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|| News Item: Posted 2003-08-30

Hanashiro: Are you ready for some football?
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Players are sweating and grunting as they run up and down practice fields across the country - the calendar turns from August to September and the hearts and minds of American males turn to · FOOTBALL!

While the NFL and colleges get into shape for the upcoming season, maybe now's the time for photographers to do the same · so to speak.

So here are a few things to do before heading off to that first football game · prep, pro or college.

Some of us haven't used our 400mm and 600mm lenses for a few months, or maybe since the end of last season. It's always a good idea to check the mounts on the lenses you haven't used for a while to make sure that everything is all right (especially if you're using "pool glass").

A loose screw here, or a minutely out of aligned mount can mean soft frames. Even if you used that 600mm recently, if you've shipped it a few times or it's taken several rides on a plane (or the trunk of that clunker you're driving), airliner and road vibration can loosen the mount screws.

If you do find a screw or two loose, tighten them is a cross sequence · much like you would when tightening the lug nuts when changing a tired. The object here is to tighten the screws so the mount lies perfectly flat.

Sometimes, it's even a good idea to take that lens you haven't used for a while outside and shoot of a few test frames at various distances to check the focus. When looking at the frames digital files in Photoshop or a neg/transparency with a good quality loupe) look at sharpness EDGE TO EDGE.

Another thing to check is the stud on that monopod. When running up and down the sidelines to catch up with the action, we all love to throw that long glass/camera body/monopod over the shoulder. The only thing supporting that $12,000 worth of gear is a 3/4 inch of metal · the stud on that monopod.

Of course the proper way of hauling that lens/camera/monopod is by placing the weight of the lens on your shoulder or by holding it by the lens' tripod bracket · but who the heck really does that?

(For the proper way to carry long lenses on a monopod, check out this "Road Warrior" column: )

A little preventative maintenance · like replacing the stud even if it doesn't show a lot of wear · goes a long way.

For those with older Nikon or Canon long lenses, if you haven't turned that stud around to the larger "Euro thread" side rather than the smaller 1/4 x 20 end should do so ASAP.

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

The Patella-T is orthopedically designed while skakeboarder kneepads are designed for kids falling down.
And speaking of monopods, lots have been made on traveling with them · whether airport security will allow them onboard with you or not. If you're making a day trip to a game and have to carry on that monopod, LA photog Kirby Lee has a simple solution: put that monopod in the box you bought it in when carrying it aboard an airliner. He reports that he's never had a question on his monopods using this travel tip · the Gitzo box clearly says "camera support".

Another great tip for travel - if you're flying Southwest Airlines: Did you know that SWA allows photographers to pre-board?

Several photographers report that it's buried somewhere on the SWA web site and I've even seen several photographers carry a laminated printout in their carry-on bags to show dubious gate agents.

It says: "Preboarding privileges will be extended to photographers and videographers to ensure that the camera equipment is stowed properly. Photographers will be allowed to preboard after customers with disabilities, and families traveling with small children. The request to preboard must be made at the time of check-in when the boarding pass is obtained".

So if you're not proud and don't mind boarding those over-crowded SWA flights with parents holding onto screaming 2-year-old and senior citizens with a hip replacement and a walker · knock your socks off!

Lots and lots of gear has been "taking a walk" at events lately. While I never like to tell people to run out to spend a bunch of money (ok, ok · I do tell Bob Deutsch and Ron Taniwaki that every week!) spending $50 - $75 to secure your gear these days is very, very smart.

First off, get a lock for that laptop! We all leave our computers set up in the workroom for hours, most of that time while we're out covering the game.

There are many laptop locking devices out there (including ones that have a motion detector), but Kensington probably is the most popular. I personally use a combination lock because I'd lose the key or forget to bring it. (

We also like to leave cameras and lenses lying around while we stuff our
Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Toss out those old, ill-fitting skateboarder kneepads for the Patella-T.
faces with that media meal hot dog. If you like to leave gear around, get yourself a PacSafe to make sure it's there when you get back to the field 5 minutes before kick-off

PacSafes are a steel mesh contraption that has a long draw wire that locks to something stationary. They come in many sizes so you can secure anything from that rolling Lowepro case to a long lens bag with your precious 400mm f/2.8 to your PowerBook.

A small lock on your rolling case's zipper and a chain and lock around a fence maybe enough of a visual deterrent to dissuade a would be thief.

The advice here is "lock it or lose it!"

So what kind of COOL things can Sports Shooters show off for the upcoming football season? How about the Patella-T, the best damned kneepads ever!

They ain't cheap · but they're cool looking, comfortable as hell and beat those crappy old skateboarder pads we've been using and especially that dorky green gardening kneeling pad that an unnamed Asian shooter at the Boston Globe favors.

What separates those kneepads from the ones we get at the hardware store or Big 5 Sporting Goods is that it utilizes what the company calls a "fluid-based" cushioning material --- medical grade fluid packs that evenly distribute the weight on your knees when kneeling.

What this does is rather than having a foam material compressing under your knee, bunching up, the Patella-T moves and wraps the knee in a cushion of liquid. So instead of feeling like you're riding 3 inches above the turf, you're more balanced and your knees are surrounded by the cushioning material.

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Kinesis Media Card Wallet. A simple method to keep track of shot cards: front side up for unshot; backside up for shot.
This is an orthopedic-designed device rather than something made for kids falling off of their scooters.

There are several different models, but the one I recommend is the "Patella - T Wedge". This is model 1002. This particular kneepad has oversized straps that won't bunch up behind your knee like the cheapie skateboarder ones and the plastic cap provides protection against wet turf and rough surfaces · like Astroturf.

Another cool item is the Kinesis Media Card Wallet. They come in two sizes, one that will hold 12 cards and a smaller version that holds 4. While these wallets are not as padded as the Lowepro and Tamrac ones (I have both as well) I think it fits in my beltpack or small Domke bag a little better. (

And since I mentioned card wallets· a very simple way to keep track of which cards are shot and which are not: face up for unshot, face down for shot.

Keeping track of batteries is also as simple: used - turn the locking tab; unused - locking tab down. But all you guys knew that right? Here are some helpful tips from some of the top football shooters out there in Sports Shooter Land:

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