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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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September 26, 2008 11:23 PM

Nikon's D3: Low Noise in Low Light.

Posted by Rod Mar

I've been shooting the Nikon's newest flagship professional camera, the D3, for most of the summer.

Never before had I heard so much hype about a camera before. Fellow photographers from around the country started whispering about how great it was supposed to be, and as the camera trickled into the hands of people earlier this year, the hype only grew.

This is not the spot to get a complete technical review of the D3, or any piece of equipment. For that, try Digital Photography Review or Steve's Digicams. I'm sure there are many more great sites that cover equipment comprehensively, but these are an excellent place to start.

While I am not qualified to discuss the virtues of certain image processors or the associated algorithms (confession -- I'm terrible at math, and just the word "algorithms" sends me quivering into the corner), I can provide you some real world examples of how the camera functions.

One of the things I'm most impressed with on the D3 is the ability to shoot at high ISO's with relatively low noise.

As any newspaper photographer will tell you, shooting high school sports is one of the most technically daunting challenges we face. This mostly has to do with the light -- the poor quality of it, the inconsistency of it, and the simple lack of it.

High school gyms and football fields are described two ways by photojournalists -- "caves" or "dungeons".

You get the point.

Back in the days of film (yes, you little punks, cameras once used film, not flash cards), we had to walk barefoot five miles in the snow just to get a photo.

Whoops. Let's try that again.

Back in the days of film, ISO 400 was once fast, and one had to "push" (overdevelop) the film from ISO 400 to ISO 800. There were specialized developers like Acufine and Edwal's FG-7 (omigod -- they still sell it over at Amazon!) which helped push film. Still, the results were noisy (read, grainy).

When Kodak introduced their amazing P3200 film, sports photography went through a little revolution. But P3200 was a black-and-white film and had the misfortune of arriving just about the same time that newspapers started moving to color.

Color films were much slower, and even when Fuji introduced a ISO 800 press film, it still couldn't match the speed of the P3200.

To get any sort of decent exposure you needed to use flash, which caused all kinds of harsh shadows, red-eye, and horrible, unflattering light. Shooting in natural, or ambient light is always preferable as it is closer to what the human eye sees.

Because of this, the demand for low-light lenses was huge. Nikon had a humongous old 300mm/f2 lens that was as amazing as it was heavy.

One of the many advantages of the move to digital is that technology has allowed us to shoot at high ISO's than ever. Even the earliest digital bodies were better in low light than their film predecessors.

For the longest time, the flagship camera for both Canon and Nikon topped out at ISO 1600, and even that was a bit sketchy. Yes, some of you will argue that it was fine, but really, the noise in the shadows especially, was plain gross.

The D3 is the best low-light, high ISO camera I've ever used. Earlier this spring I received emails from shooters using it easily at ISO 6400 and Nikon was showing off photos shot at ISO 25,600.

I can imagine *some* scenarios where ISO 25,600 would be called for, but those would be extreme spot news situations where the subject matter was more important than the quality.

Tonight I was shooting a prep football game at a place called French Field, in Kent, WA. I actually wrote a post about it last year. Using Canons at the time, I was using fill-flash.

ISO 6400 used to be unthinkable when shooting in color, and even with the recent digital cameras shooting that high was guaranteed to leave one with noisy, ugly images.

With the D3 in hand, I simply cranked the ISO to 6400 and let it fly with a 400m/f2.8 lens.

Here's a sample frame, just so you can judge for yourself how great this camera is at shooting in low light. I have done absolutely no post-processing to any of these. No auto-levels, no color correction, no messing with levels or curves, and no noise-reduction or sharpening.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 1/500th sec, f2.8)

Let's start cropping:


Tighter still:

And once more. Note how much of the frame we've cropped to and the relative lack of noise in his face, and also the shadow areas. This is pretty impressive to me:

Obviously, if I need to be cropping photos this drastically for use in the paper, I either need to take more photography lessons or get a little closer to the play. But knowing that you can shoot a digital camera in a dungeon or cave and still get natural results is a huge advancement in our profession.

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September 22, 2008 12:41 PM

Seahawks: Is It Them or Is It Me? (Wait, Don't Answer That...)

Posted by Rod Mar

To some of you, this is going to come off and kinda pouty, kinda whiny, kinda "hey you got a great job why are complaining" type of post. But to others, you will understand that I'm not really whining -- I'm wondering, exploring, trying to get better.

