Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Second Half - Available Darkness

Available light.  That photographer-speak for shooting in low light without a flash. 

Notice the sky.  The sun is setting. 
The second half, I'm shooting in available
darkness.  That's Lily Messina in the
Way back when I first thought of being a photojournalist, I did some photography for the Battle Creek (Michigan) Enquirer.  The photo editor was Corky Wherret (spelling?).  He was shocked when I resigned my day job to do full time photography.  And his shock validated when a few months later I returned to my day job because photography wasn't paying the bills.  He called photos "pieces of art" rather than photos.  I asked myself but not Corky why he'd call a news photo "art".  (The question calls for a separate posting about what is art and what isn't and how you can tell.)  I didn't care what they called it as long my photos got published and paid. 

Corky hated low light photography.  He called it shooting in "available darkness."

His solution was a good strong flash, one that would light up an area of 75 to 100 feet.  His flash was plugged into a battery pack that was about half the size of a car battery and hung over his shoulder by a big strap.  My own flash wasn't nearly as effective as Corky's.  It operated on four AA batteries and had a reach of maybe 30 feet.  These days no serious sports photographer uses a flash.  Instead they have $10,000 lenses with huge glass that can inhale lots of available light.  My lens cost $500 and just inhales darkness. 

I suspect  you visit my blog out of an interest in football, not photography.  I won't bore you further with technical issues involved in shooting under low-light conditions.   Rather, I thought you might enjoy the artistic work of a not-very-artistic photographer dealing with available darkness.  The photos that follow were shot in the second half of the Houston game.  By the second half the sun is setting.  The stadium lights come on.  My camera with my lame little $500 lens becomes useless at shooting action on the field.  So I start looking for any subject, any image, that will capture some of the fun of football. 

And the result?  Pieces of art?

This is Bobby James.  The photo is shot about halfway through
the third quarter.  I think I was shooting the sky and Bobby
just got in my way.  You can see I'm not an artist.  The
composition isn't quite right.  But I still like the shot.

Players returning to the field after the half-time break.  There's still some light but not enough.  Sometimes the background is interesting.  Like the scoreboard showing 469?  I think that means the second half kickoff is 4 minutes and 69 seconds away.  Wait  a minute?  69 seconds?
Another sky photo in the third quarter.
Bobby getting in the way again.  And a
lot of other people in the way, too. 
Notice the sky is totally dark now.  This is a fourth quarter photo.  Players are taking a knee, which
suggests there is an injury on the field. 
I don't know if this is connected to the photo above.  This
is Rubi Reyna telling the team trainer her elbow is fine, just a
little tender, and she's ready for play.  Trainer says "No." 
Later x-rays reveal a fracture.  Rubi is tough. 
Okay, enough of the sky photos.  I like candids and when the light is low I start looking for interesting shots of the people associated with the Outlaws and I try to capture some of the feeling of the game by capturing the people watching it.
Stephanie Marshall, normally a defensive back
but now carrying a clip board as she recovers
from a knee injury.

Does this one qualify as art?

Expressions of players behind in the score and
running out of time.
The Outlaws lost this game.  Can you tell from sideline expressions that things aren't going well on the field?

Coach and player talking strategy.  I always wonder just
what he is telling her.  Or is she telling him?

His name is Julio. His daughters, Maile and Malia, play in the line for the Outlaw and he
helps out with the chains and down maker.  And he also helps keep Jackson cool with
a refreshing spray of water.  My intent with candid photos is that the subject doesn't
know I'm shooting.  I think Julio knew.  My clue?  He asked "Did you get that?"

Cookie Rivas visiting with Vero Narvaez during a break late in the game.  My candid shots sometimes catch hidden stories.  Note Vero is holding a candy bar.  Note Cookie is licking her lips.  Vero's expression is saying Nope, you aren't getting my candy bar.

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