Category Archives Photography

I’ve been shooting quite a bit lately for the book I’m just finishing up and I thought I’d share a few shots from a shoot I did on Monday, set up for me by my friend and neighbor, photographer Kathy Porupski at a motocross track in Dade City Florida.

(Above: Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot. You can’t tell from this shot, but my photo assistant Brad Moore is way up on a hill that the riders jump over. That’s my friend and fellow photographer Kathy Porupski holding the power back behind Brad, and I’m below them a bit farther down the hill).

We used natural light for a lot of the action shots, but we also used an Elinchrom Quadra battery back and strobe head with a 27″ soft box (or just a reflector and grid) for some of the shots, and all of the portraits. I love the Quadra kit because I can control the power wirelessly from my camera position. Brad mounted the strobe on the end of a monopod, so we were able to move pretty quickly, which came in handy when we needed to climb up a hill with the gear.

(Above: I tired this after watching Dave Black’s class on Kelby Training, which was amazing! As for focusing: I left auto focus on in Continuous focus mode, and as the riders entered the turn I looked through the viewfinder to at least get a quick focus lock on them, and then I took the camera away from my eye so I could make sure I didn’t get hit by the bike, (and so I didn’t’t hit the rider with my camera) and then fired one shot letting auto focus do its thing. It worked a lot of the time, but sometimes it missed focus, but more importantly I’m still alive to tell the tale. :)

Camera Gear
I mostly used two lens: a 300mm f/2.8 or a 14-24mm f/2.8 (I think I used a 24-70mm once, too but not for long). No special camera settings. When I had the 300mm on the camera, I was in Aperture Priority mode at f/2.8 the whole time. When I was using the strobes for the portraits, I was in Manual mode, with a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second, and my f/stop at f/13.

(Above: It was a very cloudy day, and there was literally only one small patch of blue, but to actually shoot the riders against that blue patch of sky, they had to ride on the track in the opposite direction).

(Above: Here I’m shooting my 300mm f/2.8 as the riders go into the turn and then head right past me).

(Above: At one point while we were shooting the action shots, I look over at one part of the sky and it’s really dark and ominous and I tell Brad, “We need to shoot against that sky now, because it looks like it’s leaving fast,” (The rest of the sky was cloudy, but not stormy) so Brad grabbed the gear and headed to the top of a jump with Kathy in tow, and Larry the track owner helping us out along the way (luckily, he’s a photographer himself). I also underexposed all the skies by about 2-stops to make them look even darker and more dramatic).

Above: That’s me posing with our riders. I knew that they were done when all of sudden they started literally covering me in dirt after doing 20 or so passes without getting any on me whatsoever. We had been at out for more than two hours, so I kinda don’t blame ’em. Right after this photo was taken, I reached over and tipped the red bike over so it have the domino effect and take down the other two guys. Serves ’em right. (kidding, of course).

There’s a first time for everything…
And this was my first time shooting motocross, and I absolutely loved it. In fact, I’m planning my next trip back to the track already. Thanks to Kathy Porupski for setting this up, helping us out, and just being really awesome the whole day. Thanks to Brad for risking life and limb, and for being so willing to climb up lots of dirt hills.

And a special thank you to PhotoExtract.com who each day posts their picks for the Top photos of Google+ and they chose my opening shot for their Feb. 7th Top-12-Photo on G+ list (seen above). I was truly honored (and very excited to say the least!).

Since my post last night here on Google+ (http://www.scottgplus.com), and here on my blog earlier today, I’ve seen a lot of comments flowing in pro and con about this camera, and I just want to say a quick few things about the comments I’ve been reading thus far:

(1) The D800 was apparently created for a very specific type of photographer 
There is no law that every camera introduced by a camera company has to be designed to fit your personal needs. If you read that it has 36.3 megapixels and you’re like “36.3 megapixels is overkill!!!” then obviously this camera isn’t for you, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t photographers out there who read that spec and cheered! (Me being on of them). It looks like this was designed for commercial photographers, and wedding and landscape shooters that want to be using a camera with Medium-Format type resolution without the medium-format price. If that’s not you, that’s OK. Nikon makes other camera models for you.

(2) The D800 doesn’t appear to be designed for sports or action photographers (like the D700 was)
In fact, it looks like the D800 is an entirely different camera intended for an entirely different market, which is why it only shoots 4/fps (which for a camera with that high a resolution is actually very fast. If you’ve ever shot a medium-format camera, this is blazing!!!).

