Category Archives Photo Shoots

Above: A Lamborghini Gallardo shot at the duPont Registry Headquarters in Clearwater, Florida.

When I was at Photoshop World in Las Vegas last September, I ran into an old friend, Manuel Obordo (literally, the guy who taught me Photoshop —- if you’ve heard any interviews about how I got started in this business, you’ve heard me tell the story of Manuel).

Manuel is the duPont Registry magazine’s Director of Technology (the duPont Registry is a luxury car and lifestyle magazine that’s hugely popular here in the USA, and I’ve been reading it, and drooling over the cars in it, as long as I can remember). When I saw him I asked if I could come and shoot some of their collection of cars (I had heard they always have all kinds of cool, and man did they ever). So, on Friday Brad and I went and did a location scouting trip out to their headquarters, and then yesterday Brad and I shot there from 2:00 pm to around 5:30 — all with just one strobe (an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra and then when its battery finally ran out from shooting at full power the whole time, a regular ol’ Elinchrom Ranger for the last car), and just one softbox — a 5-foot stripbank. That’s it.)

Above: A detail shot of a Ferrari’s F-430’s wheel.

Above: Here’s the rear of the Ferrari, lit so just the highlights show. It didn’t hurt that the Ferrari was already black. Also, there’s this program called Photoshop that helped here a bit, too).

Above: Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot so you can see the full rig. That’s Brad Moore with our strip bank and flash mounted on a monopod. The Ranger battery back is on the floor. If you’re wondering how the background went so solid black, it’s because I’m using the camera settings and techniques I learned from a class from Award-winning commercial automative photographer Tim Wallace. I used an f/stop (in this case, f/22) and I got the softbox close enough to a very quick fall-off to the light. I used my Nikon D800 for this shoot so I would have loads of detail and file size.

So, while there are rows and banks of florescent lights above us, and through my view finder I can see the stacks of boxes in the background, and I can see right out the large windows, when I fire the flash, it crushes down the ambient light to nothing and only the light from the strobe lights the car. If you watch Tim’s class, you’ll totally get the technique. It doesn’t hurt to have really cool cars to use it on, though.

Above: Same light, but I had Brad move over to the left a bit and place the softbox at an angle to this view of the Ferrari and the engine compartment in the rear. Those highlights are the soft box reflecting in the car’s rear hood and glass.

Above: Here’s a close-up detail shot using a Macro lens; hand held with the same lighting set-up and settings.

Above: Here’s the set up I used for the hood shot, and for headlight detail shots.

Above: The previous five photos use the same everything; we’re just moving around the car. The cars were parked together really tightly and we couldn’t move the cars, so it made it pretty challenging some times (well, for Brad anyway).

Above: They also had a rare Corvette Sting Ray with Split Rear windows and I couldn’t help but get a few shots.

Above: Here’s one of the rear views [stop snicker — I meant the car] — still only that one soft box — the reflections are doing double-duty.

Above: Here’s a Behind-the scenes shot, and Brad is wearing the Elinchrom Quadra Ranger battery pack over his shoulder on the right. This was our first time with the new Lithium Ion battery and we couldn’t believe how light that battery pack was with it. Brad was super-diggin’ it.

Above: They also had a brand new Fisker Karma (first time I’d see one in person up close), so I wanted to shoot it as well. It’s hard shooting a white car, so we warmed up on this car. I only got a handful of shots I liked but at the end of the shoot I got this one I liked.

Above: To get the perspective you saw in the last shot I needed to lay down on the ground, and Brad mounted the softbox on a boom stand and put it just a little bit in front of the car, as seen here. I’m shooting tethered directly into Lightroom for most of the day, but later we were “runnin’ and gunnin’ so I shot directly to the card in my camera. This gives you an idea of how tight the quarters were to get side shots of the cars.

I took a lot more images, including images of a Harley Davidson Sportster and that 1937 Lincoln Zephyr on the left of the Karma I’m shoot, but I’m running out of space here.

My thanks to Tim Wallace — a brilliant teacher, amazing photographer, and terrific guy because I wouldn’t’ be shooting this stuff without learning his techniques first, so if any of them look OK, Tim deserves the credit.

Above: That’s me with Manuel “Manny” Obordo at Photoshop World last year. He’s usually much more smiley than he appears here. He’s a totally cool guy, smart as anything, and you don’t want to play him in golf  — especially for money. 

