April 23, 2014

Turnabout Tourney Run: 2014 Final Four Runner-Up

Fans swarm the intersection of State Street and Elizabeth after UK defeated the University of Louisville in a Sweet 16 game.

This year as in most the University of Kentucky made a run in the tournament. Seeming to ignore the previous years' bow in the first round of the NIT to Robert Morris a defeat that was avenged with a 40 point win at home earlier in the season.

UK defied mystics and statistics by charging to the NCAA Tournament Championship game by providing some of the best college basketball theatre we've seen in quite some time.

I am often asked "Were you there?", since I shoot games at Rupp and occasionally on the road they inquire if my spot on the sideline of the game is as exciting as they picture it being. I was not at the game. I cover the SEC Tournament for the league and other than the Regionals I covered in college and the off chance that a First Round is held in Rupp, my job is to cover the scene surrounding the NCAA Tournament back in Lexington.

This job is an important one but as of late it has become more of a spectacle than I care for. I understand the need to celebrate and show pride in your team but I think the revelers in Lexington have taken their elation to a zealous level. I cannot understand the need to burn things after a win in basketball. Also if a woman is gracious enough to expose herself to you it is beyond me why that would be an open invitation to touch her exposed parts? I just don't get it.

I guess that is what puts me on the other side of the action.

UK fans erupt when shooting guard Aaron Harrison made a three point basket to take the lead over Michigan in their Elite Eight game.


In a tournament you have to win six games in a row to become champion. After the first two it was apparent the hot spot for acting like a lunatic or exposing your breasts was on State Street. I felt like it was getting redundant so when the team played Wisconsin I asked if I could switch venues and concentrate on Limestone, another near campus congregating spot.

The view from a Hospital parking structure. As far as I knew no one had to make the short trip across the street to seek medical attention, at least not from Limestone, State Street was a different story click HERE.

There was much more of a collegial feel to this area. Female fans were on shoulders but the "Show your tits" chant was not heard just a "C-A-T-S, Cats, Cats Cats!"

As UK forward slams down a dunk in the second half the crowd at Tin Roof shows their excitement. UK would go on to defeat Wisconsin and earn their spot in the National Title game against UConn.

This year did however bring new situations from a photography standpoint. This year I employed Twitter, to get the word about the happenings around Lexington out, and I used an Off Camera light setup for illuminating those happenings.

I tweeted one photo that was retweeted 161 times, an all time best for me. While Twitter may not be the most reliable source of news, when done right it can aid in helping people decide whether or not to take a certain route or keep readers informed of a constantly changing situation.

My friend Ed helped me during the revelry by holding an off camera strobe to augment the lighting situation as most of the debauchery took place during the evening. The results in some cases was brilliant.

Ed Matthews helps wield the light with an off camera battery powered strobe attached to a monopod.

State Street

This photograph was the effort of not only me but my assistant Ed as well. The Fill strobe on camera took care of the shadows but it was the off camera light on a monopod that gave the scene the character it deserved. After the win over Michigan the fans seemed more in a dance party mood.

It was nice to have Ed around too because having someone watch your back in a mob/crowd situation is paramount. A reporter with one of the TV Stations had an $800 microphone stolen right off his camera. I walked away unscathed other than a beer shampoo and some ick on my shoes.

As revelers climbed utility poles items such as beer cans were hurled at them. Seems like a raw deal for being able to climb a utility pole with no special equipment.

On championship night things were going well up until the point where UK lost the game. It was not the outcome I was hoping for. The celebration would have made for better photos than the defeat. The constant chants of F#*& UCONN, F*#% UCONN, were unusable from a video standpoint but the vibe was more mellow than I thought it would be.

Dejected fans deflate in the last seconds of the Championship game where UConn eliminated Kentucky from the tournament. This time it was in the championship game. In years past UK has experienced problems getting past UConn in other stages of the tournament. In 2011 they lost to the Huskies in the Elite Eight.

As for right this moment I would say I never want to shoot another celebration/revelry again but next year I know I will be ready for it.

I'll be ready because it won't seem like old hat, there will be a new team, new year, and a renewed sense that they will hang a ninth championship banner in a newly renovated Rupp Arena.

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