The 2016 Spring Break Edition of my blog!

This is going to cover Thursday 2/25 through today, 3/12…lots of images captured, many stories told, and several epic adventures had…

Before school let out, Thursday and Friday, I wasn’t really shooting – but I did go back through some of my favorite soccer images from this past fall season at FSU, and re-edited them to play with in Adobe Photoshop, and to put in my newly renovated portfolio!

I was again astonished at how far away everything is on the soccer field…

I remembered having cropped those (two of my all-time favorite images), but I didn’t remember having to crop THAT much…then I also took the liberty of re-editing these two, and then combining them into a poster-esque image in Photoshop – a program I had never used, and am very unfamiliar with…

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In addition, I did shoot these two images: the first of which is a hawk that I saw sitting in my front yard, that prompted me to run inside and grab my camera, and may be one of the best (only…) bird-in-flight images that I’ve ever taken, and the second is the middle of three windows in a building on FSU campus that look like gun portholes in/on a fort or castle, and some cheeky graffiti artist took upon themselves to caption…

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Saturday, I got to watch (i.e., photograph…because, well, me? WATCH an athletic event without my camera?) the Florida State Men win their final normal-season game of basketball – a remarkable tribute to the seniors honored that day.

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Here, I think it’s a great time to mention that although I did submit unedited JPEG images immediately after the game was over, I went back later and edited all of the RAW files – something I haven’t done in several weeks, just because of the time/inconvenience. But even though it takes a little bit of time to do, I am always wowed at the way images can come to life with some basic tweaking of the RAW file.

I also think here is an excellent place to interject that syracuse asked the FSU SID for a couple images…which I somewhat reluctantly provided, even though they (nor FSU) paid me…

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But back to some more basketball images…

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And while normally I think this final image really isn’t that great – you can’t see the ball – I think as part of this photo story it helps: Xavier Rathan-Mayes scores the final two-pointer with a layup.

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I also spent the last eight days house-sitting for some family friends, and caught several cool shots of their dog/horses/property…

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Sunday, I shot Noles Baseball for the first time…which – while it resembles softball (or is it the other way around?) is much more challenging (and more drool-inducing boring…) to effectively photograph, especial handicapped by my limited knowledge of the sport, and my limited long-lens photography equipment.

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I also had a great evening after baseball, making homemade pizza for dinner with friends…

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BUT.

Wednesday was the big deal. The massive trip. The 24 hours of excitement that I had been waiting for, well, since the idea first popped into my head.

I got really addicted to watching/photographing soccer this past autumn. The athleticism, the passion, the intricacies of the game…the dynamic, almost endless opportunities that it affords the ambitious photographer…the plethora of matches and skill levels that are spread across the city, the country, and the world. In short – I was infected with “Futbol Fever.”

When I found out that the final leg of US Soccer’s SheBelieves Cup was going to be played in Boca Raton’s FAU Stadium, during my Spring Break, I immediately started looking for ways to get credentialed and get down to shoot…and after some initial discussion with a few people and publications, I was finally credentialed. Which left me with the issue of getting there, and back again. (Ha! Nerd joke…)

It ended up being, that for a variety of reasons, I decided to drive down, AND back, the same day. And because my friends are total lame-Os, and didn’t want to accompany me, I did it solo.

Turns out, from Tallahassee to Boca Raton is a LONG drive. Actually a lot longer than I had expected. But, I made it down there.

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For a 30,000 seat stadium, I was quite enamored: clean, well-kept, cool-looking, and an engineering feat that is easily expandable!

I was, well, what one could call excited. It was an odd combination of nervousness, as I was alone, shooting a sport at a level I’d never done before, in a place I’d never been before, and of excitement – I WAS FREAKING IN BOCA ABOUT TO SHOOT INTERNATIONAL SOCCER. YES.

The first match up was the consolation match for the cup: England vs France. I had high hopes for the lighting in this match, as the sun was still up, but was going to be setting, and I was hoping for harsh, contrasty side-lighting.

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But my dream of high-contrast side-lighting just wasn’t to come true…the nine story tall press box on the west side of the stadium blocked the setting sun in an odd fashion: it was a weird, low contrast, poorly lit area…I was grateful that I had the opportunity to edit my RAW files, and WAY pump up the contrast. I was also unfortunately reminded that my 1.7x teleconverter is GREAT if you don’t need to crop the files any, but it doesn’t resolve a whole lot of detail, if you are focused out near infinity (read, far away, at the other side of a soccer pitch), and so I still had to try and be patient and wait for the action to come to me…

And my five hours of shooting wasn’t made any more fun by the fact that I had tried to be a responsible adult, and had put sunscreen on, which promptly ran into my eyes and BURNED for both matches.

Into the second, and much more hotly-anticipated match of the evening: the US Women’s National Team versus Germany…

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This next shot was probably my favorite out of the two matches…the first goal of the game: by Germany. The stadium was a a bit taken-aback, but soon grew back into an organic, tumultuous roar of soccer fans, gunning for a US win.

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I was also pleased with the fact that I got something moderately cool from my remote camera. I was able to capture BOTH US goals on the remote, even though it got watered on twice…

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Then some more from the match…

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Overall, I had a great time. I got to watch four incredible teams play “The Great Game,” I learned a huge amount from the wide variety of professional photographers there, and met some people whom I hope to have the opportunity to see again!

But the almost thirteen hours of solo driving, and burning eyeballs damped the enthusiasm a bit. It was sort of like having a sandwich with the best ingredients you’ve ever taken, smushed between two pieces of stale bread…

Would I do it again? Most definitely. Would I try and get there earlier, and then stay the night? Yes. Would I love to have a 400mm f/2.8? Why yes! But for me, it was another page in an what I hope will continue to be an epic journey in photography, and at least for the near future, will be my favorite memory on my credential lanyard…

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Also – for those that are curious: the complete albums of my images shot from the game can be located HERE (for the England vs France match) and HERE for the (US vs Germany match).

Thursday following the giant adventure was all about recovering (sleeping…) and editing.

Friday, however, I brought my camera to the pool and played around a little bit, because the pool in the afternoon sun makes GLORIOUS pictures.

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I also played around with some pseudo-macro work…

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And rounded out my stay house-sitting with some dog portraits!!!

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And then today (although I might go back tomorrow too…) I went out to the annual Red Hills Horse Trials, just for the kicks and giggles of it.

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I don’t normally post huge sequences of images, but I just thought these were cool…the dirt getting kicked up, and the fact that before still cameras, the thought that horses got all four feet of the ground was almost heresy…

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And finally to round out the post, my favorite two images from the outing:

This first shot, I adore because of the canopy of trees in the background. Tallahassee has these natural cathedrals all over, and I just saw this shot in my mind, and tried to make it happen. Is it the best equestrian image ever? Nah, but I like it.

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And then this one, I tried to get when we first got into the park, but the cross country course at the time wasn’t jumping over this obstacle…but I went back, and the hooves, and the sign…I dunno…it all just feels like a “complete” image for me.

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And on that note: good night! Thanks for sticking with me, and I hope you enjoyed the post!

Regards,
-Colin

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