Monthly Archives January 2011

Hi everybody. I’ve been very fortunate to have shot a lot of both College and Pro football this season, and I’ve been sharing some of my favorite shots from those games here on my blog.

Well, I didn’t shoot any Wildcard Playoff games this weekend, which gave me an opportunity to do something different: dig up some of my worst football shots, and foolishly I’ve chosen to share them here with you.

Now, when I’m out there shooting, and I fall for the fake handoff and shoot 22 frames of a running back carrying nothing, I will normally delete those right in the camera (just out of sheer embarrassment). If I miss deleting them on the field between plays, then when I import the images onto my laptop, I’ll usually delete the really bad ones then, but alas, I still had plenty left over. But today, I’m just going to share a few. That way, I have enough left for a part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5………part 62, part 63……

Here we go (hang on folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride):

Above: Focusing on the player that has the ball isn’t always a big priority of mine. I think the real story here is those guys in the rain ponchos back on the bench, and as you can see—-they are tack sharp! A lot of photographers out there get all distracted by the ball, and the play that’s going on, and stuff like that. Such a shame.

Above: A lot of guys try to make sure they’re in position to nail that end zone corner catch (like these guys here), but then they miss out on getting that really dramatic shot of the blue padding on the goal post, and the ref jogging over after the play, and I think that’s pretty short sided on their part.

Above: I think a lot of shooters out there are all hung up on the action, and miss out shots like this where you really get to use the “rule of thirds” composition technique. It’s not what you see in this shot—it’s what you don’t see.

Above: I know it looks a little soft here, but you should have seen how sharp it looked on the back of my camera. I was psyched!

Above: Remember, if you’re afraid you won’t capture the action, why not try capturing what happens right before the action. See, a lot of guys would have missed this shot.

Above: A lot of shooters on the sidelines are all hung up on the shot being, ya know…in focus, but hey—-you can still tell what’s going on, right? I mean, you can see he caught the ball and all. This would make a great 17×22″ print. Maybe larger.

Above: Touchdown! In an image like this—catching a pass in the end zone—-it’s really all about capturing the player’s emotion. That look on his face is priceless. Heck, you can almost see the ball in this one! Wait for it…..wait for it…..Epic!

Above: Picking the right spot to shoot from, where you won’t be obstructed by the chain gang, or a ref, or a video camera man, is really critical, so I’m always very careful to be in just the right position to capture “the shot.” Look at the expression on the Michigan player’s face. Classic. Could have been a poster. Could have sold millions.

Above: At the end of the day, it’s really about knowing how to frame your shot in the heat of the action. This is one of those shots where it just all came together for me. People ask me why I do it. This….is why I do it.

Above: My rule is: leave a lot of headroom up top, ya know….in case Sports Illustrated wants to use it for their cover shot.

Above: It’s not easy capturing an out-of-focus shot of a field goal kick. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one, but this is the kind of magic that sets me apart.

Above: There was something really thrilling happening there just a moment or two ago—I’m almost certain. Sidenote: look at how sharp the gloves are on the player on the far right side. When you get one like this, it reminds you of why you do it all in the first place.

Above: It’s all about getting tack-sharp images, and if you look closely, you can almost read the brand of drums they’re using. That’s tack-sharp my friends!

Above: I hate it when they run to the other end of the field. Everybody’s so tiny, so I don’t worry about actually composing my shots, which really takes the pressure off.

Above: Capturing that peak celebration shot after a big play, and the raw emotion of these headless players is really what it’s all about.

Above: The referees are such a big part of the game, I try to work them into at least 20 to 30% of my shots each game. It helps me to stand out.

Above: I don’t usually like to brag, but every once in a while you just nail one! Can you say “SI Double Truck!” I’m livin’ the dream, baby!

Above: So many guys out there are all about capturing the entire player, but I say, a chopped off limb here or there, especially a throwing arm, really isn’t a big deal. It’s about the moment—not the individual body parts.

Above: My instincts told me “Hey, this guy is going to catch a pass” and my cat-like reflexes took over. I turned, nailed the shot (BAM!), and headed to the photographer’s work room for a chili dog, knowing I had this one in the bag.”

