Category Archives Photo Shoots

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On Sunday I took a quick trip up to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama to take part in a very special event; the “IndyCar Series Open Test” Weekend. This is where the big name Indy Car teams spend a weekend prepping for the Indy racing season which kicks off right in my back yard with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg coming up in two weeks.

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I was there as the guest of one of the readers of this blog, photographer/designer Jeff Rease (that’s him on the left above—photo by Pete Collins), and we had a ball (well, Jeff seemed like he was having fun, but I had one of my most fun sports shooting days ever!).

The weather was just incredible—the Barber Motorsports track and facilities were really just beautiful, and I was really taken with how friendly everybody was, from the media crew, to track officials, to everybody involved with the Indy team. It was just a first-rate, well organized, kick-butt day of Indy cars screaming around the track. Plus, Jeff was a lot of fun, really helpful, and put up with my lame jokes all day, which is really saying something.

I met lots of other photographers who were covering the Test Weekend, including photographers who read this blog, have bought my books, been to Photoshop World, etc. and that made it even more fun, as Jeff and I wound up hanging out with some of them.

The big buzz at the track was around Indy racing driver Danica Patrick, and scores of her fans lined up behind her pit and the day before stood in line a country mile long to get her autograph. I took shots of her in the pit (I had an over-the-wall pass, so when she made a pit stop, I could actually climb over the short wall and shoot standing right on the track, directly in front of her, behind or to the side), on the track, and at the media-only press conference.

Anyway, here are some of the shots from the day (You really need to see these a larger size to appreciate them, so click on them for a larger view). All the shots were taken with a Nikon D3 with a Nikon 200-400mm VR lens, mounted on a Gitzo monopod, except for Danica standing in the pits; for that I used my 24-70mm f/2.8.

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A big thanks to Jeff Rease for giving me the opportunity, and to Darrell McCalla and all the great folks at Barber Motorsports for just an incredible day!!!

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On Tuesday I got lucky enough to spend the day shooting Tiger Woods and some of the best golfers in the world at the Tavistock Cup in Orlando, Florida. My buddy, and top-notch sports shooter Mike Olivella, (who was covering the event for AP), was able to score me an “inside the ropes” all-access media pass to shoot the event, and as you might expect, I had a blast!

Although I planned to follow Tiger and his parings for the entire 18-hole round, I had to leave after only four holes because of a family emergency, but I got to shoot Tiger during his warm-ups on the range, and during those four holes (about an hour), so I still had a few opportunities to capture Tiger now that he’s back. (Note: I chose to include the shot above because even though you can’t see his face, you instantly know exactly who it is. Plus, I thought it was kind of cute the way the Nike logo on the ball in his hand happened to be facing directly at my camera position).

This was my first time shooting a golf tournament (talk about being thrown into the deep end of the pool for your first tournament shoot), but Mike (link) was incredibly gracious and gave me lots of tips and pointers the entire time.

I only used one camera body for the event–my Nikon D300 (I chose it because I just felt like shooting with it that day), and I used two lenses: a Nikon 200-400mm f/4 and a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR. I shot wide open the entire day. I used a Think Tank belt system and it once again reminded of how awesome their gear is—-I wouldn’t want to shoot a sporting event without it (Mike had a set, too).

Here are a few shots from those four holes on Tuesday.

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After an 8-month layoff due to his season-ending knee injury, Tiger’s back to form.

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Ian Poulter plays out of a fairway bunker.

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Tiger studies a putt during Tuesday’s round.

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A fully clothed Henrik Stenson tees off.

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Kicking up some grass!


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Waiting on the green.

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Here’s a photo of me taken during warm-ups at the range (photo by Mike Olivella taken with my iPhone).

Anyway, despite the fact that I only finished four holes, it was still a day I’ll never forget! Many thanks Mike, and to the folks at Tavistock who gave me the opportunity of a lifetime.

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I took the shot you see above for a project I was working on, and I wanted to share it here and show a little behind the scenes stuff, because on this coming Monday’s episode of Photoshop User TV, I did a step-by-step tutorial on the post production I did after the shoot using Camera Raw and Photoshop CS4 (on Monday you can watch the episode online, right here).

The production shot below (taken by my assistant, Brad Moore), shows the simple three-light set-up used to light the sunglasses. Now, don’t let all the boom stands and stuff make you think this set-up is more complicated than it really is. I’ll break it down below the photo.

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First, I wanted a black background behind the sunglasses, so Brad slid a black Westcott flag (made of black felt) over a boom stand arm, and that’s what you see behind the sunglasses (you can click on the photo to get a much larger view). Then Brad used three boom stands and fishing wire to hold up the sunglasses (as seen above).

I used three lights: (1) One Elinchrom Style RX 600 strobe with a softbox directly above the sunglasses aiming straight down, to put a highlight across on the top of the sunglasses (2) There’s another Style RX 600 strobe aiming up from below it, to add a highlight across the bottom of the sunglasses, and (3) the 3rd light is another Elinchrom strobe with softbox aiming right at the front of the sunglasses to light the glass part in the front of the sunglasses. The flashes were triggered using Skyport wireless triggers.

