Tag Archives: lacrosse

Goodbye Portland LumberJax!

2009.03.29 - LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

2009.01.23 - LumberJax v. Edmonton Rush

2009.04.17 - LumberJax v. Calgary Roughnecks

Well, it’s been kind of slow around here lately, though I’ve been extremely busy.  I’m pretty sure that those two concepts are related.  Ideally, I’d like to post whether I’m busy or not, but blogging usually takes a back seat to my other projects.  Unfortunately, this is a post about bad news–at least for Portland lacrosse fans like me.  The demise of the Portland LumberJax has been confirmed.  Owner Angela Batinovich stated that she was looking into moving the Jax to a new venue, but that looks pretty unlikely at this point.

Despite growing number of fans, the economy has played a devastating role in declining sponsorship. Add this to the huge costs of operating at the Rose Garden, and you can see a bleak financial outlook for owners and investors. With a huge National Lacrosse League franchise fee and other startup costs, the big hit was supposed to come at the beginning of the 2006 season, when the LumberJax started here in Portland. After that, the following years of ticket sales and sponsorships are supposed to make up for that loss and then in later seasons, start actually seeing a profit. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for the LumberJax.

There are thousands of fans who are just as disappointed as I am, wondering where they’re going to get their LAX fix. I spent the first two seasons in the stands with the rest of the crowd, but then decided to take a leap and talk with the team about becoming a photographer. Everything worked out, and I became a photographer for the NLL, shooting LumberJax home games at the Rose Garden. During that season, I managed to get several online publications and a couple of billboards around Portland. During the 2009 season, I became a freelance photographer for NLLInsider.com and Inside Lacrosse magazine, as well as other local and national sports outlets.

Without the LumberJax, I wouldn’t have been able to start my photography career at the professional level. It was a great opportunity for me, and I made the best use of the two seasons that I photographed at the Rose Garden. I wish I was going back to photograph next season, but maybe this was just a gateway sport for me.

Portland LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth Playoffs

2009.05.01 LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

2009.05.01 LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

2009.05.01 LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

Tonight’s game was the last game of the year for the Portland LumberJax. A loss to the San Jose Stealth in the playoffs ended their Season. It was great to have a playoff game at home, but it wasn’t the ending that the fans had hoped for.

I left at halftime tonight. Since this playoff game was scheduled in the last two weeks, I had to squeeze it into my busy weekend. Normally, on game nights, I’m up until about 3:00am, spending hours on post-production and getting the photos off to my publishers. Tomorrow, I have to be up at out of the house by 7:00am and being up until 3:00am tonight could be quite a hassle. So, I left early in hopes of finishing up by midnight.

Portland LumberJax v. Calgary Roughnecks

2009.04.17 - LumberJax v. Calgary Roughnecks

2009.04.17 - LumberJax v. Calgary Roughnecks

2009.04.17 - LumberJax v. Calgary Roughnecks

While this game didn’t really mean much to either team in the bigger picture of the season, it was still pretty hard to see the Jax down 8-2 at halftime.  It’s still a great sport to watch and photograph no matter what the score, but a deficit like that at home takes a bit of the life out of the Rose Garden.

I had to toss an abnormally large amount of photos out tonight while going through post-processing.  They just weren’t usable.  The glass seems to get exponentially worse each game, more scratched, more scuffed, and more hazy.  Because of this, shooting at any angle along the glass can trash a photo easily.  That limit can’t stop you from crossing your fingers and shooting, but the percentage of usable shots drops dramatically.

This was the last game of the season, but the LumberJax made the playoffs, so they’ve added a home playoff game on May 1st.  It should be a great game against the Stealth, very physical and emotional–a great way to end the home season!

Portland LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

2009.03.29 - LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

2009.03.29 - LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

2009.03.29 - LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

Tonights game was more of the same from a photographer’s perspective:  Shoot warm ups, read through stat sheets, shoot game, go home and process.  It was an unusual 3pm Sunday game so getting everything done early and not working until 2:00 in the morning was refreshing.

The LumberJax lost tonight, and luckily, that was the worst thing that happened.  During warmups, a lacrosse ball nailed the wall right next to my head–and more importantly, right next to my camera.  I was less than two inches from losing $2500 worth of camera gear.  Luke Forget and Bruce Alexander stopped dead in their tracks and were amazed that I didn’t get smashed.

I could stay off of the floor during warm-ups, but getting close to the players and not having to shoot through the glass is too good to pass up.  I bet I wouldn’t feel the same way if my camera body and Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS lens were destroyed.

Portland LumberJax v. Philadelphia Wings

2009.02.28 - LumberJax v. Philadelphia Wings

2009.02.28 - LumberJax v. Philadelphia Wings

2009.02.28 - LumberJax v. Philadelphia Wings

This was an interesting game night.  First of all, I had to be there over two hours before game time to shoot some photos for a magazine.  Due to some travel delays, not everyone was there on time.  No big deal, it happens.  But let it be known that the fabulous life of a photographer is often filled with waiting.  And sitting around.  And a bit of thumb twiddling.  It not all just glamor.

Once that was finished, it was time to shoot team practice.  It’s nice to be able to shoot from the field, but man, those lacrosse balls are quite heavy and hard.  I’m not sure where it came from, but I got smacked on the side of my neck and got to wear a welt the rest of the night.  Better my neck than the camera, right?

