Category Archives Photo Shoots


The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Indy Car race got rained out on Sunday (the shot above is from the 10 minutes I got to shoot the Indy Lights race in the rain on Sunday). There was just too much water on the track, and so after spending all of Sunday waiting in the Media Center for the rain to break, they rescheduled the main Indy race to run at 10:00 am on Monday (yesterday). NOTE: Click on the images for a larger view.


I was there shooting the race on assignment for Southcreek Global Media, so even though the race got rescheduled, I really needed to be there, though a lot of photographers (and unfortunately fans) weren’t able to be there on Monday. The upside was—there was a lot of room to shoot, so there was no jockeying for position—you could pretty much shoot where you wanted to. The downside was—the stands weren’t packed, so I just pretty much avoided having them visible in the background.


Here are some of the shots from the day (the thumbs up in the shot above is because he just took second place).


TECH SPECS: I shot with just one camera all day; a Nikon D3, with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, with a 1.4 tele-extender to get me a little closer to the action. I had my 200-400mm in the car, but since I had to cover so much track, I decided to go with a lightweight set-up instead. I took my Boda Lens bag, and in it I had two other lenses; my 14-24mm f/2.8 and a Fisheye, and I switched lenses at almost every turn (they cut some rectangular holes in the chain link fence so the photographers have a clear unobstructed view to the track, so once I shot with the long lens, I switched and shot with the other two for a lap or two each).


I used two different sets of settings. I was really trying to make sure that most of the shots had some movement in the tires and wheels (as seen above), so the cars look like they’re moving and don’t look like they’re just parked on the track, so most of the time I shot in Shutter Priority mode at 1/125 of a second or 1/60 of a second, and I panned with the cars as they went by.


When you do this technique, you wind up with a lot of blurry photos as you’re panning (because of the slow shutter speed), but then all of sudden you have one that’s really sharp, but with a blurry background and wheels spinning and that’s the goal (so you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince).


If the cars were coming directly at me (like the one you see here), I switched to Aperture Priority mode, and shot wide open at f/4 (you lose a stop because of the 1/4 tele-extender, so your f/2.8 becomes an f/4 lens). If the car turns a little, you see the wheels are frozen (because now you’re shooting at a shutter speed of more than 1/2,500 of a second in daylight which freezes the motion), but if you look at a lot of pro IndyCar shots, you’ll see a lot of frozen wheels, so I didn’t lose much sleep over it. For post production, mostly just selectively adding contrast and sharpening, but two images got slight vignettes added.


The race was just over 2 hours, and I covered the course from one end to the other, and then I went directly to the trophy presentation, and then uploaded 21 images to Southcreek Global, after adding the appropriate metadata and naming conventions.


The weather turned out to be great, with blue skies above, and the temperature was a perfect 68 degrees with a slight breeze. It was a prefect day for a re-race. :)


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Even though I had never shot a soccer match before (or what the rest of the world calls Football, or futball), I was totally psyched to get the opportunity to shoot the U.S. Men’s National Team vs. El Salvador match played in my hometown of Tampa at Raymond James Stadium. [Click on the photos for much larger views].

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I Needed Some Shooting Help
Since this was my first time shooting soccer, I really wanted to get some shooting tips from someone who really knew the game, and knew how to shoot it, so I thought who better to ask than the guy who won the “Shooting from the Sidelines with Scott & Mike” contest, Alex Walker (who won the competition with a stunning shot of his son during a soccer match).

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Alex was incredibly gracious with his time and talents, and sent me not only loads of tips, and techniques he learned from shooting his son’s games over the years, but his son even pointed out particular players on the US Team to key on during the game. I can’t tell you how helpful this was, and I followed Alex’s advice the entire time and it really made a difference. (Note: Alex’s stuff was so helpful, and so detailed, that I told him it would make a great Guest Blog post. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll do one for us).


Predicting The Future Must Be Harder Than It Looks
The Weather Channel online forecast showed a 10% chance of rain at game time, so I almost didn’t take any rain gear at all, but at Brad’s insistence I threw some into the trunk of my car before heading to the stadium. As it turned it, it rained non-stop the entire first half of the game (thanks Braddo!), but luckily I was wearing a hoodie and a ballcap, so the rain didn’t cause that much of a problem for me personally, but my gear needed some protection. (Photo of me above by Ron Metz).

