This is the fifth season that I’ve shot photos for Annandale High School boys varsity lacrosse.
This is the third season that I’ve shot photos for Annandale High School girls varsity lacrosse. Over that time, it has been great to see how a group of sophomores rose to become the leaders of the team. As they now move on to bigger challenges, I hope they will be reminded of the strength they discovered within themselves while playing lacrosse at Annandale High School.
Since I had already agreed to shoot the Edison High School Girls Junior Varsity Soccer games, I figured that I may as well shoot the varsity games that would be immediately following the junior varsity games at the same field. As it turns out, I would be shooting part of Edison’s first varsity game anyway, because it would be against Annandale High School. Trying to shoot both teams in a game certainly keeps you hopping!
On March 8, 2018, I received an Instagram message out of the blue from a player on the Edison High School Girls Junior Varsity Soccer team, asking if I would be willing to shoot their first game against Hayfield High School. I wasn’t sure how she found my Instagram feed, but I was impressed with her initiative, and her willingness to risk rejection in order to get what she wanted.
So, I asked her for her coach’s contact information. And then I sent her coach an email introducing myself, providing a link to other high school sports photos that I had provided, and asking him if it would be ok if I did the same for his team this season. He replied with an invitation to shoot as many of their games as I was able.
In coming to grips with the end of my soccer-playing days, I’ve been looking forward to applying, and improving on, what I’ve learned about sports photography to the sport that had been my passion for nearly half a century. I was hoping that the spring 2018 season would provide that opportunity, but I wasn’t sure whether the local Annandale High School teams would be interested in me providing the same type of photos that I’ve been contributing to the AHS lacrosse, field hockey, volleyball, and basketball teams.
So, I asked one of the girls varsity players who had been following my sports photography Instagram feed. It seemed like there might be interest, so I decided to come out and shoot one of their early season games.
My plan for the weekend of February 24-25, 2018 was to spend it in Richmond, Virginia, covering the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Code of Honor Quad Rugby Invitational tournament. Saturday went great. And for Sunday, I had plans to set up a backdrop and lights to do sports portraits of the players. But on Sunday morning, Patty woke up and thought that she was coming down with the flu. So, I packed her up and brought her home.
Once I got Patty settled, I started to consider how I could fill in the gap for what we had planned to be a pretty all-consuming weekend of photography. In the weeks prior, I knew I had received an announcement for a Special Olympics basketball tournament that weekend. So, I started trolling through my emails. Sure enough, there was a Sunday afternoon tournament at Episcopal High School. So, I set out with all my equipment still packed in the car.
On February 12, 2018, Patty sent me a text, to tell me that our friend Mary’s son had asked if I would be willing to shoot photos at a tournament that his wheelchair rugby team, NoVA Mutiny, was hosting in Richmond, Virginia on February 24-25. The six-team tournament was being sponsored by Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), with support from both the Virginia chapter, and the national office in Washington, DC. It would serve as a tune up for the Atlantic Sectionals tournament coming up on March 23-25 in Fort Washington, MD. For me, in addition to the opportunity it provided to volunteer for a great cause, it was a chance for Patty and I to get down to Richmond to visit her father, her sister, her brother, and their spouses for the weekend. Unfortunately, we ended up cutting the trip short, coming home Sunday morning, because Patty wasn’t feeling well.
After I had started shooting the Annandale boys varsity basketball games, I considered whether to take shots of the girls games too, both to get more experience shooting basketball, and to give these kids some souvenirs that might encourage them to stay in sports. I didn’t know whether Annandale High School had already arranged for all the professional photo coverage that anyone would want, or if parents or students were covering this need. So, I took a chance. I spoke to the girls varsity basketball coach the first time I showed up, and he was supportive.
One of the benefits of coming out to these games with a camera is that sometimes county-hired photographers are there, and every one of them has been extremely nice and helpful to myself as a novice photographer. At the first girls game that I covered, I met a professional photographer named Celeste, who was there to shoot the home team Centreville Wildcats. She actually reviewed my camera settings for me, and she made some good suggestions. Sometimes it pays to be helpless ;-).
I had been looking for opportunities to try out my new Nikon D850 Digital SLR camera in different situations, to see how I could make best use of its capabilities. So Friday night, January 12, 2018, having just returned from spending a few vacation days in Florida, Patty and I attended the Annandale High School boys varsity basketball game, at home against Mt. Vernon High School. It was great to see the local team out there working hard, and I learned a few things about my camera, and photographing basketball, in the process.
