My thoughts on Photographing Sports

Duke’s running back (21) Mataeo Durant fumbles the ball due to defensive pressure of Alabama’s defensive back (22) Jalyn Armour-Davis during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff on Saturday, August 31st at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

The ultimate sports photo for me is when there is a conflict between players who are fighting for the ball and I have capture the emotions of the moment shown in their face expressions and body language.

Chick-fil-A Kickoff Duke 3 vs Alabama 42 Final Score, August 31, 2019 [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 460)]

Getting to the game early helps me to scout best spots to shoot from. I prefer shooting from the endzone for football, because that is where the offense is trying to go.

[NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

When you are not shooting the offense from the endzone you can see the faces of the defense.

Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (4) breaks up an interception attempt by Duke cornerback Josh Blackwell (31) in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga., on Saturday August 31, 2019. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 380)]

I grew up watching on ABC Wide World Classic “The Agony of Defeat” by the skier Vinko Bogataj. When plays don’t go well and there is an “Agony of Defeat” moment, it reminds us of how difficult it is to play the sport.

You can see in this series the competition and the emotions in the body language of both players.

Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs, III, (11) makes a move on Duke safety Dylan Singleton (16) the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga., on Saturday August 31, 2019. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

Getting these moments takes really high end professional gear. You need a camera that is able to focus quickly and shoot enough frames so that you don’t miss the action.

[NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

While you are following the quarterback you are quickly then transitioning downfield to the receiver. My Nikon D5 screams speed. From the focus to the frame rate to the way you can scrub through images on the rear LCD. With your eye to the viewfinder, a light press of the shutter release see’s the camera unleash its almost endless volley of image capturing prowess. A minimal viewfinder blackout time makes it easier to see the action and follow your subject.

Alabama wide receiver (17) Jaylen Waddle is forced out of bounds by Duke linebacker (49) Koby Quansah. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 20000, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]
David Cutcliffe, Duke’s head football coach, talks with Nick Saban, Alabama’s head football coach prior to the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 640, 1/320, ƒ/4, (35mm = 58)]

By arriving early I was able to get onto the field prior to the kickoff and capture a light moment between the two head coaches for Duke and Alabama. For this moment I went with my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera. Other than for fast action sports I love this camera. Seeing the image before you click the shutter is just awesome.

You can see if the exposure is correct. You can see the white balance. You can see the Depth-of-Field. You can see if you are in focus.

The mirrorless Nikon Z6 lets you see the photo before you shoot except for the split second that you capture. The Nikon D5 doesn’t give you this ability through the viewfinder. You could do this in live view, but not as easy to see.

This is CJ Byrd and Mohamed Massaquoi before the game. They were roommates at University of Georgia and played football together. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 640, 1/160, ƒ/4, (35mm = 28)]

There is so much more than just the plays on the field that make this a community event. The bands, the celebrities, and much more, but you must look for them.

Duke Band during the pregame show [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 18000, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]
Alabama’s Color guard performing choreographed dances and routines with various equipment to enhance and interpret the music of the marching band show. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 340)]

Bands, Cheerleaders, and Color Guards help bring fans to their feet.

Duke takes the field [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 36000, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 260)]

Just coming onto the field today with a football team is a spectacle.

Nick Saban wears the leather helmet after winning the Chick-fil-A Kickoff over Duke 42 – 3. [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Shutter Priority, ISO 5000, 1/800, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 150)]

To keep objectivity in sports media, a photographer cannot cheer for teams while doing their jobs. Now if you are the team photographer, this is different because you are not reporting as the media.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) passes against Duke in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga., on Saturday August 31, 2019. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 460)]