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What Does it Take to Score a Career as an NFL Shooter?
David Black's distinguished work as a Sports Illustrated regular, had an icy start.


Sports Photos
Dave Black


Sports Photos
Dave Black


Sports Photos
Dave Black


Sports Photos
Dave Black


Sports Photos
Dave Black


Sports Photos
Dave Black


Sports Photos
Dave Black


Sports Photos
Dave Black



"Players and sports tend to move faster than they did 20 years ago," said Black. "The linemen are bigger and the running backs are world-class sprinters. They are doing acrobatics as they leap and dive in the air."

To accommodate the speed, he exposes the subject at a high shutter speed, such as 1/1000 or 2/1000 of a second and prefers a long 400-600 mm lens and a wide open aperture.

While monopods are allowed on the field instead of tripods, Black usually chooses the hand-held technique because it gives him more mobility.

"I can fit into the crowd a little easier without a mono," he said, adding that he usually kneels although it is hard on his joints.

As tight as he can hold the camera, he pans with the action. When he wants to show motion, he uses a longer exposure to create streaks which gives a feel of motion, he said.

Black also sets himself apart through his "non-action" shots. "I like [to shoot] the players coming on and off the field or in and out of the locker room," he said. For that, he uses Nikon SB speed lights.

The time Black captured his favorite non-action shot was on a rainy night. As the Redskins players ran off the field, he slowed the shutter down to 1/10 of second. He was able to catch the rain on one player's helmet.

"Their helmets have these great colors. I made eye contact with one player. It became a portraiture and very moody. I was able to illuminate his face while the motion around him was blurred," explained Black.

A favorite action shot was of Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Donovan McNabb.

"The pocket was set up and there's a whirl of action around him, but he's clear," he said.

Despite all the intense competition he encounters, an ideal assignment would be one where the editor said, "We don't care who wins or loses, just make beautiful pictures."

For a change of pace, Black's been branching out into other sports lately. He's discovered a love for capturing horse racing. "The action begins at dawn and goes until dusk," he explained. "The sport has pageantry, action, fashion and spontaneity. Animals are unbridled as opposed to...players who essentially do the same things and all wear the same uniforms."

Even though Black believes digital auto focus is great for sports and has caused a boon in sports picture taking, "It's the use of manual focus that separates the men from the boys," he said.

Black has had much success marketing himself through his Web site at www.daveblackphotography.com/ , where he also offers free online tutorials.


   







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