Wednesday: Turkeyday-Eve. I had wanted to go photograph this one Christmas tree patch, that had some really beautiful lights strung out, but alas, it was closed. So I ended up just going to the pool to pick up my brother.

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AND! Taking my first ever picture of the moon. Which I thought was really kind of cool, even though the detail is a little lacking. It is a HUGE crop – less than one megapixel from a 24mp camera…

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And all week I’ve been looking at this…thinking about how thankful I am for some of the opportunities I’ve had this year…

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And not too long after taking that…I flipped open my computer to see that FSU had shared this shot of mine (albeit without credit), and that THOUSANDS of people had seen and “liked” what is without a doubt one of my favorite shots from the season…

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Thursday…HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!! This was without a doubt, one of the most pleasant Thanksgiving Days in my recent memory. I was cognizant and very grateful for the many varied opportunities I’ve had this year, including making new friends, keeping old family, having my health and being able to compete on an international scale, meeting many new people during my pursuit of photography, and all of the photos and photo-ops I’ve had. Interestingly enough, I didn’t shoot any photos on Thanksgiving…BUT! I did run the local Turkey Trot 10k road race, at which I ran what was either a PR or close to it (37:31, and I couldn’t have asked for better, all things considered), so I’ll leave you with this image that Joe Rondone (the Tallahassee Democrat’s staff photog) took of the start line.

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If you look on the left side of the shot, I’m jumping up and down, shirtless, wearing green shorts and sunglasses, as I decided that I didn’t really want to talk to someone I only knew professionally when I was in that getup. And then there’s this shot…complete with the watermark…ugh, I’m not a fan of this group – for a variety or reasons – but this shot is cool, even though I cannot manage to find myself…

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[EDIT]

Here’s a shot by Herb Wills of me appearing to suffer, but actually having a good run!

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Upon arriving home and getting cleaned up, I had a relatively disheartening experience on social media…if you don’t want to read about it, and my ensuing (somewhat calm, politically correct) rant, skip on down to where it says …end.

//Begin rant

So, if you keep up with the blog, and/or you keep up with me, you’ll know that I went out to a local high school soccer match Tuesday evening. It was between Leon (a higher-ranked team, and a far older, more storied school), and Chiles (the newest high school in town, but one that is almost always in good stead, both in athletics and academics). You can read the original post HERE.

As my family, friends, and acquaintances will surely attest, photography (and especially sports photography) is one of my dearest passions that I wish to share with others. I have never desired to demean or hate on ANYONE, let alone when I am out shooting. So it was a little worrying and it took me a moment to process this comment on Instagram:

Be thankful that I am not so rude as you to critique the quality of your photography. Realize that you disenfranchised 100’s of potential clients by your thoughtless comments. For the record several of those Leon and chiles soccer players are in the Olympic development program and are very talented.

-Commenter (Instagram)

I sat and squinted at my phone for several seconds, until I realized that this individual must have been talking about my thoughts that I had expressed on my blog post Tuesday night.

I was initially surprised, because, well, I honestly don’t think many people actually look at my blog, let alone READ it. Then I was surprised because, as I said earlier, I don’t ever intend to be mean or nasty. I quickly responded…

? I haven’t critiqued anyone. If you’re referring to my comment about going from college soccer to high school soccer, I think you’d find very few people who would disagree about the speed of play. It was never my intent to offend anyone. I was simply writing about my feelings during the shoot.

-Me (Instagram comment)

Let’s take a moment and go back to what I said in my blog post Tuesday:

It is interesting going photographing high school soccer after doing so much college soccer. The girls, are actually, well girls. They’re so much smaller and slower than the college players. Again, I feel like there’s less fire and passion…but on the plus side, I think it’s easier to shoot the high school games and get reasonable images versus tracking the far faster and more talented college players.

-Me (blog post)

Initially, as-written (and proofread, because I do re-read what I write at least once…), I didn’t see anything wrong with it. Enter my next Instagram comment.

