Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sports Composition

Sports Composition, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

Capturing the decisive moment in a fast moving sporting event like college soccer is a challenge unto itself. Combining that with a compelling background really ups the ante. I learned to take note of potential good backgrounds prior to the game and try to work them in during the game. In this shot, the Messiah men's keeper (Jared Clug) punches the ball away during the 2009 NCAA tournament. As I recall, the opponent was Bockport. This game was played on Messiah's home field and the bright orange tree was just the background element I was waiting to use during the coarse of the game. Even with press credentials the photographer is restricted to certain areas of sidelines. At a soccer game the areas behind the goals and near the team benches are almost always off limits. I found that at Final Four games the NCAA always marked with paint the allowed photographer areas. Other obstacles to contend with are TV crews, side judges, ball boys, physical features of the stadium/field and other photogs. So you take your pick of spots and hope the action comes to you. Here the late afternoon sun further restricted my shooting angles. I darkened the rest of the background, which was lacking much color anyway, to focus the eye on the action. The quality of the background is the difference between and good and great shot, everything else being equal.
Messiah went on to win National Championship #7 that December. The Finals in 2009 and 2010 were played in San Antonio where the background is especially challenging as one end of the field is in front of a large warehouse building. Even shooting wide open, a cinder block building is still a blob no matter how you cut it. Last year, one of the pro shooters beside me complained about that ugly building in the background. The stadium was back-lit during the day so that didn't work either. Well, you can't have it all, all the time. At least my team won and the free food in the press tent was great.

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