Above: When you’re covering a big name Quarterback like Donovan McNabb, you have to put yourself in a position to capture the moment. I kept yelling at this player in front, “Hey, move to your right!” but he just stood there—blocking. I was so pissed.

Above: In the NFL, plays unfold so fast that you have to react in a split second. The play was over, so I whipped over to catch this majestic moment, frozen forever like a moment in time. Look how the ref is dragging his foot. Amazing!.

Above: They say that shots where you can’t see the ball, or that are partially obstructed by an official, or that don’t seem to have any focal point or story behind it are useless, but I think this powerful image proves them all wrong. While I’m on the subject; I know as photographers we’re out there to do a job, but when we’re side-by-side shooting, you know what we don’t talk enough about? Love. That’s right. Love. Between plays, we need to share our feelings, and talk about our relationships, and our struggles and dreams. And gosh darn it, if one of us really nails a great shot, we should all go over and hug him. Ya know…or not.

Capturing the moment. Or at least the one right after it.
Well, there you have it, part 1 of some really stunning shots that I cannot believe didn’t get deleted right out on the field. I wish I had 20 more to share. Unfortunately, I have hundreds. Maybe a thousand. Maybe more. I’ve got a playoff game lined up, so hopefully more of these magical shots will be heading your way soon (and if I actually get any decent ones, I post a few of them, too!).

Have a great Monday everybody (and stop all that snickering). ;-)

UPDATE: I added a few more “keepers” over at my Facebook page. Here’s the link. (to see all my Facebook posts, click the “Like” button).

Hi everybody—-it’s time for my 2nd annual “Best of 2010 Awards” (Well, it’s not actually my 2nd best of 2010; it’s my 2nd “Best of” awards but you know what I mean).

It’s important to note once again that I didn’t say “Best photography gear” or “Best Photoshop stuff” (though both of those are represented). Instead, this is just my favorite “bestest” stuff from 2010, (including things like songs, movies, travel stuff, food, etc.) presented in no particular order. Hope it starts off your New Year right! (By the way; make sure you read my disclaimers at the end of the list). Here we go:


Best iPad App: Flipboard. It brings Facebook and Twitter to life.

Best software utility of 2010: 1Password

Best iPad fun App that’s not a game: D-Jay. It’s amazingly like the real thing and lets anyone play “mix master.”

Best new Photoshop plug-in I saw in 2010, but it’s not shipping until around now: Perfect Layers from OnOne Software (brings real layers, layer masks, and layers power to Lightroom).

My most-used plug-in of 2010: Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 3

My guess for most-used plug-in of 2011: OnOne’s Perfect Layers

Best new lens of 2010: It’s a tie between my new Nikon 85mm f/1.4, or the new 28-300mm zoom.

The Best five photographers you might not have heard of (not in any particular order):

  1. Regis Lefebure (link)
  2. Markus Schwarze (link)
  3. Tim Tadder (link);
  4. PetrKlapper (link)
  5. Stephan Cooper (link)

Best thing in 2010 for photographers that’s not a camera, lens, or lighting: The iPad (maybe the coolest way to show your images ever).

Best iPhone/iPad App for presenters: pClock (the ultimate timer–from Shawn Welch).  

My favorite iPhone/iPad game of 2010: Tie: Word Warp Extreme or Angry Birds
Both responsible for untold hours of my lost productivity

Best iPad stand for travel: Arkon’s IPM-TAB1 (link)
(Horrible name—yet fantastic super-lightweight fold-up stand).

Best game ever: Call of Duty: Black Ops for XBox Live
I would have written two more books if not for Black Ops.

Best iPhone App for Photographers: Plastic Bullet Camera (link)

Best airline: Delta. (In-flight Go-Go Internet, and adding power plugs and USB ports to all its gates, plus TV on many flights; the best FF program, and great clubs. Plus, I think they have the best and friendliest flight attendants).

Best hotel chain: Hilton Garden Inn. Free in-room wireless. Big, clean rooms, with a microwave, fridge, and free bottles of water in the room. Great hot breakfast in the morning, and 24-hour mini-store, at half the cost of a regular Hilton (which charges for Internet, and bottles of water, among other things.

Best way to manage RSS feeds: Pulse app. It’s visual layout rocks.

Best new blog: Larry’s Cheap Shots (link).

