Game 7: Cowboys v. Eagles

Change Is Gonna Come

This was the first Cowboy home game after the Daylight Savings Time (DST) change. Why do we continue to observe DST? Anyway, now that the sunset's at 5:25 PM, I was concerned about the lighting on the stage. In this blog I'm going to write about how I  handled the changing lighting situation. Be warned, I'll get a little technical in this blog. 

The first set of performances on the Miller Lite stage, which is on the west end of AT&T Stadium, started at 4:50 PM, no issues here as the stage was lit by the sun. It's actually my favorite time to shoot as the low horizon of the sun creates beautiful light. In photography circles is called the Golden Hour, and it's a great time to take photos outdoors because the intensity of the sunlight is reduced and it's more indirect sunlight. 

Shot at 4:50 PM on the Miller Lite Plaza Stage

The second set of performances began at 5:21 PM on the AT&T Plaza stage, on the east side of AT&T Stadium, although we were in the shadow of the stadium, there was still plenty of light. By this time the stage lights were on causing some uneven lighting, but not enough to cause a big problem. But you can see that the middle of the stage is where the lights are directed. I like shooting on this side of the stadium because the shade creates soft even lighting.  But most of the time the sky is blown out because I have to expose for the shade and using flash doesn't make sense for a variety of reasons. So far so good.

Shot at 5:21 PM on the AT&T Plaza Stage

The next performance on the AT&T Plaza stage was at 5:45 PM, now the sun has set and we are on the shaded side of the stadium. To my chagrin, the stage was not evenly lit. The spot lights were focused on the middle of the stage, so the dancers would be in the spot light and the shaded areas of the stage at that the same time. Now, what do I set my exposure to? 

Shot at 5:45. You can see how uneven the stage lighting is configured

I know I want to shoot at 1/500th of second. So I set my camera to Manual mode. I set my shutter speed to 1/500 and took a series of shots, adjusting my Aperture and ISO, until I got to an acceptable exposure. I ended up at f/5.6 at ISO 6400. ISO 6400 is to high for my liking, but it's something I had to live with. Freezing the action is top priority. I chose f/5.6 because I like a little wiggle room to get the shot in focus. There were a ton of images that were under exposed, I had to up the shadow slider in Adobe Lightroom quite a bit. I didn't do any noise adjustment because the D750 does really well at high ISO's. 

That's my tale on how I dealt with the changing lighting patterns due the DST change. Veteran's and those who are serving in our military, where also being honored on this day. I'm a military brat and my father served 30 years in the Army, including two tours to Vietnam, I can certainly appreciate Veteran's Day.  Here are a few more shots and some video of my day AT&T Stadium.

Game 1: Cowboys v. Vikings (Preseason)

Game Day

Awwwww yeah! It's game day. The Dallas Cowboys first preseason home game against the Vikings. I'm excited because it's my first day as the photographer for the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers and Drumline. It's sort of my preseason as well. Here's how the day went.

Gear Check

Here's a run down of my game day gear list:

  • Nikon D750: This will be my main body.
  • Nikon D610: Second/backup body. 
  • Tamron 24-70: For my first day this will be on my D750.
  • Sigma 70-200: This will be on my D610.
    • Since I wasn't sure how things will go, I'll have both camera bodies on me so that I don't waste time switching lenses. 
  • SB-700 Flash: Just in case I need to shoot any indoor photographs
  • Rogue Flash Bender: To use with the SB-700
  • Spider Camera Holster: This thing is expensive, but one of the best investments. I have various shoulder straps, after hours of shooting, my shoulders would be really sore the next day. With the Spider Camera Holster system (think old western gunslinger kinda belt), you have your cameras on your hip, man it makes a difference at the of the day.  Well worth the money.
  • Mono-pod

Performance Schedule

AT&T Stadium has two plazas, the Miller Lite Plaza on the west end and the AT&T Plaza on the east end. The DCRB dancers & drumline perform at both stages starting at the Miller Lite plaza. Then we have a convoy thru the AT&T Stadium main concourse to the AT&T Plaza. After performing there the convoy goes back to Miller Lite Plaza for the final stage performance.  Then we have a Mardi Gras style parade (minus the beads) to the upper concourse. You can see the schedule posted on the DCRB Facebook Fan Page before each home game.

Lessons Learned From Day One

Probably the biggest lesson I learned is that I don't have to carry both camera bodies.  I can shoot with the Tamron 24-70 for my wide angle shots on one stage and switch to the Sigma 70-200 for close ups on the other stage. I have plenty of time between performances to change lenses. I'll try that next time to see how that works. Also, because we are outdoors, there's plenty of light so I don't have to be concerned about maintaining a high shutter speed, but I do have to change my camera settings between stages, because for the late games, the west stage (Miller Lite Plaza) is in direct sunlight and the east stage (AT&T Plaza) is in the shade. I ended up using Shutter Priority at 1/500 of sec. I did take some indoor shots, so the flash came in handy. I never used the mono-pod so I don't know if I'll bring it next time. 


Below are some shots from game one. I'm a photographer, so I'm always on the look out for something interesting, so I won't be posting photos of DCRB. It will be a mix of interesting shots including some behind the scenes photos.