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.
Above and next three below: The Purdue band, including a crew wheeling out the world's largest drum, performing before the game.
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: Purdue fans, usually on their feet, are at ease during the halftime show.
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.