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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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November 27, 2008 9:30 PM

Seahawks: Stuffed on Thanksgiving.

Posted by Rod Mar

Happy Thanksgiving from Texas Stadium.

I'm sitting up in the press box, looking down on to the field, empty except for the roadies taking down the final remnants of the stage used for the halftime show.

Seattle came to Dallas without much hope of winning and left, well, without a win.

Cowboys 34, Seahawks 9.

Seattle players hit their knees for a prayer before kickoff -- it was the only time they'd find the end zone all day. The Seahawks reached the red zone only twice, and settled for three Olindo Mare field goals to account for their scoring.

(Nikon D3, 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 25mm, ISO 1600, 1/640th sec.,f5.0)

There were Seahawks fans in the house. This woman pretty much didn't get her wish.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 250mm, ISO 1600, 1/800th sec.,f4.0)

Craig Wrolstad, who was the Field Judge today, is a guy I've known for years. It's great seeing his success -- making the NFL in any capacity is incredible. But it only took one play -- the first play of the game, a screen to Terrell Owens, for Craig to earn the wrath of Mike Holmgren.

I was 50 yards away, but I could hear Holmgren screaming that Owens had pushed off. Craig tried to offer an explanation, but apparently Holmgren didn't like it much, because he just turned up his volume.

Here's what it looks like when 6'5" and over 250 pounds of snortin', stompin' head coach comes bearing down on you.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens + 1.4 extender, ISO 2000, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

Because Dallas was scoring seemingly at will, I took positions in the end zone along the sideline. I was hoping for a fade route to Terrell Owens. What I got was a shot of a real cowboy. Okay, he's not a real cowboy, well maybe he is. But on this day, he was a flagboy. You know, the guy who runs around in the end zones with the big flag after his team scores.

(Nikon D3, 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 24mm, ISO 1600, 1/1000th sec.,f2.8)

(Nikon D3, 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 24mm, ISO 1600, 1/1000th sec.,f2.8)

Oh, the football game? Yes, they did play one. Kinda. After the first drive, it felt on the field like there was no way Seattle would compete.

Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo shredded the Seahawks for 331 yards and three touchdowns. When Seattle blitzed, like on this play where cornerback Josh Wilson fell short, Romo found ways to escape including just leaping out of the way.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 3200, 1/800th sec.,f2.8)

Dallas receiver Roy Williams gets behind Seattle's Josh Wilson for a 38-yard reception that set up a field goal in the first half.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens + 1.4 extender, ISO 2500, 1/800th sec.,f4.0)

Halftime came, and because it is Thanksgiving, the NFL provided a special halftime show, featuring....The Jonas Brothers Band.

If you know who these guys are, it's because you probably have a tweenaged daughter, or a curious taste in music.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens + 1.4 extender, ISO 4000, 1/640th sec.,f4.0)

One story line of the game was pretty easily illustrated. Seattle allowed seven sacks of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck who gamely resembled a boxer who gamely kept getting back up only to get smacked down again.

Hasselbeck is swallowed up by Dallas nose tackle Tank Johnson:

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens + 1.4 extender, ISO 4000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0)

Dallas linebacker Bradie James got him once:

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens + 1.4 extender, ISO 4000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0)

Then once again:

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 250mm, ISO 5000, 1/640th sec.,f4.0)

Greg Ellis who beat Seattle's Sean Locklear as Hasselbeck fruitlessly tried to duck out of he way:

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 4000, 1/800th sec.,f2.8)

DeMarcus Ware had two sacks, and used his 4.5/40 speed to pound Hasselbeck with all his might.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 270mm, ISO 5000, 1/640th sec.,f4.0)

At the end of it, Hasselbeck was beaten up pretty good, and after one being sacked by DeMarcus Ware he just stayed on his knees. It pretty much summed the game.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 34mm, ISO 5000, 1/640th sec.,f4.0)

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November 24, 2008 11:54 PM

Girls Soccer: Capturing the Thrill and the Agony.

Posted by Rod Mar

One thing you know when you are shooting the championship game of any sport, at any level, is that you will have to opportunity to make great reaction photos.

Note that I did not say "you will make great reaction photos" -- it's an opportunity, not a guarantee -- and I mess up those chances often.

Let me explain.

It's really easy to make an average photo at a title game. It's like shooting a protest or a rally. There is a prescribed set of events, and just pointing an autofocus camera at them should yield decent results.

I don't know how many local photographers have images in their "best of" collections from the W.T.O protests, or more recently, the post-election celebrations after Barack Obama was elected. But I do know it's a large number. I really don't mean to rain on anyone's parade, but many of those images are pretty easy to make.

The images that really, truly stand out have that something extra to them that give them a visual energy and depth that others don't have.

That is what I try to keep in mind when I shoot jubilation (aka "jube", in shooter parlance) and dejection.

If the outcome is decided near the end of the game, there's a mental checklist that I run through. Do I have a wide-angle with me? Are all settings correct? Where are the winners? The losers? Will I shoot with a long lens as the contest ends and then wade in with a wide-angle? Does it appear that there will be an angle in which to combine winners and losers in the same frame? Who is important -- why shoot the girl who didn't play if you can shoot the one who scored three goals? Etc.

As you can see, it's not an exact list or set of rules. As both Peter Venkman and Captain Barbossa have famously said, "it's more of a guideline, than a rule".

During the semifinal between Shorecrest and Seattle Prep, I was just coming down from the press box where I was transmitting when the game ended (and yes, the following is a rule and not just a guideline: DEADLINES WILL OFTEN PREVENT YOU FROM SHOOTING THE END OF A CHAMPIONSHIP GAME.

Shorecrest's Jessica Rankin, fell to her knees at the end of the game and I made a pretty mediocre frame.

