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Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

If you feel a hankering for some fine photography (and find yourself in New York City), mosey on over to Brooklyn Bridge Park where Photoville is happening this weekend and next. There seems to be a lot of great work on display as well as some interesting talks and panel discussions scheduled. To seal the deal, there is a beer garden. And to put the icing on the cake that is the already sealed deal, some images from my Giddy Up series will be displayed on “The Fence”. “The Fence” by the way will stay up for a couple of months. Yee-Haw!

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During the planning, shooting and promoting of the Chinatown Ballers, I had, for obvious reasons, the imagery of football on my mind, and since I was gripped by a sense of nostalgia for a time before the internet I explored the internet for images from when I was a little boy (or “wee lad” in proper football nomenclature). My becoming a soccer fan coincided with the time when German Fussball was at it’s very peak. The teams from the early 70’s were filled to the rim with great players, who were in turn filled with the spirit of rock’n’roll, or something. In any case all these guys could be timemachined into nowadays Williamsburg and, while ordering a macchiato, make a barista feel squarish.

So let’s start with the great “Kaiser” Franz Beckenbauer, the innovative play-making defender and early expert on mustache irony.

Here he is showing New Yorkers how to simultaneously impress his mom, his grandma and his girlfriend while sporting a little powder-blue baggy. How did he do it? I wish I knew.

Great minds think alike…

…which leads us to Gerd Müller. Possibly the best German player of them all, definitely the best striker by far, which is why he gets to wear this outfit:

 

 

Here he scores the winning goal in the ’74 World Cup final against the Netherlands…

and that’s why he gets to smoke a big cigar with Paul Breitner….

…speaking of Breitner: Here was a man who was not afraid to engage in an Afro-deathmatch to the death with England’s Kevin Keagan…

…tell fratboys all over the world how to turn indigestion into a headache…

…show men what men shorts should look like on men (together with Uli Hoeness)…

…and yet be a sensitive art lover deep down inside…

…just like Guenter Netzer…

…a moody midfield genius…

…who knew his place at a pool…

…or on a very fast, sexy car…

…just like Sepp Maier…

…the backbone of the defense…

…who’d go after any ball…

…in any condition…

…and never lose his head.

Last but definitely not least there was Berti Vogts, one of my favorite players.

Though he was a bit undersized, his ferocious defending earned him the nickname “the terrier”.

And yet, he was man enough to read a book in a romantic setting…

…and keep his forwards (Jupp Heynckes in this case) happy, no matter how.

Let’s finish with Rolf Hayo’s terrific shot of Gerd Mueller pounding a ball through seven window panes, symbolizing a soccer mom’s dream and nightmare simultaneously.

A nice source for more good, clean images of German soccer is http://bundesligaclassic.tumblr.com/.

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Some of the regular highlights of my New York existence are the amateur soccer games I play in Chinatown. Some fellow kickers and I started to get together quite a long time ago for a midweek pick-up game on a 7 a side pitch at the edge of Barrio Chino. The game proved to be very robust and survived the cold winters, hot summers, stretches of low popularity, stretches of too much popularity, and many personnel changes for over a decade now. Even though soccer has its fair share of whiners, complainers, braggers, spoiled brats, bullies, people teetering dangerously close to sanity, as well as people that are all of the above, we managed to keep the game clean, competitive, friendly and fair.

Out of this pick-up game a weekend league named Groupstage evolved thanks to the efforts of Matt

and Tomas.

Matt and I have been bouncing the idea of a photo shoot around for quite a while, partly to promote his league, partly to promote my business, but also to do something creative with people we like to hang around with. As a matter of fact we’ve been talking about it for so long that it got kind of embarrassing. So this November I finally got my derriere in gear and picked a date for the shoot. Production becomes much easier with a deadline.

I started off with a location scout. The shoot had to be on a weekend or an evening when people would have a bit more time, and I don’t really like working in the evening, since then’s when I do my deep thinking. Field time on weekends is at a premium with tons of leagues competing for space. We decided on a field in Brooklyn that had good turf and was big enough to claim a corner for the shoot even while people were playing. Since the budget was midgety and since I’m still a bit confused about the (not so)new NYC permit process I decided to chance it and shoot permission free.

