Just a short week ago, Army kicker Alex Carlton was literally an "untouchable" after missing the potential game winner at home against Tulane. (see my earlier post "Wide Right" below.) Today, he was the hero. It was his show. He kicked three field goals, with the last one a 42-yard shot that actually hit the upright in overtime to seal Army's win over Vanderbilt.
Army kicker Alex Carlton (#39, center) celebrates his 42-yard game winning field goal kick in overtime to defeat Vanderbilt 16 - 13 in Michie Stadium at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY on Saturday, October 10, 2009. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON
What started out as a windy & overcast Saturday morning, actually reversed itself full-circle by late afternoon. Oh no, not another potential downpour in covering an Army game I kept wondering all morning. Even checked the radar track up in the press box. That surely meant packing the usual day bag with a full rain suit, small towels, plastic bags and the whole 9 yards again. Combine all that with the bright idea that I wanted to install a remote camera (right) again for this game. (This time in a "Tee-Vee" camera position at midfield on the mezzanine level. Incidentally, this camera didn't produce any images I was thrilled with, as it seemed to not fire consistently. I'm guessing the heavy duty wire mesh cage interfered with the radio receiver signals, causing the camera not to fire.) *Note to self: Insure that radio receivers have a clean "line of sight" from my positions on the field.
Weather-wise, it all looked ugly again - and I was dreading it. It's completely miserable to work in the rain. "Be prepared..." I kept telling myself. Besides all this to worry about, a SEC (South East Conference) football team was in town for this game. Vanderbuilt wasn't having a good year, but to me that didn't mean they couldn't come into Army's house and rough up the home team a bit. I knew these boys from Tennessee meant business, as I'd seen them arrive at the local airport by charter aircraft on Friday and it took 4 buses to bring the team to their hotel / ballpark. Impressive.
The first half was a game of missed tackles, dropped balls, and plenty of penalties. Ugly football. The score was tied 3 - 3 at the half, and the whole stadium was wondering if the second half would be another sleeper too. Army kicker Alex Carlton (top) managed to make it a game himself, by keeping Army in the contest by hitting 3 FG's - a 51 yarder being his longest. There were some vicious hits in the game and watching this one (at right) in the viewfinder even rattled me a little in the first quarter. Three Army defenders sandwiched the Vandy quarterback, so it was good to see DT Victor Ugenyi (#92) help the QB up off the turf after delivering such a punishing blow with his teammates. It was a major league / NFL-type hit, that's for sure.
In covering this game & completing the second day edit reminded me again of why I insist on shooting from my knees. I like the clean, out of focus backgrounds on the images made with the long telephotos, particularly those made with the main 300mm + tele-extenders. This effect brings the viewer's eye directly to the action, with no distracting backgrounds.
Working along those self-imposed guidelines, I even attached the 2X tele-extender to the 300mm, in effect making that lens a 600mm, f/5.6, and made a decent image of the Vanderbilt kicker hitting a field goal late in the fourth quarter to tie the game. This image was shot from the far end zone behind the play and resulted in an image that can be used as a filer for the Army defense. It would've surely made a nice peak action moment if one of the Army defenders had actually blocked that FG attempt as well. (In a different publication's layout, the image can also be used as a full-page, full bleed, as well as a cover.) And at that distance, approximately 60 yards away from the play, it's just about full frame as well, so at the high shutter-speeds, the image remains relatively sharp - at least publication quality, even slightly backlit in the late afternoon sun. Something to keep in mind for future games.
*Click here to view a slideshow of my game coverage on my paper's site for now. Thanks again for looking. -cg.