I was ready for some football

I’m still chewing through the 1000+ jpg images for the A99 vs. A900 vs. A77 test and I have a ton of interesting observations I am planning to post soon. I had the opportunity to attend the Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers game yesterday in Charlotte and I was able to go by myself. I usually have one or more of my children with me at sporting events, so it gave me the opportunity to shoot and try some things. I’ve never shot American Football with a full-size camera body, I’ve either had a Nex-5 with a 16mm lens or a point and shoot.

I grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado which is just south of Denver, Colorado. Coloradoans are passionate about the Denver Broncos. When I was very small, the Denver Broncos acquired the rights to John Elway, the greatest football player in the history of the game in my humble opinion. No player did more with less talent around him than John Elway. Until 1997, John Elway’s teams had a reputation for doing well, but never winning the Super Bowl. The Broncos often would be losing in the 4th quarter and John Elway would command the team to win games they shouldn’t have won, and he would make plays no other human being could make. He was a great improviser. I’d venture to say a vast majority of young boys born in the late 70’s until the late 80’s in Colorado wanted to be like John Elway. I know I did. In 1997 the Denver Broncos took an unlikely path to the Super Bowl against the defending champion Green Bay Packers and their quarterback Brett Favre. Denver was a 14 point underdog. John Elway, later in his career, lead his team to finally win the Super Bowl. That day is just behind the birth dates of my children, and my wedding day as the most memorable for me. Denver would win the Super Bowl the next year and Elway retired a two-time Super Bowl Champion, announcing retirement early in 1999.

Needless to say, my favorite team is the Denver Broncos. I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina in late 2001 and living in the area off and on for the majority of the last 11 years I have followed the team local to Charlotte, the Carolina Panthers, as they are featured on television locally and I have been able to attend a few of their games. If you were to ask me for a second favorite team, I’d say without hesitation it is the Carolina Panthers. The Broncos play the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte every 4 years. I wasn’t going to miss this game. I just happened to bring my A99 and my 85mm f/1.4, my 24mm f/2, and my 70-300mm G lens. For the most part, I put the 70-300 G lens to the biggest test. I managed to acquire a seat in the 12th row, so my view was slightly higher than field level and for the most part, unobstructed.

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300mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/800s

After 1999 and until this season, the Denver Broncos had a number of Quarterbacks who failed to live in John Elway’s shadow. Some of the featured quarterbacks were Brian Griese, Jake Plummer, Jay Cutler, Kyle Orton, and Tim Tebow among others. All failed in the eyes of Denver fans, though Tim Tebow showed the fans some promise in the short time he was around. Before the 2012, now-team Vice President John Elway managed to acquire the rights to the most desired free agent players in history, former-Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning was a Super Bowl winner and holds many statistical records in the National Football League. This was my first opportunity to see Peyton Manning play in person.

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Full-resolution crop. 300mm, f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 400.

I was also excited to see last year’s Rookie of the Year award winner Cam Newton, the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers. DSC01523

180mm, f/5.6, 1/500s, ISO 200

The environment was perfect for learning how to shoot in certain situations. The action is fast when there is action, but the action is off and on so you have time to make adjustments if needed. The weather was completely cooperative, however the stadium cast a shadow on the field and for much of the game, the visitor sideline was in full sunlight, where the home sideline was in the shade, and getting the photo metering and white balance correct was a challenge. I also found the shots where there the sunlight was out of focus were tough to get right post-processing.

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300mm, f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 640, +1 EV.

I also found 1/500s+ acceptable for freezing the action for players, but 1/1000s or quicker was needed for freezing the football. Notice the next shot, the players are relatively static, where the ball is blurry, and that was at 1/800s.

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300mm, f/5.6, 1/800s, ISO 400

I tried very hard to shoot in shutter priority between 1/500s and 1/1000s, and went outside of my comfort zone with the Auto ISO settings, using a range of 100-1600. My biggest issue with this setup was the A99 would adjust ISO, rather than adjust aperture and it would rarely stop the aperture down unless the ISO was pegged at 100. I experimented a bit with ISO 200 as the lower end and experienced the same thing. The shot below was one of the few exceptions.

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300mm, f/10, 1/640s, ISO 250

As a boy, I played American Football through high school and as a former player, I tried to anticipate what I thought would happen during the game and I found it helpful in getting the shots I liked the most. This shot was of a rare scoring play called a safety, where the offensive team is stopped in their defending end zone.

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250mm, f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 640, +1 EV.

I also captured this fumble. I wish I had been set to a better shutter speed on this, but I did manage to anticipate the good defensive play and the fumble was a nice side-effect.

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300mm, f/5.6, 1/400s, ISO 200

In my days in High School, I primarily played on the offensive line, but I also was asked to perform kicking and punting duties so I also tried to focus on the punters and kickers while I was shooting as well.

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300mm, f/5.6, 1/800s, ISO 400

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250mm, f/6.3, 1/1000s, ISO 400

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180mm, f/5.6, 1/800s, ISO 200

In all I had a good time shooting the football game. It was challenging at some points, but at the same time the subjects were colorful, and nearly unlimited. With nearly 70,000 people in the stadium, and the action on the field, I was provided a good means for figuring out more about my A99. The Top Cats provided a means for testing certain settings…

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160mm, f/5.6, 1/500s, ISO 100.

There were definitely some interesting fans in attendance.

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300mm, f/5.6, 1/1000s, ISO 1000

Denver won the game easily, 36-14. Carolina had a 7-0 lead and Denver took over after a punt return for a touchdown as shown below. It was the first time I had seen Denver win in person since John Elway was quarterback.

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180mm,  f/5.6, 1/1000s, ISO 320
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