(Nikon D3, VR 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 160mm, ISO 5000, 1/500th sec.,f2.8)

Didn't have time to mess around, and had to get back upstairs to move this frame quickly as I had another game to shoot right afterwards. Shoot action, transmit, shoot end game, transmit, lather, rinse repeat.

By halftime of the second semifinal it was pouring rain with a wind blowing the rain sideways. Good times.

Shooting in the rain is a pain -- you have to limit what you try to do. I try to get very simple in my equipment and technique so that I can really concentrate on making one or two strong images.

The other important aspect of shooting in bad weather is the mental aspect. Know that if you can shut out the bother of the wind, rain and cold, you have chances to make different, dramatic pictures.

As the clock ran out on Jackson's hope of a state title when they fell to Woodinville, I noticed a player sitting on the ground in the rain, unable to move. I ignored the rest of celebration and just concentrated on Jackson's Ellen Favale as she sat dejectedly on the turf. There's a security guard in a yellow jacket who is not helping this frame, but I'm pretty sure he was just headed somewhere warm and dry.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 1/320th sec.,f2.8)

Teammates approached Favale on their way to the bench. One eventually stopped and tried to help her up.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 1/320th sec.,f2.8)

In the end, she walked by herself, wiping rain and maybe tears off her face. Notice that I say "maybe" on the tears. Yes, it is easily assumable that she was crying. But I can't assume that from all the way across the field. If I can't verify it, I can't publish it. So being careful about cutline information is a must. I was taught very early in my career to avoid words like "ponder" ("Seattle quaterback Matt Hasselbeck ponders what might have happened if he had not thrown that last interception" -- unless I ask Matt what he was thinking about, I don't really know, right?).

The falling rain, the composition of her body in the frame, her slumped posture and the wiping of her face all suggest the disappointment of losing only one game away from the championship.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 1/320th sec.,f2.8)

Fortunately, the weather was better the next night when the finals were played. Everett easily won the Class 3A contest. As they had led comfortably all game, the jubilation at the instant of game's end wasn't great. Because I don't follow these teams throughout the season, I couldn't instantly recognize key players, or seniors to whom the victory might be extra special. In lieu of that, I looked for the best picture. Wading in with a wide-angled lens, I found Everett's Gabrielle Wagonblast with a precious reaction.

(Nikon D3, 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 50mm, ISO 5000, 1/500th sec.,f2.8)

(Nikon D3, 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 50mm, ISO 5000, 1/500th sec.,f2.8)

(Nikon D3, 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 26mm, ISO 5000, 1/500th sec.,f2.8)

Because I had an extra minute or two, I followed the team over to their fans where they sang the school song.

(Nikon D3, 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 24mm, ISO 5000, 1/250th sec.,f2.8)

The Saturday games were running late, so my schedule of shooting action then jube was all messed up. But I got lucky in the final game of the night which pitted Woodinville against Skyline. Skyline scored first and I managed to get Woodinville goalkeeper Leslie Greer (on ground, left) seeing the ball in the net as Skyline's Kiara Williams celebrated with teammate Alisha Connors after Connors' goal put the Spartans up 1-0. Thus, we have a celebration shot that has elements of action, and is early enough that I can send it for deadline before game's end.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 5000, 1/500th sec.,f2.8)

After that, it was a matter of finding a good photo at the end. I struggled -- everyone I aimed at was just kind of skipping along (and I'm not complaining -- they won, they get to celebrate however they want -- my job is to get a good photo.

Finally, Skyline's Christina Enyeart (23) hugged teammate Kiara Williams (facing camera) and it was decent.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 5000, 1/500th sec.,f2.8)

But I could see Woodinville players walking off and when one of them, Taylor Bolibol, paused for a second appearing to take it all in, I made a better frame.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 5000, 1/500th sec.,f2.8)

I think the most telling frame of the last game is the one with the celebration after the game. Not just because they're hugging after the goal -- it's the reaction of the goalkeeper on the ground and the Woodinville defender reacting that add the extra depth to the image.

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November 22, 2008 11:22 PM

Girls Soccer: Alive and Kicking...and Shoving...and Grabbing...

Posted by Rod Mar

While most of the state's media contingent descended upon Pullman, Washington for the Crapple Cup game between Washington and Washington State, I found myself in Lakewood, just south of Tacoma for the semifinals and the finals of the high school girls state soccer tournament.

I watched some of the Apple Cup on TV, and I'm pretty sure that the soccer matches I witnessed were harder hitting and more physical.

The soccer was awesome to watch. Every girl on the field could play, and play smartly. That wasn't surprising to me. What was a bit of a shock was how rough the game is at that level.

I've photographed the boys soccer tourneys in the past, and they're not nearly as physical. I guess that should n't be surprising, given that girls basketball is often scrappier than the boys game.

Here's two frames from a play that symbolized the physicalness of the games. Everett's Annie Sittauer tries to escape the jersey hold of Seattle Prep's Ellie Harrington during the 3A girls finals as they battle for the ball.

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

Sittauer controls the ball and as she dribbles gets a little payback as she grabs the jersey of Harrington.

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

And you thought soccer was just played with your feet and head.

Later, Harrington gets a little revenge as she gets her elbow up near the head of Everett's Hannah Hawkins in the second half.

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

Skyline's Kiara Williams attempts a bicycle kick from the top of the box during the first half of the girls 4A title game and is put down by Woodinville's Adrienne Biddle (green) who was called for a foul.

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

The athleticism of the game -- the combination of power and skill -- was evident all weekend. Skyline's Kiara Williams (11) battles Woodinville's Amanda Coba for control of the ball as both got up in the air.

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

By the way, the quality of these photos was just not possible even a year ago. Nikon's two new cameras -- the D3 and the D700 have amazing low-light capabilities. I've shot with other camera systems, and none of them can produce such good image quality at an ISO as high as 6400. It's so unreal it still surprised pros who have been shooting for decades (yes, that makes me kinda old -- without the "kinda").

