nooksack

Friday Night Lights: Nooksack Valley takes on Montesano

On Friday night, I covered high school football as Nooksack Valley hosted Montesano. As usual, I like to wait before posting when I cover assignments for The Bellingham Herald.

At the end of this post, I’ll have a few tips to help you improve your football photography. Not just “get a long lens” type tips, but real ways you can get better shots.

Take Down:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Nooksack sophomore center back Connor Beard (12) takes down Montesano senior receiver Riley Olson at the sideline during the first quarter at Nooksack Valley High School in Everson, Wash., on Friday evening September 13, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Nooksack sophomore center back Connor Beard (12) takes down Montesano senior receiver Riley Olson at the sideline during the first quarter at Nooksack Valley High School in Everson, Wash., on Friday evening September 13, 2014. The Pioneers defeated the visiting Bulldogs 40-34

As the drive to Nooksack Valley High School was a good 35 to 45 minutes, I knew I couldn’t stay until the end of the game. My plan was to find a coffee shop near the high school so I can download, edit 3 or 4 images, create a slide show and make deadline. Standard protocol when working with newspapers.

Beautiful Light:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Nooksack running back Adam Mydland (39)  looks for daylight during the first quarter against  Montesano at Nooksack Valley High School in Everson, Wash., on Friday evening September 13, 2014. The Pioneers defeated the visiting Montesano Bulldogs 40-34.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Nooksack running back Adam Mydland (39) looks for daylight during the first quarter against Montesano at Nooksack Valley High School in Everson, Wash., on Friday evening September 13, 2014. The Pioneers defeated the visiting Montesano Bulldogs 40-34.

And for some god forsaken reason, I like working on a deadline. I do miss that deadline adrenaline at times. And at others, I’m soooooo damned happy not to worry about it.

FUMBLE!!!

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Nooksack running back Adam Mydland (39) fumbles the ball after being tackled by Montesano junior linebacker Keegan Darst (7)  during the first quarter at Nooksack Valley High School in Everson, Wash., on Friday evening September 13, 2014. The Pioneers defeated the visiting Montesano Bulldogs 40-34.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Nooksack running back Adam Mydland (39) fumbles the ball after being tackled by Montesano junior linebacker Keegan Darst (7) during the first quarter at Nooksack Valley High School in Everson, Wash., on Friday evening September 13, 2014. The Pioneers defeated the visiting Montesano Bulldogs 40-34.

This Friday was a bit different as well. Not only was I going to shoot a game,  I planned on going up to Artist Point near Mt. Baker to view and photograph an expected outbreak of aurora borealis.  You can read and view images from that outing at A Night Under The Stars: Tips To Improve Your Night Photography.

Missed Tackle:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Nooksack senior linebacker William Kingma (5) attempts to tackle Montesano junior running back Kyle Englund (33) during the second quarter at Nooksack Valley High School in Everson, Wash., on Friday evening September 13, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Nooksack senior linebacker William Kingma (5) attempts to tackle Montesano junior running back Kyle Englund (33) during the second quarter at Nooksack Valley High School in Everson, Wash., on Friday evening September 13, 2014.

I read a few articles on the players and realized the two to watch for on the Nooksack side were Tanner Myhre and William Kingma. Knowing the key players of each team is important as is knowing what formation and plays they use most. How can you capture great images without knowing the plays or players? Luck will only take you so far.

Coming From Behind:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Nooksack free safety Tanner Myhre (11), right, comes from behind to tackle Montesano senior running back Tanner Birdsall (22) at the end of his 25 yard first quarter run at Nooksack Valley High School in Everson, Wash., on Friday evening September 13, 2014.  The Pioneers defeated the visiting Montesano Bulldogs 40-34.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Nooksack free safety Tanner Myhre (11), right, comes from behind to tackle Montesano senior running back Tanner Birdsall (22) at the end of his 25 yard first quarter run at Nooksack Valley High School in Everson, Wash., on Friday evening September 13, 2014. The Pioneers defeated the visiting Montesano Bulldogs 40-34.

– As with everything in journalism, you must stay fluid and flow with the changes –

It was no different with this game. Although Nooksack Valley was the favorite, Montesano had control of the game from the start. The stopped the NV offense cold, only allowing a field goal.

Get Away!!

