football

USC at Stanford 9/15/12

After a couple of really lackluster shoots at Stanford, I was really looking forward to shoot #2-ranked USC in the late afternoon sun. I started out with some band pictures: USC Band - USC at Stanford

The USC Trojan - USC at Stanford

The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band - USC at Stanford

USC quarterback Matt Barkley is a Heisman contender, so I wanted to get as many different pictures of him as possible:

Matt Barkley - USC at Stanford

Matt Barkley - USC at Stanford

I made some other pregame pictures and got ready for the game:

Leonard Williams - USC at Stanford

Pregame prayer - USC at Stanford

USC started out strong on offense, pushing around Stanford's pass and run defense.

Silas Redd - USC at Stanford

Robert Woods - USC at Stanford

Nelson Agholor & Jordan Richards - USC at Stanford

Nelson Agholor & Jordan Richards - USC at Stanford

During the first quarter, the light started to get really good, cutting across the field diagonally, with pockets of shadows created by the stadium structure. I shot backlit for the most part to use the darkened backgrounds and reduce the contrast between jerseys and faces:

Nelson Agholor - USC at Stanford

Robert Woods - USC at Stanford

Stepfan Taylor & George Uko - USC at Stanford

Terrence Brown & Robert Woods - USC at Stanford

Levine Toilolo & Hayes Pullard - USC at Stanford

Ty Montgomery - USC at Stanford

That didn't stop a referee from creatively blocking this picture for me:

Ty Montgomery - USC at Stanford

As the shadows swallowed up the field, there were some tricky shots where the stands were still fully lit:

Silas Redd - USC at Stanford

Levine Toilolo & Torin Harris - USC at Stanford

The Sun eventually set behind the stadium, and the lights took over:

Soma Vainuku & Ronnie Harris - USC at Stanford

Matt Barkley - USC at Stanford

Brent Seals & Josh Shaw - USC at Stanford

Marqise Lee - USC at Stanford

Stanford battled back with tight end Zach Ertz carrying a lot of the weight:

Zach Ertz - USC at Stanford

Zach Ertz & Dion Bailey - USC at Stanford

The sidelines were crowded as they usually are for big games, and I was just about to yell at this guy for stepping across the line, but luckily before I could say anything, I saw that it was former USC/49ers legend Ronnie Lott:

Ronnie Lott - USC at Stanford

On the last couple USC drives of the game, Stanford's defense rose to the challenge and completely shut down Barkley and the USC offense:

Matt Barkley & Kevin Anderson - USC at Stanford

Matt Barkley - USC at Stanford

Chase Thomas & Ben Gardner - USC at Stanford

Chase Thomas & Matt Barkley - USC at Stanford

I got some pretty good pictures of the head coaches:

Lane Kiffin - USC at Stanford

David Shaw & Shayne Skov - USC at Stanford

And when it was over, everyone rushed the field:

Celebration - USC at Stanford

The Big Game: California at Stanford 11/19/11

For the second year in a row, the "Big Game" between Stanford and Cal was a sloppy mess of intermittent rain. As a photographer, I don't mind shooting in the rain because it can produce interesting pictures, but the on-again-off-again rain had me putting on and taking off my camera covers to the point of distraction. Eventually I just left them on so I could focus on shooting. Stanford came out flat after watching their national championship hopes fizzle with last week's loss to Oregon. Cal led for a bit and came back to make it close in the end before falling 31-28. I made it a point to shoot a bunch of panning pictures, both on special teams and plays from scrimmage, and here are a few kick returns at 1/20-1/40th:

Mike Manuel

Ty Montgomery

Ty Montgomery

Jeremy Stewart

Andrew Luck's Heisman chances took a hit with the loss to Oregon, but he played well enough to help Stanford beat Cal:

Andrew Luck

Ty Montgomery opened the scoring for Stanford with this 34-yard touchdown run:

Ty Montgomery & Marc Anthony

Stanford's secondary has endured several injuries, but still managed to largely contain Cal's speedy receivers:

Johnson Bademosi & Marvin Jones

Corey Gatewood & Keenan Allen

Still, it's difficult to keep Cal receiver Keenan Allen away from the ball:

Keenan Allen & Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas & Keenan Allen

Oh Jeff Tedford...