Also, a big thanks to Tom duPont, all the patient crew at the duPont Registry magazine, and especially my buddy Manuel Obordo (shown with me above) who not only made this shoot happen, but 20-something years ago taught me how to use the Pen tool, which I always felt was the biggest breakthrough I had in learning Photoshop, and the whole Photoshop thing has worked out pretty well for me so far, so although thanks isn’t nearly enough Mannyâ¦thanks!

Well, it’s over, and what a season it was. I’ve had so many questions about mypost-season of sideline shooting (and lots on the use of remote cameras), so I thought I’d answer a few of them as my last post of the season (until probably late July or Early August when football cranks back up again). Here we go:

Q. So, what was the Super Bowl like?
A. It was really amazing! I remember at one point during the game, I turned to my bother who was watching the game with me on the couch, and I said “Man, if San Francisco scores here, this is going to turn into a tight game!” and then he took a bite of one of the sandwiches my wife made for us at halftime. See, gotcha! I used that 49ers shot from last season (vs. Giants) to reel you in and make you think I was there shooting it, and then bam â” I pulled a fast one on you.

Q. What??!!You mean you weren’t shooting the Super Bowl?
A. Nope. I watched the game at home with my brother Jeff and his girlfriend. Great game though, especially the 2nd half. After that long power-outage, my buddy Bill Fortney texted me what I called the “Quote of the Week” on Twitter when he said “San Francisco fans killed the power hoping it would clear the scoreboard!.” LOL!!! Still, it turned out to be a great game (and I’m glad Flacco got MPV. He’s one of the most under-rated QBs playing today. With the way the football media loves Tony Romo, I’m surprised they didn’t give it him, even though he wasn’t in the Super Bowl (don’t get me started). Anyway, it was a great game, even just watching it at home. :)

Q. OK, ready for some real questions actually asked by your readers?
A. Sure, Scott’s ready. Fire away!

Q. You’re not going to be talking about yourself in the third person are you?
A. Scott never talks about himself in the third person. Scott’s not like that. Fire away!

Q. [When you’re shooting a game on the sidelines…] Do you move around or stay in what spot? And if you’re in one spot, is it assigned or do you stake out a spot?
A. Thankfully, we’re not assigned spots — we’re pretty much allowed to roam anywhere along the sidelines with the exception of shooting inside either team’s bench (for obvious reasons). However, the official team photographer is often allowed to shoot in there, but he’s the only one. We do have to stay behind a yellow-dotted line that is set about 3 yards out from the edge of the playing field, and if you step over it, a security guard or police officer will come over and tell you to move back a bit. How they tell you varies between stadiums and personalities, so it’s best just to stay safely behind that line.

Q. Where do you get those steel safety cables? [to secure remote cameras]
A. We’ve been getting ours at Home Depot, but we just got a line on a guy who does rigging for Sports Illustrated and he makes and sells his own, so we’re ordering some of his. I’ll let you know how they are once we try them on a remote for another sport. Maybe basketball.

Q. When do you use the 14-24mm? Is it for after the game?
A. Usually, it’s for pre-game stuff, like for the player introductions and during warmups. Also, it’s now my go-to lens for floor-mounted remote cameras.

Q. Has TSA ever stopped you or asked to have your carry-on weighed?
A. It hasn’t happened so far (knock on wood).

Q. Wish you would write about how u keep your equipment from being stolen traveling at hotel & game
A. I pretty much keep my gear with me almost all the time. After the game, if I can’t get it back to my hotel, it literally rolls into the restaurant with me. During the game, I keep my gear bag locked, and it gets tethered and locked to something that won’t move easily. In the hotel, it’s with me or it’s locked down too! I have lots of locks and locking cables. It’s a bit of a pain sometimes, but less of a pain then replacing all your equipment. 

Q. Scott, do you prefer the [Nikon] D3s or D4?
A. They are very similar cameras, but the D4 has more megapixels which is helpful if you have to crop in tight on a shot when the play has quickly moved down the field (like a long pass or kick-off return). So the D4 is my main lens, the D3s is my 2nd body. 

Q. Where do you buy those gel-filled kneepads?
A. Home Depot or Lowes (they use them for installing carpet, and they’re worth their weight in gold).

Q. What is the fplate floor mount?
A. It’s a steel plate that sits on the floor and it’s designed to let you attach a Ballhead, so you can mount a camera on top and aim it anywhere you want. I use mine to mount cameras at ground level when the players make their entrance, but you can use them for other sports (motorsports, basketball, hockey, horser acing — you name it). They come from and they run about $55 each. Totally worth it (they’re very well made and thought out).

