Category Archives Photo Shoots

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, 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. :)



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…

Last Saturday I shot a wedding in Orlando, Florida and I thought I’d share a few pages from the Wedding proof book I put together in Lightroom.

This was about as ideal of a shooting situation as you’re going to get: The bride and groom, Ryan and Lindsay, could not have been easier to work with, and Linsday was a stunning bride (and both Ryan and Lindsay were both very photogenic, which made my job really easy). They were really a joy to photograph and they were incredibly accommodating. The groomsmen and bridesmaids were wonderful and the parents couldn’t have been nicer, and the surroundings were first class all the way. The pre-wedding and reception were held at the gorgeous Ritz Carlton, and the ceremony itself in a beautiful church in Winter Park.

I really wanted to do this right, so I brought some serious back-up: I had the wonderful Kathy Porupski as my 2nd shooter during the ceremony (she could only cover the ceremony itself, but she totally rocked it!), and I had Brad Moore assisting me with the lighting (and doing some 2nd shooting pre-wedding and at the reception) along with Pete Collins and we even got our buddy Kevin Graham (who lives in Orlando) to help us out, so I had everything well covered, and my crew did a great job during a long 16-hour day with only one 30-minute break all day.

Camera Stuff
I’ll leave the rest to the captions, but in short, I shot withthe pre-wedding images with a Canon 1Dx, and a 70-200mm f/2.8 and a 24-70mm. I also used the new Profoto B-1 Off-Camera Flash with a 5′ Octa softbox for the formals of the groomsmen, and for formals at the church, and some pre-wedding portraits.

For the reception, I used pretty much just one lens — the 85mm f/1.2 but I shot it at f/1.4 (I’m not sure I’m accurate enough at run-and-gun photography to keep enough in focus at f/1.2. I’m pushing it at f/1.4) with a Canon Speedlight 600EX-RT flash mounted on the hot shoe (aiming straight upward — seen a bit farther down below).

An Un-plugged Wedding
We sent the bride a link to the CNN article I talked about here on the blog about “un-plugged weddings” where the Bride and Groom ask the guests to NOT take their own photos at the wedding, and leave the photography to the hired photographers and the guests just relax and enjoy the day, and the bride loved the idea and rolled with it. I cannot tell you how much easier that made our job. Three cheers to the bride and groom who totally embraced the idea.

OK, on to the wedding album proofs:

Above: I used a 105mm Macro lens on a tripod for this one.

Above: Here’s the set-up for that shot, taken on the balcony of the bride’s hotel room right after the bouquets were delivered.

Above: The bride’s mom and dad on the right page. Lovely people (really made us feel at home).

Above: The flower girls were absolutely adorable — love the portrait drawn while the bridesmaids were getting ready.

Above: We had set aside just over an hour for portraits of the bride at the hotel before we left for the church, but as is usually the case, things ran behind and as it turned out I actually only wound up with less than 20 minutes with her and a long walk to here I wanted to shoot. The shot at the top of the page was made as we were walking back through the hotel’s convention lobby on the way to her limo to race to the church. I ran in front of Lindsay and asked her to pause just a moment right in the window light just long enough to pose her and get that shot. She was incredibly calm throughout, even though we were cutting it really close in getting to the church on time.

Above: Here’s a behind the scenes of the shot in the spread above, right page. Taken using a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

Above: The shot on the right is one of my favorites. It’s taken on the staircase leading to the spa, just outside the hotel (so he had to hoof it a bit to get there). I’m standing on a step ladder (the ladder cart I mention in one of my books), and I’m using the Canon 16-35mm lens at 16mm. I also over-exposed nearly a stop using just natural light. On the left: That’s the bride still laughing and smiling after walking pretty darn far to get there.

Above: I shot a few from the right side as well, without the ladder and a tighter lens. 

Above: More shots taken on the way back to the limo. For the shot on the right, I asked Pete and Brad to ask the flower girls to hide out-of-site for a moment and once the bride started walking, have them come out and follow the bride but not run up to catch her. That way I could have them out-of-focus in the background, as you see here (I was shooting at f/2.8). , and it worked out pretty well. They’re a little cut-off on the left side of the page just because of the page dimensions. If I wind up making this a two-page spread, you see all of them and lots of breathing room as well.

Above: Here’s a behind-the-scenes of the shot on the page above left.