Jeff Tedford

As a rivalry game, the hits always seem harder:

D.J. Campbell & Ryan Hewitt

Ben Gardner & Zach Maynard

Ryan Hewitt pulled in a short pass from Luck and turned it into a six points:

Ryan Hewitt

Cal has been iffy at quarterback, and transfer Zach Maynard has added some speed and athleticism but hasn't been the answer they were looking for:

Zach Maynard & Isi Sofele

Zach Maynard

With Stanford leading 31-21 inside two minutes, Cal drove down the field on the back of running back C.J. Anderson who eventually dove for a touchdown to get Cal within three points.

Myles Muagututia, Jarek Lancaster & C.J. Anderson

C.J. Anderson

Cal's onside kick was recovered by Stanford and that was the game. Stanford hosts Notre Dame on Saturday in their final regular season game.

New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers 11/13/11

Patrick Willis The last time I was at Candlestick, the 49ers record was 1-1. After yesterday's 27-20 win over the New York Giants, the 49ers sit 8-1. Hard to believe. Also hard to believe: that Eli Manning is a borderline-elite quarterback:

Eli Manning

"Borderline-Elite Quarterback" air quotes:

Eli Manning

Eli Manning

Especially after Patrick Willis got to him:

Patrick Willis & Eli Manning

Meanwhile, Jim Harbaugh should be in line for a Nobel Peace Prize for turning Alex Smith into a borderline-competent quarterback:

Alex Smith

Aaron Ross & Vernon Davis

Vernon Davis made this play by just jumping over Giants strong safety Kenny Phillips. I guessed wrong and used my 70-200, but then Davis was kind enough to celebrate right in front of me:

Vernon Davis & Kenny Phillips

Vernon Davis

Vernon, I don't care what Mike Singletary says about you, you're the man:

Not everything was on target, however:

Vernon Davis & Kenny Phillips

Delanie Walker

I guessed right on this one with the 70-200, and also by laying flat on the ground for as low an angle as possible:

Mario Manningham & Chris Culliver

As the Giants continued to battle back, I was in perfect position for this touchdown play, but also incredible lucky that it happened just far enough away that I could focus on it:

Hakeem Nicks & Tarell Brown

Hakeem Nicks & Tarell Brown

Hakeem Nicks & Tarell Brown

The game went right down to the wire, with Mario Manningham unable to catch up to the potential tying touchdown:

Mario Manningham & Chris Culliver

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin...still a cranky old man:

Tom Coughlin

Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders 11/6/11

Coming off a bye week and hosting Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos, the Raiders entered Sunday's game confident that they could get back to winning games. But Tebow, Eric Decker, and Willis McGahee had other ideas, and when the Raiders couldn't stop taking penalties, the Broncos ran away with the game. I continued my season-long mission to make pictures of Raiders fans in costume and/or carrying signs:

Raiders fanatic "Assassin"

The Black Hole

Raiders fanatic

I've never been sure what wrestling has to do with the Raiders (or how you can be a fan of both Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper), but this guy is at every game:

WWF x Raiders

T-Bag Tebow

Teblows

Hue Jackson has quasi-filled the power vacuum created by the death of Raiders owner Al Davis, getting his way on trading big draft picks for Carson Palmer. If the Raiders can't turn it around, they're both going to be in trouble:

Raiders head coach Hue Jackson

Carson Palmer

Denarius Moore continues to play well:

Denarius Moore

I dropped the shutter down to 1/40th to get the opening kickoff:

Matt Prater

The Raiders defense had Tebow on the run for most of the game, constantly either rushing him or knocking him to the ground:

Lamarr Houston & Tim Tebow

Desmond Bryant, Richard Seymour & Tim Tebow

Tebow managed to stay in the game, and ran directly into some beautiful light reflected off of the private suite windows:

Tim Tebow

Jacoby Ford was largely contained, but broke off a nice long run after catching a pass:

Jacoby Ford & Quinton Carter

Denarius Moore risked a fumble reaching the ball out away from his body:

Denarius Moore

Michael Bush picked up a lot of yards filling in for Darren McFadden, here diving in for a score:

Michael Bush

Fullback Marcel Reece caught a perfect pass from Palmer and then fought his way into the end zone for a score:

Marcel Reece & D.J. Williams

Moore and Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey go up for a pass that would be intercepted by Bailey:

Denarius Moore & Champ Bailey

This would have been a nice catch, but Raiders cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke was called for pass interference:

Eric Decker & DeMarcus Van Dyke

Broncos punter Britton Colquitt couldn't handle a snap, and was lucky to throw the ball away without taking a safety:

Britton Colquitt

Britton Colquitt, Louis Murphy & Jarvis Moss

The Raiders breakdown extended to special teams, as they allowed an 85-yard punt return touchdown by Eddie Royal: Eddie Royal

If you've ever seen the David Lynch movie Blue Velvet, you will know why I made about 40 frames of Willis McGahee taking oxygen on the sidelines:

Willis McGahee

The Raiders have to travel to San Diego for a Thursday night game vs the Chargers.