(3) The D700 was kind of a stripped down version of the D3…
but the D800 doesn’t seem to be a stripped down D4 on any level (even though the name D800 alone would make us think otherwise). I wish Nikon had given it a different name just to make a more obvious break with the D700 line, and I really hope Nikon does introduce a stripped down version of the D4, because I always thought the D700 had an important place in their product line that a lot of people really benefitted from (I have a D700 myself).

(4) This is the most important one: the camera isn’t shipping yet
…and there are only literally a handful of people in the entire world that have even taken one single frame with this camera. Instead of rushing to judge this camera and exclaim why it’s not for you, instead why don’t we wait until we actually see one with our own eyes, hold one in our hands, and in person see a print from it and what it can do? I know, that sounds crazy but why don’t we actually use one before we decide anything?

I know that from the specs alone, and from what I’ve read, and a personal account from one of the few people that did shoot one —- I want one, and I’m pre-ordering mine from B&H Photo this morning (they’re taking pre-orders here: http://bhpho.to/zJsYDU — just saw that Adorama is taking pre-orders as well: ). But just this once, why don’t we actually see, hold, and experience the product for at least 60-seconds before we tell the world why it’s not for us. You never know, this type of “try it before you trash it” thing might actually catch on. ;-)

36.3 megapixels (wow!) with a full frame sensor. Full HD video with stereo sound (yay) built in HDR (sweet) and it looks like its aimed at the commercial, wedding and landscape markets (photographers who shoot medium format digital backs. I mean who used to shoot digital backs). ;-)

I haven’t seen one, held one, etc., but it sounds amazing and I want one. Bad!!!! (And yes, sometimes you need 36.3 megapixels). Two words: Whoo Hoo!

Read the full scoop at Nikon USA: http://bit.ly/wVaU77

… and it sure looked it! :(

(Above: That’s the game winning goal in Overtime above. Not a pretty shot, but then, none of them really were).

I absolutely love shooting ice hockey!
I’m just no good at it yet. Not only was it my first time shooting ice hockey, it was my first time at an ice hockey game. It was (as expected) a rough night. How rough was it? Well, I actually registered the domain you see below last night after I uploaded my photos to the wire service I was shooting for.

But I Still Had to Submit Photos
I was able to upload 25 shots to Southcreek Global that were, well….let’s say they were in focus. I think the puck might have actually even appeared briefly in one or two of those shots, but that’s purely by coincidence.

Here’s a capture from my Lightroom grid below of the uploads. They’d look better bigger (photos usually do), but not good enough that I want to put 25 of them nice and big here (though I’ll probably post a gallery later today over at my Google+ page, at ScottGplus.com)

I learned a BUNCH!!!!
The only reason I was able to send in anything at all, was that I did do a decent amount of research first, starting with the magical unicorn of sports photography, Dave Black, who gave me some great pointers and tips (but after seeing these would probably disavow knowing me). I also learned a ton from Bob DeChiara (a sports shooter from the Boston area, whom I met during my seminar tour up there, who shoots for US Presswire). He was a huge help, and had lots of very specific tips that helped me limp through the night. Without those two guys, I would have been totally sunk.

(Above: this was my home for the night. I sat right there the whole time, praying a puck didn’t come flying through that little hole in the glass I was supposed to shoot through. The opening is just big enough for a 70-200mm lens).

I did have a support team
Unlike when you shoot football, the other photographers shooting the game were really nice, friendly, and helpful (though they did sit me down and fill me with horror stories of things to look out for safety wise, complete with stories of busted lips, broken noses, two 70-200mm lenses smashed to bits in just 8 months, having to get stitches, and they put enough fear in me that I wouldn’t even put my lens through the tiny hole in the glass until at least the 2nd period. I was a tad freaked out (and after shooting the game, I think it was with good reason).

Scott Audette, the Lightning’s Team Photographer (and a kick-butt photographer) and his crew were great. They knew it was my first game, and they were really helpful, fun guys, who kind of showed me the ropes and kept me from being maimed for at least my first game.

My Gear and Camera Settings
One lens. One body. A Nikon D3s with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens (that’s what they were all shooting). Here’s the thing: the lighting in the arena was fantastic!!! (I’m not sure that sentence has ever been written before in sports photography history). They had just installed tons of new lights since every game is now broadcast in HD and I was able to shoot as 400 ISO, which is insanely low. Although I mostly shot at ISO 640, I would occasionally look and see my shutter speed at like 1/2000 of a second. This my friends, was a gift. I shot at f/2.8 the whole time (as usual).