What Nikon's success means for all photographers is that the bar has been raised yet again. The other camera companies will soon follow suit. The technological advancements just don't benefit the camera company who is in front at any given time -- it really benefits us, the photographers and gives us better tools to work with all the time.

This was a fun and exciting weekend for me -- I love photographing high school sports, and the chance to see the best of the best compete is a treat for me.

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November 19, 2008 11:22 PM

Seahawks: It's Not in the Cards This Year.

Posted by Rod Mar

Well, if you're a Seahawks fan, that just about does it.

Sunday's loss to division rival Arizona by the score of 26-20 pretty much ended any hopes of repeating as division champions.

Fans were blue, with their team holding a 2-9 record. Get it? Blue.

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

Seattle got two of its offensive starters back in quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and receiver Deion Branch.

Branch was back in uniform after spending weeks watching from one of the end zone suites, but made his way back to those suites to give pregame kisses to his wife and daughter.

(Nikon D3, 14-24mm/f2.8 lens @ 24mm, ISO 800, 1/250th sec.,f5.6)

The Seahawks' much-maligned defense came out fired up, and linebacker Lofa Tatupu's blitz on the first series forced Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner to misfire a pass into a teammate's helmet.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 300mm, ISO 1000, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

Even the defensive backs played better early, with safety Deon Grant upending Leonard Pope in the first quarter. By the way -- white bottomed pants are brutal when they dominate a frame. Just my two cents.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 800, 1/1600th sec.,f4.0)

But to paraphrase former Arizona coach Dennis Green, who once famously said of the Chicago Bears, "they are what we thought they were", the Seahawks are who we think they are this year -- an injury riddled team that has lost all confidence and apparently, a great deal of talent.

Pretty soon Warner was throwing the ball around Qwest Field like he did back when he was leading the St. Louis Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf". He passed the ball to bigger, stronger receivers, and the game started to resemble a seven-on-seven flag football game.

Defensive backs coach Jim Mora and head coach Mike Holmgren struggled to find answers.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 1600, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

Meanwhile, Warner's counterpart Hasselbeck, trying to shake the rust off being sidelined with an injury, got the rust flat knocked out of him when Arizona's Adrian Wilson smashed him on a blitz. The play left Hasselbeck understandably groggy -- I'm pretty sure that's not where the chin strap is supposed to be worn.

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

A fumble by Hasselbeck ended up being recovered by lineman Mike Wahle (looking on). Because the only luck the Seahawks have is bad luck, Wahle suffered an injury during the game and might be out for a game or two.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 310mm, ISO 1000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0)

Even as the Cardinals dominated the stat board, Maurice Morris' touchdown just before halftime kept Seattle close. Yes, I'm using a wide-angle, and yes, I brought it down from my eye right after this picture. 'Cause a camera to the face is not a pretty thing.

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 16-35mm/f2.8 lens @ 35mm, ISO 800, 1/1000th sec.,f2.8 -- *the Nikon wide-angle is in for repair*)

My co-worker Jim Bates caught me trying to literally "shoot from the hip". Or waist, Or whatever. Okay, fine, maybe I was bailing out.

(photo by Jim Bates/The Seattle Times)

(photo by Jim Bates/The Seattle Times)

Seattle fought back furiously and some mistakes by Arizona kept the Seahawks in the game. A blitz on Warner resulted in a fumble that bounced away from him, to be recovered by Seattle's Darryl Tapp. I moved two versions of the play.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 300mm, ISO 2000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0)

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 300mm, ISO 2000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0)

(The eagle-eyed of you will notice that I'm shooting at ISO 2000 (!) -- yup -- and it looks pretty good.)

Arizona's fine receivers made only one mistake, and even that one didn't cost them. Larry Fitzgerald coughed up the ball on a fumble caused by Seattle's Josh Wilson, but of course, the Cardinals recovered.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 350mm, ISO 2000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0)

Hasselbeck was, as usual, a total gamer. Despite his injuries and the hits he took, he tried to drive Seattle down the field for the game-winning touchdown, but threw an interception instead.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 2000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0)

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 2000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0)

After the game, I looked to find him in the post-game mess, but instead found him on the sidelines, hidden by team personnel as he wretched his guts out for ten or so minutes. He finally walked off the field, and his face showed what legions of Seahawks fans have felt for weeks.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 2000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0)

As games go, this one should have been better than I shot it. Not sure why these photos are so tepid. Maybe it's because I've shot in nice light for that past few weeks. I was taking some different positions and trying to go tight, and when I did I would get burned. Dunno. Ten weeks into the season. Can't let burnout set in. Gotta keep fighting to be visually fresh and energized. No excuses.

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November 16, 2008 11:43 PM

Huskies: Ruined by Bruins

Posted by Rod Mar

The second game of my three-game weekend featured the winless Washington Huskies and the UCLA Bruins.

Everyone tried to make a big story line of UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel returning to Washington, where he had been unceremoniously fired six seasons ago. Even though two coaches have been at the helm of the Huskies since then (Keith Gilbertson, followed by Tyrone Willingham), somehow the pregame storyline involved Neuheisel and Willingham.

While Neuheisel's return was interesting because of his inglorious exit after the 2002 season, it seemed like a stretch since with a loss, the Huskies would face their first winless season in 88 years of Husky Stadium.

Given the history and tradition of the Washington football program, this seemed it would be a pretty big deal.

Sports are games of statistics, and 88 years is a big number. As is 0-10.

Anyway, we had strict instructions that a photo of Neuheisel, and only Neuheisel, would be used for the cover of the sports section.

Co-worker Mark Harrison did a great job of shooting Neuheisel before the game, and we both shot features for the online galleries.

Wandering through the south parking lot in the dark before the 7:20pm kickoff, I found neither the late start nor the poor football team had dampened the spirits of the tailgaters.

