Category Archives Photography

I finally got a chance to process some of my images from last week’s game between the San Francisco, 49ers and the New York Giants. Anyway, I thought I share a few of my favorites from the shoot below (click on them for much larger views):

Above: I dig the sweat flying and the fact that the defender’s helmet is up so high his chin guard looks like it’s covering his eyes. 

I had dinner a few days before the game with sports photography legend Dave Black and his lovely wife Susan. During dinner I mentioned to Dave that I’d be shooting the game this weekend, and Dave said:

“Here’s what you need to do: put a 1.4 tele-extender on your 400mm f/2.8 and get a super tight shot of Eli Manning—so tight that you cut off the top of his helmet and part of the ball. I want to see his face and the reflection in his helmet. Start the game shooting this and don’t stop until you get it.”

Well, I took his advice and shot in tight on Manning (like the shot you see at the very top of this post) for the entire first quarter. I have a lot of tries that didn’t hit the mark, but I did catch this one. Thanks Dave! (I did the same thing with 49ers QB Alex Smith, as seen as the end of this post). :)

Camera Specs:
Pretty much the same as usual, but besides the 1.4 tele-extender, I did try a different lens on my second body; my 28-300mm f/2.5 to f/5.6. So why this one? Well, I wasn’t happy with the 24-70mm, because 70mm isn’t close enough most of the time, and 24mm is a little too wide, so I thought I’d try something different since this was a day game. I wouldn’t have tried this at night). My main lens was a 400mm f/2.8, and I shot at f/2.8 the whole time (of course, when I put the tele-extender on, it dropped the f/stop to f/4.

Above: This is one of my favorite shots from the game. The fact that later in the game part of the field went into shadows did make things a little tricky, but I switched my White Balance to Cloudy and that pretty much took care of the color shift.

Above: I know you can’t see the ball in this shot, but I loved Manning’s face in this shot.

Above: In the frame before this shot, the defensive tackle had his hands firmly on the running back’s face mask, but the shot just wasn’t as interesting. 

Above: This one’s taken with a 10.5mm fisheye, from down on one knee.

Above: That’s me posing with my 400mm f/2.8. Of course, it’s closer to the lens than my head, so it looks larger than life (photo by Vinny).

It truly was a blast to shoot the game—-absolutely perfect weather, two teams at the top of their game, and San Francisco enjoying their best season in years, and a stadium full of fans enjoying every minute of it. It doesn’t get much better. Thanks to 49ers Team Photographer Terrell Lloyd (A really great guy, who was really helpful and fun), and my personal thanks to Anne Cahill who is just too cool for everything she did.

One Last Thing…
Dave Black told me that once I shot with that 1.4 tele on the 400mm, that it would feel so tight, that when I removed it, the regular 400mm would actually feel loose. He was absolutely right. When I took it off, I felt like I was using a 200mm, and actually, that was a good thing. Thanks Dave—-once again, you were right.


I thought after yesterday’s “Hall of Shame” shots, I’d better post a few that didn’t feature shots of the goal post (as epic as those were). This was a late afternoon game, and with the rolling back of Daylight Savings Time, by the time kick-off came around the entire field was already covered in shade, and a hour or so later, it was starting to get dark and I had to crank up the ISO nearly right off the bat.

(Above: He just scored—why is he so angry at the ball?). ;-)

Finding Out After The Fact
It’s rare for me to shoot a late-afternoon game. Most of the games I shoot are at 1:15 or at night, so I wasn’t used to planning for the light to change to drastically, and I lost a lot of shots due to not watching my ISO as closely as I should have been. I had a number of shots with shutter speeds as low as 1/640 so a lot of images I had just didn’t make the cut —- of course, I didn’t realize this until it was too late. I did adjust and raised my ISO when I caught a glimpse of how low my shutter speed had fallen, but the shots I had taken like that had just enough movement to make them pretty unusable. If I had thought to turn on Auto ISO at the beginning of the game, I wouldn’t have had to even think about it again. Sigh.