We're three weeks into the Seahawks season, and I still don't feel like I've made a really nice picture. This bugs me. It's my job to make compelling images and my editors are complaining. But really, if we strive to be great, we set our own measuring sticks, right?

Geez this is self-indulgent. If you're bored, I find this blog to be interesting and wonderful. I won't be hurt if you flip over to it.

So I have spent a lot of time thinking (and apparently not blogging) about how to approach my little problem.

First, what are the causes? There could be many.

-- Burnout? I did work like 25 straight eighteen-hour days in August.

-- The new gear? I'm shooting Nikon for the moment -- am I missing moments because I need more familiarity with the equipment?

-- I've suddenly "lost it"? I'll never make a Seahawks photo I like again?

More likely, it's just a bit of the first two reasons and a little slump mixed in for good measure.

To be fair, the Seahawks probably aren't as photogenic as they've been in the past. Without their five top receivers, they don't throw the long ball and they don't complete as many passes (I VERY rarely will publish a shot of an incomplete pass unless it's really storytelling like the drops in the Buffalo game).

In fact, in reviewing the stats after this most recent game, I found that the Seahawks ran the ball 46 times and threw it only 20 times. And of those 20, only 12 were completions. So, in retrospect, I only had 12 chances to shoot pass completions versus 46 chances to shoot running plays.

One of those pass reception opportunities came in the first half as tight end John Carlson made his way to my side of the field and made a nice diving/falling catch.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f/4 lens @ 290mm, ISO 800, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f/4 lens @ 290mm, ISO 800, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f/4 lens @ 290mm, ISO 800, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f/4 lens @ 290mm, ISO 800, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

Them's some sweet photos of a ref's pant leg. Bad luck.

So if I am not shooting completions, of course I get good frames on incompletions. This has the traditional "two faces and a ball" and has some rhythm to the composition and it ended up being a pass interference call on the St. Louis player.

This game was all about the running, at least from the Seahawks perspective. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck made the play of the game with a block that took out two would-be tacklers and sprung Julius Jones for a touchdown in the first half.

Here's what that looked like:

(Okay, I was on the other side of the field and was blocked from seeing it, but I'm sure you all saw it on the television replay so just pretend you are looking at a frame of it here...)
(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f/4 lens @ 370mm, ISO 800, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

If you miss a big play, you have to find a way to represent it so that if it turns out being a storytelling moment, you have an image to go with a story in the paper or on the website. I hauled a-- over to the Seahawks sideline and found the offensive linemen giving Hasselbeck some love for the block. Knowing how mercilessly he teases some of them, I'm sure they also gave him some back...

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f/4 lens @ 200mm, ISO 500, 1/640th sec.,f4.0)

As the game progressed, it was easy to see that a) the Seahawks were going to win easily and b) they were doing it with their running game. That would be the story. Knowing that running back Julius Jones was well over 100 yards rushing and that the rushing game had saved the injury-depleted receiving corp from having to step up, I concentrated on making a good Jones photo.

Nice action, bad background:

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4 lens, ISO 640, 1/1250th sec.,f4.0)

Nice and tight, good eyes, but the light is *not quite* there:

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4 lens, ISO 640, 1/1600th sec.,f4.0)

Better light, better action. The backlighting adds a bit of depth, the shadow is nice, and the action is decent as he has both feet off the ground and you can see the spray of rubber pellets in the air from the field turf:

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4 lens @ 400mm, ISO 400, 1/640th sec.,f4.0)

Photo editor SuperKev used this last photo as the lead of the sports section.

Don't take this post the wrong way -- it's not complaining. I'm trying to constantly evaluate my performance -- my effort and the results. There is no solution. That's the fun of my job. Every moment brings a new chance to make a great picture. And you have to be of the right mind to do it regularly. You can push and push and push, but really, as a shooter you have no ability to control what happens on the field of play, you just react to it and hopefully freeze a moment.

As in life, second-guessing has no place in photography. Saying "I shoulda been over there", or "I shoulda had that lens instead of this one" gets you know where. Plan, prepare, and let serendipity do it's thing.

A former mentor of mine used to remind me, "If opportunity knocks, at least be ready to answer the door".

I'm bummed the Seahawks don't play this week, but I will be at the UW vs. Stanford game so I get to jump back on the horse, so to speak.

