Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Photographic reflections from shoot
at Umstead State Park, N. Carolina

Returning to North Carolina a week before Christmas was unplanned, and it wasn't a trip for leisure or vacationing. Unlike the trip to the coast this summer, December's excursion ended in the town of Cary, which is within the noted high-tech research triangle anchored by North Carolina State and Duke universities and the University of North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill).

But there was a sunny day -- Dec. 21 -- when I had a chance to indulge in some leisure photography. I ended up at William B. Umstead State Park, just northeast of Cary. I was going for proximity, and it fit the bill nicely.

The park has three lakes, and I ended up along Sycamore Road and trail, whose parking lot was a few hundred yards from Sycamore Lake. The images in this post were taken in that afternoon outing, when foot traffic was quite minimal ... and the lake still as can be. It allowed for some wonderful reflection compositions, a few shots of the many abandoned (and unlivable) cabins dotting the grounds and a closeup of a bird's nest.

I used my Canon 6D equipped with the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di PZD VC lens for the shoot. Some of you may recall my many posts on how Tamron's piezoelectric drive (PZD) and vibration compensation (VC) technology on this and its small-sensor counterpart, the 18-270mm, which I've used on my Canon 7D for several years now, is of such high-quality that users enjoy high incidence of sharp photos when hand-holding the camera even while bracketing exposures for high-dynamic range (HDR) treatment in post-processing.

Despite this, as it turned out, most of my time at Umstead was spent in the late afternoon, so I was needing to find light (and maintain steadiness) more so than usual, and I found myself wishing I'd have brought along my faster Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L lens for some of the wide-angle shots. I ended up compensating by boosting the ISO, which I normally don't do when shooting for HDR treatment. I did this time, however, and I'll let you be the judge.

A full gallery of images from the shoot can be found at my site at SmugMug.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Badgers deliver a win at Purdue

Regular visitors to Photo Potpourri know I grew up in Wisconsin (plus, that detail is in my bio that appears on this page). Even though I've lived most of my life now in Indianapolis, I still have strong sentiments to my home state and equally strong allegiances to my childhood sports teams -- the Packers, Brewers, Bucks and Wisconsin Badgers.

I attended several Badgers home football games shortly after graduating college, then went a long time without seeing them in person ... until last weekend.

That's when I went to West Lafayette, Ind., where the Badgers played and defeated the Purdue Boilermakers 34-16. Wisconsin's record is now 7-2 (4-1 in the Big Ten Conference); Purdue is 3-7, 1-5. There was a strikingly large contingent of Badgers fans in the season ticket section (106) where I ended up in, which was in the third row from the field on the 40-yard line behind the Badgers' bench. There was another sizable UW contingent in the northwest corner of the stadium.

As longtime followers of this blog also know, I enjoy photographing football and basketball. My ongoing project to photo document small college football teams in Indiana should attest to that.
I knew I wouldn't get the quality of game-action shots Saturday that I would have if I'd been along the sideline as I have for my Indiana small-college collection. So I decided early on to make Saturday's shoot primarily about the experience, not so much the game.

So don't expect to see lots of action photos here ... instead, there'll be lots of atmosphere stuff. The post's lead-off photo, taken before kickoff while the Purdue band performed on the field, shows the one time UW got to display its flag on the field.

I used a new Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD lens on my Canon 6D for all the shots. It was my first outing using the lens, which is a 2014 addition to the Tamron lens lineup. The 28-300 PZD issue is the large-sensor counterpart to Tamron's 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 PZD released for small-sensor cameras several years ago, an all-purpose lens I'd used on my Canon 7D for long-day, outdoor shoots when I didn't want to lug around a lot of gear.

On the plus side, the 28-300's auto focus finds and confirms quickly, and its images are of very fine quality, except for slight vignetting in one corner. I used the lens hood on Saturday, largely to protect against moisture (there was a threat of rain all afternoon, and indeed, it drizzled lightly for about 45 minutes to an hour). I haven't tested it yet without the hood.

The new lens vexed me at the start because it has the zoom and focus rings at points on the barrel opposite from what I am accustomed to. On the 28-300, the focus ring is closest to the camera body, while the zoom ring at the far end, next to the lens' front glass element; most lenses have those rings positioned the other way around.

I spent a lot of time scouring the Badgers bench and sideline, trying to find quarterbacks Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy and running backs Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement. I succeeded on all counts, and also got shots on the bench of wide receiver Alex Erickson and cornerback Sojourn Shelton.

In the case of the latter, the reason was disconcerting at first. Shelton came off the field late in the game clutching his right arm, and team staff tended to him on the bench for a spell. He seemed OK when he left the field after the game. That wasn't the only Badgers injury I noticed. Senior defensive end Konrad Zagzebski was helped off the field early in the contest. I've looked around online for injury reports, if any, on those two players, but found none as of Tuesday.

To visit a gallery of the full shoot, visit my site at SmugMug.

Above: An overview of the press box and west side of Ross-Ade Stadium, taken before the game as the Purdue All-American Marching Band performed.

Exterior shot of the stadium (above) and tailgaters (below) on the walk toward the gates before the game. 

The contingent of Badgers fans included cheeseheads (above), folks in section 106 (below) where I sat and the northwest corner of the stadium (second below). 

Above and next three below: The Purdue band, including a crew wheeling out the world's largest drum, performing before the game. 

Above and next several below: Scouring the sidelines to find Badgers stars, including running backs Corey Clement (6) and Melvin Gordon (25); place-kicker Rafael Gaglianone (10); tight end T.J. Watt (next to Gaglianone), younger brother of former Badger and now NFL star J.J. Watt, a defensive lineman for the Houston Texans; and quarterback Joel Stave.

More star-gazing ... The Badgers' offensive drivers (above, from left) Joel Stave, Tanner McEvoy and Melvin Gordon sit together on the bench while the defense is on the field. McEvoy (first below) chats with a teammate while wide receiver Alex Erickson (second below) shows evidence of a cut on the back of his left arm.

Above: The opening kickoff of the game. Purdue would score on a field goal with its first possession, taking a 3-0 lead. 

Above: An injured Konrad Zegzebski, a defensive lineman, is helped off the field early in the first quarter.  

Above: The Badgers along the sideline after the opening kickoff. 

Above and below: With tight end Sam Arneson (49) in motion in front of Melvin Gordon, the Badgers -- known for their vaunted running game -- surprised the Purdue defense on their first possession of the game when quarterback Joel Stave threw to tight end Troy Fumagalli (below) for a 28-yard gain to the Purdue 38-yard line.

Above and next three below: Purdue students stand non-stop except during the halftime break. They bark cheers off and on, the most distinguished being the one aimed at bitter in-state rival Indiana University. Boilermaker fans shout "1, 2, 3, 4 ... I.U. sucks!" after every kickoff. And yes, they use the cheer regardless of the opponent. 

Above and next several below: Frames from the halftime show, including a dance exhibition by mascot Purdue Pete.

Above: Purdue fans, usually on their feet, are at ease during the halftime show.

Above: Wisconsin head coach Gary Anderson pacing along the sideline. 

Above and below: Staff tend to cornerback Sojourn Shelton (8), who came off the field late in the game clutching his right arm. 

Above: Most Purdue fans had left the game by the end, but not the gleeful Badgers contingent in the northwest corner of the stadium. They hung around to the joyous end.