Category Archives Photo Shoots

Hi gang â” if you were wondering why I pretty much ducked out of sight on social media in the past week or so, it's because the wifey and I, our friends Jim and Jean, and Kalebra's mom and dad all snuck off for a vacation that we've planning for over a year to celebrate Kalebra's mom's 73rd birthday.

Her mom had always dreamed of cruising down the Danube river in a "flatboat" so that's exactly what we did. We started out in Prague for 2-1/2 days, then made our way to Nuremberg, Germany to catch the boat that took us to some very charming towns along the Danube (like Passau and Rugnesberg), with overnight stops in Vienna Austria and ending up in Budapest for a day in the city and then the next day our flight home.

Anyway, I have lots to share, and lots of photos of course, but I've been flying for 17 hours so I'm going to do the full post tomorrow, so I hope you'll check back here then. Again, sorry for dropping out of sight on social like that, but I'm back in the saddle and ready to rock. Well, at least I hope to be tomorrow. ;-)

Cheers and I hope to see you back here tomorrow for the full trip report.

Best,

-Scott

Here’s how we describe Jeremy’s new class:

In this class we get a behind-the-scenes view as Jeremy creates unique and dynamic setups in the most unlikely locations, with Scott at his side asking him all the questions that you'd want answered.

Jet away to South Beach, Miami, Florida to meet up with Scott Kelby for the next segment of our On Location Photography with Jeremy Cowart series. Jeremy has an amazing ability to clear away clutter, eliminate distractions, and make his subject the primary focus in just about any setting you can throw his way. You'll be amazed at what can be accomplished with minimal gear and a creative mindset that will surely change the way you view new locations.

For those of you who have seen Jeremy’s two classes we shot a couple of years ago out in Venice Beach, California, you know what I’m talking about — Jeremy is just amazing at find portrait locations just about anywhere, and then he uses simple light (just one light), and directs his subject to come up with amazing on-location portraits.

As good as he previous classes were (and they were a HUGE hit), honestly I think this class is even better! If you’re a KelbyOne Online Subscriber, I’d definitely try and watch his class this weekend. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can Rent it, Buy it, or Subscribe (and watch as many classes as you’d like). Here’s the link. 

I’ve got some fun stuff to share on Monday or Tuesday, so I hope to see you back here then. Hope you all have an awesome weekend.

Cheers,

–Scott

Hi gang: I recently did three portrait shoots for the Coca Cola company and their “Journeys” project to celebrate Mother’s Day.

My idea was to feature three very special mom’s and to make a portrait of them in their home holding one of their most memorable Mother’s Day gifts, along with the person who gave them such a memorable gift, and the story behind it.

If you have a moment, here’s the link.

Here’s wishing all the awesome mom’s out there a wonderful Mother’s day this Sunday. :)

Best,

-Scott

It was my last game of the season (doesn’t look like I’ll be shooting any post-season), and it was an amazing venue — the Cowboys stadium (OK, AT&T Stadium), is just insane, and an incredible place to experience a game — maybe the best ever. In the end, the Eagles won the game (which is good since I was shooting with the Eagles crew), and although it was a huge game in terms of impact (it was winner take all: whichever team won the game, not only won the division but got into the playoffs. The loserâ¦well..).

Some surprising things from the game:

(1) From a photography standpoint, the lighting in the stadium isâ¦.ummmâ¦well, it’s kinda lame. I had to shoot at 5000 ISO at f/4 and 2500 ISO at f/2.8, which really surprised me.

(2) The field-level luxury boxes are even cooler than I thought. The folks in those boxes have outdoor patios with tables and it’s like they’re right there on the sidelines with you.

(3) That amazing huge screen (the largest indoor HD screen in the world) — it’s not made for viewing from the field level. They’re aimed out at the stands, so to look up at them during the game, you get a serious neck ache before long. I’ve seen them from up in the stands, and they are stunning. From field levelâ¦not so much.

(4) While this game was really high-stakes, it wasn’t a particularly exciting game to shoot (made worse by the fact that the one cool play, Escobar’s flip into the end-zone, happened when I was in the opposite end zone. I did catch an end-zone to end-zone shot at 580mm (a 400mm f/2.8 + a 1.4 tele-extender), right between two players, but it’s so far away that even cropped it’s just not a really good image.

