Category Archives Photography

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.

Howeverâ¦
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.”]

Here’s a few of my favorites from my two pre-season shoots:

Camera Info:
I shot the game with my usual set-up; Two camera bodies: A Nikon D4 with a 400mm f/2.8 lens (mounted on a Gitzo monopod), but I put a 1.4 tele-extender on for the entire game, which turned my 400mm into around a 550mm lens, but you lose a stop of light so I could only shoot at f/4. Shooting at f/4 with that lens means I had to crank my ISO up between 3,200 and 4,000 depending on where they were on the field due to changes in lighting. My 2nd body was a Nikon D3s and I tried (again) using a 24-70mm but I’m going back to my 70-200mm from here on out — the 24-70mm just has such limited use — the players have to be literally right in front of you).

I shot both cameras wide open (at f/2.8 or f/4 because of the tele-extender). I shot in JPEG (for more shots in burst mode). My shutter speeds were around 1/1000 of a second and higher. Since I was able to shoot at f/2.8 with the 2nd body, I only had to crank the ISO on my 2nd body to around 1,600 to 2,000 (that’s the difference one stop of light makes —- from shooting at 1,600 to having to shot at 4,000).

OK, onto the photos (they look MUCH better larger, so be sure to click on them for a bigger view.

Hope you guys have a Super Tuesday (and don’t forget to scroll down one more post to my Photo Walk update, ’cause things are getting crazy!!! :=)

 

OK, here’s why I wanted to switch:
(1) I wanted to maintain my portfolio myself
In the past, I’ve been lucky enough to have my buddy RC design and maintain my port, but if I want to delete, add, or rearrange my portfolio, I had to contact RC and ask him to do it. RC is incredibly gracious about things like this, but I always felt bad about having to bug him every time I wanted a little tweak, so I wound up not updating and tweaking it very often out of sheer guilt.

(2) Smugmug is designed so you can sell your work
Although I don’t have any prints for sale yet, I get asked about it all the time, and I have a good reason to sell prints (raising money for the Springs of Hope Orphanage).

What Got Me To Pull The Trigger
I’ve been wanting to make the switch for a while now, and I was on some Web site a few weeks back where I saw a SmugMug banner add where they had a free 14-day trial offer, so I thought, “What the heck” and I signed up. That same night I uploaded  my first gallery and it was a breeze, and shortly thereafter I  went from 14-day trial guy to Pro Account guy.

Once I created different galleries (Sports, Football, Fashion, Travel, People, and Landscapes) then I had one of their designers set-up a custom layout for me (they use a network of freelance designers who work directly with you to create your Smugmug layout — I worked with Charles Chung of CreativeSoda and he was absolutely fantastic. Very responsive, easy to work with, and he made the whole process a breeze. If anybody from Smugmug reads this — Charles is awesome!!! Give him a raise/bonus/lexus, etc.).

What I Was Looking For:
A year or so ago, I had a portfolio layout I really liked â” one where you can scroll horizontally through the images. The reason I like this layout is that horizontal and vertical images get the same amount of attention (whereas usually only horizontal images get any “juice” in an online port because of their width, and the tall images get lost). The layout let you scroll through the images at the speed you wanted, but the problem was â” it was flash-based so if you looked at it on an iPad, it switched to an html version which….well…it wasn’t as elegant (ahem) as the flash one. Then, when they updated my WordPress Blog, for some reason it broke that plug-in RC was using and they had to change it to a layout I didn’t like nearly as much (thought it did kinda scroll).

It works on Tablets, too!
I wanted a portfolio that looked decent on a tablet, and the new SmugMug works really well there (although it does lose the scroll-ability â” you have to tap the screen for it to move to the next image) at least you can see it pretty much like it does on a desktop.

What I like best, is…..
The fact that the back-end of my SmugMug site looks like a regular ol’ smugmug default account (see below), but when I add a photo or change the order, it updates the custom layout without me having to tweak stuff I don’t even want to know about (HTML, CSS, STP, ADD, LSD, or any of that stuff).

So, give it a whirl
If you click on the Portfolio link at the top right of this blog, you can take it for a spin. I know the right-scrolling this isn’t for everyone, but after looking at lots of their templates (and other sites), it’s the one I like best, so that’s what I’m going with (also, if you resize the browser it resizes the images).

