"A Field Day For Track"

Photographed the second of two indoor track and field meets for Monmouth College, last Saturday, February 9th. Lots of events, and the opportunity for solid photos of those various events. Unlike basketball, football, baseball, and others, the different events provide different “looks.” The 100 yard dash looks nothing like the pole vault.

Track and field events are also a lot of work. My former co-worker, Tom Loewy, once made the perfect analogy when he said, “Track meets are like a flea market. Everything is going on at once, all over the place.” He is spot on. I’ve repeated that dozens and dozens of times. It’s hard, if not impossible, to be everywhere at once.

Monmouth College has great indoor facilities. And it has a long history of a great track and field program. Head Coach Roger Haynes and assistant coaches, Woodard, Welty and Evers do a fine job. Expectations of the student-athletes are high. So is the intensity during a meet.

However. There is just enough “down time” between events for me, or before/after events for the athletes, that there is an opportunity for casual banter between myself and the athletes. Through those quick interactions, I’ve gotten to know some of the young people on the team. They are a good, fun bunch. I photograph them giving their best. They see me, running around from event to event, trying to capture them at their best. I hope, and think, there is mutual respect from both parties.

For this meet, I packed in three camera bodies, and three lenses. A short zoom, medium zoom, and 300mm telephoto. Also, for this meet, a small, table top tripod used for remote shots, a monopod, remote transmitters and receivers, and a four foot aluminum step-ladder. The ladder has become a staple, I can get just high enough to shoot down on some events. It works well for the shot put and hammer throw. It works GREAT for the high jump. I have lighted the field house a time or two. But its size swallows most of my light power. And, with lights, you must wait for them to recycle. Available light is usually 3200 iso, 1/500th of a second @ 2.8. Allows for the motor drives to hum, and many more images to be made.

One request for this meet came from my “boss,” Sports Information Director, Dan Nolan. “Try and get coach Haynes working with a student-athlete, and smiling,” Dan said. Coach Haynes doesn’t smile much during a meet. He’s all business. A photo is in this blog gallery. You decide if I got the mission accomplished.

The remotes paid some dividends this time. (The long jump and hammer throw photos). And I have new ideas for them. Fresh angles I’ll try later this Spring during outdoor meets. I did some “panning” shots. Using a slow shutter speed and moving with the subject to blur the background. I’m always looking for feature or profile portraits of any participant.

The “throwers,” both men and women. Have been red hot. Lots of personal bests for those who shot put or hammer throw this season. Two photos in this blog capture moments just after the throws.

It was a seven and a half hour day.. I logged 10,117 steps. The photos aren’t that hard to make. It’s just getting from point to point to make them. I start out fresh at the beginning and wind up beat at the end of it all. Everyone does. Athletes, coaches, officials…photographers.