Above: I saw a small bench in front of this window and I asked (begged) Lindsay to let me just take one more and I promised it would be the last one before she jumps in the limo. She gladly obliged and I’m so glad she did.

Above: The shot on the right is on those circular stairs leading to the spa, shot using just natural light. I’m down at the bottom of the stairs, shooting up towards her.

Above: Here’s a behind-the-scenes of the ring closeup in the previous spread. That’s Pete Collins holding a white card to bounce some window light back onto the rings to create a highlight. The shot was taken on an end table in the hotel room.

Above: Here’s a wide angle shot with my 16mm of the bride and groom walking down the aisle in a two-page spread. The church doesn’t allow any photographers near the front of the church during the ceremony whatsoever, so I went either really wide or 200mm tight. Honestly, I wished I had brought at 300mm, or at least a 1.4 tele-extender.

Above: This one’s just using the available room light and me cranking up the ISO, which worked amazingly well. 

Above: After the ceremony, right before we arrived at the Ritz Carlton, I stopped for just a minute to jump out to get this shot, thinking it would make a great transition in the album between the ceremony and the reception.

Above: The bride and groom make their entrance to the reception ballroom.

Above: On the right, the groom’s father gives a warm welcome speech. He really looks like a star in this shot (and his welcome speech was one of the best!). That him below dancing with his daughter.

Above: Here’s me shooting directly into a video light to get a lens flare effect.

Above: For all these shots I’m either just using that one Canon Speedlight, aiming straight upward (so just a little light goes forward toward the subjects), or I turned off the flash and just shot at a high ISO to get the shutter speed up high enough to freeze motion. My strategy was to position myself directly across from the moving lights the band put up aiming at the dance floor. That way, I could get a lens-flare effect when the light aimed right at my lens. It didn’t work every time but when it did, I thought it looked great (that’s how I got all these shots with the exception of the top right where the lens flare didn’t work, but I really liked the shot.

Above: Here’s my set-up for shooting the reception. 85mm f/1.2 and a Canon 600EX-RT Speedlight.

These are just a few of the pages from the album (I didn’t include any of the formals at the church here, or all of the reception shots, or getting-ready shots, and so on), so these are just a few of my favorite spreads from the book.

A wedding like this is a lot of work
Even with a whole team (my thanks to Kathy, Pete, Brad and Kevin who were all very professional and a huge help from start to finish), but of course, my work has just begun — I’ve got prints to deliver, a final book to create, web proof pages, and a myriad of things before our work is done. We had a really great time, thanks to a Bride, Groom who knew what kind of images they wanted, and were very accommodating to make sure we had the opportunity to create them.

We were honored to have the opportunity to share in Lindsay and Ryan’s special day, and their willingness to request an “unplugged” wedding from their guests made our job so much easier and less stressful for everyone. It was a beautiful wedding of two lovely people, and I feel very fortunate to have been small part of it. Here’s to the Bride and Groom — and to love and laughter, happily ever after. :)

Hi Gang: Sorry I’ve missed the last couple of days of blogging (it’s been crazy around here, and my travel schedule isâ¦wellâ¦crazy! I was in Denver Sunday, Miami Monday (still down here, shooting an online class with Jeremy Cowart today), and then I’m back in Tampa tonight. Whew!

Anyway, it was an amazing game to cover, and the weather held up and it really wasn’t too cold. In fact, it was great weather for a game. Brisk, but not windy. I came away with 60 overall keepers from the game and 62 image for the assignment I was on (which was to cover four specific players, but mostly Peyton Manning, and I have a ton of shots of him).

Down goes the photographer
A lot of you saw me get knocked over late in the 4th quarter, on a play that was reviewed (so they showed the replay numerous times). The players never got near me — it was more of a domino effect of other photographers and video guys getting out of the way, and I just lost my balance and went over. I was cracking up, and saying “Man down, man down!” to Dave Black who was shooting right beside me). Didn’t hurt even one tiny bit.

Anyway, here’s a few of my favorites, including my epic-fail on a remote shot for the player intros:

Above: Just out of reach. I really wished he had caught it for the sake of the photo (though I was rooting for the Broncos). 

Above: There are three shots in this series, and in this one Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe catches the pass for the touchdown (he’s in the end zone). I’m on this with my 2nd body, and a 70-200mm f/2.8. 

