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 Indianapolis Colts and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

Monday Night Football is a grand sports tradition here in the USA, and it’s broadcast nationwide (as its the only pro football game that airs on Monday night—-all the rest play on Sunday), and I know a lot of you will be watching, so I thought I would create this handy “Scott Spotting Guide” just in case I get creamed by a receiver (or if Josh Freeman breaks my monopod). ;-)

Brad Has Re-Pimped Out my Monopod
To make “Scott Spotting” easier, Brad has removed the red flames tape and replaced it with bright yellow tape around the top section of my monopod, so if I show up on camera (which I do from time to time), you’ll be able to see that it’s me. Oh but there’s more…

Adding a Colorful Ballcap
I went to my closet to find a colorful ball cap to help make me easier to spot, but as you can see in this iPhone photo, apparently all I have is black ball caps. So, I went to the mall and picked up the red ballcap you see in the photo at the top of the page at a Sporting Goods store. So, red ballcap and yellow monopod. I’ll look like a small firetruck with a 400mm lens.

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.

I also go out on the field immediately after the game to grab a few close-up shots of players celebrating / agonizing at center field. I’d be shooting something more wide angle at this point.

Let’s make it interesting
The first three people who taks a photo of their TV Screen where you can see me, and post 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, “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it.”

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 CS5 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 tomorrow (provided I get any decent ones). Have a great Monday, and we’ll see you tonight. Well, you know what I mean. :)

Yesterday, in my post about my first football shoot of the year (link), I mentioned that if some of the players wind up in the shade, that I remove the blue tint that appears over anything white (like their jerseys, helmet, the stripes on the ball, and so on) in Lightroom (or Camera Raw). Anyway, I had a few questions about it, so I thought I post a quick tutorial. Here goes:

Above: Here’s a great illustration of the problem: when the team winds up on a part of the field that’s covered in shadows (as seen here), their white jerseys (and anything white for that matter) get a deep blue tint over them. However, you can see from the photo, that in a few seconds part of the team will be running in the daylight in front of them, which puts part of the image in shade, and part in daylight, which creates the double-white balance problem).

STEP ONE: In Camera Raw (shown here) or in Lightroom’s Develop Module, get the Adjustment Brush, then over in the Adjustment Brush panel on the right side, lower the Saturation amount a bit (as seen here), and set everything else to zero. Now, with the Auto Mask checkbox turned on, start painting over the white parts of the player’s jersey’s (here’s I’m painting over #67’s jersey and pants, and you can see the blue is going away as I paint.

STEP TWO: Continue painting over anything that’s tinted blue (here I painted over all three players in white, but to finish this off, I’d have to paint over the “5” on #5’s jersey as well. Now go and compare that with the image at the top of this post and you’ll really see the difference.

STEP THREE: Of course, since they’re in the shade, the whole image is really dark, so you might want to increase the Fill Light quite a bit, and the Exposure a little bit (as seen here), so the players aren’t “in the dark..”

(Above: Here’s the typical type of shot you’d have to apply this technique to—where part of the action is in daylight [one white balance] and part is in shade [they look too blue]. If they all stayed in the shade, you could just change the overall white balance, but for some reason you can’t get these guys to stay put. ;-)  ).

That’s all there is to it. Hope that helps.

(Above: It’s not a composite, and the background hasn’t been blurred in Photoshop. It’s the 400mm f/2.8 doing what it does best).

On Saturday, I got to shoot my first football game of the year, alongside my buddy Mike McCaskey, as the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame routed the Michigan State Spartans 31 – 13. It’s was a day made for shooting football—65° at game time with bright beautiful skies.

(Above: In the 2nd half the sun gets low enough that about half the field is in shadows, and anything in white turns blue.  So, I get Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush; I lower the Saturation slider quite a bit, then I paint over the blue areas in their jerseys, shirts, gloves, etc. and they return to white.).

Shaking The Rust Off
I was really rusty—not having shot football since last January, and it took me until about the 3rd quarter to finally start getting back into the groove.

(Above: I was positioned at the goal post, shooting down on my knees, as the teams came down the tunnel to enter the field right before kick-off, and this Michigan State Offensive Guard didn’t seem particularly pleased to see me).

Camera Settings
I shot the entire day in Aperture Priority mode at 200 ISO, at f/2.8, which gave me shutter speeds anywhere from about 1/2,400 of a second up to 1/8000 of a second.

Camera Bodies and Lenses
I used two bodies: A Nikon D3s with a Nikon 400mm f/2.8 lens, mounted on a Gitzo monopod, and a Nikon D3 with a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

(Above: Notre Dame Quarterback Tommy Rees scrambles during the 3rd quarter. He’s probably thinking, “I’ve got to get to the sidelines,” and I’m thinking “Don’t run into the shade—-this would make a great two-page spread). ;-)

Why I love shooting Day Games
It’s a “set it and forget it” kind of day. You choose your settings before game time, and you never have to change them again—the entire day. It leaves you free to focus on trying to get the shot.

(Above: I wish I’d gotten this shot from the other side).

(Above: Nobody gets any love from field goal shot but I like this one because it’s right at the moment of impact. I was actually hoping for the shot a split-second after this, but at least this one has some movement. I focused on the holder with my 400mm, and waited for the kicker to run into the frame).

(Above: I’m amazed at how few facemask penalties get called, because when you’re shooting at 400mm, you see them all the time).

