Category Archives Photo Shoots


What a perfect day! I just got back last night, I’m still grinning about the wonderful day I had shooting the Cubbies. Even though I was in/out the same day (flying up from Tampa for the game), it was totally worth it.


Wrigley Field is truly a Magical Place
I had never been to Wrigley field before (one of the last classic iconic ballparks in America), and as much as I love Boston’s Fenway Park, I think Wrigley truly takes the cake. It’s everything from the hand-updated scoreboard, to the ivy in the outfield, to the way the park blends in, lives, and breathes with the surrounding neighborhood. I can’t imagine a better place to take in a game.

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(Above: An 8-frame pano taken from the 2nd deck, right behind home plate—click on it for a larger view)

Cubs Fans Rule!
The Cubbies are having a really tough year, but despite that, Cubs fans packed every seat and cheered their Cubs on as if they were just 1 game back (even when they were behind by 8 runs). I was really impressed with how the fans carried themselves. Very classy.


Steve Green Rules!
Mike and I spent the day with Cubs Team Photographer Stephen Green (shown above), and he was an incredibly gracious host, and knew every nook and cranny of Wrigley, and how to get there fast. He’s a long time sports shooting pro, and he knew all the angles, all the best spots, and he made the day a lot of fun for us both. Everybody we met from the Cubs organization was just as gracious.


Surprise of the Day
The Cubs were playing the Cincinnati Reds and I’m in tight on one of the Red’s while he’s at bat, and when I zoom out a bit I notice the name on the back of his shirt. Cairo. It was my friend Miguel Cairo (I did a location portrait shoot with Miguel back when he was with the New York Yankees. Here a link to that post from 2007).

Between innings I switched over to the photo pit near the Cincinnati bench, and I yelled over to Miguel. He saw me and came out of the dugout onto the field to give me a hug (I’m glad the folks from the Cubs organization didn’t see that one). I don’t know who was more surprised to see the other—-me or Miguel (he was with the Phillies last year).

I shot his next At Bat from the Reds bench view and sent him the photo you see above. One thing I particularly like about this photo is that you can see his eye looking down the line of his bat, right above his arm. I have two more frames taken a split second after this one with all three of them looking to the sky following the ball, and they all have a clearer view of his face, but they don’t have the drama that this one does seeing just that one eye. Anyway, it was my favorite of the three.


My first real Chicago Style dog
OK, I had two (with all the fixin’s). I know, I know, somehow they’re better if you have them at Wrigley Field, but man, they were off the hook! It challenged my love of New York’s “Dirty Water” Sabrett hot dogs you buy on the street.


(Above: I thought I’d try a fish-eye shot or two. Taken with a 10.5mm lens).

The Weather Man was Half Right
As I sat on the plane in the morning, I checked the Chicago weather. It showed a 0% chance of rain. When I actually landed in Chicago 2+ hours later, it was already raining. Luckily, the rain cleared (after a short 10 minute rain delay), and it was a beautiful day (well, it was if you’re coming from steaming hot, humid Florida).


(Above: Another fisheye shot, but with the circular distortion fixed using Lightroom 3s built-in Lens Correction).

Getting Some Long Glass
I wanted to try out a different lens, so I rented a Nikon 300mm f/2.8 with a 1.4 tele-extender from (I love those guys—-highly recommended),  so it effectively became a 420mm f/4 lens. I also shot with a 200-400mm f/4; a 24-70mm f/2.8 (out wide at 24mm most of the time), or a 10.5mm fisheye. So I was either tight or really wide all day. For all the tight shots, I shot wide-open all day long at f/4 or f/2.8. For the few HDR shots and fisheye shots I took, I went to f/8 or f/11 to keep everything in focus. I included a few shots from the day here. Nothing great, but I still had a ball.


(Above: That’s my buddy, photographer Mike McCaskey in a shot taken right after the game).

Seeing the Ivy up Close
After the game, Steve took Mike (above) and I out to see the famous outfield ivy up close, and to stroll around the park just hanging out and swapping stories. It was a perfect day.


Even perfect days have to end
After the game, my buddy Mike and I headed to Carlucci’s Italian Restaurant in Rosemont for a great dinner, and then it was back to O’Hare for the flight home (I landed around midnight). Again, totally worth it. Luckily, my son waited up for me, and we stayed up late laughing and listening to some new tunes on his iPod until way too late. And I thought the day couldn’t get any better. :)  Thanks Mike, and Steve, for treating me to a day I won’t soon forget.



