Category Archives Photo Shoots

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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).

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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.”

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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. ;-)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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These guys play a mean game of keep-away.

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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.

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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!

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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).

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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!!!!

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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).

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. ;-)

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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! :)

helpp1On Saturday morning, Brad, Matt, RC and I were very fortunate to be a part of the amazing Help-Portrait movement put together by  photographer Jeremy Cowart, and it truly is something special. I didn’t realize how special Help-Portrait was until I actually participated this weekend.

We were part of a group of photographers and retouchers that did portraits at Operation PAR, a women’s drug abuse treatment center. There are about 70 women and their children that live in a ‘village’ operated by the center, and we had 17 photographers and assistants shooting, but just Matt, Brad and I doing all the editing, retouching, and output.

We decided to do the printing as well, so we could deliver a finished 8×10 and a sheet with a 4×6″ print and four wallet-sized prints, right there on the spot. The day really had it’s ups and downs, as your heart just so went out to these women (many with young children, and a number that were pregnant), but then when you saw their reaction to the finished images, it just lifted you right back up.

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That’s Matt and I retouching (above) as photo assistant Pam Hazelwood waits for us to finish up a retouch or two late in the day.( iPhone Photo by Brad Moore).

The moment that it really hit for me how special Help-Portrait is, was when a mother tearfully told me that this was the first photo even taken of her two-year-old son. There were a lot of tears on both sides of the lens, but luckily there were some real tears of joy, too as they got their photos, and beautiful photos of their children.

Of course, we were just one small link in a very big chain that reached around the world as photographers and retouchers were doing the same thing all over the US, and all over the world, touching the lives of so many people who otherwise couldn’t afford to have a professional portrait made. Please take a moment to share in this day, and visit the Help-Portrait Website, right now, and then next year join in yourself and become part of something very special. I promise you, it’ll be one of the most enriching and important things you do all year.

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P.S. A big thanks to my assistant, photographer Brad Moore for all he did so we could be a part of this very special movement, and to Jeremy Cowart for having the idea, and taking the initiative to make a real difference in the world.

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The 2nd online class in my three-part series called “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it” went up live last week at Kelby Training Online, and this one shows how to shoot and retouch a beauty-style headshot like the one you see below left (in-house we call it the “Oil of Olay” look).

I show how to create the exact same beauty-style head shot that I took which wound up being featured in FJ Westcott’s 2009 lighting catalog (seen below), and you see the entire process from start-to-finish including setting up all the lighting, the shoot itself, and the retouching in Photoshop afterward.

I just got incredible feedback from the first one in this series, and I hope you’ll give this 2nd one a look now that it’s live. Here’s a link to the online class.

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Hi folks—here’s what’s up:

New Help Portrait Web Site and Must-see Video
As Brad and I are starting to ramp up for our local “Help Portrait” shoot (on Saturday, December 12th), we just got word that organizer Jeremy Cowart (a really terrific guy and incredible photographer) has released a new updated version of the Help Portrait Web site, along with a quick video you’ve just got to see. Here’s the link (seriously, if you’ve got a minute, this is really an incredibly wonderful thing he’s doing. Don’t stand on the sidelines—-get involved with photographers all over the world who, on December 12th are giving back by sharing our talents to do something really great for those less fortunate).

Wait…I Forgot These Three!
Yesterday, after I posted my “10 things I wish I could Tell Every New Lightroom User” article, my buddy Matt Kloskowski did a follow-up post over at Lightroom Killer Tips with three more things he would add, and not only are they spot-on, but I agree with every one of them. Here’s the link to Matt’s follow-up post.

Just Released: “Editing Video Shot With Your DSLR” Online Class
Video guru, photographer, and Photoshop World instructor Richard Harrington just released a new online class at Kelby Training Online called Editing Your DSLR Video on a Mac, and it answers so many questions about this booming new area of creativity for photographers. If you’ve got a DSLR that shoots video, you’ve got to catch Rich’s class (here’s the link). NOTE: We have another class already in production on editing DSLR video for Windows users.

Also just released is a class from RC Concepcion called “WordPress Basics for Photographers.” We asked RC to do this class because we get so many requests from photographers who want to do their own WordPress Blogs, and there’s just not anything like this out there. Way to go, RC! (Here’s the link to that class).

Terry White (of Terry’s Tech-Blog Fame) Releases His Annual Holiday Gift Guide
Another guy in a race to ensure he gets little to no sleep is my buddy Terry White, who just released his Annual Holiday Gift Guide, and he’s got all the cool tech toys, camera goodies, Mac goodies, and well just loads of goodies for everybody on your shopping list. Here’s the link (definitely worth checking out. I saw lots of things I hadn’t thought of!).

Tomorrow’s Special Guest Blogger is…..
…following in the fine tradition of special guest bloggers that are photo assistant, and this week we’re honored to feature Scott Rinckenberger, who is Chase Jarvis’ assistant.

I’ve got to imagine, Scott has some amazing stories from his life in the field with Chase, so I can’t wait to see what he has to share, so please join us both here tomorrow to see what Scott has in store (That’s right, it’s “Double-Scott Wednesday”). ;-)

Have a Great Tuesday Everybody
During your day today, take two seconds to smile and know that so many of you here on the blog pitched in to help build a orphanage in Kenya that opened its doors on Friday, and without you guys, it that simply wouldn’t have happened. That is something worth smiling about. :)

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