(Nikon D3, 14-24mm/f2.8 lens @ 22mm, ISO 3200, 1/10th sec.,f2.8)

Chris Jolley, Dan McNamara and Sara Lynde enjoyed a fire during their tailgate party

(Nikon D3, 14-24mm/f2.8 lens @ 18mm, ISO 3200, 1/50th sec.,f2.8)

There were plenty of empty seats for this one, as evidenced by the west end of the stadium.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 200mm, ISO 4000, 1/320th sec.,f4.0)

I've been using the Nikon 200-400mm lens along with the 600/f4 for most of my long lens football, but tonight decided to forego the 600mm and try the 400mm/f2.8 with a 1/4 extender. The focal lengths are close, and the maximum apertures are the same since you lose a stop by adding the extender. I wanted to know if the combination of the 400mm and the extender focuses as quickly as the 600mm, and how the image quality was.

Because of the late kickoff, tonight was once again a game of shoot, transmit, make deadline, shoot some more, rinse, repeat. Thankfully I had upgraded from transmitting from my car during last night's high school game to a makeshift tent just at the end of stadium.

Once the game began, it was pretty much all UCLA.

After shedding would-be Washington tackler Mesphin Forrester (23), UCLA's Derrick Coleman heads for the end zone with the first touchdown of the game, giving the Bruins a 7-0 lead.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 200mm, ISO 4000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0)

UCLA's Akeem Ayers knocks the ball out of the hands of Washington quarterback Ronnie Fouch in the first half for a fumble that the Bruins recovered.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens + 1.4 extender, ISO 4000, 1/800th sec.,f2.8)

Domination continued as UCLA's Reginald Stokes puts all 243 pounds of his atop Washington quarterback Ronnie Fouch on a sack for a loss of 15 yards with the Huskies facing fourth down in the second quarter.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens + 1.4 extender, ISO 4000, 1/800th sec.,f2.8)

On offense, UCLA had its way as well. Washington's Matt Mosley leaps on top of UCLA's Nelson Rosario after a first half reception and still struggled to bring down the bigger receiver.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 280mm, ISO 4000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0)

Washington coach Tyrone Willingham suffered his tenth loss of the season, his 12th in a row.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 200mm, ISO 4000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0)

The final home game is also Senior Day, where the seniors are sent off with special introductions and recognition of their contributions to the program. Obviously losing every game of their senior season wasn't in the plans, and it showed as Jordan White-Frisbee reacted on the sidelines near the end of the game, steam rising from his body.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens + 1.4 extender, ISO 4000, 1/3200th sec.,f2.8)

Now for some tech talk.

The 400mm/f2.8 + extender experiment worked pretty well. I was satisfied with the results. I think another 1/3 stop of exposure would have helped in some frames, although that's user error and no fault of the equipment.

Would love to hear thoughts about the 600mm/f4 vs. the 400mm/f2.8 + extender. Obviously the 400mm + extender gives one the flexibility having basically "two lenses in one" -- the 400mm/f2.8 and the 400mm + extender/f4.0 lens.

The advantages of the straight 600mm/f4 lens are that it doesn't have the added complication of the extender, but lacks the speed that of f2.8, which has served as a baseline for sports photographers for years.

Not having a long lens capable of shooting at f2.8 makes photographers nervous, but Nikon's image quality at high ISO's means that f/2.8 might not be so important anymore.

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November 14, 2008 11:40 PM

Prep Football: Killed by Deadline.

Posted by Rod Mar

Three games in three days started with a prep playoff game between Liberty and Kennedy. No homecoming jinxes to be found here.

This was one of those games where it starts at 7:30pm, deadline is a strict 9:30pm and knowing that, I also know the game is likely going to last just over two hours.

Kennedy owned this game in the first half. Liberty's Taylor Hamann reached out but only can get his hand on the towel of Kennedy's Nolan Washington as he broke for the end zone.

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

Kennedy's Tre Watson is barely caught by the jersey by Liberty's Josh Spurgeon

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

This photo has a bad background, there are no faces, but it is just unusual enough because Kennedy's Tre Watson scores a first half touchdown after losing his left shoe on the way.

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

Kennedy's domination continued Nolan Washington dances out of the reach of Liberty's Malcolm Dike and the Lancers took a 17-0 lead into halftime.

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

Because of the need to populate photo galleries with more than action photos, we shoot bands, cheerleaders and fans.

Kennedy's band sounded great, but they sat high in the dark stands, and it was hard to make a good image of them.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 1/60th sec.,f2.8)

The dance team took to the field and I thought this photo showed the fun and imperfection of high school routines.

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

A Kennedy victory was brewing, and I headed to my car to transmit right after I photographed the dance team. It was almost 9pm, and I didn't have many photos showing Liberty playing well. I wasn't concerned, as Kennedy was dominating the game.

From my car, I could hear the roar of the crowd as I edited and transmitted. Having done this dozens of times, I didn't really take notice until I realized the noise was coming straight at my car. I was parked behind the Kennedy stands -- so the noise was coming from the Liberty side.

Of course, this is when my laptop froze, causing me to reboot and costing me precious time. I'm also getting emails from my editor asking, "You okay?"

I knew that meant he thought I was late on my deadline, so I double-checked my assignment -- yup, 9:30pm was my deadline. The office thought it was 9pm. "You read those things?" came the emailed reply.


So know my editor thinks I'm late, my laptop has crashed and there are sounds coming from the stadium that sound like the losing team is making some sort of dramatic comeback.

I hustle back onto the field just in time to see Liberty's Trey Wheeler break a tackle and dash up the middle for a touchdown, making the score 17-14.

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

Running over to their sidelines, I shoot their fans going crazy. It's still a Kennedy lead, but I need to cover my bases. It's close to 9:30pm now, so I run back to the car to transmit the Liberty touchdown.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 6400, 1/250th sec.,f2.8)

As I edit and transmit, I hear an extra loud roar, which I determine to be coming TOWARDS me again, meaning while I have been editing, Liberty has scored the go-ahead touchdown.

