Category Archives Photo Shoots

(Above: Pro Snowboarder Eddie Spang getting some air. Click on it for a larger view)

My buddy Matt Kloskowski put a really cool trip together for me this past weekend. He knows I’ve been wanting to do a snowboarding shoot for some time now, but it’s kind of hard pulling that off in Florida. Luckily, we had a camera crew heading to Colorado to film a Kelby Training Online class with incredible Action Sports Photographer and instructor Tom Bol (link), so he arranged for us to fly out the day before the class taping and shoot some snowboarding with Tom and pro snowboarding insano man, the awesome Eddie Spang.

(Above: Here’s Eddie shredding the gnar gnar in 3 feet of virgin powder. OK, that’s the total extent of the snowboarding lingo I picked up during the shoot, right there in that one sentence. Click on it for a larger view. These shots all look better in the bigger views).

(Above: Here’s Eddie just after he shot down that mountain side and literally nailed his landing on the road right in front us. I just stood there with my jaw wide open. I did pull myself together enough to catch this shot— you can see us reflected in his goggles).

Here’s our host for Friday and Saturday, the very cool Tom Bol. I’ve met Tom numerous times, but this was the first time I really got to spend any time with Tom, and I have to say—what a terrific guy. One of the nicest, most thoughtful, and fun guys you’d ever want to meet.

I’ve never been in snow like this
Tom arranged to have Eddie available for us to shoot all day, and Tom had two really great guys assisting him (and us), Steve and Randy, who spent a decent amount of their day helping me through, and pulling me out of, post holes in 3+ feet of snow. I spent a fair amount of time with at least one leg buried so far down in the snow that I could barely get back out.

In the production shot above (photo by Adam Rohrmann), you can see me kneeling to get a shot just in the front of the small jump Eddie just launched off from.

(Above: Here’s the shot I was working on. You can see a little blue in the sky trying to peek though. Tom thought to swap jackets with Eddie, who had been wearing a dark jacket, so the images didn’t look so flat against the gray sky, and it really helped a lot. I took this shot with a 14-24mm Nikon lens on a Nikon D3s camera at 200 ISO, f/2.8).

Above: Here’s a screen cap of a text I sent to my wife.

(Above: A very cold version of me. Photo by Matt Kloskowski).

The weather…well…it kinda sucked
Unfortunately, the blue skies that are the norm in Colorado were nowhere to be found this day, as a large snow storm moved into the area, and it snowed steadily the entire time, against flat gray yucky skies. The 14°F cold weather (-10C) wasn’t really an issue—Matt and I both dressed really warm with layers of clothes, and thankfully it wasn’t windy at all. Plus, we were all laughing so much the whole day, I’m not sure we would have noticed the cold (especially when I would get stuck down in a post hole in the snow, which was fairly often).

Above: Here’s an iPhone photo of me in our rented 4-wheel drive Chevy Tahoe, taken by Matt, while we’re stuck in snow so deep it was up to our car hood. Matt did a masterful job of actually backtracking the SUV through the snow and getting us un-stuck and back out on the road.

We were at 12,000 feet high (3,657 meters) at this point, and it was so bright white outside you couldn’t see anything. It looked like those scenes from base camp at Everest with winds blowing snow everywhere. At this point, we just drove back down the mountain looking for a place for Eddie to snowboard.

Above: Here’s Steve (with the red back pack) and Tom in front of him climbing up the hill where we were going to shoot (Photo by Matt). They paved the way for Matt and I because we were sinking down in the snow like it was Quicksand.

Above: Here’s another production shot (photo by Adam Rorhmann), and you’re getting an over-the-shoulder view of me shooting with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens (at f.2/8) and that’s Matt lying near the jump with a 14-24mm f/2.8 lens.

You can’t tell in the previous photo, but it was a struggle to get from where I’m shooting over to where Matt is shooting, just a few feet away (we swapped locations a few minutes after this shot was taken). You take a step or two, then you’d hit a hole and your leg would sink down three feet into the snow.

Above: Here’s the shot I got from that angle. Dealing with a solid gray sky, makes you get creative with your post processing, as I did here. The sun did try and make a brief cameo appearance late in the day, and we saw a glimpse of some patches of blue sky for a few minutes, but it just wasn’t going to give us that wonderful solid blue that Colorado is known for. By the way, we were in the great little town of Frisco, Colorado for this shoot.

