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

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?
“When you’re on your own you can’t expect to get everything.”

By Dan Powers, Appleton Post-Crescent

Photo by Dan Powers, Appleton Post-Crescent

Photo by Dan Powers, Appleton Post-Crescent

Green Bay Packers' B.J. Raji runs an interception into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown as Chicago Bears' quarterback Caleb Hanie pursues during the fourth quarter on January 23, 2011.
So, I’m at the NFC Championship game in Chicago covering the Packers’ big game against Da Bears. It’s cold as usual and the game is about as big as it gets …well, except the Super Bowl of course. It’s my fourth NFC Championship game since I started covering the team for The Post-Crescent way back in 1995. But this time there is a big difference. I’m flying solo. No team coverage. No just being responsible for my corner of the field and no photo editor.

Covering football is a lot of fun. There is not much I don’t like about it. But covering a game like this on your own forces you to approach it in a different way. And one of the biggest lessons I have learned over the years is that when you’re on your own you can’t expect to get everything. You need to shake off missed photos just like a good player can shake of a dropped pass or missed tackle. If you don’t you’re bound to be in for a long day.

The first half of this game was a tough one for me. There were only two touchdowns by Green Bay. I was positioned in front of the team on their side of the field. Many times this works out just fine, but on this day the action just kept going the other way. So I didn’t have anything good from those two scores. I tried not to panic, but I remember chatting with Sports Illustrated’s Bill Frakes on the sidelines telling him how rough a start I was having. He was cool as usual and reminded me not to sweat it. After all, we still had the second half. I appreciated the words.

(Bill was my team leader at the Eddie Adams Workshop way back in 1993 where he taught me a lot.)

Coming into the second half I stuck with my game plan. Stay in front of Green Bay as long as they are winning or not behind by more than one touchdown. Things started picking up after that. I was real happy to get a shot of Greg Jennings and Charles Tillman getting some serious air as they battled for a long pass attempt. It was shot on a Canon Mark IV with a 400mm lens. The exposure was 1/1600 at f/3.2 and the ISO was 1600. I thought it showed the big effort both teams were putting in on the day. The cool thing is that Bill shot the same image and it ran as a Leading Off shot in SI that week. I have to admit his was nicer though…arghhh…;0)

Moving into the third fourth quarter, I really needed to get a game-telling image. Something that could sum up whatever happened, win or lose. I had a variety of decent action photos, so I shifted my thought process more to reaction…or a significant play.

To be honest, I kept telling myself to keep cool, but it was getting later in the fourth quarter and I still didn’t have what I needed.

Enter Green Bay Packers’ B.J. Raji!

With the Bears working from deep within their territory Raji stepped in, picked off a pass attempt by Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie and ran it back for what would be the game-winning touchdown. This shot was also on a Canon Mark IV with a 400mm lens. The exposure was 1/1600 at f/2.8 at ISO 2500.

All I remember after that was looking to my side and seeing Bill with a big smile on his face. Geez, after eighteen years the guy is still teaching me!

To end the day, I knew were going to have the usual insane mosh pit at the center of the field. That’s just the way it goes I guess, but at 5’9’’ (on a good day) I have to be pretty quick and get in their before the tall guys or I have to be persistent and stay with the player I need until I get a nice opening.

On this day it was Aaron Rodgers of course, and just when I got my opening he did me a favor you might say and pumped his arms in victory just before he left the field. It was nearly the last frame I shot on the day. I shot it using a Canon Mark IV with a 16-35 zoom set at 16mm with an exposure of 1/2000th at f/2.8 at ISO 2000.

I think my general thought on football is to stick to your game plan, be patient and make sure you’re not one dimensional. Did you tell a story today?


(Dan Powers is a staff photographer with the Appleton Post-Crescent and it only seems like he’s covered the Packers since Bart Star was the QB. You can see his work on his Sports Shooter member page: http://www.sportsshooter.com/members.html?id=101 )


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