Wait….Don’t Take My Cards!
Usually when I’m assignment, at halftime I race to the Photographer’s workroom (a luxurious well-appointed suite serving a champagne brunch. No wait…picture the exact opposite of that….and that’s what it looks like) to find 10 or 12 shots to upload to my wire service. I quickly choose which shots I want to send; then I can edit and crop if necessary in Photoshop. I always sharpen them, and then upload them to the server. Pretty standard stuff.

However, in this case, I was shooting for the Titans as part of Titans Team Photographer Donn Jones’s crew that cover each home game, so I’d be shooting on the field and toward the end of the quarter one of his editors would pop-up beside me on the field and ask me to surrender my card so they can pick the shots they need and do all the uploads. I was SO not used to that (I have done that during College Bowl Games, but I still got to make the final call on what got uploaded), so it did freak me out a little bit (and you needed to have lots of back-up cards handy), but by the third quarter, I’d see the editor coming and just I’d go run and hide near the Bengals bench. ;-)

(Above: Sharing his touchdown celebration with The Man upstairs! No, not the guy in the pressbox)

Working on things I need to fix
One thing I really need to work on is making the switch to my second body, with a wider lens, at the right time. When you’re shooting that 400mm, and the line of scrimmage is 30 or 40 yards away, the focal length is awesome, but if a receiver makes a catch and breaks for it down the sideline, all of a sudden he’s too close for you to focus on, but yet—-I still keep shooting. At least I did about three times where I absolutely, positively should have switched to my 2nd body, and that just drives me crazy. I missed some great opportunities that unfolded right in front of me, because I didn’t take my eye off  that 400mm. Uggh!

Another thing I caught myself doing yesterday was letting from framing creep up on me, to where I was composing shots with lots of grass below, and my players squashed up at the top of frame—sometimes even cutting them off. I didn’t realize I was doing that until I looked at some of the images on my LCD. I did adjust by moving my center focus point down, so I would have to reframe the shot with a little more headroom above the players and that helped, but I lost a whole series of shots due to me not really being aware of the problem like I should have been.

My wife thinks my problem was something entirely different
I called my wife after the game to tell her:

(a) How much fun I was having with Donn and his crew. For most of the games I shoot, it’s a pretty solitary experience, and the football photographers aren’t exactly what you’d call “Chatty.” But Donn and his crew were some of the nicest, most fun, down-to-earth guys you’d ever want to meet. They had me laughing the whole day (and afterward—more on that in a moment), and…

(b) How upset I was with how I shot the game. I really felt totally into it at the start, and that, along with perfect football weather, and an all access pass form Donn, and I really had high hopes that I would come back with some great shots, but I was just totally bummed. My wife joked that the reason I wasn’t in the photo zone, was that I was in the “Fun zone” with Donn and his buddies. She’s probably right. These guys were a riot, and they really made me feel at home, and totally like one of their crew.

The “Lame @#$ Tailgate Party” is anything but!
Since the team photographers have to be at the stadium four hours before game time, they don’t get to go to any tailgate parties, so it’s a tradition of Donn’s to have their own tailgate party for photographers, in the stadium parking lot, after the game, and after they’re done uploading and adding metatdata to their images (so it’s quite a while after the game). They call it the “Lame @#$ Tailgate Party” and they were kind enough to invite me to join them, and it was really a lot of fun (and the food was insane!). They were grilling out hot dogs, chili, sausage, and they had every football-related snack ever. They had music, games, and even a generator with lights so we weren’t wandering around in the dark. Hanging out with the guys was definitely one of the highlights of the whole trip (maybe my wife was right). ;-)

Anyway, here’s a few more shots from the game (they all look better bigger, so make sure you click on them for a larger view):

Good News/Bad News
We’re just coming back from halftime and I walk straight into my buddy, Atlanta-based sports photographer Paul Abell (former team photographers for the Bucs, and the Atlanta Braves baseball team), who was shooting the game for AP. Neither of us knew the other would be there, so it was really a treat seeing him and catching up. He’s taught me a lot about shooting sports, and he’s a terrific guy (and one hell of a shooter). That’s the good news. The bad news is: I was in the end zone and I saw Paul get hit by a receiver at the goal line in the third quarter. He popped right back up like nothing, so I figured he was OK, but I got a text from him a little later that he was really hurting, he was pretty dizzy, and had to leave the game early. We texted later that night, and he was feeling better, but he really took a whack, and was still sore from the hit. Here’s hoping Paul feels 100% soon.