@redacted is this what you’re referring to? “It is interesting going photographing high school soccer after doing so much college soccer. The girls, are actually, well girls. They’re so much smaller and slower than the college players. Again, I feel like there’s less fire and passion…but on the plus side, I think it’s easier to shoot the high school games and get reasonable images versus tracking the far faster and more talented college players. Regardless, it was good practice for the FSU NCAA playoff on Friday, and as it’s Thanksgiving week, I’m always thankful to have the time, ability, and equipment to go out and photograph.” It’s not a critique of a rude comment – it’s reality. You have 14-18 year olds playing, versus 18/19-22 year olds playing. Size and speed increase as you go to college, not just in soccer, but in every sport. On fire and passion, well, It’s very possible I’m wrong on that count, but based on all of the collegiate athletics I’ve had the privilege to photograph, I think most high schoolers don’t come close. I’ve seen it happen, but infrequently. And as to critiquing the quality of my photography, I welcome it, because that’s how one gets better. Again, it was never my intent to offend or make you and others irate. I was simply offering my own observations based off my photography experience and my personal experience at a national and world-championship level.

-Me (Instagram comment)

Followed by the comment back.

“They’re so much smaller and slower than the college players. Again, I feel like there’s less fire and passion…” Whether it wasn’t you’re intention to be rude or not. These were you’re words, and many of the teams players and parents felt it rude. Next time maybe please be more careful how you word what you’re writing. Happy Thanksgiving.

-Commenter (Instagram)

And my final comment…

@redacted thank you for brining it to my attention. Sorry I offended people. The nice thing about photography is you can still appreciate a good photo without reading what I wrote. Hopefully. 😎 Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Let’s take a break and insert some as-yet unseen images from said game…

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Back to the rant…

I’m quite concerned with political-correctness, especially when it comes to my photography [business], so the first thing I did after that conversation was to text one of my very close friends, who not only played competitive soccer all the way through high school (both club and school),  and coached club and middle school soccer. She called me back, and we talked, and she offered her opinion on both sides.

OBJECTIVELY, high school girls (and boys), are going to be smaller than members of a respective-gendered collegiate team. In addition, OBJECTIVELY, most athletes in high school are not as fast, or technically-skilled as their respective college-counterparts. It’s like the saying that “The worst professional football team will still beat the best college team, and the worst college team will still beat the best high school team.” Now obviously we live in a world where this is a general guideline, not an absolute, but regardless, I think most people would side with me here.

OBJECTIVELY, Leon, Chiles, and Lincoln are the going to be the three most competitive teams in town, and the girls on all three teams know this. They are aware that they are playing at the highest level of high school soccer in the city.

SUBJECTIVELY, I still don’t think that the passion that I saw Tuesday night rivaled the passion that I have seen routinely on the FSU field. As a coach of high school (and younger) athletes myself, I have seen strong emotions present at competitions, but infrequently. Again, this isn’t the first time I’ve felt like this at a high school competition. At the FHSAA Swimming State Meet a few weeks ago, I felt that despite the competition being stiff, the emotion was not fiery and ecstatic and passionate. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to travel to TWO world-championship competitions, and one national championship race for triathlon, and have spectated and photographed numerous division-one college athletic events. From my perspective, I stand firm with my opinion that the passion seemed to not be present. However, it was brought to my attention by my friend, that despite my current, slightly more worldly view, that these girls in high school (and that my kids in swimming, and that even ME in high school swimming…), well, their lives REVOLVE around soccer (and swimming…). And that just because I can’t see the emotion, doesn’t mean it’s not present. While I admit that internal emotion can (and certainly does) play an important role in athletic competition, anecdotally, I find that a strong enough internal emotion almost always becomes visible on the exterior.

I think it’s also important to point out that I was there at the match on my OWN TIME, sacrificing my OWN MONEY (in far more ways than one) to photograph the match. Attendance is most assuredly a form of free speech, and if I didn’t think that the girls competing and the game itself wasn’t special and/or important in some way, I wouldn’t have been there.

SUBJECTIVELY, really the only thing that I felt could have been construed as inappropriate was the comment “…I think it’s easier to shoot the high school games and get reasonable images versus tracking the far faster and more talented college players…” Yes. We’ve discussed that the college players are almost always going to be faster. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they are more TALENTED. Talent can grow and recede, and needs nurture and guidance. Talent can be highly dependent on physiological prowess as well. I have coached ten-year-old swimmers who are probably more TALENTED than some collegiate swimmers, but because they’re ten years old, and not the same size, and they don’t have the same build or muscular stature, they won’t be as fast. So…yes, that comment could and probably should be considered a little rude. But I maintain this blog not only as an editorial, but as a way for other people to access the internal commentary that runs through my head pre-, during, and post-shoot.

