David Ashdown's Sports Picture Diary: Carling Cup final

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The Independent Football

The first cup final of the year and Wembley is the place!

Wembley's a very nice place to work from a photographer's perspective. Those of us with a camera are allowed to move around three sides of the pitch. Most photographers like to sit behind one of the goals, the thinking being that the players are always coming towards you. Also, there's rarely someone in the way, and if a goal is scored the player heads your way.

Personally, I like to sit at the side if I can, about thirty meters up from the goal line. From there I can look into both goals and it gives me a different view of the play. It's not without some problems as the linesman can be running up and down getting in the way, or the players can block my view. But I like it because I can cover a lot more of the pitch. It's also a good place to photograph the managers.

The media are the only people in the stadium who are desperate for the match to finish after ninety minutes. The last thing any of us want is extra-time, and definitely not a penalty shoot out! Oh please not that! If the match ends in penalties it makes virtually everything that has been taken up to that point worthless and even more so if there hasn't been any goals during the 120 minutes of play.

One of the major decisions to make during a shoot out is who to photograph - the goalkeeper or the penalty taker. As it turned out, on this occasion it was simple. This picture of Ben Foster (above) saving Tottenham's first shot meant they were always behind.

I was using two Nikon D3 cameras on Sunday, one with a 500mm F4.0 lens the other a 70-200mm F2.8 lens. The image was taken with the 500mm lens at 1/1000 second. All the pictures I had taken up until that point were at 1/640 second but I went to 1/1000 to try and stop as much movement of the ball as possible. The picture's not much good if the ball is a blur.

Fortunately, penalty shoot outs don't happen very often, and it's a rotten way to decide who wins. I like a bit of high drama, it can make great pictures, but ideally I would like it to happen in the ninety minutes please.