Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Music City Madness (Week 4 - NYJ@TEN)

Tennessee State Capitol from Bicentennial Mall State Park

Travel/Photo Blog: Nashville (Week 4 – NYJ@TEN)
By Andy Lopusnak,
September 28-29, 2013

The Music City is where my true love of photography began. I brought my first professional SLR camera in October of 2003 when I was told by the Grand Rapids Rampage, an Arena Football League team that I had just started working for at the time, that I had no budget for photography. Thus, I spent my own money and got a camera, a used Canon D30 from one of my sports photographers with my previous team – the San Diego Riptide. Though I used that camera for three years shooting every Rampage road game while being the PR director, I rarely pulled it out on the road for CBS games and I can only think of twice that I used it to shoot various cities. That changed when I decided to upgrade to the Canon 20D to get better quality shots a few months before the 2006 NFL season (I even used said 20D this week for one of my time lapse views).
Downtown Nashville at dawn

It was by pure luck that my Week One game in 2006 was Nashville or my passion for the clicking might not be as intense or I’d have a little warm spot in my heart for another city. A chance web search for Grand Rapids skyline photos in the summer of 2006 whetted my photo appetite that led to my purchase a professional tripod (which I still use today) and eventually making the Music City my first road city that I began photographing. I stumbled onto the amazing shots on, which is like Flickr except that you need to pay to be on it (back in 2006, Flickr sucked too). Thus most of the photography is from professionals and serious amateurs. I found the site while looking for inspiration for some skyline shots of Grand Rapids to use in the Rampage’s media guide and website.
Downtown Nashville as seen from Chestnut Avenue Overpass

I was amazed by the “blue” tones of the night shots and wanted to figure out how to replicate those shots. Through a lot of trial and error as well as some help from some other PBase, I began learning the ins and outs of photography and today I’m a full-fledged photophile and is where my websites is hosted –, and all go to my PBase account (; you can find over 37,000 individual images on my site and nearly 1,400 different galleries.
Nashville at Night on Broadway
A twist of fate made Nashville my first road city I put the tripod down to shoot and in an equally ironic quirk, I’m only now getting the opportunity to shoot the Music City again. I thought my shots way back then were great, but I was so new to shooting night shots and cities that essentially I treated Nashville this week like I’ve never been here. My feet can attest to that - I walked 19.7 miles (or nearly 42,000 steps) and climbed 88 flights of stairs on Saturday and Sunday (according to my Fitbit, a nifty digital pedometer). I hope the Titans became a really good team so I can come back here.  
Silhouette of downtown Nashville at sunrise

I was all over Nashville and here’s a few of the highlights.
Panoramic photo of downtown Nashville from LP Field 

Seven years ago, I snapped my first state capitol when I was in Nashville. Now today, I have 39 of 50 and it’s one of my favorite things to shoot. When I clicked it back then, I just snapped it without any fanfare. Not this time. 

The Tennessee State Capitol was built from 1845-59 and is one of just eleven state capitol buildings that doesn’t have a dome (the others: Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Alaska and Virginia). Check out my collection of 39 state capitol buildings BY CLICKING HERE.

On the grounds of the state capital is the grave of James Knox Polk, the eleventh U.S. president. It makes my eighth presidential burial site (CLICK HERE TO VIEW MY GALLERY). Polk promised to serve just one term and he died of cholera three months after his term ended. He was at the opening of the Smithsonian Institution and the U.S. Naval Academy, the groundbreaking for Washington Monument, and the issuance of the first U.S. postage stamps.
Since 1925, the Grand Ole Opry has been a weekly country music stage concert. All the great country music stars have performed here. I attended a show here back in 1997 when I was the videographer for the University of South Florida football team during the school’s inaugural season when they played at Western Kentucky.  I remember taking pictures (on icky film), but cannot sadly have lost the prints and negatives. 

The tour is about an hour and costs $19. You do get to walk onto the iconic Opry stage and tour all the themed dressing rooms.   

Next door to the Grand Ole Opry is the legendary Opryland Hotel. It is the largest non-casino hotel in the United Stated and is ranked as the 29th largest hotel in the world. 

It has nearly 3,000 rooms and 15 restaurants sprawled onto six floors. I went inside to shoot its large atriums and waterfalls. Next time, hopefully not seven years from now, I’m going to shoot everything at night. 

Across the street from the Opryland Hotel main entrance, is Cooter’s Dukes of Hazzard Museum. It’s run by Ben Jones, who played Cooter Davenport, the Hazzard County mechanic and sidekick to the Duke boys in the CBS TV series that ran from January 26, 1979 to February 8, 1985. This place has props, costumes, memorabilia and cars from the show, including the 1969 Dodge Charger known as the General Lee.

It’s been almost 30 years since the show went off the air and there’s three lasting iconic things from it: the cutoff jeans known as Daisy Dukes (named after Catherine Bach’s character who wore them), the orange General Lee car with a Confederate flag emblazoned on the hood and the awesome Waylon Jennings’ theme song – “The Good Ol’ Boys.” Below is the opening credits…

You don’t need to go to Greece to see the Parthenon, but to Nashville. In 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, a full-scale replica of the Athens was built. This building is awesome. It’s amazing to think that this is likely what the Parthenon in Greece looked like when it was built 2,500 years ago.