(5) This one’s totally on me, but I hadn’t planned on shooting a remote camera, but since I was shooting with the team, I was issued a green all-access vest, so I could go on field during pre-game warmups, and I still had my pocket wizards from the Bucs game in my camera bag, so I mounted my camera on top of my monopod and fired it with a pocket-wizard Plus X. I know, I know, they’re not made for that — I should have used Plus IIIs, but I didn’t have them, soâ¦.it fired. Sometimes. My fault. I know better. But at least it did fire some. Funny story — the Cowboy’s team photographer sees me, introduces himself (really nice guy) and asked if my remotes were working (he had read the blog post). Small world.

Some days you’re really in the zone, and some times you’re in the wrong position at the right time, and that pretty much summed up my night. I got two of the Eagle’s three touchdowns, but overall, I was pretty disappointed, which isn’t a great way to end your season, but I still had a great time shooting, and hanging out with my buddy John Geliebter who shoots for the Eagles, along with Drew and Hunter (great guys, great shooters), and overall I had a really fun time, which helped to make up for how I shot.

Anyway, here’s a few of my favorites from the game:

 

BELOW: Here’s a couple of shots taken with the remote camera mounted up high on my monopod with a 16-35mm lens (I’m supporting the monopod on my thigh, but the monopod fully extended is pretty darn long, so it’s well above the player’s heads).

Above: I thought this might made an interesting shot: former Eagles starter Michael Vick looking on as his backup, Nick Foles, has literally lit up the QB stats this season and is about to lead the Eagles to the NFC East Championship and the Playoffs. 

Above: It’s not a game action photo, but still one of my very favorites. I got this photo of a Marine holding one section of the giant flag they display on-field during the playing of the National Anthem. This is the above view from the monopod-remote rig. I was also out there for the coin-toss, and I did some shots of the players coming on/off the field, and some just outside the locker room with the rig. Next time, I’ll use the Plus IIIs. And by next time, I meanâ¦next August. Sigh. 

Above: OK, this wasn’t a great moment, when Foles lost the ball the Cowboys recovered the fumble, but it all turned out in the end. 

Next week I’ll be sharing a collection of my “best of the season” (like I did last year), so I’ll hope you’ll come back and check those out.

Here’s wishing today, the last Tuesday of the year, is your best Tuesday of the year! :)

 

 

On Tuesday I did a post about my latest “Epic Remote Camera” fail (my 2nd fail in a row at an NFL game). The camera shoots fine in tests minutes before the players take the field, but once I move into position a bit farther back and the players actually come out, the remote camera only triggers intermittently at best. Arrrrggghh!!!)

ABOVE: That’s my basic remote floor mount rig: four pieces: a metal floor plate (from fplate.net), then an Oben BB-0 Ball Head which attaches to that plate. Then a PocketWizard Plus X and a sync cord that connects the PocketWizard to the camera. The Camera is a Canon 1Dx and I generally use either a 16-35mm lens or an 8-15mm Fisheye zoom. 

Anyway, the folks at PocketWizard contacted me and had some ideas as to what might be causing the interference, and strategies to get more reliable results (and to keep me from pulling my hair out). I asked if it was OK to share key parts of their three-page letter to me with you here, and they were happy to let me share it in hopes it might some other shooters experiencing similar issues. It sounds a bit “markety” here and there, but it’s still solid info. Here’s a few highlights:

“Our first piece of advice; Use the right gear for the occasion, in this case use the Plus III or MultiMAX the next time. The PlusX is our "value priced" radio and is perfect for simple setups, but shooting remotes in a stadium requires a bit more than the PlusX has to offer. Both the Plus III and especially the MultiMAX have special features that help make sure the radio signal gets through in challenging environments.”

OK, that makes sense, and when I look back, I realize that I’ve done most of my remote triggering using the PowerWizard Plus IIIs or the older Plus IIs and haven’t had many problems, so I’m wondering if using the Plus X instead couldn’t be the main culprit right there. Next time, I’m going back to the Plus IIIs for sure. Test results soon on this swap out.

