Category Archives Photo Shoots

I’ve been shooting quite a bit lately for the book I’m just finishing up and I thought I’d share a few shots from a shoot I did on Monday, set up for me by my friend and neighbor, photographer Kathy Porupski at a motocross track in Dade City Florida.

(Above: Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot. You can’t tell from this shot, but my photo assistant Brad Moore is way up on a hill that the riders jump over. That’s my friend and fellow photographer Kathy Porupski holding the power back behind Brad, and I’m below them a bit farther down the hill).

We used natural light for a lot of the action shots, but we also used an Elinchrom Quadra battery back and strobe head with a 27″ soft box (or just a reflector and grid) for some of the shots, and all of the portraits. I love the Quadra kit because I can control the power wirelessly from my camera position. Brad mounted the strobe on the end of a monopod, so we were able to move pretty quickly, which came in handy when we needed to climb up a hill with the gear.

(Above: I tired this after watching Dave Black’s class on Kelby Training, which was amazing! As for focusing: I left auto focus on in Continuous focus mode, and as the riders entered the turn I looked through the viewfinder to at least get a quick focus lock on them, and then I took the camera away from my eye so I could make sure I didn’t get hit by the bike, (and so I didn’t’t hit the rider with my camera) and then fired one shot letting auto focus do its thing. It worked a lot of the time, but sometimes it missed focus, but more importantly I’m still alive to tell the tale. :)

Camera Gear
I mostly used two lens: a 300mm f/2.8 or a 14-24mm f/2.8 (I think I used a 24-70mm once, too but not for long). No special camera settings. When I had the 300mm on the camera, I was in Aperture Priority mode at f/2.8 the whole time. When I was using the strobes for the portraits, I was in Manual mode, with a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second, and my f/stop at f/13.

(Above: It was a very cloudy day, and there was literally only one small patch of blue, but to actually shoot the riders against that blue patch of sky, they had to ride on the track in the opposite direction).

(Above: Here I’m shooting my 300mm f/2.8 as the riders go into the turn and then head right past me).

(Above: At one point while we were shooting the action shots, I look over at one part of the sky and it’s really dark and ominous and I tell Brad, “We need to shoot against that sky now, because it looks like it’s leaving fast,” (The rest of the sky was cloudy, but not stormy) so Brad grabbed the gear and headed to the top of a jump with Kathy in tow, and Larry the track owner helping us out along the way (luckily, he’s a photographer himself). I also underexposed all the skies by about 2-stops to make them look even darker and more dramatic).

Above: That’s me posing with our riders. I knew that they were done when all of sudden they started literally covering me in dirt after doing 20 or so passes without getting any on me whatsoever. We had been at out for more than two hours, so I kinda don’t blame ’em. Right after this photo was taken, I reached over and tipped the red bike over so it have the domino effect and take down the other two guys. Serves ’em right. (kidding, of course).

There’s a first time for everything…
And this was my first time shooting motocross, and I absolutely loved it. In fact, I’m planning my next trip back to the track already. Thanks to Kathy Porupski for setting this up, helping us out, and just being really awesome the whole day. Thanks to Brad for risking life and limb, and for being so willing to climb up lots of dirt hills.

And a special thank you to who each day posts their picks for the Top photos of Google+ and they chose my opening shot for their Feb. 7th Top-12-Photo on G+ list (seen above). I was truly honored (and very excited to say the least!).

OK, I am super psyched because tonight I’ll be shooting on the sidelines at the Monday Night Football Game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

Monday Night Football is a grand sports tradition here in the USA, and it’s broadcast nationwide (as its the only pro football game that airs on Monday night—-all the rest play on Sunday), and I know a lot of you will be watching, so I thought I would create this handy “Scott Spotting Guide” just in case I get creamed by a receiver (or if Josh Freeman breaks my monopod). ;-)

Brad Has Re-Pimped Out my Monopod
To make “Scott Spotting” easier, Brad has removed the red flames tape and replaced it with bright yellow tape around the top section of my monopod, so if I show up on camera (which I do from time to time), you’ll be able to see that it’s me. Oh but there’s more…

Adding a Colorful Ballcap
I went to my closet to find a colorful ball cap to help make me easier to spot, but as you can see in this iPhone photo, apparently all I have is black ball caps. So, I went to the mall and picked up the red ballcap you see in the photo at the top of the page at a Sporting Goods store. So, red ballcap and yellow monopod. I’ll look like a small firetruck with a 400mm lens.