The gang at Adorama Camera up in New York City (the Platinum sponsors of my official World Wide Photo Walk), heard I was in town today for my Lightroom 3 Live Tour at the Javits Center, so on Sunday they invited me to lead a local Photo Walk, where we’d go out shooting for a couple of hours, and then head back to Adorama HQ for some Photoshop techniques on how to post process the images from the day.

I have to say, it was my most fun Photo Walk ever, because so many amazing things happened along the way. In case it rained, as a back-up plan Adorama hired a professional model we could shoot in the studio, but as it turned out, we had great weather so she came out on location with us, and I did a session a shooting with natural light, and we had lots of large scrims and diffusers available to the walkers, so everybody got lots of on location portrait shooting opportunities (a few of my shots from the walk are below).


We kicked off the walk (25 walkers, plus helpers) in Washington Square, and wound up shooting a stand-up bass player, guys playing chess in the park, a jazz trio, and a real ballerina (shown above—photo by Jeff Snyder), along with “the bird guy” and half a dozen other spontaneous things that happened along the way. It was just such a great day, and I had a really outstanding, fully-engaged group, who really were into the spirit of the day.

After shooting for a few hours, (and winding up on 5th Ave, along 14th street, and in Union Square), we headed back for classroom time, where we went through Photoshop techniques and workflow stuff for a few more hours. I really, really enjoyed the walk, and met some great people along the way.

My thanks to everyone who attended; to our awesome model “Laurence” (pron. La-ronce), and to my gracious hosts at Adorama (especially Jeff Synder and Monica Cipnic) who made my job really easy and fun.

Now, I’m hitting the sack—got a big day at the Javits tomorrow, with around 600 photographers. Can’t wait!


My bestselling Book/DVD combo: Photo Recipes Live: Behind the Scenes Lighting Techniques, is now available as both an iPad and iPhone App from the iTunes Store.


The cool thing is: the App is only $9.95, and includes all the same videos and content. One of the reviewers on iTunes wrote this about the App:

“His technique of showing the shot, and then breaking it down how he did it, is very productive. The narrative is fun, not dry. $10 for pro instruction on lighting is a deal, the price of some digital photography magazines.”

Anyway, if you’d like to check it out, you can find it right here. Thanks to my Publisher, Peachpit Press who developed the App and got it out there. They really did a great job with it, and I’m super psyched to have it available both as a App, and for such an affordable price.




With Independence Day being celebrated here in the U.S. on the Fourth of July, I usually do a quick post on how to photograph Fireworks (which is a traditional part of the 4th of July celebration here). I’m posting the technique that I included on page 175 of my book, “The Digital Photography Book.” Here we go:

This is another one that throws a lot of people (one of my best friends, who didn’t get a single crisp fireworks shot on the Fourth of July, made me including this tip just for him, and the thousands of other digital shooters that share his pain).

For starters, you’ll need to shoot fireworks with your camera on a tripod, because you’re going to need a slow enough shutter speed to capture the falling light trails, which is what you’re really after.

Also, this is where using a cable release really pays off, because you’ll need to see the rocket’s trajectory to know when to push the shutter button—if you’re looking in the viewfinder instead, it will be more of a hit or miss proposition.

Next, use a zoom lens (ideally a 200mm or more) so you can get in tight and capture just the fireworks themselves. If you want fireworks and the background (like fireworks over Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World), then use a wider lens.

Now, I recommend shooting in full Manual mode, because you just set two settings and you’re good to go:

  1. Set the Shutter Speed to 4 seconds
  2. Set the Aperture to f/11. Fire a test shot and look at the LCD monitor on the back of your camera to see if you like the results. If it overexposes, lower the shutter speed to 3 seconds, then take another shot and check the results again.

TIP: If your camera has “Bulb” mode (where the shutter stays open as long as you hold down the shutter release button down), this works great–hold the shutter button down when the rocket bursts, then release when the light trails start to fade. (By the way; most Canon and Nikon digital SLRs have bulb mode). The rest is timing—because now you’ve got the exposure and sharpness covered.

There you have it—-hope you all get some great shots on the fourth! :-)


I’ve had a number of requests this year to go beyond just sharing my camera settings, and share a little more of the “behind the scenes experience” of shooting a major sporting event. So, two weeks ago when I got an opportunity to shoot a Major League Baseball game (Tampa Bay Rays vs. the Toronto Blue Jays), I kept my iPhone’s camera handy so I could chronicle some of the goings on for you, (though the image above, which I call “Steee-rike!” [notice the ball at his hip] was taken with my D3).

