Category Archives Photography

Hi Gang: Just a few quick things:

(1) Tried out a new lens on my 2nd body for yesterday’s NFL game
I’ve really never been happy with any of the lenses I’ve used on my 2nd body for shooting football. I’ve tried the 14-24mm, 24-70mm, 50mm f/1.4, 28-300mm and none of them fit the bill. I usually wind up falling back to my 70-200mm f/2.8 which you do see a lot on the sidelines. But recently I’ve run into a few guys using the 24-120mm f/4 on their 2nd body and they swear by it, so I rented one from for yesterday’s Saints/Bucs NFL game and I’m digging it (and I snagged this shot that was picked for Zuma Press’s “Sports Pictures of the Day.” I’m thinking I might have to pick this one up.

(2) Today at 12:00 noon (Florida time) is the deadline for uploading your image for the Worldwide Photo Walk contest
Hey, there are some pretty kick-butt prizes, so pick your best shot from that day and get in the contest. If you don’t know how, there’s a video from RC on the Photo Walk home page (and I ran it here on the blog on Friday) on how to upload your image. Good lucky everybody.

(3) Dont’ forget tonight is my free online Webinar called “A Walk in Paris” 
Here’s the link with all the details — I hope you can join me live at 7:00 PM ET (Florida Time). Lots to share (and we’ll be talking about the Worldwide Photo Walk, making photo books, post-processing, my images from Paris, and much more). I’ll be taking your questions as well. Should be fun. :)

Hope you all have a fantastic Monday and don’t hate your referee for blowing a call in the end zone that cost your team the game, ya know, like mine did. Cheers, -Scott

..when it was out on the road (or if I didn’t come to your city or country)â¦.you can watch the entire seminar online, from start to finish, no matter where you are in the world.

You even get the same tour workbook (but in color no less), plus all freebies I gave out for attendees.

The full-day seminar is now available as a digital download (just like you'd buy a movie online to download to your computer), for just $49.

The short one-minute video above gives you the full scoop, or go to the download site:

Here’s a few shots from my sideline shoot at the Tennessee Titans vs. Detroit Lions NFL game on Sunday. It was a wild game, that went into overtime (the Titans won in overtime), but ask anyone that watched the game — it was a roller coaster and a blast to shoot (especially since I was shooting with the amazing Donn Jones and his Titan’s photography crew — just a great group of guys — a very talented group but they know how to fun, too!).

I feel like I did better this time out, and I actually got a few shots I like, but I still need to work on my position and timing to get where I want to be.

Trying Out Some New Gear: The Nikon D600
I have the just-introduced Nikon D600 on loan for a couple of weeks (for a project we’re working on internally) and people were already asking me about it online, so I thought I’d take it as my 2nd body for the game and see how it did. I’m happy to report — it rocked. Now granted, since this was an afternoon game I didn’t get to use the D600 for what it’s probably best at  —- low noise at High ISOs, for a night game or indoor arena, so I still want to try it out under those conditions, but outside of that it was incredibly crisp, sharp and responsive with really excellent image quality (reminded me a lot of the camera it replaced, the D700, although I’m not sure if Nikon sees it as that, but with lots of nice tweaks and modernization). A big bonus for me — 24-megapixels!!! (that’s 8-megapixels more than my D4).

(Above: Here’s one taken with the D600, with my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens on my 2nd body of a kick return for a touchdown). 

For sports action, the frames per second (fps) on the D600 is 5.5 frames per second, which sounds fast (and is quite a bit faster than the D800) unless your other body is a D4, which is 11 fps. If this camera truly is the replacement for the D700, then if you used a Battery Grip with it, and used AA batteries in the grip, it should increase your fps to around 7 like the D700 did, and that would make it a great sports rig for a lot of folks who want this type of performance but don’t want to shell out $6,000 for a higher-end model.

(Above: Celebrating his punt return for a touchdown  by leaping up into the stands. The D600 with a 70-200mm f/2.8 Nikon lens).  

(Above: Here’s another with the D600 taken at center field right after the game ended, shot from down on one knee with a Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8). 

