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Discussion in 'Sports Photography' started by eng34ine, Oct 6, 2008.

  1. Hi All,

    I read a lot of threads that deal with equipment settings and picture quality, but I would like to know a little more about positioning on the football field which puts you in the right place at the right time. It is much easier to do with a zoom lens then a 300 & 400mm prime.

    So how about it guys, where do you stand?
  2. Well, I kind of move with the action, and am generally from about the 40 yard line to the end zone on either end of the field. I try to stay out of the space reserved for the team, however. I also try to stay about 10 to 15 yards out from the line of scrimmage so I can catch the play as it develops, and the players are moving toward me.
  3. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Rolly, when I cover football action, I shoot from four general locations which depend on whether the team I am covering is on offense or defense.

    * I shoot from (essentially) the line of scrimmage to capture the eyes of the quarterback, to capture the handoff to the running back or to capture the receivers making their plays.

    * I shoot from about 20 yards ahead of the line of scrimmage to capture the running backs coming around the offensive line or to capture the receivers making their plays.

    * I shoot from about 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage to capture the faces of the defenders.

    * The end zone, when the line of scrimmage is at or within the 30 yard line, I shoot out from the end zone. I begin with a 300mm lens, then switch to the other body with the 70-200mm lens.
  4. So Frank, at the line of scrimmage are you using the 300? I seem to have a hard time capturing those things (very tight frame) even vertical.
  5. jonh68


    Sep 21, 2008
    I do the same, but don't have to switch while using the 120-300 2.8. I usually shoot tight at 300mm all the time, however, and find some of my best shots are those when the action is really close and I happened to get something while running away:biggrin:

    That said, my siggy 120-300 is more like a 280mm, not 300mm and on a full frame like the D700, it's even more like a 70-200 on a cropped sensor.

    I have found it's better to use one zoom setting for the entire play. Resist the urge to zoom in and out. I will use the zoom, but it's because there is a specific reason like being in the endzone. I don't zoom in and out during the play most of the time.
  6. Oldtime


    Jul 5, 2006
    Durham, NC
    Frank pretty much covered it good tips BTW
    Research the teams you plan to shoot --Find out who the play makers are get there #'s and key on them
    If there is a wide receiver who tore it up last week and he lines up wide get down field
    If there is a Defensive end who has 12 sacks key on him some Know the game and know the players
  7. I'm wondering how those of you who shoot in higher level venues deal with this. My work covering NCAA Div. I-A has a positioning complication- the closest we can get to midfield is usually about the 25 or 30 yard line. Shooting at Tennessee, it was only the 20. How would all of you deal with this sort of situation? I find that I've been having to rely on luck far too often.
  8. wingspar


    Mar 16, 2008
    Doesn’t make any difference to me. Zoom, prime. Which ever has the proper focal length for the situation. Zooming in and out during a play means you must refocus. If you shoot with focus in AF-C, the camera might keep up with the action if you zoom in or out during the play, depending on the body.

    For high school, I am the team photographer, so I have full access anywhere on the field, including the bench. I will shoot anywhere from 10 yards behind the offense to get hand offs and other plays one might miss otherwise that happen in the backfield. Occasionally, from the line of scrimmage, which results in running plays coming right at me, and anywhere from 10 to 15 yards behind the defense. When play is between the 20 yard line and the goal line, I like being in the end zone.

    For college, in the PAC-10, and it’s most likely the same throughout the NCAA, we are restricted to shooting between the 20 yard line and in the end zone. I do not find this a problem. In fact, I like this, and spend most of my time in the end zone that the action is coming towards.

    No matter where you position yourself, it will always be part luck that the play goes where you can get that shot.
  9. jStat


    Dec 11, 2007
    Janesville, WI
    I use the 70-200mm, and I position myself depending on the team's profiles.

    If their offense is more inclined towards the run then the pass, I will post myself either at, slightly behind or 10 yards ahead of the Line of Scrimmage, depending on how I want to shoot the run.

    If they're going to pass more than they run, then I put myself somewhere between 10 to 30 yards upfield from the Line of Scrimmage. Or I'll shoot the Quarterback during the pass, to see if he'll pull a Play-Action. It all depends on what you want to shoot during the play.

    Defense, depending on which team it is, goes much the same way. If they are a coverage Defense, then I stay in 5 or 10 yards into the Defensive Backfield.
    If they are a Pass Rushing, then I stay either at or three yards on the other side of the LOS.