By the time the final photo finishes transmitting, the game is over. I rush out to check the scoreboard -- Liberty 21, Kennedy 17.

Maybe I'll write the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association to have games start at 7pm.

That extra 30 minutes would have helped tonight.

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November 10, 2008 10:31 PM

Seahawks: Dropped by the Dolphins.

Posted by Rod Mar

How sad must it be for the members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the last team to finish undefeated, that there is a certain segment of the population (including me) who when they think of the Dolphins, don't think first of that great team, but instead recall placekicker Ray Finkle.

If you think of Miami placekickers and think first of Garo Yepremian and Olindo Mare, then you obviously haven't watched "Ace Ventura, Pet Detective" enough times.


Okay, I'm a dork.

Began my Miami adventure with an excellent 36 holes of golf with my bud Frank Flaamf Paco Hughes, who is a great sportswriter and hack golfer for the Tacoma News Tribune. Thanks to his planning we spent the day gashing the teeboxes, searching the rough and three-putting the greens of Grande Oaks Country Club.

You don't know it? Think of it by it's other famous name -- Bushwood Country Club.

Yep, the one and only Bushwood, where Carl Spackler tried to kill all the gophers, Al Czervik bet Judge Smails a hundred bucks he'd slice it into the woods, and where Ty Webb urged Danny Noonan to "Be the ball".

Teeing it up at the course where they filmed the cinematic tour de force known as "Caddyshack" was one of the highlights of the season. Frank made a little video, which he posted on his blog. He's about as good with a video camera as he is with his sand wedge.

The football game, you ask?

Yes, the Seahawks did take on the Dolphins. Seahawks fans were in the house.

(Nikon D3,VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 320mm, ISO 400, 1/2500th sec.,f4.0)

The day started off bad for Seattle when Miami used a flea flicker to score first.

"Flea flicker" is indeed a wimpy name for a football play, and if anyone can tell me the genesis of the name, I'd be just that much smarter. It's obviously an old-school name, because plays now have names like "Phantom", which is the name of the play in last year's Super Bowl where New York's David Tyree caught the pass from Eli Manning on the top of his helmet. "Phantom" sounds much cooler than "Flea-flicker".

Quarterback Chad Pennington started the play by handing the ball off to running back Ronnie Brown, who took one step forward, then lateraled it back to Pennington.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 400, 1/1600th sec.,f4.0)

Pennington, figuring the Seattle secondary had bit on the run play, fired the ball downfield.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 400, 1/1600th sec.,f4.0)

Seattle's much maligned secondary actually covered the play well, with two defenders on top of receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. But Ginn has magic hands, and he pulled it in for the score.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 400, 1/1600th sec.,f4.0)

Pennington and Ginn celebrated.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 400, 1/1600th sec.,f4.0)

Seattle got the ball and tried to establish their running game. Julius Jones showed flashes of the fine form he showed earlier in the season, hopping over Miami's Will Allen for part of his 88 yards rushing.

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

Good pass defense by both teams made for decent pictures.

Miami's Will Allen knocked this pass away from Seattle tight end John Carlson:

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 400, 1/1600th sec.,f4.0)

On the other side of the ball, Seattle's Kelly Jennings deflected a pass away from Miami's Ted Ginn, Jr.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 400, 1/1250th sec.,f4.0)

Late in the fourth quarter, Will Allen victimized Seattle's Bobby Engram on this play:

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

If the Three Stooges played football, they might have tried this maneuver by Miami defender Patrick Cobbs on Seattle's Justin Forsett on a kickoff return in the second half.

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

The light was great, even as the shadows crept across one corner of the field near the end of the game. Miami's Ronnie Brown hurdled Seattle's Marcus Trufant into the shadows.

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

Dropped passes became the storyline of the day. Even the magic hands of Miami's Ginn let one go.

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

But it was Seattle's drops, yet again, that added to their downfall. Receiver Keary Colbert dropped a couple, including this one, which might have led to his getting cut this week.

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

The big drop of the day came when receiver Koren Robinson dropped a touchdown in the end zone after finding a seam in the Miami defense.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 280mm, ISO 400, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

Seattle still had chances at the end, but they couldn't convert a two-point conversion that would have tied the game and Miami's defense celebrated.

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

On the final drive, Seattle fought to get into field goal position but Seattle's John Carlson couldn't fight off the sly jersey hold by Miami's Yeremiah Bell on fourth down and the ball fell incomplete, ending the Seahawks' chances.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 380mm, ISO 400, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

Keary Colbert knelt on the sideline as the clock ran out.

The editors and designers decided to crop the Koren Robinson photo into a vertical, and then gave it a big ride on the cover.

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November 7, 2008 9:35 PM

Election Night

Posted by Rod Mar

Another in the long list of great things about my job is the chance to witness history first-hand.

Election Night in the USA on Nov. 4, 2008 provided us that chance once again.

Party lines aside and despite the numerous challenges our country faces, the United States took another step forward towards the promise our forefathers made..."that all men are created equal".

To see an African-American ascend to the presidency, to have an election that brought not one, but two women to the forefront of American politics, to see the largest turnout of young voters ever -- all combined to make this one of the most important elections in our history.

I was so grateful to have been included on our election coverage team.

My assignment was to cover a gathering of voters watching incoming returns at the First A.M.E. Church in Seattle. First A.M.E. is the oldest African-American church in the area and has a rich tradition and deep history.

For journalists, "election night pizza" is one of the oldest traditions and cliches in any newsroom. Because most everyone is working a night shift, papers often bring in food for the reporters, editors and designers. People who work in sports scoff at the tradition since they work nights all the time and can't figure out what the big deal is -- why is this night more special than any other of the nights they work a year?

When reporter Nick Perry and I arrived at the church, we quickly realized that we weren't going to be stuck with election night pizza. There was a full spread of food. Now, as journalists, we usually do not partake -- there are some ethical issues, and we are busy. But after the fifth person in ten minutes scolded us to eat, we determined that NOT eating would be rude, and that was the last impression you want to leave on your hosts anytime.