The only other thing that I wish were different (and I could be wrong about this), but I couldn’t find a way to assign a 100% to the “OK” button, like I can on my other Nikon camera. This is important for checking the sharpness, and while you can do it manually with a few zoom in/out button presses, being able to zoom in/out in one click to check sharpness is something I really missed. Again, there may be a way to assign that on the D600 but I wasn’t able to find it.

The Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 at work
I always have people asking me about third-party lenses (probably because I use mostly Nikon-brand lenses), so when I heard we had one in-house I asked to borrow it for this shoot, because I’d heard some good things about it. I have to tell you, I was pretty darn impressed and wound up using it that day more than I thought. Check out the image below.

(Above: A sample of the Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 lens).

I always do a few details shots along the sidelines (they’re great for slideshows, photo books, and just as supporting images to tell a story) and the lens did beautifully! Sharp, crisp, nice contrast — overall a great value for the money (it costs a third less than the Nikon or Canon versions of the same lens). It’s perhaps not the prettiest lens, and it doesn’t feel quite a solid as my Nikon version, but outside of that nik-picking I was impressed.

(Above: In the third quarter I headed up to the top deck to shoot a full stadium, 12-shot pano using the D600 and the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 and I stitched it together in Photoshop and created this poster for the team which celebrates the big win in overtime).

More Sigma 15mm Fisheye Action!
OK, I actually bought this lens last week, so now it’s mine and I’m loving it!!! I did rig it on the end of monopod (like I did last week at the Atlanta Falcons/Denver Broncos game) and I’m starting to get better with that rig (See the image below).

(Above: That’s the 15mm Sigma Fisheye on the end of my monopod at the pre-game warm-up on field).

This week, I’m happy to announce that the remote camera worked (shown circled below), and I think the reason why it didn’t work last week was that the sync cable popped out — I couldn’t get it screwed in, and that wound up bitting me when the cable slipped out, so I made sure I had time to screw it in tight this week).

(Above: There’s a long shot of my remote with the 15mm Sigma Fisheye).

(Above: Here’s a close-crop of the remote rig. More details below). 

On top is a pocket wizard, and a sync cable is running from the port on top of the Pocket Wizard to the Sync port on the front of my D3s. The camera is sitting on “The Green Pod” which is basically a beanbag with a screw sticking up so you can mount your camera on it like you would a tripod — it just screws right in. “The Cube” is a lightweight little cube to help you position or aim your lens. This probably isn’t the exact way they had it in mind, but hey — it worked. The shot at the top of this post was taken with this remote set-up. When this was taken, I was out at mid-field and I had another Pocket Wizard mounted on top of my camera (I was shooting a D4 with a 70-200mm f/2.8) and as I shot my camera, the PocketWizard sitting on my camera’s hot-shoe mount wirelessly triggered the remote unit, so I was shooting the same scene from two different angle â” one fisheye up close and one 200mm from way out on the field.

The advantage of “The Green Pod” camera platform is that you don’t have to get all sorts of permission from the pyrotechnics crew because you’re not attaching your rig to any of their stuff (if you use a Bogen Magic Arm to clamp to any of their stuff, you’re going to need lots of permission early on — with the Pod, nobody seems to care as long as it’s out of the way of where the players are going to run out).

(Above: Here’s what my other camera was seeing — a tight view into the tunnel at 200mm while my remote camera is shooting the wide fisheye shot like you see at the top of this post).

(Above: Giving credit to the man upstairs for the score. Not the officials in the pressbox. Farther up. :)

(Above: This is what I’m taking about when I talk about working on my timing. A split second later he had the ball in his hands and he turned and ran for a key touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The photographer beside me had that shot a split-second later and his was better. Timing is everything). 

(Above: That had to hurt).

(Above: Lions Quarterback Matt Stafford getting sacked late in the game).

(Above: This looks painful and awkward. See if he pulls out a baby calf! OK, that was wrong. Sorry). 

(Above: Matt Stafford in happier times).

OK, this I have NEVER seen!
I’m not saying it’s right or it’s wrong (it’s wrong), but this photographer actually had a tripod on the sidelines. I’ve covered lots of games, both college and NFL and I’ve yet to see a tripod on the sidelines. Monopod — yes all day — but whomever’s job it is to police that no tripod rule (if there is indeed one) was looking the other way for four quarters — just like the replacement refs (Come on baby, that’s gold! Gold I tell ya!).