Q. So what glass are you using for remote?
A. Usually really wide angle stuff down on the field, and for the rig we mounted up at the top of the George Dome  aiming down at the 50 yard line (For the NFC Championship Game), it was a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoomed out to 200mm.

Q. What and where do you use a remote during a football game?
A. I use one during warm-ups; I mount a wide angle or fisheye on the end of monopod and trigger it with a wireless remote. Then the rest are usually just for the player intros, but this time I’m adding one overhead. 

Q. How quickly do you have to get to your gear to collect it before they clean up the game after the player intro?
A. I have literally about 60-seconds. In two minutes that stuff is gone, so I have to literally run and grab it. For the NFC Championship game, I had to on the ground and one mounted to the truss. My buddy Matt Lange grabbed one rig; I grabbed the other; we set them on the sidelines beside a security guard (there goes 30-seconds) and as soon as I turned around they were tipping the truss over on its side. I ran up and as they were walking with it, I unlocked my Magic Arm holders and took off. Speed is the key (and it doesn’t hurt to have a friend like Matt, or you’ll stuff will get lost or run over).
Q. Am I just missing something or you’re using Pocket Wizards without any lights?
A. They’re used to fire the remotes like a wireless remote shutter release which can fire multiple cameras at once with a range of like 300 feet. For the last game, I tried the new Pocket Wizard Plus IIIs and they were terrific. When I got back, we ordered four of them (I had borrowed some for the game). 

Q. Maybe you’ve discussed this before but I’m curious about the cards. Are they provided by the club/organization for which you are shooting or do you use your own? If the latter, do you get them back somehow after they have been downloaded? How does that work, logistically?
A. I normally use my own cards, but at last week’s game they had cards provided for us. After the player intros, a runner takes the memory cards from my hand-held and remote cameras. Then at the half, right at the 2:00 minute warning, they take them from both of my cameras, and then at the end of the game, I go up to the press box and they take two more cards. I have my name on all my cards, and they give them give them back to me once they’re all offloaded.

Q. Are you able to set up as many remotes as you want? Are there restrictions on where they can be and what they can capture? You make it appear fairly simple, but I’m sure it is very intense.
A. You pretty much always need permission, but since I’m shooting for the Falcon’s team themselves, they have a lot more latitude over what can be done, and they have been totally cool about letting me put up remotes (as long as they’re not in anybody’s way, and set up way in advance. Also, I need permission from the Pryo crew to mount stuff on their truss or near their fire and explosions going off, but in Atlanta they have been absolutely fantastic to work with. In fact, earlier this year at the Falcons/Cowboy’s game, the head Pryo tech came over and said, “Hey, if you want to take it up a notch next time you’re here, just get here early and we can do some really cool stuff.” (By the way, that scenario doesn’t happen very often). So, needless to say, I’ll be there WAY before game time tomorrow, and we’ve been communicating via email all week. The only part that is intense is getting all the gear pulled down immediately after the players come up. They pyro crew has to disassemble all that stuff in just a few minutes, so I have to get my gear out of that really, really fast. Outside of that, it’s really a lot of fun.

Q. If someone else has the same remotes, how do you keep from having them trigger your mounted camera?
A. That’s what great about the new PocketWizard Plus III — rather than just four channels (like the Plus IIs), you have like 29 channels (not certain about the number, but it’s a bunch). There won’t be that many folks shooting remotes unless Bill Frakes shows up (LOL!). He shots 30 remotes for SI at the Kentucky Derby. WOW! Anyway, I’m most concerned about the one mounted in the ceiling of the dome; I’ll pick some obscure channel and hope for the best.

Q. Do you have one master trigger that fires all remotes together, or a separate button for each camera? Any issues with battery life during the game?
A. I had two triggers — one master that triggered all the remotes during player introductions (that one is mounted on top of my handheld camera, so when I fire it, it fires the other three automatically). The 2nd trigger was for the one mounted up top in the Dome. I didn’t fire it until something was happening near center field, and I just had to push the “Test” button on it to fire it. I had fresh batteries in the dome-mounted camera with a back-up battery and it made it through the entire game (but it was pretty low). Ideally, I’d have a power adapter for a remote that would be left “live” for hours before the game, during, and an hour or so after. So, we’ll just say in this instance, I was lucky to have two batteries (one in the camera, one in the battery grip).

