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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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June 1, 2008 11:35 PM

Mariners: Ichiro is More Flexible Than You.

Posted by Rod Mar

Here's something I learned from Seattle's 7-4 loss to Detroit -- all that stretching the Ichiro does before at-bats and between pitches in the field? Apparently it's as effective as Bikram yoga.

Ichiro is flexible.

Here he calls for time after advancing from first to third on Jose Lopez' single in the third. Ichiro scored on Jose Vidro's sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2-2, but Seattle eventually lost after reliever J.J. Putz gave up three runs in the top of the ninth.

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 400, 1/2000th sec. f2.8)

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June 1, 2008 12:55 AM

Soccer: The Beautiful Game Visits Seattle

Posted by Rod Mar

I'm a somewhat jaded sports photographer after all these years on the sidelines, but I was really looking forward to Saturday's assignment -- a soccer exhibition match (or, "friendly") between Brazil and Canada.

Don't get me wrong -- I love this job -- but after sitting through the first two months of the Mariners season, I was more than psyched to see world-class athletes doing what they do best.

I've photographer soccer in the past (Manchester United vs. Chelsea, Real Madrid vs. D.C. United), but this was Brazil! I was bummed that some of their best players weren't making the trip (Ronaldinho and Kaka), so in a way it was like watching the Chicago Bulls of the '80's without Jordan and Pippen.

But keep in mind we don't see world-class soccer in Seattle, so I was excited as a Spanish fan who got to see the Bulls at their peak. No Jordan and no Pippen would dampen the experience a bit, but if you never get to see the sport live, seeing Toni Kukoc play would get you plenty excited.

The match wasn't due to start until 7:30pm, and that's pretty late for our Saturday deadlines. I was assigned to make some early feature photos of fans, and found enthusiasm for both sides.

These young ladies are Brazilians living in Seattle as au-pairs, so they were over the moon at the chance to see their national team.

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 200mm, ISO 400, 1/250th sec.f/5.6)

It was easy for Canadians to make the short trip to Seattle to see their team, and knowing they were the underdogs didn't stop them from celebrating (and, apparently drinking).

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 130mm, ISO 400, 1/250th sec.f/5.6)

I'd brought a whole onslaught of lenses with me. Most soccer shooters shoot a 400mm or 600mm lens so they can reach midfield and beyond. Knowing the Brazil was an overwhelming favorite, I wanted to shoot them scoring goals much in the manner I shoot football looser than most when a team is close to scoring a touchdown.

As such, I chose to lug a 300mm/f2.8 lens along with the 400, and two shorter zoom lenses, a 70-200mm/f2.8 and a 24-70mm2.8.

The 70-200 came in very handy just into the game. In the fourth minute, Brazil star Robinho dribbled between three Canadian defenders before passing to Diego, who scored from close range. Diego turned towards me to celebrate and I managed to compose to include him and the backs of the stunned Canadian defenders.

((Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 100mm, ISO 640, 1/1000th sec.f/3.2)

Soccer celebrations are rarely brief, so followed him as he jumped in the air to celebrate. The background is not very good and the angle is a bit off (quite perpendicular to my lens), but it's a nice moment.

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 70mm, ISO 640, 1/1000th sec.f/3.2)

Later in the half, Brazil's Luis Fabiano scores on a header for his team's second goal as Canada's Richard Hastings. I was lucky with the 300mm and saw Robinho cross the ball from in front of me on the left side of the goal. I glanced quickly and saw Fabiano being grabbed from behind by the Canadian, and figured the ball was coming there. I shot away caught him heading the ball towards the goal.

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 300mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 800, 1/1000th sec.f/2.8)

I kept firing as Fabiano fell towards Canadian goalkeeper Pat Onstad tried to keep the ball out. It's not the cleanest photo ever, but it's unusual, it captures a moment and heck, it's a pretty good soccer photo for me, who rarely gets to shoot the game at all. The second frame is better, and oh, sharper, too.

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 300mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 800, 1/1000th sec.f/2.8)

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 300mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 800, 1/1000th sec.f/2.8)

The Brazilians celebrated and I almost had a great angle of the Canadian keeper juxtaposed with the celebration. I couldn't lean over enough to really get Onstad into the composition I wanted, and then I couldn't decided which to make the point of focus and which to let go out of focus.

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 300mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 800, 1/1000th sec.f/2.8)

After halftime, I had to decide whether or not to keep shooting the Brazilians or give time to the Canadians (who were playing great and had a legitimate chance to lead at half, except they missed two great chances). I thought about it for, oh, about one second, before coming to the conclusion that if the 1986 Bulls were in town, no one would be shooting the Golden State Warriors. Am I right?

The second half was a bit slower for photos, but I got another chance when Robinho scored to give the Brazilians a 3-2 lead. I was shooting very long with a 400mm and a 1.4x attached, looking to make cool tight action photos.

The goal itself was boring photowise, and his teammates mobbed him on the far side of the field, which was obstructed to me by the goal netting. But remembering the golden rule of soccer shooting (celebrations last a LOOOONG time), I waited a bit and caught him dancing, laughing and sticking his tongue out as he returned to play. The Brasil sign in the background? Would like to say I planned that, but no, that's just a very happy accident.

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 400mm/f2.8 lens + EF 1.4x extender = 560mm, ISO 1600, 1/640th sec.f/4.0)

Here's the two sports covers, first edition followed by second edition:

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Jun 1, 08 - 11:35 PM
Mariners: Ichiro is More Flexible Than You.

Jun 1, 08 - 12:55 AM
Soccer: The Beautiful Game Visits Seattle







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