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Bring the Rain!
The last time I needed rain gear was when I was shooting the Outback Bowl on New Years day, and I had some camera rain gear made by Kata that my buddy Dave Moser had bought me for my birthday the year before, so I took that along for the Bowl game.

I know Kata makes great stuff (I have a Kata backpack camera bag which is incredibly well made), but I just didn’t really like their rain gear. It was kind of clunky to use, and for whatever reason it just didn’t click with me, so I saw another photographer using AquaTech rain gear and asked him how he liked it. He didn’t, but said he heard that Think Tank Photo had just come out with some rain gear that he heard good things about, so he was switching to that.

That was all it took for me (I’m a Think Tank Freak), so I immediately ordered my Think Tank rain gear the next day, and that’s what Brad threw in my trunk.

This was the first time I got to shoot using the Think Tank rain gear, and I have to say—I was thoroughly impressed. Of course, it did the job of keeping my camera body and lens dry, but working with it felt really great, and I was totally comfortable with it from the get go. Beyond that, it has all those little things that Think Tank does with their stuff that let you know this was not only designed by a photographer, but that the photographer who designed it actually uses this stuff. Highly recommended (by the way—-if you’re thinking of getting some of their gear, read this link first—it’s the third paragraph).

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Camera Gear and Settings
Since it was raining like it was, and I only had rain gear for one camera (and I wasn’t shooting on assignment), I shot with only one camera the entire game, my Nikon D3 with a 200-400mm f/4 lens mounted on a Gitzo tripod. This was  a night game, so I shot at 4,000 ISO the entire game to get my shutter speed up to 1/1000 of a second to freeze the action (though a couple of times I noticed it fell down to 1/800 or even 1/640. I should have turned on Auto ISO, right?).

By the way, Ron Metz (who took the shot of me in the rain you saw earlier), was shooting a 400mm f/2.8 lens, and by shooting at f/2.8 (rather than f/4 like me) he was able to keep his shutter speed around 1/1000 at an ISO of only 1,250. That gives you some idea of why we’re always going on and on about really “fast glass.” I did a live on-location demo of this whole “fast glass” thing and shooting sports indoors for one of the next episodes of D-Town TV.

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Post Processing
I started with the usual exposure and cropping adjustments in Lightroom, and the occasional vigetting (that’s all I did there), but then I took the images over to Photoshop to apply lots of contrast to the player’s uniforms, socks, and shoes (but not to their skin), and in some shots I applied a little to the grass playing field as well. I added the contrast using two filters; Topaz Adjust and Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 3.0 (I applied the filters to a duplicate of the Background layer, then added a layer mask and just painted over their uniforms). You really have to be careful using these contrast effects when you have out-of-focus backgrounds, because it really looks funky (for lack of a better term) —it looks crazy over-processed.

Important Note
I added this extra detail and contrast because I was not on assignment, so these are pretty much for me and I can take lots of liberties with how they’re post processed. Had I been on assignment (I shoot for Southcreek Global Media) I would not have added the enhanced contrast look, and would have just tweaked the exposure, cropping, and sharpening in Lightroom and that’s it.

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The Bottom Line
I absolutely loved shooting this game, and it actually was a lot more fun to shoot than I had anticipated (especially since the US Team won 2 to 1), but what I loved about shooting it was the non-stop action of soccer. Don’t let the low scoring throw you—there is a lot of action, almost non-stop during the game, so you don’t have to wait around for a shot on goal to capture some great action. There is so much happening on the field that you just keep your eye to the camera the whole time, and I loved that.

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Although I got a couple of shots I liked OK, I know I can do a lot better with more experience, and shooting my first soccer match just reinforced the fact to make great shots of anything, it requires a lot of practice, and I definitely need that. I’ll be keeping an eye out for other opportunities to shoot soccer in the future, because the only way I’m going to get better is to go out there and do it, so that’s what I’m going to try and do.

