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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 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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