Homemade chicken, collard greens, ribs, salads, pies, cobblers lined a long table. Did I mention the pies?
Anyway, a big thank you to our hosts at the church, and apologies to our IT department for the grease and pie crumbs stuck in my laptop.

I was tipped by a television crew that their network would be calling the presidential race for Barack Obama just after 8pm Pacific time, right after the polls closed.

People were watching returns on a large screen at the front of the room. I took a position near the front and waited. A hush fell over the room as the broadcaster intoned, "we now have a major announcement..."

That was the end of the hush. People yelled, screamed, hugged, kissed, cried, shouted, and some could only stand still, stunned at the enormity of the moment.

I chose to focus my camera on Dorothy Steele, who Nick had told me was going to be a big part of his story. Her reaction was priceless. As a photojournalist, you seldom know when you "have it", in terms of an image. This time, though, I was pretty sure.

After the excitement subsided, senior pastor Reverend Carey G. Anderson led a prayer. I was much less obtrusive and much lighter on my shutter as I did not want to intrude more than I needed to upon a sacred moment.

I managed to squeeze off just a few frames as church members Doris Cope, left and Mary Ella Williams prayed with Reverend Anderson in the background.

As soon a the prayer was done, someone kicked on the music, and jubilant women danced across the stage in front of the screen.

After filing my photos, I headed back to the office. On the way, I noticed bands of people out celebrating and heard car horns honking. I called in and the editors sent me to cover the street scene.

Down near Pike Place Market, people blocked a street and chanted and yelled and danced.

King County Executive Ron Sims appeared and joined the party.

Right away I headed back to my car and quickly transmitted these images back to the paper.

Then I ran into a news crew from Vancouver, Canada, who told me that there were three times as many people up on Capitol Hill. Nice to get my local info from Canadians, eh? Big thanks to them!!!

Arriving at the intersection of Broadway and Pike Street, I found thousands choking the roads. Immediately, I looked for a high vantage point. This was more people than I'd seen anywhere else in the city, and having already shot close-ups of jubilant people, I thought an overall photo would really set the scene for readers.

Usually getting a high angle of a rally or protest involves talking my way into an office building or an apartment. But this time, it was as easy as climbing some stairs to a second story open air parking lot that looked down on the crowd. I politely budged my way through to the front, asked some people if I could squeeze in for a shot or two, and then was actually startled at the size of the throng when I saw it with my own eyes.

I made some wide shots showing the whole crowd.

Then I grabbed a longer lens and framed an Obama sign among the horde of people.

I was almost ready to leave the spot when a better sign came into view. I waited patiently until the sign-holder got into a good spot, then made a couple more frames. The face, the words and the bright border make the sign "pop" nicely against the crowd.

Then it was back to my car to transmit again -- the editors were happy and I was having the time of my life.

My office wanted me to stay with the crowd -- they wanted to make sure that no trouble occurred. So I left the telephoto in the car and waded back into the crowd with a wide-angle.

The crowd was happy and peaceful and fun. People took photo of themselves so they could say they were there.

One guy somehow had a cardboard cutout of Sarah Palin that he carried around.

After this, the images were starting to look the same, so I found a corner and hung out and watched the frenzy.

It was the first moment I'd had to really think about the night -- the history made, the joy of the people and the significance of it all. I felt a wave emotion and wished my family was with me.

All in all, a very cool night and certainly one to remember.

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November 5, 2008 5:35 PM

Ed the Tuba Man, You Will Be Missed.

Posted by Rod Mar

Ed McMichael, known around the city simply as "The Tuba Man", died on Monday, the result of senseless violence on the streets where he performed.

He was easily the most popular and well-known musician in Seattle.

What other local musician can claim he's played in front of thousands nearly every night for over 20 years?

Certainly no one from the Seattle Symphony. Even members of the Husky Marching Band, who play in front of 50,000+, only get to do it half a dozen times a year.

Yet, Ed the Tuba Man, a classically trained musician who once played in symphonies, preferred sharing his music on the streets of our city. And we were luckier to have been his audience, as by the thousands we walked into Safeco Field, KeyArena, Qwest Field, the symphony or the ballet.

Walk the streets of any metropolis and you'll likely encounter street musicians. They play the saxophone, maybe the violin, some drums, a fiddle, maybe a trumpet or two.

But a tuba? Who the heck even plays the tuba, much less carries it around the city performing for money?

Only one.

Ed McMichael even resembled the tuba he played.

Oversized, a little brutish in appearance, deep in sound, dented around the edges from the everyday rigors of life.

I met Ed decades ago. He could be found around Dick's Drive-In, where friends of mine worked. Ed would hang around, and for money he'd try to sell us "energy bars" and other supplements.

His voice, deep as his tuba, would slowly drawl, " to buy bar?!"

Sure, we bought them, even ate them sometimes. And then Ed started playing in our weekend pickup softball games. Ed was a fixture in right field. Usually wearing overalls.

If you deigned to hit a pop fly resulting in an easy out, Ed's mockingly disapproving voice would bellow, "NO...SKYBALLS....!"

Think about swinging at a pitch and then pull back? "HE...HAD...A...NOTION!!!" would rumble in from right field.

We would all laugh. We loved it. Ed loved it, too.

He had a bellowing laugh and a wide smile that easily found its way out of his ruddy face.

That's the part of him you missed if you only walked by him as he performed.

Friends of mine who played in those games now have careers similar to mine in the sports industry. There are still times when we are watching a Mariners' game and when a player hits a pop up, we will say, "NO...SKYBALLS....!!!" Check swing? "HE...HAD...A...NOTION!"

As a sports photographer, I would pass Ed dozens of times in a year on my way into various venues. He never failed to say hello. He'd ask about old friends or members of my family. And he could recall their names.