OK, back to the game, already in progress.

(Above: Dancing into the end zone. You have to love shots taken in daylight — this one was at 1/8000 of a second at 200 ISO. Ahhhhhhh. Day games!).

(Above: I thought I’d include this behind-the-scenes shot of the photographer’s work room at LP Field. The floor tiles are designed to make sure you don’t rest your eyes, even for a minute. One nice touch: that chair in the center? That was assigned to a security guard who watches the room while we’re out on the field. That’s rare, but very welcome indeed. This shot was taken well after the game ended — it was pretty packed before and at half time).

The Icing On The Cake, was…
Getting to shoot alongside my buddy Donn Jones and his wonderful crew shooting for the Titans. Donn has assembled a team of photographers for the Titans of talented, quality shooters and people and they just love what they do, and it shows. One of the highlights of getting to shoot with Donn & Company is that right after the game they host their own tailgate party just for the photographers who shot the game (they affectionately call it the “Lame @$# Tailgate Party” but it’s anything but that.  They’re working four hour before kick-off, so they miss the chance to tailgate, or heck, even have lunch), so this is a great way to unwind after a long game, and I wish this tradition happened at other stadiums as well.

These guys just have so much fun (and so much yummy food — Donn’s buddy Al, who’s also on Donn’s crew — sets up a gas grill and cooks everything from hamburgers, to hotdogs, sausage and BBQ. It’s the perfect end to a perfect day of shooting, and I want to thank Donn, Charles, Al (my new best friend), Michael (the Sports Guru), and Mickey (who’s leading my Nashville Photo Walk for the 2nd year) for treating me like family, and for the honor to shoot alongside you guys. I don’t know what it is about these photographers in the South (like the Falcons crew and the Titans crew), but I’ve never felt more welcome and at home — many thanks for a day (and a game) I won’t soon forget.


What a wild, long, confusing, exciting game as the Atlanta Falcons whupped up on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football up in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome.

I had a total blast because I got to shoot with the Falcons crew (the awesome Michael Benford, the magnanimous Matt Lange, and the gentlemen of NFL football photography, the incredible Jimmy Cribbs), and their guest (and our mutual buddy) Joey Wright. Overall, I had a pretty lame shooting night and I was pretty disappointed with what I got, but at least I did like some of the fisheye stuff I got from the full frame Sigma 15mm fisheye lens I was trying out. I liked it so much, yesterday I bought it (it was $300 cheaper then Nikon’s full frame 16mm lens which is an older lens that hasn’t been updated in a while). It’s sharp, has great contrast and a fast auto-focus. Totally digging it.

Here’s a shot Joey took of me taking the fisheye shot I showed above this one. I liked it so much, I made it my Facebook cover photo (thanks Joey!). This was about three hours before game time, and right before the opened the doors to the public. That’s my favorite time for stadium shots — when it’s empty like this. A few hours later, the dome was packed to the gills and it was an absolutely electric atmosphere in the Georgia Dome.

Like I said, I was pretty disappointed with how I shot overall, but here’s a few that I did get (more on the fisheye stuff in just a minute).

Some Fisheye Work
When you’re shooting for the Falcons (they get all my shots straight off the card, which is pretty terrifying by the way, especially with the night I was having), you get extra access (and a green photo vest that tells security its okay for you to do things like go on the field while the players are warming up about 45 minutes before kickoff).

So, I put my Sigma 15mm lens on my camera; attached my camera to the end of my Monopod, and put a PocketWizard Plus II on the camera, and I held another Pocket Wizard Plus II in in my hand to wirelessly trigger the camera on the end of the monpod. Then I headed out to the field to catch these shots — I balanced the foot of my monopod on my knee to balance it and then I extended it up high over the players (It was actually only about a foot or two above the players, but the fisheye makes it look like it’s MUCH higher, as seen below).

