My floor remote setup includes a mini-tripod, an old Canon Mark III, a 15-35mm f2.8 zoom lens and a Pocket Wizard remote to fire the camera from my shooting position out on the wing. The same setup by Associated Press photographer Tony Gutierrez and a Nikon setup by Sports Illustrated’s Greg Nelson flanked mine under the basket in the front of the AP and Sports Illustrated shooting boxes.
Midway through the second half, Thomas Robinson came running to save a ball going out of bounds. While both Gutierrez and Nelson rolled away from impact, Robinson wasn’t stopping. The three remotes and a few other cameras went flying as Robinson’s foot landed directly on Gutierrez’ camera and lens.
You can see Robinson’s foot in my remote image just before it crunched Gutierrez’ setup as well as a sequence from Laura’s overhead position. An iPhone image after the game showed the mess. On closer inspection, the camera looked to have survived. There was no hope for the lens.
Remotes can be fickle. Just as a few inches saved me from disaster, a few images from a remote camera can really help broaden the coverage of a game. This season I photographed 51 basketball games for the men and women’s teams. Laura helped me with 18 of those games. Large photo galleries accompanied each of those 51 games. It is impossible to keep pictures from not looking the same over time, even with remotes. Still we must try. I have mounted remotes just about everywhere I can find in Allen Fieldhouse.
There are photographers that have so many buttons and switches attached to their cameras that they might as well wire a Nintendo controller and sit just about anywhere firing all their remotes. The danger is that a photographer can become remote dependent. Nothing can really beat a camera to the eye.
In 1988, basketball began to use three referees. Since then, referees often position themselves in front of the photographers. Movement along the baseline dictates where a referee should set up, but that far too often is right in front of a good photo position. Remotes in a different location provide an important alternate image, especially in games as important as those in the NCAA Championships. Unfortunately, during the first half Sunday, a referee blocked Getty photographer Jamie Squire and the remote he let me set in front of his box for most of the half. Not a fate worse than death, but still not fun.
Working with photographers like Nelson and Squire who willingly offered spots for my remotes, as I would theirs, is quite a privilege. Nelson is the finest basketball photographer in the business today. Squire excels at so many sports. They are fine gentlemen and good friends. They certainly deserve the respect Laura and I try to show them. We thank them for theirs.
Sunday, before I could get to my remote, Nelson gathered it up, checked it and repositioned it. That was a fate of good fortune far from fickle.