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Week 29 of 52 brings us to the aptly chosen theme of “Summer” This brings to mind many possible shots as so many things could represent Summer to me, but one of the favorite things we always do in the Summer is take some family time to visit some sporting event, usually that takes the form of baseball as it’s probably the cheapest, and easiest and the ballpark here in Salt Lake City,Utah is just one of the prettiest venues around. Last summer we went to the Bees baseball game, you can see my shots from that visit here. Hopefully we’ll get another visit in this summer as well.

This time though we got a lucky break thanks to my wife’s work and especially her co-worker Becky who scored us four free passes to a Real Salt Lake soccer game. Who could pass up free tickets? I’m not a huge soccer fan, but I appreciate all sports and seeing how it was also our sons birthday we thought it would be a fun outing for the family.

Summer in Utah also means monsoonal weather patterns and that means pop up thunderstorms (see the rain we got in that baseball link above) and dramatic sunsets if everything goes right. This day was shaping up to be nice as some fast moving pop up storms had led to some dramatic skies as night fell.

Rio Tinto Stadium – Salt Lake City, Utah HDR Panorama handheld

A little info on that panorama, I took it using the 10-20mm with 4 sets of 3 shot 2EV  brackets all handheld as no tripods are allowed in the stadium. Free is never really free, there is always a price my and my wife’s work gets those tickets because they host the visiting teams who then give away any extra tickets, this means that the seats are ‘behind enemy lines’ so to speak and are literally the worst seats in the whole venue ie: last seats in the top row. Some of those people to the left are Colorado Rapid fans who are surrounded by RSL fans (security as you can imagine was ever present, but in this case very nice) We didn’t mind since free crappy seats are better than expensive crappy seats, but getting action shots from here was tough even with the 70-300mm at full zoom.

I focused mainly on making HDR panoramas on this visit because of the great shots I had seen from Marc Edwards and he inspired me to try out a few of my own.  We wandered down to the south end early in the game and I got this HDR panorama.

Rio Tinto Stadium looking northwest. HDR Panorama 5 sets of 3 exposures @2EV brackets.

Then we walked to midfield where I tried to get a panorama from the exact center and was quickly moved by a female security guard who was in my opinion just a bit power hungry as I was in no one’s way but was apparently too close behind someone in a wheel chair area. I was halfway through the sequence when she actually physically moved me (that part really ticked me off-luckily for us both I had the family with me and I just moved on), if the D7000’s buffer was bigger I could have gotten the shot before she touched me as I was just waiting for it to empty so I could finish the brackets, oh well lesson learned and I walked up to the next level and got a panorama shot from just a bit off center.

Almost midfield….5 sets of 3exposures @2EV HDR

My wife hates this shot as the distortion from the wide angle lens makes her tiny arms look huge! I told her “next time don’t stand right next to me as I shoot a pano…” ;-P

As the game played out for the Rocky Mountain Cup I took a ton of shots of the actual game, but I learned that I am not good at shooting Soccer action. I’m either early or late on the action, add to that the difficulty of shooting from the last row in the nosebleed section and you only get shots like these.

An RSL player jumps over the back of a Colorado player to head a ball, it can’t be legal to just sit on some guys back like that right?…

Hey where’s the call, he made a terrible seat? Soccer players are the worst cry babies in all of sports. (With the exception of Kobe Bryant)

Don’t worry, Colorado got him back.

Now this is how you jump onto someone. Notice how the RSL player has already grabbed the wrong ear in preparation for the acting job he’s about to do.

RSL ended up winning the game 2-0 and taking home the Rocky Mountain Cup, which was fun. They had fireworks afterwards but we watched those from outside the stadium and none of my shots looked great (tough to shoot them well without a tripod) but here’s one anyways.

I’ll leave you with this full panorama from our seats looking out over a gorgeous sunset.

Sunset over Rio Tinto Stadium – 12 sets of 3 exposures @2EV HDR Panorama Handheld

That’s my family on the right proving we had the worst seats in the house. I shot this with the 10-20mm in portrait orientation to give me maximum coverage the problem with doing this was that the distortion caused by that lens plays havoc with the software when it comes time to stitch it together. I tried to stitch it in Photoshop CS4 and I swear I heard it laugh at me before it crashed. Kolor AutoPano Giga did a much better job although I still had to fix up a ton of miss alignments. I have now learned that a wide angle lens + strong lines + close foreground objects = tough stitching. I love the end result though and chose not to crop out the edges to keep that sense of space in the shot.

Well that’s it for this weeks challenge, the next one is “Water” and I still have more Temple sunset shots to come.

Happy Shooting!