A very special thanks to my good buddy Jim Workman for helping me get the media credentials in the first place, and for giving me the opportunity to try something new. It rocked!

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Wait, One More Thing!!!!!
I have a favor to ask. If you’ve got a sec, click on this link to jump to a page to vote for Tampa, Florida as the site for the 2018 World Cup supported by the MSL, US Soccer and other heavyweights in the field. It has information about the World Cup and the events leading up to it as well. Thanks much–Scott. :)


Last Thursday I flew down to a very cool photo studio complex in Miami, near South Beach, for a photography training project I’m working on. Brad and I spent two days on location with a video crew filming behind the scenes footage of a bigger, more ambitious “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it” project (that’s one of our models—Jerrid shown above—click on him for a much larger view).


Above: Stevie during a one light shoot with a very powerful turbo fan, run by Brad.

We actually did 19 different photo shoots, setting up—and taping—each lighting set-up from scratch over a two day period, and we filmed segments in three different studios and on location on Miami’s South Beach. We used everything from one light, two lights, to three lights, and quite a bit of off-camera wireless flash, too. We did shoots with scrims, diffusers, reflectors, and about everything in between.


Above: This is Wanderson (that’s his real name) during our sunset off-camera portrait shoot on the beach.


That’s Vanessa above (a model friend of Dwayne’s who lives in Miami) during one of our daylight shoots. Those are the Raw untouched originals from the camera (Click for a much larger view). The red labels are the ones Vanessa chose as her favorites.


Here’s Shay caught between snaps joking around with the crew.


Above: The regular version of this shot is part of the project, but the all-white blown-out look you see here won’t actually be in the class—it was just me trying something new in Photoshop, just for fun.

We knew we’d be swamped (and on a tight schedule), so we contacted one of one my buddies, Dwayne Tucker (a frequent commenter here on the blog), who’s going to school down in Miami, and got him to come be our 2nd assistant on the shoot, He was a great help (well, when we weren’t all cracking up about something—-we usually have a pretty fun time on the set).

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Above: That’s our 2nd assistant on the set, Dwayne Tucker, taking a break between shoots.


Above: That’s ‘The Scriv,’ Creative Director for Video at Kelby Media Group, with his trusty Steadicam. Also, notice how nicely his “tips” are in bloom (that happens every year right around Photoshop World).


That’s “Beach Blanket Braddo” above, on Miami’s South Beach, holding a diffuser—-ready to spring into action at the first sign of harsh light). Also on the shoot was video cameraman Eddie “Fast Eddie, Easy Cowboy” Lynn, but I don’t have all the production shots here, so sadly, I don’t have a picture of him I can post right now, but he was everywhere! (and a huge help the entire shoot).

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few shots from the shoot. I’ll have more details soon about this project (The Light It, Shoot It, parts are done, but I still have 19 shoots to retouch, and record every step along the way).

Thanks to Brad for all his hard work in setting this up, and to Dwayne for helping us out, and to the five professional models who worked pretty much non-stop for two solid days to make this whole thing happen.


Last night my buddy Erik Kuna and I got to shoot the Orlando Magic vs. Indiana Pacers NBA basketball game, and we had media passes that put us right under the basket (well, 6 or 8 feet to the right of it, anyway). It was my first time shooting NBA Basketball (well, for that matter, it was my first time shooting basketball) and as you might expect we had a blast!!!! (plus the Magic won!).

I wanted to include the three-frame shot you see above of a slam dunk from Magic star Dwight Howard (who had a season-high 32 points in last night’s game) but to really see it, you have to click on it for the larger version (I made it a little larger than usual, too).


Although we had just an incredible time shooting the game, and I learned just a ton, I learned a very valuable lesson in the first period. I’m not used to sitting cross legged, and especially not for hours at a time. Beyond that, Erik and I were the only photographers there who didn’t bring a fold-up floor chair (kind of like the lightweight portable chairs you’d use on a canoe, with some back support) and I kid you not, at one point Erik looked at me and said “I’d pay $100 for one of those chairs.” I said, “Not if I get to him first.”