Since I was going to take action shots, flash sync speed became an issue. I normally shoot with a RZ67 with a 1/400 sync speed. I usually like to get a little blur, since I’m kind of bored with all the full freeze shots out there (if you can’t do something, it’s usually best to pretend that you wouldn’t want to do it anyway), but at that speed (1/400th that is) it’s sometimes hard to get just the right amount of movement. My pal and fellow photographer Juergen Frank was nice enough to loan me his Phase One 645 body and I rented a new Schneider lens with a sync speed of 1/1600. Beside the lens I rented a Profoto 7b with 2 heads (in addition to the 2 packs and 4 heads that I have), and a ton of sandbags. The rentals this time came from Nucleus in Red Hook.

The right amount of blur.

I worked with Chris as my one and only assistant and we set up a grey muslin backdrop that I had stuck in the dryer twice and ironed (!) the night before just to decide that we didn’t really like the grey for this set-up. Emotionally it was hard for me to let go, since I really don’t like ironing, but eventually I agreed with Chris and we put up a black cloth.

The next problem was surprisingly sync speed. Even though the lens can handle 1/1600, we could only get it to work properly at 1/800th. I’m still not sure why. One theory is that the radio slaves wouldn’t work that fast, but if anybody can think of another explanation, let me know. Luckily 1/800th gave me just the bit of blur I was looking for, so whew.

Bad backdrop, bad sync, good assistant.


Between these two issues we were still in a bit of a scramble by the time the first player showed up. Fortunately nothing else went wrong and we could start to concentrate on taking pictures. I set up 2 cameras, the 645 with the 110 mm and a Phase One P45+ at a distance for the action shots and full portraits and the RZ with a 90mm and my own P25 for close-ups. The RZ is a beautiful camera for tight portrait work and it cut down on time for lens changes.

Shooting action with an unfamiliar camera proved also to be not so easy. The shutter release point was way further back than in the RZ and the ball was often already in the fence when I took the shot. There was definitely a larger than usual blooper reel:

For lighting we set up 2 7B packs with 4 heads with regular reflectors from the front and the sides. We had another 7B with 2 heads coming from behind the models from each side and there was also a bit of sunshine from high and right.

The postproduction was minimal except for darkening the backdrop, and dealing with a bit of glare we sometimes got from the backlights, because the players didn’t always end up in the same place, and removing the shadow of a light or two on the floor, and cropping, and sexyfying the color, contrast and saturation a bit.

au naturel

a la vogue

If you’re thinking about joining a league in New York and playing against some of these handsome devils here, you might want to check out Groupstage.

If you want to read a roaming, eclectic, soccer-inspired blog, with league news thrown in for good measure, check out the Groupstage Blog.

If you want to read ( and I mean read) a roaming, eclectic, mildly melancholic, soccer-inspired blog, without league news but in German ( I know you Germans are out there), check out Freitagsspiel.

If you want to see the entire Chinatown Ballers series, click here.

Hope you all have a high scoring 2012.

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There’s a new gallery on my website with portraits and action shots of some of my NYC soccer colleagues. A more in depth post will follow shortly. In the meantime a big “thumbs up” to Matt Penrose at Groupstage who helped organize the shoot, posted it on his blog, and runs a terrific league, in case you’re looking for a game.

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As I have mentioned in an earlier post, the Missus and I recently made a trip to the left coast of Amurrrica so I could finally relax from my mediterranean lifestyle. As usual I decided to bring the shabang (2 7bs, 4 heads, and the Mamiya RZ) on our road trip from San Francisco to LA and back.

The project I had in mind originally was to find and photograph motocross riders in the hilly desert of Southern California. It would have worked out great, if only they were there. Even though I found plenty of tracks, I could not rustle up one single rider in the time we were there. Maybe they needed a vacation, too.