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Nooksack senior quarterback Tanner Myhre (11) stiff arms Montesano  junior line backer Jordan Bussard (51) to evade a tackle during the second quarter at Nooksack Valley High School in Everson, Wash., on Friday evening September 13, 2014. The Pioneers defeated the visiting Montesano Bulldogs 40-34.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Nooksack senior quarterback Tanner Myhre (11) stiff arms Montesano junior line backer Jordan Bussard (51) to evade a tackle during the second quarter at Nooksack Valley High School in Everson, Wash., on Friday evening September 13, 2014. The Pioneers defeated the visiting Montesano Bulldogs 40-34.

The light on the field was fantastic as the Sun was setting to the west of the field. I stayed on the visitor side as this gave me the best light. It’s also good to stay on one side of the field so you can make sure everyone on that sideline gets used to you.

Missed Tackle:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Nooksack quarterback Tanner Myhre (11) out runs a  Montesano defender during the second quarter at Nooksack Valley High School in Everson, Wash., on Friday evening September 13, 2014. The Pioneers defeated the visiting Montesano Bulldogs 40-34.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Nooksack quarterback Tanner Myhre (11) out runs a Montesano defender during the second quarter at Nooksack Valley High School in Everson, Wash., on Friday evening September 13, 2014. The Pioneers defeated the visiting Montesano Bulldogs 40-34.

However, after the Sun set the end of the first quarter, it was under the crappy stadium lights I had to shoot. And these lights were basic high school lights: dim, shifting color and intensity. Ugh.

This made for uneven white balance as I shot. Even using a Nikon D3s, the camera was not fast enough to adjust. In fact, you can see the white balance change from magenta to green then back. And the exposure: from under to over to under.

Oh, and I had no monopod so I just carried it . Yeah, it was a load, but good exercise.

Minor differences, but you can tell when you see them next to each other in Lightroom or Photo Mechanic. To make it easier, I left my white balance on”Auto.”  A move I don’t normally do, but with lighting this hideous, it was prudent to get close as possible to the proper color then correct it in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw.

Going Wide:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Nooksack wide receiver William Kingma (5) looks for opening during the second quarter against  Montesano at Nooksack Valley High School in Everson, Wash., on Friday evening September 13, 2014. The Pioneers defeated the visiting Montesano Bulldogs 40-34.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Nooksack wide receiver William Kingma (5) looks for opening during the second quarter against Montesano at Nooksack Valley High School in Everson, Wash., on Friday evening September 13, 2014. The Pioneers defeated the visiting Montesano Bulldogs 40-34.

After the first half, I had to leave so I make my deadline. I did not find a coffee shop to edit and transmit from. So, I just went home to edit and upload from there.

For the game, I used my Nikon D300s with my Nikon 80-200 f/2.8. I borrowed a D3s and 300mm f/2.8 for the more distance plays.  I tend to stay up field from the line of scrimmage

Tips For Photographing High School Football:

– After each significant play, take a quick shot of the scoreboard. That way you can keep track of when the play happened.. If you keep a notepad, write down the yardage made, any other significant info. This will also keep you ahead of the game. 

– Know the teams or at least the star players of each team, both offense and defense. This is a tall order, but the paper’s usually write a pregame that will help you learn who the key players are..

– Use two bodies, if you can. One with long glass (300mm or longer) and one with a telephoto zoom. This way, if you are photographing and the action comes close, you can just swap cameras then shoot with the shorter lens.

– Don’t wait til the card is full. Change it when there is enough room for 20 or so photographs. Filling it up  slows the camera down as it attempts to find the space to write the file which can cause you to miss a shot,.

– Keep extra cards immediately handy. Although there can be a few moments between plays, the last thing you want is to miss a shot because you’re rifling through your camera bag for them.

– Stay in front of the line of scrimmage. I usually stay about 15 yards so I can get the running action and be prepared for pass plays.. Unless I know the defense is stopping the offense or sacking the QB, then I try to stay in front to capture the plays.

– Listen to the coaches and teams as the play unfolds. You can get a good hint of where the play will be, where it may go, and if. Especially if it’ll be a long pass.

– When the offense is approaching the red zone (the 20 yard line to the goal), then I get behind the end zone. This gives me the opportunity to get the run straight in, jumping over the top,  or from the side if the defense pushes them to the corner.  

– Pay attention to the clock. At the end of the quarter, they switch direction. Don’t be left at the wrong end of the field because you answered your phone or were busy talking with another photographer.

Football is fun and easy. If you don’t have a long lens, just follow the game as it progresses up and down the field. Have fun.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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Paul Conrad is an award-winning, nationally and internationally published freelance photographer living in Bellingham, Whatcom County, Wash., in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazine throughout the United States and in Europe.

His specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings. He is available for assignments anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.

NWC Track & Field Championship in Bellingham, WA

This past Friday, Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., was host for the Northwest Conference Track & Field Championships. All the High Schools in the area participated. The field filled with students from all over the Northwest.

Synchronicity:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Lynden's Hannah Hommes, left, Anacortes' Lexia Hall, and Nooksack Valley's Alex Parson trail in Section 2 of the Girls 300m Hurdles during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash., on Friday April 25, 2-14.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Lynden’s Hannah Hommes, left, Anacortes’ Lexia Hall, and Nooksack Valley’s Alex Parson trail in Section 2 of the Girls 300m Hurdles during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash., on Friday April 25, 2-14.

As a volunteer photographer with the Northwest Conference Athletics, I had a front row seat to the organized chaos. Luckily I’ve shot events like this before, so putting my “Press Hat” on, I rambled off to find my assignment: Long and Triple Jump with some track as they circled passed my position.

Amano Landing:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Bellingham High School senior Christian Amano of Bellingham, Wash,. lands in the pit during his attempt at the long jump druing the NWC Track & Field competition at Civic Field in Bellingham. Amano ended 8th overall with a distance of 18 feet, 11 inches.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Bellingham High School senior Christian Amano of Bellingham, Wash,. lands in the pit during his attempt at the long jump during the NWC Track & Field competition at Civic Field in Bellingham. Amano ended 8th overall with 18 feet, 11 inches.

As I was shooting this not as a photojournalist but as an event photographer, my goal was to get as many of the kids as possible. Afterall, who doesn’t want photos of their kids as the land in soft sand while making funny faces.

Beautiful Backlighting:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Burlington-Edison High School senior Megan Wilburg of Burlington, Wash,. lands in the pit during her attempt at the long jump during the NWC Track & Field competition at Civic Field in Bellingham. Wilburg ended fifth overall with a distance of 15 feet 8.75 inches.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Burlington-Edison High School senior Megan Wilburg of Burlington, Wash,. lands in the pit during her attempt at the long jump during the NWC Track & Field competition at Civic Field in Bellingham. Wilburg ended fifth overall with 15 feet, 8.75 inches.

There were multiple challenges I had to overcome: Backlighting of the competitors, and the girls and boys competing at the same time.

When I arrived at the long jump pits, I saw that they had two parallel stations: one for boys and the other for girls. My thinking was they would rotate girls competitors then boys. But, no.

Hard Landing:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Burlington-Edison's Luke Tackett lands in the pit during the first Flight of the boy's long jump at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Tackett did not qualify for the finals.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Burlington-Edison’s Luke Tackett lands in the pit during the first Flight of the boy’s long jump at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Tackett did not qualify for the finals.

They ran both at the same time and I was hoping at least the competitors would be staggered. But, no. One competitor down each lane at the same time.

So I had to go from one lane and shoot them as they landed, swing my lens to the next lane and hopefully catch that competitor as they landed. Not too difficult. Unless they ran at EXACTLY the same time, then I just concentrated on one.

The other challenge was the incredible backlighting. As it was mid-afternoon when I started shooting, the sun was about 75 degrees above the horizon and to the left. To overcome this, I used the “Sunny 16 Rule” and overexposed by one stop. This gave me workable highlights without dropping out too much detail in the shadow areas.

During the breaks from the long jump action, I drifted towards the track and shot the runners as they passed me. For the photo below, I panned as they went by. I closed down my aperture all the way down and overexposed by one stop (which only blew out the most extreme highlights) to get a shutter speed of 1/30th. I wanted the background blurred with a sharp runners face.

Panning to Accentuate Speed:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Anacortes High School senior Grace Dzieciuch battles her second lap in the Girl's 3200 Meter Run during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash. Dzieciuch finishied in 13th with a time of 12m51.7s.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Anacortes High School senior Grace Dzieciuch battles her second lap in the Girl’s 3200 Meter Run during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash. Dzieciuch finished in 13th with a time of 12m, 51.7s.

By the time the finals began for the Long Jump, the Sun had settled too low and the light turned horrible. The flare was relentless and ruined most pictures. So to challenge myself and get something different, I shot from the side.

Switching from my telephoto to my wide-angle (17-35 f/2.8), I took a few test shots as the athletes warmed up. I picked a spot on the ground perpendicular from where I thought the apex of the arc the jumpers created as the went up and over the pit.