We couldn’t wait for a time out to stretch our legs, and we both hobbled out of there at the end of the night like we were 90-years-old. It made me miss running up and down the sidelines—but I’d do it all again in a minute (with a floor chair, though). Anyway, suffice it to say—everything hurts. ;-)


OK, besides the chair thing, I learned something even more valuable—I need a lot more practice shooting basketball. But hey, it’s a start, and it can only get better from here (I already have a mental checklist of what I’ll do different next time). That’s Pacer’s SF Danny Granger hitting the floor about two feet in front of me. After seeing him hit that hardwood, I felt like a total weenie for whining about my legs.


For gear I used a Nikon D3 with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, and Nikon D700 with a 24-70 lens, with a 1.4 tele-extender, and I popped a 10.5mm fisheye lens on for a few frames, too. Also, I did shoot a little with my 200mm f/2, which I loved, but it was a little too unwieldy without a monopod, so after the first period, I ditched it.


I shot at between 1600 ISO and 3200 ISO most of the night (shooting for around 1/800 of a second shutter speed). I didn’t use any strobes—-just the available arena lighting, which seemed bright, but of course to my cameras—it wasn’t (which is why I shot at such a high ISO). I also shot in Raw the whole time because even though I wouldn’t get as many frames per second, I knew I’d be dealing with some white balance issues, and they’d be easier to deal with in Raw.


These guys play a mean game of keep-away.


Here’s a Lightroom grid of some more (above—click on it for a larger view), but I’m whipped, and I’m going to bed.


The shot above was taken by Erik with my iPhone (Note: This was taken before my legs felt like someone was burning them with a cigarette lighter). ;-)

Anyway, I hope to shoot more basketball this season, so we’ll see how it goes, but in the end—-nothing beats practice, so that’s what I’m gonna do!


Man, did I start this year off right!!! I started by shooting the Outback Bowl (Auburn vs. Northwestern) on New Years Day for Southcreek Global Media (some of my favorites are shown below), and then on Saturday I caught a flight up to Detroit to shoot the Lions/Bears game at Ford Field on Sunday (I’ll post some of those Thursday).


The Outback Bowl was kind of dicey because it rained just about the entire first half, so I had to use (and improvise) some rain gear. I had some Kata rain gear my buddy Dave had bought me a while back, and I used it to protect my D3, but I didn’t have anything to cover my 200-400mm lens, so I had to improvise with a black garbage bag and some rubberbands (it wasn’t pretty—but it worked). A note about protective rain gear: I wound up talking with a photographer there using the AquaTech rain gear and I asked him about it. He told me he was switching the new rain gear from Think Tank, and once I heard Think Tank had rain gear—I was sold!!!!


I pretty much my kept my second body hidden under my jacket until I needed it, but it got fairly wet (luckily, Nikons from the D300 on up are sealed, so I didn’t have any problems whatsoever).


One challenge in shooting this game was something I hadn’t expected. At the NFL and College games I’ve shot from the sidelines this year, there was plenty of room on the sidelines. But at the Outback Bowl, there were literally about 200 people just hanging out on the sidelines, including (I kid you not) at least 50 children under the age of 14. They were everywhere (along with their parents).


In the last quarter, I literally had to fight through four and five rows deep of spectators to get an open shot at the field. They were nice about moving out of the way, but it was a bit of a struggle all day. I missed an important play (a touchdown no less) because I got behind a dad with his daughters as we were running from one end of the field to the other, and I just couldn’t get around them.


As a dad myself, I can’t complain, because I’d love to have my son with me on the sidelines, so I don’t blame them—I just didn’t expect it. There are also tons of teens shooting the game with their iPhones and Blackberries. It made things a bit more challenging, and more than anything it made you not want to give up a good spot once you found one, but if the game moves—you move.


But that wasn’t the biggest challenge—it was that both teams chose to go without huddles the entire game so the time between plays was incredibly short. It was a big passing game, so they’d run a play; complete a pass downfield, and then you’d have to haul butt to the other end of the field and try to get set before the snap. The whole day was like one long two-minute drill. I haven’t run so much since I was a kid.