Thanks to Charles (and Creativesoda) and to the folks at Smugmug for giving me control of my port. Right now I’m gathering shots of cats, people on railroad tracks, and flowers shot in a harsh direct light for uploading. ;-)

P.S. One of the guys that turned me on to SmugMug in the first place was my photo assistant Brad Moore — check out his site, which they customized for him (he’s a kick-butt pro concert photographer). Here’s the link. 

I’m in Denver Wednesday for my “Photoshop for Photographers” full-day live seminar (well, as long as that hurricane stays away, and it looks like it’s staying away from Tampa), and if you want to come out for a day that is likely to curve your spine, you can join me by clicking this link.

If you read this blog and you’re going to be there, make sure you come up and say “hi.” Cheers and we’ll see you in Denver soon! :)

P.S. The next stop for the tour is in Arlington, Texas on September 14th, where RC Concepcion will be the instructor, and then I’m back teaching the seminar in Los Angeles on October, 3rd, then RC is back in Minneapolis on Oct 17th, and then I’m in DC on the 29th. Hope to catch you on the road! :)

 

(Above: My new Retina MacBook Pro, shot with my iPhone, but there’s something missing that should be there).

It’s Game Day!
When you shoot an event for a sports wire service, they need the images from the game as soon as possible, and so during halftime I upload half-a-dozen images, and then immediately after the game, from the photographer’s work room at the stadium, I transmit (as it’s called) another 25 or so final images. They have free wireless in the workroom (and now, in the entire stadium for fans as I noticed on Friday), and there are power plugs and a counter to work on.

(Above: Another iPhone shot, this one of the Photographer’s Work Room at Raymond James Stadiums. Ahhhh, the glamorous life of a sports photographer. They really go all out for us. LOL!!! There are two rooms like this, side by side. Note the laptops throughout the room, all used for transmitting images during and after the game). 

Prepping Before You Leave For The Stadium
I’m going to have to properly identify each player (correct spelling of their name, team, position, and jersey number) for every photo I upload, and describe the action in the shot. To make things easier there’s a service you can subscribe to called “CodeReplacements.com” and it’s for photographers who use the program Photo Mechanic (which used by all pro sports photographers, myself included) and you import this generated team roster into the program and then you just type in the player’s number and it fills in everything for you. It’s amazing and saves a ton of time (totally worth the inexpensive subscription).

So, before the game I go and generate one of those rosters and load it into Photo Mechanic. Then I set up a metadata template in PM with all the details of the game (who is playing home, where it’s played, the date, copyright info, other stuff), and lastly I set up the FTP server to upload my files to the wire service. It’s takes a few minutes, but you’re better off to do it beforehand than rushing to do it at the stadium at game time.

Here’s where my problems began
I’ve got everything all ready to go, and I’m packing up to literally walk out the door. I’m excited to be taking my new thinner, lighter and much faster MacBook Pro to do my transmitting, and I grab the essential Kensington Security Cable and lock (you use this to physically lock your MacBook Pro to the table, so while you’re on the field, another photographer, or staffer, or passerby, doesn’t slip your shiny new laptop in their bag and it’s gone forever. Hey, it happens enough that every photographer locks down their stuff, just like you would at Starbucks when you have to go to the restroom).

It was at that moment that I freaked out, because when I looked at the side of my new top-of-the-line MacBook Pro I noticed that the tiny security slot that Apple puts in ALL MacBook Pros just for this purpose, is missing. It’s just not there (see the photo at the top).

There is no way I’m going to leave my new MacBook Pro unattended
I’m searching everywhere for that security slot (it’s about 1/16 of an inch by 1/32 of an inch, if that) but it is just not there. Now, what do I do! I go find my old MacBook Pro, which thankfully I hadn’t erased yet, and I frantically download a new CodeReplacement roster, and reconfigure the metadata, and I have to change card readers and now I’m running late, and sure enough I get to the stadium a half hour later than I wanted, and I literally just made it to the field before the team came out. Whew!

(Above: Here’s my old MacBook Pro so you can see the tiny slot for the Kensington Security Cable lock —- this is a really close up shot so it looks bigger than it is. Taken with my iPhone which does not need a security slot but should probably have one because mine slipped out of my jacket pocket in a taxi and it was gone forever). 

It gets worse
At halftime, I go to start the process of finding, editing, tagging and transmitting my files, only to realize that I don’t have the user name and password for the FTP upload to my wire service, and I don’t have time to get it (halftime is only 12 minutes for preseason games), so I download my images from my two cameras into the laptop so at least that’ll save me some time after the game.

