Thursday, October 20, 2011

Travel Blog – 2011 Week Six: Houston at Baltimore

Travel Blog – 2011 Week Six: Houston at Baltimore
By Andy Lopusnak,
October 16-17, 2011

Downtown Baltimore, Maryland
This week’s game marked the 175th NFL game that I’ve covered for CBS Sports. It’s just my tenth NFL game in Baltimore though it feels like I get games here all the time. In just six weeks, I’ve now covered the Houston Texans four times and they’ve lost both on the road. Overall in 14 Texans’ road games that I’ve covered, Houston is just 2-12. 

I like getting Baltimore games because it gives me a chance to photograph not just shoot Charm City but to get Washington D.C. which is less than an hour away. I flew into Reagan International and immediately took my rental car to the Lincoln Memorial to get video of it and the great monuments/memorials around the nation’s capital.

Though I flew into Baltimore and out of D.C. two weeks ago for the Air Force-Navy game, I didn’t get a chance to get out and shoot either city due to the quick nature of the double dip (did the Steelers-Texans game the next day).

This time, I was excited to see the new MLK Memorial and get video of as much of the city as I could in the three hours I had to shoot.

MLK Memorial
The memorial has a 30-foot relief of MLK named the “Stone of Hope” that’s carved out of the “Mountain of Despair” that’s behind it. This term was referenced in the “I Have a Dream” speech. I spent nearly an hour at the MLK Memorial getting video and stills. 

Sadly, traffic was horrendous in and out of the city due to the MLK Memorial having its official dedication on Sunday (the 16th anniversary of the Million Man March). It was originally suppose to be dedicated on August 28 – the anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech, but was postponed because of Hurricane Irene. Also there was a Jobs (or lack thereof) March on Washington Saturday that made moving around the city very difficult. Additionally, I sprained my ankle walking to the MLK Memorial. The pain is still there even now, but it’s manageable.

That being said, I did get a chance to get footage and stills of the following memorials: Lincoln, Vietnam War, Korean War and World War II. The reflecting pool which sits between the WWII and Lincoln Memorials was under construction and completed gutted. I had planned on getting some video of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial using the reflecting pool, but will now have to wait until at least 2013. I didn't have enough time to get down to the Capitol or White House this trip, however, I think the video I made is pretty good nonetheless.

I focused mainly on video for D.C this trip, but have taken a lot of pictures in the nation’s capital (click here to see my numerous galleries of D.C.). Of all my photos of D.C. over the years, here’s my top photos all-time…

After my short time in D.C., I headed north to Baltimore and checked in at the trucks. Next, I headed to my favorite spot in Charm City – Federal Hill. This place provides the best views of downtown Baltimore and the Inner Harbor. Federal Hill was once the location of a paint pigment mining operation and got its name in 1789 thanks to a huge celebration there after the signing the Constitution. 
Baltimore as seen from Federal Hill
At Marriott Baltimore Waterfront, my hotel room (1139) had an amazing view of the Inner Harbor, downtown and Federal Hill. Take a look…

View from my hotel room at sunrise
THE GAME – Baltimore 29, Houston 14
This was the second Ravens-Texans game I’ve covered. The first was December 15, 2002 at Houston with the Ravens winning 23-19. Baltimore quarterback Jeff Blake tossed for 228 yards with two scores in the win. That game happened to be my first Houston Texans home game. Today, I’ve done more Texans games (27) as well as home games (13) than any other team in the NFL.

Former Ravens WR Derrick Mason in his first game with the Texans
The Texans were without superstars Andre Johnson and Mario Williams and kept it close until late in the game. Baltimore relied on the leg of kicker Billy Cundiff, who nailed five field goals. Ravens QB Joe Flacco tossed over 300 yards, RB Ray Rice ran for over a 100 and WR Anquan Boldin caught over 100 yards.

On the opening drive, Baltimore LB Ray Lewis became the first player in league history to post at least 40 career sacks and 30 career interceptions.  Houston is now 0-5 all-time against the Ravens. As a side note, I snapped a shot of NFL draft guru Mel Kiper during pregame (photo of him is at the end of this blog).
Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis
Last year, I got a fantastic time lapse of the Ravens 26-10 home win over Miami (check it out by clicking here). With this game being a late game that would dip into the evening, I wanted to get a different angle of M&T Bank Stadium. Last year, I went from the 50-yard line facing downtown. This time, I had my camera at field level in the end zone. It’s not as good as the one from last season (click here to check that one out). I don't think I'll be doing field-level time lapses again. They're just not that interesting.

I’ve spent a few hours researching on getting the most out of my video from my Canon 7D. It’s a lot more than just point and shoot. There are all sorts of different video specific settings that aren’t in the manual and color/contrast options. My 50mm f/1.4 lens is great in low-light situations and I got some scenic footage of Baltimore’s waterfront at night utilizing the new settings I learned this week. Until you actually see the difference between f/2.8 and f/1.4 with video at night, you don’t realize how much better f/1.4 really is in shooting (especially at night).

Here’s a selection of my favorite images taken this past weekend.

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