Category Archives Photo Shoots

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.

Above: Shot with a Nikon D3, with a 14-24mm f/2.8 lens (at 15mm) at ISO 200, at f/7.1 at 1/5 of a second so I could capture a little movement while he was spinning the fire sticks. Click on it for a larger view).

Hi Gang: I just got back yesterday from a nine-day vacation with my family in Maui, Hawaii, and I’m tan, rested, and ready to tackle the busy end of an amazing year (OK, the tan part is a bit of a stretch. I spent most of my time tucked safely under an umbrella poolside or by the ocean).

I didn’t do a lick of work while I was out there (Matt, RC, and Brad covered for me on the blog), and so I just hung out, relaxed with the wifey and kids (and my brother who came along), read a book on my iPad (“At Home in Mitford” by Jan Karon—a really terrific book—the first in a series of Mitford books).

In fact, I relaxed so much, I hardly took any photos (except of the kids, of course, mostly with my new 85 f/1.4 which is just flat out amazing). I did go out shooting twice while I was there. Once with my buddy Randy Jay Braun, who is a fantastic Maui-based photographer (if you see a really amazing post card in any store in Maui, it’s almost a lock Randy took it—at least, everyone cool one I picked up was taken by Randy. Here’s a link to Randy’s site).

Randy lined up a sunset shoot featuring traditional Hawaii hula dancer and a Hawaii Fire Dancer. The original guy Randy had lined up, couldn’t make it, but we got incredibly lucky to wind up with Martin Tevega, a two-time champion, and amazing Fire dancer (and one bad dude, who was actually incredibly nice and fun). (Above: I took this portrait of Martin before we really got into the shoot, using an 85 f/1.4 lens at f/1.4).

(Above: 14-24mm f/2.8 lens (at 14mm) at ISO 200, at f/7.1 at 1/200 of a second).

Now, Randy freaked me out by saying “Hey, we should try something like Joe McNally did with a flash using a rear sync and a slow shutter speed for the cover of his “Hot Shoe Diaries” book.” I just had to shake my head and laugh, ’cause only Joe McNally can pull off Joe McNally type of shots. So, I steered pretty clear of that, and came up with the shot you see at the top of this post, and the one above, lit with just one SB-900 flash, mounted on a light stand, with just a diffusion dome over the flash head (no softbox or umbrella) with a 1/2 cut of CTO gel on the flash.

It was kind of tricky, because although we were lucky to have Randy’s assistant Mohalapua (“Mo” for short”)  helping us, it was Randy, his friend Jason, and I all sharing one SB-900 flash (I had to use the second flash to trigger the one flash we had on Martin), but Jason and Randy were able to use the pop-up flashes on their camera’s to trigger the SB-900 (D3’s don’t have a built-in pop-up flash). So, one of us would shoot, then the next, then the next, and of course sometimes we’d accidentally trip the others flash, and well….it limited how many photos we could take, as we raced the sunset, and two different subjects.

(Above: This was shot with my 85mm f/1.4 lens, at f/1.4 using natural light, and a gold reflector, held by Mo, just off to the left to fill in some shadow areas. You can see the effect of the reflector when you click on the photo to see a larger version. Nothing really done in post production but sharpening).

Before Martin got there, Randy arranged to have one of his favorite subjects, Kamie, there so we could shoot her doing some traditional Hawaii dances on the beach. At this point, we were just using natural light and a gold reflector to match the color of the light from the setting sun.

Above: Same lens, but I wanted the background in focus so I changed my Aperture to f/10.

Post Processing:
I only did three things for the post processing of the silhouette shot above:

(1) I applied the Lightroom Develop module preset “Color Creative – Yesteryear 1” that comes with Lightroom.

(2) I lowered the Brightness slider amount a bit

(3) I cropped the photo using my “Cinematic Style Cropping Technique” (link).

Thanks to Randy and Mo, for setting up such a great shoot, and to Kamie and Martin for being such wonderful, and patient subjects for our portraits.

My Other Shoot
On the way to dinner at Maui’s famous “Mama’s Fish House,” (my wife’s favorite) I passed a line of trees on the side of the road, and I made note of where they were so I could go back and photograph the first one in one of the rows, so I could isolate it from the others.

Here’s the shot I got, cropped once again using my Cinematic Style cropping.

Luckily, I did think to take a couple of shots (seen below) from where I took the shot, so you could see how glamorous this type of location shooting can be. ;-)  We stopped across the road from the tree I wanted to shoot (seen below), and I set up my tripod amid the very windy conditions that day, and spent about five minutes taking the shots.

(Above: This is the view from where I was shooting. From this point, it was just composing the shot so you didn’t see the tree to the right of the tree on the end. In post, I didn’t like my in-camera white balance, so I dragged the WB tint slider to the right, and increased the Recovery slider to 100 to bring back detail in the sky I also lowered the Midtones quite a bit to darken the sky).

So, from the two shots, I got a few shots I kinda like, but honestly I enjoyed my time doing pretty much nothing but reading my book, hanging with the family (We took breaks from the pool/beach and saw Disney’s “Tangled” which was awesome), and I played a round of golf at a really great course; the King Kamehameha course. We pretty much had the course all to ourselves, and it was just about a perfect day of golf.

(Above: Walking back from taking photos of the kids, I saw this water lily in a pond on the hotel property, so I snapped a few quick ones. Turned out better than I thought).

Printing from the Airport
As we’re sitting in LAX, my brother shows me a photo he took on our last family vacation with his Canon EOS Rebel 2Ti DSLR.

