i’m a numb skull

By strazz

December 29, 2009

Category: Sports

8 Comments »

I have a recurring nightmare that I am witnessing a tornado but my camera is either a mile away in my car, is in my hand but I don’t have a digital card or for some reason I can’t get it to work.

Last night during the Bears’ exciting win over Minnesota I experienced a real life version of that.

My nightmare scenario happened during the final play of the game.

In overtime, the Bears were at the Vikings’ 39 yard line. Jay Cutler dropped back and threw a long pass to Devin Aromashodu. The play came right at me. Like most games, I had three cameras with lenses of different focal lengths.

My split second decision was to stay with my long lens- 400 mm.

I realized that I had misjudged the timing of the play  when Aromashodu got closer and closer to me and the ball still hadn’t arrived. When the pass finally got there, I hit the motor drive and got off six frames. They all were in focus but the last four were so tight that they didn’t include the wide receiver’s face.

I immediately grabbed my wide angle around my neck and while holding the 400mm in my left hand, I got up to shoot the reaction to the game-winning catch.

The problem was that my hand was so numb from the cold that I didn’t have enough strength to aim the camera while hitting the focusing button with my thumb and the shutter release with my index finger.

I first took two frames of the ground and then two out of focus shots of Aromashodu and Earl Bennett celebrating. Then I got off one frame that was composed properly and in focus.

After that my hand got even weaker and I couldn’t hold up the camera while focusing and shooting. It got so ridiculous that at one point, I tried to balance the camera on top of my head for support while shooting a picture.

In hindsight, I should have left the 400mm on the ground and used both hands to shoot the jubilation but I didn’t think of that until it was too late.

Anyways, I did get two usable frames, one of which gave the designer plenty of room to put in a headline, but in a perfect world, it could have been a whole lot better.

Oh, well. Now I have to wait until next football season to profit from this costly lesson.

©2009 Scott Strazzante/ Chicago Tribune

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8 Responses to “i’m a numb skull”

  1. Happy to have you use my head to hold up the camera.

  2. I find that you can actually train yourself to handle situations like that better. Just go use local sporting events, high school, YMCA, and even some churches have football & soccer leagues, and the games are usually open to the public (and free). Good places to practice those split second decisions. It’s a bit more difficult though, kids games aren’t exactly ‘high intensity’ so you have to get more creative with your shots.

  3. I have that same nightmare. And have missed, or not had a very great frame of the winning score. I’m impressed all the frames were sharp with you that tight. Anyway I’m sure you wanted better but the catch shot works.

  4. Scott, I used to have that nightmare and also the one of having a competitor completely smoke you at the same event. So, now I’ve traded in nightmares. I actually had a really bad dream that my students refused to do anything that was asked of them to the point that I had to call in an administrator to help me to get them to listen, which didn’t work either. This nightmare was much more frightening especially since it involved eighth graders.

  5. That happened to me two Sundays ago when the Tampa Bay running back ran right past me into the end zone. I was standing there holding my 400mm and my helper was 10 yards away with my two cameras one with the 28-70mm and the other with a 70-200mm. Boy did I chew his ass. Nevertheless I did get some shots with the 16-35mm.

  6. i hate it when the old hands freeze up. last winter i was shooting some last minute christmas shoppers and ignored my freezing hands. after peeling them off of the below freezing camera body i had to ask the subject to write their own name down on my note pad. good thing she had legible hand writing.

  7. happy new year – love your blog

  8. Remember changing film in that weather?

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