Above: Here’s the shot Matt was getting with that 14-24mm. He took this one from the same position you saw him in earlier, but right after Tom switched jackets with Eddie. I really like this one Matt got a lot.

Bring out the strobes
Tom and his crew had brought two Elinchrom Ranger battery packs and heads out on the shoot, and so Tom asked if I wanted to shoot a little with the strobes, and of course, I was all over it. I had been shooting all the natural light stuff in Aperture Priority mode at f/2.8, but for the strobes, I switched to Manual Mode and set my shutter speed at 1/200 of a second, and then I wanted to darken the ambient light, so I racked my Aperture out to f/22. That only made it about 1-stop darker, so I lowered the ISO from 200 to L1 (kind of the equivalent of ISO 100), and that got me the two-stop darker background you see here.

Above: We positioned one head with a deep throw reflector literally two feet behind where I had been shooting from (that hole in the ground you see in front of Randy is where I was shooting from), and then he put a second strobe behind the jump to catch the snow kicking up, which worked wonderfully well. Tom is fantastic at lighting stuff like this (I can’t wait to see his class).

Above: We had to aim the front light so it hit Eddie when he was in midair, and Tom knew the trick to figure out exactly where that spot was. He had Steve toss his jacket into the air about where Eddie would wind up (seen above) and I would take the shot to fire the strobe at just the right moment, then direct the crew where to position the light. It only took a flying coat or two to nail it down.

For the shot you see above, I swapped places, and lenses with Matt, but I actually shot from just in front of the ramp, rather than beside it where Matt was, to get this angle. You only get get to take one shot because you’re shooting flash, so I panned with Eddie as I saw him coming down the mountain, and then pressed the shutter just after he hit the ramp—still panning with him as the flash fired.

Above: After we shot some strobe stuff, the sun started to peak out so I switched back to shooting natural light. Two friends of Eddie’s showed up, and I got this shot of Eddie’s friend Erin from that same vantage point, shot at 14mm, at f/2.8 and cropped using my Cinematic Cropping technique (link). This is really one you have to click on to see the larger view.

A Real Learning Experience
This was my first time shooting anything like this, and I really learned a lot. Like anything else in photography, it takes a lot of practice to get good at it, and a willingness to do what it takes to get the shot (Tom SO has that part down. He’s a mad man, and will go to unbelievable lengths to get the shot). I can’t wait to try it again. Ya know, when it’s a bit warmer.

Above: Here’s one last shot of Eddie, from my position by the ramp. I have to tell you, I was really amazed at not only what Eddie could do, but his physical endurance. Every time he shot down the mountain, he had to climb all the way back up to do it all over again. It was really tough in that deep of snow, but he was able to do it again and again and again, non-stop for hours on end.

More photos from the shoot on my Facebook Page
I’m posting a few more images from the shoot on my Facebook page. Here’s the link.

I love this stuff!
I really want to thank Matt for making this whole thing happen. Matt is a tremendously fun guy to do just about anything with, but sharing a trip like this with him is really special. Also, my thanks to Tom Bol for making sure it all came together, and to his assistants Steve and Randy who were great guys, loads of laughs, and incredibly helpful.

Despite the lack of blue sky, it was a really memorable trip, shooting in the show with an old friend, and some new ones. I know I’m very blessed to get to do stuff like this, and I’m very thankful, too!

This are just some of the dates from the first leg of my new nationwide “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch It” tour, but since we have these dates already locked down, I thought I’d share them.

·  Boston, MA – Thursday, March 24th
·  Minneapolis, MN – Monday, April 4th
·  Indianapolis, IN – Wednesday, April 6th
·  Chicago, IL – Thursday, April 7th

Here’s how each session is structured
(1) I start each session with an empty stage and then I build the lighting set-up for a particular kind of lighting look from scratch, explaining everything as I go, all step-by-step.

(2) Then, I actually do a portrait shoot live in each class, sharing all the camera settings, lighting settings, and exactly what you need to do to nail that type of look.

