Monday, February 07, 2011
Sideline photo fun when Badger football press passes were easier to come by
In the late sixties and early seventies, when the University of Wisconsin football program was still trying to rebuild after the impact of the tumultuous sixties, sideline passes for still photographers were much easier to come by than they are today, when major college football is a big business more geared to the needs of television. Just about any pretext would get you on the sidelines back then.
One year I was doing a weekly newspaper sports column I called "Instant Replay." Perhaps the most far-fetched excuse was to illustrate a magazine article, "The Management Game," a roundup of management experts offering business tips in the form of football metaphors. That's what these photos were used for. (Today, of course, such an article would be illustrated with iStock photos -- but, hey, we were still using film back then.)
Since I wasn't shooting for a daily newspaper, I wasn't concerned with capturing peak action or the most significant moment (except perhaps for the sports column), and in any case I didn't have the right equipment like a fast motor drive and super-long lenses. Instead, I went for arty motion blur photos.
Kodachrome, with its slow speed and great reds and whites, was perfect for the purpose. When I was trying to capture the overall flow of action, as in the photo of the running back above, I usually used 1/4-sec. as the exposure. A lot of the photographs combined two kinds of motion blue -- both the subject and the background, as I panned with the action. Sometimes, if I got lucky and used a slightly higher shutter speed (1/15-sec. in this photo of the defensive back), I could blur only a detail, like the legs. I had a ball.