Q. Using that much gear in a quick and efficient manner is impressive.
A. OK, I had never actually ever used that much gear, and I can’t say with a straight face that I used it in a quick and efficient manner (outside of the player intros). I covered the player intros from four different angles and it worked out pretty well. I wanted to do something different for the Falcon’s photo crew —- They’re all really good shooters and I’m not sure they need another shot of Tony Gonzalez catching a pass in the end zone, so I tried to bring something different with interesting perspectives for them. 

Q. Just curious… you have help with you, an assistant maybe? That’s a lot of work for one guy.
A. I didn’t have an assistant during the game — all the sidelines passes were already taken, but it absolutely would have made a big difference, and I would have wound up using more remotes during the game (in the end zones and such), if I had an assistant. It would make a big difference. The Falcons did hire a great guy(Kevin Liles) to help us rig the remote in the dome and on the truss, and he was a big help of course, but his work was all before / after the game. 

Q. Any hassles transporting your gear?
A. Not really. We put all the remote gear (except camera bodies and lenses) in a rolling Pelican Case, and I check that bag as luggage, locked with a TSA-approved lock. Sure enough, they opened it and checked it (they put TSA-tape over it to let you know they checked it). Then I carried on my camera bag, and a backpack on the plane with all the cameras and lenses.

Q. I know you likely shoot hundreds if not more, shots per game. Crazy question but how many are tossers would you say percentage wise?
A. There are a LOT of tossers from the remotes, because there are so many test shots, so I won’t count those. For regular game shots, I shoot around 1,200 to 1,500 shots, and if I get 75 shots that I would upload to the wire service I shoot for (or to the Falcons in this case), I’m pretty happy.

Q. Care to share your camera setting for capturing action shots?
A. Absolutely. I usually shoot in Aperture Priority mode and I always shoot “Wide Open” so f/2.8 if the lens allows, or f/4. My goal is to make sure I shoot at 1/1000 of a second or faster, so for day games I can leave my ISO at 100 or 200 most of the time. For indoor or night games, I’m between 1,600 and 3,200 most of the time. Occasionally 4,000 ISO, but it just depends on the light.

Q. What about the exposure [for the remote cameras]? Are you using Auto or Manual settings? I see those fireworks form left and right… I think they will affect your picture and  change the exposure. 
A. Yeah, I learned this one the hard way, and Manual is the way to go so it doesn’t change with the fire. It does get brighter (and yellower) when the pyro goes off but only by a stop or so, so it’s not bad. 

Q. Were they any “De-Motivational Poster” moments in the Post Season?
A. Sadly, there always are. We’ll wrap things up with another tender moment from my series of posters. Until next season my friends!


OK, before we get into all this, just want to give you a heads up: I cover all of this in MUCH more detail (with more final and behind-the-scenes photos), on yesterday’s episode of “The Grid” which I’ve posted below, so you can just watch it right here if you like.

OK, if you’re not watching that video, here we go! First, some final photos (taken aboard the carrier George H.W. Bush) and then we’ll get to the stories and behind the scenes stuff.

Above: here’s an F/A-18 coming in for a touch and go on the flight deck.

Above: Here’s a wide angle (14mm) view from one of the launch catapults looking back toward the Island (that tower on the left).

Above: One of  the Crash and Salvage Crews on the flight deck in his fire-retardant gear on.

Above: Steam from the previous catapult launch blowing back toward the next F/A-18 getting ready to launch

Above: It almost ran me over. Thankfully, they grabbed the back of my deck vest and pulled me out of the way.

Above: My one HDR shot — here’s the view from the Bridge.

Above: This is taken from two levels up in the Island: from a place they call Vulture’s Row (basically, where visitors get to watch take-offs and landings safely above the Flight Deck).

Above: the weather was less-than-optimal for photography, but from what I hear, pretty standard for flying off a carrier.

Above: Another wide angle shot

Above: One of the Catapult and Arresting Gear Officers (known as “Shooters” on the deck (the crew who literally help “shoot” the plane off the deck).

Above: Literally right before they launch the place the pilot gives a crisp salute, and a split-second later they launch him off.

Above: Guiding an F/A-18 on to the launch Catapult (look how short the runway is!).

Above: One of my favorites — taken during a catapult launch.

Above: It’s not an HDR but I had to double-process this shot of the Bridge or the view outside the window would be totally blown out to solid white.

Above: The only other plane I got to shoot: A Prowler (on deck) with an F/A-18 taking off.

