Auburn scored late to go up 28-27 then held on with some gutsy defense and by taking some chances on offense. In some ways, the game mirrored last season’s game in Auburn where it was Alabama coming in highly ranked, trailing early and having to make the heroic comeback with a late touchdown to win. Alabama parlayed their victory into a National Championship. One wonders now if Auburn can do the same thing. The next step will be this weekend in Atlanta for a rematch with South Carolina.
Auburn’s last, and only National Championship, came in 1957 and with this one so tantalizingly close Auburn fans are shoving any concerns about Cam Newton’s eligibility to the background and focusing on the final push. Here is hoping that what happens on the field determines the National Champion and not what happened, or didn’t happen, in some under the table, back room deal Cam’s father made.
Shooting this edition was a little different for me than last season. Last year I went solo on the game which is a big challenge. This year I shot with colleague Brennen Smith. Being able to divide the responsibility with another shooter literally halves the load. I worked the Auburn side and he worked the Alabama side so I didn’t have to worry about anything on that side of the field, but especially not the Bama bench are and post-game react shots. I could focus on Auburn’s side and Auburn’s post-game react.
During the first half of the game I usually work really hard on action then switch modes to focus more on reaction during the second half. This didn’t work out too well for this game because the game was in the balance right up until the end. I only switched to a wide zoom in the last minute of the game when it was pretty well done. Shooting jubilation and dejection are my greatest challenges in sports photography. I have never felt it was my strength. With Auburn winning though, I didn’t have too much to worry about because they are very emotional. Bama on the other hand is as staid as their head coach and don’t show much emotion one way or another.
I shot the game mostly from the end zone, especially in the first half. I brought along a 2x converter and used it quite a bit early in the game. I had to shoot manual focus and the 2x shot wide open has a tendency to render soft images. I didn’t want to stop it down at all because the ISO would have to be pushed really high. Not a big deal with the D3s but still a factor to consider. I did this up until half-time and then transitioned to just the 300 for the second half. I had mixed results manual focusing with the 2x. I have never been as good as the AF system, particularly since Nikon actually made a camera with decent AF performance.
The primary advantage to using the 2x converter was it allowed me to be stationary for a longer period of time. I felt physically pretty awful Friday and running sprints up and down the sidelines was not appealing. Using the 2x kept that to a minimum. I did make some mistakes. I failed to shoot very much at all of Coach Chizik and never found him post-game. Dave Martin, from the AP, got a beautiful react shot from him and I really kicked myself. I didn’t feel up to chasing Cam Newton around the stadium either. I got some shots of him but I just couldn’t keep up. That man is fast! In the end though, I got a nice jube shot of the guy who caught the game winning touchdown and I got Cam and I got Nick Fairley. My game action was solid if not stellar and I left with a decent Iron Bowl under my belt.
I never actually so Brennen during the game so he was doing his job, or else, he was out having a coffee to get warm! When shooting with a partner, the worst thing to do is shoot on top of each other. That is unproductive and causes at least one of you to miss shots or be out of position when something big happens. Our main challenge was weather. It was damp and cold Friday and the threat of rain was there during the entire first half. I hate being wet and cold so I was praying for a break. We got decent weather with only one brief shower during the game. My greatest problem was not being able to find my rain coat. I had the pants and used them but never did find the coat. Otherwise, I managed to stay warm enough and dry enough for it to be nothing more than inconvenient.
And then we got to fight the traffic, the monstrous, unyielding traffic. I don’t know if I have mentioned how bad I hate the traffic but that is the ultimate downer after a game. We pulled out of the driveway at 6:30 am and got back in the driveway after 11pm. Nasty long day but when you are done you at least feel a sense of accomplishment. That and the nagging doubt that you didn’t do as good as you could have or as good as you wish you could have anyway.
The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.