Allstate Sugar Bowl
Back at it for my third year of covering the Allstate Sugar Bowl!
This year was new and yet the same because it was the second time covering Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. Always reminds me of my high school calculus teacher Mr. Moutray who LOOOOOOVED the Sooners. (Also, here's a shout out to public schools - Vacaville High, UC Berkeley, and Oklahoma University!) I bet in his time they used real horses ;)
Being based mostly in the West Coast, when I cover the Sugar Bowl which is an SEC v Big 12 matchup, I often am photographing players for the first time. So when Baker Mayfield tried to pretend he's Orlando Brown by switching name cards, he made me second guess myself!
In the three times I've covered the Sugar Bowl at the Superdome I had never actually taken a photo of the Superdome from the outside! So one evening I convinced Patrick to drive me around. From what I had seen, compared to what I got I was disappointed. The photos I had seen must have a) taken more advantage of a slow shutter ie actually walked the freeway instead of doing a "drive by" b) photoshopped out streetlights
But, never one to give up, we continued to the Hyatt, went to the top level where the gym as surprisingly open to non-hotel guests (perhaps not intentionally) and I was able to make this photo that I am MUCH more pleased with... I would have preferred to come a little earlier so it was twilight, but wasted too much time getting the above photo... and the following nights were all downpour so perhaps next year!
The rest of the week was press conferences, parades and fan fests.
The rain rescheduled some of practices to be at the same time as the parade, which from a Sugar Bowl perspective was more important, so I didn't a single chance to photograph in the Superdome until game day! This was particularly worrisome because on this trip, I ONLY brought my Olympus gear.
I had been shooting Olympus with the loan and with my older gear for a handful of events, but I had always brought my canon gear for backup "just in case" But I really wanted to start the new year all Olympus, my camera's arrived Christmas Eve. And while the batteries (more than 2 lithium ion batteries outside of the equipment they belong in can only be shipped ground) didn't arrive until the hour I boarded the plane to New Orleans, thankfully my dad was able to FedEx two to me to me overnight! And I am SO glad I committed to using the Olympus gear!
As I mentioned, there is one day of action and the rest of my time in New Orleans is covering events for the Sugar Bowl. Sometimes that's press conference grip and grins, in which I was thankful for the light weight.
But it also means walking 20 minutes from the hotel to just outside Jackson Square, so I was VERY thankful for the weight, or lack there of. And did I mention is was raining. Like REALLY raining! So I was even more thankful for the weather sealing waterproofing of the Olympus system. Since the game is indoor I didn't have to worry about rain gear but with all of these events, I would have needed rain gear. Let me tell you raingear for wide angle and medium length glass is WAY more cumbersome than rain gear for your long lens.
And I brought it out for the concerts on NYE and fake NYE (more on that here) and was very glad for being able to be so discrete with my gear both for access and safety reasons as I walked about around a bunch of drunks ;)
And not only work use but being able to have my work camera and personal camera be one in the same, is the best! Walking around and getting photos I COULD NOT make with an iPhone, but without the "I won't bother bringing my 'real' camera" mentality I had before.
Still, game day I was a little nervous. I customized my white balance, I got my Eye-Fi cards working, I shot warm ups so I could dial in the continuos focus settings that work best for me (my tip, abandon facial recognition if you are trying to shoot sports even sports where faces are more visible than football... facial recognition focus is much better served in portrait type photos).
Ultimately, the game went great. There was a lot of back and forth and I had no problem running up and down the sideline.
And it didn't let me down on Samaje Perine's carry to achieve Oklahoma school record rushing yards.
And when Oklahoma had the win locked up, I felt there was no sense in covering a "meaningless" Auburn touchdown and propped myself in the end zone that Oklahoma was scoring towards so that if there was an Oklahoma interception I could have the photo. With the 300 (600mm equivalent) I was able to shoot across the field for when that interception did happen. I wish it could have been at the 50 because 300 is quite a reach, but I think it tells the story a bit to be in the end zone and all the photographers in the background.
Also Eye-Fi cards worked (more on that here), batteries lasted, and the biggest struggle was just being able to connect to the wifi in the stadium. Though it was public and not browser log-in based, both the Eye-Fi card and my phone trying to upload to DropBox weren't able to connect appropriately. But ultimately was able to get them out to a drop box folder that was shared with the director of communications, communications assistant the social media manager, the website designer, and other folks with various roles that needed live imagery during the game to promote the Sugar Bowl. (ie I'm not JUST looking for good action, or story telling, but also ways that market the Sugar Bowl, think, logos ;))
On the whole, the Sugar Bowl staff was pleased with the images (important to impress client in terms of getting these kind of gigs) and I was pleased (important in creating a body of work I'm proud of). I am looking forward to 2017 as a full-time mirrorless Olympus photographer!
For those curious about my set up, I used:
Two: OM-D E-M1 Mark II as my main bodies
OM-D E-M1 original as a third body for my wide)
OM-D E-M5 Mark II on the plane, because it's fun and hipster
M. Zuiko 300mm f/4 PRO
M. Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO
M. Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO as my wide
M. Zuiko 12-40 f/2.8 PRO rarely but worth bringing because you never know if your wide will be too wide and the 40 too tight.
*Note - I am not sponsored by Olympus at the time of this posting (though I would like to be! Hello Olympus!! Here I am!!). If you are curious about brands I am affiliated with either as a sponsor or in terms of getting a "kick back" when items are ordered through my links, you can go to my affiliates page
You should reach out to Olympus. Because to be honest Olympus marketing seem to not realise that the mkii with it's focus on speed, does not have many if any so called "Olympus visionary's" that cover sports!! I mean, come on. If you do a search for Olympus OM-D E-M1 mkii sports, not a lot comes back.
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