Back to My Roots
For some reason, I always want to get nostalgic when I talk about shooting paintball. It’s where I got started and learned a tremendous deal about photography. I’ll try to keep the reminiscing to a minimum as I talk about a fantastic day shooting the NCPA Class AA tournament at Nitro Paintball.
If you’ve never played, get off your ass. I played competitive paintball for over 10 years and can says its one of the most rewarding sports to partake in. It also helped that it was one of the only sports I was ever good at. Ahem. Paintball is a fantastic game that can be best described as a high speed chess game. I played the crazy version AKA the fun version; 5 vs 5 with 15 balls per second on a 120 by 170 ft field using only air inflated bunkers as cover. It’s a fantastic adrenaline rush and I made some incredible friends and memories during my time. Getting nostalgic again. Sorry!
I didn’t even know this event was happening. I saw something about it in my Facebook newsfeed from teammates who are still playing on the Georgia Tech team. When I asked about the details of the tournament, I got a resound, “You better show up this weekend!” So the following morning I packed up my gear into my trusty F-stop Kenti, dug out paintball gear I hadn’t worn in over a year, and drove up to Canton at 8AM.
After running into way too many familiar faces, catching up, giving hugs, and cracking jokes about the real world after college and paintball, I stepped onto the field and breathed deep that familiar smell of crisp air, old paint, and mud all through a rubberized, silicon mask. It’s the little things in life I tell ya.
The day started off pretty well. The light was fantastic, and the games were well fought. This particular layout had some fantastic matchups on the snake side, or the side of the field with the low tubes that represent, well, a snake. Nearly every game had two players get within a few feet of each other. I was looking for those shots where the two guys would blast at each other, and it took until lunch time before the players did just that. I’ll blame the cold morning on the lack of reckless aggression that’s such a staple of the game.
As a side note, the more I use my 5D3, the more I love that camera; especially when paired with my 70-200 f/2.8 IS II. The combination just flat out rocks. There were moments when I wished I had a wider angle lens because I had to stand so close to the sideline action. But I made due and got, arguably, some of the best images I’ve ever taken of the sport.
Speaking of standing close to the sidelines - paintball is a seriously messy sport. Not only are you rolling around in the mud as a player and photographer, but you’re also getting hit by flying projectiles of exploding paint. I’ve perfected my assume the fetal position and hide the camera technique when a marker gets pointed in my direction, but I still keep a clear lens filter on my front element to make sure that only a $50-item potentially gets destroyed vs a $2,000-item. It’s a worthy investment and I highly recommend using one when shooting any activity that has high-speed flying particles.
I love this game and miss it every day. Maybe I’ll get my butt out there this year. Congrats to all the teams and hope to see you guys on the field again!