Possbile NFL Sideline Chance

Discussion in 'Sports' started by ed_farmer, Sep 6, 2018.

  1. Hello . . . While I have photographed plenty of youth and high school football from the sidelines, I may have the chance to spend a Sunday afternoon on the sidelines at an NFL game year.

    I am primarily a wedding/portrait photographer these day and I shoot with a crop system of Nikon D7000 and D7100 bodies. I have an 80-200f2.8 AFS lens and an assortment of fast primes and zooms shorter than that. I also have an old manual focus 300f2.8.

    So, if I get this chance, I would like to shoot with the bodies that I'm familiar with and I'm thinking about renting another long lens. For those who shoot college and/or pro ball, should I rent a 300, 400 or 500mm lens? All are available from a local shop that I have done plenty of business with.

    I know that the game is going to be bigger and faster than anything I have worked before . . .
  2. For a DX body my choice is 18-140 or 70-200.
    I use the 18-140 for day games, where the smaller aperture is not a handicap.
    I use the 70-200 for night games, under lights, where the larger aperture lets me shoot at a lower ISO.
    Another option for night games is the 24-120 f/4. Smaller zoom range than the 18-140, but 1 stop faster on the long end.

    The 18-140 lets you track the action as it gets close to you on the sideline, where the 70-200 would be too long.
    BUT, you MUST be VERY CAREFUL, when you follow the action in close. You MUST GET OUT OF THE WAY, when they get close to you, or you could get run over and hurt/injured. With the wide 18mm end, it is very easy to misjudge distance and have the players much closer to you than you think.
    They out-weigh you and they have padding, you don't. If you get hit, you loose.

    At pro level, they move much faster than high school, so your ability to track fast action will be important. To me that means a medium zoom 70-200 or 80-200.
    A longer lens if you want an isolated shot of the QB or other player on the scrimmage line, before the ball is snapped.

    IMHO, your 80-200 should do you fine.
    If you cannot move along the sideline to follow the action, then a 400 on your 2nd body, for when the play is on the other side of the field,

    You might consider renting a D7200 or 7500. Similar controls as your D7100, but larger buffer, so better for longer bursts. And the AF may be better than the D7100.

    Finally, go shoot a high school varsity FB game, to brush up on your skills.
  3. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Double plus on this - if you can shoot right eye on the finder - both eyes open you have an extra margin of safety, but you will need to move FAST if it comes down to it.
    At least with Nikon, in film days, a 50-300 was a pretty good choice for field sports. New stuff is so much lighter, I haven't used my old one in a good few years.
    Gary Naka likes this.
  4. +1 on shooting with both eyes open, and left eye scanning.

    Two near misses last year, and this old man is goina be more careful this year.
    I cannot trust the players to know if and which way I am going to go, so I need to get out of their way sooner.
    Old men like me, do not move as fast as the young guys. IOW, my reaction time is not what it used to be.
  5. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    No spring chicken either - after a lot of years in Martial Arts, worst case, fall away from the hit - get knees and elbows up - forget the camera!
    Gary Naka likes this.
  6. Thanks for the advice:

    I hadn't considered using a much slower lens on the second body. I have an 18-200VRII and 28-105F2.8. I think that the 28-105 will work during the game and but maybe something side pre and post.

    Yes . . . I will need to get the hell out of the way! No worries there. I'm still pretty agile and I shoot with both eyes open most of the time. At 6'1" 240 (college ice hockey player) I'm bigger than quite a few players but they will run right over me if it comes down to it. I won't stand a chance.

    Gary . . . Did you shoot the Niner's in the 90's? I know the young man who played Sourdough Sam at Candlestick. He's now the stadium announcer. I always hear him in the background when watching SF home games.
  7. Gary, what do you think about using the 200-500 from the end zone?
  8. Ed,
    No I did not shoot the 49ers.

    The 200-500 on a DX body, to me, seems long for end zone use, unless the play is on the other side of the field.
    Personally, it is way to bulky and heavy for ME to shoot football with.
    If you are the only person covering the game, then OK, put it on one of your TWO bodies, and a shorter lens (70-200, 70-300, 18-140 or 24-120) on the other body.
    If part of a team, I would let others cover the other side of the field. In my experience, the farther you are from the players, the more players is likely to be between and blocking your line of vision to the guy with the ball. This is not to say that you won't get a good shot from across the field, and at a different angle than your team-mates.
  9. Many years ago my brother who worked as a red cap for CBS got me a side-line pass to the Rams - Vikings NFC championship games in Minneapolis (1976). COLD!!!!. I used two F1s, one with a 200, the other I don't remember (a 50??) Anyway, the 200 turned out to be just fine from the sidelines. It was fun, and as I was not a spots photographer, there was no pressure.

    Most f the time I just followed the real sports photographers to their spots, including a free lunch and a steamy locker room.

    The most important lesson I learned was KEEP BOTH EYES OPEN. Lots of bodies flying in all directions, often at me.
  10. I had a 5 man pile-up almost at my feet. I was shooting down at about 45 degrees.
    With 20-20 hind-sight, I should have just gotten the heck out of there. The action at a pile-up is unpredictable, and unpredictable = dangerous.

    That is one reason why I do not zoom tight.
    I want situational awareness. The camera and my right hand, blocks most of my vision to the right.
  11. I appreciate all of the warnings to be careful. One of the things that a lot of photographers don't recognize is that you have the same problem shooting youth football from the sidelines.

    Shooting 5 to 12 year olds, I had to be careful that they didn't run into ME and get injured!
    Gary Naka likes this.

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