @ 35mm, ISO 800, 1/1000th sec.,f2.8 -- *the Nikon wide-angle is in for repair*) My co-worker Jim Bates caught me trying to literally "shoot from the hip". Or waist, Or whatever. Okay, fine, maybe I was bailing out. (photo by Jim Bates/The Seattle Times) (photo by Jim Bates/The Seattle Times) Seattle fought back furiously and some mistakes by Arizona kept the Seahawks in the game. A blitz on Warner resulted in a fumble that bounced away from him, to be recovered by Seattle's Darryl Tapp. I moved two versions of the play. (Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 300mm, ISO 2000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0) (Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 300mm, ISO 2000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0) (The eagle-eyed of you will notice that I'm shooting at ISO 2000 (!) -- yup -- and it looks pretty good.) Arizona's fine receivers made only one mistake, and even that one didn't cost them. Larry Fitzgerald coughed up the ball on a fumble caused by Seattle's Josh Wilson, but of course, the Cardinals recovered. (Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 350mm, ISO 2000, 1/800t[...]

Huskies: Ruined by Bruins

Sun, 16 Nov 2008 23:43:35 -0800

The second game of my three-game weekend featured the winless Washington Huskies and the UCLA Bruins. Everyone tried to make a big story line of UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel returning to Washington, where he had been unceremoniously fired six seasons ago. Even though two coaches have been at the helm of the Huskies since then (Keith Gilbertson, followed by Tyrone Willingham), somehow the pregame storyline involved Neuheisel and Willingham. While Neuheisel's return was interesting because of his inglorious exit after the 2002 season, it seemed like a stretch since with a loss, the Huskies would face their first winless season in 88 years of Husky Stadium. Given the history and tradition of the Washington football program, this seemed it would be a pretty big deal. Sports are games of statistics, and 88 years is a big number. As is 0-10. Anyway, we had strict instructions that a photo of Neuheisel, and only Neuheisel, would be used for the cover of the sports section. Co-worker Mark Harrison did a great job of shooting Neuheisel before the game, and we both shot features for the online galleries. Wandering through the south parking lot in the dark before the 7:20pm kickoff, I found neither the late start nor the poor football team had dampened the spirits of the tailgaters. (Nikon D3, 14-24mm/f2.8 lens @ 22mm, ISO 3200, 1/10th sec.,f2.8) Chris Jolley, Dan McNamara and Sara Lynde enjoyed a fire during their tailgate party (Nikon D3, 14-24mm/f2.8 lens @ 18mm, ISO 3200, 1/50th sec.,f2.8) There were plenty of empty seats for this one, as evidenced by the west end of the stadium. (Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 200mm, ISO 4000, 1/320th sec.,f4.0) I've been using the Nikon 200-400mm lens along with the 600/f4 for most of my long lens football, but tonight decided to forego the 600mm and try the 400mm/f2.8 with a 1/4 extender. The focal lengths are close, and the maximum apertures are the same since you lose a stop by adding the extender. I wanted to know if the combination of the 400mm and the extender focuses as quickly as the 600mm, and how the image quality was. Because of the late kickoff, tonight was once again a game of shoot, transmit, make deadline, shoot some more, rinse, repeat. Thankfully I had upgraded from transmitting from my car during last night's high school game to a makeshift tent just at the end of stadium. Once the game began, it was pretty much all UCLA. After shedding would-be Washington tackler Mesphin Forrester (23), UCLA's Derrick Coleman heads for the end zone with the first touchdown of the game, giving the Bruins a 7-0 lead. (Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 200mm, ISO 4000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0) UCLA's Akeem Ayers knocks the ball out of the hands of Washington quarterback Ronnie Fouch in the first half for a fumble that the Bruins recovered. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens + 1.4 extender, ISO 4000, 1/800th sec.,f2.8) Domination continued as UCLA's Reginald Stokes puts all 243 pounds of his atop Washington quarterback Ronnie Fouch on a sack for a loss of 15 yards with the Huskies facing fourth down in the second quarter. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens + 1.4 extender, ISO 4000, 1/800th sec.,f2.8) On offense, UCLA had its way as well. Washington's Matt Mosley leaps on top of UCLA's Nelson Rosario after a first half reception and still struggled to bring down the bigger receiver. (Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 280mm, ISO 4000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0) Washington coach Tyrone Willingham suffered his tenth loss of the season, his 12th in a row. (Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 200mm, ISO 4000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0) The final home game is also Senior Day, where the seniors are sent off with special introductions and recognition of their contributions to the program. Obviously losing every game of their senior season wasn't in the plans, and it showed as Jordan White-Frisbee reacted on [...]