Above: Even though it’s not a peak action shot, I actually like this one better — I love touchdown shots where you can see the ref signaling the touchdown. 

Above: The last frame, he starts celebrating his touchdown and I am right directly in front of him firing away and it looks right into my lens. Sweet!

Above: For one quarter I switched my 2nd body to a 16-35mm f/2.8 lens and that’s what I used to get this touchdown. I like that you get the scope of the stadium, but my style is to shoot tight, so I’m not super loving’ it. 

Above: After the score he dives up and into the crowd. I run over with the 16-35mm to get this close-up shot. There were a bunch of photographers doing the same thing, and this was one of the only clean ones without a bunch of cameras in the frame. 

Above: Wish you could see his eyes, but I liked any shot with the player in mid-air. I’m a sucker for those.

Above: I laid down at the back of the End Zone to get this low angle shot with my 70-200mm. I was hoping they’d get closer, but they wound up kicking a field goal instead. 

Above: You know I love detail shots (in fact, I just added a Game Detail gallery to my sports portfolio — here’s the link) and this one was before the team took for the field for warm-ups. Note the “honor the military” gloves. Some players also had cammo-themed towels to show their support for our armed services. 

Above: Cool motion shot, right? Actually, total accident. At some point I hit the dial on my camera and accidentally changed my f/stop to f/14 which lowered my shutter speed from 1/1000 of a second down to just 1/125 of a second, which creates that blur. Luckily, Peyton was just handing off the ball, so he’s not moving very fast, so he wound up in focus. 

Above: Before the game I contact Broncos Team Photographer Eric Bakke (great guy, great photographer), about setting up a remote camera for the player intros, and I took an iPhone shot of the set-up so you could see it’s position.

 Above: Here’s the set-up: a Canon 1Dx on a Manfrotto bullhead mounted to a metal floor stand from, and triggered with a Pocket Wizard Plus-X wireless trigger on top. The security guy I was working with put a goal marker there so the Cheerleaders would clearly see it through the smoke and steer clear of it, and they totally did. Made me want to bring one of my own from here on out. LOL!

Above: You need LOTS of clearance to get approval to do an on-field remote camera like this, including approval from the Pyrotechnics guys, on-field security, team security, and well, pretty much everybody, or you have another security guy (or NFL official) coming out (seen above) asking, “What is this doing here!?” and Eric was a great help with that and lots of folks were in the loop hours before kick-off. 

Above: They have a pretty cool opening, with a horse and rider running out, then the Broncos cheerleaders, then in this case, members of the military with flags as part of the NFL honoring the military (seen above), and so far the remote is working pretty well. The placement seems OK, and it’s looking good so far. 

Above: The Offense runs out as a group, then you have the individual player intros and that’s where my epic fail began. First, as you can see, I set the camera (with a 16-35mm lens at 16mm) too far away from the players, and it’s probably aimed too high. I didn’t have another photographer to stand there to let me lock in my focus, so I had to eye it, and sure enough if it’s tack sharp. Worst yet, this was the first player introduced, and the last shot the remote fired. Thats right — it stopped after this shot, even though I was firing the remote trigger. I have no idea why. Did the cable come loose? Was there radio interference? Who knows, but I only got this one lame shot. #fail. It happens. 

Above: I love celebration shots and this is one of my favorites from the night — it’s Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno leaping up and over Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (the guy who actually scored the touchdown), and you know I like it because the ref is signaling touchdown in the background.

Well, that’s a look at some of my favorites, and the story of my remote fail, and how I survived getting knocked over by the sideline domino effect and lived to tell about it (how’s that for adding drama). ;-)

Hope you all have a fantastic Tuesday and stay out of the way of fast-moving objects, and may all your remotes fire each and every time! :)

This weekend, I had absolutely one of my most-fun football weekends ever, covering the University of Tennessee Vols big upset win against the South Carolina Gamecocks in Knoxville, Tennessee on Saturday and then right after the game flying over to Atlanta to shoot with the Falcons crew for Sunday's game. It doesn't get much better than that!

Today, I'll cover Saturday's game and the two locations we mounted remote cameras. I called my buddy "Big Daddy" Don Page (the head of sports photography for UT) and asked if there was any chance of us mounting a camera on the Goal Post itself. I often see video cameras mounted up there, but so far I haven't seen any still cameras, so I thought it was worth a shot. Don worked on it, and sure enough â” on Friday we got the go-ahead, with the warning that the camera or lens absolutely could not cross the plane of the goal post which could interfere with the game (and we would make darn sure it wouldn't).