But another reason why I take photos of high school sports is give these young people evidence of what they can achieve when they work hard. And obviously, I’m not just talking about sports. So, since I had a brief pause in my government travel schedule, I looked for opportunities to shoot a few more Annandale games, so that I might offer some nice photos to more of the players.
My wife, Patty, mentioned that I take photos to an acquaintance whose daughter is on the James Madison High School varsity field hockey team. Their team had made it to the 2017 Virginia state quarterfinals, and the result of my wife’s conversation was that I was given an opportunity to give these kids some evidence showing that they can do great things.
Since high school volleyball matches are played until one team wins 3 games, the match duration can be pretty variable. So, I found myself showing up early for an Annandale High School varsity game at Mt. Vernon High School, just in case the prior JV match ended early. But as it turns out, I was there in time to see the whole JV match (I guess the Freshman match went the full length.). In any case, since I was there, I started shooting the JV match as well.
I was asked by the Annandale High School (AHS) Director of student Activities (DSA) to take photos of other 2017 Fall sports besides field hockey. I am always looking for opportunities to learn, especially in new environments, so I agreed to give it my best, and cover whatever events my work and travel schedule would allow.
Varsity volleyball was my first opportunity, so this blog entry is an attempt to capture what I learned from the few games I was able to shoot.
2017 was the second season that I’ve shot photos for the Annandale High School (AHS) Girls Varsity Field Hockey team. It is always a challenge taking action photos in low light, but unlike lacrosse, where players have to keep their heads up, and the ball is rarely on the ground, field hockey forces the players to be looking downward most of the time when they have the ball. That puts shadows on their faces, which makes proper exposure even more difficult. But it is what it is. And a photographer can compensate somewhat by getting as low as possible for his shots. This season, I did what I had to do.
Sometimes you need to do things that are easy, things that will allow you to continue to develop your skills in an environment that is not overly challenging. So, I’m obviously not talking about running around carrying a stick on a field that is filled with other people running around carrying sticks, with everyone trying to smack a tiny ball through defenders and into a goal. That’s hard. That’s real hard! I’m talking about taking action photos in actual daylight. Due to scheduling, that’s not possible for the Annandale High School varsity field hockey team. They play at night, on a field that doesn’t have professional quality lighting. But the JV, they play during daylight! Sometimes they play in strong sun! My camera likes strong sun! The high contrast helps it focus much better. All those pixels fill up with photons without having to leave the shutter open so long that you can’t capture fast action without blurring.
So, because sometimes I need things that are easy. This season, I attempted to shoot the JV field hockey games.
I was able to shoot 4 games during the 2017 season. Its always fun to watch the kids from this school go up against some of the toughest competition in the county. They’re typically out-manned, but they always maintain a good attitude and give it their best. Sometimes they come out on top.
In photography, I have to deal with the ever-present temptation to over-commit myself. But when the sun is shining and I have camera in hand, I just can’t resist. I took the photos in this post while waiting for one of the varsity games to start. I gave them to the coach, and I posted them on the Annandale Atoms website. I hope the JV kids have them handy when they consider going out for varsity next year.
2017 was the fourth season that I’ve shot photos for the Annandale High School (AHS) Girls Varsity Lacrosse team. Unfortunately, due to travel, weather, and other conflicts, I was only able to catch three of their games. Even for those, the weather wasn’t ideal, and a significant portion of the evening games were played in darkness, so good photos were few and far between.
After taking photographs for the Maryland Crab Pot wheelchair rugby tournament in January, I was asked to cover the 2017 Atlantic Sectionals tournament on March 3-5, 2017. This tournament was hosted by the Punishers of Medstar National Rehabilitation Hospital, in Washington, DC, and it was held at the South Regional Technology and Recreation Complex in Ft. Washington, Maryland. This is one of four annual Sectional tournaments across the country that feed the National Championships, which this year will be held in Phoenix, Arizona on April 20-22.
On January 7-8, 2017, I took photos for the 3rd Annual Maryland Crab Pot Quad Rugby Tournament, at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) in Dundalk, Maryland. Shooting this tournament, which was sponsored by the University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute, was a great experience for me, both because it gave me an opportunity to serve others, while at the same time helping to further my development as a photographer.
In the early fall of 2016, I was asked by the Annandale High School (AHS) Girls Varsity Field Hockey coach whether I would be willing to take photos during their season. The season turned out to be pretty challenging competition-wise, but it was also challenging photographically, because almost every one of their games took place after dark. These low-light / fast action conditions end up being a trade-off, for a given minimum shutter speed, between the soft focus you may get with a wide open aperture, against the sensor noise you will get with a a more closed aperture.