(Above: Here’s an iPhone photo of the rig — you can see the camera mounted on top of the monopod, and the PocketWizard Plus II on top, with a short cable into the socket on the camera. I’m holding another PocketWizard Plus II in my hands. The JBL vocal monitor on the bottom left is so I can hear myself singing over the crowd noise. ;-)).

(Above: Here’s another shot of the rig in action where I’m taking the shot you see below [iPhone photo by Mike Benford].  The bottom of the monopod is on my thigh — the top of the camera is cut off, but it’s there). 

My epic remote-camera fail
To be able to mount a remote camera anywhere near where the players come out, you have to first get permission from the guys that handle the pyrotechnics and the safety crew, and these crews generally would just rather you didn’t use a remote camera and they treat you that way, but in Atlanta, they were incredibly accommodating and even helped me find a better, closer vantage point. How sweet (and usual) is that (but honestly, that’s how it is in Atlanta — everybody I came in contact with, from elevator operators to the guys that hand out the photo vests, were as friendly and chatting and just downright nice as can be). So, I got my remote all set-up in an awesome place — right where the players come out, and the smoke is shooting out, and the fireworks and fire are going off. This is going to be Epic. Unfortunately, it was an epic fail.

I tested it out, and the remote triggered perfectly. The aim was right (I used a beanbag tripod I picked up at B&H Photo called “The Pod” so I could place it right where I wanted it on the ground), and then I set-up at mid-field to capture the players as they came out through the smoke and fire (see the shot above — four shots back) so that way I could get them from two angle. I had the Sigma 15mm fisheye on the ground aiming up, and the 400mm f/2.8 out on the field with me.

(Above: There’s my remote rig, on silent duty waiting patiently for the players to run through the smoke and fire.)

I hit the PocketWizard every time a player came through the smoke — the only problem was — it never fired. Not once. I have no idea why. Uggh. Could have been so cool. Sigh.

There were a lot of fireworks between the replacement refs and Broncos Headcoach John Fox. This photo gives you an idea of how he felt.

Above: Here’s my load-out for the game: L to R: Gel-filled kneepads (from Lowes), and a Gitzo monopod. My main body is a Nikon D4, and the 2nd body is a Nikon D3s. 400mm f.2.8 lens (top); Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 I’m trying out; Nikon 1.4x teleconverter for the 400mm (making it around 540mm); a 70-200mm f/2.8 for my 2nd body; a beanbag with a tripod mount for the remote shot as the player’s come out [well, that was the plan anyway], and the Sigma 15mm fisheye [the Nikon 10.5mm fisheye I use is for cropped sensor bodies. That has its advantages, but you lose half your megapixels]. Lastly, it’s all in a ThinkTank Photo Airport rolling bag. I’m also now using the Lexar X1000 speed cards for sports which is absolutely insane!!!! (and perfect for sports). The whole thing is just a blast to hoist up into the overhead bin. :)

And all was going well, until….
While I absolutely had the best time of any game this year, I had a rough day on the field. I was out of position for just about everything. One time I was in the perfect position for an amazing touchdown catch from Bronco’s receiver Demaryius Thomas (I was right there — it happened right in front of me), and I knew I had nailed it. Right after, I looked at my screen and sure enough — I had it dead on.

Then I zoomed in and saw that every frame was out of focus. I set up my second camera WITHOUT the backfocus button, so if I have to grab it quickly I won’t miss finding the back button. However, in my excitement from finally being in the exact right spot, all I pressed was the backfocus button and instead focused on the players 20 feet behind him. I blew it. Ugh!!!!  I just stood there shaking my head (and uttering a string of words normally reserved for rappers), but there was nothing I could do but try to make the 2nd half better, which I did, and things finally started coming together.

Above: L to R: that’s me, Matt Lange (who apparently got ahold of some bad sushi), and Joey Wright before the game — photo by Michael Benford.