(3) Finally, I take those images into Photoshop to show you how to do all the post processing, including editing the Raw image, all the portrait retouching techniques, and the finishing effects, so you see the entire process, from beginning to end, with nothing left out.

Not only will you be able to nail all these exact same looks, (using a simple, inexpensive studio lighting set-up), but best of all you’ll learn all the post processing techniques as well.

This all takes place in every class session, all day long—–the lighting set-up, then the shooting, and then all the post processing for every set-up, and every look.

I hope you’ll join me in one of these cities. It’s only $99 for the full day of training (or $79 for NAPP members), and includes a detailed, step-by-step workbook that follows along exactly with what I’m doing in the class.

As soon as the rest of cities and dates are locked down, I’ll announce those here too. I am super psyched about this tour, and I can’t wait to get there with you guys. Here’s the link to the full class schedule, or to sign up. I hope I get to see you in person soon. :)

Yesterday our lighting set-up was pretty much for head shots (one beauty dish and a reflector), but for every look we did during the day, I also shot more traditional full length shots as well, but like always—I try to keep the lighting simple, using just one main light. This was shot with a gray background—I added the violet Split Tone effect in the shadow areas inside of Lightroom.

Here’s the lighting set-up for the shot you see at the top of the page. We used the same exact strobe (the Elinchrom BXRI 500), but we switched out the Beauty Dish we used for the headshots shown in yesterday’s post for the 53″ Midi Octa softbox, which is probably my most-often used softbox when shooting fashion (It’s priced fairly decent for its large size—B&H Photo has it $289. Link). The main reason I switched was because I knew I’d be shooting 3/4 length and full length shots, so I wanted the light to cover more area. Also, to make sure some of the main light bounces back toward our subject, we put up a large white V-flat on the opposite side of the Main Light to fill in the other side.

Since I was shooting tethered, positioning the single Main Light was easy—it was controlling the light on the white cove in the background that kept us busy during the day. We would change between a medium gray, light gray, and solid white for most every look, and when you’re using two lights (one lighting each side of the cove) you’re constantly having to mess with the lights to balance them (for dark gray, we’d turn off the lights; for light gray we’d put them on low power, and for solid white we’d crank them up).

Above: Here’s what you have to do when shooting full length shots to get the right look and perspective (I know—it’s not a pretty view of me so stop snickering. But that’s what ya gotta do to get the right perspective). Although this is Tanja in the shot (rather than Megan), I thought I’d at least show you how far back you need to be to shoot at 150mm to 200mm, and precisely how uncomfortable you need to be, which is plenty by the way.

Above: When I was back on my feet again, I moved in as close as my 70-200mm would focus to get this beauty-style shot. You can see the Midi Octa reflected in her eyes. Mmmmm. Midi Octa. I wanted to make sure her eyes were tack sharp, so I put the camera on a tripod before taking the shot.

Above: Since Sandbox Studio is a daylight studio, I wanted to shoot at least one look with natural light, but for this one I thought I’d try something different. I bought a backdrop that looks like the material from a tufted leather couch from Backdrop Outlet (link), and we hung it on a poll between two C-stands. What I wanted to try was to frame the shot so you see the entire backdrop, stands and all (like you see here), but to make it look more like a finished shot (and not a production shot), I laid down on the ground to shoot it like a regular full length fashion shot, and I got the image you see above.

Since I was shooting natural window night, I switched my camera to Aperture Priority mode, and set my f/stop at f/2.8 to get plenty of light into the scene. My shutter speed looked kind of slow at ISO 200, and I was afraid I’d wind up with some blurry shots not being on a tripod down so low, so I increased my ISO to 500 (there’s an ISO you don’t see everyday), and I was up to 1/1600 of a second, and good to go.

Above: After I got the full length, I stood back up and went into for some head and shoulders type of shots. Still using just Natural window light, and the same settings as the full length shot except I lowered the ISO to 400.

Above: Here’s the production shot (photo by Brad Moore), and as you can see, there’s not much going on here—-just natural light. It doesn’t get much simpler than this. By the way; I quickly figured out which window was the North-facing window by using my iPhone’s Compass App. First time I ever needed to use it.