Where I’m likely to be on the field:
I generally shoot from these two areas:

(1) The End Zone (there’s less chance of refs, the chain gang, video crews, and the guy with the giant blue parabolic mic walking in front of your shot)

(2) Between the 15 yard line and the goal line.

I also go out on the field immediately after the game to grab a few close-up shots of players celebrating / agonizing at center field. I’d be shooting something more wide angle at this point.

Let’s make it interesting
The first three people who taks a photo of their TV Screen where you can see me, and post it either to my Facebook page (link), Tweets me with the photo (link), or posts it to my Google+ page (link) gets a signed copy of my new book, “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it.”

If I get flattened by a player during the game, the first person to visit me in the hospital (besides my wife), gets my entire CS5 Photoshop and Photography book library. I’m hoping we don’t have a winner for this one.

Can’t wait to share the shots with you guys tomorrow (provided I get any decent ones). Have a great Monday, and we’ll see you tonight. Well, you know what I mean. :)

If you’re at Photoshop World in Vegas, the book is being officially launched by Peachpit Press there and we have a limited number for sale at the official bookstore on the Expo floor.

It’s hitting other bookstores next week ( already has the Kindle version available now), and you can preorder the print version from, or Barnes &, or pick it up at your local bookstore in just a few days.

Man, did I have an awesome week!!!! My wife and I snuck away to London for a quick 5-day vacation with some dear friends of ours, (Alan and Marcia Gassman), but the main reason for the trip was to fulfill one of Alan’s lifelong dreams—to see Eric Clapton perform at the Royal Albert Hall), which we did on Monday night.

Of course, Clapton totally rocked!!! (and the acoustically perfect Royal Albert Hall may be the best place to see a concert ever!). Great show, we had great seats, and Alan is still glowing to this day. Anyway, I thought I’d share a few stories, along with some images from the photo book I created using Apple’s iPhoto about the trip. This is a new template I’ve never used before, and I kinda like it.

During the week, I spent a lot of time shooting the four of us just being tourists around London (including a day at the British Museum—my first time there—amazing place!), so although I’ve got about 45 photos of us in the back of various London cabs, the weather was so beautiful we did an awful lot of walking, too. We took a train to Oxford for a day trip that was just beautiful, and I got to eat at one of my favorite spots (Gourmet Burger Kitchen, where my buddies took me last year), which was super-yummy.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting to see the final day of a Sony-sponsored photographic exhibit by the World Photography Organization at Sommerset House museum, right next to our hotel. It showcased the winners of their annual competition WPO, and it was quite a large show (taking up two floors), and there were some really incredible images on display.

Core Blimey! Meetin’ Up With A Coupla Proper English Chappies! ;-)

Of course, I couldn’t go to London with hanging out with a few of my buddies, so one day my wife and Marcia went off shopping at Harrod’s (where she bought me a new super-small Tamrac travel camera bag), and I went off shooting with my two top chaps: Dave Clayton and Glyn Dewis. Now, you may remember last year my story about going shooting with these two English Beefeaters (the day before my London seminar), in some of the grayest, wettest, chilliest weather London could stir up (which led to Dave earning the nickname “The Earl of Gray” and Glyn being referred to as the “The Duke of Cloudyshire.”), but they totally redeemed themselves this time by ordering up five of the most beautiful blue-sky, sunny, and warm days I’ve spent in London.

(Above: L: that’s me tell Glyn I caught a fish “this big!” and the three amigos, Dave, me and Glyn on the right–photo by Chanel Fusco).

A Portrait Shoot I Wasn’t Planning On
Our first night in Swingin’ London, we went to Convent Gardens (it wasn’t far from Buckingham Place, where we were staying as guests of Her Majesty the Queen. Not really—I just wanted to see if you were still playing attention). Anyway, it was a short walk from our hotel, and we ate outside at this great cafe called “Fuel” around dusk, and while we were waiting for our food to arrive, a street performer was setting up to do a short acrobatic show right nearby, and so I strolled over with my camera and took a few shots as he was warming up the crowd.

