Posts Tagged ‘football’

Sports Illustrated Magazine Accused of Manipulating College Football Photo

Last week, Sports Illustrated magazine published the above photograph by US Presswire photographer Matthew Emmons. Found in the “Leading Off” section, the photo shows the Baylor Bears football team celebrating after their upset victory over the #2 ranked Kansas State Wildcats.

The image has many people talking, not because of the unlikely event that it captures, but because it appears to be heavily manipulated. And it’s not just the fact that the picture looks like it passed through an HDR program, but that the Baylor football players didn’t wear green jerseys during that game. They wore black.
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Photos of Makeshift Soccer Balls Used by Children in Africa

Soccer, known as football around the world, is played by hundreds of millions of people in hundreds of countries, making it the world’s most popular sport. However, a large percentage of its enthusiasts are unable to afford actual soccer balls to play with. Instead, they fashion their own makeshift balls out of things they have on hand — things like socks, rubber bands, plastic bags, strips of cloth, and string. The DIY balls may be difficult to use and ugly in appearance, but each one is a treasured possession of its owner.

Belgian photographer Jessica Hilltout decided to turn her attention and her camera lens on these one-of-a-kind creations, documenting “football in its purest form” in Africa. The project is titled AMEN.
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University Criticized for Photoshopping Crosses Out of Photo of Football Fans

Should Photoshop play a role in political correctness? Louisiana State University is drawing some criticism this week after it came to light that the university had used Photoshop to erase Christian crosses from the chests of body-painted fans.
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What It’s Like to Shoot the Conclusion of a Major College Football Game

A couple of weeks ago, photographer Mike Simons of Tulsa World covered the annual college football game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns football. Known as the Red River Rivalry, the series considered one of the greatest rivalries in American sports. To capture what photographing the conclusion of such a big game is like, Simons decided to wear a GoPro camera on his head to record a first-person point of view.
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Portraits of High School Football Players in the Style of Political Campaign Photos

Four years ago, Kai-Huei Yau had an idea. During a presidential election year, why not create a series of high school football preview photographs that tie into the political atmosphere? This year, the Tri-City Herald photographer finally put the idea into motion. His “Football Campaign 2012″ series features portraits of local high school football players that make them look like they’re running for office rather than preparing for a season of war on the gridiron.
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Man Chucking a $10,000 Canon Projectile

Reuters photographer Murad Sezer was shooting at an uber-important soccer final in Turkey last Saturday when he found himself in the midst of a massive clash between frenzied fans and police officers. In the chaos, fans started picking up everything they could get their hands on to use as projectiles, including camera lenses. Sezer writes,

While waiting for the trophy ceremony, the work room was packed with photographers – with evidence they had covered a riot. Broken cameras, lenses and laptops were scattered around as photographers tried to assess the damage while others tried to figure out if they were missing equipment. [...] While we were editing and sending our pictures to the Singapore desk my colleague Umit Bektas showed me a picture he took during the clashes. It was hard to believe but a fan was throwing a Canon 400mm 2.8 telephoto lens with monopod, (worth some $10,000 USD) onto the field. In that moment of truth, I knew it was a good idea to lock my 400mm in a hardcase.

Results of the Saturday night soccer violence: 3 cameras broken, 10 lenses (including a 400mm tele) damaged or missing, a laptop broken, 10 photographers directly exposed to violence.

Lesson learned: shooting a soccer match in some places can be the same thing as shooting in a war zone.

Saving the Canon 400mm f2.8 [Reuters]

Image credit: Photograph by Murad Sezer/Reuters and used with permission

A Day In the Life of a College Football Photographer

Want to know what it’s like to cover a football game as the chief photographer of a school’s athletic department? Photographer Joel Hawksley created this day-in-the-life time-lapse video after being assigned to cover a football game between Ohio University and Temple University. It starts early in the morning when he pulls out of his driveway, and ends at night when he pulls in. In between we see everything from setting up, shooting, post-processing, and uploading/emailing photographs. Hawksley used a Nikon D700 and D300 to photograph the game, and a Canon G9 to capture the time-lapse images throughout the day.