Above: Here’s a full length shot of Tanja (the reflection on the floor is faked in Photoshop. Please don’t tell any one).

Above: Here’s a production shot (photo by Brad Moore). Again, it’s just one Main Light with the 53″ Midi Octa, and then two large V-flat reflectors to bounce some of the light back onto our subject. There are two lights just aiming at the background, but they’re powered down low to create a very light gray, almost off-white background.

Above: Here’s a different perspective from Brad, and you can see the background lights and the V-flats pretty clearly here (and the creative team all looking on during the shoot. While I’m shooting, they’ll quickly jump in and fix hair, adjust clothing, or touch up make-up as we go, which is incredibly helpful).

(Above: some unretouched frames from that set, shown in Lightroom’s Grid View)

Well, that’s it for this one, gang
I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes look. Thanks to my photo assistant Brad Moore for helping throughout the planning and staging of the shoot; to Megan and Tanja for being so patient and keeping a wonderful attitude the entire shoot, and to Sopha, Linh, and Cassandra for all their hard work in making the shoot a success.

Well, football season is over (at least for me, anyway), so it’s time to move on to other shoots. This weekend I was up in New York City speaking at an event Friday evening (more on that tomorrow), but while I was up there, I managed to fit in a fashion shoot on Saturday morning at Sandbox Studio in SoHo.

I was lucky enough to work with the same creative team I did for my last shoot up in NYC (link) and the shoot was coordinated by the coolest Fashion Stylist ever—the wonderful Sophia Batson (link). She coordinated and styled all the outfits, and I got to work once again with Sophia’s hand picked hair and make-up artists: Linh Nguyen and Cassandra Renee (they rock!).

With Sophia’s help, we arranged two fantastic models (Megan [Seen above] and Tanja) through a New York City agency, and before you knew it, Brad Moore and I were getting the studio ready for our 10:00 am call time. (Note: in the photo at the top of the page, L to R that’s Susan (helping out on the set); Lihn, Megan, Sophia, and Cassandra).

(Above: Here’s the lighting set-up for the shot up top [production photo by Brad Moore]. That’s a 500 watt Elinchrom BXRI strobe right above her, with a 17″ Beauty Dish attachment on it, with a diffusion sock in front on it to soften the look a bit. Below and in front of her is just a reflector—–the other light isn’t actually turned on—I’m just using it as a makeshift reflector stand. I tried the shot with the bottom strobe turned on, but even powered down as low as it would go, I felt it was too bright, so I turned off the strobe, and instead just laid a silver reflector on top of it like you see here.

There is a second strobe on the floor behind my laptop lighting the white cove background. I’m shooting tethered directly into Lightroom 3. Here’s a link for details on the tripod accessory arm I’m using to hold my ballhead and my laptop. Here’s the link to the laptop stand itself. The tripod they’re mounted on is the new Really Right Stuff TVC-33 Versa Carbon Fiber tripod (link) and this was my first time trying it out (a full review coming soon). Incredibly well made tripod—sturdy as anything, and 100% made in the USA no less).

(Above: some unretouched frames from that set, shown in Lightroom’s Grid View)

Sandbox Studio also is a daylight studio, so I wanted to opportunity to try some natural daylight stuff while I was there, but you can also limit the light for shooting with strobes which is primarily what we did.

Above: Brad shot the short video tour of the studio with his iPhone (we had Pandora radio playing in the background), which gives you a better look at where we were shooting (plus, it includes a gratuitous shot of me texting before the shoot). Very cool place, really helpful staff (and five different studios available for rent).

(Above: Here’s a beauty-style shot of Tanja [originally from Serbia, and has a thick accent, but raised in Wisconsin. Probably a Packers fan, but she kept it well hidden so I didn’t kick her off the set. Kidding.]. I like this shot because it shows off Cassandra’s beautiful makeup job.

We used the same lighting set-up as the first image, but Brad got a great perspective of the lighting set-up with this production shot, so I wanted to share it with you. The reason the Beauty Dish light looks orange is because what you’re seeing is the Modeling Light only—not the actual flash from the strobe.

(Above: some unretouched frames from that set, shown in Lightroom’s Grid View)

Over the three hours of shooting, we did six “looks” with different outfits, hair, and make-up, and Sophia coordinated everything so all Brad and I had to do was focus on the lighting and the shooting.

