So it’s 2014 and wow what a start to the year! In Indiana we’ve had some of the coldest temperatures in the history of the state. It was recorded to be -27F in some parts of the city. It was a perfect time to be dealing with water in our basement, and losing power for several hours. Really though, it could have been worse. We had bread, we had milk, we had each other. My office has been torn apart since that’s where the water was mostly, and my image archives are in a box temporarily but these are things to be dealt with in 2014. Reminds me a little bit of when I was robbed shortly after moving to Indianapolis. Not a pleasant experience, but I had lots of stuff in boxes ready to move for a long time after that. Now, almost symbolically, I must pack and unpack for this new freelance adventure that I’m on. That being said, my first sports assignment for 2014 is very similar to one of my early Indystar Newspaper assignments. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to photograph an athlete again for the first time in 7 years or so. The New Orleans Pelicans played the Indiana Pacers last weekend while the Colts were playing a soon to be considered historic Wildcard Playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Cover of Sports Illustrated by my buddy Andy Hancock says it was a helluva game to watch. In fact most of the TV’s inside of Bankers Life Fieldhouse were turned to the Colts game; while the Pacers were out on the court playing. At one point I was positive that the pacers were fouling on the Pelicans just to get score updates for the Colts game. I digress though, because at this game I was able to once again photograph the one and only Eric Gordon.
(Canon EOS 1D Mark II, 100ISO, Canon 24-70F2.8L@52mm , 1/125th@F9. Dynalite Strobe heads at the Indianapolis Star Studio in the American Building. Indystar File Photo)
I shot that photo for the Indiana All Star Basketball promo materials back in 2007. Eric was a quiet kid, did what we asked of him, answered a few questions for the program and then left. Probably not sure what was ahead of him in life as he headed towards the IU Basketball court the following year. He only stayed at IU for a little while, and then headed to the NBA Draft. He’s a good basketball player. I’ve seen him play several times over the years whether on the court or the television and despite the Pelicans losing record (at the time of this writing it’s 15-19), the Pelicans are enjoyable to watch with him out on the court.
(Nikon D2x, 100ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR@70mm, 1/250th@F4.5. Pacers in house Sport lights triggered by Pocket Wizard Plus II Transmitter)
I remember shooting the Indiana All Star Basketball games that year, shooting half with Nikon equipment and half with Canon Equipment. Not shooting each half of the game differently mind you, but with two camera bodies; one each being of the opposite brand. At the time it was the only way to combat the somewhat eclectic gear set that the Paper Provided me, combined with the somewhat eclectic gear set that I personally owned then. I was using my Nikon D2x with a 70-200F2.8 next to a Canon 1D Mark II and a 24-70F2.8. At the time it seemed like the play. In retrospect it was probably a bit silly for me to do that, but at that point I hadn’t yet built up my relationship with the other shooters at the paper to ask for loaner gear, or even for suggestions on shooting basketball from the real pro’s of the paper such as Matt Kryger, Matt Detrich, or Bob Scheer. So there I was, stuck with half Canon and Half Nikon shooting high school sports at a few different places around Indiana following Eric Gordon around. If I knew then what I know now I’d have shot more of him behind the Scenes, but my assignment was merely game related and promotional stuff. As the years went on I shot the likes of Tyler Zellar, Cody Zellar, and DeShaun Thomas; all as high schoolers. All great guys. Just barely missed Greg Oden by a year though, which was too bad because every time All Stars basketball came around everybody talked about Greg Oden. Yup, just a bit too early for me. As a photographer moments like that seem like the story of your life. Half a second too late for a shot, looked away for only a moment for something to happen. A lot of photography is stalking the moment. Don’t believe me? You should ask my buddy Julio with the AP. He he’s stalked shots for as long as 8 months before.
(Nikon D2x, 100ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR@200mm. 1/250th@F4.5. Pacers in house Sport lights triggered by Pocket Wizard Plus II Transmitter)
So, I started shooting basketball for the Indystar with Gordon and now I started my sports shooting in 2014 shooting Gordon’s team for USA Today. Seeing him play last weekend was fun for me, even though I know I was probably one of only a few paying attention to the game. I’m sure Eric hardly remembers that time of his life, look at how much different he looks in the image above than below.
(Nikon D3, 4000ISO, Nikon 200-400F4VR@240mm, 1/640@F4)
The NBA has taught him a lot, and a lot of people have had their eyes on him. Having started out with the LA Clippers and then moving to the Pelicans, I’m sure that even the Pacers have had their eye on him for some time. It doesn’t help obviously when you grew up being known as an all star for basketball in the area. I’m sure some of the Pacers watched him play growing up and it showed as they made it as difficult as possible for him to score as they could.
(Nikon D4, 4000ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2@70mm, 1/640th@F4.)
That was from the game the other night. The photography has changed just as much as Gordon. Instead of using the in house lights (which are mostly used only by the pacers photographers and the NBA photographer at this point), everybody shoots at high ISO anymore which is too bad. If I had access to the Sport lights in the venue or could hang my own I’d do it, but I’m also the only one on the court shooting with a 200-400F4; which may or may not have my 1.4x extender on it from time to time for when I really want to reach out and touch someone. (in all fairness Ron who shoots for the NBA has a Canon 80-200 with a 2x extender on it which is essentially the same thing).
(Nikon D4, 4000ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2@122mm, 1/640th@F4)
Last Saturday Gordon was on the court scoring 25 of the Pelicans 90 points. The Pacers at the time of this writing are 28 and 7, and they knew how to handle the Pelicans. It was a great game to watch even if the photos really weren’t very important to anybody. The Colts comeback for a 45 to 44 win over the Kansas City Chiefs was the big news, which is probably why every other photographer in town was at the Colts game. The only Colts game I’ve ever shot was against the Bengals at Bengals Stadium. The Bengals whom I covered almost the entire home season for up until last weekends playoff game. One step and story at a time. Welcome to 2014. More Soon.