Analyzing “The Catch” Using the Golden Ratio and Rule of Thirds

The Catch” is one of the most famous plays in American football history, and Walter Iooss Jr.’s photograph of Dwight Clark leaping into the air is one of the game’s iconic images. Paul Lukas of Uni Watch has published an interesting analysis of the photograph and why it “works”:

I’ve been fascinated by the famous photo of the Catch for years and have always thought it to be the greatest photo ever of NFL action, and possibly the greatest sports photo, period. The photo has always been very visually pleasing to me, so I recently decided to find out why.

Out of curiosity I applied the golden ratio, the rule of thirds, and perspective to the photo, and I was completely blown away by the results. Now I know why this photo has always been so visually stunning to me: Compositionally, it is divine. I’ve prepared a series of exhibits to support my points.

If you aren’t familiar with these two rules of composition, check out this article.

Deconstructing the Catch (via Coudal Partners)

Field Notes: 10 Beginner Tips for Shooting Football


The football season may be halfway over, but there’s still time left to gear up and hone your skills in time for holiday bowl games.

Whether it’s the Super Bowl or the local high school homecoming, anything can happen during a football game. Miracles and heartbreak unfold on the field. The stands are alive with cheering fans led by cheerleaders and mascots. The band trumpets the team on.

And the sideline photographer gets the best seat in the house to observe and capture these moments.

Football is probably one of my favorite sports to cover. I covered the UCLA football team for four seasons, through their ups and downs (both usually against USC) and across the country. Along the way, I’ve compiled a few tips that I’ve passed along to my fresher staff members.

1. Practice, Practice, Practice.

Whenever the team practices, you can too.

If you have access, practice a great time to get a feel for the pacing and feel of the game.

But better yet, you can get a behind-the-scenes look at the players and the coach. Get a sense of the overall team dynamic–which leads us to our next point.

2. Know the Teams.

Particularly if you are a team beat photographer, it’s essential to at least be familiar with your team’s players, their role in the game. Which notable players are on the O-line? Who’s the 2nd string quarterback? Are there any potential rising stars on the team?

Knowing who will do what, and when, will not only help you get better coverage during play time, but sometimes you can capture more intimate pre-game and post-game moments.

Kahlil Bell pregame

I took this photo of UCLA tail back Kahlil Bell right before he exited the tunnel to play his final college football game against USC last season. Aside from being a gauntlet game against USC, Bell’s expression reflects the personal significance of this game as a senior player.

It’s also a good idea to do your research about the other team. What are the pregame predictions? Are the players evenly matched? Team or personal rivalries?

There’s this great Daily Bruin archive photo from an old UCLA vs. USC game. A Bruin player is lending a hand to the Trojan sitting on the field after a play, but the latter responds by defiantly flipping him off.

3. Dress Appropriately.

There’s no dress code, but it is a good idea to dress sensibly while shooting.

Wear comfortable clothing and shoes with good traction.
You might find yourself running more yards than the star running back, not only to get the shot but especially if you’re covering a game that has TV coverage. Television crews get priority access to the sidelines (they make the big money, usually), and major networks almost always have a large dolly truck that runs up and down one side of the field. Mind your step, watch out for cords, and be ready to run if you’re passing the dolly (of course, you could always shoot from the other side of the field, sans dolly).

Check the weather.
Even when I was covering games at the Rose Bowl in sunny Southern California, the nights could get a bit drafty. Layers come in handy. Also, you’ll know if you should come prepared with a poncho and protective gear for your camera.

Optionally, knee pads are a good idea. Your body will thank you.

Finally, wear long shirts, please, or a belt at least. Because plumber’s cracks are not limited to that vocation.

4. Pack Wisely, and Mind the Monopod.

Most professionals use two to three camera bodies paired with different lenses. I’m probably at least 50 pounds lighter than the average football photographer, and my budget is proportionally smaller, so I usually carry two bodies and a monopod. Two bodies are always better than one, especially if one tweaks out. You’ll have a media room or photographer’s area at most college or pro venues to stash the rest of your gear.

My camera bag usually contains:

Primary and secondary bodies
Primary lens: A long lens — 300mm f2.8 or 400mm f2.8
Secondary lens: A long to mid-range lens — 70-200mm f2.8
Other gear: laptop, card reader, monopod, 1-2 extra cards, extra batteries and charger, standard 17-35mm lens for tunnel and post-game celebratory shots, sometimes a flash for post-game shots at night.