Prep Football: Killed by Deadline.

Fri, 14 Nov 2008 23:40:10 -0800

Three games in three days started with a prep playoff game between Liberty and Kennedy. No homecoming jinxes to be found here. This was one of those games where it starts at 7:30pm, deadline is a strict 9:30pm and knowing that, I also know the game is likely going to last just over two hours. Kennedy owned this game in the first half. Liberty's Taylor Hamann reached out but only can get his hand on the towel of Kennedy's Nolan Washington as he broke for the end zone. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 1/500th sec.,f2.8) Kennedy's Tre Watson is barely caught by the jersey by Liberty's Josh Spurgeon (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 1/500th sec.,f2.8) This photo has a bad background, there are no faces, but it is just unusual enough because Kennedy's Tre Watson scores a first half touchdown after losing his left shoe on the way. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 1/500th sec.,f2.8) Kennedy's domination continued Nolan Washington dances out of the reach of Liberty's Malcolm Dike and the Lancers took a 17-0 lead into halftime. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 1/500th sec.,f2.8) Because of the need to populate photo galleries with more than action photos, we shoot bands, cheerleaders and fans. Kennedy's band sounded great, but they sat high in the dark stands, and it was hard to make a good image of them. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 1/60th sec.,f2.8) The dance team took to the field and I thought this photo showed the fun and imperfection of high school routines. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 1/500th sec.,f2.8) A Kennedy victory was brewing, and I headed to my car to transmit right after I photographed the dance team. It was almost 9pm, and I didn't have many photos showing Liberty playing well. I wasn't concerned, as Kennedy was dominating the game. From my car, I could hear the roar of the crowd as I edited and transmitted. Having done this dozens of times, I didn't really take notice until I realized the noise was coming straight at my car. I was parked behind the Kennedy stands -- so the noise was coming from the Liberty side. Of course, this is when my laptop froze, causing me to reboot and costing me precious time. I'm also getting emails from my editor asking, "You okay?" I knew that meant he thought I was late on my deadline, so I double-checked my assignment -- yup, 9:30pm was my deadline. The office thought it was 9pm. "You read those things?" came the emailed reply. Yup. So know my editor thinks I'm late, my laptop has crashed and there are sounds coming from the stadium that sound like the losing team is making some sort of dramatic comeback. I hustle back onto the field just in time to see Liberty's Trey Wheeler break a tackle and dash up the middle for a touchdown, making the score 17-14. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 1/500th sec.,f2.8) Running over to their sidelines, I shoot their fans going crazy. It's still a Kennedy lead, but I need to cover my bases. It's close to 9:30pm now, so I run back to the car to transmit the Liberty touchdown. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 1/250th sec.,f2.8) As I edit and transmit, I hear an extra loud roar, which I determine to be coming TOWARDS me again, meaning while I have been editing, Liberty has scored the go-ahead touchdown. By the time the final photo finishes transmitting, the game is over. I rush out to check the scoreboard -- Liberty 21, Kennedy 17. Maybe I'll write the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association to have games start at 7pm. That extra 30 minutes would have helped tonight.[...]

Seahawks: Dropped by the Dolphins.