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September 21, 2008 11:55 AM

Flipping Over the Fisherman's Festival

Posted by Rod Mar

With no Huskies loss rout completedominationbytheopposition game to photograph this weekend, I found myself at the annual Fisherman's Festival in Ballard. This annual event is held at Fisherman's Terminal, and is a celebration/festival/community fair that is designed to show off what is both a mystical and important part of Seattle's history and culture.

Photographically, the highlight is the Survival Suit races, which pits teams against each other in a contest to 1) get into the survival suit (no easy task), 2) jump 15 feet down into the water, 3) swim across to the other side where they 4) climb into safety rafts (again, no easy task -- you're wearing a huge rubber suit, you've just swum 200 yards and now you have to climb out of the water and into a floating raft without the aid of a ladder or steps).

I think because I spent the month of August in Beijing, every picture I now take must have some echo of an Olympic sport.

These Coast Guard studs didn't think that simply jumping feet-first into the water like everyone else was good enough.

This guy appears to being jumping in the Coast Guard way -- with his arms across his body and turned back to his launch point.

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 16-35mm/f2.8 lens @ 16mm, ISO 800, 1/400th sec., f4)

In the next race, this guy upped the ante and so did a crowd-pleasing flip into the water. I was just looking to improve on the previous photo and got lucky here. There was no chance of positioning myself before the shot because four of them were dressing and jumping off the same point. I ended up basically running right behind them with my wide-angle and firing as they jumped (remembering, of course, to stop at the end of the dock -- falling 15-feet into the water would not have been a good idea -- that's because I was holding cameras, not the fear of water -- this being Seattle, it was pouring rain and I was already soaked).

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 16-35mm/f2.8 lens @ 16mm, ISO 800, 1/400th sec., f4)

Many of the teams swam individually, but this group of women named "Team Observer" performed a team swim on their backs.

(Nikon D3, VR 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 180mm, ISO 800, 1/500th sec., f3.5)

Not a bad way to get across the water. Now this would make a cool Olympic event.

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September 15, 2008 11:48 PM

Seahawks: Is the Devil Collecting His Due?

Posted by Rod Mar

Did the Seahawks sell their souls to the Devil in order to get to a Super Bowl?

Did Mike Holmgren, Tim Ruskell and Tod Leiweke secretly meet with Beelzebub outside of a Kirkland bar in the fall of 2005, asking for a monster year by Shaun Alexander and a trip to Detroit for Super Bowl XL?

I looked through my archives and I don't have any photographic proof that such a meeting took place.

But if it had, might it have gone like this?

Devil: Let's get this straight -- you want to go to the Super Bowl this season.

Holmgren: Yes. Once more before I retire.

Devil: Remember -- the Super Bowl is in Detroit. You sure you don't want to wait until it's in a warmer climate?

Leiweke: We don't care. We think we can beat Pittsburgh.

Devil: It'll cost you...

Ruskell: We know. How about you take Steve Hutchinson and let him sign a poison pill contract with Minnesota?

Devil: Well, I do owe Minnesota. I did once take their hockey team and move it to Dallas.

Holmgren: What's it going to be?

Devil: How about I take six wide receivers from you in 2008?

(Holmgren, Leiweke and Ruskell huddle together...)

Holmgren (whispering): Let's do it!

Leiweke: We're completely mortgaging our future!

Ruskell: Who cares? We might not even be in Seattle. I heard some rich goofus in Oklahoma City is trying to move a team there.

They turn their attention back to the black-clad figure.

Holmgren: Deal! We go to the Super Bowl, you get some receivers down the road.

Devil: Great. Done. Now excuse me -- I have a meeting. The Steelers want to meet with me...something about NFL officials next Februrary...

Sunday was the team's home opener at Qwest Field. It started innocently enough with me wandering around outside shooting features.

Lofa Tatupu can count these two as some of his biggest fans:

(Nikon D3, VR 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 155mm, ISO 400, 1/4000th sec.,f5.6)

Taking a cue from the Phoenix Suns' gorilla mascot, the Seahawks mascot "Blitz" rides a zipline from one corner of the stadium to the other before settling in the middle. He hangs there seemingly forever before being gently lowered to the turf.