I will say this: being limited to 200mm on a full frame camera using the 70-200mm lens was tough. I could cover the goal in front of me, but the far goal was just about off limits with that short a lens (however, my 300mm f/2.8 wouldn’t fit through the opening in the glass—not a chance). Since the lighting is so good, I think I’d probably try adding a 1.4 tele-converter at the next game, or I’ll take a D300s, so I get the advantage of the crop factor, and my 200mm will become a 300mm.

Even a thousand mile journey, must begin with but one step [gong]
OK, I know I kinda sucked my first time out, but I know this—I’m a fast learner (if “learner” is even a word). I picked up so much from that one shoot, and I am confident that I’ll do 100% better next game, and the next and the next. You can read about this stuff until the cows come one, but nothing beats actually doing it to spike your learning curve in a very dramatic way. In fact, I’m so confident I’m going to do dramatically better, that I seriously registered another domain with GoDaddy.com last night:

The bottom-line
The bottom line is—I had a ball. I liked shooting hockey much more than I thought I would. The action is incredibly fast, and having to shoot through a tiny hole, with both eyes open to avoid getting clobbered when they hit the wall, and never moving from that one position all night, didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for it one bit. In fact, it just made me want to get to my next shoot faster, so I can get better at it quicker (cause there’s only one way to get good at something—practice it a bunch).

It was just like what everybody had told me—the single hardest sport to shoot. I was skeptical when I first heard that. Now I know they’re absolutely right on the money. Nevertheless, it was a great night of learning, frustration and fun, and I just can’t wait to do it all again!!!

A heartfelt thank you to the American Society of Photographers (http://www.asofp.com/) for presenting me with their ASP International Award (below). Here’s a little bit about the award from the ASP:

“Our Society presents this award annually to a firm or person that we feel has contributed in a special or significant way to the ideals of Professional Photography as an art and a science.”

It’s a tremendous honor to receive this award, particularly given the previous recipients, including George Hurrell, Dr. Edwin Land (inventor of the Polaroid), Thomas Knoll, Jay Stock, Graham Nash, and Robert Farber among others.

I would like to thank all the talented and gifted photographers who?ve taught me so much over the years: Joe McNally, Moose Peterson, Vincent Versace, Bill Fortney, David Ziser, Jim DiVitale, Helene Glassman, Anne Cahill, Kevin Ames, Frank Doorhof, Jack Reznicki and Jay Maisel. I’m greatly indebted to these amazing photographers and I share this award with them.

I found a wonderful place in my office to keep this beautiful award, and each time I look at it I’ll be reminded of the recipients who came before me and how truly humbled and grateful I am to the American Society of Photographers to have presented me with this prestigious award.

I just learned about this week long workshop, taught by night photography expert, Gabe Biderman and Rocky Mountain School of Photography instructor and landscape photographer Tim Cooper, and once I read about what they’re doing, I was dying to go!!!!

You spend your days in the classroom with Gabe and Tim learning about the camera techniques and post processing for night photography (along with image reviews), and then at night you’re on location in some amazing locales in an intense 6-day total immersion into night photography. What I really loved about this (beside the instructors) is the variety of nighttime shooting opportunities—from shooting Vegas at night to the surreal nightscapes of the Valley of Fire and Zion National Park.

What they’re teaching
They’re going to be teaching everything from mastering star trails to pro techniques for capturing celestial skies, and they’re going to work ya hard but you’re going to learn more in that 6-days than you can imagine. Plus, they just announced that one of their nights in Vegas will be spent in the famous NEON BONEYARD!!! (this collection of over 150 neon signs from the 30?s-90?s will be available to workshop students at night for a 3 hour shoot!! They will be teaching workshop participants how to light paint and breath life back into those nostalgic old signs that have never been accessible to shoot at night before!)

While I haven’t gotten to meet Tim in person yet, Gabe is a personal friend of mine and an incredibly talented fine art photographer (I’ve called Gabe many times over the years for advice and gear recommendations, plus he’s led my New York City World Wide Photo Walks), and I wish I could be there with them—-it just sounds like an amazing experience, (and it’s going to be for some very lucky folks).

Here’s the link with all the details, but check it out soon because it’s coming up March 4th – 9th, so if you can, make plans to join them. If you go, make sure you share some of the photos you got during the workshop with me when you get back, because my favorite shot from the workshop is going to win a full conference pass to the Photoshop World Conference & Expo coming up in DC (or Vegas—their choice!).

Close