Category Archives Photo Shoots

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.

And yeah baby, my Bears won 16-0!!!!! (That makes the Bears 7 and 3 this season, and puts them in first place baby, yeah!!!). OK, I had to get that out of my system first. Now, onto the shoot (and my near freak out!):

The game was a week ago Thursday night in Miami at Sun Life Stadium. The shot above was just a glimpse of the really tough night Miami back-up quarterback Tyler Thigpen had, as he gets sacked and fumbles (he was sacked numerous times and flushed out of the pocket and had to scramble all night long). He actually played fairly well, but their offense could never put enough together to really get in the game.

(Above: I love this shot because you can see the Dolphins Wide Receiver Davone Bess literally running right over his own Center, Cory Procter).

I got to the shoot the game from the sidelines alongside my buddy, Bears Chairman Mike McCaskey (who snagged some awesome shots, as usual), and we had a ball. I even had more than usual, because I got to ride from the team hotel to the Stadium on the Team Bus (which included a full police escort all the way, and then I got to hang out with the team in the Bears Locker room before and after the game.

It was all I Could Do To Keep From Freaking Out!
About two hours before the game, Mike and I are in the locker room, and we’re getting out our gear, and I attach my 400mm f/2.8 and this one guy starts asking me about it, and when I use my other lenses, and we’re talking about stuff (he wasn’t a photographer—just a guy being curious), and the whole time I’m talking to him, inside I’m thinking: “Oh My God!!!! You’re Greg Olson!!! You’re on my Fantasy Football Team!!!!” but you’ll be proud to know that I didn’t do that, or squeal like a 12-year-old girl, but I sure wanted to.

I’m driving Mike crazy the whole time, because I’m standing like three feet from Julius Peppers, and I’m telling Mike, “Dude, that’s Julius Peppers!!!! Do you know how good that guy is?” (of course, Mike just nods and laughs at me). It was wild being just a few feet from Brian Urlacher, and Jay Cutler, and Devin Hester, and well…it was all I could do to keep from freaking out, but I managed to hold it together. A very memorable experience already and we hadn’t even stepped on the field yet.

(Above: Not an action shot, but I like this shot of Bears Linebacker Brian Urlacher because I liked the ray the stadium lights provided a rim-light effect behind him. Plus, he just looks like somebody you wouldn’t want to mess with).

Camera Settings
Being able to shoot at f/2.8 (with my 400mm and my 70-200mm) rather than at f/4, even though it’s just a one-stop difference, allows me to shoot at ISO 1600 for a night game like this, rather than at 4,000 ISO. It’s not just the lower noise—the contrast and color are dramatically better at 1,600 than at 4,000. As always, I shot in Aperture Priority mode on both cameras, and in JPEG mode (gasp!) on both cameras.

A Few To Take Us Out
I’ve got a lot of other stuff today to cover today, being Black Friday (the biggest shopping day of the year in US), and all, so I’ll just show a few more shots to wrap thing up.

An incredibly memorable shoot
I won’t soon forget this one, because it was the first time Mike and I got to shoot an entire game together, and of course, riding over on the team bus, hanging out in the locker room, and getting to see the Bears, my adopted team, get another win in a great season, was just a ton of fun. I’m going to hate to see football season end.

Two weekends ago I got an assignment from Southcreek Global Media to shoot the 2010 Foster Grant Ironman Triathlon World Championships, held in Clearwater Beach, Florida (the image above is from the start of the race. As luck would have it, the athlete I focused in on wound up coming in third).

I had never shot any kind of Triathlon before (and honestly, I didn’t know that much about them), so I had to do a lot of research before the shoot to get an idea of what kind of coverage to provide. Even at that, it was a real learning experience, and now that I’ve got one under my belt, I already know all the things I’d do differently next time.

Above: The panning shot above was taken in Manual mode, at 1/50 of a second, so I could blur the background as I panned with the cyclist. Southcreek Global chose this shot, and the one at the top, for their “Hot Shots” gallery (it’s the first time any of my images were chosen to be in “Hot Shots,” so I was pretty psyched!).

The race started just minutes before dawn (at 6:45 am), as the first wave of 1,700+ athletes (including men’s and women’s pros) swam for 1.2 miles, bicycled 56 miles, and then ran a 13.1 mile half-marathon. The shot above was taken near the start of the cycling part of the event. The sun hadn’t been up for too long, so it was still a warm color, and I took a whole series of these slow panning shots directly into the sun.

(Above: This was one taken as the first of the men’s pros reached the beach. I shot this with my 200-400mm f/4 lens on a Nikon D3).

(Above: Here’s the first wave of men’s pros racing for the beach).

(Above: Once the swimmers hit the beach, they run through these showers to get the salty sea water off, but as they’re running through, most of them are already stripping off their wet suits, but even with all the swimming, cycling, and running, the race comes down to literally seconds, so every one counts. This shot was taken with a D700, using the new Nikon 28-300mm lens, out at 24mm. It worked out amazingly well for a daylight shoot like this).

The shot was taken outside the photographer’s area, so I had to fight my way through the crowd to get this shot. Sadly, it was the only one without the guy standing next to me’s arm in it, holding his cell phone out in front of us both, shooting video. And no—unfortunately I’m not allowed to clone his arm out when covering an event like this.

(Above: My brother Jeff was at the race with me—I stayed at his condo the night before which was right near the start point for the race, and since it started at 6:45 am, and I live an hour away, it worked out great. He’s the one that spotted this shot for me. While I was shooting the previous shot, after the runner’s had come through the shower, he was at the other end, and said I should check out the view from the other end because the sun was beaming through the water. I headed down there, got inside the photographer’s area, got down on my knees, and thanks to Jeff got the shot you see above).