There are worse ways to spend a day
Even though I made a lot of mistakes, I learned some things, too (plus I got to try out some new things I learned from taping that online class with Dave Black on Friday), so all in all, it was a really great day, and I got to meet some really great people, and see my buddy Paul to boot. My thanks to the amazing Donn Jones, and to Al, Will, Richard, Charles and the gang (also Mike, and Eric), who treated like I was family. You guys are the best, and I hope we get to shoot together again real soon (I promise to bring my “A” game!). :)

(Above: Richard got this shot of me with a 12-16 fisheye [cropped down here] right before kickoff. You know it’s before kick-off because I’m still smiling). ;-)

We had a great first day (well, technically it started Sunday night, but today was our first day out shooting). We started with an early morning shoot (it wasn’t really a dawn shoot, that’s this morning, this was an after sunrise shoot in a forrest and at a waterfall.

Shooting in the forrest can really be a challenge (it was for me anyway), because you’re surrounded by all this beauty every where you look around you, but then you raise the camera to your eye and you only see one small part of the big picture, and now it looks busy and messy and just….well….nothing like what you’re seeing with your eyes. Very frustrating, but Moose had some great tips and that helped a lot.

We’ve got a great group of students—really nice folks, and totally engaged. Very serious about learning, and that makes it great for us as instructors. I taught a Photoshop/Lightroom class today and took the class through a start to finish from some of my shots from this morning. After two shoots (morning and near dusk), I don’t have anything I’m real happy with yet, but hey…it’s just day one.

I’m heading down to the bar for a get together with the students, and a couple of portfolio reviews, so I’d better head out. Tomorrow’s Guest Blog Wednesday so I won’t be posting here, but if I get anything I’ll post it over on my Google+ page (link). Have a great Tuesday everybody, and we’ll see you back here on Thursday.

Join RC Concepcion and me in this free online Webinar, where I’ll be Lighting, Shooting, and Retouching LIVE online and taking your questions, all based on my brand new book (from Peachpit Press) called, “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it!” (The book inspired by the live tour).

Here’s all the details:

When: Today  at 3:00 pm EDT (Online time zone converter here: link)

Where: Right at this link:

Cost: It’s Free! Just register at that link above then be there at 3:00 pm today!

Plus, we’ll have special offers on the book and other goodies, and we’ll do a giveaway or two, and I promise to make it fun, informative, and I’ll share lots of tips and techniques with everybody live.

I hope you can make it (and I hope you’ll pass the word on to your friends so they can join us, too!).

See you this afternoon, live! :-)

(Above: Bucs wide receiver Michael Williams takes the field before last Monday night’s win against the Colts. However, I rather not discuss last night’s game against the 49ers. Uggh!).

Shooting Monday Night Football is always a blast, but getting to shoot in my own backyard (at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium) makes it that much sweeter! I even got one shot I actually like — the one you see above, which I posted on Google+ after the game, and as it turned out, it got featured on the site as one of their “27 Top G+ Photos” daily photo picks. I’ve been checking out their daily list for a while now so I was totally psyched!

Above: To be able to show the top banner of their site, and my featured photo (which actually appeared much further down the page) all on the screen of my 15″ laptop screen took a bit of Photoshop magic, but I did get it done (as seen above). Thanks to the folks at for including my image—I am truly honored!

However, the shoot wasn’t without its lowlights as I had a blunder or two that left me shaking my head at some simple mistakes that made me miss a few key moments. I was not a happy camper.