And finally, mind how you carry the monopod. It can be cumbersome running down field with a 300mm lens over your shoulder, but make sure you know where (or at whom) your monopod is pointing. Terrible accidents can happen (I know this for a reason; sorry, guy!).

5. Work the Field.

In most games, photographers cannot stand between the two 20-yard lines on each side of the field, since the team, coaches, and officials use that area. The area between the 20-yard line and the goal, as well as the entire end zone might seem constrictive, but they’re actually the most ideal places to be.

I like using the 300mm or a 400mm lens primarily, so I tend to camp in the end zone, maybe venturing up the corners and sides every once in a while. Up-field from the offense, I’m almost guaranteed to get some good face shots or action in the frame, since they are headed my way.

Matt Slater

On the flip side, shooting from behind the team with the ball can yield some great defensive moments too: turnovers, interceptions, not to mention a great angle of the quarterback dropping back for a pass or pitching the ball to a tail back.

Pocket Pitch

If you follow the quarterback, you follow the ball. Learn to read his body language. If he drops back in the pocket and looks around, he’ll likely pass. If he immediately runs back, he’s likely to hand it off. If he hesitates in the pocket, get ready for a sack or for him to rush.

6. Don’t Always Follow the Ball.

In a lot of games, a lot of action takes place away from the ball. While that one player has the ball, the other 21 guys on the field are scrambling desperately to do something. Not to mention coaches yelling, other players on the side lines, field officials running about. I smell a photo op.

7. Don’t Always Follow the Game.

In the same line of thought, there’s more going on at the stadium than just the game itself.

There are wild fans, families, 70-year-old school alumni, retired players, the marching band, the mascot and, of course, cheerleaders. Try taking photos that capture the spirit of the game, or even the environment at the game, the sunset or snow over the stadium.

A few hours at a football game can yield a cohesive photo story.

8. Get Faces, Action, Emotion.

It’s easier said than done. It’s hard to capture faces, action and emotion in one shot:

Bad AngleWoops. I was on the wrong side of the field for this shot. It was a great moment, but a bit pointless since I have no faces. Great photos don’t always have to have faces, but faces do add a lot to the image.

Not all good shots need to hit everything on the list, either.

9. Good Crop, Bad Crop: Use Cropping to your Advantage.

Cropping a photo can make or break it.

I’m personally a fan of really, really tight crops for football photos. I like to find where the peak action is occurring and home in on it.


This was the initial crop I made of this photo. I wanted to emphasize the fact that the player is carrying the ball and that there is a cool reflection off his visor.


However, I sacrificed the ball in the shot to draw closer attention to the details on his visor, which ultimately make this photo stand out from any other ball-carrying photo. In the reflection, the entire field is visible, from the blocker in front of the player to the tackler about to make a stop.

At the same time, it’s important to be aware of the empty space in the photo, which gives the subject breathing room and a sense of motion.

No Crop

This uncropped photo is not particularly interesting, but cropping might help add dynamism to the moment and emphasize the quarterback’s expression.

Bad Crop

This crop is a little better, but badly composed. Though the player’s head is in the upper third, the action is killed because he’s placed at the dead center of the photo. Also, the crop is still too wide, since his feet are awkwardly not in the frame.

No Space Crop

This crop is probably worse than the previous crop because it’s too tight. The motion is killed and the photo is claustrophobic because there simply is not enough empty space for him to visually move into.

Improved Crop

I would lean more towards a crop like this, where there is space on the left, where the player is moving from, and on the right, where he is moving into. I left a little of his right leg in there as well, to preserve the sense that he’s running.

10. If it Needs More than 1000 Words, Captions Say the Rest.

If you are shooting for a publication, informative captions are essential for marketing and presenting your final products.

Generally, I use captions to contextualize the image, and to explain who, what and where the photo is taking place. I usually try to at least include a date, locale, and both team names.

Back to the photo of Kahlil Bell in the tunnel:

Kahlil Bell pregame

It may not be immediately obvious who, where, why or what he is doing in this photo without an explanation.

However, couple the photo with a quick caption underneath, and you’ve got an emotional context and story which adds depth to the image.

UCLA tailback Kahlil Bell pauses at the tunnel entrance at the Rose Bowl before his final college game against USC, Dec. 6, 2008.


From preparation to post-production, covering the football beat can be challenging but extremely rewarding.

If you’ve got tips of your own tips, suggestions or questions, leave a comment!