Then, right at the end of halftime, I got kicked out of my perch at the corner of the field.  It’s one of the spots I’ve been shooting from during every game over the last two years: clear glass, out of the way, and right where someone else was shooting a few minutes before.  I’m not sure why the usher was picking on me.  Sob.  Oh well, some nights go better than others.  But even on the worst night, it sure is better than being stuck behind a desk!

Portland LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

2009.02.07 - LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

2009.02.07 - LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

2009.02.07 - LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

I got caught up in all the action tonight. There are definitely pros and cons to being a fan and a photographer. Sometimes it’s hard not to forget that you’re working the game and not just watching it. Standing up and cheering sometimes reminds you that the super-heavy paperweight around your neck is is a camera–but I am a professional and remain unbiased (yeah, right). I wandered down to the players bench with 2:00 minutes left in order to get on the field for the victory lap right after the game.

Well, in these last two minutes there was a fight on the field, there were a couple of penalties, and a lot of excitement on the bench. I poked my lens out onto the bench a few times and captured some great shots of the players and coaches, including the top photo of Derek Malawsky during a record breaking game.

I also snapped the photo of Tyler Codron (middle) while he was cooling down in the locker room hallway after his fight with Kyle Hartzell. For a few seconds, I thought he was going to continue the fight with me!

After the game, I scrambled over to the press room to catch the tail end of the post game conference. And then, it was back home for 4 hours of photo processing and uploading.

Portland LumberJax v. Edmonton Rush

2009.01.23 - LumberJax v. Edmonton Rush

2009.01.23 - LumberJax v. Edmonton Rush

2009.01.23 - LumberJax v. Edmonton Rush

Another game, more cloudy Plexiglas. Man, helmets are hard to shoot through. Everyone’s wearing them, and it’s only occasionally that you can get a shot where there is some action, some eyes, and hopefully a mouth.

This is where the 1000 shots per game comes in. You may get ten shots in a second–and they all look alike–but there might just be one where you can see the player’s eyes–and mouth–through the facemask on the helmet.

Finally, a fight on the field tonight. Gloves dropped and helmets off (bottom), Dan Teat decides to tempt the 6’8″ Richard Morgan, and it goes as expected. Yes, Teat knows what the outcome would be, but damn, anyone that would even attempt this kind of fate deserves my respect. Richard Morgan is a monster of a man, but NLL players can’t always find someone their own size.

Portland LumberJax v. Colorado Mammoth

2009.01.09 - LumberJax v. Colorado Mammoth

2009.01.09 - LumberJax v. Colorado Mammoth

2009.01.09 - LumberJax v. Colorado Mammoth

It’s a big game tonight. The Colorado Mammoth are a strong team and no matter what their record, they will check, shoulder, and bitch you to death. That’s just part of the game of lacrosse. You push, you talk, you check, you yell, and you push again. That’s the sport, and that’s why the players get paid.

And that’s why I get paid–to capture it all. The game is not only play after play, O and D, it’s also emotion. It’s walking down the hallway to the locker room, it’s running back to the bench after a goal, and it’s pushing toward the net against the best players in the league.

This week, I missed 10 minutes of the 3rd quarter because I bumped the dial on my camera and completely underexposed all of the shots. Luckily, I caught the mistake faily quickly. As in the sport itself, in sports photography there is pressure and there are mistakes, but if you can make the right adjustments as you go along, there can also be success.

Portland LumberJax v. Minnesota Swarm

2009.01.03 - LumberJax v. Minnesota Swarm

2009.01.03 - LumberJax v. Minnesota Swarm

2009.01.03 - LumberJax v. Minnesota Swarm

Tonight was the first game of the season. I shot over 900 photos during the practice and game. That’s a standard rate for me for these games, so no surprise there. Another non-surprise was the condition of the Plexiglas around the field. Smudged, warped, and scratched, it’s okay to shoot straight through, but angles are a bit rough. Reflection and imperfections end up destroying a lot of images, but you’ve got to work with what you’re given.

Unfortunately, my Canon 50mm f1.4 lens took a tumble a couple of weeks before, so the whole game was shot using my Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS. I probably wouldn’t have used it much anyway, but it’s a sad loss. Luckily, the lens glass is still fine, but the autofocus is dead and the focus ring is a bit wonky. It’ll still be usable in a studio setting.

Outside of the usual action shots, I’ve been trying to get some good player staredown shots. They’ve been coming out great, but man, the players look like they’re going to crush me into a fine powder!

Portland LumberJax Third Training Camp

2008.12.20 -- LumberJax Training Camp

2008.12.20 -- LumberJax Training Camp

2008.12.20 -- LumberJax Training Camp

This is the last LumberJax training camp. While I’m excited for the upcoming games, the informality of the training camps offered some views into the game and players that I would otherwise have been able to capture. It’s nice to be on the field during practice. It’s also great to shoot from the bench and not have to shoot through the Plexiglas walls. That all ends when the season begins.

You’ll notice that a color photo has creeped into the set. Well, I just don’t want to get rusty with color photography! In reality, some photos don’t translate into black and white as well as others.

This training camp was held at the Rose Garden which provided better lighting, but even at it’s best, 1600 ISO is required to stop any action. I’m not sure why the bottom photo is one of my favorites, but there’s just something about the empty stadium, the bright lights, and goalie Joel Weber.