Mon, 10 Nov 2008 22:31:19 -0800

How sad must it be for the members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the last team to finish undefeated, that there is a certain segment of the population (including me) who when they think of the Dolphins, don't think first of that great team, but instead recall placekicker Ray Finkle. If you think of Miami placekickers and think first of Garo Yepremian and Olindo Mare, then you obviously haven't watched "Ace Ventura, Pet Detective" enough times. "LACES OUT! LACES OUT!" Okay, I'm a dork. Began my Miami adventure with an excellent 36 holes of golf with my bud Frank Flaamf Paco Hughes, who is a great sportswriter and hack golfer for the Tacoma News Tribune. Thanks to his planning we spent the day gashing the teeboxes, searching the rough and three-putting the greens of Grande Oaks Country Club. You don't know it? Think of it by it's other famous name -- Bushwood Country Club. Yep, the one and only Bushwood, where Carl Spackler tried to kill all the gophers, Al Czervik bet Judge Smails a hundred bucks he'd slice it into the woods, and where Ty Webb urged Danny Noonan to "Be the ball". Teeing it up at the course where they filmed the cinematic tour de force known as "Caddyshack" was one of the highlights of the season. Frank made a little video, which he posted on his blog. He's about as good with a video camera as he is with his sand wedge. The football game, you ask? Yes, the Seahawks did take on the Dolphins. Seahawks fans were in the house. (Nikon D3,VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 320mm, ISO 400, 1/2500th sec.,f4.0) The day started off bad for Seattle when Miami used a flea flicker to score first. "Flea flicker" is indeed a wimpy name for a football play, and if anyone can tell me the genesis of the name, I'd be just that much smarter. It's obviously an old-school name, because plays now have names like "Phantom", which is the name of the play in last year's Super Bowl where New York's David Tyree caught the pass from Eli Manning on the top of his helmet. "Phantom" sounds much cooler than "Flea-flicker". Quarterback Chad Pennington started the play by handing the ball off to running back Ronnie Brown, who took one step forward, then lateraled it back to Pennington. (Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 400, 1/1600th sec.,f4.0) Pennington, figuring the Seattle secondary had bit on the run play, fired the ball downfield. (Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 400, 1/1600th sec.,f4.0) Seattle's much maligned secondary actually covered the play well, with two defenders on top of receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. But Ginn has magic hands, and he pulled it in for the score. (Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 400, 1/1600th sec.,f4.0) Pennington and Ginn celebrated. (Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 400, 1/1600th sec.,f4.0) Seattle got the ball and tried to establish their running game. Julius Jones showed flashes of the fine form he showed earlier in the season, hopping over Miami's Will Allen for part of his 88 yards rushing. (Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 400mm, ISO 400, 1/1250th sec.,f4.0) Good pass defense by both teams made for decent pictures. Miami's Will Allen knocked this pass away from Seattle tight end John Carlson: (Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 400, 1/1600th sec.,f4.0) On the other side of the ball, Seattle's Kelly Jennings deflected a pass away from Miami's Ted Ginn, Jr. (Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 400, 1/1250th sec.,f4.0) Late in the fourth quarter, Will Allen victimized Seattle's Bobby Engram on this play: (Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 400mm, ISO 800, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0) If the Three Stooges played football, they might have tried this maneuver by Miami defender Patrick Cobbs on Seattle's Justin Forsett on a kickoff return in the second half. (Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 400, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0) The light was great, even as the s[...]