Above: An F/A-18 getting tail hooked for a landing.


Above: Here’s an iPhone video I shot of a tail-hook landing.

Now, It’s Story Time (Q&A Style):

Q. OK, how did you wind up shooting on an Aircraft Carrier?
A. It wasn’t easy. It took me literally eight years of trying to find someone who had a connection to get me on. I was close a couple of times, but either my schedule or the location of the carrier made it impossible, but then last week I got an email from Ed Buice of NCIS (not the TV show — the real NCIS [Naval Criminal Investigative Services), that he was flying out on assignment to the carrier George H.W. Bush which was already at sea and that I could come and assist with the shoot. Even though it was only three-days notice — I jumped all over it. 

Above: That’s Ed in the Officer’s dining room. Looks really serious, but he was a blast — great sense of humor — totally cool guy, really good photographer, awesome to hang out with, and he taught me a lot. Plus, he didn’t shoot me (a bonus).

Q. What kind of assignment did Ed have?
A. Ed is the Public Affairs Officer for NCIS and he needed shots of Special Agent Afloat Sam Bush (each carrier has an NCIS agent on board. More about this on that video at the top of the page).

We spent two days following Sam around the ship shooting him “doing his thing,” which was everything from posed portraits, to Sam conducting interviews, interacting with the ship’s Security Detail, dusting for prints — you name it. Sam is a busy guy, and after two days of shooting him (and baby-sitting us) he was probably thrilled to see us finally leave the ship. I did some flash stuff, and basically acted as Ed’s “Second shooter” (I put a few of my 2nd shooter shots below), but of course we also got to shoot all sorts of other cool stuff, too.

Q. Were their concerns about you shooting stuff that is Classified or that you’re not supposed to share?
A. Everywhere we went, we had a handler with us and they made certain that we didn’t shoot anything we couldn’t’ share. Of course, this means there were parts of the ship that were weren’t allowed to visit, and we always had to have permission in advance to enter certain areas and then permission to take photos once we were in that area. We actually had much more access than I had imagined but we made sure we stuck to the rules and didn’t shoot anything we weren’t supposed to.

Q. How did you get out to the Carrier?
A. We took off from the base in Norfolk, Virginia in a COD (Carrier Onboard Delivery) plane (a twin-engine Grumann C2 Greyhound — a mail and supply plane that also holds around 40 passengers as uncomfortably as possible and you’re seated backwards), and we landed (and got tail hooked) on the deck of the carrier (which was pretty cool and not as scary as everyone had warned me about).

Above: That’s me standing in front of our ride out to the Carrier. You enter through the back and you start screaming. Kidding. Kinda. Photo by Ed Buice.

Q. How did you get off the carrier?
A. They literally shot us off with the same Catapult they launch the F/A-18 Hornet’s off with, and that was actually pretty intense (and pretty fun) but it was over in literally 3-seconds and the rest was just a regular plane ride (accept you’re seated backwards and there are virtually no windows and it’s louder than a Monster Truck & Tractor Pull).

Q. Any surprises?
A. Yup. Two. The first was — after we got on board, after an hour or so we learned that none of our luggage actually made it on the COD plane. Nothing. Not my camera gear. Not my overnight bag. No toothbrush. No underwear. No phone charger. Nada. We were kinda freaked!

Q. So what did you do?
A. We had a guardian Angel. We’re looking for our luggage and up comes Tony Curtis (not the actor; one of the ship’s Mass Communication Specialists, 2nd Class). He’s one of the ship’s photographers (a really good one as it turns out) and he says, “Hey, I read your blog every day” and we started talking. He was a totally cool guy — great personality, smart, talented and when we told him our heartbreaking story, he says, “Don’t worry — I’ve got you covered.”

Above: That’s MC Curtis (totally great guy) and he basically saved our trip. He’s really a smart guy, so we called him MC2 (MC Squared) for short. 

Q. So he had toothpaste?
A. Better. He had a ton of Nikon gear. A ton! (see below). He takes us down to his department where his boss, and head of Media Communication MCC (Chief Mass Communication Specialist) Matt Bash, has approved for us to borrow some gear (awesome boss, right?). So, Tony unlocks this door, we walk in and he says “Whatdawant? A D4? D800? What kind of lenses? 14-24m? 70-200mm? 300 f/2.8? We were saved! Whoo Hoo (and Tony is now our new best friend).

Above: Just part of their equipment locker. They had everything! It was like breaking into B&H Photo.

