My first experience photographing a football game in high school was both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. As someone who struggled with anxiety and disliked doing things alone, stepping onto the field with my camera in hand was a big leap for me. However, my passion for photography pushed me to gain the confidence to venture into this new territory.

Fortuitously, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Tomlinson Announcing, a local Iowa Sports Announcer, on a project that allowed me to gain access to the football field. This was my chance to capture the intensity and excitement of the game through my lens. Armed with my trusty 70-200mm Canon lens, which had become my go-to for various situations, I aimed to achieve a shallow depth of field with a low aperture, making my subjects stand out against the background.

Setting my shutter speed to 1/500, I opted not to increase my ISO too much, ranging from 1600 to 3000, to keep noise levels at a minimum. Looking back, I realize that I should have been more daring with my settings, pushing my shutter speed to 1/1000 and increasing my ISO even further. Adobe Lightroom's excellent noise reduction capabilities could have helped salvage some of the images. Nighttime football games are inevitable during the fall season, and being hesitant to adjust the ISO can result in missed shots.

Although I longed for more opportunities to photograph football games, I often found myself at Centennial High School, helping run the scoreboard during football season. However, when the chance arises in the future, I plan to implement these improved settings:

First, an aperture of f/2.8 to allow maximum light;

Second, a faster shutter speed of 1/1000 to freeze fast-moving subjects;

Third, a willingness to increase the ISO above 3000, perhaps even doubling it to 6000.

I understand that the best settings often come from experimentation and learning from one's mistakes. No matter how many tutorials I watch or blogs I read, true understanding only dawns when you're out in the field, testing your skills and pushing your boundaries.