    When teams are in the Red Zone---especially within the 10 yard line---I position myself at the back of the endzone for dynamic shots of the QB and RB when either one of them makes a move for the Goal Line. Also great to have are shots of the expressions of the QB and whatever Offensive player you can grab.

    I love shooting football. Knowing a particular team's offensive/defensive tendencies help immensely in getting yourself into the best position for the best shots.
  10. I can add a few things here as well since I've been shooting NCAA DI football for a while now too:

    Here's my setup as background for the discussion:

    D2X, usually with the 70-200 f2.8 attached
    D2H, usually with the 400mm AFS-II f2.8 attached.

    Note: I shoot BOTH teams, I shoot offense and defense, and I shoot sidelines, coaches, and occasionally cheer teams if there is room and time to do so.

    I almost NEVER get close to the bench since there are SOOOO MANY people that can just jump out into your shot that it's gotten ridiculous. If I'm at the 25 or so, then I really can't shoot past or through the bench since I TOTALLY lose that sideline to all the coaches and everyone else that stands there, let alone all the Referee BUTTS that I get too (occupational hazard!).
    However, I will stay there if they are moved down the field and I'm shooting the back of the offense and their defense, since the foreground is cleaned up because they ALL move down with the ball.

    I do it a bit different since I have the 400mm and not the 300mm, which does change things AND I use two bodies so the 70-200 is always on my shoulder and the 400mm is on the 'pod. I essentially DO NOT shoot at the line of scrimmage except for a couple of specific shots, getting the cool down the line shot, and blur the tackle with QB face in focus shot.
    Other than that I do shoot from 30+ yards downfield, and I don't switch directions until either the next quarter or the half, depending upon the quality and number of shots that I got of each team.

    Remember your backgrounds, and that by shooting across the field you've now brought ALL of the other bench into your background, along with all their team colors, which sucks if one of their players is near so they're gone too, the yard markers, cheerleaders etc. I shoot at oblique angles to get corners of the field as background, and less busy shots too.
    I LOVE THE END ZONE! I shoot from the end line, or right on the corners, as well as the sideline of the end zone, since I get plenty of reach with the 400mm, and inside the 30yd line to the goal line the 70-200 works great too.

    Does that make sense?
  11. I did really well with the end zone in our first game, stayed there for two quarters and got every single scoring play (including a few defensive touchdowns). Once the team gets a certain distance away, though, it's been tough. I might try it for our next game since I have a 1.7x TC coming in. I tend to prefer my D3 for football over the D300 in terms of overall results with the 400, and the 1.4x TC just isn't quite close enough sometimes.
  12. Ditto Frank. Only exception is that I have one body right now so I stick with the 300 throughout the game.

    I find the end zone with the 1.4x to be prime.
  13. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I do use the 300mm for line of scrimmage shots and do so with the camera in landscape orientation. I only capture this shot of the ball is at least centered in the field of play or further away. I usually shoot from the opposite side of the line to get the faces of the players of the team I am covering.
  14. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I have only shot Division II football, so covering the sidelines was no different than high school ball. For Division I football, I would use a 400mm lens with a TC and shoot from behind the endzone with the sun behind me. I would just wait for the action to come my way.
  15. High School stuff is not so much a problem. Once you start entering College level and Pros, you will see more coverage, but you are usually set in a designated area. Shooting the Tampa Bay Bucs, you would have a team of 4 to 6 Photogs and a very small area you could move around in. Pretty much "luck be my lady" and hope the play comes your way in those situations.
  16. Jeff Mims

    Jeff Mims

    May 25, 2005
    Flash ..
    That sounds like a fishing tournament...where you hope the fish come over to your boat. :smile:
  17. GBRandy


    Feb 28, 2006
    Green Bay, WI
    In the pros you are not allowed on the sideline area where the team is. Certainly in HS & some lower division college games you could go in that area, but I cringe thinking about it and roll my eyes watching the local characters shooting from there.

    Frank has most of the technique down that i use. 300mm in front of, or behind the LOS...70-200 in the end zone.

    My photo buddy through high school now shoots for AP & The Packers and never leaves the end zone...all game. But he has a 400mm, 600mm, TC he uses as the play reaches down field. He uses the 70-200 as things get close.

    His stuff is here is you want to see what you can do with that angle & position on the field. http://www.roemerphoto.com/#a=0&at=0&mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=0&p=5
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