On the Sidelines with the Seattle Seahawks

Members of the Legion of Boom Enters the Loudest Stadium in the World; DeShawn Shead #35, Kam Chancellor #31, Richard Sherman #25

On the Sidelines with the Seattle Seahawks and the Nokia Lumia 1020 by BP

I have had the opportunity to shoot both college and professional football with my smart phone – the Nokia Lumia 1020.

I’ve had to re-read that opening sentence a few times just for it to sink in.  It’s crazy talk to say that I have been able to cover a PAC-12 college football game much less also cover an NFL professional team with all access press credentials.

Oh the places that we can let these phones take us.

12s: Cheering on the Greatest Team in Franchise History

My Football Story

I have been a football fan and fanatic since I was 4 years old.  I remember my first football given to me by my dad before he went out to sea for the Navy.  It was a San Diego Superchargers football.  I loved that thing and carried it everywhere.  At the age of 6 I fell in love with the Miami Dolphins.  I loved watching Dan Marino make plays by throwing to Mark Clayton or Mark Duper – the “Marks Brothers.” From kindergarten to 8th grade, my best friend and I would play school ball everyday, whether on the school playground or the neighborhood street or running across to the high school football field. I played in high school and played shortly in college until blowing out my knee literally in the first few weeks of the season.  I never played organized ball again.

I still remain a fan.

I’ve lived in the Seattle area since 1987.  Steve Largent, Curt Warner, Jacob Green, Kenny Easley, Matt Hasselbeck, Marcus Trufant, Lofa Tatupu, and Walter Jones were my new heroes of the gridiron. I fell in love with the Seahawk logo, incorporating the native american culture in an appropriate way. I was a fan even during the 2-14 season (1992), a fan during the last 13-3 season (2005) and a FANATIC this season.

I am a part of the 12s.  My 5 year old son is a part of the 12s.

Although he doesn’t understand the game fully, the excitement that he sees from me enables him to participate by showing his own enthusiasm. After the Seahawks lost to the Arizona Cardinals, I was a grumpy wreck.  I came home and there he was in his Hawks gear; wearing his Marshawn Lynch jersey and carrying his Seahawk football.  He came up to me, gave me a hug and a Hi-5 and said, “Dad, don’t worry.  The team won’t let you down again. It’s only one game.”

As a father, this is what football has become.

My childhood is now shared with his childhood.  Our love for the game makes watching it that much more beautiful.

Football is a family affair

The Game

In order to shoot the game of football with your smart phone you really have to prepare yourself for the game. Whether it is taking photographs of your child playing flag or peewees, high school football, college or professional level, you have to understand the flow of the game.  By knowing the flow and paying attention to the direction of the game you’ll be able to stay ahead of a very fast moving game.  I position myself according to the flow.

When the team is on offense, I position myself in between the team and the end zone. The game play will be coming towards you and you get a chance to capture not only the action, but the players.  If you’re able to get a shot of a players face, you’re working towards a really good photo.  On offense you should know that the quarterback is going to do a few things; hand off the ball to the runningback, throw the ball to a receiver, take it himself for a run, or get pummeled by the defense.

Jon Ryan #9 and Stephen Haushka #4 are Special Teams Heroes

When the team is on defense, I stay behind the defense.  The other team’s offense will force the defense to react and your photos should reflect that. Much like on offense, you’re going to look for certain things; they are going to tackle, intercept, or cause/recover a fumble.  You’re the person to try and capture those things.

The game doesn’t just consist of following the actual game.  The game is nothing without the storylines.  The fans, the interaction of coaches and players with fans, the cheerleaders, the mascots; all of these things make up the game of football.  Because a smart phone has some limitations and you’re just not going to be able to get great action shots close up, this component is crucial for folks to be able to capture the game of football.  Tell the story of the game, the players, and the fans, and you’ll accomplish telling a great story of the great game of football.

Taima the Hawk: Taima leads the team onto the field every home game!

Football and the 1020

Make sure to bring gear to support you throughout the time of the game.  I brought with me a couple battery chargers one of which being the Nokia cameragrip.  The cameragrip is crucial because it has the attachment for putting the phone on a tripod or in this case a monopod.  I always have my monopod with me.  Like all cameras, camera shake can make or break a photo.  The 1020 has great stabilization but having a monopod helps in diminishing the chances of camera shake and blur in your photos.

I used the native Nokia camera app for these photos.  The manual controls for this app are great and I’ll show you photos along with the settings I used to capture the photos.

*Note: The 1020 saves in RAW format.  The Nokia .DNG files respond really well in post process.

Sports photography can be done with mobile phones

The Settings

The manual settings that I used for shooting the play on the field are; white balance, ISO, and shutter speed.

All of the above are variables and are inter-related since changing one requires changing at least one of the other two and, in some cases, all. Since trying to deal with these variables is very confusing its best to choose one as a “constant”, leaving only a few of the variables more manageable. I suggest setting an ISO and then not touching it unless absolutely necessary. I went with 1/400 since it was an overcast day.  Raising the ISO on your camera will allow you to shoot at a higher shutter speed, giving you a better chance of getting the perfect shot – which for me was freezing the action.  The higher I went with the ISO, the more noise the camera captured.  I want to diminish the amount of blur but not compromise the shot with a bunch of noise. 1/400 was perfect for me.

The light sources in Century Link Stadium change at every view and angle.  The looming artificial light from the stadium and the natural light from the sun and clouds made it difficult to capture the true colors on the field with a smart phone.  The 1020 helps in making it easier for the photographer to get the best color and true whites from the sidelines. I set my WB on the cloudy setting.  It seemed to keep the natural whites and colors that I saw away from the lens.

We Are Juxt has many tutorials in using the Lumia 1020.

I suggest perusing these tutorials here for more details on maximizing manual settings for your perfect shot.

The Pile Up: As you can see from the shot, I was pretty close to the action. These guys were literally 8-10 feet away. The action was so quick that if any of the players continued to run through, I would’ve been a casualty.

Shutter Speed: 1/904s, ISO: ISO400, White Balance: Cloudy

Marshawn Lynch #24: This is another shot that was close to the action. The incompleted pass almost sent the ball towards my head. Luckily it didn’t and luckily Beast Mode didn’t run me over.

Shutter Speed: 1/490s, ISO: ISO400, White Balance: Cloudy

Russell Wilson #3: The amazing Mr. Wilson is known for running around defenses. Although this wasn’t a scoring run, he stifled the defense with moves like this all game.

Shutter Speed: 1/257s, ISO: ISO400, White Balance: Cloudy

The Final Score

It was an honor to be able to document so many great events this past year.  From MTV’s Video Music Awards Red Carpet to the Seattle Seahawks, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d be able to cover these events with my camera phone.  My friends, Daniel Hour (formerly of University of Washington Athletics), Jordan Stead (Seattle PI photojournalist), and John Lok (Seattle Times photojournalist) have both supported me and the community of mobile photographers in Seattle.  They understand that photography is about telling a story and people can do it with their camera phones as well as their big cameras.

12s: Scaring the Opposing Offense, Energizing our Amazing Defense

Again, “Oh the places that we can let these phones take us.”

In just a few days, the Seattle Seahawks will be playing in the biggest game of the year; the Super Bowl.  For this “final score”, I wanted to wish them a great game and to come back home to Seattle the champions that the city, this region and its citizens (as well as all the 12s around the world) know they are.


*UPDATE (February 2, 2014):  THE Seattle Seahawks are World Champions! The “Final Score” was 43-8!

Visit our page at We Are Juxt for more creative mobile photography shots of your favorite sports team!

Football is not just about gladiators, it’s about brotherhood.