After the game, I rush into the work room (we all do), while two cards are downloading, I’m going through my images and finding my “Picks” (shots that might make the final cut to be transmitted), and then I find them, launch Photoshop only to realize that I had deactivated Photoshop on that laptop when I got my new MacBook Pro (so I could activate it there).

Please, just for a moment, imagine the look on my face. It’s my first gig for this new wire service, I missed the upload during halftime (thank goodness this was a preseason game), and now I’m going to have to leave the stadium, drive 30 minutes home, and do my editing and transmitting from home. I’m really cranked, embarrassed, frustrated, and most of all…

…I just can’t understand how Apple didn’t include this tiny, tiny 1/32 of a inch slot we so desperately need!
This isn’t just a problem for sports photographers â” it’s for schools that have MacBook’s in their labs, and at work, and anywhere we need to have our laptops secured (Starbucks) and now we have to find some other solution (and I’m looking at a few), but I would dearly LOVE to hear why Apple decided NOT to include this tiny slot. While they’re at it, I’d love to know why in Mountain Lion Apple decided to do away with the menubar Display menu, which is another thing that makes me shake my head, but don’t get me started.

There are other solutions (none of which I like so far, and the only one I like isn’t shipping until next month at the earliest), so there is an option or two, but now at least you know. I wonder what I’m going to do this Friday. My old MacBook Pro will need to go to someone else in my company (I think Brad) pretty shortly, so what’s my backup plan for securing my laptop this week.

Now, you’re about to learn exactly what an “Apple Apologist” is
I love Apple products. I have an iPad, an iPhone, an iMac, and two MacBook Pros. I’ve been an Apple customer since 1986; I’ve written books about the Mac (my first book ever), and the iPod and the iPhone (I have a book out on the iPhone 4s currently), and I’ve even written about Apple itself (my book, Macintosh: The Naked Truth, published 10 or so years ago became a cult hit), so I’m a pretty pro-Apple guy. I love their products, how they’re designed, and that they “just work.” However, when anyone (and I mean anyone) says something negative about Apple or an Apple product (as I have here), you will read people commenting on this post that:

(a) It’s not Apple’s fault they removed the security slot. Apple doesn’t make bad decisions. They are a perfect company.
(b) It’s somehow my fault for working in situations that require me to leave my laptop unattended.
(c) That steel cable and lock was no real deterrent, and could easily be defeated by a real criminal.

On that last point — that Kensington lock has saved many-a-MacBook Pro and you do have to be a real criminal, bringing wire cutters or having the intent to steal a laptop coming into the stadium to make away with one, and of course you still run the risk of getting caught. In the end, it’s far better than nothing, even if not “unbeatable.”

How dare we!!!
In 2009 Terry White wrote on his blog that he thought the USB ports were too close to each other on the old MacBook Pros (link), because half the time you couldn’t plug-in two USB devices at once. I totally agreed, and I had this happen to me all the time. Apple apologists lined up on Terry’s blog to tell him that it’s not a design flaw — the manufacturers just need to make their USB plugs thinner.

Or back when Apple first added the rotation gesture to the MacBooks and I complained that I kept rotating my canvas in Photoshop and InDesign by accident on my trackpad. I mentioned that I would love it if there was a way to turn off that gesture in the Mac OS, and Apple Apologists lined up to tell me that I was literally stupid for using Photoshop with a trackpad, and that “nobody uses Photoshop with a trackpad.” I guess nobody uses Photoshop on a flight.

The flip side
Because I mentioned Apple, it will also bring out the haters. There will be the requiste “You should be using a PC” and “That’s because Mac’s suck” and the whole “You’re locked into a closed environment and that’s what you get” stupidity, because mentioning Apple is like mentioning HDR, Nikon vs. Canon, iOS vs. Android, Sony or Bose — it just brings out the worst in everyone. If you own a Mac, or a PC. Nikon or Canon. You shoot HDR or not, you DO NOT have to defend your choice by attacking everyone elses. It’s OK to use the products (or techniques) that appeal to you. Grow up.

So why did I open this can of worms?
Because I want anyone to know who is thinking of buying a MacBook Pro with the Retina display, that something’s missing. It doesn’t have a Security Slot, and for some people (like me) that’s a real problem (and one I’m now going to have to deal with somehow). So, that’s it. A heads up, and here’s hoping that Apple adds them back in future models, and that someone comes up with as elegant a security option as Kensington did (who obviously teamed up with Apple on that slot). Hey, we can always dream. :)

 

 

 

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