Friday Night (No) Lights

Shooting Friday night football is generally fun, although by the end of the season, each game gets pretty routine. Show up 30 minutes early, grab a fan photo here, cheerleader photo there, team huddle photo over there. Then the game starts…get a good shot of the quarterback, running back, top player, etc. It’s like following a recipe some nights when nothing special happens.

I expected a similar night to unfold for the WIAA Division 2 Level 4 playoff game between Oshkosh North and Menasha (winner goes to state). The only thing I thought would be different would be the level of emotion—for most of these kids football is by far the biggest thing in their lives, and the chance to go to state is huge for them.

My recipe for success changed when there was a giant boom and a single flash off in the distance. Then darkness. One stadium light flickered back on, but everything else was out. A transformer blew just moments before kickoff.

My mind immediately shot to last year’s Superbowl and their lighting issue after halftime. Some of my favorite images to come out of that game were from the weird half hour or so where players lingered on the field in an eerie dim light.

Initially this weird period of darkness was pretty exciting for me. It was something different and I found myself hustling all over the place trying to capture unique moments.

First there were rumors the lights would be back on in 20 minutes. After 30 minutes went by, the next rumor was that it would be at least an hour. By this time my excitement had faded, I felt like I had exhausted all possible “hey it’s dark at this game” photos.

For example:

Oh look, just the press box is lit up, how ’bout a photo of that!

Hey, looks like the students got creative and broke out the flashlights on their cell phones, that’s kind of cool.

Does it look cool with a slow shutter and small aperture?

Not really, but hey, I’m trying.

After two hours and a few minutes, the game started. Unfortunately it was a blood bath. 38-0. Yawn.

This game might be one of the first I’ve covered where the pre-game was more exciting than the actual game (or aftermath, for that matter).

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