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Best Seat in the House

Photography, sports and life as seen through the lens of Seattle Times photographer Rod Mar.

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December 12, 2007 9:24 AM

Seahawks: Who's the Man?

Posted by Rod Mar

Shoot pictures that tell stories, blah, blah, blah.

I've addressed that theme on this blog so many times that I'm sure many of you tune out when you see the words.

Last week, I wrote about Lofa Tatupu's three interception game, and how that was the big story of the day.

But by the end of last Sunday's game between the Seahawks and the visiting Arizona Cardinals, I found myself with too many choices.

Pregame thoughts:

— a win by the Seahawks clinches the NFC West for them, and assures a home playoff game. Obviously this was the overriding theme for the day.

— the next rushing touchdown by running back Shaun Alexander would be the 100th of his career.

— I hope it snows. Snow makes cool photos.

Well, it's good to be somewhat prepared, but by halftime, I'd decided that quarterback Matt Hasselbeck would be the story. He'd thrown three touchdown passes to help the Seahawks to a 27-7 lead at halftime.

It wasn't of Hasselbeck, but I liked this wide-angle shot of Nate Burleson after he scored the first touchdown of the game on a seven-yard reception:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 16-35mm/f2.8 lens @ 35mm, ISO 1000, 1/500 sec.,f2.8)

As we headed towards the field for the start of the third quarter, I told my assistant that if Hasselbeck was going to be the big story of the game, then I would have to make a "special" image of him.

I know what you're thinking: "Aren't all your cover photos supposed to be special?"

True that.

But if you think about it, photographs of quarterbacks all fall into a couple of categories, making it hard to find one that's visually compelling enough to hold the cover.

Here's a brief list:

— quarterback using hand and arms to audible (ala Indy's Peyton Manning, who flaps his arms so much one expects him to take flight). Really, what does that photo tell you about the game?

— quarterback throwing. Snooze.

— quarterback throwing through a sea of players, as viewed from the receiver's point-of-view. This one has the most promise.

So I decided to fight every photographer's instinct, and forget about where the ball was being thrown on each Hasselbeck pass. If a receiver made a juggling, one-handed catch while upside-down and a defender draped all over him, I'd just have to miss it.

(Who are we kidding? I probably would have missed something that cool anyway).

Instead, I added a 1.4x teleconverter to my 400mm lens, and shot tighter on Hasselbeck from downfield, looking back towards him. I was hoping to get the receiver's point of view, but have the lens tight enough on him to create something "different".

The results were...boring. I'll spare you the images.

Following that, I shortened the lens by removing the extender, and whenever the Seahawks got within scoring range, I kept my focus on Hasselbeck. My hope was that he would celebrate in some way.

Well, he kinda celebrated. Gave it a little fist pump. For all of Matt's idolization of Green Bay's Brett Favre, he should take a lesson from the Favre and raise his arms up and leap around with a great big smile. Clearly not Matt's style:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 1600, 1/800 sec.,f2.8)

Heck, I got a better reaction from Hasselbeck after he missed Deion Branch over the middle. At least he showed some emotion:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 1600, 1/800 sec.,f2.8)

While I was doing all of this Hasselbeck stalking when the Seahawks had the ball, defensive end Patrick Kerney was wreaking havoc gimpy old Kurt Warner, the Arizona quarterback. In fact, he tallied three sacks, and I realized he was now in the running for my little "player of the game" contest.

Kerney would sack the guy, then grimace, yell, strike a b-boy pose, and then yell some more. He really was a 6'5", 272 lb, walking, talking, sacking, spitting, yelling photo op:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 1600, 1/800 sec.,f2.8)

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 1600, 1/800 sec.,f2.8)

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 1600, 1/800 sec.,f2.8)

And then to make matters even more complicated, cornerback Marcus Trufant picked off a pass and returned it 84-yards for a touchdown. If a play like that wasn't game-defining enough, I realized it was Trufant's third interception of the day. And hell, if Lofa Tatupu was last week's stud for his three picks, then Trufant was the third candidate in my player of the day race.

I was shooting along the Seahawks sideline when Trufant made his interception. Since the players were blocking my view downfield, I actually saw him make the interception while watching the big-screen at the south end of the stadium. It's a trick I've learned from watching NFL and college players who on breakaway runs will look up at the video boards to see how close their pursuers are.

Upon seeing the interception and watching him break a couple of tackles and hearing the crowd roar, I realized he might take it all the way down the sideline. I grabbed for a camera with my 70-200mm lens (I only had an instant to decide — 70-200mm or 16-35mm? I chose the 70-200mm lens in case he broke towards the middle of the field. Sure enough, within seconds, Trufant was racing by us. I got a lucky photo of him eluding the final Arizona pursuer, whose eyes really make the photo. I was bummed, though, that I cut off Trufant's feet:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 70mm, ISO 1600, 1/800 sec.,f2.8)

Armed with my compact flash cards full of riches (really, how often to I get to choose from three different story lines?), I decided on a post-game strategy. Since I knew I had compelling images of both Kerney and Trufant, I would stalk, I mean focus on, Hasselbeck.

Just before game's end, I made my way along the Seattle bench for the obligatory "NFC West Champs" photos.

Shaun Alexander held up four fingers:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 16-35mm/f2.8 lens @ 32mm, ISO 1000, 1/500 sec.,f2.8)

Patrick Kerney donned a t-shirt declaring them division champs:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 16-35mm/f2.8 lens @ 28mm, ISO 1000, 1/500 sec.,f2.8)

Marcus Trufant barked at the crowd:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 16-35mm/f2.8 lens @ 35mm, ISO 1000, 1/500 sec.,f2.8)
As the clock ran out, I just focused on Hasselbeck.

His brother Tim plays for Arizona, and his dad Don, was there as well. Here's the three of them:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 16-35mm/f2.8 lens @ 24mm, ISO 1000, 1/500 sec.,f2.8)

Matt turned and blew kisses into the stands. I later learned this he was looking where his family was sitting:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 16-35mm/f2.8 lens @ 16mm, ISO 1000, 1/500 sec.,f2.8)

Matt, Patrick, Marcus. Three guys, three huge games.

Made my Sunday an easy one, even though it didn't snow.

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