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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2011-08-31

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?
“Rich must be in a generous mood. And he was.”

By Peter Read Miller, Sports Illustrated

Photo by Peter Read Miller, Sports Illustrated

Photo by Peter Read Miller, Sports Illustrated

Coin toss of the Dallas Cowboys during the Cowboys 24-23 preseason win over the Denver Broncos at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Aug. 11, 2011.
When Jody Grober from Roberts Distributors told me that he had the new Canon 8-15mm zoom in stock I immediately said, "send me one!". I had been waiting for this lens since it was first introduced and was excited to try it out.

The question was: Now that I had it - what to shoot with it? I had shot with fisheye lenses back in the film days, but hadn't really tried anything wider than Canon's 15mm f2.8 since going digital.

Looking at the Preseason NFL schedule, I saw that Dallas opened their season against Denver in Texas Stadium the following Thursday night. To me the new Texas Stadium is a stadium "writ large". I was sure I could find something there to make a picture with the fisheye. An email to my boss, a good airfare and I was on my way.

To make a successful picture with a fisheye lens you need a recognizable foreground object or objects that will stay recognizable despite the fisheye's massive distortion and a background big enough to fill in the rest of the image.
To me the coin toss was an oblivious choice, but would I be allowed out there? This brings me to the second reason I chose Texas Stadium.

Rich Dalrymble, the Dallas Cowboys vice president for public relations. I've known Rich since he started with the Cowboys. Jerry Jones had just bought the team and hired his friend Jimmy Johnson as head coach. Rich and The Cowboys allowed me to shoot in the "war room" for Jimmy Johnson's first NFL draft. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

I called Rich a few days before the game with my request, but I didn't' hear back from him, understandable considering the craziness going on in the NFL after the signing of the CBA. When I arrived at the game the first thing I saw was Cowboys photographer James Smith mounting a remote on the goal post. Great, I thought: Rich must be in a generous mood. And he was.

When I saw Rich he said, "Officials meeting is in fifteen minutes - I'll take you in". At the officials meeting Rich introduced me to head referee Terry McAulay I told him what I planned to do. His reply was "That sounds great, NFL Films did something like that in Jacksonville one time, it was cool". I was set.

Three minutes before game time I was standing at the 30 yard line with Terry and the "Green Hat" guy (formerly the Red Hat guy, the man who controls all on field activities on behest of the television broadcast). As the national Anthem ended, Jerry said, "Get out there and get set up".

Next thing I knew there I was kneeling in the middle of the famous Cowboy's star lining up my camera.

I had given a lot of thought to mounting the camera on various floor plates or other remote mounts and then I realized that the fisheye would get everything as long as I kept it flat. So I just attached a Pocket Wizard Multi Max and laid the camera down flat on it's back on the field. Simple is usually better.

Terry came out joined by The Bronco and Cowboy players and the odd video and still shooters. The players immediately began shaking hands-and kicked the camera. Terry --- my new best friend --- cajoled the players, "boys, boys come on we want this picture to look good!" "Come on in and fix it,” he said to me. So I went back in, knelt down and readjusted the camera.

Photo by James D. Smith / Dallas Cowboys

Photo by James D. Smith / Dallas Cowboys

Peter Read Miller (in red vest between the Field Judge and Cowboys’ #82) during the coin toss.
As Jerry explained the coin to the players and prepared to toss it, I tried to hide behind a player while still peeking out to follow what was going on. I was somewhat successful, but you can see me and my red vest between the Field Judge and Cowboys’ #82.

All in all, I'm very happy with the picture. I had originally hoped the Texas Stadium roof would be open, but since Dallas was trying for their record 48th straight day of over 100 Degrees that was out of the question (they didn't make it). Unfortunately, the photo was cropped in SI's print edition, so if you haven't seen the full frame version you can look online at SI.com or check it out on SI's iPad edition.

A fisheye lens isn't something you can use every day, but it's a great creative challenge to come up with ideas for situations when you can use it. In this case the combination of a cool piece of gear, a majestic setting and a cooperative team combined to allow me to make an interesting and more importantly a different picture.


(Peter Read Miller is a staff photographer with Sports Illustrated. You can see samples of his work on his Sports Shooter member page:
http://www.sportsshooter.com/members.html?id=29 )

Contents copyright 2017, SportsShooter.com. Do not republish without permission.
What to do with an empty fish tank and a diving board? Go for a swim! ::..