(Above: Last year’s winner, Michael Raelert from Germany, was favored to win again this year, except for the fact that not one previous winner had ever repeated, but all the buzz was about him, so I wanted to make sure I got a number of photos of him just in case. As it turned out, he won, and that’s him above, and in the very last image of this post).

(Above: Another panning shot taken on the Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge, and key part of the course, and one that connects downtown Clearwater with the beaches. This one’s taken a 1/60 of a second. The sun is fully up at this point so I’m having to shoot at f/22 to keep everything from being way overexposed and totally blowing out).

(Above: I got this shot of the runner getting splashed with Gatorade as he goes through a water station. The thing I like best about this shot, is the reflection of the downtown buildings in his sunglasses, but I also like the way at first you don’t notice the cup, and it looks like he’s got an invisible bottle of water).

(Above: I took a number of shots at the water station, positioned behind the runners heading into the sun, so the water they’re splashing to cool down would be back-lit. Plus, I thought it was cool that he was representing the U.S. Army).

(Above: Here’s Michael Raelert, the two-time race winner during the third and final leg, just minutes before his big win).

The Wrap Up
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect shooting an Ironman event like this, and while I didn’t go in knowing exactly what to shoot, exactly where to be and when, and how to expose for it all, I sure learned a lot this time, and know better what to do next time. I feel pretty lucky to get the shots that I did get (and that Southcreek not only picked those two for their Hot Shots gallery, but picked one for rotation on their home page all week).

Thanks to Kathy and the gang at Southcreek Global for having the confidence in me to send me out to shoot something totally new for me, and thanks to you guys for letting me share my first triathlon shoot with you here on the blog.

Hi gang: I had really hoped to have something really meaty for today, but instead we have some shots from a college football sideline shoot I did last week: USF Bulls vs. Rutgers (the mid-air shuttle pass shot above is one of my favorites from the game).

Here’s Why:
OK, it may be partially my fault (OK, more than partially), but Matt, Brad Moore, and RC must share the blame because we all started playing the just-released Call of Duty: Black Ops (on XBox LIVE) at around 9:00 pm, and it is now 1:42 am, and we just this minute signed off, and I haven’t written one word yet of today’s blog post (well, except for the few sentences you just read, of course), and I’m pretty beat, so this is mostly going to be just shots from the game.

The Good News
The good news is: I’m already at Level 20, I’ve unlocked the Famas Assault Rifle (which is an automatic rifle in Black Ops, versus the three-round burst model in Modern Warfare 2), and I’m a pretty decent shot with the Red Dot sight attached (though Matt is the undisputed Call of Duty pro out of all of us guys). Anyway, great game, lots of fun playing online and trash-talkin’ with the guys, but of course it totally wrecked my night and any hope of getting a good night’s sleep. Now, onto the shoot before I nod off.

(Above: At one point in the middle of the game, I’m moving along the sidelines and I hear “Scott Kelby!!! Scott Kelby!!!!, and I turn around and look in the stands and the guy you see above is yelling to me, “I’m a NAPP member!” I thought that was so cool!!!! He yelled “Take my picture” and of course, I obliged. I love his smile and the fact that I heard his voice out of the 30,000+ screaming fans).

The Specs
It’s the same rig I normally use for a night game (here’s the link), but for the first half I tried something different. On my second body I usually have my 70-200mm f/2.8, but I decided to try the 24-70mm f/2.8 to capture more of a wide view when a team scores, but I wasn’t happy with it at all and changed back to the 70-200mm at halftime. The reason was: there was just no separation, even at 70mm at f/2.8 because nothing was close enough to camera to create a shallow depth of field, so everything was in focus, the shots looked pretty “snap-shotty” so I switched back.

I know a lot of guys still go this route, with a wide on their second (or third) body, especially if they’re hoping to capture an image that might run double truck (a two-page spread), and in which case I would go to the wide angle 24mm look, and hope the play happened right in front of you, like a fade to the corner, but again, you’d have to get lucky. Other than that, the rest was the same (but I have to tell you—-I am so loving that 400mm f/2.8 (and that new lens smell).

It was a great game that night. Wonderful weather, and my buddy Andy Gregory was there (SAMSAU), and we had a lot of fun just hanging out (shooting football is a lot more fun with a buddy, even if it has to be Andy, but I recommend you shoot with someone much more fun). Totally kidding (sorry Andy, I couldn’t help myself).

(Above: This is another of my favorites. Last time I shot the team coming out onto the field from behind, but this time I thought I’d get out there as they came through the CO2 smoke curtain. I like the way #51 is looking right at the camera).

(Above: Here’s the team celebrating with the fans after the big win. I usually don’t do much post production to my sports shots, outside of contrast and sharpening (especially if I’m shooting on assignment), but in this case, I threw the book at it—it looks much better larger, so click on it for a larger view).

Here’s what I did:
I added an extreme contrast special effect to the entire image, then a dark edge vignette all the way around using the Lens Correction filter, and I even added the Lens Flare you see in the lights in the top right corner in Photoshop by adding a new layer; filling it with black; running Photoshop’s Lens Flare filter [using the default settings] then I changed the layer blend mode to Screen so it blends in with the rest of the image, then dragged the Lens Flare up in that corner. It’s a bit over-the-top, but for some reason, I still like it).

Well, that’s it for this Friday, late night post, folks. I have a fun post for Monday, so I hope you’ll join me then (by then I should be a level 25 or so), and I hope you all have a great weekend! :-)