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|| News Item: Posted 2009-12-28

Decade Collection: Robert Beck
'It is one of my favorites for various reasons. It is the result of a little planning and a little luck, two essentials of any good picture.'

By Robert Beck, Sports Illustrated

Photo by Robert Beck / Sports Illustrated

Photo by Robert Beck / Sports Illustrated
Los Angeles Coliseum
October 9, 2004
#1 USC 23 vs. #7 Cal 17
Attendance: 90,211

It is pretty hard to come up with a one good picture from a whole decade of work. First of all, my archiving system is fairly poor. If I had a good picture I wouldn't know where to find it. Secondly, what I like probably isn't what you like which isn't what she likes and so on and so forth.

At any rate, this image of the USC Trojans walking down the LA Coliseum tunnel to do battle with the California Bears is always hanging around. It is one of my favorites for various reasons. It is the result of a little planning and a little luck, two essentials of any good picture. That building has seen so much and there is such a historical feel to it, especially the tunnel. There are the old pipes, wooden beams, patched walls and, most importantly, the hand painted records of Trojan trips to the Rose Bowl and National Championship years.

Which brings to mind another point as to why this is one of my favorites. I think any good photo is made a notch better if it is one that cannot be replicated. I know, no photo can be duplicated exactly (what is the difference between replicate and duplicate?) You will never get these same players walking down the tunnel but you can get a bunch of players wearing the same uniforms. You can light it in a similar fashion with one strobe head covered by a gold gel to compliment the gold on the wall and in the uniforms. You can even place the light very low so a larger than life shadow will be cast heroically on the wall, a salute to National Champions of years past (These Trojans won their first BCS national title in 2004).

What you can't get, and what gives this image a nudge into the better than average pile, is the records that were hand painted on the wall. Those are gone. Replaced by a gaudy banner made from some plastic product and completely out of synch with the feel of the Coliseum.

There are some technical glitches in this image (a little too much movement from the two players closest to the wall) though they do not distract the viewer’s eye. I love the colors and I lucked out with the shadows being spaced just so.

Luck played a great role in catching sophomore phenom #5 Reggie Bush in the group too. I wasn't paying much attention to who was walking down the tunnel. I was more concerned with composition so Reggie turned out to be a big bonus in this image.

Now where are the rest of the images from that game? Happy New Year and decade.

(Robert Beck is a staff photographer with Sports Illustrated based in Southern California. You can see his member page here:

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