(Above: In the third quarter and beginning of the fourth we had some really great light, but my the middle of the fourth, the entire field was almost in the shade —notice how the parts of the tackler are already looking blue).

(Above: Stretchhhhhhhhhhhh!)

(Above: For once that day, I was in the right place. Every touchdown happened at the opposite end of the field I was on except for this one which happened right in front of me. I had switched to my 70-200mm f/2.8 when they got inside the 15 yard line, where I got this frame. The play was reviewed, but the touchdown stands).

(Above: At the end of the game the team meets at the far end of the field, and they sing their Alma Mater, and that’s where I got this frame, on my tip-toes holding the camera above their heads and firing my camera one-handed. Right after I shot this, I hear a text message alert, and a friend from Birmingham texted me, “Are you shooting the Notre Dame game? I think I just saw you on TV. You were behind the players singing holding your camera up high? Yup—that was me!).

A great way to start the season
Even though I got off to a rusty start, it was such a fun day, with such great weather, I didn’t really mind that it took me like three hours to get into the groove. Now that the rust is off, I can’t wait until my next shoot (though I’m not sure when that will be. I’m doing my seminar in Portland today, and in Los Angeles tomorrow).

My thanks to my buddy Mike for letting me shoot with him, and to all the great folks with Notre Dame Football for giving me a really fun day of shooting. Football is finally here—-yeah, baby!!! :-)

You have to stay with me on this one, because….well…you just have to read this.

In May of 2009, I came to Denver to do my Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks tour, and the day before I spent some time shooting with Jason from the I decided to do a creative exercise to stretch myself a bit by breaking with the usual and just use one single lens; a 50mm prime lens—-that’s it. No changing lenses—just that one lens, the whole time.

We shot for hours wandering around downtown Denver and really had a great time. I mostly shot architectural type stuff—buildings, signs, patterns—stuff like you see at the top of this post. I even took some examples I could use for an upcoming book project, and all and all I really enjoyed that one lens exercise because it makes you think and work and be more creative, and not rely on your gear so much.

However, as I wrote back in May of 2009 (link), the next morning, before even getting to look at any of my photos, I not only accidentally formatted the card, but I shot right over the card with images from my seminar. When I realized this a few days later, I tried to rescue them using recovery software, but by then they had been overwritten and they were no where to be found. Uggh! It’s a heartbreaker.

Happy to forget that loss
I know I probably didn’t get anything really worthwhile that day, but knowing that you lost about 8GB of images (around 700 images) makes you feel like “I bet there was something really great in there…” and it’s the never knowing that eats at you. I had never really done that before—lost a whole shoot without backing up. I learned a good lesson from it, but every time since whenever I hear someone mention Denver, I still cringe a little as I relived my mess up. It’s how we photographers torture ourselves.

Today, I’m back in Denver with my “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it Tour,” and yesterday as Brad and I were driving downtown I passed a sculpture I recognized, and the buildings beside it, and the whole “losing my images” thing came rushing back. I told Brad the whole story from beginning to end, and even he was cringing. I just couldn’t imagine how I could have done that, and seeing those areas I shot, and lost, just made it worse.

I’ll meet you in the lobby in 10 minutes
I wanted to catch an early dinner so I called Brad and said, “Let’s me in the lobby in 10 minutes.” When I come out of the elevator, Brad reaches in his shirt pocket and hands me a memory card. I said “What’s this?” He smiles and says, “Your missing Denver photos from 2009.” I was speechless. I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t.

It’s that whole “cleaning out my closet thing”
I’ve been doing a series of giveaways on Twitter called “Semi-useful stuff from Scott’s camera closet” and literally as I’ve been cleaning out my closet, I’ve been giving away things I haven’t been using in a while. This past Sunday I found a Swiss Army brand laptop bag I had used briefly (it still looked pretty new), and it was in such good shape that I didn’t want to throw it away, so I brought it into the office and asked Brad to see if anybody wanted it.

Well, Brad had a new laptop, and no real laptop bag so he claimed it, and showed it to me at the airport this morning. I was like “Perfect—it found a new home.” That morning, when Brad was putting his laptop and accessories in the bag, he found two of my memory cards in one of the pockets. He saw there were images on them, but he also saw they were from 2009 so he figured I had long since backed up already so he reformatted the card to use tomorrow at the seminar. However, after he heard my story, and went and used photo recovery software to see if those shots were indeed the missing shots from Denver. After looking at a few, he saw a sign in one shot that sure enough said “Denver” and he just sat there and smiled as he rescued every single image.

I was stunned.
Still am as I sit here and write this. Seriously, what are the chances? I gave him the bag yesterday, and if we weren’t in Denver, and hadn’t driven by that exact sculpture, I probably wouldn’t have ever told the story, and then tomorrow morning we would have actually overwritten that card; never having any idea those images were on it. Now, they truly would have been lost forever.

As I suspected…
The images weren’t great. Just “OK.” Nothing going in my portfolio. Nothing earth shattering,  (the images you see here are the ones from the missing card). But I don’t care. I have such a sense of peace just knowing that they’re back, and that I didn’t accidentally erase them—I just misplaced them—for two and a half years. That part, doesn’t surprise me at all.

Thanks Brad
I needed a smile yesterday, and that surely gave me one. That, and a whole bunch of  “I just can’t believe you found that card!” during dinner.