I'm sure it was supposed to be dramatic, but it ended up looking as if he was stuck in midair while the rigging crew tried to lower him. Anyway, as he hung at midfield, the video screen behind him displayed the dancing SeaGals. And no, this is not an attempt at subliminal stimulation.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4 lens @ 350mm, ISO 400, 1/1600th sec.,f4.0)

For the home opener, the crowd was loud as ever, causing numerous false-start penalties to the San Francisco offense.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4 lens, ISO 400, 1/2500th sec., f4.0)

The Devil collected one body during pregame when Seneca Wallace pulled a muscle. He got his eighth victim when Logan Payne went down in the first half with a season-ending knee injury.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4 lens, ISO 400, 1/1000th sec., f4.0)

It figured with such ragtag collection of receivers that the defense would have to step. Seattle's pressure and the crowd noise rattled San Francisco early, and the defense put points on the board when Craig Terrill rumbled to the end zone with fumble recovery to give the Seahawks a 14-0 lead.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4 lens @ 240mm, ISO 400, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

A two-touchdown lead at home against a hapless team as the 49ers should be a mortal lock for a victory for the defending NFC West Champs.

But the inexperienced receivers couldn't play with the big boys. Billy McMullen coughed up the ball after taking it to the San Francisco 11-yard line, killing a Seattle scoring drive.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4 lens, ISO 400, 1/1000th sec., f4.5)

McMullen was victimized again later when San Francisco's Walt Harris caused a deflection that was intercepted and returned 86-yards for a touchdown by teammate Patrick Willis, changing the tone of the game completely.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4 lens @ 220mm, ISO 400, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4 lens @ 380mm, ISO 400, 1/2000th sec.,f4.0)

Even through tinted glasses fans the Seahawks fans tried to keep their team in it.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4 lens, ISO 450, 1/2000th sec., f4.0)

49ers quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan (try typing that three times fast) found his mojo in the second half, deftly avoiding the Seattle pass rush to find targets such as veteran Issac Bruce behind the Seattle secondary.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4 lens, ISO 800, 1/800th sec., f4.0)

The once raucous Seattle crowd was rendered silent as the lead slipped away and the game went into overtime.

(Nikon D3, VR 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 140mm, ISO 800, 1/1250th sec.,f2.8)

San Francisco's Joe Nedney missed a possible game-winning field goal at the end of regulation, but didn't miss when he got his chance in overtime. His 40-yard field goal won the game, 33-30.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4 lens, ISO 1000, 1/1250th sec., f4.0)

Mrs. Seahawk and the other fans in the south end zone were left stunned.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4 lens @ 310mm, ISO 1600, 1/640th sec.,f4.0)

In his post-game press conference, Mike Holmgren discussed his deal with the devil.

(Nikon D3, VR 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 70mm, ISO 800, 1/400th sec.,f2.8)

I'm kidding. But there was this strange smell of sulfur in the media room...

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September 14, 2008 11:10 PM

Huskies: Beheaded for Disaster

Posted by Rod Mar

At our son's soccer game on Saturday morning, my old buddy Dave and I were talking about that afternoon's Husky football game, in which Washington would face third-ranked Oklahoma.

"Whaddya think?", he asked.

Knowing he is a lifelong, dyed-in-the-wool Dawg fan, I knew he sensed more optimism than I did.

Before he could start imagining reasons why the Huskies could possibly beat the Sooners, I piped up, "I'd give you Washington and 30 points and you'd still lose".

Now, betting is not allowed by members of the newspaper (at least I don't think it is, but I wouldn't bet on it), so we couldn't really, officially, bet.

Other dads were around us. "Thirty?" "That's a lot of points, man." "I'd take you up on 30!"

Cut to two minutes left in the first half of the game later that afternoon, with the Huskies trailing 27-0.

My phone rings. Hey, it's Dave!

"Dude. I am actually considering leaving at halftime. I can't bear to watch this anymore."

I couldn't blame him. For Dawg fans, it was the bottom of the barrel. At least for the time being. It could conceivably get worse when Washington faces USC later this season.

Let's skip to the photos. It was a gorgeous day, and my new photo editor SuperKev asked us to make some pregame feature photos.

"Ahem. Sir? You appear to be wearing a covered wagon on your head."

(Nikon D3, VR 70-200mm lens @ 200mm, ISO 400, 1/1600th sec, f5.6)

We will not be having a headline nor a caption contest about this photo of a fan getting blown at by baritone players from the Husky Marching Band.

(Nikon D3, 14-24mm/f2.8 lens @ 14mm, ISO 640 1000th sec, f8)
Repeat. No headline contest. That goes for captions, too.

Husky quarterback Jake Locker is normally unflappable. That is, if you don't count unsportsmanlike conduct penalties like throwing the ball in the air after a touchdown. Really, the only way to make him lose his head is to try to rip it off.

