Thursday, September 26, 2019

Shooting my first MLS soccer game - San Jose Earthquakes vs Philadelphia Union

Many months ago, I was invited by John Todd, the San Jose Earthquakes team photographer, to photograph one of their MLS Soccer games.  With my crazy schedule, the only game I could shoot was last night's match.  So last night I was able to join many of my fellow photographer friends and capture photos at my first ever professional soccer match. 

Before the game started, the team mascot (Q Mascot) wanted to get photos with some of us. I think he liked my camera gear. My buddy, John Lozano shot this photo of me and Q (yeah we are now on a first name basis).

And...of course, I had to reciprocate and get a picture of John and Q.

I was behind the net, prepping my camera gear when Krazy George walked by, getting the crowd into the spirit. For those of you who are not familiar with Krazy George. This guy has been leading cheers all over the US for many many years, and he is credited for starting the first "wave". I remember him stirring up the crowd back in my day at San Jose State University. We laughed about the old days and then he struck this pose for me.

I heard a loud commotion across the field and saw the rowdy San Jose Ultras waving their flags and cheering. I grabbed my Canon 5D Mark IV, with the Canon 24-70mm lens, and ran over for some photos. As soon as I saw the flags waving, I slowed my shutter speed of my camera to get some motion in the flags (also hoping the flag waver would keep his head still). I shot this photo at 1/30th of a second to get my desired effect.

This was one of my first shots of the game. As you can see from the first photo in this blog post, my main camera for this sport was the Canon 1D X Mark II married up with the Canon 200-400mm beast of a lens. I had both of those mounted on my Gitzo monopod, and chose to use one of my Acratech ball heads on top to easily take the camera on and off the monopod.

As always, I look for action and reaction. I saw the referee raise the yellow card and took this shot. I was not intending the capture the one player spitting, I promise you that.

The referee came over to review the video and since I was standing 15 feet from this, I figured it would make a good photo. Remember, the job of a photographer is to tell a story, and this is part of the story.

Since this was my first professional soccer game, it took me a while to determine the best shots, but I did find myself watching for high balls which might lead to headers.

Shooting at 14 frames per second was helpful in capturing the peak of action on the field.

More reactions captured during the game, with one player pleading his case and another down on the ground.

The San Jose Earthquakes scored the first goal, and I was happy to have a clear shot of the celebration.

Here is another good action shot. And...for those of you wondering about my camera settings, I shot almost everything at ISO 3200, f/4, at 1/1000 second.

This game was key for the team, as they really needed a win to help earn a playoff spot. But the team's top player, Chris "Wondo" Wondolowski, was red carded during the last game and not able to suit up. He announced that he would join the San Jose Ultra in their area, and cheer with them. 

At half time, Q was back for more photos...

...and the fans in the Ultra area was boisterous as ever!

Wondo" was cheering right with them, and the fans were loving it.

John captured this image of me as I moved from one area of the field to another.

I was back to capturing the action during the second half.

The Earthquakes had a chance to go up 2 to 0 as Carlos Fierro sprinted forward and took a shot on net. As you can see, I was not in the best position to capture the shot (without the post in the frame), but it still tells a story. His did not score on this shot, since it was determined that the play was offside.

Shortly after the Earthquakes thought they were up 2 to 0, the Union scored a goal and tied the game. Using the long reach of the 200-400mm lens, I locked focus on Daniel Vega (the goalie) from the opposite side of the field, and got this shot of him diving for the ball.

This is the uncropped version of the same shot.

The Union quickly scored a second goal, and Wondo reacted to his team being down. He did his best to get his team rallied. 

The Earthquakes played hard, but could not even the tally.

The final whistle blew and the game was over.  I saw Danny Hoesen down on the ground, processing the loss.

Nearby, Andre Blake (the goal tender from the Philadelphia Union) and some of his teammates celebrated their victory.

Even though the home team did not come out victorious, I had a great time shooting the game. Thanks so much to John Todd (and John Lozano) for invitation and for the fun evening. I look forward to shooting soccer again. It might be in the San Jose area or it might be in Tokyo during the upcoming Summer Olympics. 

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Yamm and TJ said...

Awesome shots!!

JCusack said...

Looks like it was a fun shoot . Thank you for teaching me about telling the story of the event , that a sporting event isn’t about the best action shots but what is going on around the field and in the stands , has made me watch so much more and the photos are starting to tell better stories. So happy you had the free night for a fun shoot . Hi to all πŸ˜ŠπŸ“ΈπŸ˜Š

David McKellar said...

Great shots Jeff!

erin may said...

great work i love this blog keep it up,, i work with wedding photographer York