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Monday, February 05, 2007

Same Shot, or Not?

Getty Images shot by Eliot J. Schechter on the left
(poor repro because it was grabbed from a JPEG of the
L.A. Times' Sports Section front page);
Chicago Tribune shot by Scott Strazzante on the right.

Sharp-eyed pj Josh Hawkins alerted us to what he thought might be a case of mistaken attribution in this morning's "Best Super Bowl Photo" posting: "Check the Chi Trib's website," Josh wrote, "click on the main photo which will take you to their slide show. Image 15 [above right] looks to be the same photo by Scott Strazzante."

Nice catch by Josh. But if you compare the two pictures side-by-side, you can tell that although they were taken at very close to the same instant (look at Rex Grossman's hand)—possibly a case of two photo editors agreeing on the moment of peak action from two separate bursts of exposures—you can tell that they were taken from a slightly different angle. Look at #98's left leg against the 8 on his back; look at the position of Colts' #93 relative to #98's hand; look at the ball relative to the yard line in the background. Although the pictures would seem virtually indistinguishable if you saw them separately like Josh did, once you start to look at them side-by-side you can see a lot of slight differences.

Looks to us like evidence of something else: that Schechter and Strazzante were side-by-side too, or close to it, the latter to the former's left.

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON, with thanks to Josh Hawkins

Featured Comment by Curtis Clegg: Scott Strazzante has knack for being at the right place at the right time. Check out this comparison of photographs taken by him and John Gress of the same play of the Michigan-Notre Dame game at the same instant, but just a few feet apart. Oh, by the way, Scott has a cool blog about his experience photographing the Super Bowl for the Chicago Tribune.

Above: Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune | Notre Dame's David Grimes (11) can't catch a Brady Quinn pass while being defended by Michigan's Leon Hall in the 1st quarter of the Wolverines' 47-21 win at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana on Saturday, September 16th, 2006. Copyright: Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune

Below: John Gress/Reuters Contract Photographer |
Michigan corner back Leon Hall (29) keeps Notre Dame wide receiver David Grimes from making a catch during the first quarter of their college football game in South Bend, Indiana, September 16, 2006. Copyright: REUTERS/John Gress (both pictures from


Blogger Adam McAnaney said...

When you refer to yourself as "us", is that (a) the royal "we", (b) you and your family, or (c) has TOP's staff grown?


3:45 PM  
Blogger Robin P said...

Well I didn't think I'd ever be caught commenting on a sports picture (much less for some strange American sport I don't understand) but surely you just have to simply look at the difference in distance between the ball and the white line?

I believe these occurrences of apparently similar images are quite common now that sports photogs can shoot so many images per second - in the old days of 2 or 3 fps it was statistically less probable.

Cheers, Robin

3:55 PM  
Blogger Boris said...

The right image seems to be taken 50-100ms later.

These in theory can be two consecutive pictures taken by the same person.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"These in theory can be two consecutive pictures taken by the same person."

I don't believe so. The perspective is too different. The shooter would have had to move two steps to his left between shots, which is just not possible withing the time frame.


5:53 PM  
Blogger carpeicthus said...

This is why, though I understand the whole industry, I'd much rather see David Burnett take shots of this with his Holga. For Pete's sake, take *marginally* different shots than the other guys, at least.

8:16 PM  
Blogger fogg said...

It doesn't suprise me Strazzante was responsible for one of the shots. He is, by far, one of the most interesting photoj's I've seen in a long while. His Olympic work was breathtaking and his blog recording the process was extremely intersting.

To the posters who complain about the similarity in photos, do you realize that at an event like the Super Bowl there is very, very little latitude given to where you can shoot from? Also, among most pro-sports shooters excessive use of the motor drive is frowned apon greatly. The best shooters just have terrific timing.

10:58 PM  
Blogger doonster said...

I'd agree with fogg. As a (very) amateur sports photog (plenty of cycling) I can testify that to get the perfect image a burst of only 3 or 4 is required. The rest is location, timing, and accepting low hit rates.

1:21 AM  
Blogger bjorke said...

All this shows is that sports photographers and editors (and sports viewers for big-ticket events) have a narrow range of predictable tropes that will be dragged out over and over again.

Go to a football game, and watch the clutches of motorizded sports PJs with the same long lenses moving in concert to the same "right" spot over and over at each play.

Then read this essay on sports stereotypes.

3:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I don't think a Holga is going to get much in the way of close-up shots at most sporting events, unless there's a nice zoom mod I haven't heard about. Not to say you wouldn't get interesting pictures, though.

Speaking of which, I just bought one of the damn things. It should arrive today, and I expect in six months I should be able to tell you whether or not that's a good thing.

Just out of curiousity, why is the use of the motor drive frowned upon by sports shooters?

6:50 AM  
Blogger david vatovec said...

Motor drive? What is a motor drive?

Ok, i think there is no "great" timing like in the ol' days. Now It's just statistics - I think that most of the 20 or so photographers that were there on the time of action have a similar shot.

Now with digital U can shoot at 10 fps, just 50 years early with that speed You would make an Olympic movie.

Oh, and I'm with robin p about a strange north american sport =).

10:02 AM  
Blogger Jim Goldstein said...

It's definitely not the same image. If you look at the colts jersey number in the upper right you'll see that the bear player is in a different position . Looks like they snapped at the same moment, but were apart by some undetermined distance. They do look very close though.

11:21 AM  
Blogger robert e said...

Now, where did I put my stereoscope?

12:26 AM  
Blogger Player said...

It seems to me that it's impossible. In the example of the football shots, how is it possible to locate two lenses in the exact same space? Even if the lenses were so close to be touching each other, side-by-side, the pictures would still differ, obviously.

Since simultaneous duplicate photographs are impossible, in the case of something stationary, like the Eiffel Tower, the very fact that the pictures were taken at different times renders them different. Even if it wasn't apparent in the two images, the light is different by virtue of the sun's movement. Unless the pictures were taken simultaneously from the exact same location in space, which is impossible, the pictures would be different, whether readily apparent or not.

8:49 AM  

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