Sailing Through:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Sedro-Woolley's Mason Elms flys over the landing pit of the long jump during finals at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Elms won 4th place with a distance of 20 feet, 3 inches.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Sedro-Woolley’s Mason Elms flys over the landing pit of the long jump during finals at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Elms won 4th place with 20 feet, 3 inches.

Once I figured out where the apex would be about, I placed my camera on the ground right on the edge of the pit, angled it up, and shot a few test frames as to get the crew on the other side of the pit on the bottom of the frame. This helped exaggerate the height of the jumpers and kept them in frame.

As the competitors jumped from the line, there was a distinct “thump” and that was my cue to begin shooting. As they went over I watched then quit shooting before they landed. It worked for a few, but the above photo was my favorite as the athlete had the best “pose.” To me it shows him really pushing it to get the last few inches.

Hand Off:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Sehome's Girls hand off during the final lap of the 4x400m relay during NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Sehome won second place with a time of 4 mins, 8.1 secs.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Sehome’s Girls hand off during the last lap of the 4x400m relay during NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Sehome won second place with a time of 4 mins, 8.1 secs.

When the Long Jump competition was over, I moseyed to the finish line and began shooting track. There were still a few races left. Mainly the long relay races.

So once again, I used panning to help accentuate the speed of the runners and try to capture the handoff. I got a few photos, but nothing I would rant and rave about. I just like the two I posted.

Reaching:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Lynden Christian's Brianna Bruneau gets the baton from Emily Sytsma during the final lap of the Girl's 4x400 realy at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash. The Lynden Christian team of four won First Place with a time of 4 min and 7.29 secs.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Lynden Christian’s Brianna Bruneau gets the baton from Emily Sytsma during the last lap of the Girl’s 4×400 relay at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash. The Lynden Christian team of four won First Place with a time of 4 min and 7.29 secs.

While I walked around searching for photos, I noticed the reflection of the field in the press box window at the top of one of the westside sections. I liked how you could see the field and the spectators in the stand. I worked it for a few minutes.

Later in the afternoon or early evening, the light on the north side stands was dramatic. I worked it as much as I could to get something nice. But everyone was just sitting in their seats. As I turned to walk away, the little girl on the left started running up and down the stairs. So I shot a few frames.

Running Up:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – A little girl runs up the stairs of the east stands during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash.


After editing the photo in Photoshop, I zoomed in tighter and liked the composition. I just don’t know which one I like better. What do you think?

Running Up – Tight:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - A little girl runs up the stairs in the east stands during the NWC Track & Field Championship at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash., during the early evening April 25, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – A little girl runs up the stairs in the east stands during the NWC Track & Field Championship at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash., during the early evening April 25, 2014.

In the last shot, I was just waiting for a race to begin when I looked up and saw the reflection in the press box windows. I like it so I found a spot that would give me some balance in the image. It’s a quickie, but after coming home and editing, I really wish I would’ve shot just the windows super tight.

Reflecting:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – The field is reflected in the press box windows of the west stands during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash., on Friday afternoon April 25, 2014.

Again, which of the photos is your best and why? Do you have a questions about technique such as shooting into the sun? Or Panning? Or keeping sane in all the chaos?

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography The last rays of the setting Sun bathes the snow-capped peak of Mount Baker in alpenglow as the lights of the city of Bellingham, Wash., begin to turn on during evening April 23, 2013.

Mount Baker in Alpenglow

Just a quick posting of a beautiful photograph I captured of Mount Baker from Tuesday evening April 23, 2013.

Mt. Baker in Alpenglow:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The last rays of the setting Sun bathes the snow-capped peak of Mount Baker in alpenglow as the lights of the city of Bellingham, Wash., begin to turn on during evening April 23, 2013.

Several weeks before I shot this image, I was driving westbound on Bakerview Avenue in Bellingham, Wash. It was just before sunset when my wife Heidi and I just left the gym. As we were stopped at the light, I looked in the rearview mirrow and saw Mt. Baker in this beautiful light. The alpenglow was gorgeous.

On Monday evening while driving home, It was a starkly clear day. I told myself if it was going to another crisp and clear evening, I was going to skip the gym and drive to Lummi Shore Drive, which is west across Bellingham Bay from Bellingham.

It was a crisp day so I left the gym early, drove to Lummi Shore, and captured this.

Prints available for purchase for all sizes up to 24″ x 36″
Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. All comments are appreciated.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Pablo Conrad Photography

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