Election Night

Fri, 07 Nov 2008 21:35:20 -0800

Another in the long list of great things about my job is the chance to witness history first-hand. Election Night in the USA on Nov. 4, 2008 provided us that chance once again. Party lines aside and despite the numerous challenges our country faces, the United States took another step forward towards the promise our forefathers made..."that all men are created equal". To see an African-American ascend to the presidency, to have an election that brought not one, but two women to the forefront of American politics, to see the largest turnout of young voters ever -- all combined to make this one of the most important elections in our history. I was so grateful to have been included on our election coverage team. My assignment was to cover a gathering of voters watching incoming returns at the First A.M.E. Church in Seattle. First A.M.E. is the oldest African-American church in the area and has a rich tradition and deep history. For journalists, "election night pizza" is one of the oldest traditions and cliches in any newsroom. Because most everyone is working a night shift, papers often bring in food for the reporters, editors and designers. People who work in sports scoff at the tradition since they work nights all the time and can't figure out what the big deal is -- why is this night more special than any other of the nights they work a year? When reporter Nick Perry and I arrived at the church, we quickly realized that we weren't going to be stuck with election night pizza. There was a full spread of food. Now, as journalists, we usually do not partake -- there are some ethical issues, and we are busy. But after the fifth person in ten minutes scolded us to eat, we determined that NOT eating would be rude, and that was the last impression you want to leave on your hosts anytime. Homemade chicken, collard greens, ribs, salads, pies, cobblers lined a long table. Did I mention the pies? Anyway, a big thank you to our hosts at the church, and apologies to our IT department for the grease and pie crumbs stuck in my laptop. I was tipped by a television crew that their network would be calling the presidential race for Barack Obama just after 8pm Pacific time, right after the polls closed. People were watching returns on a large screen at the front of the room. I took a position near the front and waited. A hush fell over the room as the broadcaster intoned, "we now have a major announcement..." That was the end of the hush. People yelled, screamed, hugged, kissed, cried, shouted, and some could only stand still, stunned at the enormity of the moment. I chose to focus my camera on Dorothy Steele, who Nick had told me was going to be a big part of his story. Her reaction was priceless. As a photojournalist, you seldom know when you "have it", in terms of an image. This time, though, I was pretty sure. After the excitement subsided, senior pastor Reverend Carey G. Anderson led a prayer. I was much less obtrusive and much lighter on my shutter as I did not want to intrude more than I needed to upon a sacred moment. I managed to squeeze off just a few frames as church members Doris Cope, left and Mary Ella Williams prayed with Reverend Anderson in the background. As soon a the prayer was done, someone kicked on the music, and jubilant women danced across the stage in front of the screen. After filing my photos, I headed back to the office. On the way, I noticed bands of people out celebrating and heard car horns honking. I called in and the editors sent me to cover the street scene. Down near Pike Place Market, people blocked a street and chanted and yelled and danced. King County Executive Ron Sims appeared and joined the party. Right away I headed back to my car and quickly transmitted these images back to the paper. Th[...]

Ed the Tuba Man, You Will Be Missed.

