It’s been several years since I’ve shot a football game in any kind of significant rain. The drought has made sure that many fall and winter Friday nights would be dry as a bone. Even with last year’s El Niño weather pattern I was able to get away with nary a drop falling on me. It’s not that I’m complaining but one just gets used to the routine.
We’re at about the midpoint of this year’s prep football season and it’s been high and dry again, up until last Friday that is.
When I woke on Friday morning the skies were cloudy but still dry, which did not bode well. It start raining about midday or so and continued into the evening.
I was assigned to shoot the Chavez at Franklin game in Stockton. I prepared myself by donning my trusty old rain shell and rain hat (a wide-brimmed, waterproof chapeau).
You can purchase rain protection for your camera and lens which can cost as little as under $10 all the way up to over $100. I choose the cheapest route because it rains so little here. By simply using a large garbage bag and creating a hole to stick the lens through, you can give your gear effective rain protection for just pennies. It’s a technique I’ve used time and time again. It can be thrown away after you’re done or kept and reused again (I used the same bag just 2 days later to cover a Pacific field hockey game in the rain)
I wouldn’t call the rain on Friday night a deluge. The drops were very fine, almost mist-like, but that doesn’t mean it was light. There seemed to be a lot of those small drops per square foot resulting in a thorough soaking.
Most of the area high schools today have artificial turf fields but Franklin doesn’t. I got to the game early and realized that it’s been a while since I shot on a natural turf field. The sidelines were a quagmire of mud and muck between the 40-yard lines where the teams mostly congregate during the game.
I had walked out there in just my regular street shoes but upon seeing the muddy sidelines, I remembered that I had a pair of rain boots in the trunk of my car. I was able to go back, put the boots on and get back to the field before the start of the game.
The rains steadily continued with an ebb and flow in its intensity. At some points the rain was so thick it looked like a light fog. Most of my rain gear held up well. My feet were warm and comfortable in the knee-high rubber boots. The hat kept my noggin dry too. The garbage bag, while perhaps looking a little strange to the causal observer, was working like a charm as well.
It was my jacket that gave up the ghost. Over time I began to feel a wetness at the back of my neck. At first I thought it was just the cold transferring through the thin shell. But then I realized it was actually water seeping through the material, perhaps through a small hole. I didn’t notice it before because I hadn’t had to use it in the rain for so long.
There wasn’t much I could do about it at the time so I just continued to shoot the game. After a while the water seeped down to the small of my back. It was cold, wet and miserable but a least the rest of me was dry. But it’s what thousands of sports and news photographers do all the time. We often cover games and other assignments in less than ideal conditions with little or no recognition.
I’m a part of a Facebook group of photographers that participate in a friendly shootout every Friday night in which we each send in our best prep football photo from the night and then vote on our favorite ones. It’s an informal contest with no prizes. We do it just for the fun of seeing each other’s photos and to see how ours stack up against others.
My shot from last Friday, a photo of Franklin quarterback Julian Lopez throwing a pass though a veil of tiny raindrops, was chosen as the winner of the competition. It made it worth standing out in the rain in a leaky coat.