Q. So what did you do first?
A. We geared up and then Tony asked me “Where do you want to shoot first?” I asked if we could shoot on the flight deck (fat chance, right?) and he said “Sure! Let’s grab some gear — you’ll need a helmet, goggles, gloves, and a flight desk safety vest” (which he handed me) and we headed for the flight deck. I almost blacked out.

Above: That’s Sam, MC Curtis, Me, and MC Walter (another really good Navy photographer. These guys seriously know their stuff, and work their butts off. MC Walter was totally cool, too and he helped me out with everything from giving me shooting location and camera tips, and pulling me to safety).

Q. So….how’d it go?
A. Honestly, I totally blew it. When I stepped out there, and we were literally in the middle of everything. We’re getting blown around by Jet Wash; jets are rolling right by us; another is taking off, we’ve got loads of gear on (plus, we have layers of clothing because it’s cold and windy) and then I put the camera up to my eye and “Clonk!” I have goggle on so you can’t put it up to your eye — you have to put it up to the goggle, which is just weird because it’s like two-inches in front of your eyes, but that’s not why I tanked it.

I was so overwhelmed, pumped and just exciting, I just started firing. I took a ton of shots of planes taking off and landing, but what I didn’t realize at that point was that this scenario never changes. It’s the same planes taking off from the same runways, landing on the same runways, and if everything goes as planned, it all looks exactly the same, so just shooting jet after jet creates a bunch of very similar-looking photos of gray planes. When I looked at the images from my first shoot, I was pretty bummed. No color, no people, just lots of gray planes. Very cool stuff, but a lot of the same stuff.

Above: Here’s the typical type of stupid shots I took, with a big red bar on the right side killing the shot (that’s called a Belknap — thanks Jose Ramos) and of course I could crop it out but that’s not how it’s supposed to work. I’m in charge of composition in the camera — not afterward in Photoshop, so shooting like this feels like a total failure of my most basic job as a photographer. I had a bunch of these. Actually, a ton.

Q. Did you do any teaching?
A. I did a talk for the Navy photographers on board with some tips on how to move to the next level with their photography. It was only about an hour talk, but afterward I did some one-on-one portfolio reviews (and saw some really fantastic, creative images which actually inspired me for my 2nd shoot the following day), and I shared a few Photoshop tips and shortcuts.

Above: Here’s a shot taken by Ed Buice during my talk. What I’m saying right here is “Don’t forget to pack an extra toothbrush!” LOL!

Q. So, did the 2nd shoot go any better?
A. Dramatically. First, I was settled down and more focused. I had gotten used to the jet wash, roar of the jets, and the fact that I would be dragged in different directions at any time to keep from being literally run over by a jet taxi-ing on the flight deck. But beside that, I knew that for more interesting shots, I needed to include the human factor, and I needed to include color, which honestly was everywhere because the flight deck crews wear different solid-color vests and helmets for quick visual ID.

Q. Aren’t these trips usually just 24-hour quick over-night trips?
A. Generally yes, but the weather was so bad they delayed, and then cancelled our flight back to base, so we had to stay another day on board without our luggage (LOL!). Hey, honestly, I was thrilled because that gave me a third shoot (the 2nd shoot was a dawn shoot that morning that was a bust because the sun rose straight into a giant gray cloud bank). It was that extra shoot where I got some images I at least thought were decent. I wasn’t thrilled, but at least I wasn’t miserable. It’s harder than it looks (especially because of the dynamics of a VERY active flight deck.

Q. How were the accommodations?
A. We had Officer’s quarters, and we got to eat with the Officers, so compared to the rest of the shipmates, it was heavenly. However, the actual sleeping part was kind of challenging because our stateroom was located just two decks below the Flight Deck and they run flight operations, well…pretty much all the time. So, what was that like. Close your eyes and picture this scenario: You’ve somehow fallen asleep in a Port-o-potty. While you’re asleep, a huge Semi-Tractor trailer pulls up so close to your Port-o-potty that it touches the door. Then the driver Revs his engine as loud as he can for 15 or so seconds, then he jumps out; takes a baseball bat and hits your Port-o-potty as hard as he can (so it hard it shakes the whole thing), then he starts a running chain saw for another 10-seconds. It was exactly like that. Only louder, and this happens about every 60-seconds or so. Weird thing is — you somehow get used to it, and you fall asleep, but the first time you hear it, after you stop freaking out, you start to laugh hysterically. Well, Ed and I did anyway.

