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1,304 Photos from the 2008 SEC Championship Game

December 18, 2008 by David Bergman

A couple of weeks ago, I photographed the 2008 SEC championship football game on assignment for Sports Illustrated. The Florida Gators beat the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta to advance to the BCS title game in January.

I thought I’d steal a page from Chase Jarvis’ playbook (thanks, Chase!) and put together a video with most of my images from the shoot.

There are a total of 1,304 still photos used in this three-minute piece. I shot 1,859 frames at the game, but the video is edited down for time. A handful of the photos are repeated to work with the music.

It starts with pre-game shots of the coaches and goes all the way through the trophy presentation and Tim Tebow’s post-game lap around the field.

If you’re reading this via email or RSS, you may not see the embedded flash player above. Click here to view it on my blog. You can also download a higher resolution version on the vimeo site after creating a free account.

I shot the game with 3 Nikon cameras: a D3 with a 600 F/4, a D3 with a 200-400 F/4 (awesome lens!), and a D300 with a 24-70 F/2.8. At the end of the game, my assistant held my long lenses while I ran around the field using a D3 with the 24-70 and an SB-800 flash.

The SI cover was Bill Frakes’ great shot of Tebow celebrating. You’ll see that I chose to shoot that same sequence with the wide lens to show the packed stadium (2:22 and 2:34 in the video). It usually happens so fast that you just have to go with your gut (and whichever lens you can pick up first!).

Feel free to ask questions or let me know what you think in the comments.

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  • By Thomas Boyd on December 18, 2008

    DB: That rocks. I want to do it! TB

  • By Tammy Marcelain on December 18, 2008

    Wow!  That is a lot of images.  I love the slideshow.

  • By Brent on December 18, 2008

    bad ass

  • By Jim Metzendorf on December 18, 2008

    Hi David,
    I enjoyed the video. I’d love to see you do even more of these. It’s a great use of technology to tell a story and present many images effectively that would not otherwise see the light of day due to the limited space in the magazine.
    It’s also instructive in the sense that we get to see most of your raw take from the game. It’s very educational to see how tight/loose you shoot as the case may be, and how you are able to find the “picture within the picture” when you edit your main selects.

  • By Delane Rouse on December 18, 2008

    Great take on the game!!! (as usual). I notice very few vertical images in your take and was wondering if you can give me any insight into why that is…do you not shoot many verticals anyway?  Is that what the SI editors request? I know that the D3/700 is good enough to crop a large vertical from a horizontal so I suspect that this has something to do with it. 
    Finally…if you had to pick ONE lens, would it be a the 300/2.8, 400/2.8 or 200-400/4.0? 
    Thanks for your time…

  • By David on December 18, 2008

    I almost never shoot vertical for SI. There’s a much better chance of getting a two-page spread in the magazine (leading off or a story opener, etc) while covers are rare. And as you mention, it’s easier to crop a vertical image from a horizontal frame than the other way around.
    Of my seven covers, only two were shot originally as verticals (Drew Brees and Pistons basketball).
    Football action lends itself to horizontal frames unless you’re shooting isolated pics of individual players. I want to see the running back with the ball and the linebacker hitting him!
    As for lens selection – it really depends on what you’re shooting. The 600/4 is my main football lens. The 200-400 is extremely versatile and would be great for basketball, tennis, and even baseball if you’re only shooting the infield.
    With the D3’s performance in low light, I’ve been able to stick with F4 lenses instead of pulling out the 400/2.8.

  • By Craig Mitchelldyer on December 18, 2008

    This is a really cool piece! Very well done, great to see an entire take. I hope you do more of these. How did you put it together and how long did it take you?

  • By David on December 18, 2008

    I used photoshop actions to create the “web size” versions of most of the images. These make up the majority of the video and are not color-corrected, cropped, or toned in any way.
    For my best images, I followed my normal workflow using Aperture.
    I compiled the entire video in Final Cut Pro. The bulk of the photos are on screen for 3 video frames (10 photos/second). I then sprinkled my selects throughout the piece as it timed out with the music. I licensed the royalty free music at cssmusic.com.
    It took me about 8 hours from start to finish.