Wed, 05 Nov 2008 17:35:43 -0800

Ed McMichael, known around the city simply as "The Tuba Man", died on Monday, the result of senseless violence on the streets where he performed. He was easily the most popular and well-known musician in Seattle. What other local musician can claim he's played in front of thousands nearly every night for over 20 years? Certainly no one from the Seattle Symphony. Even members of the Husky Marching Band, who play in front of 50,000+, only get to do it half a dozen times a year. Yet, Ed the Tuba Man, a classically trained musician who once played in symphonies, preferred sharing his music on the streets of our city. And we were luckier to have been his audience, as by the thousands we walked into Safeco Field, KeyArena, Qwest Field, the symphony or the ballet. Walk the streets of any metropolis and you'll likely encounter street musicians. They play the saxophone, maybe the violin, some drums, a fiddle, maybe a trumpet or two. But a tuba? Who the heck even plays the tuba, much less carries it around the city performing for money? Only one. Ed McMichael even resembled the tuba he played. Oversized, a little brutish in appearance, deep in sound, dented around the edges from the everyday rigors of life. I met Ed decades ago. He could be found around Dick's Drive-In, where friends of mine worked. Ed would hang around, and for money he'd try to sell us "energy bars" and other supplements. His voice, deep as his tuba, would slowly drawl, " to buy bar?!" Sure, we bought them, even ate them sometimes. And then Ed started playing in our weekend pickup softball games. Ed was a fixture in right field. Usually wearing overalls. If you deigned to hit a pop fly resulting in an easy out, Ed's mockingly disapproving voice would bellow, "NO...SKYBALLS....!" Think about swinging at a pitch and then pull back? "HE...HAD...A...NOTION!!!" would rumble in from right field. We would all laugh. We loved it. Ed loved it, too. He had a bellowing laugh and a wide smile that easily found its way out of his ruddy face. That's the part of him you missed if you only walked by him as he performed. Friends of mine who played in those games now have careers similar to mine in the sports industry. There are still times when we are watching a Mariners' game and when a player hits a pop up, we will say, "NO...SKYBALLS....!!!" Check swing? "HE...HAD...A...NOTION!" As a sports photographer, I would pass Ed dozens of times in a year on my way into various venues. He never failed to say hello. He'd ask about old friends or members of my family. And he could recall their names. I'd challenge him. "You still playing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame? I thought you were a musician!", I'd tease. Ed would answer, "Well...Rod...what do you want to hear?" Sometimes I'd ask him to play "Flight of the Bumblebee". He'd do it, but not before asking my which key I'd like it played in. I had no idea one could coax so many notes out of a tuba. My favorite piece to hear Ed play, though, was the Fourth Movement of Holst's, "The Planets". If you don't know it, take a listen. There's a sweet, deep melody that runs through the piece. Coming out of his tuba, it reminded me of Ed's own deep laugh. The full name of that particular movement? "Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity". How fitting is that?[...]

Seahawks: Irrefutable Truths.

Mon, 03 Nov 2008 23:34:25 -0800

In my 99 years as a photographer, I've learned that there are a number of irrefutable truths when it comes to sports photography. Many of these truths became self-evident when the Seattle Seahawks faced the visiting Philadelphia Eagles at Qwest Field on Sunday. Irrefutable Truth Number One: If you wear shorts to the game, rain will fall. When I took the dog out for a walk this morning, the sun was shining and it was fairly warm. I decided to wear shorts to the game -- they're comfortable, allow good freedom of movement and if the turf is wet, you don't have the spend the day with cold wet knees after your pants get soaked from kneeling. In the media workroom, I teased just about everyone I saw putting on rain gear and protecting their cameras. They pointed to Doppler radar maps on their laptops. I went back to my car to get my rain stuff. Sloshed through a sideways rain to get to my car. Cursed. Cursed again. Irrefutable Truth Number Two: If it starts to rain during pregame and you put on a bunch of rain gear and wrestle rain covers onto your gear, the rain will stop just before kickoff. Got the towels, got the rain covers, put on the Gore-Tex pants and jacket, waited until the last possible minute before kickoff to go outside. And found that the rain had stopped. Whatever. Irrefutable Truth Number Three: Wherever you are, that's the wrong place. Seattle's first drive began at their own ten-yard line. Philadelphia has the fifth best defense in the league, is known for their blitzes and is third in the league in sacks. Seattle was starting a second-string quarterback. You do the math, right? Betting with the odds, I hustled down to that end of the field, and placed myself on the sidelines about five yards behind the line of scrimmage on the left side of the field. This way, Seneca Wallace would be facing me as he threw, and when the blitz came, I'd be in a good position to shoot pressure and maybe a sack. First play, the Eagles blitz and Wallace *just* manages to get the ball out of his hands when he's hit by a linebacker and knocked out of the pocket. I keep shooting him as he falls away, and then not an instant later, Wallace is raising his arms in celebration. The crowd noise is starting that familiar, crescendoing roar that comes with a long gain and as I look up, receiver Koren Robinson is racing for the end zone. Wallace knew it was a touchdown before anyone. My only shot of the play is Wallace with his hands raised. I have no angle of Robinson. (Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 310mm, ISO 1250, 1/1000th sec.,f4.5) Of course, after the game, my photo editor wants to know if I have any good frames of Robinson, not just Wallace. I call the office, the editor is in a meeting. I leave a message that says, "Dude, I just moved 22 photos from the game. Don't you think if I had a photo of a 90-yard touchdown, the only Seattle score of the game, I might have sent it?" He responds calling me a smarty-pants. Thankfully, he didn't call me a smarty-pants who missed a big play. Which brings me to... Irrefutable Truth Number Four: Whatever happens in the first quarter, stays in the first quarter. I'll never forget a game the Seahawks played in St. Louis a couple of years ago. One of the Rams players ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, and I didn't get a good frame of it. At the time these things happen, they seem like the biggest, most important play you've every witnessed, and you somehow screwed up and didn't get a good frame at all. At the time, Robinson's first quarter touchdown seemed like it would spark a great Seahawks effort, perhaps even a victory. Thoughts of stories being written for the rest of the year referencing "The Play That Turned the Season Around" gave me an ins[...]