Best new printer for working pro photographers: Epson Stylus Pro 4900

Best new HDR software: Nik’s HDR Efex Pro, and Photoshop CS5’s built-in HDR

Best other gadget of 2010: Verizon MiFi (wireless anywhere)

Best steak of 2010: Ocean Prime (link)
Their New York Strip with a Bleu cheese crust is insane!

Best burger of 2010: Hands down it was Milt’s in Moab, Utah

Best hotel deal in Manhattan: I’ve tried them all, but this one is the best: Hilton Garden Inn Times Square (great location, price, and great restaurant attached to it).

Best gift idea of 2010: an Gift Card

Best thing I added to my Mac in 2010: DropBox (link)

Best App that saved me money in 2010: Tom Tom Navigation for the iPhone 4 (Saved me $14.99 a day on having to rent a GPS system for my rental cars)

Best business book of 2010: Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Another that comes close: “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky

Best addition to my Photoshop arsenal: Wacom’s Small-sized Intous 4 tablet. Fits perfectly in my laptop bag, so it goes wherever I go.

Best thing to put in front of your studio strobe: Elinchrom’s Deep Octa softbox

Best romantic comedy I saw in 2010: She’s Out of My League

Best really lame movie of 2010: Skyline
So bad it was almost good. Almost.

Best movie of 2010: The Book of Eli
I think I was the only one who didn’t “get the surprise” thing until two weeks after the movie when a friend told me. It made the whole movie even better for me.

Best remake of a classic Motown song: I Want You Back (iTunes Session), by Colbie Caillat (iTunes link)

Best really old song I added to my iPod: Tumblin’ Dice by Linda Ronstadt (iTunes Link)

Best (and first) Beatles song I bought on iTunes: Paperback Writer (iTunes Link)

Best old soul song I added: It’s Only Takes a Minute Girl by Tavares (iTunes Link)

Best classic rock song I added: Ah! Leah! by Donnie Iris (iTunes Link)

Best new song: California Gurls by Katy Perry (iTunes Link)
Any song with Snoop Dogg sayin’ “West Coast. West Coast!” has got to be good (“Who could it be, it’s the Dee-oh-dubba gee!”)

Coolest kinda-jazz but yet kinda alternative song I bought in 2010: The Sound of Muzak by Porcupine Tree (iTunes Link)

Best song I bought after hearing it on my son’s iPod: Hero by Skillet (iTunes Link)

Best New Band I learned about in 2010: Rock Sugar (Link)

Best guitar-related gift I got in 2010: A Rocktron Banshee Amplified Talk Box (link)

Best new reason to love Germany: Calvin Hollywood
This guy is insane (in a good way!). He has “Freaky Detail!”

Best new photographer to learn from: Frank Doorhof
He’s teaching stuff I don’t see anybody else doing out there

Best new gadget for DSLR video shooters: Hoodman’s Cinema Kit.
Makes your DSLR feel like a video camera, and it’s affordable. (Link)

Best way to start a fight since mentioning HDR: Mention the iPad and Flash in the same sentence


I could be totally wrong about any of these—they’re just my opinions

(2) Some of these things could have actually come out in 2009, or even 2008. I’m old and lose track of time easily.

(3) If you disagree with any of my picks, that’s OK.

(4) If some of my picks make you seething mad, and you want to post mean comments to me, remember—you can start your own blog today, for free, and by this afternoon you can post your own list (don’t worry—everybody will agree with all your picks). Here’s a good place to start (link).

Well, that’s it gang. I’m always on the lookout for great anything (songs, movies photo gear, iPhone/iPad Apps, restaurants, travel tips, etc.), so if you have something I missed on my list, just let me know. :)

Hey gang, Brad here… Back to my pimpin’ ways after having a go at making whiskey in Tennessee for most of December. Despite promising results early on, it ended up being a failed venture in the end ;)  Anyway, lots of good stuff to talk about, so here we go!

Scott’s Gear Page was recently updated to add his latest gear and show some photos as well.  He was very surprised to learn that more than 20,000 people visit this page each month, so we wanted to make it more visually appealing and informative.  Go have a look!

Scott’s Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers is available in a limited spiral-bound edition, which you can order right here.