Overall, I still had the best time yet. Mike, Matt and Jimmy are the most fun, gracious, and talented group of guys anywhere, and Joey Wright kept us laughing the whole time (it was great getting to know him better). And while the game went on for a lifetime (I didn’t’ get back to my hotel until after 2:00 am), I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. I caught an early flight home and was back in the office by lunchtime. All-in-all — totally worth every minute of it! :)

Above: If you’ve ever wondered what Falcon’s Creative Director Michael Benford would look like if shot from above with a 15mm fisheye lens, well, now we finally know. He and Matt make an insane team — both top notch graphics designers and shooters — the Falcon’s are lucky to have these guys (and I’m lucky to have them as friends). :)

What’s next?
On Sunday I’m off to Nashville for the Titans vs Lions game, then the following week I’m back shooting the Bucs in Tampa vs. the Redskins, then onto Jacksonville the following week for the Bears vs. the Jags. I am LOVING football season!!!

OK, I am super psyched because tonight I'll be shooting on the sidelines at the Monday Night Football Game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Denver Broncos at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, alongside my buddies Michael Benford and Matt Lange.

Monday Night Football is a grand sports tradition here in the US and it's broadcast nationwide (as it’s the only pro football game that airs on Monday nightâ”-all the rest play on Sunday).  I know a lot of you will be watching, so I thought I would post this shot of me wearing pretty much what I’ll be wearing tonight (with black kneepads) and the beige vest and al — that way if  you see a photographer get creamed by a receiver on the sidelines (or if Peyton Manning breaks my monopod), you’ll be able to tell if it’s me they’re carting off. ;-)

Let's make it interesting with a “Scott Spotting Contest”
The first three people who take a photo of their TV Screen where you can see me, and post it, or a link to it, it either to my Facebook page (link), Tweets me with the photo (link), or posts it to my Google+ page (link) gets a signed copy of my new book, "Photoshop CS6 for Digital Photographers."

Where I'm likely to be on the field:
I generally shoot from these two areas:

(1) The End Zone (there's less chance of refs, the chain gang, video crews, and the guy with the giant blue parabolic mic walking in front of your shot)

(2) Between the 15 yard line and the goal line.

If I get flattened by a player during the game, the first person to visit me in the hospital (besides my wife), gets my entire Photoshop and Photography book library. I'm hoping we don't have a winner for this one.

Can't wait to share the shots with you guys (provided I get any decent ones), but tomorrow is the long-awaited “Life after Drobo” post so it’ll have to wait. Have a great Monday, and we'll see you tonight. Well, you know what I mean. :)  GO FALCONS!!! #RISE UP!!!

If you’ve followed me for any time at all you’ve heard me rave about the photography of Bill Fortney. He’s been kind of a mentor to me over the years and has taught me an awful lot (and I’ve been blessed to have taught some landscape workshops alongside him over the years as well).

A couple of day’s ago Bill wrote what I think it probably the best article I’ve read about photogaphy this year, and definitely one of my top picks ever. I shared his post earlier this week on Google+ and here are some of the comments from readers:

> “I think this may be one of the best photoblog posts I have ever read. It simply speaks volumes.”

> “Wonderful & inspiring article. Gets me back on track as to why I love photography.”

> “You’re right it did made me think about my own photography..  truly wonderful article.”

> “An insightful treatise! Thank you for sharing it with us. I have tried to adhere to the principles mentioned and am inspired by the well written reminder.”

> “Incredibly profound post!!”

> “Thank you to Bill Fortney (re his “Why Bother?” blog post) for this authentic share. ”

> “I happened upon this post by Bill Fortney today and thought I need to share this with all of my fellow photographers out there who may be in the same situation.  …”

> “An excellent post by Bill, now he has a new fan I had not seen his work before”

> “I’m so glad I stopped to read it.”

Bill’s post is called “Why Bother” and I promise you, if you read it you’ll be glad you did  —- it really has the power to change the way you feel about your own photography and why “Why we bother” at all.

Here’s the link. 

[DISCLAIMER: Within his article Bill lists his five favorite photographers, and I about fell over when I saw my name on that list. That is absolutely not why I’m sharing this article (though that would have been enough reason alone for me — wink), but the rest of his article is what really struck a chord with me and I imagine many of you share the same struggles as I do with my photography, and Bill’s article helped me a lot. I absolutely know I don’t deserve to be included with the other four people on his list, but I am humbled, grateful, and at a total loss for words, outside of just saying “Thanks, Bill.”]