Blast from the past: Getting by with a little help from my friends

West High’s Ian Lloyd tries to escape the grasp of Lodi High’s Jeff Gillingham during a varsity football game at the Grape Bowl in Lodi on October 28, 2005. (Camera: Nikon D2H. Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600)

Shooting with flash during Friday night football is a double-edged sword. In the darker stadiums you need the flash to help fill in the shadows and stop motion blur. But when you use it, you get the dreaded red-eye effect.

Red-eye occurs when, due to the lack of light, a person’s irises are open wide and the flash reflects off the back of the eye causing that eerie glowing-eye look. This can be eliminated or reduced by simply moving the flash away from the camera’s lens. But the distances in football are so great that you just can’t get the flash far enough away. There are times when luck is with you and you get a little help.

10/28/2005: I shot a varsity football game between West and Tokay high schools at the Grape Bowl, Tokay as well as Lodi High’s home field in Lodi. The Grape Bowl is one of the worst lit fields in the county. In addition to not having very much light, what illumination that exists is very patchy. You an see the bright (well, brighter) and dark spots on the field. One has to use a flash just to get some kind of consistency to the exposures.

On one play I got a series of photos of a player running towards me and then getting tackled, nothing too unusual there. When I got back to the office and downloaded the pictures I noticed that on one of the shots someone else must have shot at the exact same time I did. From the way the light from their flash fell on the players I’m guessing that the unknown photographer was several yards away down the field behind me. There was no trace of my own flash which probably didn’t recycle in time to fire off again.

So with a little help from an unseen accomplice, I was able to use a flash and not get the dreaded red-eye

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