Mistakes Were Made
Every time I see the shot above, I cringe. I was in the perfect position—in the end zone right in front of Bucs Wide Receiver Preston Parker as he stretches across the goal line for the score. A clear, unobstructed view. No refs or video cameras in front of me. I had already switched to my 70-200mm lens. I was right on him—It was perfect!

Only one problem: At some point my thumb must have hit my front dial (or it hit my leg while running down the sidelines) which changed my f/stop from f/2.8 (where I leave it all night) and it changed to f/3.2. This lowered my shutter speed from 1/1000 of a second or higher (which freezes the action for tack sharp images) to 1/500 of a second, which doesn’t (and this photo above isn’t). You should be able to read the words “NFL Equipment” on his glove, and you can’t. I missed nailing it because I didn’t keep an eye on my f/stop while looking through the viewfinder. I ‘assumed’ it was still at f/2.8. Uggh. There’s no excuse for that.

(Above: I thought I’d share a few of my favorites from the shoot, mostly shot with my 400mm at f/2.8 so they’re pretty sharp, before I get back to my epic fail #2).

(Above: I liked this one because of the way they’re on the far left of the frame, but his arm is extending out, and I like the tape on his hands. Just something about it).

(Above: He doesn’t have the ball, and there’s no action on the field, but this one has meaning for me personally — he’s my favorite player, Buc’s Cornerback Ronde Barber, about the last guy left from our 2001 Super Bowl winning team. A very classy guy, future Hall of Famer, and twin brother of Tiki Barber. I like the way he’s framed between the goal posts. The pink compression gear and gloves are to honor Breast Cancer Survivors).

Epic Fail #2
I was in perfect position once again, late in the game (this is when most folks saw me on TV. It’s when LaGarrett Blount caught a short screen pass, then broke down the sideline for the score that eventually won the game for the Bucs. I was at about the 7-yard line, and they were back at about the 30 or so. I was still shooting my 400mm (I like to get in really, really tight), but when he came running right toward me, I should have immediately switched to my 70-200mm lens, but I didn’t. I don’t know why. I just kept shooting the 400mm, and he ran right in front of me, and there’s no way that 400mm could possibly focus that close.

(Above: here’s what it looks like when you try and shoot something two feet in front of you with a 400mm lens. Yup, that’s him running right in front of me for the big score. Nice job!)

Once I’ve safely missed “the shot of the game,” LaGarrett is finally far enough away from me that I can at least capture a celebration shot. Of course, I still hadn’t switched to the 70-200mm, so even my celebration shot is ho-hum (as seen below).

(Above: I’m not going to win the “best post-score celebration dance” shot with this one. I won’t even win Mr. Sideline Congeniality).

It gets worse
o I missed the score, muffed the celebration, but for reasons I don’t deserve they are going to give me a third chance — his teammates run into the end zone for more celebrating, and it looks like they are going run straight up the sidelines toward me, celebrating as they go. I quickly switch to my 2nd body, the one with the 70-200mm attached (finally!) as they stop literally right in front of me as they are getting totally pumped up and hitting each other on the shoulder pads and helmets and there’s all this raw emotion unfolding right in front of me, and I finally have a chance of capturing it. I can’t miss this one, right? Right?

(Above: Of course, my 70-200mm was extended out to 200mm, so if I had thought enough retract back to 70mm, I would have had some really great shots. Instead I got this. Sigh.)

I just stood there on the sidelines laughing and shaking my head at my triple-play of blunders. I had to laugh because at that moment I was considering taking all my gear and throwing it on the field in a heaping mess and setting fire to it. I should know better. These are silly mistakes to be making, but I made ’em and they are what they are.

Worse yet: lots of people saw me on TV (EPSN broadcasts Monday Night Football live) and they saw I had the perfect angle on the shot (see below). People were texting me just seconds later saying “Tell me you got that shot! You had to get that shot!” and so on. I just stood there still shaking my head while contemplating changing my cell number. I didn’t text anyone back.

