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| p.1 #2 · Shooting my first NCAAF game |
Welcome, Craig. A few ideas:
First, with football, unlike some other outdoor sports (soccer in particular), there are a lot of breaks in the action. Even a hurry-up offense requires 10-15 seconds between each play, and for teams that huddle, you have even more time. One practical implication of this is that you are not often in situations where you have to swap your camera/lens rigs on the fly. Add to this the fact you're planning to kneel, and there will be many (perhaps most) circumstances where you can decide which setup you want to be shooting with for the 'next play, and place the other one on the ground just beside or in front of you. In effect, this eliminates the need to juggle both at the same time. If you do need to manage the 400 while shooting with the 70-200 and you can't put the 400 on the ground, you'll have to figure out how to support it in the crook of your left arm (front of lens turned to the left, so the lens is more or less parallel to your body) as both of your hands are on the rig you are shooting with. (I agree with you that it would be very difficult if not impossible to shoot the 70-200 with one hand.) I should add that all of this 'time' between plays becomes irrelevant if you are moving often up and down the field. In that case (and I think it is warranted on occasion), there will never be enough time between plays! Even so, as you are running, you can be thinking about which camera you are going to use when you get there, and place the other one on the ground as you quickly set up.
Second, I wouldn't be surprised if you could satisfy your newspaper with 5-10 strong images that help to tell the story they want to tell. Thus, as you infer, no matter how 'good' or 'bad' an outing you have, you aren't likely to have any problem delivering (assuming your editor is not expecting the perfect photo of the quintessential play of the game as s/he defines it). Take this on faith and let it ease your mind a bit so that you can approach the event with a somewhat clear head. (But I guess this also suggests you should be aware, ahead of time, of any special angles the newspaper plans for its coverage of the game.)
Third, you are wise to be thinking this through in advance. I would suggest that one of the most important things you can do is arrive at the stadium EARLY, at least two hours before game time, maybe more. This will give you plenty of time to figure out the lay of the land, such as where you can set up your laptop and leave what you won't be carrying to the field with you, where you will find the meal that should be available for you, the most efficient route to the field and back to your work area, and a feel for the stadium at field level. Find someone who can go over the rules with you that are particular to that stadium. (At one of the stadiums where I shoot, for example, there is signage along one entire sideline minus the team area and photographers are not allowed to stand in front of this signage. In effect, this eliminates that side of the field as an option, and it would be good to know that ahead of time rather than be threatened with eviction because you keep violating a rule you didn't know existed.) Walk the perimeter, take some shots of the warm-ups, get a feel for the light and figure out what there is to figure out about whether or not there are better and worse places to shoot from.
Finally, have a plan. It sounds like you are working on this, and I think it is helpful to have specific goals and some sense of what you are hoping to accomplish. You can always modify as necessary, but you don't want to end up feeling like you're heading toward the rapids and your paddle's in the car.
Beyond that, enjoy the experience. College football rocks, and there's no shortage of photo opportunities. Oh, yeah...be sure to post some of your images here! And good luck.