E.O.G. (End Of Game)
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter Academy
Most of us have been there. We’ve shot great action of The Big Game and then you get the word your editors are most interested in the E.O.G.: End Of Game.
The jube and deject.
The bigger the game, the bigger the desire for getting the reaction of the players at the End Of Game rather than the action that went on before.
Monday’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Game was no different and is a good example of how this situation usually plays out.
Capturing the emotions played out on the court depends on position, quick reaction, court sense, having a plan in mind and most of all luck.
Hey … just like shooting the action!
In a close game, which Kentucky’s win over Kansas ended up, the reactions are even more amped up — the winners leaping in the air in celebration; the losers walking off in apparent pain.
During the NCAA Tournament photographers are barred from Court Running — sprinting onto the court so they can stick a wide angle lens into the players’ faces. This rule is hard and fast and is for the benefit of the network so they can get their shots as much as it is for giving still photographers a clean look as well.
As the clocked ticked down to 00, the Kentucky bench rushed to embrace their teammates on the court and then the big challenge…
No, not deciding where to point your lens.
It wasn’t praying the TV hand-held camera pointers don’t block you.
It’s not cheerleaders or a team manager standing on the baseline in front of you.
It’s was the seemingly endless rain of streamers and confetti pouring down on the court.
This is a time when going old school — manual focus — is the way to go.
USA TODAY had three photographers covering the NCAA Championship Game: Bob Deutsch shooting in an outside spot in the corner on one end; local freelance photographer Paul Morse shooting from an elevated spot at mid-court; and I was positioned in an inside spot opposite of Bob. USAT’s Sean Dougherty and freelancer A.J. Mast were working the computers, editing, captioning and uploading images in the digital photo workroom.
(Tech note: Bob and Sean wired and networked five handheld cameras and four remotes and they all worked flawlessly for the semis and the finals. Great work guys!)
These three different looks at the floor gave us as much coverage as possible — and it was still a challenge to get those storytelling images.
As announcer Jim McKay proclaimed during the intro to ABC’s Wide World of Sports: The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
Sports is often a matter of seconds. Capturing the E.O.G. is no different.
Looking at the time stamp on my image files, the jube/dejection images start at 10:40:08PM. By 10:40:48PM the Kentucky players started putting on those (silly) t-shirts and caps that say they won and the Kansas players had left the court…
With only seconds to get the best images, you have to find moments quickly but also not stay on them so long that you miss something else going outside your lens’ field of view.
That’s why I list “court sense” as one of the keys to capturing the E.O.G. … like a good point guard you have to be aware of what’s going on even though you don’t really see it. Just laying on the shutter release (what I call “makin’ movies”) is no substitute for anticipation, knowing the game and knowing when to move on to another shot.
As the clock ran out, I focused down court with a 200-400mm zoom on a couple of Kentucky players as they ran toward their bench, hugged and jumped up and down in celebration.
After a few frames the streamers began to fall onto the court and some Kansas players in the foreground started to block me. That’s when I switched to my camera with a 70-200 zoom and spotted Jayhawks’ star forward Thomas Robinson, bent over in obvious dejection. In a few seconds teammates came over to console him and he became overcome with emotion, surrounded in a swirl of steamers and confetti. Even in those few scant seconds, I could actually feel his disappointment and pain and I paused for a second. But only a second.
The game was 59 minutes and 45 seconds of flying dunks, diving bodies, several spectacular blocked shots and a near unbelievable comeback by the Jayhawks…
But in the end, it was all about the jube (and dejection).
You can check out USA TODAY’s gallery of images from the Kentucky -Kansas game at this link: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/mensbasketball/gallery/2012-ncaa-championship
(The Bottom Of The 9th is an occasional column by Sports Shooter founder Robert Hanashiro. He is also USA TODAY’s west coast staff photographer.)