Members of the West Point cadet parachute team land on the field prior to the Army – Hawaii game in Michie Stadium at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY on Saturday, September 11, 2010. Hawaii defeated Army 31 – 28. CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record

FOOTBALL 2010. Well it’s finally here. The football season I mean. After what seemed like about 2 or more months of covering football practice and preseason related stories this summer, the football season has officially begun. (with apologies to last week’s HS game up in Kingston under the lights…) Come to think of it, I’d begun covering football stories leading up to the season beginning back in late March / early April during Army’s brief Spring practice season and their annual Spring scrimmage. Friday night began a back-to-back schedule of a local HS game here in Newburgh, followed by Army’s home opener against Hawaii down at West Point yesterday (above).

*Michie Stadium. *Yankee Stadium. *The New Meadowlands Stadium. *Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, PA). *M&T BAnk Stadium (Baltimore, MD). *Carrier Dome at Syracuse University. Even Dietz Stadium for HS football up in Kingston, NY and countless high school fields throughout my career. These are all venues where I’ll probably find myself working games this season. (actually my season’s coverage started two weeks ago at Dietz – see earlier post: “Friday Night Lights…” and this past weekend’s game at West Point above.) Michie Stadium (top image) is already a familiar venue, and after three previous years of covering Army football, I “own” the stadium. Used to feel that way about the old Yankee & Shea Stadiums as well as the Meadowlands Arena and of course Madison Square Garden while I was on the NYC pro sports beat for a number of years earlier in my career. I’d been thinking about what this new post would mean here on the blog and what covering football games now mean to me, no matter what level the competition.

Football. F-O-O-T-B-A-L-L. No single sport that I’ve covered throughout my career carries the immediate stigma of “covering the big game”, as much as football does. Football is “America’s Game” and all that, so naturally there are a lot of routine picture opportunities to expect, plan for, and anticipate; it’s just those unforeseen ones that keep me awake nights, cause an occasional rapid heartbeat and sweaty palms, and oh, the sore knees, back, hips, shoulders and neck the following day or two after more than 8 hours at a given stadium. Football is like no other sport for a photographer to cover correctly. Obviously the game encompasses a large playing field and the potential for good photographs can happen anywhere on the field (OK, soccer, rugby, cricket, and lacrosse photographers & fans, I hear hear your howls on all this…) from all angles, and from literally all over a stadium. And let’s not forget those “B-roll” type feature images that can also be game telling and powerful – it’s just knowing how and when to put yourself in a position to make those images as well.
All of these picture making scenarios require a lot of different mindsets for me. Short glass. A fisheye (superwide) lens. short and medium telephoto lenses and of course a major requirement for outdoor and most sports I cover, the super-telephoto. (usually a 300mm f/2.8 or longer. add the 1.4x or even 2.x tele-extenders, thank you very much…)

*to be continued… ~cg.

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