Getting Credentials
As anyone who has tried knows, getting credentials to shoot a major sporting event is hard, and getting harder every day. I shoot for a wire service, and thankfully they take care of the credentials for events I’m assigned to cover, but in other cases (like this one), it came through a “hook up” from someone I knew within the organization, but those are few and far between.

If you’re interested in this subject, check out my buddy Mike Ollivella’s Guest Post here on my blog about getting credentials and breaking into the shooting sports. It was a big hit, and Mike answers a lot of questions that other people hadn’t. (Here’s the link).


The Bad News About Parking (and why you need to get there early)
The parking situation can be really dicey for photographers, because even though there is often a media parking lot, photo credentials don’t always come with a parking pass to enter this lot, and without that pass, you generally can’t talk your way in (I’d say the amount of parking passes I get is about 1 in 3).

This means that: (a) you’re going to be paying for parking, and (b) you’re going to be parking a decent distance from the stadium, and that means that you’ll be hauling all your gear quite a ways. If you don’t mind paying $20 or more, you can park somewhat nearer the stadium, and if you get there early enough, you’ll get a good spot in the lot. One reason you might want to consider this is that when the game is over (which could be at night), you’ll be walking these streets all alone, after nearly all the spectators have gone home, carrying thousands of dollars worth of camera gear, so I like to make that scary walk as short as possible.


Getting there Early
I try to get to the stadium (field, court, arena, etc.), at least one hour before game time, if not earlier. I’ve never gotten there so early that I regretted it, because it takes a while to get from your car to where you’ll be shooting (and get through all the things I’m about to mention).

In some cases, they will mail you your credentials in advance, in some cases you can pick them up a day or two before the event in person (depending on the event), and sometimes you just have to pick them up on game day at the Media Center at the stadium. So, you have to get to the stadium, and then find out where the “Media Entrance” is (it’s not always obvious), and it’s been my experience that the media center is always on the opposite side of the stadium from where I parked. Also, rarely do the parking lot attendants know where the media entrance is, so it’s kind of pot luck on this.

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Once you find the media entrance, you go in, find the media registration table (shown above in iPhone photo), and pick up your credentials. Some venues have a lanyard so you can hang your pass around your neck, and some don’t, so make sure you bring a lanyard in your camera bag.

Also, for some sporting events, you’ll be issued a Photo Vest you have to wear while shooting, so security can easily identify photographers. You have to sign these vests out—they are registered to your name, and you must turn these in when you leave or they totally freak out on you.

Be Prepared to Have Your Gear Searched
They always have a security guard or police officer search your camera bag as you enter the stadium, so be prepared to hoist your gear up on a table, and open the bag for inspection. Once they peek around a bit (they are usually pretty quick about it), they put a colored tag on the bag to show that its been inspected.

The Media Center
Your first stop after you have your credentials and clear security, is usually the press room, or photographers room. These range from very nicely appointed, carpeted, air-conditioned comfortable lounges to bare bones solid concrete rooms with no windows, concrete floors, fold up tables, and bare fluorescent bulbs.

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Luckily, the Rays really treat the media right, and they had a really nice media center, with 50″ flat panel HDTVs all around, fully carpeted, lots of Air Conditioning, and plenty of room to relax and have a meal, but I can tell you—that’s not usually the case—it just depends on the venue.

Most have tables with power plugs, because a lot of us have to upload images while the event is either still underway, or we have to upload them immediately after the game. There is almost always free wireless, and the network name and password is usually posted right on the wall. The Rays had a nice Press Box upstairs as well for working Media.

Photographer Briefings
Depending on the sport, you may have to attend a mandatory photographer’s meeting. When I shoot motorsports, this has always been the case, and during these meetings they give you a safety briefing, let you know where you can and can’t shoot, go over the course rules, and they remind you in no uncertain terms that if you break the rules, they pull your credentials and escort you from the premises, so you don’t want to mess up and break a rule, even by accident, because they take safety very seriously.

The Situation on Food
Most of the venues I’ve been to do feed the photographers, which his another reason to get there early, because once the game starts, it’s hard to find time to grab a bite (and you run the risk of seeing the food run out, which I’ve seen happen by half time more than once).

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Above: They had a really nice Mexican buffet, which just shows what a great sense of humor they have, because essentially what they’re doing is filling you up with Mexican food, and then 15 minutes later they’re putting you all in very close quarters for three hours. What a gas!

