Saturday with 'Suomalaista jalkapalloa and Salmiakki'
Traveling to cover football games abroad is something of a tricky thing to plan for as a photographer, with weight restrictions and luggage restrictions on the airlines. You always have to plan carefully to make sure everything fits, but still usually have to make a compromise or two in what to leave out of the luggage.
Few recent trips of mine have been to Luxembourg and France - which has allowed me to drive to the games from the UK, so no such dilemmas on these trips. Just pack everything to the back of the car, and cross the Channel with the EuroTunnel. Although, having said that about flights, recently it has helped to be a 'frequent flyer' with a specific airline, which allows me to take extra luggage on my air-travels as well.
Last night I covered the Women's International match between France and Finland here in Valenciennes, a rare occasion in an international football game - as I was the ONLY photographer covering FInland's attack in the game. It felt rather lonely sitting on my own at one of the stadium, and with most of the action at the other end, it wasn't an action packed game either. So most of the game was covered with my 400mm lens - apart from the teams lining up and team photo, I think my 70-200mm only took about 20 'keepers' in the match.
Another debut photographed for the Finnish team with Natalia Kuikka getting her first cap - there's been couple of those this winter/spring to capture, for Men and Women. After the game, the usual post-game interview with the coach and wishing him and the team good luck for EURO2013 - which feels funny not to be covering, after covering every game for the Women this year (so far), I won't be there for the BIGGEST event of it all.
Before the game I got my 'Finnish goods delivery' - couple of boxes of Salmiakki (MMMM... ) and also a signed Finland shirt, which will join other signed shirts on my office wall very soon!
Few observations about attending a game in France :
Parking - easy as! Just pulled next to a apartment block across the road from the Stadium and left the car there. No need to pay for parking, and only three minutes walk to the press door!
Press entry - after Friday's walk-about, at least I knew where this was. Standing there for few minutes and receive my accreditation/photo-bip.
Wi-Fi code - didn't find it anywhere, but received it from the Finnish press officer. Worked great pitch-side and no trouble wiring off images during half-time.
Entry to the pitch - Problematic when I unfortunately do not speak French (no signposts either), but helpful staff escorted me to the right entry through various doors and tunnels.
Photo positions - Great to be allowed next to the advertising boards, shot one half from the side-line and other from the end, and being the only one covering Finland - I had the freedom to choose where to sit :-)
Lighting - It was a sunny evening, bit of shade/sun fun at the start of 2nd half, but in general very constant. With the light fading towards the end of the game, ISO 1250 with 1/1000 and f3.5.