Camera Specs: Same as always; I shot wide open (f/4 on the 200-400mm and f/2.8 on the 70-200mm all day). It was very gray and rainy so I had to shoot between 800 ISO and 1600 ISO for the entire first half. In the second half I was able to back it down to 400 ISO.

Tips: If you’re shooting with a lens that has VR (like I was), and shooting at faster than 1/500 of a second (like you would be when trying to freeze action—-I aim for 1/1000 of a second or faster) then Nikon recommends you turn the VR off to get the sharpest shots. Also, I know it’s a pain but shoot from on your knees—it totally changes the perspective and helps make the players look bigger than life. You usually can’t lay down in the end zone or sidelines (it depends on the stadium), but if you can’t (or don’t want to) you can try the Hoodman Right Angle view finder accessory to lay your camera on the turf and then look down into it to shoot from that super-low angle (I learned that trick from Sports Illustrated photographer Peter Reed Miller during his class at Photo Plus back in November).

Anyway, I had a ball—-the game itself was a real barn-burner (it went into overtime), and the 2nd half weather was actually decent. I made some mistakes (mostly with my preparations for the game and also I took longer than I wanted to pick, metadata tag, caption and upload my images to Southcreek Global during halftime), but I learned from those mistakes and won’t make them again.

Ahhhh, next football season just won’t come soon enough for me! I don’t think I’ll get to shoot any playoffs this year (rats!), but hey, isn’t it time to shoot some NBA games? I think it just might be. ;-)


Yesterday (Sunday) morning, I caught an early flight to St. Louis, Missouri to shoot the Houston Texans at St. Louis Rams NFL football game at the Edward Jones dome. (Click on the photos for a larger view)


Although I did shoot some of the game (when the Ram’s offense was on the field), I was actually there on assignment to shoot starting Middle Linebacker James Laurinaitis (#55) shown below.


Of course, as a linebacker James is on Defense, so when he was on the field, my job was just to isolate on him and hope he didn’t wind up in a big crushing pile of guys where he’d get lost from a camera perspective, or that the play wasn’t a quick slant to the far sideline where the receiver gets tackled right away, so James didn’t need to get involved.


The image above is of the Ram’s only touchdown for the day (the Texans only scored one as well, but sadly they wound up winning by a field goal in the fourth quarter). He caught the ball on the goal line so when his feet came down—it was party time in St. Louis!


Houston dropped a pass in the end zone later in the game (that’s James on the far right), and though I don’t do a lot of wide shots, I kind of liked this one.

CAMERA INFO: It was a domed stadium, so it was pretty much like shooting at night, and I had to shoot at 4,000 ISO the entire time to get my shutter speed in the 1/1000 of a second or higher range to freeze the action. I used a Nikon D3 as my main body with a 200-400mm f/4, and my second body was a D700 with a 70-200mm f/2.8 for when they got inside the 15 yard line.


Here’s another wide shot taken as the Ram’s learned they had stopped the Texans on 4th down and one (yard), and they got the ball back on downs. That’s James in the center celebrating the stop.


This one I just love because of the athleticism of #70. I love to see really big guys in mid air.


One more of James doing his thing. He’s really an incredible athlete, which is why he’s starting in the NFL his first year out of college. He was really working hard out there, which makes it all the more a shame they lost.It hasn’t been an easy year for the Rams, but I’m a Tampa Bay Bucs fan so that automatically makes me sympathetic to any losing team this year.


Although I had a great time (I mean, afterall—-it was an NFL game!), overall I wasn’t any happier with my shooting performance than Ram’s fans were with their team that day.

Right after the game, my wife sent me a text message to ask how it went. I wrote back, “Well, I learned a lot. Does that count?” But that’s exactly why I wanted to go St. Louis and shoot this game, and shoot James, in the first place. This stuff, like everything else in photography, just takes lots of practice, perserverence and experience and the only way to get it is to get out there and do it. So I did it, and I did learn some new things that I’ll try next time (and I tried a few new things this time, too).

The good news is; I was able to get a flight home the same day, and even watched a movie tonight at home with my wife once the kids were in bed. But now, I’m beat so I’m heading to bed. Got a busy day at work tomorrow. Hope you all have a good one! :)