Interestingly enough, at today’s FSU game, I was pulled aside by someone that I have no memory of, who told me they were a parent at the match on Tuesday, and that they saw the pictures on my website and really liked them!

So…sorry for that extended commentary, but I was a little taken-aback yesterday when I saw the girl comment, and I just wanted to add what I meant originally, and what I think now, especially after talking with my friend.

//End rant

And now on to the FINAL FSU HOME SOCCER MATCH OF THE SEASON!!!!!!

Today, FSU won 5-0 against Texas A&M, securing our spot in the College Cup next weekend, setting a new record for most time (and games? I think) holding their opponent scoreless in NCAA tournament play (900+ minutes, formerly held by UNC). The team played extraordinary well today, and I was extraordinarily pleased with the images I was able to capture. I shot 800+ frames during the match, 900+ if you include the remote camera, and without a doubt, it was my best match of the season, both when counting the keepers, and looking at the “uniqueness” of the shots.

Although I usually try to refrain from posting images before the Sports Information Department does (and this is the second week in a row that I will have done so…) I’m just so stoked! Both about the pictures, and that the team is going back to the College Cup!!!

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^I’m a zommmmmbiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeee!!! I eat SOCCER BALLS!!!!!!!!

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I thought this header shot was neat – I read an article about shooting something different in sports the other day…and this is just a different angle, a little bit different crop, and Cheyna (19) was just jumping a little oddly. Overall, me likeeee.

Here is a great three-shot sequence of the first goal…

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I have to thank the Renegades (the awesome student cheering section!!) for holding onto the trigger for my remote camera, and snagging this shot of the ball bouncing in past the Texas A&M keeper!

And then some celebration shots immediately after…

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This (^) makes two games in a row where I got a keeper of Megan Campbell (6)…as a defender, she’s normally not up at the front where I’m shooting…

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I cannot remember which goal this was, but it was obviously scored by Cheyna…I was glad that I had the sequence of the goal. Well, not only was I distinctly pleased to have captured her waltzing into the goal, but I got two or three (not shown here) shots of her in focus, and then she passed behind the net – the bane of photographers’ existences – and I was shooting the 80-200 f/2.8 stopped down to f/4, and so the depth of field was too thin to get the net and Cheyna both in focus. But eh. I got a cool sequence anyways.

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I was REALLY REALLY pleased with this shot of Berglind (10)…thinking about different angles and types of shots, I really liked the stacked effect that all three players made here. And while I would’ve liked to have the reach of a 300 or 400mm lens here instead of a crop, but anyhows…I still liked the shot a lot.

  
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This shot of the second-string Texas A&M keeper I kept sheerly because I thought it was ludicrous how high her shorts were rolled up…

…I mean REALLY??

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Another B&W…I know that sheerly based on photojournalistic and news standards, B&Ws don’t get used often, and I’ve never seen the Soccer SID use one, so I thought I’d include both the black and white conversions from the game today.

This one was of a slightly frustrated Berglind towards the end of the match (less than fifteen minutes to go), and she had been unable to run down the ball and the T. A&M player before the ball went out of bounds on FSU.

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The image immediately above, and the following two images, were shot with the contracted photographers 200-400 f/4 lens – the earlier version of the lens I rented a couple weeks ago. He had set it down towards the end of the game in favor of his 70-200 f/2.8, and had kindly let me pick it up (after I asked nicely, of course!). Unfortunately, he had apparently dropped it some time ago, and the zoom ring is HELLA STIFF. So stiff I basically just left it at 400mm and treated it like a fixed focal length prime lens. Which resulted in the chopped-off legs in the following image, but some nicely-blurred backgrounds in the shot above, and the one of Holly Fritz (4).

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And here are the final two shots for this post!

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So, as always – thanks for sticking with me! I know this was a long post (I wanted to get my thoughts out in the open in a rant) and I was feeling comparatively lucid and not super fatigued, and tend to ramble and type a lot if not restrained by time or tiredness. So. Yeah. If you read everything up to here, GREAT! Thank you! If you’re a TL;DR person – I hope you enjoyed the images!

Best regards, and again, thanks and enjoy!

Also, ANOTHER EDIT!!!

Just found out that ESPNW used one of my shots again!!

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-Colin

P.S. – also, apologies for any spelling or grammar mistakes: this is 2700+ words, and although I do reread/skim for blatant errors, I am only a hooman…               ;-P

 

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