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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2005-08-04

In the Bag: Packin' for the Pack
By Dan Powers, Appleton Post-Crescent

Photo by Dan Powers / Appleton Post-Crescent

Photo by Dan Powers / Appleton Post-Crescent

This is what Dan takes to home games...there is a 400mm 2.8 in the case, but that will actually be a 400mm f/4 DO lens. (someone was using it when he took the photo)
Working at a daily just down the road from Lambeau Field (ok...so it's more like a half hour away) has been a lot of fun for the past 10 years - a lot of work - but a lot of fun. I have shot all but two home and away games including the playoffs and two Super Bowls during that time. (Steve Apps is the man...he has shot them all!) What makes it fun is that you see many of the same guys at home and on the road...dining together, helping each other edit and even the occasional swimming with manatees!

Covering an away game for The Post-Crescent (along with nine other Gannett daily newspapers in Wisconsin) is much different than a home game...so what I bring and how I use it differs greatly. The expectations differ as well. We run photos on our front page and we produce a Packer Final, which is an entire section devoted to the coverage of the game.

Regardless if the team is home or away. So, when I'm on the road for day games I'm my own editor. I shoot, edit and transmit an average of 25 images back to my photo editor Dwight "Dewey" Nale or one of my colleagues. We run one photo on A1, two on the cover of the Packer Final, a wide open photo page (with no stories...just photos!), a play of the game photo (no pressure there!) and a variety of images that are matched up with stories throughout the section.

Bottom line is that we run on average 15 or so images per game. When I have to shoot night games on the road, Dewey travels with me, shoots the first quarter and edits during the last three quarters.

At Lambeau Field, things are different. I shoot the game along with a colleague and a shooter from The Oshkosh Northwestern (sister paper). We use a runner to send cards back to Dewey and he does the entire edit. Home games are easier because I shoot from in front of the Packers (mainly from the end zone) with a colleague that does the same thing from the visitors' sideline.

Photo by Dan Powers / Appleton Post-Crescent

Photo by Dan Powers / Appleton Post-Crescent

Green Bay Packers Brett Favre (4) jumps into the arms of teamate Kevin Barry to celebrate a 40-yard touchdown run by Najeh Davenport against the St. Louis Rams during the fourth quarter Monday, Nov. 29, 2004, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI.
The Oshkosh Northwestern photographer shoots from behind the Packers. Also, The Green Bay Press Gazette (another sister paper) has three shooters at the game. We count on our own photo budget to supply all needed photos from the game but we always see what they have shot and use what we need to give us the best possible photo budget. All egos are checked at the door.

Home games are not as challenging as away games. Although Lambeau Field is my absolute favorite stadium to shoot at, I love the added challenge of shooting away games because I still have to come up with the same number of images...on my own. I think I thrive on that...it pushes me to do better. Anticipation, paying attention to the game situation and tunnel vision are key.

So what's in the bag(s)? Well, here we go:

HOME GAMES
*1998 Jeep Wrangler (Mine or Dewey's 1994 Wrangler)
*Runners (to pick up cards and hold extra long lens)
*1990 vintage black Domke vest (received from Fuji while shooting the US Open tennis tourney as an intern at AP New York!) Yes I'm a vest guy for football and proud of it!
*Lowe Pro Road Runner AW Rolling Back Pack
*MountainSmith Fanny Pack with Domke lens insert
*Timbuk2 computer satchel for G4laptop
*Kneepad (from Home Depot and I only use one)
*Three Canon Mark II cameras
*600mm f/4.0 IS
*400mm f/4.0 DO IS
*70-200 f/2.8 IS
*16-35 f/2.8 L
*(2) 1.4x converters
*2x converter
*Gitzo Carbon Fiber monopod G1588 (big one for the 600)
*Gitzo Carbon Fiber monopod G1568 MK2 (smaller one for 400)
*(3) 1Gig Lexar Media 80x cards
*(6) 512 MB Lexar Media 80x cards
*Canon freebie cardholder (the little red one)
*(6) Canon batteries

Last year I would have only brought a 400mm f/2.8 because we were in the middle of changing from Nikon to Canon. Now that we have a new 600, I will use that with and without a 1.4 or 2x. I'll switch to the 400 when the action is a little closer. No matter the situation I'm typically shooting pretty tight. I'll keep the third body around my neck with a 70-200 combined with a 1.4x for touchdowns on my side of the end zone.

