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 quarterback Matt Barkley is a Heisman contender, so I wanted to get as many different pictures of him as possible:
I made some other pregame pictures and got ready for the game:
USC started out strong on offense, pushing around Stanford’s pass and run defense.
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:
That didn’t stop a referee from creatively blocking this picture for me:
As the shadows swallowed up the field, there were some tricky shots where the stands were still fully lit:
The Sun eventually set behind the stadium, and the lights took over:
Stanford battled back with tight end Zach Ertz carrying a lot of the weight:
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:
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:
I got some pretty good pictures of the head coaches:
And when it was over, everyone rushed the field:
Click here for my Best of 2011 slideshow. 125,000 pictures cut down to my favorite sports pictures of the year. Enjoy!
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:
Andrew Luck’s Heisman chances took a hit with the loss to Oregon, but he played well enough to help Stanford beat Cal:
Ty Montgomery opened the scoring for Stanford with this 34-yard touchdown run:
Stanford’s secondary has endured several injuries, but still managed to largely contain Cal’s speedy receivers:
Still, it’s difficult to keep Cal receiver Keenan Allen away from the ball:
Oh Jeff Tedford…
As a rivalry game, the hits always seem harder:
Ryan Hewitt pulled in a short pass from Luck and turned it into a six points:
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:
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.
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.
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:
“Borderline-Elite Quarterback” air quotes:
Especially after Patrick Willis got to him:
Meanwhile, Jim Harbaugh should be in line for a Nobel Peace Prize for turning Alex Smith into a borderline-competent quarterback:
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, I don’t care what Mike Singletary says about you, you’re the man:
Not everything was on target, however:
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:
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:
The game went right down to the wire, with Mario Manningham unable to catch up to the potential tying touchdown:
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin…still a cranky old man:
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:
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:
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:
Denarius Moore continues to play well:
I dropped the shutter down to 1/40th to get the opening kickoff:
The Raiders defense had Tebow on the run for most of the game, constantly either rushing him or knocking him to the ground:
Tebow managed to stay in the game, and ran directly into some beautiful light reflected off of the private suite windows:
Jacoby Ford was largely contained, but broke off a nice long run after catching a pass:
Denarius Moore risked a fumble reaching the ball out away from his body:
Michael Bush picked up a lot of yards filling in for Darren McFadden, here diving in for a score:
Fullback Marcel Reece caught a perfect pass from Palmer and then fought his way into the end zone for a score:
Moore and Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey go up for a pass that would be intercepted by Bailey:
This would have been a nice catch, but Raiders cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke was called for pass interference:
Broncos punter Britton Colquitt couldn’t handle a snap, and was lucky to throw the ball away without taking a safety:
The Raiders breakdown extended to special teams, as they allowed an 85-yard punt return touchdown by 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:
The Raiders have to travel to San Diego for a Thursday night game vs the Chargers.