This past weekend I photographed USA Ultimate’s Division III College National Championships in Appleton, Wisconsin for UltiPhotos. I’m working on the photos now and it’ll take me a couple weeks to get the full sets up. For now, there are some preview galleries available for viewing at UltiPhotos. The shot above is of the University of Mary Washington’s women’s team, “Mary Massacre,” pulling to their opponent in the first round of lower bracket play on Sunday morning.
I had a great time at this tournament, although the incredibly stiff winds all weekend made for some uninspiring quality of play at times. All things considered I think I got some good shots, especially given that I once again had some problems with my 300/2.8 (I’m planning to send it in for one more round of repairs, and if that doesn’t work it’s time to shell out the cash for a new long lens). The lens mount has a stripped screw, which means that the top part of the mount doesn’t stay flush to the camera. This has two effects: one, the lens doesn’t properly engage the aperture lever on the camera, which gives an fEE error and renders it unusable. This was relatively easily fixed with a bit of gaffer tape to ensure the lens made contact with the camera aperture lever. However, the second effect was not field-fixable: the mount issue meant that the lens focal plane was ever so slightly off. As a result, the bottom halves of many of my photos are in perfect focus, but the top half is out of focus. This is terribly unfortunate because the top half of most Ultimate photos is the most important - that’s where the faces are, and that’s where the eye goes first.
By the middle of the second day I resorted to running around with only my 80-200/2.8, chasing the action where it went rather than lugging two bodies and staying relatively more stationary. I got some great shots despite the equipment issues, but I’ll be looking forward to having a reliable long lens again soon.
This came out months ago, but I only just recently saw it. The Winter 2011 issue of the USA Ultimate magazine features my coverage from Club Championships in Sarasota, way back last October. Here are just a few low-res tearsheets of some of the pages that feature my photos. In all of these except for the last, all the photos are mine; on the table of contents page, the three shots on the left side are mine.
Thanks to Kevin Leclaire of Ultiphotos, Andy Lee of USA Ultimate, and Brian Canniff, the other Ultiphotos photographer who got tons of coverage in the magazine, including the cover shot.
I’ve finally finished editing and uploading over 2,000 photos from this year’s USA Ultimate Club Championships. You can see the full galleries over at Ultiphotos. Above is perhaps the most famous of all the photos I got at the tournament - Peter Dempsey of Atlanta’s Chain Lightning going high for a D over Noah Saul of Raleigh’s Ring of Fire. This was one of the shots I submitted for use on the USA Ultimate website, and kind of went viral immediately after being posted. The full sequence starts here.
For the Ultimate folks reading this, a foul was called on the play but was overruled by the observer. I thought it was pretty clearly a foul, which is more evident from the video that’s available. But foul or not, a pretty spectacular play, and I’m stoked that I captured it despite it happening way over on the far sideline from where I was.
I’m an official photographer for USA Ultimate Club Championships 2011 shooting both for USA Ultimate and Ultiphotos. Club Championships is the annual national (well, North American, as there are U.S. and Canadian teams) championship tournament in Sarasota, Florida for the sport of Ultimate Frisbee, and this year’s installment runs from Thursday, October 27 to Sunday, October 30, featuring 60 teams in four divisions - men’s, women’s, mixed (coed) and masters (old folks).
This photo depicts action between mixed teams Amp (Philadelphia) and Bucket (Atlanta), playing a pre-quarterfinal matchup today. The Amp player (in white) caught this pass to set up the game-winning score. I shot this with my 300/2.8 AF-I on a rented D300s, which I’ve been using alongside my D300 and 80-200/2.8. I also brought my D700 and 24-70/2.8, but I’ve found that it’s more trouble than it’s worth to carry it around as a third body. I missed the focus on this one a bit - the focus is on the Bucket player’s cleats rather than the Amp player’s face, where I’d like it to be. That’s what makes it a web photo instead of one that I’m reserving for possible use in the USA Ultimate magazine. My absolute best shots from the weekend won’t see the light of day for a while, until USA Ultimate decides what to buy for the magazine.
Those top-notch shots aside, photo highlights are being published multiple times per day on the USA Ultimate website, in various galleries here. Much larger galleries are available at Ultiphotos; I am posting galleries at the end of each day and hundreds more photos will be uploaded in the weeks to come after the tournament.
(Sorry for the enormous watermark in the photo above. Not sure what happened there.)
For the first time since Regionals last year, I shot an Ultimate tournament last weekend, or at least one day of it (thanks to Kevin Leclaire for tipping me off that this was happening, I’ve been out of the loop). Yorktown-HB Woodlawn’s program hosted a tournament in Arlington, with teams from Virginia, Maryland and further afar (Pennsylvania and New England) attending. The men’s finals were a familiar story though, with YHB matched up against Woodside, a show I’ve seen before but one that’s always exciting. In the end, YHB prevailed because while Woodside has an incredibly talented and athletic team, they currently have no idea how to play good zone offense, with absolutely no downfield movement. If Woodside wants to contend this year they’re going to need to learn how to pop.
Photo-wise, it was a fine day, a little too sunny for my tastes (harsh shadows etc), but the weather was gorgeous and the action was good. I continued to have autofocus problems with both of my cameras, which is troubling especially after having sent my D300 in for service some time ago. The problem may be in the two (very old, well-used) telephoto lenses I’m using… wonder if I’ll get a chance to send them in for service anytime soon.
