Lucky 13


Mark Purdy Story on Soccer – my pix

Panorama from inside Wembley

“We have the coolest job! I love my job!” Robert Gauthier (LA Times) was saying while standing on the pitch (field) of Wembley before the USA vs Japan Women’s Football (that’s real football you American blokes!) gold medal game. He’s fun to be around – immensely talented with a great attitude.

Slept in this morning – it was really great. There really isn’t much to do in the morning – at this point it’s all prelim stuff and then the nights are the medals – so anything that is shot in the morning becomes utterly useless – unless you need a specific athlete or something like that.

Grabbed a burger at the MPC and then ran into Paul in the photo area in the MPC. Also ran into Doug and Andrew – we all chatted for a bit. We decided to grab the 3:10 bus (the game was at 7:45) – and it was roughly an hour bus ride. Ran into Robert Beck on the bus. I did a little sight-seeing until I passed out – here is Paul on the bus (not a double-decker):

A cool building – those arches are super cool:

Paul had to wake me up when we arrived outside of Wembley – stumbled out and thought I was in a dream because all of the sudden it was sunny and hot!:

We walked up to Wembley and there was a long queue of photographers – with the majority being Japanese. Who knows how long they had been there. In Vancouver and Beijing there were stories of some of them sleeping overnight to be first in line! WTH (what the heck).

A British guy standing in front of us said this is where they enter when they cover normal football games – and that we would be working out of the workroom there – so that was a good sign that meant that the workroom wouldn’t be a 1/4 mile from the pitch – or on the opposite side of the building – as it has typically been. Nice signage with Paul:

As you can see we had a lot of time in line waiting for them to let us in… that’s Robert Beck (SI) on the top left, his assistant Jordan (I think) and Paulie at the back of the line:

So I’m going to go on a little rant – the Japanese media are insane. We get into the workroom, which is quite small and we find out that they won’t let us out onto the pitch until 5:45 – two hours before the game – we got in at about 4:45. So we have an hour. Instead of sitting down and catching up on email or chatting or whatever – they get in line again in the middle of the workroom – one of the photo workers was like “we didn’t ask them to get in line” (note: I did not get in line):

Then at 5:45 they open the door and it’s a complete mad house – you’d think that whey were vying for only two spots to shoot from on the pitch, people sprinting, elbowing their way out there – pure craziness… and this is what it actually looked like when we got out there HAHAHA – a ton of space:

Since we have so many bay area athletes – we just concentrate on the ones that medal -the ones that don’t – don’t get any ink (at least the majority of the time). One of the star soccer players happens to be from California and went to Cal – Alex Morgan. So was hoping to see her score a goal – but knew at the very least she would get a silver medal.

I decided to set up a remote behind one the goals – I’ve set up countless remotes – but never one behind the goal (at least that I can remember – okay maybe once – but it’s been a long time). With all remotes 99% of the time you get nothing. But always worth at least trying. I got one picture I liked at the end of the night. Here’s one that’s okay (not the one I’m talking about) – it’s kinda a weird place for a remote because of the netting… but this is what it looks like – and just in case you don’t know – a remote camera is a camera that is placed in a certain area that you cannot photograph from – as per this example there is no way they would let us sit behind the goal – so it gives us a different angle. The cameras are triggered with a wireless transmitter… and again – sometimes it works – most of the time it doesn’t – but it’s fun to try:

Ran into my friend John Todd – a great Bay Area soccer/sports photographer – as I was finishing up my remotes – here he is – on the right – setting his remote up – my remote is the fourth from the left – with the plastic bag on it (we were told they were going to water the pitch so it was best to cover the camera):

Paul was there to actually cover the Japanese team (ack) – and I was there of course to cover the USA… I really enjoy covering soccer – but the one thing that drives me nuts is that they do the coin flip like seconds before the game starts – so you never know which side to set up on. But Paul and I worked out a deal that we would switch spots at half – and save it by leaving our backpack on our spots so that I could get USA going towards me both halves and he could get Japan. The thing about soccer is that it’s such a huge field and never know where things are going to happen. It’s a pure guessing game. The photo Gods shined on me tonight though and I was a good spot for the first goal… well I didn’t see the actual goal – but the jube (reaction) faced me – which was very exciting. I was able to get off a long sequence:

That’s a screen shot of Photo Mechanic – the green high-lighted ones are the pictures that I “tagged” on my camera so that I could look at them when I started editing. This was shot with a Nikon D4 on a 200-400mm f4 lens with a 1.4x converter – so that makes the 200-400mm f5.6. I love that lens – I get things I wouldn’t be able to get if I was shooting with a fixed lens – like a 400mm f2.8 or a 300mm f2.8. With the Olympics when you’re in a set spot having a long zoom is really a game-changer – I don’t have to worry about missing anything because I’m in the midst of changing lenses. I probably like this frame the most – and best part about it – is our local – Alex Morgan is center front – with pink headband:

So I felt very fortunate and lucky to have been able to see that – and I mean that literally, it is super easy to get blocked – there were sound people, referees, video camera guys, other players all in front of us… Or they could have faced the opposite direction… so many variables.

Anyway – once this happened – which was early in the game – then I had to stress out about whether or not they were going to win the game… because if Japan ended up winning – then that picture becomes meaningless. Luckily the same player – Carli Lloyd scored twice. I didn’t have much from her second goal – but that’s okay.

I have to say that this was a really cool, special event to witness. The third time in a row that the US has won gold in Women’s Football, it was a huge rematch from the World Cup – what would you rather have an Olympic gold medal or a World Cup championship? And this was the largest crowd to ever witness a Women’s football game – an announced crowd of 80,203. I remember shooting the Cyber Rays – a long defunct Women’s soccer team in San Jose that would barely draw 5,000. It was just cool to see so much support and it was a great, loud crowd.

So yea, what Robert said – “I love my job.”


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