Tag Archive for east peoria

Photo Friday Weeks 28 & 29: Violence

Let’s try a little catch-up, shall we?

First, two weeks ago I hit East Peoria Throwdown Round 6, and this time I decided to try the 18-55mm kit lens to allow for a little more zoom range than the 50mm prime I normally use.

Looking for an Opening

Looking for an Opening

Once again, the fence played havoc with my focusing. The view through the viewfinder looks sharp, but when I uploaded everything to the computer, I noticed most of the pics were out of focus or had selected the fence over the fighters. Not cool. I really need to practice with my manual focus and figure out how to get finer control over what I see through the viewfinder.

I think I’ll go back to the prime lens next time, too; the speed advantage trumps the zoom flexibility.

Last week a friend got some tickets for opening night for the Peoria Rivermen AHL hockey team at Peoria’s Carver Arena. This time around, I was much happier with my lens selection, bringing my 55-250mm. It brought me right in on the action.

Fists Fly

Fists Fly (or, as my son called it, "UFC on ice!")

We were on the upper deck and this fight went down on the far end of the arena, but I was able to zoom in and, with the camera on continuous mode, just fire away. The lighting in the arena was great, making it easy to grab a good shutter speed for freezing the action.

The only thing I might do different here next time is to set a custom white balance off the rink (some came in a little yellow), or even — at last — shoot in RAW and set the white balance in post. I feel like I should finish writing the sequel to Winter Kill before I start dabbling in all that, though.

In all a disappointing night, followed by a good night. It all balances out in the end.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday Saturday: Victory

This week’s Photo Friday pic comes from the Throwdown IV MMA event in East Peoria Saturday night. We were treated to almost 30 great fights, and my friends and I had a great time.

King of this cage

King of this cage

This is the third Throwdown event I’ve attended at the East Peoria Event Center, and the event gets a little better every time. For example, they went from a hexagon to a full octagon between their second and third events, and this time they added a projector and video screen to give fans a better look at the action. Our only beef with the logistics was the parking lot was an absolute mess of mud and gravel, and they filled it up before the event started.

All in all it was a great evening. Most of the fighters came from the Central Illinois Combat Club and the Peoria Athletic Club, and they were determined to put on a good show. Most of the MMA fights ended in submissions and ref stoppage, and the other fights included a mix of grappling and Muay Thai matches. Next time my friends and I intend to show up a little earlier so we can sit closer to the cage and get a better look at the ground work, as some of the fighters looked like they put a lot of work into their grappling training.

I shot over 300 pics of the event (not counting the couple dozen I erased between bouts), and I dropped 26 in a Flickr set. I stuck with my 50mm prime lens so I could work without a flash, but I still had to crank up my camera’s ISO rating to get an acceptable shutter speed at the distance I shot from. As a result there’s a lot more noise in the pics than I’d otherwise want to deal with.

The other problem I ran into was the cage itself. The camera picked it up as often as it did the fighters, so I boosted the aperture to get a larger depth of field. I also played with manual focus some, but the distance still made it tough to see the finer details I wanted to focus on (and the focus ring was right near its limit anyway). I probably could have gotten away with using my 55-200mm zoom lens for tighter shots and better control of focus, a trade-off for sacrificing another stop or so of aperture. Instead most of what you’ll see is tightly cropped from the originals, making the noise and focus issues even more obvious.

Next time I may suck it up and haul in a camera bag so I can have all my lenses available. I may be less polite and stand up to take some shots so I don’t get so many backs of other fans’ heads, too. Heck, if I wanted to really go nuts, I could borrow another camera body from work or a friend and have both lenses ready to go without having to mount and unmount them between bouts or rounds.

I’m sure my friends would love it. Heh.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Watchin' Fists Fly

I didn’t expect much out of the mixed martial arts matches when I hit Throwdown 2 in East Peoria Saturday night, but there were some great fights. I had a good view of the cage, and with 15 fights and 2 more female fights, it was an exciting evening. I did take a few pictures, but I was stuck with my CrackBerry camera so they’re a bit grainy.

Thats gotta hurt.

That's gotta hurt.

Only one fight went to decision, and it was still an exciting fight. The ladies’ matches were also far more exciting than some of the female bouts I’ve seen on TV, but one ended in a disqualification and the other ended when the corner man threw in the towel. The majority of matches ended in submissions, but there were a few ref stoppages, a doctor stoppage, and a couple knockouts. The doctor stoppage came after the first round ended: the bell rang, the fighter went to his corner, then just fell over. The docs took a look at him and it was declared a knockout. In the other scary knockout, one fighter got choked unconscious and the ref apparently didn’t notice it in time. It was a good minute or so before he showed any signs of stirring, and you could just feel the crowd holding its collective breath until the docs helped the fighter to his feet.

The sound system at the event center sucked, but we had a good time picking apart the entrance music for some of the fighters. One, for example, entered to Drowning Pool’s “Bodies”:

Effective, sure, but predictable and more than a little cliché. Then you had some rap and hip hop, but their deep bass was lost in the muddy speakers and crummy acoustics of the hall. There were two odd choices, too: “Learning to Fly” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. We heard those opening chords and laughed our asses off.

Don’t get me wrong, theyr’e not terrible songs, I just can’t imagine anyone getting pumped up and ready to fight while listening to either of those tracks. I’ll grant the one fighter probably was going for the pot reference, but the other? No idea. We decided he deserved to get beaten down for coming out to a weak song.

He promptly shut us up by knocking the shit out of his opponent. Three strong right hands and his opponent was down, and not long after that it was all over. Given that performance, he can enter to frickin’ “Fruit Salad” for all I care.

In any case, I can’t wait ’til the event comes back next year. With luck the guys from the dojo will get more VIP tickets next time around so I’ll be right off the canvas.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.