  • By Boyd Ivey on December 18, 2008

    Wow, that was amazing!!  Great job.  I love your blogs.  I like reading about what equipment you use.  I’ve rented the 200-400 F4 a lot this year and love it too.  It works great on my D3.  I was able to get a photo in SI.com’s Top 25 Gallery with that lens.  With a 300 I would have been to close and it was a night game so I could use 3200 iso on the D3.  I’m hoping to get a 400 2.8 soon (I shoot a lot of HS games).  Keep up the good work and I always look forward to your blogs!

  • By Mike Moore on December 19, 2008

    That was incredible.  It was like a 3 minute workshop on how to shoot a football game.  Great images! Keep the videos coming.

  • By Robert Mann on December 19, 2008

    David – the only word I have is WOW!  I have now watched the ‘video’ a number of times and could not help but think of all the other ways this technology could be used.  Have you ever thought of doing this with images from a concert along with some of the music from the band you have shot?  My thought would be that the ‘video’ would need to be shorter due to the three song limit most bands impose, but it would be neat if you had a bands permission to shoot a number of concerts and then put something together along with their music.  I too shoot a number of concerts – mostly blue grass festivals – and the thought of doing this with some of those images is very interesting.

  • By Alex on December 19, 2008

    One of the first things I noticed – every image is in focus! Or at least it looks that way in the video. Very impressive!
    What is your system for focusing? Do you use a separate button for focusing than for shooting?
    Also, are you pretty much stuck in one place for the entire game, or is it possible to shoot from wherever you want?
    Lastly, I’m curious your exposure settings…iso, aperture, etc.
    Thanks so much, that was really cool!

  • By Jeremy on December 19, 2008

    Did the program you used automatically set the pictures in sync with the video or was it something you have to do manually

  • By David on December 19, 2008

    Robert – yes, I’m considering doing this with some of my music clients.
    Alex – I use the back button for focus except on my wide angle because I have grab that camera very quickly as a player is about to land in my lap. I move up and down the sidelines in between plays based on where I think the action will go. My exposure for most of the game action was 4000 ISO, 1/800 sec, F/4.
    Jeremy – Final Cut Pro is all manual sync. I spent a lot of time trying to find the right music and best frame rate to have it match up, but then I manually placed about 100 images to work with the more dynamic parts of the piece.

  • By sam morris on December 19, 2008

    That was totally wicked. If you or anyone else watching this points it out to the Las Vegas Sun “New Media” department before I get a chance to steal it from David…. Well… You know the kind of “helpers” we have in Vegas.
    Great job. First web video I’ve sat through in a while.

  • By Preston Mack on December 19, 2008

    Great stuff. Nice to see your entire take!

    I had never seen anyone do this before with their work, so thanks!

  • By Rich Kane on December 19, 2008


  • By Mark J. Rebilas on December 19, 2008

    Awesome idea David,

    I am planning on doing something similar with all my crash sequences but never thought to do it for a full game take. Good stuff!

  • By Armando Solares on December 19, 2008

    Very nicely done. Like someone else mentioned this is a great way to showcase your work. The sketches that make up the painting, if you will. If you don’t mind, I may borrow your idea for some promotional work.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  • By David on December 19, 2008

    Thanks for the kind words, everyone.
    Armando, I’ll tell you what Chase Jarvis told me. “Sincerest form of flattery.”

  • By Eric on December 20, 2008

    Much more newsworthy than my family portraits.  Every year, twice a year, I set my intervalometer to take a picture every five seconds on a tripod and then I start to set up a background and get the family together and let the camera take pictures of us getting ready and sitting down for the shoot.  Then I take the 600 or so photos into iMovie and set it to make the time lapse at 15 frames per second.  The result is a 40 second to one minute movie of our family portrait session that I end with an extended look at our official family photo from the take that moves in and fades out using that Ken Burns effect in the program.  I also do this with wedding shoots when I have to shoot a wedding.  Brides go bonkers over the dvds.

  • By Kristen Beades on December 22, 2008

    Hi David – This is your neighbor from 12B.  Alice told me today that you shot the game.  My husband and I are die hard Gator Fans and we absolutely loved it.  I am sharing with all of my fellow Gators.  Thank you so much for posting this.  It was amazing!!!