“Second, you're putting your camera close to the ground; real close in fact. The ground is a sponge. A radio sponge. It absorbs radio waves like you wouldn't believe. The higher you can get the radio the better but we realize that isn't always possible which is why we've designed special features just for situations like this. Those features can be found on both the Plus III and MultiMAX, but not on the value priced PlusX.”

Ah Ha! More reason to use the Plus IIIs instead of the Plus X. And those features are…

“In both the Plus III and MultiMAX you have a couple of special features designed particularly for remote triggering.  The one that would have helped the most here is Long Range Mode.  What this does is double the communication to make sure the receiving radio can hear it.  Just like repeating yourself to someone who can't quite hear you. It's a bit more technical than that, but that's the general idea.  Using this feature should effectively double the reliable distance your radios will work in.”

Definitely will turn that feature on. Don’t actually know how yet, but that’s why God invented Brad Moore. ;-)

They also just had some troubleshooting tips in general to help for more reliable remote triggering:

“Due to the invisible nature of radio waves, understanding exactly how they work is not for the faint of heart.  Any one of a million things can have an influence on them and getting them to do exactly as you want is both science and art.   

Here's a short list of the key things you can do to increase your success with remote cameras so before you go out on your next remote triggering event, read these basic rules of engagement: Whenever possible,

  • Maintain a line of sight between radios.
  • Keep the antennas parallel and at least 12" apart.
  • Make sure the radios, especially the antennas, are not near any large metal, concrete, or high water-content objects.  
  • Make sure the radios are not blocked by large objects or hills. Crowds gathering between you and your remotes will reduce range. Try to keep the antennas above the heads of crowds.
  • PocketWizard radios will have reduced performance if deployed close to the ground. 
  • Try to get them up high - 4 feet or higher improves range dramatically. Consider using a cable to locate the receiver higher up.
  • Avoid mounting them to metal railings or other building structures.
  • Avoid "Dead spots".  These can be caused by a number of things but the solution is usually the same: move the unit a few inches or feet away from the problem area.
  • Avoid mounting them near long cable runs for other equipment or close to wiring.
  • When a long burst is needed or especially when using a radio in the hot-shoe of your handheld camera, increase the contact time (MultiMAX only) on the remote receiving unit. If range is an issue or remote operation is intermittent, this will help. If any single trigger is received, a long burst is guaranteed.”

I really found this all helpful, although there are some things in that last list that I can’t change [like deploying remotes close to the ground, or for things like mounting in the ceiling of arenas or domed stadiums, not mounted to metal railings], but at least I know there are some things I can try when I run into interference. I do think just switching to the Plus IIIs might do the trick for my situation, as I’ve never run into these problems before, so I’m hopeful, and will hopefully get to test this fairly soon.

My thanks to Dave Schmidt and his team at PocketWizard for reaching out, and for letting me share this troubleshooting info. and I fully expect to have a better story next game (if I can get permission to set up a remote, which I’d better get on if I have a prayer of doing that).

Have a great Weekend everybody, and Happy Holidays. :)

-Scott

 

Above: Me and Mike Carlson, lying down on the job getting our focus set. I use auto focus to focus on the spot where I think the players will come through the smoke (Chip Litherland and Casey Brooke Lawson were our stunt models for focusing position), then once the focus is locked in, I switch Auto Focus off (Photo by Casey Brooke Lawson)

OK, the remote shoot wasn’t exactly “Epic” but to be fair, my buddy Mike Carlson (who shoots for the Bucs) warned me in advance that because of a series of factors, it’s very hard to get an epic shot of the player intros at Raymond James Stadium.

One being that the pyro comes out on these big rubber wheels, and they are incredibly distracting (he was right, and it was worse than I thought); plus you have a huge Publix sign in the background (awesome grocery store, butâ¦.), and it was a gray overcast day (I could go onâ¦.), but what really killed it is that once again, my remote camera didn’t fire consistently (to say the least). Arrrrrrrggggghhhhhh!

Above: Here’s my lonely little rig. f/plate, a Manfrotto ball head, a Canon EOS 1Ds body with a 16-35mm f/2.8 lens, and the evil PocketWizard Plus X remote (more on the evil part soon).