I typically line up with the painted numbers on the field, which puts me in the back of the end zone about halfway between the sideline and the goal post...slightly closer to the sideline. I use to run the sidelines more, but I find that shooting from the end zone gives me cleaner backgrounds. Also after shooting one season with the new sideline rules I found that shooting with a 50mm lens on a camera around me neck just didn't work for me.

Photo by Dan Powers / Appleton Post-Crescent

Photo by Dan Powers / Appleton Post-Crescent

Green Bay Packers Nick Luchey runs upfield after losing his helmet and earpiece against the Washington Redskins during the third quarter Sunday, Oct. 24, 2004, at FedEx Field in Landover, MD.
Too many times after I hustled my butt to get into position (halfway between the front and back of the end zone on the sideline) some TV guy would casually walk up and plant himself right in front of me. So, I switched to shooting with a telephoto-zoom from the back of the end zone ala Steve Apps. And again I'm not moving as much on home games as I do away games. Lastly, the wide-angle zoom replaces the telephoto zoom during the last two minutes of the game. That way I'm prepared for just about anything at the end of the game.

AWAY GAMES
*Lowe Pro Road Runner AW Rolling Back Pack
*Timbuk2 computer satchel for G4laptop
*MountainSmith Fanny Pack with Domke lens insert (packed with checked luggage)
*Kneepad (from Home Depot and I only use one)
*Three Canon Mark II cameras
*400mm f/2.8 IS (hood is packed with my checked luggage)
*70-200 f/2.8 IS
*16-35 f/2.8 L
*(2) 1.4x converters
*2x converter
*Gitzo Carbon Fiber monopod G1568 MK2 (smaller one for 400..packed with checked luggage)
*(3) 1Gig Lexar Media 80x cards
*(6) 512 MB Lexar Media 80x cards
*Canon freebie cardholder (the little red one)
*(6) Canon batteries

When I'm on the road, my approach to the game is much different than a home game. My editor expects my photographs to show what happened during the game, whether the Packers win or lose so I'm moving around a lot. I start the game from in front of the team in the end zone on the Packers side of the field and occasionally on their sideline.

I shoot from behind the team when they are losing by more than one touchdown. It has to be more than one touchdown, because if they score the tying or game-winning touchdown, I have to get that photo so I'm back in front. While they are losing I'm looking for sacks, interceptions as well as emotion both on and off the field.

Photo by

Steve Apps (right) and Dan Powers in Philly for a playoff game.
Many times after shooting a big play that goes wrong, I'll hustle over to the bench to see what's going on in regards to off field reaction. So as you can imagine, on the road there are times when the game is going back and forth and I have to count on my instincts as to where I should be on the field. And believe me, I can remember a few times that I was oh ... about 100-yards out of position.

That's usually when Dewey says "Did you get a shot of the (fill in the blank) play?" Ah ... that would be a no. I've been fortunate that that hasn't happened too many times. And again, the wide-angle zoom replaces the tele-zoom in the final two minutes of the game for close-up celebration pics.

ON THE PLANE
Basically, when I travel I make sure that everything I need is carried on with the exception of my monopod and long lens hood. Even if my luggage is lost, I can still shoot the game. All I have to do is run out and buy a monopod, which is no big deal because all of the games are in major cities.

I pack everything into the Lowe Pro Road Runner AW and have never had a problem carrying it on...even with smaller jets flying out of Appleton. It's great because it rolls along quickly when trying to make those close connections and it saves my back.

My Timbuk 2 computer satchel is amazing. Tough, light and even stylish. The computer case contains a small Canon mouse (got that from Sports Shooter!), Lexar Media firewire card reader, Kensington cable to lock the computer, one of my Mark II bodies, power supply, credentials and travel documents. Oh yeah...the G4 PowerBook too.

Although the list of gear seems extensive, it's very manageable when packed in those two cases.


(Dan Powers resides in Appleton, WI, with his wife Lisa and has been a staff photographer with The Post-Crescent (Gannett) in Appleton, WI, since 1995.)

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