Check out this tip from Larry’s Cheap Shots blog on using a music stand bag for photo gear!  He also has great kinda sorta tip on maybe possibly avoiding the tripod police ;) Look around at the other posts while you’re there… He’s got tons of great info on getting the most bang for your buck!

There are a couple other pimpy things to talk about, but they deserve their own posts!  Have a great Thursday, and come back tomorrow for some cool stuff from Scott :)

Ever wonder how your Lexar memory card or USB drive is made?  This video is a really cool look at the process of how each one is created and put together.  Also, if you watch closely right around the 2:30 mark, you’ll see how Nikon helps the process as well!

Photography is All About Exploration!

You might not have been aware of it, but ever since the first moment you thought about getting into photography, you’ve been an explorer. And ever since the first time you put that camera to your eye, you’ve been exploring science and mechanics, physics, emotions, the psyche, yourself, and you probably didn’t even know it. And it’s this exploration that brings us all the rewards that communicating with our fellow man can bring and it’s a lot. And as with any form of communication, sometimes the message doesn’t quite get across the way we intended. This sends us back to looking for more answers, exploring still further with our camera. I can think of no grander pursuit!

How can I, a fellow explorer, help you on your journey? The pressure is on, to write a post that accomplishes more than just fill a web page. It’s really no different than the pressure of when you put your camera to your eye and you go click (we all know that one). The quest for perfection is an awfully powerful one. It pushes our explorations probably more than any other factor. The funny thing to me is I’ve never seen a definition for the perfect photograph. I have for good ones, bad ones, great ones, favorites and especially those that suck. But I’ve never seen one for the perfect photograph. That begs the question then. What are we striving for in our photographs? Where are our explorations supposed to take us in the end? I’m literally starting my 31st year today being behind a camera full-time and I’m just as scared, excited, curious and in love today as I was my first year. And that’s all because as any explorer will tell you, a map is only as good as the person who drew it. Problem is, we have no map or it’s inaccurate so every day is an adventure!

When it’s a cloudy, rainy day, the one thing we tend to long for is the sunshine. (I firmly believe some of the worst weather brings out some of the best photography.) During a power outage, our instinct is to instantly grab a flashlight and turn it on. We make fun of moths heading to the flame and going down in flames in the process, but we’re not so different. We love and are drawn to light in all its shades, colors, emotions and complexities. It’s a science we explore (and at times curse) every bloody time we pick up the camera. And it’s an aspect of photography that requires a lifetime of exploration to master. There is no easy answer when it comes to light. More than a meter, a histogram, a curve can read, light is something that you first have to feel deep inside to begin to bring it out in your photography. (You might wanna check out my book Captured, which has a chapter on just this topic.)

That feeling then must be translated with the science of exposure so it reaches out and grabs the viewer of your photograph. The problem with the science of exposure as I’m sure you’ve experienced is it often leaves us flat. At the very least, it can take the fun out of photography thinking about all that Clipping and Zones and stuff they say you are supposed to worry about. Perhaps putting a mood to exposure might make it simpler and your photography more meaningful. Exposure = emotion, no matter how you clip a highlight or bury a shadow, if you expose to evoke a feeling, can you really go wrong? Sure you can, hence the perfect exposure eludes us some of the time because emotion is something we tend to keep buried deep inside of ourselves, safe from others. We put labels like “blown out highlights” or “lost in the shadows” when a photograph’s exposure doesn’t work, but to the lay person who doesn’t know these terms, they simply have either a positive or negative reaction to our photograph. Tap into the viewer’s emotions and your exposure will always be as perfect as we can get! Most photographers don’t learn this until way too late in their explorations, which means you might wanna try it sooner rather than later.

Still the second most commonly asked question I receive is, “What’s the best f/stop?” I liken this question to “What’s the best adjective to describe a great photograph?” The answer to both questions is whatever fits your style of communication best. But there is no map taking you to that answer for your photography. You have to explore for a long time to find that answer. I’ve been doing this photography thing for a while now, so I have explored long enough to know that for birds, I’m going to be at f/8, wide open for big game, and for landscape, whatever best brings the eye to the subject. What if you don’t know that?