 For me, there are two main reasons to use remote cameras: 

(1) To let you cover two or more locations at one time. For example, when I shoot Major League Baseball, I'll cover the batter myself, but I have a remote camera aimed right at 2nd base, so if something happens there I've got it covered with the 2nd camera.

 (2) But mostly for me, it's to give me angles and views from places either I can't shoot (like with the Falcons, right up next to the smoke and fire pyrotechnics when the player intros happens right before the game, or hanging from the truss the players run out through), or in our case, a Goal Post came up high aiming down right at the 5-yard line with a wide angle lens. I totally dig this stuff! :)

My Loadout
We packed four Canon 1DXs, a slew of lenses for the trip (long and wide), and a Pelican case full of remote rigging gear for the trip.  This was going to be challenging since two of my flights this weekend would be on Delta CRJ-900 Regional Jets with small overhead bins. I took a Thinktank Photo Airstream Roller, which is like the Airport International but about half the height. It's an amazing bag because it looks so small, but holds so much (Two 1Dx-bodies; a 70-200mm f/2.8, a 24-105 f/4, a 8-15mm fisheye zoom, a black rapid strap, my card reader, my backup drive, a Hoodman Loupe, memory cards, misc cables AND my 15" laptop and my iPad in the outer sleeve PLUS, my full-sized Gitzo Monopod. That is one amazing little bag, and believe it or not, it slides right under the seat in front of me on that small regional jet (the flight from Atlanta was only 24 minutes, so having a little less legroom was no big deal).

I carried my Canon 400mm f/2.8 in a soft-sided Lightware bag, and son-of-a-gun if it didn't fit perfectly in the overhead bin of both the CRJ-900 and the smaller CRJ-200 on my way back to Atlanta (seen above right). I checked the Pelican case (with a TSA-approved lock) as baggage along with my overnight bag with clothes (and I tossed my gel-filled knee pads as well in there).

Above: That’s Randy and this custom-made goalpost rig (see the metal bands?). 

The Goal Cam
We got to the stadium really early because we realized that the goalpost was MUCH thicker than how wide a Manfrotto Magic Arm clamp would fit, and so Don called his buddy Randy Sartin, who shoots for USA Today Sports Images and is really clever at coming up with solutions to problems like this. On Friday night he went to Lowes and bought two large metal bands (the kind you would use on a dryer hose or indoor plumbing) that you can tighten with a screwdriver, and he connected those (somehow) to a Manfrotto Magic Arm. You can see the metal bands in the shot above.

Above: That’s “Big Daddy” Don Page flashing a classic Big Daddy “I’m up on a laddar” smirk

We pulled our a big ladder (at 7:30 am) and Randy got it attached to the goal, then Brad Moore (who came on the trip with me to help out, and to visit family in his hometown while he was there), scampered up that ladder and mounted a 1Dx up there with a 24-70mm f/2.8, and we used Auto Focus to focus it on the 5-yard line (at around f/8) and then once focused, we switched the lens to Manual Focus and used gaffer's tape to make sure it didn't move.

Above: That’s Randy, me and Brad testing the remote after it’s in place. 

Above: I cannot begin to explain this shot of Brad, taken by Brad (note the PocketWizard in his right hand).

Above: Here’s a close-up look at the rig (Randy added a GoPro camera on top to make a time-lapse video). You can’t tell very well from this angle, but the camera is well behind the plane of the goal post.

We would leave the camera there all game, but we'd also get the big player entrance as they take the field (and leave the field) from right behind that goalpost, so it was the perfect place to position it.

Above: Here’s the goal post cam of the players taking the field.

The camera was up and running by 8:00 am, so we went up to the roof of the stadium where I shot some fisheye shots of the empty stadium (it was scary as anything up there for someone like myself who has a fear of heights). On our way down to the field, we passed right over the tunnel where the players stack up right before they take the field and I took a fisheye shot of it empty, and showed it to Donald and said "Ya know, we've got another camera, and a couple more Manfrotto Magic Arms" and about an hour or so before kickoff, we mounted that camera, with the fish-eye set to 15mm on a railing above the tunnel. So, when I fired my camera, it would fire both the goalpost cam and the tunnel cam.

