Freshman running back TJ Yeldon slices through the Michigan defense during the Alabama and Michigan game in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas Saturday, September 1, 2012. For complete photo galleries visit www.decaturdaily.com or click on the photo and you will be taken there via internet magic!
“Are You Ready For Some Football?” That’s the question we get every Monday night through the pro season and I guarantee you that in Alabama the question is always answered with a resounding ‘yes’ no matter whether you are an Auburn fan or a Bama fan. If you are any other kind of fan living in this football crazy state all I can ask is, really?
Had you polled Michigan and Alabama fans before the Cowboys Classic Saturday both sides would have said yes. If you asked after, Michigan fans might have asked for one more week. Alabama just pounced all over Michigan in a very one-sided 41-14 drubbing in the palace that Jerry built. Really now, how many bars and restaurants does one need inside a football stadium? But hey, if you spend a billion dollars… I digress. I was talking about football but, dang it, that is one amazing stadium, if it can be called a stadium. It is more like a five star resort hotel with a football field in the middle of it and the world’s most amazing TV hanging from the ceiling. Well, dude did spend a billion dollars. But I was talking about football.
Alabama struck quickly, efficiently and often. I left the field about four minutes before the half to edit my early take and Bama was up 31-0. Was Michigan really supposed to be in the top 10? The Wolverines did score a touchdown right before half but it was so far gone by then we all were simply waiting for it to end. By the time the final points were tallied I think the nation knew that Denard Robinson is not going to win a Heisman but Alabama might just win another BCS Championship. I mean, it looked real easy and Bama had it in cruise control for the entire second half. Of course, the SEC schedule is yet to be played and that is where championships are won or lost anyway so the Crimson clad should not get too cocky.
By the way, did you know they have luxury suites built dugout style all around the stadium. I mean, you can’t see a thing on the field but you have a great view of the big TV in the ceiling and you have your own bar and food service and a server wearing a white jacket in there with you. But, I forgot, I was talking about football.
I had a great luxury shooting this game. No, I didn’t cheat and shoot stuff on the big screen TV during replays! I had two quality cameras and that is the first time in years that has been the case. I had both a D3 and a D4. I didn’t know how to act! I shot the D3 with a short lens, usually at ISO 3200 at 1/640 @ f5.6. The D4 I generally used with the long lens (300 f2.8 with a 1.4 converter) at ISO 5000 at 1/1250-1/1600 at f4. You know, the lighting was the only thing that surprised me in the negative about that stadium. It was about one full stop less than I would have expected. But hey, I guess a billion dollars only goes so far. But, I forgot, I was talking about football.
The game went like most Alabama games have gone in the Saban era. The Crimson Tide pounds you to death with a smothering defense on one side of the ball and they wear you out with outstanding running backs on the other side of the ball. Just to keep things interesting, they have a quarterback who can get the ball into the hands of some very quick, and in this game, wide open receivers for touchdowns. I usually stay in front of the Alabama offense and behind the other team’s offense. That keeps the Bama players facing the camera as much as possible. (Same goes for covering Auburn.) I got most of my best images in the first quarter and certainly the majority of all my best images came in the first half while Alabama was still trying to score points. The second half was mainly drumming my fingers on the turf wanting the clock to run faster to get the game over so I could make deadline.
There are no great secrets to reveal. I kept the camera focused on Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson at the start of each offensive play because he was the focus of Alabama’s defense. When Alabama had the ball I focused on a lineman when the play was likely a running play. When I thought there might be a pass, I generally looked over the top of the camera to see where Mr. McCarron was looking then focused down field on whomever I thought he may throw to. Like I said, no big revelations; just predict, react and shoot.
As a final note to this story, and something that 99 percent of you won’t understand, it has been a pleasure, Mr. Almond, kneeling beside you on sidelines across the south. You have challenged me and I have enjoyed your friendship. It is a sad day and I will miss shooting with you. Many blessings to you my friend. May we again meet on a sideline somewhere in this great land in the not too distant future.