For a number of years I was the Webmaster for the Naval Academy Alumni Association, and as a result had an opportunity to see many football games from the sidelines as a photographer. The Army-Navy game was always the highlight of the year in terms of excitement, but since the game is always the last game of the year, inevitably ends up being the coldest game of the year.
This image is from the 1999 Army-Navy game, where my best friend was a pair of hand warmers worn inside my glove. I was shooting film, and since I was the one paying for the film, was not as carefree as the others shooting alongside me. Many sports photographers get excellent pictures not only because they have fast 500mm lenses (a few thousand dollars I never had), but also because each play they might take 15-20 shots. I would take three rolls of film with me, so after a little over 100 shots I would be done. This meant that I had to anticipate where the action would be, focus, and shoot at the right moment. When I switched to digital several years later, it actually became more difficult – since I did not have a digital SLR, it would take about half a second from the time I pressed the shutter to the time the shutter would open, so I would need to take my picture half a second before it happened.
Collision shots are always the best, though they are the most difficult to anticipate. This is a collision shot of a Navy defender breaking up a pass well down field. The guys with the 500mm lenses can pretty much plant themselves in one place and cover the entire field from there. The longest lens I had at the time was a 135mm lens, so that means that in the anticipation department I had to physically be close to where the action was. This was a challenge, but sometimes offered me results missed by a number of the other photographers on the sideline.