He was hilarious (very personable), and a really polished performer, and after I took a couple of shots, I looked on my LCD and thought, “Man, this guy has a really interesting look.” He had piercings and a huge tattoo down one arm, and a mohawk. I’ve got to shoot this guy!

So, after his performance (which ended up with him assembling then free-climbing a 15-foot high pole and doing a one-handed handstand on top), I introduced myself as a photographer from America, and I told him I thought he would make a great subject for a portrait shoot. He gave me his business card (which didn’t even have his name—only his Web address), and he said to send him an email with what I had in mind (he seemed like a really nice guy in the short chat I had with him, so I was hopeful we’d be able to set something up for Wednesday afternoon, which was when I was going to shoot with Dave and Glyn.

I dropped him a note the next day, and the shoot was on. Neither Dave nor Glyn live in London, and I didn’t have time to do any location scouting, so I asked Dave and Glyn if they knew anybody with a daylight studio in central London (since I didn’t bring any lights). Dave thought me might have a connection, and as luck would have it, the studio owner he knew had a number of my books, and they gave us a smoking deal on a rental studio, with lighting! It was perfect!!! (in fact, we had three studios to choose from and Elinchrom lighting. I was jazzed). The studio, right near London’s Tower Bridge, was called (wait for it…wait for it…) “Tower Bridge Studios.” Awesome place, and they were wonderful to work with (highly recommended—here’s their link).

The shoot
Our subject, acrobatic performer Reuben Kuan (originally from Melbourne, Australia), arrived right on time (skateboard in hand) for the shoot, and we got to spend a few minutes getting to know him. Really terrific guy (here’s his Website), with a great sense of humor, and fascinating stories. He was really patient during the shoot, and we had lot of laughs along the way. Since we were mostly shooting using the natural light from the frosted glass windows, we could all shoot simultaneously, which was really ideal.

I wanted to do a few really dramatic shots on a black background, so I took two Elinchrom strip banks and put them on either side of Reuben, aiming right at each other with Reuben in the middle. I went with just those two side lights—-with no front or fill light at all, so there would be lots of shadows (we actually tried a beauty dish up front, but I thought it looked more dramatic without it).

We shot with Reuben for about an hour and a half, and we spent a lot of the time just talking with him between shots, and hearing stories of his life so far (he’s done everything from teaching elementary school to IT work and performing with a circus). Really fascinating!

Our 2nd Subject
Once we got to the studio, Glyn told me he had arranged to have a second subject for later in the afternoon, the wonderful Chanel Fusco, a London-based singer and recording artist, who he had previously done some promo shots for. First, we got to listen to her album during the shoot (her style is R&B and her music was fantastic—-here’s a link to her album “Sad Goodbyes” on iTunes. You gotta give her a listen). I kept having to ask her, “Is that you? Really! Wow!” She wrote the songs as well, and the production on the album is top notch. Great band, great recording, and really catching, interesting songs, too!

We shot using only natural light the entire time with Chanel, but we did use a reflector from time to time to bounce a little light back into her face—especially when she was backlit. Although she wasn’t a professional model, she was a natural, and the camera loved her, so it made the whole shoot very fun and having Dave and Glyn there kept us all laughing the whole time. By the way: The full page photo of Chanel on right page above, where she is surrounded by lighting gear and a fan, is totally staged. The lights were turned on—they’re just props. I thought as a recording artist, it would be cool for her to have a photo where she’s shown in the midst of a studio photo shoot.

Off to the Pub

After the shoot we walked over to a local pub, where Dave and Glyn teased me for ordering a Diet Coke, and we told stories ‘till dinner time. We headed crosstown to an Ethiopian restaurant that was recommended to us, and we met up with our other buddy Ed Davis (four time Guru Award winner, and photographer teacher at a University just outside London), and we joined up with my wife, Alan and Marcia. We stayed there laughing and talking until we closed the place (which was bad, but we had to leave for the airport at 6:00 am the following day, but we figured we could sleep on the plane, and we did).