I’ll share some of the other looks and production photos tomorrow in Part 2. See you then.

It was an awesome game. An awesome night! For the Colts, this was a must-win final game of the season to make it to the playoffs. For the Titans, the role of “spoiler” if they beat the Colts in their house. What an incredible atmosphere to shoot in.

[Above: I got this shot of Colts Defensive End Robert Mathis as the players were getting introduced right before kickoff [CLICK ON IT FOR A LARGER VIEW].

They run out through a large inflatable tunnel at the corner of the field, and I was in the tunnel, down on one knee—with my 24-70mm lens aiming up, catching the players the moment before their name is announced in the stadium. It’s pretty dark in the tunnel, but as each player moves forward, the lights from the stadium partially hit them from the front, and that’s when I captured that image above.

I love it in black & white [converted using Silver Efex Pro]. With the bright blue colors of the tunnel and the jerseys gone, you can feel his concentration and focus before he rushes out onto the field and 70,000 screaming fans, on their feet, cheering them on).

I was at the game as a guest of the Titans, and team photographer Donn Jones (a terrific guy by the way) and what a night to be there. Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Colts, is an incredible stadium—one of the best in the league. It has a movable roof, so it can become a dome stadium in cold or rainy weather, and it was 20° outside [11° with the wind chill factor], so I was glad the roof was closed, and it was a perfect 72° inside all game.

The game came down to the final seconds, but you don’t want to let Peyton Manning have the ball with less than a minute to go, and sure enough he drove the Colts down within field goal range, and with just a few seconds left, kicker Adam Vinatieri took the Colts to the playoffs (it’s up…it’s good!).

Getting Kicked Off The Sidelines
During each game I like to change my shooting position on the field quite a bit, so my shots don’t all have the same look and direction. In a day game, I’ll also be taking the sun and it’s position into account, but in a Dome like this, it’s fairly evenly lit, so it’s really more about me just mixing it up. I shoot from both end zones and both sidelines at some point during each game.

It’s near the end of the first quarter, and I’m shooting from the Colts 15 yard line, and a security guard comes over to me while I’m shooting and asks to see my photo credential. Now, as you can see in the iPhone photo above (photo by Donn Jones) I’m wearing the official red NFL photographer’s vest you’re required to wear on the field, and I’m toting a 400mm lens and a second body, so I didn’t just slip in here off the street, so I give him a puzzled look.

He pointed down to my credential, and it had turned around backward so he couldn’t see the front. He said, “I need to see the front.” I just shrugged, turned it around and showed it to him (Hey, he’s just making sure I’m legit. No sweat, right?). Then he says, “You’re with the Titans. You can’t shoot on this side of the field. You have to shoot over there…” and he points to the Titans bench across the field. I laugh and said “You’re kidding right?” (I thought he was just goofing with me, because all the staff, police, and everybody was really friendly at the stadium). He gave me a stern look and said “No sir. You can’t shoot here. You need to leave now.”

Now, I’m smiling and being very friendly, because at this point, I think he’s still kidding me. I said, “Come on, really?” He just stared at me for a moment and pointed to the other side of the field. Finally he said, “You need to go, sir.” I didn’t want to make a scene (after all, I’m a guest of the Titans, and I have zero juice in the Colt’s stadium” so I moved down to the end zone, and didn’t shoot from the Colt’s side again.

When I saw Donn (The Titan’s team photographer) a few minutes later, I told him my story, and he was as surprised as I was. We’re both aware that’s it’s generally a no-no to shoot from behind a team’s bench area (you can walk behind it, but you shouldn’t take any photos while you’re back there), but neither of us had been banned from a sideline. Oh well, I still had two end zones and a 100 yard line sideline, so I just rolled with it for the rest of the game, but I’m still a bit surprised (and I wonder if it’s really a Colt’s policy, or that of an overzealous security guard).

Despite getting banned from the Colts sideline, I had a great experience up in Indy. They treat the photographers really well, and they have a nice photo work room set up, with a buffet for the photographers, a drink cooler, a salad bar—even snacks on the tables (that’s the first time I’d seen that).

