I hope you’re lucky enough to find yourself in my hometown today, sitting in Sanford Stadium watching Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldogs take on the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Fall arrives at 10:49 a.m. today (which also happens to be my birthday), and there’s nothing quite as glorious as an autumn day in the Classic City. I hope we wind up with as lovely a day this week as we enjoyed last week, which my new friend Cassie Wright brilliantly captured in this photo, which is one of my all-time favorite pictures from Between the Hedges.
My wife Leslie first came across the shot early this past week on Twitter and called it to my attention. I contacted Cassie through Facebook (one of the benefits of the social media age) and discovered that she not only read the Blawg but was one of our Fan of the Week winners back in 2009. As she told me, “You chose a photo I took of our American Bulldog in a junkyard a few years back for a UGA pet spirit contest, which meant a lot to us! That was a year or so before we started freelancing with UGA.”
Cassie and her husband Wesley moved to Athens from Atlanta four years ago when looking to buy a home and “thought this was the perfect place to live and be happy for many years,” she said. “We had no jobs lined up locally, but we just knew this was the place we wanted to be and plant some roots. While my husband commuted to Atlanta for a year, I set up a meeting with Kirk Smith and his team at the Adsmith to show them my work and hopefully get to team up with them on some advertising projects here in town.
“The first job he called me about shooting was the UGA football poster for 2011, and words can’t describe our excitement about that opportunity.”
Since then she and Wes have teamed up in their business Cassie Wright Photography, and “UGA has kept us busy, giving us opportunities to work with the UGA Football, Basketball, Gym Dogs, Terry College of Business, Franklin College, the College of Education and the Office of the Vice President for Instruction. We feel very lucky for all the opportunities!”
She said she was thrilled to also get to shoot the pictures for this year’s Georgia football poster, “and for the first time I’ve gotten to photograph on the field … which was awesome. The players are great, and it’s so much fun to see them go through the Dawg Walk, and the joy they give to the fans.
“The energy on the field is electrifying from the roar of the crowd, with the cheerleaders, band and players pumping them up. I love running around trying to anticipate where to be to capture the next big play and hate that I can’t catch them all.”
I asked Cassie how she captured the terrific pregame shot of the Dawgs and she said, “I just remember that this was before the game after warm-ups. I saw the guys getting together, ran up behind them and held the camera up as high as I could above my head and clicked away trying to get everything in the frame. It was the perfect time of day, right before sunset, so I was lucky with how everything came together lighting wise on this.”
For you photo geeks, she said she “shot it with my Nikon d800 with a wide angle Nikkor 2.8 zoom lens 17-35mm. I always shoot with manual settings so I have control over the fstop, shutter speed and iso.” She just uses “basic color/contrast/noise reduction in Lightroom so they remain true to what it was really like.”
Yes, she said, “the sky actually looked like that.”
Which is just one more reason to be thankful to be a Georgia Bulldog in Athens on a Saturday night.
1980 MEET AND GREET
Since this is another night game (Georgia’s third in a row this season), a lot of Dawgs fans will be wandering around Athens during the daytime. If you’re anywhere near downtown Athens this afternoon, you might want to drop by the Red Zone at 155 E. Clayton St., where filmmaker Lenny Daniel, who did the excellent “1980 Dawgs” documentary that came out last year, will be greeting fans along with a couple of members of the national championship team, Rex Robinson and Freddie Gilbert. They’ll be signing autographs from 1 to 4 p.m., and it’s possible that other members of the 1980 team may show up.
Mike Moss, executive producer of the film, told me that “Fans, their families and kids really enjoy these events. The former players show a humble graciousness about their past and enjoy meeting fans, talking football and joking around.” He added that the 1980 players “don’t mind ‘letting their hair down’ and talking with fans about what it was really like to be part of that special team.”
And yes, he said, “They will also give their views on current Bulldogs football.”
Speaking of which, feel free to discuss the Vandy game in the comments below, and I’ll be back after the game to share my thoughts on what happens.
Got something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics? Or maybe a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg