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|| News Item: Posted 2008-01-29

From Frozen Tundra to Frozen Fish
Dan Powers looks back at the NFC Championship Game in Green Bay

By Dan Powers, Appleton Post-Crescent

Photo by Dan Powers / Appleton Post-Crescent

Photo by Dan Powers / Appleton Post-Crescent

The New York Giants Eli Manning raises his fist in victory after defeating the Green Bay Packers during the NFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 20, 2008, in Green Bay.
Covering the Green Bay Packers was a lot of fun this year. Heck, it's fun every year. But having the unexpected happen is always a treat, and having the NFC Championship game in your back yard is a great way to cap off the season…despite the arctic blast that came with it.

As many of you know, covering a big game like this is very different from covering a regular season tilt. You start earlier…gotta love those fan features. You stay later…more photos to move and more traffic to fight. And of course more photographers than you can imagine.

Sunday at Lambeau Field was a blast. We got to the stadium about five hours before the start of the game to make sure we had enough workspace. Plus, I had assured Robert Hanashiro that I would have a spot for him and fellow USA TODAY staffer Eileen Blass.

After setting up, we literally had photographers coming out of the woodwork. I tried to help a few find work space in places such as the darkroom in our photo room. After that I showed a couple guys where to get their red vests and how to get down to field level. Folks have always been good to me on the road so I like to return the favor when I can.

Due to the bitter cold, covering the game was a little more interesting than your average game. It was fun watching all of us decide what layers to wear, how many layers to wear and in my case how many little heaters I would strategically place all over myself. (Hands, feet, head and kidneys if you're actually interested…Steve Apps thinks I'm a wimp!) Take a look at Robert…he's ready for war!

Photo by Dan Powers / Appleton Post-Crescent

Photo by Dan Powers / Appleton Post-Crescent

Robert Hanashiro gets ready to brave the cold before the NFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 20, 2008, in Green Bay.
My problem was that I needed to get a panoramic photo of Lambeau Field at the start of the game. So, I worked my way from the photo workroom to the opposite side of the stadium and headed towards a high vantage point with Morry Gash of the AP and Jeff Phelps of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. I shot a few frames as the teams were announced and then sprinted back to the workroom to drop off my cards and head to the field for the kick off. So what's the problem you say? I dressed for the North Pole and now I was sweating like a pig. Not what you want to do when you are about to step outside into a freezer that holds 72,000 people! I'm still kinda numb.

Everyone battled the elements. I changed the batteries once on each camera and was lucky that they held up. Others had cameras giving them the Err99 warning, which was maddening I'm sure. For the most part I think the fingers were the issue for most. That night was one that I'm sure everyone was happy that they had spent so many dollars on high tech items from The North Face, Mountain Hardware and Patagonia!

I won't bore you with what pictures I liked the most and what pictures I wish I had. There was some of each.

Looking back, I think the best part of the day was the camaraderie we shared in the photo workroom and dining room. It was quite the scene following the game. Cameras and lenses were everywhere while everyone edited the last of their images. I think we got a little slap happy in the end and started to do our best (or worst) northern Wisconsin/Upper Michigan accents for Robert and Eileen.

Photo by Dan Powers / Appleton Post-Crescent

Photo by Dan Powers / Appleton Post-Crescent

Scott Koehnke, a water management specialist with the DNR, left, measures and weighs a 58 pound 65 1/2 inch female sturgeon speared by Jerry Grygny of Neenah, WI, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2007, on Lake Winnebago at Waverly Beach in Menasha, WI.
"Don't cha know war going to have to start ad ice fishing' pictures next week!" "Oh…yaw deer hey, you're right." "And don't cha forget about data dare Sturgeon spearing on Lake Winnebago" "Are yaw going'…err no?"

In case you're not familiar with them, Sturgeon are extremely huge pre-historic fish that people use spears to catch on Lake Winnebago. They cut a 4'x6' opening in the ice and place a shanty over it. They use decoys to lure the fish and after 20 minutes or 20 YEARS they see a huge one swim by…and try to spear it. The one you see here is small…they can grow over six feet!

It was fun having myself, Steve Apps, John Maniaci, Mike De Sisti, Dewey Nale and Pat Ferron all chime in with our various versions of the beloved accent. I don't think Robert and Eileen knew what hit them.

So, after spending months shooting Brett Favre drop back in the pocket, it's time to bundle up again and watch a guy do his magic with an auger…it's used to cut a whole in the ice and…oh…never mind…see ya next season! Dan.

(Dan Power is a staff photographer with the Appleton The Post-Crescent and has covered the Green Bay Packers for 18 years. He writes a regular blog for the paper:

Related Links:
Dan's member page

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