So faced with the depressing possibility of schlepping (and paying extra luggage charges for) all my gear without getting anything noteworthy out of it, I sent an SOS call to my good friends Jerry and Laurel in SF. J & L worked already on several other bay area shoots of mine, one of them detailed in great detail in an earlier post here.

Laurel told me about her friend Isabella, who is a passionate mountain biker, though injured at the moment, who could hook me up with other riders. It was very short notice, unpaid, and the shoot was happening on Monday afternoon. Somewhat close to ideal conditions.

After a location scout in different parts of the city, the tourist in me won, and I decided to shoot on the Marin side of the Golden Gate. Obviously it’s one of the mostest oftenest photographed locations ever, but the beauty of the span is just too damn hard to resist. During the scout, we went to some of the military installations in that area and the one closest to the bridge had some interesting structures that provided for good riding and angles without tourists in the background. I tried out different lenses and liked the slightly abstract (safari) look I got from the 250mm tele.

On Monday we started setting up for a one o’clock shoot. We didn’t know how many models would come, but we knew that they wouldn’t have a lot of time. When three riders finally arrived an hour late, the fog rolled in. Initially I was ready to kick something small and innocent, but the fog turned out to be not really solid. Every so often the veil would lift and the bridge would appear in highly attractive half-visibility. Laurel was standing on a little hill, telling us to get ready when a hole in the mist would blow our way. When we got the timing right it looked like this:

…and when we got the timing wrong it looked like that:

The rider in this picture is Remy, who is not just an all around good guy and very skilled rider, but also the owner of the tip-top Mojo Bicycle Cafe in San Francisco. A very nice combo of bike shop and cafe.

We did a quick group portrait (Ralph, Remy, and Isabella),…

…and moved up the hill for a second location. This is how our first spot looked from above:

The second location was on the other side of the hill and had a little patch of spectacular trees. We placed two lights amongst the trees behind the rider, one head pretty much from the front and left of camera and one head from the sharp right aimed at the rider but skimming the gnarly tree next to her. The rider had to start in the background, get some speed, duck under that big branch, get photographed, and roll down a sharp little hill while avoiding the camera. The two guys went first, but then Isabella’s competitive side kicked in and she went for it, too, freshly surgically repaired knee or not, giving me the best image in this spot (and possibly the day).

It was a short little shoot, but more than justified the schlepp.

If you’re into bikes or coffee or both I highly recommend to check out Mojo if you should find yourself (or lose yourself) in San Francisco (with flowers in your hair).

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While putzing around on the Internet (which seems to be my day job) and keeping a semi-interested eye on this year’s Tour de France, I came across some old images of Eddy Merckx. Like many of you will know, Eddy Merckx isn’t just the owner of the coolest name ever, he was also the most dominant bicyclist of his generation. So dominant was he that his nickname was “The Cannibal”.

He also had a way of looking larger than life in pictures. His suffering was of religious proportions…

…his crying on the bed put every teenager to shame…

…and when he got his white socks dirty he didn’t stop at light grey.

I also think that the old guard knew the limits of effective advertising…

…while this picture above makes me want to write with a Bic pen, drive a Peugeot on Michelin tires to a BP station and drink an ice-cold Salvarani (or whatever that is), this picture of the poor (modern day) Schleck brothers only gives me a headache.

There are 28 logos between them just above the belly buttons. Imagine the horror if they were triplets! I mean, is anybody buying a Skoda because it’s the seventh company from Andy Schleck’s left nipple? I don’t think so either.

In any case let’s finish the post with a great picture by Stephan Vanfleteren of the older Merckx and let’s all have a Molteni in his honor.

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There is a new gallery called “At the Races” on my website.  I spent a day at a messenger track race in Kissena, Queens which has a velodrome (what doesn’t New York have?).  The images were taken last year on the glorious, glorious day when Germany whooped Argentina 4:0 at the World Cup which might explain why it took me so long to post them (I’ve just stopped celebrating).  In any case there will be a longer post about the nuts and bolts of the shoot soon.

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