Again, the amount and quality of the food ranges widely from venue to venue, but again, the Rays did it right (and certainly better than most). They had a Mexican buffet (shown above), then “make your own custom sandwich” bar (shown below—iPhone photo), and a full salad bar—plus all sorts of beverages—all free for the media. The food was quite good, and they had all the fixin’s and plenty of tables, but again, this isn’t always the case. Usually, the bigger and newer the venue, the nicer the media room (and the spread). I can’t imagine what the new Cowboy’s stadium media room is like.

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Above: Make your own sandwich bar, right next to a fully decked out salad bar. This is sports photographer food heaven, but they’re not all like this—trust me.

You will find some venues that actually have a grill, and they cook up everything from hamburgers, hot dogs, to pasta and Ruebens all on request, and all for free, so again, it just depends on the venue, but the good news is; they almost always provide some food for photographers on the house.

Storing Your Gear
At some point, you’re going to be out shooting, and your camera bag, and back-up gear is going to be somewhere else. Generally speaking, there is always some staff in the photographer’s room, so you don’t have to worry about a stranger wandering in and grabbing all your gear, but that’s not to say another photographer couldn’t slide a lens out of your bag. I haven’t heard of this happening, but I’d rather err on the side of safety, so I lock my bag, and then I use the built-in locking cable on my Think Tank bag to tether my camera bag to a table or steel bar, or something that can’t easily be moved.


Above: That’s some of my gear on the floor of the Photo Pit. Everyone stacked their gear up at the back of the pit, but there was a security guy right there in the pit, so I didn’t sweat it too much.

At this game, you bring your camera bag right into the photo pits where we shoot, so you just drag it on in, get out your gear (as seen above—iPhone photo), and then zip it right up. It’s pretty much out in the open, but there’s a security guard in each pit, so I didn’t worry about tethering and locking my gear, and I had no problems whatsoever. Of course, you have to access each situation and then decide how much you need to protect your gear so you’ll feel comfortable (there’s nothing I hate worse than shooting in one location and worry about my other gear in another, so I usually keep things locked up).

This is What I Was Talking About….
….when I said to get there early, because it takes a long time to get from your car, to the stadium gate, through the media checkpoint, through security, over to grab a quick bite, to the photo bit, and then get all your gear out and ready to shoot.

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Above: Before game time, you’d better stake out your shooting space quick, or you’ll be fighting for air.

Where you can shoot
Because of the number of photographers shooting major sporting events, and for the safety of the photographers, they have to control where you’re allowed to shoot from. For American Style football games, there is a dotted line that surrounds the field (you probably haven’t even notice it before), but that is our “do not cross line!” Television crews can cross the line, but not photographers.

At NBA basketball games, there are sections at each end of the courts for photographers, and in some cases, on the sides as well. There’s a line in each section that you’re not allowed to cross (again, for your, and the player’s safety). For the Rays Game I was shooting, we had five places we could shoot from:

  1. A photo pit behind and to the left of home plate (one is seen above)
  2. A photo pit to the right of it
  3. At the end of the first-base dugout (sharing this spot with television cameras)
  4. At the end of the third-base dugout (TV cameras here, too)
  5. From up in the stands


Above: Your home when you’re shooting from the crowded 1st base dugout. That’s my friend and ace sports photographer Andy Gregory “chimping” in the back left. He was desperately trying to get at least one shot in focus (totally kidding—Andy’s an awesome sport shooter, and he shared some tips with me during the game, as this is his “home field”).


Above: Here’s a better shot of Andy. He’s smiling because one of the other photographers left his camera bag unlocked, and right before this photo was taken Andy shoved something in his front pocket. It looked like a 50mm f/1.4 but I’m not 100% certain. By the way, I’m totally kidding. It was a 10.5mm fisheye. Again, I kid. Andy didn’t steal anything but my shots (Come on, I’m on a roll, here!).

You’re allowed to change positions between innings and between half-innings only, because you actually have to walk on the playing field to get to the other photo pit locations. You’re sharing these photo pits with other photographers and often TV cameras, and in sports, television cameras are the priority, so you have to stay out of their way (just watch what happens if you don’t duck down and walk in front of a TV camera in the end zone during an NFL game).


Above: Ahhhh, the glamor of shooting Big League sports. This is your home when you shoot from the 3rd base dugout. You do you best not to cream your head into that camera mounted above you, or on the cameraman to your left.

