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Shooting wide Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tyler Green of Hermiston (no. 3, right) heads for the outside as Glencoe's Kyle Hogan (no. 24) looks to cut him off Nov. 21 in the fourth quarter of the 5A quarterfinals at Hare Field in Hillsboro. Glencoe scored a touchdown in the final minute to win 30-27.

Whether you're talking about soccer or hockey, shooting wide is almost always a bad thing.

When you're talking about sports photography, shooting wide is also a bad idea a lot of the time—the players are small, depth of field opens up, and backgrounds get bad. But when it works (and I'm not sugg
esting that any of my photos fit this category) you've got something really special.

I was out in Hillsboro last night to shoot the 5A high school football quarterfinal between Hermiston and Glencoe. So far this year, the weather in the Northwest has been amazing for shooting football—we've had rain, but Friday nights have been generally dry.

This week, it was the opposite—the forecast called for rain to start right around game time, then dry up overnight. Sure enough, the drops started falling at 6:30 last night.

I was prepared for it, though, and had my telephoto lens and camera all wrapped up for the weather. The rain covers keep your equipment dry (and therefore functional) but they do make it harder to shoot in several respects. First, the camera cover, which you have to look through to see the viewfinder, invariably fogs up on the inside. You can generally see through the fog, but you have to trust that the lens is focusing better than what you can see.

Second, the bag is somewhat larger than the camera (obviously), so it blocks your peripheral vision. That makes it harder to see out your non-shooting eye to follow the plays.

Finally, I only have one set of rain covers. Usually at sports events I'll have two cameras on my shoulders: one with a telephoto lens, and one with a wide angle. That way you can quickly switch between the two focal lengths without missing any of the action. But since I could only protect one camera from the rain, I only had one camera ready to go. And in the rain it is tough to switch lenses. Doubly so when you have the rain covers on. So I shot exclusively with the 70-200 for the first three quarters of the game. (That's actually kind of short for football, but you make do with what you've got, right?)

Fortunately the weather wasn't as bad as expected. The rain dried up (more or less) by the end of the first quarter, and basically held off through the second. It rained again through most of the third quarter, but I had planned to shoot from the press box anyway.

When the fourth quarter started and it was dry again, I decided to chance a second, naked camera and shoot wide for a while. (The rain started again near the end of the game, but at that point I figured my gear could handle it for a little while, and I'd need both lenses for the post-game reactions anyway.)

Shooting football with a wide-angle lens is fun. Instead of the typical tight photo that is supposed to make the viewer feel like they're in the game, it gives a broader perspective that makes the viewer feel like they're at the game.

It does, however, require a lot of patience. You really need the play to come to your side of the field. As soon as you set up for a shot on the left side, though, you know the next six plays are going to go to the right. Then the other team will get the ball and play to their left—still the wrong way. But there's no point in moving, because the quarterback will see you and start running plays to whichever side you're not on.

Eventually they have to come your way, and then you're good to go.

(right) Players and coaches hug on the sidelines in the dying seconds of Hermiston's 30-27 loss to Glencoe Friday night.

You can read the game story and see a couple more photos here.

Here are a couple more photos that aren't (as) wide but I wanted to add anyway:

Glencoe's Kyle Hogan (right) was the standout player for the Crimson Tide, running for 281 yards (193 in the first half) and two touchdowns.

Hermiston's Tyler Green made the most of his 66 rushing yards, scoring three touchdowns for the Bulldogs. He also caught four passes for 32 yards receiving.