Heading to Florence, Alabama For the Division II National Title Game

Ten years ago today I was in Florence, Alabama to watch the National Title game between Grand Valley State and Northwest Missouri State. That season was a fun one in which I saw many GVSU games. It started during the regular season when they played at home, and Purdue was away. It then lead to a run of seeing every playoff game at Lubbers Stadium. A crazy declaration as the team celebrated going to the title game on their own field led to a trip to Florence to see the National Title game. Ten years later I thought that it would be fun to go back and look at some of my images from that day. I don’t do things like this often, but for something like this I thought that it would be fun to do. I can see a few other games in the future that this would be fun to try.

Capturing the Action From the Stands

Before 2013 I shot all of my sports from the stands for the most part. My seat locations were based on where I thought the action would be. For something like this though we were in the section designated to the school so I had a good view of midfield. I was shooting with my Canon Rebel with the two kit lenses with me. I had a 18-55 and a 75-300mm lens. None of that is ideal to shoot football, but at the time I was setting the groundwork for what I would use when I made it down to the field. I was following the action making the transition to the field a little easier. At times I still shoot from the stands today for things like Major League Baseball games, but it is hard not to be on the playing field. Looking through these photos though reminds me of how much fun I used to have in the stands.

Capturing the Emotion of the Moment

That day ten years ago I made a lot of okay images. Looking back through my take of that day I realized that I really had no idea what I was doing back then. I was using auto modes to make my photos. Sometimes it would get the job done, and sometimes it would not. A key interception in the end zone was full of motion blur because I was letting the camera do the work for me. One photo from that day that I still love is this photo of two of the GVSU linemen holding the National Championship trophy. The emotion here is real, and I love it. In fact it is still in my portfolio today. Continue reading “Friday Flashback: Grand Valley State Claims the National Championship Over Northwest Missouri State”


The Wilson Dam in Florence, Alabama

In 2006 while in Florence, Alabama for the Division II National Title game we stopped at this very well lit dam. I did not have a tripod or the real knowledge of how to use my camera at the time. I would just shoot in shutter priority mode because I had some previous success with that. I did that here not knowing about the noise that it would introduce. This actually was a pretty cool site though as this dam holds back the waters of Wilson Lake. I am glad that it can finally see the light of day now.

Getting Rid of Noise With Topaz DeNoise 5

As I said before this photo had some noise in it. I wanted to bring out some of the detail, but the jpeg was already pushed pretty far. By using Topaz DeNoise I was able to rescue the photo. There is still some noise in the photo, but I think that it looks much better after running it through the program.

grand valley celebration-8

Sports Photo of the Day

While I was in California I was reading up on the disappearance of former Grand Valley State Lakers quarterback Cullen Finnerty. I had a chance to watch him play his senior season in 2006, and he was a great college quarterback. That season culminated in a National Championship in Florence, Alabama. The picture above shows Cullen (#16) in the middle of the celebration holding the trophy. We were able to meet up with Cullen on the field, and despite being the quarterback on the winning team he was very down to earth, and posed for some pictures with us. This was the end of a great college career that saw him win three National Championships during his four years on the team. Not many quarterbacks can claim that.

I had often wondered what happened to this great quarterback. Watching him on the field I thought that he had that something special that just wins games. I knew it was a longshot, but I thought that he might have stuck with some team in the NFL. I had not heard his name for quite some time until the news of his disappearance broke over the holiday. Of course when you hear the news you hope for the best. Late last night the news of the worst case scenario was released. The young man was taken too young. The details of what happened may never be known, but a great story ends way too early no matter what.

Technical Data

I made this quick and easy by using the light sports preset by Matt Kloskowski. This got me pretty close to where I wanted to be. I got rid of the vignette that the preset has, and moved up the highlights slider. I also cropped in a bit to showcase the players a little better. That was the end of the adjustments here.

GVSU pride

Photo of the Day

Six years ago today I was sitting in a stadium in Alabama watching Grand Valley State win the Division 2 national title. It was a very tight game that went down to the wire, but the good guys won in the end. We stormed the field with the rest of the fans from Allendale, and for some reason I ended up in a great place. The crowd kind of moved me right to a stage, and soon after the team assembled there. They thought that I was a good photographer as opposed to what I was at the time. I had only had my camera for a couple of months, and auto mode was my friend. I did make a couple of good pictures though including this one that I have loved ever since. These two guys were having a great moment, and I managed to capture it despite myself.

Technical Data

I have always liked how this shot looked, but for the blog I thought that I would change it up a little. I used the strong sports desaturated preset for this shot. It just added a bit to it since the sky was not much to look at that day. I have been leaning on these presets a bit lately, but if they work why not?

Photo of the Day

I realize that my sports photos don’t always go over so well on here so I think that is why they have been getting posted with another picture on the day. I know that the landscape shots really seem to get the likes on here, but I really started getting into photography for the sports shots.

In 2006 I was first introduced to Grand Valley State Football. I went up to catch a game with a friend who was going there at the time. I was quickly hooked, and I made it back when the Purdue schedule allowed. I was lucky enough to get to all of the playoff games that season including the championship game in Florence, Alabama. GVSU won that game, and I rushed the field with everyone else. With some clever thinking I ended up right in front of the stage where the trophy was presented. For some reason the players seemed to think that I was supposed to be there so they posed for me. That led to one of my favorite shots that I have taken. That one will be posted later, but for now enjoy this shot of the team enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Technical Data

This shot was one that I liked, but when I ran it through Lightroom I liked it even more. I used one of Matt Klsokowski’s Sports Lightroom presets. The later ones really seem to make my football shots look great. I am using that preset for a project that I am working on for Thursday. That is the extent of the work that I did to this shot. Although with a preset it is a lot of work in a short period of time.