I saw some great games at Sunday of the UPA Mid-Atlantic Open Regionals: a final that went to double game point and ended with an upset victory as usually dominant Ring of Fire lost the region (to DC’s Truck Stop) for the first time since 2002, and a 2nd place game that saw Ring almost lose again, this time to fellow North Carolinians Los, but pull out a 15-14 victory after being down 14-12 and 8-5 at half (my favorite play: Los taking half with a cross-field thumber). The 3rd place game for the last bid to nationals was more anticlimactic as it was clear Los was at the end of their emotional and physical rope after losing that heartbreaker to Ring. Pike wins, just like in 2007, but with no epic comeback needed. Man, I feel for those Los guys.
I took 2,000 photos, most of which suck. Seriously, with all the harsh sunlight and the shadows it entailed, I’d have rather just sat and watched. Until someone can figure out how to put a giant diffusion dome on top of an Ultimate field, I’ll always dislike shooting in bright sunlight.
The above sneak preview is Ring getting a huge layout D near Truck Stop’s endzone in the finals. They converted to bring the score back on serve and eventually force double game point. Full coverage up soon at Ultiphotos.
As I mentioned earlier, I really enjoyed shooting with a 300/2.8, which got me some nice frame-filling action shots and enabled me to throw backgrounds completely out of focus. The above photo, which is cropped only very slightly, is a great example - admittedly, the background at the Uppervile polo fields are close to ideal, with lots of trees and empty fields and few visual distractions. Still, with the 300 wide open at f/2.8, even a parking lot as a background doesn’t get distracting.
This is a new thing I’m going to start doing, which I’m calling 8 fps. I was talking to Kevin Leclaire about how I shoot a lot of bursts when I’m shooting Ultimate, and then when I was scrolling through my photos on my camera, just holding down the button to scan through quickly, I thought it might be cool to put some of the longer bursts together into a kind of stop-motion highlights video. The result of my minimal effort - an hour and half of work - is above. (Note: probably won’t show up in your RSS feed reader, so come visit the site.)
It’s a montage of 68 separate plays, each documented by anywhere from three to ten frames. The whole thing consists of 453 photos shot at 8 frames per second (but played back at 7 fps, as I thought the slightly slower frame rate made things a bit more comprehensible). There are series shot by both my D300 with 300/2.8 and my D700 with 80-200/28. All the photos are completely unedited, because actually editing them would have been way more effort than it was worth. So here’s your chance to see how much of the frame I’m able to fill (or not) when shooting Ultimate. The reality is, as you can see, cropping is often very much necessary.
The logistics of making this video basically involved selecting the photos, resizing them down to a reasonable size for this purpose, doing a quick Photoshop batch process to put the verticals onto horizontal canvases, another batch process to add my watermark, and then using an extremely basic piece of freeware to string them together into a video. Ta-da!
As a final note, the full collection of Sectionals photos will be live at Kevin’s site either later this evening or tomorrow. There’s some great stuff to be seen!
Yesterday I covered, once again alongside Kevin Leclaire, the Ultimate Players Association Capital Mixed Sectional tournament, with my coverage focused on the mixed (coed) division. Sectionals is the first step towards the National Championship tournament in Sarasota in late October. The next step is Regionals, in two weeks, and once again I’ll be there covering Sunday. This is my first time in literally 10 years not playing in the fall club series. It felt kind of weird, but I enjoyed being able to focus, so to speak, on making some great photos. I’ll probably return to playing next year though… I miss it.
Anyway, the full coverage will be at Kevin’s site, Ultiphotos, again. Should be up later this week.
I got my hands on a 300/2.8 AF-S version 1 telephoto lens and used it for the weekend. I had it on a monopod for the first round of games on Sunday (an old Bogen 3018 pod with 3229 swivel/tilt head that I used to use with a manual focus 300/4.5 AIS back when I was first trying to shoot Ultimate in college), but quickly got frustrated by the lack of mobility. By 10am I was handholding it and running around again, with my second body and 80-200/2.8 slung over my shoulder. The two made for a great tandem, assuming I had a few seconds when needed to switch between them. Eight hours of that was pretty tiring to say the least, but it was definitely doable. And the isolation I got from the 300 is absolutely gorgeous. I’ll post an appropriate example soon but the above two shots show it off a bit.
The second shot is just a random non-action capture that I really like. It’s nice to get little shots like this to break up a full day of nothing but action photography.
Sectionals aside, other things I will be covering in the near future, and probably posting about at least a couple of them: lots of concerts. Namely, The Sounds tonight, Sunn O))) on Wednesday, U2 next Tuesday. Also, possibly, because I think it might just be the weirdest spectacle I shoot all year, Lady Gaga next Monday. I had also been planning to shoot Gojira tomorrow, but with the 2,500 photos I took this weekend, I need an extra evening to sit at my computer!
During my busy weekend, I spent a couple hours in Poolesville, Maryland, shooting some Ultimate Frisbee. Specifically, I covered the crossover round of the Open Division and the showcase games of the Elite Division, helping out official tournament photographer Kevin Leclaire. I got some decent stuff, nothing amazing but not too bad considering I hadn’t shot any Ultimate in three and a half months. You can check out my coverage in these galleries at Kevin’s website: crossover games; Ring of Fire vs. Ironside showcase game; Revolver vs. Chain Lightning showcase game.
I think the next time I shoot Ultimate, I’m going to try it with a 300/2.8. I’d like some longer reach and more isolation. Should be fun. I wonder if I can handhold that sucker? I’m usually running up and down the sidelines and don’t really fancy the idea of using a monopod.