It was a simple ocean shot (shown above), and he wanted to print it big on canvas (60″x 40″), and he was thinking of sending it to some canvas printing place I had never used, so I told him he had to send it to Artistic Photo Canvas. I had him email me his shot, and I uploaded it to APC while we’re sitting there in the airport, waiting to board our flight to Hawaii.

When we got home yesterday, the printed Canvas had already arrived, and he sent me this iPhone photo of it hanging on his wall. He absolutely loves it, and said APC did a fantastic job—as I knew they would (APC did all the prepping of the photo for printing on canvas, including all the edge work, and shipped it directly to my brother).

All Good Things….
As much fun as it was to go, it’s always great to get back home, and I’m back at work today after a wonderful, restful vacation. The kids had a ball. My wife had a ball. I won a buck off my brother at golf (of course, he gave me some strokes), and overall had an absolutely relaxing, fun, wonderful time with lots of laughs, and lots of hugs from the kids. Now, it’s back to work—I’ve got a book to finish! :-)

I forgot to post this fisheye shot from the game in Miami last week, but when I was getting ready to post it, I thought, “I wonder if I should correct the fisheye distortion?” So, I gave it a shot.

In Photoshop CS5, it’s an automated process—just open the image in Camera Raw, go to the Lens Correction panel, and turn on the Profile correction and it does the rest in all of two-seconds flat. Here are the results:

(Above: Here’s the original uncorrected photo, taken with a Nikon 10.5mm fisheye—a DX cropped lens on a FX full-frame body. I love how this DX lens looks on the Full frame body—it’s not too over the top).

(Above: Here’s the fisheye effect corrected, removing all the roundness that comes with shooting a fisheye lens, using the Photoshop technique I mentioned above).

The top one looks more “classic fisheye” but then when I look at the bottom one, I think, “Well, this looks a lot more like what it really looked like in the stadium that night” but I’m not really sure I like it better.

What do you guys think? Uncorrected (and round) or Corrected and flat? I’m really curious to see what you guys think.

I’ve got one more for you, but this one was taken by my buddy Mike McCaskey (who was shooting along side me that night). He sent me a bunch of his images from the game, and I just fell in love with this one, of Chicago Bears Linebacker Lance Briggs, and I asked Mike if it was OK if I shared it with you guys. That’s the kind of smile that says “We’re winning this one!” And, of course, they did. And the next one, too! Go Bears! (8-3).

In looking at the two fisheye images now posted on the blog (I looked at a preview before the final post went live), I think I need to darken the handrail going down the stairs. I think it’s kind of distracting. A 15-second fix in Photoshop:

#1. Add a Levels Adjustment Layer and drag the center Midtone slider to the right to darken the midtones
#2 Drag the far right Output slider to the Left to darken the overall image (as shown below);

Then press Command-I (PC: Ctrl-I) to invert the Adjustment Layer Mask. Get the Brush tool. Make your brush size very small. Set your Foreground color to white, and paint right along the railing to darken it. The final result is shown below.

(Above: The final image with the rail darkened. Why didn’t I try that on the corrected version? Just bein’ lazy.). ;-)

I shot the USF Bulls vs. Pitt game the Saturday after the Bears/Dolphins game and just wanted to share a few shots from the game.

I used the same camera set-up, settings, as I do for any day game: Aperture priority mode; both cameras at f/2.8 all day. Both cameras at ISO 200 all day. I love day games—you set it, and forget it, and just work on your timing, and not worry about ISO or camera settings, or anything.

(Above: The receiver just scored a touch down and while he’s making the rounds of the end zone, he just flicks the ball behind him, and I was right there in front of him with a 400mm lens. One of my favorites from the day).

(Above: This shot breaks all the rules—it’s not an action shot—the ball’s not in the shot—he’s just standing there. But just standing there, this guy just look like a load. Looking at him, I’m thankful I’m on the sidelines and not the field. Also, you get a nice look at the wonderful bokeh the 400mm f/2.8 creates).

(Above: This is our buddy, sport photographer Andy Gregory. He’s a very good photographer, but he had been drinking heavily before and during the game, and right after this photo was taken, he fell over—passed out cold. Matt Kloskowski was shooting the game there with me, and we immediately rushed to his side, took his gear, went to the media center, and put it up for sale on eBay. When Andy woke up, around the 15 yard line, we had already pants’d him. It was a long day for Andy). [kidding, of course. About the drinking and stuff. Not about him being a good photographer. He’s a real pro, and an awful lot of fun to shoot with, and even more fun to tease].

(Above: Here’s a shot of Matt shooting from behind the end zone. The guy to Matt’s right, in the white shirt, is saying “Don’t you think Matt looks much taller in person?”)

(Above: This is a guy running with the ball. [Sorry, I couldn’t help myself]).

(Above: One of the big advantages of shooting from behind the End Zone is that there’s usually nothing in front of you—no refs, no chain gang, no TV guy with a giant parabolic microphone shield, so when somebody breaks for a touchdown run like this, you’re got a straight unobstructed shot).

Here’s a few more to take us out.

In all seriousness, hanging out with Andy and having Matt along with us for his first big football shoot was a lot of fun (and as expected, Matt came away with some nice shots. Andy of course—none). ;-)

We’re coming on up our last four weeks or so of Regular Season play, so there’s not much football left, which is a bummer. I’ve got a couple of NFL shoots coming up this month, and because of my travel schedule I am going to miss a few college games, but I did get my first Bowl Game assignment this year, so I’m psyched about that.

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