It was made a permanent structure in 1931 and even has a recreation of the Athena Parthenos statue inside that stands 42-feet tall. Nashville’s official moniker is “the Athens of the South” and was likely the inspiration for the building. Admission is $6 and well worth it to see the statue and what the inside likely looked like to the ancient world.
With the game being a 3:00 PM local kickoff, I decided to drive out to The Hermitage, the home and burial site of the seventh U.S. president: Andrew Jackson. The plantation is located ten miles outside Nashville and is located on more than 350 acres. Adding Jackson and Polk to my macabre collection of presidential graves makes nine I’ve photographed (CLICK HERE TO VIEW MY GALLERY). 

The $19 admission charge is a bit steep for this place. It’s not like its Mount Vernon. I was the only one there when it opened at 8:30 in the morning, which was great for the photos not having anyone in the shots. If you decide to go, just do a search for Hermitage discount coupon. I saved $2.  

Here’s one thing that most don’t know about Jackson – he paid off the entire national debt by his sixth year in office. However, this was very short lived because the country went through a severe depression in his final year in office and the U.S. still hasn’t paid off its national debt in full since.

Built in 2003 as part of an urban revitalization, Musica is a bronze statue located in the center of the Music Row roundabout. It has nine nude figures dancing and stands 38 feet high. Five figures are at the base, four more are higher up and then a female figure holding a golden tambourine is at its height. It was created by Nashville-native artist Alan LeQuire, who also did the Athena Parthenos statue at the Nashville Parthenon. 
Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker threw a career-high three touchdown passes on 18-of-24 passes for 149 yards before he was carted off the field and sent to the hospital with a serious hip injury after a no-call, late-hit with 11:14 left in the third quarter.
The Jets turned the ball over four times that resulted into 28 Titans points – all four giveaways came from rookie signal caller Geno Smith, who has turned the ball over a league-high eleven times. If Smith was a team by himself, he’d have the second most turnovers in the league behind the Giants. Tennessee didn’t turn the ball over for the fourth straight game to start the season joining the 1995 St. Louis Rams as the only teams in the Super Bowl era to not have any giveaways through the first four games.

This was my fourth Jets-Titans game. In my 213 NFL on CBS games, I’ve covered the same teams four or more times eleven times. For non-division opponents, only the Baltimore-Houston rivalry (I did that last week) has more common games (five). Overall, my most common game are the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh and Houston-Indianapolis division rivalries (I’ve done seven of each).

For CBS, this is just my fifth game in Nashville and first since 2007. That makes the Music City one of my least visited AFC cities, which is sad since it’s a great place to shoot. Only Kansas City (four) has fewer home games that I’ve covered for an AFC team. Overall, Green Bay (three), St. Louis (three), Detroit (two), Dallas (one) and Chicago (one) have fewer CBS home games that I’ve covered. This is my fourth Jets-Titans game and the third played in Nashville. In fact, my last three NFL games here have been Jets-Titans.

The last time I covered a Jets-Titans game, it was in 2009 when the NFL celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of the American Football League (the game was at the Meadowlands. The Titans wore their old Houston Oilers uniforms while the Jets wore their old New York Titans jerseys. It was the old Titans vs. the new Titans in the game. The Jets won that game 24-17. CLICK HERE TO SEE MY GALLERY OF THAT GAME. Here's a shot from that game with the Titans wearing their old Houston Oilers uniforms.  

Since this is a venue that I’ve never done a time lapse, I set up four cameras at various angles. I used both GoPros as well as my Canon 20D and 40D. This is the most different time lapse views I’ve taken since the Final Four championship game. Like last week, I combined all four into one view (and also made individual time lapses) as you can see below.

The GoPro 2 lasted five hours and 24 minutes (1,943 images) and stopped less than a minute after the game conclude. 
That wasn’t the case for its big brother, the lousy GoPro 3, which sputtered to two hours and 59 minutes (1,066 shots) and died with 6:46 left in the second quarter. 
Of course, I don’t need to worry about batteries with the Canon DSLRs and both went the distance and beyond.
I set up the 40D in the high end zone. It was hike up the stairs to get to the location I put this, but worth it. 
The 20D was in the high sideline while the GoPro 2 was next to the CBS beauty camera in the right corner and the GoPro 3 was in the broadcast booth at the 50.    

With LP Field checked off my time lapse collection, I have shot time lapses in 26 of the 32 NFL home stadiums (as well as in London). The elusive six remaining home teams I need are: Carolina, Cleveland, Jacksonville, New England, San Diego and Tampa Bay. There’s zero chance that my crew is doing any home games in Cleveland, Jacksonville or Tampa Bay this year. The last four weeks of the season are, in my estimate, the only time that I might get the other three. Fingers crossed!

Click on the links below to see the home venues I've created time lapses...

UP NEXT: New England at Cincinnati
I’m going to be flying into Charleston, West Virginia to get my 40th state capitol, so I’m pretty stoked for this weekend. Then, after getting into Cincy, I’ll drive 16 miles outside the city to photograph the grave of William Henry Harrison, the ninth U.S. President, who died just 32 days into office. I have four different time lapses of Paul Brown Stadium (all from last season); so I have to scout out a possible new vantage point.

Here’s a collection of my favorite photos from this weekend. Don’t forget to check out my new Nashville gallery by CLICKINGHERE.

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