I'd challenge him. "You still playing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame? I thought you were a musician!", I'd tease.

Ed would answer, "Well...Rod...what do you want to hear?"

Sometimes I'd ask him to play "Flight of the Bumblebee". He'd do it, but not before asking my which key I'd like it played in. I had no idea one could coax so many notes out of a tuba.

My favorite piece to hear Ed play, though, was the Fourth Movement of Holst's, "The Planets". If you don't know it, take a listen. There's a sweet, deep melody that runs through the piece. Coming out of his tuba, it reminded me of Ed's own deep laugh.

The full name of that particular movement?

"Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity".

How fitting is that?

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November 3, 2008 11:34 PM

Seahawks: Irrefutable Truths.

Posted by Rod Mar

In my 99 years as a photographer, I've learned that there are a number of irrefutable truths when it comes to sports photography.

Many of these truths became self-evident when the Seattle Seahawks faced the visiting Philadelphia Eagles at Qwest Field on Sunday.

Irrefutable Truth Number One: If you wear shorts to the game, rain will fall. When I took the dog out for a walk this morning, the sun was shining and it was fairly warm. I decided to wear shorts to the game -- they're comfortable, allow good freedom of movement and if the turf is wet, you don't have the spend the day with cold wet knees after your pants get soaked from kneeling.

In the media workroom, I teased just about everyone I saw putting on rain gear and protecting their cameras. They pointed to Doppler radar maps on their laptops. I went back to my car to get my rain stuff. Sloshed through a sideways rain to get to my car. Cursed. Cursed again.

Irrefutable Truth Number Two: If it starts to rain during pregame and you put on a bunch of rain gear and wrestle rain covers onto your gear, the rain will stop just before kickoff. Got the towels, got the rain covers, put on the Gore-Tex pants and jacket, waited until the last possible minute before kickoff to go outside. And found that the rain had stopped. Whatever.

Irrefutable Truth Number Three: Wherever you are, that's the wrong place. Seattle's first drive began at their own ten-yard line. Philadelphia has the fifth best defense in the league, is known for their blitzes and is third in the league in sacks. Seattle was starting a second-string quarterback. You do the math, right? Betting with the odds, I hustled down to that end of the field, and placed myself on the sidelines about five yards behind the line of scrimmage on the left side of the field. This way, Seneca Wallace would be facing me as he threw, and when the blitz came, I'd be in a good position to shoot pressure and maybe a sack.

First play, the Eagles blitz and Wallace *just* manages to get the ball out of his hands when he's hit by a linebacker and knocked out of the pocket. I keep shooting him as he falls away, and then not an instant later, Wallace is raising his arms in celebration. The crowd noise is starting that familiar, crescendoing roar that comes with a long gain and as I look up, receiver Koren Robinson is racing for the end zone. Wallace knew it was a touchdown before anyone.

My only shot of the play is Wallace with his hands raised. I have no angle of Robinson.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 310mm, ISO 1250, 1/1000th sec.,f4.5)

Of course, after the game, my photo editor wants to know if I have any good frames of Robinson, not just Wallace. I call the office, the editor is in a meeting. I leave a message that says, "Dude, I just moved 22 photos from the game. Don't you think if I had a photo of a 90-yard touchdown, the only Seattle score of the game, I might have sent it?" He responds calling me a smarty-pants. Thankfully, he didn't call me a smarty-pants who missed a big play.

Which brings me to...

Irrefutable Truth Number Four: Whatever happens in the first quarter, stays in the first quarter.

I'll never forget a game the Seahawks played in St. Louis a couple of years ago. One of the Rams players ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, and I didn't get a good frame of it. At the time these things happen, they seem like the biggest, most important play you've every witnessed, and you somehow screwed up and didn't get a good frame at all.

At the time, Robinson's first quarter touchdown seemed like it would spark a great Seahawks effort, perhaps even a victory. Thoughts of stories being written for the rest of the year referencing "The Play That Turned the Season Around" gave me an instant migraine. But Seahawks fans know the rest of the story. Seattle never really made any offensive plays after that, their defense wore down and they lost yet another home game.

If it happens in the first quarter, it's very rare that it will matter in the end.

"Whatever happens in the first quarter, stays in the first quarter."

It could be an entire ad campaign. Or it could just be a convenient excuse.

Irrefutable Truth Number Five: Each game is a new opportunity to shine. Or stink.

Last week, I complained about missing an interception by Seattle cornerback Josh Wilson that he returned 75 yards for a touchdown. Had nice photos of the runback, but misfocused the actual catch. Part of my excuse explanation was that it is harder to focus on something from far away, because the subject is proportionately smaller in the frame. It's easier to put the autofocus spot on something taking up 50% of the frame versus putting it on something that takes up 1% of the frame.

Fast forward to this week, when Seahawks safety Deon Grant's key interception in the end zone thwarted a Philadelphia scoring opportunity. I was about 70 yards from the play on the far 30-yard line when the ball was snapped. I'd been in the end zone on the previous play, a long gain by the Eagles and was using the 30 as my intermediate stop before running to the other end of the field. But Philly quarterback Donovan McNabb threw it in there and Grant picked it off.

Just like last week, I was far away from the interception, but this time I got the autofocus right.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 1600, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

Irrefutable Truth Number Six: A picture is worth a thousand words, but it won't ask for a replay challenge.

When Seattle's Keary Colbert made what looked to be an amazing touchdown catch in the third quarter, officials ruled it an incomplete pass. Fans watching the replay on the video screens howled for a replay challenge. After the game, head coach Mike Holmgren explained his reasons for not making the challenge, including the rule stating that even though in most cases the ground cannot cause a fumble, in the case of a diving catch, the ground CAN cause the ball to be ruled incomplete.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 350mm, ISO 1600, 1/1000th sec,f4.0)

Earlier, Philadelphia's Jason Avant had dove for the end zone and split the pylons with his hands, but officials ruled his feet were already out-of-bounds. Philadelphia coaches near me were debating a challenge to the ruling, but since the ball was at the one-yard line and they were playing the Seahawks, they didn't feel the need to. Still, it made a decent frame.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 400mm, ISO 1600, 1/1000th sec,f4.0)

Irrefutable Truth Number Seven: Chimp for show, Shoot for dough.