Dave and Glyn are Gray No More
The weather was so great, and that coupled with the fact that Dave was able to score a fantastic studio at an amazing price, and Glyn came through with Chanel to shoot, well….I have to finally let these two lads off the hook. All joking aside, if there are two better chaps in all the UK, I’ve yet to meet ‘em. We had an even better time than my last visit, and having Ed meet us for dinner, and for the seven of us to all get to share a meal and laughs late into the evening really ended our vacation on a high note. Thanks Dave, Glyn and Ed for making us feel so welcome so far from home.

The Best Part of All
I didn’t do a lick of work the entire time I was there (Whoo Hoo!). I didn’t even download any shots off my card until I was on the flight home. Yup, I’m tan, rested, and ready to finish up my latest book, head to New York next week for my seminar, do a live taping of the Grid, and work on some very cool new projects for the future. OK, play time’s over—-now, back to my day gig! :)

Sports photography legend Dave Black has been down here at the Kelby Training Online Studios this past week taping a class on using off camera flash for shooting action sports portraits. He was doing some amazing stuff all week (his class is going to be SICK!!!!! If you use off-camera flash, his stuff is going to blow your mind!!!!).

By the way: I know many of you already know Dave is an amazing instructor (ask anybody that saw him at Photoshop World), but when he’s not teaching, and just being a regular guy, he’s just as amazing. I got to spend some time with him this week—Dave even went to church on Sunday with my family, and he spent the day with us just hanging out, talking sports [my poor wife], sharing stories, but mostly laughing. He’s one of the most fun, genuine, and just great guys out there. He’s “the real deal.”

A Night to Remember
Anyway, one night at dinner I asked Dave for any tips he had about an upcoming Major League Baseball shoot I had coming up for Southcreek Global Media. Of course, he had a ton! I’ll tell you the exact same thing I told Matt Kloskowski when I came into the office the next day: “I learned more about sports photography last night, than I had in a year!” (It’s WAY more than I can fit in a blog post, or two, or 10!).

I had a bunch of questions about setting up a remote camera for shooting sports, and Dave convinced me to put together a remote rig  (shown below) and take it with me to my next MLB shoot (which was two days later—The Rays vs the Twins this past Saturday). He told me to mount it near me, just so I could get used to shooting a remote, and then once I was comfortable with it, then start to find cool places to mount it (like in the catwalk above the domed field, which they do allow if you get there the day before, or very early for the game, and you’re not afraid of crazy scary heights or intense heat. I was out on both counts).

The Remote Set-up
Brad put together a Manfrotto Super Clamp with a Manfrotto Variable Friction Magic Arm attached to mount and had a Nikon D700 with a 300mm f/2.8 lens attached. On top of the camera sits a Pocket Wizard attached to the camera with a 10-pin connector. That way, I could fire the camera in (High-Speed Continuous shooting mode) from where ever I was (there are four shooting pits at Tropicana Field, one before and after each dugout). I started with it just a few feet above my head, aimed at 2nd base (I used the auto focus to focus on 2nd base, then I switched to the focus button on the lens to Manual so the camera wouldn’t accidentally change focus while firing).

Above: You can see the position of the camera a little better here. The photo pit is below and to the right of the camera). To position or check the camera, I had to either climb up on the railing to adjust it (can’t do that during game play), or make the long trek up to the top of the that section, back down to the camera, and then back up and down again. Tip: when you re-aim the camera at a new target, make sure the focus is on the money. I switched to catch the batters, but the guy I focused on wasn’t fully in batting position, and I had about 100+ photos of batters, all just a little bit soft. Lesson learned.

Above: Here’s one of the shots I caught with the remote camera. I was shooting my 400mm at the batter, and out of the corner of my eye I saw the play developing at 2nd base, and I hit the fire button on the 2nd Pocket Wizard in my left hand, and caught the shot you see here (and a whole series of this play) with the remote camera.

The part of actually getting used to shooting with the Remote didn’t take long (I totally dig it), but now the challenge is timing and finding cool places to put the remote (where I won’t get in trouble—they have rules where you can put them). I’m covering a few more games for them in the next week or so, so I’ll get more opportunities to work on my remote scheme. But, I want to thank Dave for encouraging me to do it, and to Brad for making everything work together. :)

Above: I saw one of my shots from Saturday’s Rays vs Twins game featured on the home page of Southcreek’s site (seen above). Sweet!!

Catch Dave Today on “The Grid”
Dave’s our in-studio guest on today’s LIVE broadcast of “The Grid” (at 12:00 noon EDT) and our first topic is “Can you make a living shooting sports photography.” It’s gonna be a great show!!! We’re also talking about what we want to see in the next round of DSLRs. Here’s the link (send us live comments during the show via Twitter: just add #thegridlive to any tweets, and we’ll see ’em).

One Last Thing!
While Dave was already here doing classes, we also got him to do a separate class on Light Painting (for those of you who follow his excellent “Workshop at the Ranch” tutorials [link], you know Dave is one of the leading educators when it comes to light painting, and is a true master of this very cool genre. If you don’t know what Light Painting is, follow that link. You’ll be hooked!

I got an assignment from Southcreek Global to shoot the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Indy Race (my 2nd time for Southcreek, and my third time shooting the race over-all. The first being for the Indy Racing league itself).

The race was this past Sunday. and I thought I share a few of the shots I uploaded to Southcreek here (the image above is one of my shots featured on their home page). Here are a few more, but I also uploaded some extras to a gallery on my Facebook page (here’s the link).

Above: That’s fan favorite Danica Patrick, just after she climbed into her car right before the race. I got to shoot a for just a few more minutes before the race, but they cut down the time the drivers have in their car before they start ’em up in half this year, so they hustled us out of there after just a few minutes.

Above: I had a special pit access pass (only a limited number of them are given out on race day, to keep from having too many photographers in the pits during the actual race), and even then, to shoot near the wall like this, you have to ask permission from the pit crew first. Every crew I asked let me shoot, but during the press briefing (at 7:15 am) they let us know which teams don’t allow photographers due to safety issues, so I stayed clear of those.

Above: Here’s a slow-shutter speed panning shot of what turned out to be the winner—Dario Franchitti, heading into the straightaway. I kept trying different shutter speeds from 1/30 of a second up to 1/125 of a second. I had to lower my ISO to a setting called L01 (which is lower than Nikon’s native ISO of 200), to let me leave the shutter open that long in direct sunlight.

Above: I don’t know how they drive all tilted like that, and still stay on the track. ;-)

Above: Before the race all the drivers got together to show their support for the people of Japan, and I got this shot of them, despite the fact that I didn’t have a flash with me. I just shot in High Speed Continuous mode and about every three or four shots, another photographer’s flash was going off, so I was all set.

Above: I liked this shot taken just a split second after a pit stop, while the driver’s tires are smoking as he pulls out into the Pit lane.

Above: This is another one I liked, probably because they look like they’re on the deck of a carrier.

Above: Another pit shot—dig the drill in mid air in front of the car, and the pit crewman signaling the driver not to leave yet.

Above: Here’s the first and third place finishers coming out of a turn.

Above: The bubbly goes flying in the winner’s circle.

Above: Race winner Dario Franchitti grins after his big win.

Above: This was another of my favorites, of driver Will Power, and as luck would have it, he came in 2nd. :)

Camera Specs (and some bad lens decisions)
I don’t know what I was thinking. I took my 400mm f/2.8, which works great for football, because you’re shooting more than you’re walking. Not at an Indy race. It’s a 1.8 mile track, and you spend the whole day walking, in the hot Florida sun (it was hot!!!!), and the 400mm was over my shoulder so much, I actually got a sore.

I wondered what I used last year, because I remember it not being so bad, and when I looked at my post, I realize why: I used one camera (instead of two, like this year), and only took my 70-200mm f/2.8 with a tele-extender. That would have worked great. In fact, I wonder how my 28-300mm would have worked (one camera body and one lens the whole day. That would be sweet).

I shot at f/2.8 all day on both cameras, and my shutter speeds were through the roof so freezing the motion wasn’t a problem as long as the car were heading straight toward me. For side shots, I had to lower the shutter speed dramatically, so at that point I switched from Aperture to Manual mode.

More over on Facebook
Like I said, there are a few more shots over on my Facebook page, but overall, despite my bad lens choice, and multiple camera fiasco, I still had a great time shooting. My buddy, pro sports shooter Andy Gregory was also shooting the event, so I followed him around so he could steal all my shots (gotcha Andy!). Ran into some NAPP members as well, which is always fun for me, and as luck would have it, I even met some of them indoors. In the air conditioning. :)