Above: That’s Colt’s Quarterback Peyton Manning (I know you know that, I just included that tidbit for Glyn Dewis and Dave Clayton). I was close enough to where I could hear what Peyton was saying. He pointed right at me and yelled, “Hey…get that photographer off the Colt’s sideline!” ;-)

Camera Specs
Pretty much the same gear as usual. Two camera bodies: A D3s with my 400mm f/2.8, and my second body was a D3, but this time I went with a 24-70mm instead of my usual 70-200mm. I was hoping to get some wide shots as they came out onto the field, and after, and with any luck a wide end zone shot (which didn’t pan out). I shot all game at f/2.8 on both lenses, in Aperture Priority mode, at 1250 ISO on both cameras, which gave me over 1/1000 of a second shutter speed.

(Above: Touchdown Titans!)

(Above: Even though I was there covering the Titans, you can’t help but snag a gratuitous shot or two of future Hall of Famer, and a man with a whole string of mind-boggling NFL records, Peyton Manning, seen above).

A big thanks to Donn “Double-n” Jones, and the Titans organization for having me there. I had just a fantastic time, and outside of a Titan’s win, I had about as good a time as you can have. Plus, as a special bonus, my iPhone alarm did go off the following day, and I made my 8:05 am flight, and I was back at work right after lunch. Not a bad way to start the New Year! :)

P.S.: I’ll be posting more shots over on my Facebook page, including some taken at center field moments after the game. When you visit my page, click the “Like” button up top to keep up with my Facebook posts and photos.

Last Tuesday I got the assignment from Southcreek Global Media to shoot the Beef ‘O’ Brady College Bowl Game (at the Tropicana Dome in St. Petersburg, Florida) between the Louisville Cardinals and the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

My Fluke Mistake of the Day
If you’re thinking that the image above looks like it has some clipped highlights, well…you’d be right. At one point during the game, I turned D3s upside down, and leaned it against a wall in the end zone, so I could focus in-close for a series with my 70-200mm. Unfortunately for me in this case, the bracketing button is on the top of the D3s, and it turned on bracketing without me knowing. When I went back to my camera, and starting shooting, it took me a few minutes before I noticed that some of my photos were dark, some were really light (like the one you see above, which had been overexposed two stops), and some were OK. Of course, that shot above is one of my favorite shots from the day, and while I could lower the Exposure to recover some of the highlights, I couldn’t get them all back. The shot’s still “OK” but the clipping on his helmet and arm wrap on his left arm really bug me. NOTE: If you click on the photo to see the larger version, you can really see the blown out areas).

Southcreek arranged for me to have a Editor at the game to make the editing and uploading of images live during the game much faster and easier. I asked my buddy Matt Kloskowski to be my editor, and work the game with me. After each quarter, and at half time, Matt would come down to the field, we’d swap memory cards, and he’d head up to the Pressbox to import the images, find the best ones, do the editing, add the metadata required by Southcreek, and then upload it to Southcreek’s live servers. Not surprisingly, Matt did a fantastic job, and we had images uploading the entire game, and afterward. (Photo above by Andy Gregory, who was ejected from the game for once again trying to steal my shots).

Above: That’s Matt up in the press box, editing away. He looks very serious. Well, for Matt, anyway. ;-)

Above: Not only does he make the catch, he takes it in for a touchdown!

Above: It’s kind of a boilerplate shot, but for some reason, I like it (well, except for that foot on the far right edge of the shot. Because this is for a wire service, you can’t clone stuff like that out, but if I were going to make myself a print to hang on my wall, that foot would be gone in about two seconds.

Above: I love the way he’s hanging on to the drawstring on the receiver’s pants. Anyway, here’s a few more from the game:

Above: It was a back and forth battle all day, but in the end, Louisville edged Southern Miss 31-28. A great game, a great time, and it’s my last college game this season [sigh], but at least it ended on a high note —my first game where I had an on-site editor, and it was shot in a comfortable 72° indoor dome, which after the Steeler’s 22° shoot on the previous Sunday, that was a real pleasure.

Above: One last thing: I was psyched to see that one of my shots from the game—seen above—wound up on Southcreek’s home page in their highlights reel of their latest coverages.