  • By Anne-Marie on December 23, 2008


  • By Tyrone Avnit on December 31, 2008

    Brilliantly done here! Very much enjoyed

  • By Steven Hopkins on December 31, 2008

    the coolest part about that is that 90% of those pictures are absolutely usable. When I shoot sports about .01% of the pictures are even in focus. Sports shooters have amazing talent.

  • By David Griffin on December 31, 2008

    Dude, that was SWEET!

  • By Jose Q. on December 31, 2008

    Yeah, that’s very crafty… but I think is more video than photography.

    I’d love to see your work on a game if you had only a 512MB CF card.

    DO you think you’ll have enough good shots without setting the camera to continuous shooting?

    Just a thought.

  • By Kevin Glackmeyer on December 31, 2008

    To Jose…it’s not that he uses the motor drive, it’s that he’s in the right place for the play and is focused on the action. I’ll bet he could out shoot many photographers with a manual twin lens reflex and four rolls of 120. Great stuff David. Hope to see you an a sideline one day at a Troy game.

  • By Ronalds Šulcs on January 01, 2009

    amazing photography. Looks like a movie even better. I bet it was pain in the butt to edit this. Nice!!!

  • By Martin Jimenez on January 02, 2009

    Great work!  It makes me want to head over to the local high school.  You guys are why guys like me buy sports magazines.  Thanks and Happy New Year.

  • By Jess on January 02, 2009


    For a Brit watching it, that makes American Football look interesting! ;-

    I hope many more photographers start doing vids like this, its great to see an almost raw take, particularly from someone who shoots for SI!


  • By Amani Channel on January 03, 2009

    That is a bad sequence.  Great photography.  You make me proud to be a GATOR!

  • By Dani on January 03, 2009

    Wow!!! great work…

  • By Jeff on January 05, 2009

    That is SO cool! Nicely done, Dave.

  • By David L on January 05, 2009

    Awesome Dave!  That was really fun to watch.

  • By bill alkofer on January 06, 2009

    Way cool, Bergman. I would like to order 5×7 reprints of frames 619 and 1,028.

    Your syncing of the slideshow to the soundtrack was excellent.

    Good music choice (sounded a bit like Rage Against The Machine.)

    Video length was just right (the average YouTube video in 2008 was 3:06)

    Parts of your piece reminded me of Ed Kashi’s Iraqi Kurd piece a few years ago


    Nice but that piece ran too long at 11:00 minutes.

  • By Maryellen McGrath on January 06, 2009

    Damn David, this is outrageous!!!  It’s getting me to think of how I can display my 10’s of thousands of world travel photos!

    Flows way cool, both visually and musically.  Maybe this will get a certain “someone” to sit up and pay attention- HA!
    Well- well done,


  • By Mike Fish on January 06, 2009

    Thoroughly enjoyed your images! What software did you use to make video & music?

  • By Jay L. Abramoff on January 07, 2009

    Again, kudos for a great production.
    Didn’t get to see the game here in Israel, so I enjoyed your video/photos even more. (Even though, I am not wild about the Gators winning anything. Still a Canes fan.)
    Happy New Year!
    Jay L. Abamoff

  • By Jon on January 07, 2009

    Where did you license the music from ??

  • By David on January 07, 2009


  • By Al Diaz on January 10, 2009

    Way too cool Dave! Now I WANT to learn Final Cut Pro rather than I have to learn it.

    Thanks for the inspiration. Go Gators!

  • By Bob Davis on January 18, 2009

    Excellent, way to go. Now I know what to do with all those extra frames from my shoots.  I NEED to learn Final Cut Pro!  Great site I love how you are paying it forward and sharing.  Keep on keeping on.

  • By Rich on January 23, 2009

    Great video.. Florida always puts on a good show. Are you going to be at the Super Bowl?

  • By steve on March 17, 2009

    Holy Crap!!!!!
    It was like the “Blair Witch” project. Good thing I didn’t watch it hung-over. I would have yakked in a heartbeat. Yeah the images were cool, but it wasn’t like you could see them since the slideshow went past so quickly. It should have a warning “May cause seizures in schizophrenics” or something.

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