Washington at Stanford 10/22/11

Stanford faced their toughest test of the season (it's all relative) as the Washington Huskies came to town. Turns out that the test only lasted one quarter as Stanford hit the gas from the second quarter on and cruised to a 65-21 win to get to 7-0 on the season. Two seconds after this picture, the players broke the huddle and I came really close to getting trampled.

Washington huddle

I was coming down from the stands after shooting a friends and his family when I saw the Washington players running back to the locker room. I sprinted along side them so I could get the cool shadows against the grass.

Washington shadows

With the precarious pre-game over, I got down to business. Here's a panning shot of Stanford kicking off:

Stanford kickoff

Cort Dennison & Jeremy Stewart

Stanford initially had a hard time containing Washington running back Chris Polk, here Johnson Bademosi dives in a vain attempt to trip up Polk...

Johnson Bademosi & Chris Polk

...who took it all the way and was kind enough to celebrate right in front of me:

Chris Polk

Drew Terrell made a touchdown catch in the second quarter that I totally blew. You can read all about it over at Big Lens Fast Shutter. Here's the celebration, which I managed not to blow:

Jeremy Stewart, Drew Terrell & Andrew Luck

I redeemed myself a bit on the following drive, guessing right on positioning and lens. Washington receiver Jermaine Kearse didn't cooperate fully, dropping the ball after juggling it right at me:

Jermaine Kearse & Cason Kynes

Kearse also bobbled this pass under pressure from Stanford safety Michael Thomas:

Jermaine Kearse & Michael Thomas

This play was really close to a touchdown, but no points:

Griff Whalen & Gregory Ducre

Here Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant rips off the helmet of Stanford wide receiver Chris Owusu. You can't do that:

Chris Owusu & Desmond Trufant

I love that Stepfan Taylor was watching himself on the video board (either looking for defenders trying to catch him, or just admiring his style) as he breaks away for a 70-yard touchdown:

Stepfan Taylor

Coby Fleener & Ryan Hewitt

Always a nervous moment when Andrew Luck scrambles:

Andrew Luck & Garret Gilliland

Anthony Wilkerson & Will Shamburger

Semi-celebrity sighting:

Cory Booker

Stanford is away for a couple of weeks before returning to face 7th ranked Oregon.

Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders 10/23/11

It was yet another perfect day at O.co Coliseum, in stark contrast to last season where it seemed like it rained at every game. I've been taking advantage of the great light by going up into the stands and making portraits of crazy Raiders fans and then when the game starts, sitting on plays until they break into the light. Raider fan

Senor

Raiders fans

Raiders fan

I made this picture of Raiders head coach Hue Jackson during pre-game, but I wouldn't be surprised if it runs somewhere to illustrate Jackson's frustration with his team's atrocious play against the Chiefs.

Hue Jackson

New signee Carson Palmer was in uniform, but took no snaps in practice, and was not expected to play.

Carson Palmer

But after starte Kyle Boller continued his awful play from last week, Palmer relieved him in the third quarter:

Carson Palmer

Possibly the highlight of Palmer's day (and mine) was drawing a pass interference play:

Brandon Flowers & Derek Hagan

The rest of the Raiders passing day looked like this...

Brandon Flowers, Kendrick Lewis & Denarius Moore

...and this:

Louis Murphy & Brandon Carr

Matt Cassel had a just-good-enough day for the Chiefs, and benefitted from a bunch of penalties and an injury to Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain.

Matt Cassel

Matt Cassel

Michael Bush got the bulk of the Raiders carries, and went for 99 yards total... Michael Bush

...but couldn't get the last yard to avoid a shutout:

Michael Bush

I spent more time than usual shooing punts because I wanted to play with the light a little bit. On this one, I got Shane Lechler punting, the ball in the air, and Chiefs linebacker Demorrio Williams ripping Chinedum Ndukwe's helmet off:

Shane Lechler, Chinedum Ndukwe & Demorrio Williams

As time wound down, Palmer and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey studied the playbook, something they will be doing a lot over the next few weeks as Palmer races to get in step with his new teammates:

Carson Palmer & Darrius Heyward-Bey