Thursday, November 22, 2012

Photo/Travel Blog: Dallas

Photo/Travel Blog: Dallas
By Andy Lopusnak,
November 16-19, 2012

This week marks by 200th overall NFL game with CBS Sports. I find it very fitting that it is a Dallas Cowboys home game since I’ve never covered a game for CBS in Big D. Additionally, this was my first time shooting the city of Dallas; so I arrived Friday night and left Monday afternoon (I would’ve stayed later but I shot the Bears-49ers game Monday night back in San Francisco). Of the top 32 populated cities in America, Dallas was the largest I hadn't shot.

Including my year working with the Bucs in 1997 and all the games attended since I moved from a paying spectator into getting paid, this was my 246th NFL game. I did cover a Dallas road game at Washington on December 2, 2001 for FOX Sports as my usual SportsMedia stats position, but the Cowboys by far by the team that I’ve covered the least.

When I saw Oliver Stone’s inaccurate (though I didn’t know that) film JFK as a kid, I was hooked on the Kennedy assassination. It was a little surreal to see with my own eyes the grassy knoll and Texas School Book Depository (TSBD).

The TSBD is now the Sixth Floor Museum, which is dedicated to JFK’s presidency and all the details of what happened some 49 years ago. It cost $16 to enter the museum. The experience was very nostalgic and worth it if you’re ever in Dallas. They provide an audio tour with admission.

In the corner window of the sixth floor where Lee Harvey Oswald “allegedly” fired those three shots is re-created to look exactly like it did in 1963. You cannot look out of that window because of the re-creation (though they do have a live webcam from the sniper’s window). There’s no photography in the sixth floor, but on the seventh you can shoot photos from the same vantage point of Oswald.

After I took lots of photos of Dealey Plaza, I headed to the Texas Theater, where the police arrested Oswald. The exterior signage has been restored to what it looked like in 1963 and it is still an operating movie theater. They were showing the latest Bond flick Skyfall when I was there. When Oswald was captured, the film being show was War is Hell.

When looking up places to shoot in Dallas, I kept coming up with things at Fair Park. This is where the annual Texas State Fair is held, When I flew here last month to photograph the Baylor men’s basketball team for CBS, the fair had just started and the iconic Big Tex (description) was burnt down that morning.

Cotton Bowl Stadium is located in Fair Park. The actual bowl game is now played at Cowboys Stadium. When I came back at night, I got this great shot of the green neon signage.

The next thing I shot in Fair Park was the exterior of the Hall of State and its Tejas warrior with drawn bow.
Across the way from Hall of State were male and female oversized sculptures that looked like a car-hood ornament.
Towering over the Deep Ellum neighborhood of downtown Dallas stands the 38-foot Walking Tall glimmering metallic robot. It’s one of three in a series of public art pieces for the Deep Ellum DART station. There’s a pretty good article describing the three-part series and its history (click here to view).

Across the street and little down from Walking Tall is the robot sitting playing a guitar as he’s Waiting for a Train.
Down another street along the DART tracks is Awakening, where the robot is emerging from the ground.

After getting “magic hour” shots of downtown, I wanted to get some night shots of the Cotton Bowl with the green neon signage that you saw earlier in this blog. So, I headed back to Fair Park and after repeating all the daytime shots, I noticed a bunch of colorful lights. It was the Chinese Lantern Festival. I forked over $19 and took the 7D and my tripod in to see the 22 sets of oversized lanterns made out of silky cloth, glass and porcelain. Check out mygallery of all the lanterns to see the wide variety. It reminded me of the exhibit of Chihuly glass in San Francisco back in 2008 (click here to see my gallery).  

Dallas overcame a 13-0 deficit to take a 17-13 lead with less than seven minutes left in the game thanks to strong second half by QB Tony Romo, who at one point completed eleven straight. Cleveland re-gained the lead with 1:07 remaining, but left too much time on the clock to set up a Cowboys field goal to force overtime.

In the extra frame, Dallas won the game on a Dan Bailey’s third field goal of the game with 6:07 left in overtime. Romo ended with 313 yards and a touchdown pass. He was sacked a career-high seven times. Romo’s favorite target was Dez Bryant, who tallied a career-best 12 grabs for 145 yards and a TD.

I set up the GoPro Hero 2 at the 50-yard line. The camera lasted five hours and 36 minutes for a total of 1,957 images in intervals of every ten seconds. About an hour before kickoff, the stadium roof was opened and the sun’s glare is evident in the time lapse. According to the announcers, the sun was blinding.

I put the 40D next to the “beauty” television camera the southwest corner. It was set for intervals photography of every 25 seconds for a total of 952 images. If you look at the roof, you can see it open before the game and close just as the time lapse ends.

Saturday morning, I went out to get my first shots of Dallas; however, I got a flat tire before I clicked my first shot. It all my time with CBS, this was the first time I got a flat (and hopefully the last).

Since I wanted to get to Dallas as quick as possible to shoot the city, I opted to fly Virgin America. I always hear how great this airline is and as a frequent flier, it was nothing special. The direct flight was delayed an hour, Yes, they have TV in every seat, but the channels pretty much sucked compared to the Delta flights that have TV. I won’t be flying this airline again. Both flights were blazing hot before we took off. I left Dallas Monday afternoon at 1:35 P.M. Central Time and landed two hours before kickoff. Next, I took BART to a transfer station for a direct bus to Candlestick ($12 roundtrip) and got to the stadium about 20 minutes before kickoff.

49ERS 32, BEARS 7
Call it Concussion Bowl as the normal starting quarterbacks for both teams were out due to concussions. 49ers backup QB Colin Kaepernick completed 16-of-23 for 243 yards with two touchdowns in his first NFL start to propel San Francisco to a 32-7.

Defensive end Aldon Smith was a monster recording 5.5 sacks (tied for fifth most in NFL history) as well as two forced fumbles.

The 49ers might want me to shoot all their games. I've shot six regular season games at Candlestick Park and the 49ers are a perfect 6-0 in these prime-time games (Thursday or Monday night).

It seems every prime-time 49ers game brings out a few celebrity fans. Monday night was no different as former Oscar-nominee (Hurt Locker) Jeremy Renner and comic actor Danny McBride (Kenny Powers from Eastbound & Down and the K-Swiss commercials)

Not sure how CBS Sports’ #2 crew got this crappy game on Thanksgiving weekend, but I’m content because once I get my time lapse(s) of Arrowhead Stadium, there will be just seven sites left (Carolina, Cleveland, Jacksonville, New England, San Diego, Tampa Bay and Tennessee).

Here’s a collection of my favorite shots from this weekend. 

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