Thursday, August 29, 2013

TRAVEL/PHOTO BLOG: Denver and 2013 NFL Preview

TRAVEL/PHOTO BLOG: Denver and 2013 NFL Preview
By Andy Lopusnak,
August 23-25, 2013

Last year, my NFL season ended in the dramatic double overtime thriller in Denver and this year my CBS NFL season begins in the Mile High City. I’ve already photographed the Broncos this preseason shooting them and the 49ers two weeks ago at Candlestick Park with Denver prevailing 10-6 (view those images by clicking here).

This past January when I was here was fantastic and you can read all about my trip that time by clicking here. Also, please visit my Denver galleries by clicking here. The clouds were killer this time and I got some new and replacement photos. I didn’t get a chance to venture out and get some new angles, but since my crew will likely be back at least once this season, I already have a list of things to shoot next time.

I’m amazed by this tower, which when built in 1909, was the tallest man-made structure west of the Mississippi River. It was modeled after the iconic Campanile located at St. Mark's Square in Venice (click here to see one of my shots of the Campanile). D&F Tower stands at 325 feet, while the Campanile is 323 feet tall. 

I stayed at the downtown Westin, which is next door to the tower and I went out to the pool deck (4th floor) and got the night shot below.

Last time, I was here CBS stayed at the Four Seasons and my room was directly in front of the D&F Tower and I got the shot below.

In January, this building was still lit up for Christmas (click here to look at what it looked like). This time, I got some awesome day shots. Sadly, the state capital building, which is in the same plaza, was still under renovations. I have plenty of shots of the capital, but am always looking for better ones. Maybe the renovations will be done by the next time I’m in Denver.

With the clouds looking amazing, I went to the upper level of Sports Authority Field at Mile High to get some new shots of downtown Denver. Though the stadium isn’t in the heart of downtown, it’s far enough away to have a great scenic view of Denver.

I was excited to get shots of former Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford in a jersey to add to my Heisman gallery. Last time I did a Rams game, Bradford didn’t play so I had to resort to getting a shot of him in street clothes (click here to view).

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was 25-of-34 for 234 yards with a touchdown and an interception. For St. Louis, QB Sam Bradford was nine-of-16 for 110 yards with a touchdown. He started six-of-six and threw a three-yard touchdown on his first pass attempt.

Denver turned the ball over four times, which led to 16 St. Louis points. The Rams opted to go for the win with a two-point conversion after scoring with 1:56 left, however, receiver Brian Quick dropped the would-be game winner.

St. Louis linebacker Alec Ogletree had a stellar game picking off a pass, forcing a fumble, then returning said fumble for a touchdown and adding six tackles (two for loss).

There were three former #1 overall picks in this game (Manning, 1998; Jake Long, 2008; and Bradford, 2010). Click here to see my gallery of former #1 overall NFL draft picks. I’ve photographed 20 different #1 overall draft picks.

I’d already created two time lapses of Sports Authority Field (a corner shot from the 2012 playoff game and a high sideline view from 2010); so I opted to shoot one of the broadcast booth. This year, I’ll be doing more views of what goes on in the broadcast booth since I won’t be getting many of the stadiums I need to complete the circuit.

This time lapse was shot every ten seconds for a total of 969 usable pictures and the batteries last almost five hours. I really like out this turned out with the NFL on CBS logo in the background.

Last year, I predicted correctly ten of the 17 regular season games that I would cover. Thus far, I’m three for four. The highlight of the first four regular season games to me is in Week Four (NY Jets at Tennessee). It marks the first time I’ve been back in Nashville since Week 16 of 2007. That game was also Jets at Titans. Tennessee is my least visited AFC team along with Kansas City, which I’ve been too just four times.

Nashville is also the site of where my explosion in sports and city photography began as this was where Week One of 2006 was for me (also a Jets-Titans game and the NFL debut of Vince Young).

Additionally and most importantly, LP Field is another new NFL venue for a time lapse. Once Tennessee is added, it’ll make 26 out of 32 home venues that’ll have created a time lapse (27th if you include London). The six remaining home venues that I’ve not done a time lapse are: Carolina, Cleveland, Jacksonville, New England, San Diego and Tampa Bay.

Looking at the final 13 weeks, there’s slim pickings to get any of those elusive six venues. Here’s a look at the CBS games in the final 13 weeks for each of the six (note: flex scheduling kicks in from Weeks 11-17 and NBC can switch for better matchups).

Carolina: Wk 15 (NYJ@CAR)
Cleveland: Wk 9 (BAL@CLE); Wk 12 (PIT@CLE); Wk 13 (JAX@CLE)
Jacksonville: Wk 7 (SD@JAX); Wk 15 (BUF@JAX); Wk 16 (TEN@JAX)
New England: Wk 8 (MIA@NE); Wk 9 (PIT@NE); Wk 14 (CLE@NE); Wk 17 (BUF@NE)
San Diego: Wk 10 (DEN@NYG); Wk 13 (CIN@SD); Wk 16 (OAK@SD); Wk 17 (KC@SD)
Tampa Bay: Wk 14 (BUF@TB)

NBC has New England twice during flex scheduling (against Denver & Baltimore) and none of the other teams. I don’t see them giving those pats games back to CBS and I don’t see NBC taking any of the home games for Cleveland, Jacksonville or San Diego. Carolina and Tampa Bay only host the AFC twice and each has a Monday Night Football game so the Week 14 Bucs and Week 15 Panthers games are the only opportunities this year unless NBC takes one of them.

Truly dreading the likely back-to-back games in Houston. Or going to New York back-to-back (and three times within six games). I love NYC and even Houston, but I’ve had so many games in those locations that I just hope to get something new. Here’s a look at my best guesses for where I’ll be going this season.

Cincinnati at Chicago
San Diego at Philadelphia
Houston at Baltimore
NY Jets at Tennessee
New England at Cincinnati

Pittsburgh at NY Jets

New England at NY Jets

Buffalo at New Orleans

San Diego at Washington

Oakland at NY Giants

Kansas City at Denver

Jacksonville at Houston

New England at Houston

Cleveland at New England

NY Jets at Carolina

Pittsburgh at Green Bay

Denver at Oakland

We moved back to the South Bay due to Bethany’s job back in June. This was my first trip out of SJC in over a year. I truly hate the San Jose airport.  As a Delta Diamond flyer, this has to be the worst airport for a major metropolitan city in the US. San Jose is the largest city in Northern California as well as the tenth largest in the country, but there’s just one Delta gate at this place. It’s a joke. Thankfully, I live just two miles from the airport which is the only good thing.

Most of the flights I’ll be taking this year will be puddle jumpers to and from Salt Lake City to other locations. Ugh. For a location that is home to more multi-millionaires per capita than any location in the world, you’d think Silicon Valley would have a better airport. Yes, SFO is better (not by much for a Delta flyer), but it’s almost an hour drive away. Sadly, my first trip this 2013 NFL season started with a three and a half hour delay in Salt Lake City. That meant that my short travel day turned into a 13-hour day.

UP NEXT: Week One – New England at Buffalo
In two weeks, I’ll be heading to upstate New York for the 2013 regular season opener. I’ve been to Buffalo and thus Niagara Falls numerous times. My plan this time is to capture all of the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings since Buffalo has the most FLW structures outside of Chicago (where his office was located).

Here's a look at my favorite shots from this trip to the Mile High City that you haven't already seen in this blog.


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