Wednesday, September 21, 2011

NFL Week Two: New York (JAX@NYJ)

NYC Skyline
New York (9/17-18, 2011)  
Sunday, I found out why New York is the city that never sleeps. My room at the Flatotel had the most uncomfortable bed outside of the Buffalo Hyatt. No cushioning and stiff as a board. As I begin to write this in the Newark airport at five in the morning, I’m like a zombie. Aside from a crappy blowout, the hotel and some minor photo letdowns, it was pretty good weekend of videos and photos.

The hotel is in an amazing location, just a block away from Times Square, but this time the experience was terrible. In addition to the bad bed, I had to wait 50 minutes for my rental car. If you ever get room 1708, just sleep in the lobby. 

When I was told that Week Two would be the Jaguars-Jets, I wanted to check out the 9/11 Memorial that opened up last week (exactly a decade after the terrorist attacks). I knew that you needed advanced tickets to get inside, but thought that I’d be able to access to the outside fountains (in the same place as where the Twin Towers once stood). However, with all the construction around the memorial, access was limited to only ticket holders for everything. Sadly, you cannot get a ticket until mid-December. So, I walked all around the site for different vantage points, but didn’t get any fountain photos. However, I got a nice reflection shot of an American flag from the new Freedom Tower that’s under construction on the façade of the museum. It was by far the best shot from the failed attempt to shoot the memorial.  

9/11 Memorial
Since I was already in the Financial District, I headed over to Wall Street to get some video of the Charging Bull statue and Wall Street itself. However, there were ten cops guarding the bull and over 100 protecting the entrance to Wall Street because of a protest that ended nearly two hours before I got there.

NYCPD guards the bull
With the back-to-back letdowns, I was feeling pretty down and my phone was dead with all the usage of GPS to find everything. Plus, it began to rain so I headed back to the hotel. After downloading and charging my cell, the weather was better. I walked around snapping stills and video of Times Square, Radio City Music Hall and the Atlas statue near the hotel, which are all near the hotel. I then huffed it about 30 blocks to the Natural History Museum to get a dusk shot of the side entrance with scale models of all the planets.
Museum of Natural History at dusk
Next, I went into Central Park, but got lost only to make a turn in the pitch-black dark to find myself at Belvedere Castle. It looked awesome as the sky was turned purple thanks to the heavy cloud coverage. I stayed in the Park and walked around The Lake getting more reflection shots off the water. I made it back to the hotel around 11 and didn’t even realize the bed was stiff as a board until Sunday morning when I was sorer than when I fell asleep.

Belvedere Castle in Central Park

Reflections on The Lake in Central Park
THE GAME: JETS 32, Jaguars 3
The Jets dominated this game from the beginning. At one point, New York QB Mark Sanchez was 10-of-12 with his lone incompletions coming from interceptions. His favorite target was tight end Dustin Keller, who posted his third career 100-yard receiving game. The Jets wore their throwback Titans of New York home jerseys for this game.

New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez
Last year, I got a great time lapse of the Titans-Giants game at MetLife Stadium (last year known as New Meadowlands Stadium – click here to view that time lapse). Last season, I did a Jets game here, but didn’t do a time lapse because I was down to just one camera (my 40D and 20D were both in the shop) and I opted for pregame shots of the Jets and Texans instead of the time lapse.

Though the game was a snorefest, the time lapse was anything but because of the fantastic clouds. Take a look at it…

After the game, I headed to Hamilton Park, which is across the Hudson River from NYC in Weehawken, New Jersey. It’s the last exit before going through the Lincoln Tunnel (which is now $12). Amazingly, there was plenty of free street parking facing the skyline and the views were stunning. The clouds were still out and I got some impressive shots and a little video as it went from day to night. I stayed until about 8:30 pm, then headed back to the hotel. Sadly, I couldn’t sleep because of how hard the bed was and just converted RAW images and looked at my results from the weekend. I got some really good video clips, so it’ll take a few days to edit and post the results, so I’ll had a link in my Week Three blog.

New York midtown skyline from Hamilton Park at night
I glanced at the all-time games document and the last time I did a Jacksonville at NY Jets game was on November 23, 2003. That was little more than a month after I got the D30 and this game was the first NFL contest that I went on the sidelines and shot photos. I bought my first SLR from Pat Cubel, who was one of my photographers when I was VP of the af2’s San Diego Riptide. The reason I bought it was because I was just hired by the Grand Rapids Rampage and told that I had no budget for photography and I knew that was unacceptable, so I bought the camera.

The Jags-Jets game was my first NFL game that I took the SLR on the field to get pregame photos. Three games had passed since I bought the camera, but since it was for AFL games, I didn’t think much of shooting anything else. I went on the field this November afternoon to grab a few shots of Jets WR Kevin Swayne, who previously played in the AFL because I needed NFL shots of him for my media guide where I wanted to showcase the AFL players that made it to the NFL.

I’d go on to shoot three of the next four pre-games warmups because former AFLers were involved. I wish I could go back and get shots of the cities and games I missed out on despite having a camera in my backpack.

As for the last Jags-Jets game, New York won 13-10 thanks to a three-yard Santana Moss touchdown reception with 26 seconds left in the game. Speaking of Moss...
One of my first pregame shots with an SLR from 2003 (NYJ WR Santana Moss)
This is my twelfth year traveling for CBS and in 2006. I made the decision to document my trips through photography after purchasing my first brand new digital SLR (the Canon 20D). Yes, I had a second-hand Canon D30 that I used on and off since October of 2003, but never truly used it. I still kick myself that I didn’t shoot Lambeau Field in 2004 when I had the chance. My camera was in my bag, but it just wasn’t important.

Five years later, I kick myself once again that I didn’t take the time to write down my experiences with each game I covered in the previous eleven seasons. Three games into blogging my thoughts; I wish I did this in the past. Thankfully, a few years ago I researched and found out every game I’ve covered since 1997 – the first year I began the transition from fanatic fan to media member.

Thursday night, I received the new ballhead for my tripod that I ordered from Amazon. It’s much small than the three-knobbed head that I bought back in 2006. Throwing it in the garbage was like losing an old friend. That thing’s been all over the world with me, but I should’ve bought a ballhead a long time ago. Instead of needing to adjust the three knobs, I can tighten/loosen one knob then maneuver my camera so much easier.

I spent time this week updating the home page of my website,, by adding buttons for my social media contacts and adding some pictures and galleries that have been lost over the years. Maintaining a site with over 25,000 images is daunting and with all my moves from one coast to another, I forgot to add a lot of pictures. I’m trying to streamline the front page of the site and make finding photos easier for people attempting to purchase or view images. This week, I added my time-lapse videos to the site. The addition is a bit tricky as, the photo site that hosts my site, doesn’t allow video or easily embeds from YouTube. So, I had to add a photo related to the time lapse and then embed the video under the photo. I think it works okay. Here’s a link to a sample.

Very excited to try out some social media aggregation apps that allow me to post once and have them appear on my social media outlets. Friday morning, I posted a new gallery of Coors Field in Denver that I forgot about when I shot the baseball stadium last October and it automatically updated on my Facebook page. Same happened when I uploaded a time lapse of Washing D.C. before I left to fly to NYC. Why didn’t I do this a long time ago? This is so much easier than posting individually to each platform.

In addition to the images above, here’s a collection of my favorite shots taken from this weekend.Check more out at

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