The bathrooms were somewhere down a hall or two, but the hall is pitch dark with just a very dim red light (like you’d imagine a submarine would be during war games), and they were often clogged beyond belief —- sometimes to the extent that you’d go in there, look around and say, “Oh hell no!” and walk right back out. In the dark.

Above: Ed and I shared this spacious room, reminiscent of a suite at the Four Seasons, but larger. Lots of storage space, but that’s about it. It made you not want to hang out in your room. Nice lighting, though. ;-)

Q. What did you learn from this trip?
A. I learned that the sailors and Marines who work on the George H.W. Bush are an incredible team. The flight deck is a miracle of precision, teamwork and timing. The pilots that land on carriers are literally wizards (especially when they land at night, and we watched a night landing session — the photos were a total bust — didn’t’ have a tripod, but not sure that would have helped), and however thankful and proud I was of our men and women in uniform, after seeing what they do, my respect for them went up another big notch. I was really impressed at the professionalism, courtesy, attitude and work ethic of everyone I ran across. Really impressive, and even the Captain seemed like a really great guy (and the crew all spoke very highly of him). My humble thanks to the crew of the George H.W. Bush for their service to our country, and for the sacrifices they make, and their families make, every single day. It was really an honor to visit the carrier, and it’s an experience I’ll never forget.

Thanks to my buddy Ed Buice for an experience I’ll never forget. I had so much fun hanging out with you, and I learned a lot about the “real” NCIS and some of the dedicated people who serve there. Thanks to MC Curtis for saving our trip and for his wonderful hospitality and great attitude while we were there, and to MC Walter for the tips and advice and for looking out for us on the Flight Deck. Thanks to their boss MCC  Matt Bash and all the dedicated photo and graphics crew on board for making us feel so welcome. And of course thanks to the men and women of GHWB for everything you do to keep us safe and our country free. My hats off to you all.

…but I still don’t have a full blog post about this amazing experience, and the incredible of team of people who make a modern aircraft carrier work with extraordinary precision. I just finally got through the images just last night (long story), but there’s so much to tell I couldn’t get it done it time for today’s post. (iPhone photo above by Ed Buice).

I’m going to show some images and talk about the shoot on tomorrow’s live episode of “The Grid” and hopefully later today I’ll post some of the images to my Facebook and Google+ pages as well. My goal is to have the full post for here on the blog by Friday, so I hope you’ll stop by one of those spots beforehand or I’ll see you on Friday (of course, tomorrow is “Guest Blog Wednesday” and Thursday is “Free Stuff Thursday” as always).



The Falcons may have come up short at yesterday’s NFC Championship Game, but they had just an incredible season, and I was honored to be able to shoot the Falcons during the regular season, and the playoffs. Shooting alongside Falcon’s team photographers Michael Benford, Lynn Bass, Matt Lange all led by the wonderful Jimmy Cribbs, has truly been an honor this season, and I couldn’t’ ask to shoot alongside a greater group of guys. Plus, yesterday we got a special appearance from our buddy “Big Daddy Don Page,” which made it even more fun.

It’s really late (I’m still here in Atlanta — going to PPA’s ImagingUSA tradeshow tomorrow here in Atlanta), and I am just beat. So much so, I haven’t even downloaded my cards yet (and I can’t wait to see how the remote camera set-ups worked out), so I’m going to hit the sack — I’ll look at some of the shots tomorrow, and hopefully I’ll have some images to show you guys tomorrow.

Thanks again to everyone at the awesome Falcons organization for letting me shoot for you guys. It was a fantastic game, an amazing season, and the Falcons and their fans have a lot to be proud of. Go Falcons! #riseup!

WOW!!!! What an unbelievable playoff game!!!!

It came down to literally the last seconds of the game, when Atlanta came back from behind with a beautiful field goal by Matt Bryant for the big win and to take the Falcons to the NFC Championship Game this coming Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. The winner of that game goes to the Super Bowl! I’ll be there  this coming weekend again shooting for the Falcons team (thanks Jimmy, Mike, Matt, Lynn and crew) and I could barely be more psyched! Post season baby! Woo Hoo!!