Above: There were three of us firing remotes. The guy on the far left isn’t really a scary stranger — he shoots for the Bucs too, (nice guy in fact) I’ve just never been introduced, so we’ll just call him “Scary Stranger” (Danger!). Then Mike’s rig behind mine, and then mine pretty up close on the far right. It’s the triple threat! (not really).

Above: When we were both lying there getting our focus set, I look over and Carlson is taking a picture of me, so I rolled over and flashed this devistatingly sexy pose. Sorry you had to see this. (Photo by Mike Carlson — his best photo of the day). 

Above: I stand behind my remote camera and do a number of test shots — everything’s working perfectly. Of course, we have to move way away from the pyro, so I back-up about 40 feet away so I can shoot a different angle of the player intros with my 70-200mm. Here’s the Defense taking the field as a unit — the individual Offense intros are next. This was actually shot with the remote camera. Not terrible. Not great. But the individuals is where it gets good!

Above: Here’s a shot from my shooting position on field, taken hand-held with my 70-200mm f/2.8 at 70mm. The guy in the red kneeling on the right side — that’s “Scary Stranger.” He probably thinks his remote is firing, too. 

Above: Here’s what the shots look when I zoom into 200% from the same position. In this case, I kinda like the other shot (zoomed out to 70mm) better, but this is kinda cool. But I’m not worried, that remote has me covered (snicker, snicker).

Above: Here’s Vincent Jackson leaping through the smoke and up in the air. Doesn’t look like much from the remote camera and the wheels look really huge!

Above: The same moment from my hand-held 70-200mm 40-feet away. Not great, but certainly better. 

Above: Well, at least the remote fired, right? Right? Right? (Man, those wheels ARE distracting). 

OK, here’s the problem with the remote
It did fire. Occasionally. Just like in Denver. You see the three shots in a series above? Well, I fired the remote 17 times and it only took those three photos. For the player intros, I fired around 196 shots total, but the remote only fired 28 times total. That’s around 166 times it DIDN’T fire. There are a number of players where it never fired, so I missed them altogether. It would fire maybe one or two frames, or not at all.

It wasn’t just me
Right before kickoff, I went over to Mike and told him my remote didn’t fire most of the time. He said he had the exact same problem (and this wasn’t the first time this has happened). We were both using PocketWizards (we checked — all three of us were on different wireless channels), but I was using the PocketWizard Plus X, and Mike was using the PocketWizard Plus IIIs and yet we’re both having firing issues.

Mike may have figured part of this out
I stood there and tested the remote (just like in Denver) and when I was close to it, it worked perfectly — fired every time, but when I walked to the shooting location 40 or so feet away on the field (like in Denver), it didn’t fire every time. Mike said the same exact thing — when he’s close to the camera — it works every time. When he walks away it stops firing consistently.

Don’t PocketWizards have like a 400 ft range? 
Nope. According to their Website, the Plus X’s range is actually 1,600 feet (500 meters). So, why aren’t they firing when you’re just 40 or 50 feet away? That’s exactly what I’d like to know. Could it be some sort of interference? Could be, but I have no idea from what. The three of us are firing the only remote cameras. There’s something seriously wrong here, and I’m not the only one having the problem, so if you’ve run into something like this and you’ve found a solution, please let me (and Mike) know ’cause this is really starting to get old. I don’t want to blame PocketWizard because they are the gold standard when it comes to stuff like this, but I’m stuck and very hesitant to rig any more remotes until I get this figured out, so any help, ideas, or advice would be really appreciated big time.

Above: Parting shot: So where does all the smoke go after the player intros? At Raymond James Stadium it gets sucked down the tunnel and back into the media and locker room area. I took this quick shot so you could see what it looks like as I headed back in to the photo work room to tear down my “it works sometimes” remote rig.

Ah wellâ¦maybe next season, as this was the Buc’s last home game of the season (and after all this time of shooting the Bucs, this was my first time setting up a remote camera at a Bucs game. Sigh). Thanks and a shootout to Mike Carlson for his help and advice — I hope to repay his kindness by solving this “we only fire sometimes” mystery. To be continued…

Close