Above: Here’s the tunnel remote cam right as the players take the field. The two cameras both fire simultaneously when I fire my camera, or press the “test” button on the PocketWizard.

We used PocketWizard Plus IIIs to trigger these remotes, which are just perfect for stuff like this (with a 300+ foot range) and they are just so easy to work with and incredibly reliable. You just need a cable that goes from the remote into your camera's sync port, and you find the exact right cable that works with your camera using the free cable-finder widget on the PocketWizard site. Works like a charm.

After the players took the field, Brad quickly removed the remote and the rest of game I just kept a PocketWizard Plus III in my pocket, and when the play got near the end zone, I'd fire shots with it, no matter where I was in the stadium.

Field Camera Gear & Settings
I used pretty much the same gear I've been using all season: two Canon 1Dx's with a 400mm f/2.8 on my main body (with a 1.4 tele-extender attached most of the game) supported by a Gitzo monopod, and a 70-200mm f/2.8 on my 2nd body. Canon sent me this loaner gear at the beginning of the season, and I already let them know not to expect it back any time soon LOL!! (and by soon, I mean not until well after football season. 2015). ;-)

Above: I do this when I get sleepy. ;-)

At the beginning of the season a friend at Canon who shoots sports too asked if I'd like to try out some of their gear, and ever since their 1Dx came out (and my buddies from the Falcons all shoot the 1Dx and just rave about it), I've been anxious to see if it's "all that." Well, I can tell you, "it's all that" and then some. So much so, that for shooting sports I've totally switched over to Canon (in a related note, I saw my buddy pro-sports shooter Paul Abell [who guest blogged here my blog] at the Falcons game yesterday and I noticed he had switched over to Canon as well).

Anyway, I haven't had much time with Canon's other bodies, just my trip to Rome using a 5D Mark III, and I'm still getting used to using it, but it's been a lot of fun trying out some goodies. I also tried out some Sony gear at a studio shoot last month which was really interesting, but I didn't get to shoot with it long enough to get used to the electronic viewfinder.

At some point, I'll do either a video review or an in-depth blog post about the 1Dx and Canon lenses, because there's a lot I want to share about why that body was born for shooting sports, but this week I'm off to Photo Plus Expo in New York, and then my Washington DC seminar on Friday, and then back to NYC on Saturday (whew!), and then off to Boston for another tour date on Monday, and wellâ¦it's gonna be a few weeks, at earliest.

Canon did invite me to do a presentation in their booth about shooting sports at Photo Plus Expo this week, so if you're in NYC, I'm on stage at the Canon booth at 2:30 pm on Thursday, and at 11:00 am on Saturday, so I'll hope you stop by, so I can meet you in person (I haven't been on stage at Photo Plus Expo since 2010 so it's exciting to be back, and my thanks to Canon for the invitation to talk about one of my favorite topics).

What was especially exciting about all this though, was the game itself. For the past two years I've been only  shooting NFL games which are great, don't get me wrong, but the traditions of college football, and the passion of the fans is really something special, and something I have definitely missed, so it was great to get swept up in it all again. When the game came down to a last-second field goal for a big upset Vols win, the place just erupted into celebration that was beyond those even any college bowl game I've covered, and that was just amazing, since I was right in the middle of all of it. I have had special access to the locker room after the game, and that was just insane!!! A really amazing experience.

At the end of the game, when the Vols lined up for the last-second kick, instead of covering the kick (which I knew they had covered by the other team photographers), I turned and focused on the Vols bench and I figured I'd know whether the kick was good or not based on their reaction, and either good or bad it would still have the makings of a interesting story-telling shot. The kick was good, and the players exploded off the bench to rush the field, where I got the shots you see above.

I haven't had a chance to process all the images yet (I sent some to the Vols that they needed right away), and I I'm working on more Falcons stuff today, and I'll share those as soon as I can, but since I did some different stuff with remotes from this game, I wanted to share those here today.

Above: A really great moment when Coach Jones jumps up on the podium and directs the UT Marching Band in a rousing chorus of the Vols fight song “Rocky Top” — the place was just going nuts!!!

Above: I was able to fight my way through the sea of players and photographers and video camera crew to get this shot from the front side. 

Above: Go Vols! 

Here's wishing you call an awesome Monday (well, as awesome as a "monday" can be anyway).