Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Photo That Almost Happened

This is the photo that almost happened.

You see, sports photography is about 5% knowledge of the camera and photo techniques, 5% knowledge of the game your game, 5% willingness to grit your teeth and hope that the guy doesn't hit you while you're shooting and about 85% luck. Anyone that tells you any different is just flat lying to you. You might be able to shave some of that percentage of luck with a little advance preparation, but there's only so much wiggle room to be had in that formula.

Friday night I was prowling the Covington sidelines as they traveled to East Montgomery High School on the other side of Salem. For their troubles Covington received an old fashioned butt-whooping by a team that's likely to be the state champions of the Single A division. I've shot plenty of high school football before, so I'm familiar with what I'm doing, even if I'm just a little rusty after a four year sabbatical from the work.

During half time, I set my camera to Automatic to take a couple of shots of a CHS helmet. I figured it would be a nice graphic to have somewhere down the line at the newspaper. When the second half started, I forgot to switch my camera back to the Manual setting where, combined with the flash, I had a high enough shutter speed to stop the motion of the game.

Covington was trailing by three scores by the time they had their first possession of the half, so it was time to air it out (note the knowledge of the game). I went down the sideline and set up, waiting for the deep pass that I knew was coming. My powers of prognostication didn't let me down and the quarterback uncorked a deep through to the sideline.

I saw the receiver and the cornerback coming closer and closer, but I stood still (note the willingness to grit my teeth and hope I didn't get hit) because the play was unfolding directly in front of me (note the healthy dose of luck that was actually in my favor for once). Sadly, the pass was incomplete and so was my photo because I had failed to switch back to the Manual setting. When the image popped up on my screen I knew what I'd done and why I'd blown the shot, so I was able to reset and move on with the shooting.

This photo was nowhere near good enough to make the paper, but I like it for some reason. The motion blur speaks a little to how I see the game of football: as a very fast paced game that has a great deal of violent and sudden stops. This would never show up in a black and white photo on the newsprint we use at The Virginian Review so I'm just going to add this one to my collection.

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