This frame shows his face:

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm lens, ISO 320, 1/3200th sec, f4.0)

But this frame shows the violence of getting his face-mask pulled and twisted. And it's tighter. More impact? I don't think so. Seeing his face in the above frame is more compelling.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm lens, ISO 320, 1/3200th sec, f4.0)

While the home team was getting beaten to a purple pulp, there was gold on the horizon as the autumn light was both plentiful and beautiful.

It was even pretty when Oklahoma's Jermaine Gresham beat Washington's Johri Fogerson and caught a touchdown pass to put the Sooners up 14-0 in the first half.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400/f4 lens @ 220mm, ISO 800, 1/1250th sec, f4.0)

The light was even prettier when Washington's Devin Aguilar made a leaping reception in front of Oklahoma's Dominique Franks.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm lens, ISO 320, 1/3200th sec, f4.0)

The sun is quickly fading on Washington coach Tyrone Willingham, who lost his third straight, against an admittedly tough schedule. He might last the season, but that's about it. One gets the feeling he didn't do enough to build the necessary goodwill with the alumni and the media to get the "Hey, he's a good guy, let's give him some time to build a program" extra year that some coaches garner.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm lens, ISO 320, 1/3200th sec, f4.0)

By the end, the result was so forgone that even Oklahoma's touchdown celebrations seemed half-hearted.

Doesn't it make you want to say, "Now don't you let go of that football, young man?!!!"

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm lens, ISO 1600, 1/640th sec, f4.0)

By the end, the few die-hard Husky fans remaining didn't have a lot to smile about. Jake Sturm and Alysa Abercrombie sit in the bleachers with the score 55-7 in favor of Oklahoma. "It's pretty bad", said Abercrombie.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400/f4 lens @ 400mm, ISO 3200, 1/320th sec, f4.0)

55-14? "Pretty bad" might be an understatement.

At least Abercrombie was still in the stadium. My buddy Dave? By that time he was home..trying to find the golden light at the end of the tunnel.

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September 12, 2008 10:01 AM

10 Reasons Why You Should Hang Out With Me On Sunday.

Posted by Rod Mar

Happy Friday, everyone.

Among the most popular requests I get (besides "Can I have your cameras?") is folks wondering if they can ever assist me on a shoot.

Well, here's a great opportunity.

My friends Mike Gastineau and Dave Grosby (a.k.a. "Groz and Gas") over at KJR-AM sports radio are having their annual "Groz-with-Gas-athon" to raise money for charity.

They spend the day doing a radio marathon of sorts, talking sports and interviewing celebrities while having an online auction at the same time.

On second thought, I think the "-athon" suffix relates to telethons, not marathons. Sitting around eating great food and drinking, well, "drinks", and talking sports doesn't really equal the exertion of running 26.2 miles, does it?

I digress.

Gas and Groz are great guys. Once a year, they gather their friends from all around the local sports world and raise money for three charities -- Eastside Habitat for Humanity, Central Area Youth Activities (CAYA), and Northwest Literacy -- all great causes.

Now to the point -- one of their auction items is to spend this Sunday as my on-field at the Seahawks vs. San Francisco home opener at Qwest Field. You'll get to hang out with me on the on the sidelines as I shoot the game for the Times.

Here's 10 reasons why you should think about bidding:

10. A chance to witness an NFL game from the sidelines -- a ticket you can't buy just anywhere.
9. Close-up look at how professional sports photographers work (we'll try to find some).
8. You won't have to worry about exposing my film accidently -- it's all digital now.
7. Get to wear a dorky cool red photo vest issued by the NFL.
6. Chance to carry really heavy and expensive lenses while running up and down the sidelines.
5. Close proximity to the SeaGals!
4. You'll know what's in the paper before anyone else.
3. Press food -- all the hot dogs you can eat!
2. If Seahawks receivers fail, Coach Holmgren might look your way.
1. Did I mention, close proximity to the SeaGals?!

Okay, here's five reasons why this might not be your thing:

5. Your lawn needs mowing
4. Still can't believe the Huskies beat Oklahoma the day before.
3. (If #4 above comes true, there won't be a Seahawks game on Sunday because hell will have frozen over)
2. Carry your crap all day? Yeah, right!
1. "Rod, if you need people to pay to be your friend for a day, you need more than just an assistant.."

Still interested? Here's a link to the specific auction item:

Bid to help Rod on Sunday.