Whenever your mind says, “What IF?” pull on that thread to see where it takes you. If you wonder what f/stop is best, shoot a test! Put your hand in front of your lens and take a picture of it. Just like in the movies, your hand acts like a clacker and tells you a test is coming. Now shoot the photo with all the f/stops available with you. The last frame should also be a picture of your hand to signify the end of the test. Once back at the computer, put all of these tests in a folder labeled “Photo Explorations” and refer to it often. Soon you’ll learn what f/stop is the best, for YOUR photography. But there’s the rub to that knowledge. It might take a turn tomorrow if your new explorations completely change those numbers. And that’s OK!

“Which lens is the best lens?” That’s right up there with which f/stop and is such a valid and important question to ask. That is, of yourself! The physics of how glass bends light and delivers it is so bloody amazing and cool and complicated and of course, sexy. No wonder this question comes up. But it’s how a particular lens bends light that makes its selection so important to each individual photographer. So the question still remains, what is the best lens? And to that question I don’t have the answer for folks. If you watch My Camera Bag on my website, you’ll see I’m lookin’ for that answer for myself as it’s in near constant flux. Right now, I feel the best lenses in my bag are:

600 f/4VR AFS

200-400 f/4 VR2

70-200 f/2.8 VR2

24 f/1.4 AFS

The reason this is for all of us is because our photographic explorations are not on some straight line progression but rather a very windy road. Each curve requires its own set of tools to take that turn and while we might have most of the tools to make that curve there are times we need a better one. For example, I prefer 800mm for birds, but no such lens is made any longer by Nikon, so I work with the 600VR with the 1.7x most of the time. The road bump for most is first determining they need that one focal length and then acquiring it (which makes renting such a great thing). That’s probably why this question hangs so often in discussions. Rest assured that just like the perfect photograph, the perfect lens is just as elusive.

With every new camera that comes along, the promise of our photographic life being made simpler is presented us. Be it from personal experience or reading on the web, we all know that right out of the box no camera body takes the perfect photo. It requires input from us to make that investment sing our tune. Some of that input is mechanical, but that has a limit. To get beyond that and to really make our photographs our own, the input has to come from the heart. What “feel” do we want in our photographs? When we take that heartless machine and insert our heart is when our photography goes to a whole new level and our explorations and visual communication starts grabbing other hearts. What I love best about this step in one’s photography is that the mechanical tends to start fading in importance. Gotta have it to start with, but sure don’t need it to continue to move forward.

What do you need to move your photography forward? It’s the same thing any of the greats in any profession will tell you is a must. Passion for what you’re doing! Our history is stuffed with tales of great explorations going down in flames. It is just as stuffed with amazing stories of incredible discovery. Sure, there was some science, mechanics, physics and of course luck, moving these success stories to a happy ending. But connecting all those dots so there was success was heart, emotion, passion, whatever you want to label it, what we are all capable of digging down deep and pulling out from within us. The great photographs come from all those “parts” that are the photographic process only when they are brought together by the heart. And with that knowledge and ability, we start our photographic explorations all over again because we never know where the heart will take us. Fun is the heartbeat of passion and it is from that where longevity in photography is constantly reborn.

You’ve gotta turn your photography upside down at times! Marching down the same path no matter who you are can take the pleasure out of the journey. I’m notorious for hating macro photography, sticking my butt up in the air to take a picture just isn’t natural for a Moose. Still, there are times I have and even once, for a small critter that’s now extinct. There are so many possibilities, genres in photography you could try it’s what I think makes photography such an amazing pursuit. Many know that along with my wildlife photography, I’m now pursuing aviation photography. Other than the correlation that birds fly and planes fly, these are pretty much opposites in genres of photography. I know a lot of wedding photographers who shoot aviation and catalog shooters who do wildlife. I started out in fashion photography, but obviously I didn’t stick with that. The simple act of trying something new is often the genesis of a great adventure!

The more you explore photography the more you’ll know that it is not cut and dry. There is no one answer, no one path, but rather a huge world of possibilities that will light up your passion. Tap that and then make 2011 the year you spread it around. Take that photograph and share your exploration with someone else and put a smile in their heart. It does make the world turn! I leave you with this thought, something a wise man shared with me after reflecting on something I had written. “A good photographer makes an image by holding the camera to his eye, but the great photographer makes an image by holding the camera to his heart!” May 2011 bring you amazing explorations with your camera!

You can keep up with Moose at and