When they gave out our assignments, besides regular game coverage, I volunteered to not just shoot the action, but to shoot some of the moments surrounding the game, and so I included a few of those here as well. The energy and excitement in the Georgia Dome was just incredible and it was amazing just to be there and soak it all in, but there’s wasn’t much time for that, so here we go:

Above: I took this one during pre-game warmups when the Defense forms a circle and get each other pumped up with some serious “BOOM!” chants and lots of smack talk. It’s an awesome thing to see, but a bit risky to do what I did here: I had my camera mounted on the end of a monopod, facing up toward the top of the dome with a 14-24mm lens (at 4,000 ISO) and shot straight up. The guy who is off-center lead the chant and when he’s done, he jumps up and then dives to the ground and so I had to be careful my camera didn’t get in his way — especially since all those guys would have turned on me in an instant. LOL!).

Above: Here’s one of my remote shots with the 14mm. I went a little too wide and put the camera a little too far forward so you don’t see any of the massive smoke and pyrotechnics going off, but this Sunday I’ll move it back farther, plus I’ll have three remotes going from three different angles. I really like the idea of seeing a lot of the dome, crowd, cheerleaders, drumline, etc, but at this small size you can’t appreciate it. It looks much better full screen on my laptop, but alas, it just needs better execution, and I’m very lucky I get to try it again this weekend. By the way — see that guy holding a monopod up right just player the player on the left. That’s me!

Above: I just love these overhead super-wide angle shots during the pre-game warmup.

Above: This one is right after the win, heading into the locker room from the field. It was a very emotional few minutes of the game.

Above: Falcon’s Defensive End John Abraham between plays. I totally dig his tattoos, and a shot I took of him on the bench last season is in my football portfolio so I was particularly drawn to making this image. The subject of this shot, like the one in my port, are the tats, so I framed it so it was nice and tight, but I really like the way the NFL logo on his towel becomes part of the focus of the image.

Above: Here’s the coin-toss right before the kick-off with the Captains of both team. If you look up at the dome, you can see the coin in mid air. This was a hand-held shot, I’m down on one knee with the 14-24mm at 14mm aiming up.

Above: Here’s a game action shot, but I wasn’t as focused on the game as usual as I was looking for opportunities to shoot things and players surrounding the game.

Above: To stop a Falcon, you have to take flight. See, this is why they don’t let me be a color commentator in the booth — I would actually say lame things like that. LOL!

Above: I kept thinking I was going to capture a great shot of Wilson getting sacked, but that guy is amazingly slippery and got out of some situations that would have gotten most other QB’s sacked for a huge loss.

Above: It’s good!!!!

Above: Shot of kickers get little love, so I thought I’d toss one in here just to say I did.

Above: Sorry, this lane is closed!  (That was courtesy of “Lame Caption Man”).

Above: This is what it looks like when the Falcon’s kicker split the uprights to win the game for Atlanta. I so wanted to turn toward the field and get Matt Bryant’s reaction, or the other player’s reaction, but instead I turned around and saw a stadium cheering on its feet.

Above: Nothing like a genuinely happy fan!!!!

OK, how about some “Behind the Scenes” shot? (mostly taken with my iPhone). 

Above: Here’s a glimpse of the media work room (for still and video crews covering the event). They had some serious Southern Style cooking for us — Fried Chicken, BBQ Sandwiches, Baked Beans, Cornbread, Potato Salad and Apple Cobbler. Just enough calories and carbs to slow you to almost a full stop! LOL.

Above: This iPhone Pano is from the pressroom, where we work after the game getting our final images together for downloading. The Falcons have a runner who comes and takes your cards from you right after the initial player introductions (when the first come on the field through the fire and smoke), and then at the 2-minute warning before Halftime, and then we turn them in again up here, where by buddy Mike Benford and I spend an hour or so sorting images and talking about the game over a soda and some stale popcorn. The food and drink might not be fancy, but you can’t beat the view. 

Above: Here’s my Camera Gear load-out for the game. 

Above: here’s my remote gear, in a rolling Pelican Case. I also have three steel safety cables as well. 

Above: That’s me, testing the remote camera shortly before they do the player intros. Notice the PocketWizard in my hand (I use that for triggering the remotes), and the super-stylin’ neon green vest! ;-)

Above: Oh yeah! Oh yeah! How ’bout we go to the NFC Championship Game next week! 

My thanks to the Falcon team photographers, the always cool Jimmy Cribbs, Matt Lange, Lynn Bass, and Michael Benford. Some of the best and most talented guys out there, and I’m truly honored that you let me shoot for you guys during such an important season.

Also, of course a big congrats to the Atlanta Falcons for pulling off a HUGE win, and let’s do it again this week when a very tough 49ers come to town. Oh yeah, one more thing: GO FALCONS! #riseup!