And here's a link to the all of the items up for bid:

2008 Groz-with-Gasathon

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September 7, 2008 8:43 PM

Seahawks: Nothing Special About This One.

Posted by Rod Mar

You'd think after shooting sports for 17 straight days at the Olympics, I'd be ready for the opening of football season.

Think again.

Maybe it was all the Buffalo Wings.

Maybe it was being kidnapped by fellow Times' staffer Danny O'Neil and forced to watch Ultimate Fighting at a sports bar last night.

Whatever it was, I felt like it was a struggle to make good pictures today in Buffalo, as the Seahawks were dominated by the Bills, 34-10, in the season opener.

I CAN say, without much hesitation, that I likely performed better than the Seahawks.

They didn't set a very high bar today.

You can't argue that Buffalo fans don't know their football. This fan knew the Seahawks were lacking depth at receiver -- in fact, Nate Burleson is the only one of the current healthy players at that position with any extended experience in the league:

(Nikon D3, VR 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 130mm, ISO 800, 1/1600th sec, f3.5)

Seattle, on the road, missing starters at receiver and defensive tackle, playing with a quarterback hampered by injury in the preseason, had little room for error against the Bills.

So they promptly played terribly on offense and special teams.

Buffalo's Roscoe Parrish broke two tackles and danced and pranced his way for a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown, giving the Bills a 14-0 lead in the second quarter:

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4 lens @ 300mm, ISO 1000, 1/1600 sec.,f4.5)

In the third quarter, as Seattle's field goal defense was preoccupied with getting enough players on the field ("hey, Marcus Trufant, nice of you to join us!"), Buffalo's Ryan Denney was lollygagging on the other side of the field.

At the snap, holder Brian Moorman lobbed a pass up the left sideline to Denney, who lumbered into the end zone untouched. It was pretty much "game over" at that point:

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4 lens @ 300mm, ISO 1000, 1/1600 sec.,f4.5)

Seattle's offense didn't fare much better.

Maurice Morris was upended by Buffalo's Donte Whitner in the first half, where the Seahawks only managed 11 yards rushing:

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4 lens @ 400mm, ISO 640, 1/2000 sec.,f4.0)

More than the stunted rushing game, Seattle's inexperience receivers dropped passes, including Jordan Kent's drop in the end zone:

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4 lens @ 220mm, ISO 640, 1/2000 sec.,f4.0)

When a Seahawk did make a play, like Nate Burleson did when scoring in the second quarter, Bills fans applauded them in their own special ways (I hate having to censor photos, but apparently publishing images of fans "flipping the bird" is not allowed):

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4 lens @ 220mm, ISO 1000, 1/1000 sec.,f4.0)

Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselback struggled without his normal complement of receivers. The extra time he needed to find open teammates resulted in sacks, scrambles and knock-downs like this one:

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4 lens @ 340mm, ISO 1000, 1/1600 sec.,f4.5)

Frustration set in after another drop, and Hasselback could only throw up his hands:

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4 lens @ 360mm, ISO 1000, 1/1000 sec.,f4.0)

As if all of that wasn't enough, more injuries beset the Hawks. Nate Burleson limped off in the third quarter and starting running back Maurice Morris sprained his knee and was forced to the sidelines with a heavy brace:

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4 lens @ 220mm, ISO 640, 1/1250 sec.,f4.0)

I always try to mix in tight action shots that bring the viewer right into the play. Former University of California teammates Marshawn Lynch (Buffalo) and Brandon Mebane (Seattle) met head-on at the line of scrimmage:

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 800, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

Lynch ran for 76 yards on 18 carries and scored a touchdown, then high-fived fans on his way out of the stadium.

(Nikon 14-24mm/f2.8 lens @ 24mm, ISO 400, 1/800th sec.,f4.5)

Seahawks fan Dino Gobostis of Toronto brought a handmade sign that ran in the rain and then was disappointed when his team fell to Buffalo in the season opener. While it still might be "their year", Seattle still has a way to go.

(Nikon D3, VR 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 200mm, ISO 400, 1/2000th sec.,f2.8)

So, that was week one. I'm rusty but that also means I have room to improve.

As Bill Murray said in "Stripes", "Talk about mass potential for growth, I am the acorn that becomes the oak!"

(P.S. Seahawks fans -- if it makes you feel any better, your team did lose its opener on the road in Jacksonville three years ago -- the same season they reached the Super Bowl.

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