Kevin D. Liles is a documentary, portrait, and commercial photographer living in Atlanta. He is a regular contributor to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Sports Illustrated. Other clients include: NPR, Atlanta Magazine, ESPN, Atlanta Falcons, The Center for Investigative Reporting, Clayton State University, The John Maxwell Co. Kevin is a member of the National Press Photographer’s Association and serves as president of the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar, the oldest photojournalism conference in the U.S.
Rise Up! Here are a few frames from my coverage last Sunday of the NFC Championship, between the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers. I covered the game for the Falcons, who I’ve worked with for several years on a number of projects.
What made this game special, among many other things, is that it was the last game played in the Georgia Dome. Ever. The Dome, built in 1992, and where countless football games, concerts, and other events have been held, will be demolished this summer. The Falcons will start the 2017 season at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which is currently being constructed about 100 feet away from the Dome.
I thought about how I could best capture “that last game feel,” and I decided on using a remote camera on top of the arch through which the players run during pre-game. I’ve done this remote before, but for this game, I tried something a little different. Using a super wide lens (11-24mm, f/4), I angled the camera up a bit more than I normally do, so more of the Dome would be in the frame.
In my haste in setting it up, I made the mistake of leaving the camera in aperture-priority mode. I wanted the camera in manual mode (1/800 @ f/5), utilizing the auto-ISO function, so the frame would be properly exposed when the flames erupted. I wanted to reduce the exposure compensation by 1/3 stop so the Dome would go a bit dark and the flames would be a deep orange. The only way to change exposure compensation (that I know of) is in one of the auto modes, like aperture-priority. I switched to aperture-priority, changed the compensation, but didn’t put it back in manual mode. Oh yeah, I was doing all of this while standing on a ladder being held by three pyrotechnic professionals in the main entrance to the field. To say the least, I was a bit rushed. Pro tip: when setting up remotes, make sure all of your settings are correct BEFORE installing ☺. I’ve known this for years, but failed to follow my own advice on this one.
So instead of a crisp 1/800th of a second, this image was shot at a slow 1/60th (f/5, ISO 100). The great news? The low ISO really gave me so deep and saturated colors. There are lots of photos from this camera that have motion from the slow shutter speed, but somehow this one of Matt Ryan was sharp. Maybe it was the Dome giving me one last good frame.
I did set up one more remote in the catwalk to get a wide shot of the Dome (with American flag on field). That one isn’t nearly as sexy, but I wanted something wide of the Dome and the field. It’s not as wide as I wanted, but the only wide lens I had left was a 16-35mm f/2.8, so this is as wide as it got for me up there.
Both remotes were fired using Pocket Wizards.
Oh yeah, and here are a few other photos from the game and the ensuing celebration of the Falcons 44-21 routing of the Packers.