Pop quiz, hotshot. Philadelphia has the ball is on the Seattle one-yard line. The Eagles have Brian Westbrook, on of the best running backs in the league in the backfield. Who is the ball going to?

I'm sure I'm about to see Westbrook either go over the top of the pile (makes a good photo) or put his head down and dive for the goal line beneath the mass of linemen. In these cases, teams add extra players to the offensive line, and one of the tackles is announced as an eligible receiver. This is because rules say that you can only have a certain number of blockers who aren't receivers, or something confusing like that.

Armed with the 200-400mm zoom, I'm ready for a straight ahead handoff to Westbrook. Of course, the Eagles fake the handoff, McNabb rolls out towards me and gently passes the ball to a wide open OFFENSIVE TACKLE in the end zone. The ol' tackle eligible play. I don't have him catching the ball, but there's no time for chimping. I find the big ol boy with the football and shoot him spiking the ball after his rare touchdown. I'm a little too tight with the framing, but 200mm is as wide as I can get with the lens.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 200mm, ISO 1600, 1/1250th sec.,f4.0)

Lesson? Even if you don't think you have the frame, now is not the time to turn on your review screen to see the great photos you just shot (or did not shoot). Keep shooting and see the play to the end.

Irrefutable Truth Number Eight: There's a reason the backup quarterback is the backup quarterback.

Seattle's Seneca Wallace is an incredible athlete, even by NFL standards. Fast, strong, agile, can dunk a basketball with ease, and is a decent backup quarterback. Which is an amazing way up the football food chain, if you think about it. Guys like Wallace have survived every level of football, made every roster cut, mastered the Babel of the playbook and can read defenses on film the way Roger Ebert breaks down the latest Coen Brother's movie.

But Seneca Wallacs is not yet a starting quarterback in the NFL, despite having started a handful of games during his career. As such, his reads, his reaction time, his sense of a collapsing pocket are not as refined as those of say a Pro Bowl player such as Matt Hasselbeck.

Armed with this information, I know to shoot a lot of Wallace during the game, especially after Philadelphia takes the lead. Seattle's stuttery offense isn't feared by any defense in the league, and knowing that the Seahawks have to pass, the Eagles are setting their blitzers free.

Everyone in the stadium knows that Philly is going to come after Seneca Wallace hard. The Eagles, of course, know it, the Seahawks coaches know it, Seneca himself knows hit, and I know it too.

So I "cherry-pick" during the fourth quarter and sit behind the Seattle offense. Behind by more than two scores, I'm not worried that I'll miss a Seahawks' touchdown. Even seven points won't change the outcome.

Philadelphia doesn't disappoint me, and I get lots of photos of Wallace being chased around.

Eagles defender Mike Patterson gets his big paw onto Wallace's throwing shoulder, creating an incomplete pass.

Philadelphia's Juqua Parker (75) pressures Wallace into a fourth quarter sack.

Darren Howard wraps up Wallace for a late sack. I moved both a loose version and a tighter version. I was hoping the tight version played up the hands a little better. What do you think?

It must be so hard for a backup. The only way to get better is through real-game experience, and yet by virtue of his position as a sub, his chances are minimal up until the point where the All-Pro starter gets hurt. Then it's up the backup to play as if he'd had just as many snaps as the starter. It's a recipe for disaster, and that's why backups remain backups for so long.

Irrefutable Truth Number Nine: It's not very fair, but there are no photos of head coaches smiling during a game.

Correction. The coach who wins the Super Bowl smiles. No one else has a reason to. The job is too stressful, you want to control everything but control very little, and the only time anyone takes your photo is during a break in the action when you are usually yelling at an official.

Head coach Mike Holmgren was frustrated by what he viewed was an Eagles fumble that wasn't ruled as such. From across the field, I was able to capture his mood with a 600mm lens.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 1250, 1/800th sec.,f4.0)

Irrefutable Truth Number Ten: The game will come to you.

Basketball coaches talk about this all the time. If a player is forcing things, that is, trying too hard to make things happen, they tell him to "let the game come to you".

It's code for relaxing just a little, turning the voices in your brain down a tad, and going with the flow.

If you read this blog often, you'll know that I put a lot of thought into each game, and am always trying to think ahead to what will be storytelling photos.

Even though that strategy often works for me, I still have to remember to keep shooting. Remember that we are providing a visual record of the game. If I keep shooting plays, I will have photos that are representative of what happened.

For example, after the 90-yard touchdown, Seattle's offense didn't do much. I didn't have to do too much to make a frame symbolic of that. All of Seattle's running backs were getting stuffed, and I found this image of running back Mo Morris getting stacked up. Seeing his face along with the composition of the defenders helps this frame.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 1600, 1/800th sec.,f4.0)

Meanwhile, Philly's offense was chugging right along. A streak of 11 straight pass completions opened up the running game as well. Running back Brian Westbrook carried the ball as blocker and wingman Dan Klecko couldn't find a Seahawk in vicinity to block.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 1600, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

The Eagles' offense, yes, flew, in the second half.

Westbook took off and evaded Seattle's Brian Russell on a long gain in the second half.

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 3200, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

Later, it was Philly's Kevin Curtis taking a turn leaping over Russell:

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 3200, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

The only Seahawk flying was safety Jordan Babineaux getting a ride as he tried to take down Philadelphia's Kevin Curtis.

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 350mm, ISO 3200, 1/1000th sec.,f4.0)

These are the truths of sports photography...for this week. We'll see what happens in Miami next Sunday.

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