Prep Football: I Haven't the Foggiest.

Fri, 31 Oct 2008 23:42:06 -0800

For Halloween this year I dressed as a newspaper sports photographer. Clever, I know. Not sure if anyone recognized me, but then again, I didn't knock on any doors. Had I, the experience might not have been unlike that of Good 'ol Charlie Brown, who famously remarked, "I got a rock." While I was disappointed not to be Trick or Treating with the kiddos, I was excited to know that the game I'd be shooting featured my high school alma mater, Shorecrest High School. I had to look at the assignment twice, just to make sure, as my former school hasn't had a winning tradition in football for many years. Shorecrest was facing Glacier Peak, of Snohomish, with the winner earning a place in the playoffs. Glacier Peak's cheerleaders brought a pumpkin to commemorate the holiday. (Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 16-35mm/f2.8 lens @ 21mm, ISO 3200, 1/250th sec.,f2.8) Ah, the memories of returning to Shoreline Stadium, where I did all the typical high school things -- played in the band, tried to be cool with my friends, and furtively tried to get to know cute girl. Fast forward to the present, where instead being a trumpet playing geek in the band, I'm a newspaper geek who still tries to fit in with the cool kids. However, I am now married to the cute girl. As Carl Spackler says, "So I got that going for me, which is nice". Attending a high school whose nickname was the "Highlanders", it was initially embarrassing wearing a traditional Scottish kilt as part of our band uniforms. But looking back, it's kind of a cool tradition. Along with the marching band, another tradition we had was a group of bagpipers and Scottish dancers. I was reminded of this when I saw bagpipers Alex MacLeod, left, and Luke Craft leading the team out on to the field for the game. (Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 16-35mm/f2.8 lens @ 22mm, ISO 3200, 1/250th sec.,f2.8) Shorecrest took an early 7-0 lead, but Glacier Peak's passing attack started to connect. Luke Westberg (5) made a nifty one-handed grab on a pass reception in the first half as Shorecrest's Sam Heck defends. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8, ISO 5000, 1/800th sec.,f2.8) At this point, a fog began to settle over the field. The newspaper only needed one photo for an inside page, but our online department needed a photo gallery. As most of our galleries are just photo after photo of action, I wanted to work the fog angle for something different. Shooting through the haze, I managed to focus on Glacier Peak's John Darling (22) as he tried to tackle Shorecrest's Sam Heck. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8, ISO 5000, 1/640th sec.,f2.8) Glacier Peak's Tanner Southard made a nice grab. It was a really low-lying fog for most of the second quarter, and it hung mostly on the north end of the field. (Nikon D3, VR 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 86mm, ISO 5000, 1/400th sec.,f2.8) We talk a lot about giving a readers a sense of place, and more than just a football field, I wanted to show where the game was being played. As most high school stadiums are pretty generic, the scoreboard is often a good place to start. (Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8, ISO 5000, 1/640th sec.,f2.8) Near the end of the game, I was past deadline and just trying to make interesting images. Choosing a wide-angle lens, I was able to show a different view of the fog. (Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 16-35mm/f2.8 lens @ 35mm, ISO 3200, 1/500th sec.,f2.8) Shooting a game on deadline where the paper only needs one small photo is often viewed one of two ways by photographers. It's either easy, because you only need one image, or it's an insult, because you only need one image. The challenge is remembering that we shoot photos to make great images, not just to put our names in tiny print beneath pictures in the paper[...]