CAMERA SETTINGS: The photo was taken with a Nikon D3, at f/22 at 1/200 of a second. The ISO was set at 200. The lens was a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens, and I shot it racked all the way out at 200mm. I took the shot mounted on a Gitzo tripod with a Really Right stuff ballhead.

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Here’s the before photo as it came out of the camera. As you can see, there are some challenges with the background, the fishing wire, and the front of the glasses, and that’s exactly what I cover on Monday’s show, so I hope you’ll tune in and check it out then.

pswlkbos1Jeff Revell of PhotoWalkPro.com has just announced that he’s hosting a free photowalk in Boston on Tuesday, March 24th, the day before Photoshop World kicks off. The walk is open to anyone (not just conference attendees), and is totally free and you should totally sign up for it (it’s limited to just the first 50 people, so head over there and sign up now).

Jeff has all the details on this site over at PhotoWalkPro.com.

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Here’s a look at a shoot I did few weeks back, when I was in the final stages of wrapping up the writing for my Photoshop CS4 Down & Dirty Tricks Book. I needed a shot of a football player for one of the techniques, and so I did an in-studio shoot with a standout on the local high school team, Middle Linebacker Blake Johnson (shown above.).

I wanted a real dramatic look for the lighting, so I shot Blake on a black background, and really tried to control the spill of the lights by using (1) metal Grids that snap right into the reflector on the front of the strobe, and (2) three large black flags (which are essentially just 24″x36″ rectangles of black fabric that block the spread of the light).

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For most of the shoot, I used three lights. For the shot at the top of this page, the main light, an Elinchrom RX-600 Strobe (shown above and marked as “A”) was on a boom stand, in front of him, and was placed up high, directly in front of him and angled down at him at a 45° angle. I wanted a quick drop off of the light, so we placed a 24×36″ black flag up near the bottom of the light, so it would cut off the light hitting below his chest (you can see that in the photo above).

Then we placed two Elinchrom RX-600 Strobes behind him (one on either side of him. They are marked “B” in the photo you see above) using reflectors with Grids attached (see below—photo courtesy of Elinchrom) to light  the sides of his face from behind with really bright edge light. Although the lights are turned off in the production shot above (taken by Brad Moore), they were turned on for the shot at the top of the page. To keep the light from the flash from creating lens flare back into my lens, Brad put up a black flag a few feet in front of the strobes.

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Also, since we weren’t trying to soften the light; we didn’t use soft boxes—just bare bulb flashes with reflectors. The strobe in the front was powered down as low as we could get it, and the two lights in the back were at 3/4 power.

The shot below was taken using just two lights: one single strobe behind him to create a rim light, but we lowered the main light in front until it was down low aiming up at him to make him look more menacing (By the way: despite how he looks in the photo below, Blake was a really great kid; very polite, very patient, very friendly—though I wouldn’t want to stand across a scrimmage line from him).

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I asked Blake to bring a white jersey, because I wanted to try a high-key look for something rough like a football player, and the final image is below. I like it because it’s not what you’d expect. I also like that the jersey was his real jersey from the season, and that it had seen more than one offensive lineman lying on the field looking up wondering what hit him. I set the type in the style of Nike Football posters. (Note: The lighting set-up was exactly the same as in the top shot; one light in front; up high, no softbox, and two edge lights behind him on either side, also bare with a reflector and grid. All we changed was the background).

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One More Thing: I did post-process the living daylights out of these images, using Lightroom, then over to Photoshop CS4. Hey, whatdaya expect? ;-)

Anyway, now when my Down & Dirty Tricks book comes out, you’ll instantly recognize Blake, and better yet—you’ll know how the shots were taken.

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This weekend I got the opportunity to shoot some back-stage portraits of celebrated jazz guitarist Barry Greene, who was playing a special engagement at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida last night with the Florida Orchestra (visit Barry’s site).

My assistant Brad Moore and I got there about an hour before their sound check, and we were able to shoot for about an hour backstage, out in the theater seating, and along the front of the stage (click on the photos for larger views—they look better larger). There are two very short video clips below; one during the shoot, with me out in the theater seats shooting Barry at the stage, and another of Barry riffing while I’m taking the shots. (Video clips by Brad Moore).

The shot below is my favorite shot from the day. That’s Barry’s son Mitch (a really great kid)  in the background, and he wasn’t actually in the shot the way I was composing it, but at one point I looked out from behind the camera and saw Mitch back there, and I just wanted to capture that backstage moment for Barry so I went much wider for that frame, and I really like how it came out (click on it for a larger view).

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GEAR: We used an incredibly simple set-up; just one Nikon SB-800 flash, on a lightstand, shooting through a shoot-thru umbrella (we actually had planned to use the Lastolite EZ Box but when we got there, we realized that we were missing a critical part, but Brad always brings back-up gear so we just quickly switched to the shoot thru umbrella). I shot with a Nikon D700, and I used two lenses: (1) For most of the day I used a Nikon 200mm f/2, and (2) for the wide stuff I used the 24-70mm f/2.8. All the shots shown here were taken at 200 ISO.

Anyway, we had a fun day, and here are some of the shots from the shoot (the production shots are by Brad “Boy Wonder” Moore).

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Here are the two video clips (shot by Brad Moore) below:

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