Because you’re sharing this space, there are three things to keep in mind here:

  1. Get there early so you can stake out a good vantage point. The best spots get staked our early, and at the very least the photographer marks his spot with a camera, gear bag, or seat (if they allow it).
  2. Be friendly and courteous to the other photographers in the pit. You’re in close quarters, and everybody is trying to get the shot for their employer, so keeping a calm, friendly attitude is important.
  3. Be especially kind and friendly to the security in the photo pits. They can either cut you some slack, or throw the book at you if you mess up, or bump heads with another photographer. They’re usually pretty good guys, so let them know you’re a good guy, and that you’re going to play by the rules, and if they do wind up having to correct you, they’ll do it in a nice way. I’ve seen security and even police threaten to toss a troublesome or pushy photographer from a game more than once. Also, just stay out of the way of TV cameras, and be nice to the camera men. They can make your life tough if you don’t give them a wide berth (plus, they are friends with the security crew).


Above: Uploading from right within the photo pit. On more than one occasion I saw these guys playing World of Warcraft during the game (totally kidding—just a joke. It was Tetris). ;-)

Uploading Images
At this game, they allowed a few photographers to have their laptops right in the photo pit for uploading, but that’s not always the case. Normally, at halftime, or between innings, etc., you have to head to the photographer’s room to do your uploading. Same thing at the end of the game, when everybody is uploading from their laptops. Usually, this room is pretty near the field, but when you’re heading there, chances are you’re not alone, so be prepared for a very crowded room (I’ve been in these rooms where there are no tables, or no seats to be had—-you’re sitting on the floor with your laptop in your lap).

A lot of photographers pick their spot in this room early, put up their laptops, and then leave and go shoot the game. When I do this, I tether my laptop to the table itself with a Kensington steel cable lock designed to work with my MacBook Pro, so when I come back to that room at halftime or the end of the game, my MacBook Pro is actually still there. I am amazed at how few photographers do this, but I sure do.

In the media room (photographer’s room, etc.), they usually pass out stats from the game, with rosters, and lots of additional information that can be helpful with captioning (though I prepare my roster stuff before the game).


Above: the view from the third base dugout, before game time.

Packing Up and Heading Out
Once you’re finished uploading, you’ll need to turn in your photo vest (if you were issued one. Make sure you DO NOT leave with that photo vest. It was checked out in your name, and they get mighty cranked if you leave with it, and won’t issue you another credential—you get kind of blacklisted, so be sure to turn it in before you leave).

Here’s where the bad parking space catches up with you. After shooting a three hour event, and running all over the place, rushing every single moment, you’re beat—especially if it’s an outdoor game (luckily for me, this Rays game was in a domed stadium). Now you have to pack up all your gear, and often you have to haul it up at least one or more flights of stairs (because of the way stadiums are designed), and then haul it all to your car and load it up. This is where parking up close really pays off, and at that moment, you’d pay that $20 close parking fee twice just not to have to walk four more blocks to your car.


Above: Not an iPhone photo (for a change). By the way: the Rays trounced the Jays!

Behind the Scenes
Hope you guys enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at shooting a major sporting event. I’ll try and answer any questions that I didn’t cover, so post any questions relating to this behind the scenes stuff and I’ll answer as many as I can as the day goes on.


Above: I made this poster for the Rays organization, commemorating the shut-out. The image is of Carlos Pena heading to the dugout after hitting a Grand Slam!!! I usually don’t throw effects on Sports photos, but the excited looks on the fans faces made me give it a try, and I liked how it came out, so I left it there. There’s a great view of the Photo Pit there, too!


I only do one landscape workshop a year, and I only do it with my good friend, and world famous landscape photographer Bill Fortney, and we only have 15 spots open, and I’m hoping you snag one of those, because I promise you—-you are going to learn a ton, laugh a lot, and come away with some amazing photos and new techniques.

This time we’re headed out to the Moab, Utah area (Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park), and if you’re comin’ along, plan on gettin’ up early for some amazing sunrise shooting, then later we’re back in the classroom for Lightroom, Photoshop, and Photography, and afterward we’re back out for a sunset shoot in some of the most scenic landscape locales in the country.

Joining Bill and I are photographers Wayne Bennett (who was with us last year in Savannah) and Richard Small, so we’ve got a great crew on board once again.

The workshop runs Wednesday, October 6th thru Sunday October 10th, 2010. The cost is $895 per participant, and once those 15 slots are gone, they’re gone, so if you want to go, reserve your seat right away (there will be 30 participants total, plus leaders; the other 15 slots went to participants from our workshop last year in Savannah).

To reserve your seat, call (606)-528-6119 or (606)-344-0455. Hope to see you out West with Bill and the gang. It’s gonna be a total blast!

P.S. you can read my report from last year’s Savannah workshop with Bill, right here.