Seahawks: Missing the Shot and Saving Your...(Asterisk).

Mon, 27 Oct 2008 20:26:21 -0800

When you're one shooter trying to cover an entire football field, you're not always going to get the shot. That's just a harsh reality of the job. Sometimes it's out of your control. The play can happen far away from you. Faces can be obscured by other players or officials. The play can be in front of you but the players can be facing the other way. You could be distracted by the cheerleaders (much more likely to happen in Tampa Bay than anywhere else...or so I've heard). Other times, it's in your control and you just mess it up. Well, not you, I mean. Me. There were four pretty big plays in Sunday's Seahawks game at San Francisco that I just didn't get right for one reason or another. Two of them I was able to salvage, two of them just went to hell. In order, they were: 1. Brandon Mebane's and Patrick Kerney's first quarter sack of San Francisco quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan, resulting in a fumble that Seattle's Darryl Tapp twice had chances to recover but couldn't. 2. Kerney's sack later in the quarter which caused another fumble by O'Sullivan, which Kerney returned 50 yards, nearly for a touchdown. 3. Josh Wilson's interception near halftime, which he returned 75-yards for a touchdown. 4. Seahawks fullback Leonard Weaver's 62-yard catch and run in the fourth quarter, also for a touchdown. Let's go over them one by one. Maybe reliving the agony will be therapeutic. On San Francisco's first drive, Seattle's Darryl Tapp and Patrick Kerney forced San Francisco quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan to fumble as he was sacked. Shooting behind the line of scrimmage with a 600mm lens, I was WAY too right on the play and as the loose ball bounced around. If you could have read my mind during the play you would have heard something like this: WHERE IS IT?...THERE IT IS...WAIT, WHERE'D IT GO NOW...TAPP HAS IT?....CRAP...I CAN'T SEE ANYTHING...THERE'S THE WHISTLE...DAMN.) The 12th Man will hate me for this, but I was secretly glad that the Seahawks had not recovered the ball and returned it for a touchdown because I was wrong-lensed, then alternately wrong-aimed, and wrong-focused. Things started out fine. Shooting from behind the line of scrimmage, I see Seattle's Rocky Bernard rushing and sizing up O'Sullivan. Even in a split second you can know that because there is no one else in the frame that a sack could happen. (Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 400, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0) This is the next frame I shot is this one. I'm not sure why I didn't shoot in-between, I can only guess that it's because no good frame presented itself and suddenly I realized the ball was loose. This is very tight framing and in real time at live speed, all this action is happening fast and keeping it all A) in the frame and B) in focus is one of the harder things to do. Now I'm the victim of a little bad luck with the composition. The ball is out and I've got two Seahawks taking O'Sullivan down to the ground. BUT, everyone is facing away from me no this isn't much of a frame. There's an old sports photography saying that goes, "All you need is two faces and a ball". This one has ball, but ain't got no faces. Having already been beaten by the dreaded Curse of the Backs of Heads, now I'm paying the price for having the wrong lens. With a 400mm lens, I get Seattle's Darryl Tapp trying to pick the ball up and run it in for a touchdown. But, I'm way too tight and I have another bad frame. Two frames later, the ball is bouncing away from me and I get more of Tapp in my frame, but clearly the "moment" of the previous frames is gone. This looks to be a better frame today (Monday) than it was when I was editing, and I probably should have sent it. The problem here i[...]