Experience is the best teacher
I’m going to take my mistakes, learn from them, and move on.  I’ll be much faster to switch bodies next time, and I’ll keep a better eye on my f/stop throughout the game. Better yet….I could use the settings LOCK on my camera, so I don’t accidentally change them as I’m running up and down the sidelines, where my 2nd body is banging against my leg as I run. Now there’s an idea! ;-)

Here’s a few more of my favorite shots from the game, just so I don’t end on a low note. :)

(Above: That’s Buc’s Wide Receiver Arrelious Benn taking it in for the score. What I like most about this shot is the fan on the sidelines signaling the imminent touchdown. What I like least is–the play was called back because he stepped out of bounds before catching the pass and was the first player to touch the ball).

(Above: The Colts Score!!!! I was a bit back on this one, so I had to crop in a bit).

(Above: I caught this one as the Bucs were coming out of the tunnel to start the game).

(Above: One of my favorites because there’s a much bigger story here — a Colts Defensive Lineman is seriously injured and lying on the field just beyond the ref. His ankle is turned in a position you never want see anyone’s ankle, and it’s the kind of gruesome injury that can be career-ending. These Bucs players take a knee to pray for the fallen player, even though he’s on the opposing team. It was silent in the stadium).

(Above: That’s not the only time you see players praying at the game [and not just when they’re behind in scoring]. Right after the game, at about every football game I’ve ever shot, a group of players from both teams gather at center field; take a knee, join hands, and a player or coach leads them in prayer, thanking God for their safety, the health of any injured teammates, and for the privilege of getting to enjoy this amazing sport and walk away from it to play another day. It’s a very touching moment. I take a few quick shots at the start, and then I bow my head right along with them).

(Above: That’s the injured player, Colts Defensive Tackle Eric Foster being carted off the field. You never, never want to leave the field in a cart, but he was pounding his chest and letting the crowd know that while he won’t be back tonight — he’ll be back, and he’s with his team in spirit. They only showed it once, but for a brief moment while Eric was lying on the field in agony they showed a camera view of his ankle, turned all the way around the wrong way, on the big HD screens in the stadium, and you heard 70,000 fans simultaneously cringe and go “ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”)

(Above: Here’s one for the road. This is the kind of sharpness I’m looking for — the same sharpness sports photo editors are looking for. If the image is a little soft, it doesn’t make their cut).

(Above: In Photoshop I zoomed in tight on the image before this one just so you can see what I mean when I say it has to be tack sharp. See how you can clearly read the words “NFL Equipment?” That’s tack sharp! That’s what I’m shooting for every time. I don’t always get it, but that’s the goal. Don’t worry — I’ll nail it next time!). :-)

P.S. Camera Settings: Both cameras should have been set to f/2.8 all night. My main body was a Nikon D3s set at 1,600 ISO all night, with a Nikon 400mm f/2.8 lens on a Gitzo monopod. The 2nd body was a Nikon D3, also at 1,600 ISO and f/2.8 with a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens.

P.S.S. Congrats to my readers: Todd Sloan, Josh Whiting and Matt Leitholt who won a signed copy of my new book, “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it” for being the first to post of  photo of me as seen on their TV as they spotted me on the sidelines during the live broadcast. We’ll be contacting you later today. :)


Matt, RC Concepcion and I put together a short Kelby Training Online class with some handy tips for photographers on making the most of Google+, and we hope if you’re on G+ you’l find it helpful.

The two part online class is FREE (you can watch it here), and although it’s named “10 tips” we actually snuck in a bunch of other “mini tips” within the main topics. This is really aimed at photographers who are new to G+, but even if you’ve been here a while I hope you pick up a tip or two that might help.

Also, we did a special Part 2 of this class (above), where we did a live Google+ Hangout with some of the most popular, most interesting, and most successful photographers on Google+. You’ll hear from +Trey Ratcliff +Mike Wiacek +Catherine Hall +Alex Koloskov
+Scott Jarvie and +Brian Matiash

Really insightful stuff and it builds on what we covered in Part 1. They cover everything from how many times they post a day, to what kind of posts they do, and their tips for photographers on using G+. Really a great session.