Category Archives Photography

It was an awesome game. An awesome night! For the Colts, this was a must-win final game of the season to make it to the playoffs. For the Titans, the role of “spoiler” if they beat the Colts in their house. What an incredible atmosphere to shoot in.

[Above: I got this shot of Colts Defensive End Robert Mathis as the players were getting introduced right before kickoff [CLICK ON IT FOR A LARGER VIEW].

They run out through a large inflatable tunnel at the corner of the field, and I was in the tunnel, down on one knee—with my 24-70mm lens aiming up, catching the players the moment before their name is announced in the stadium. It’s pretty dark in the tunnel, but as each player moves forward, the lights from the stadium partially hit them from the front, and that’s when I captured that image above.

I love it in black & white [converted using Silver Efex Pro]. With the bright blue colors of the tunnel and the jerseys gone, you can feel his concentration and focus before he rushes out onto the field and 70,000 screaming fans, on their feet, cheering them on).

I was at the game as a guest of the Titans, and team photographer Donn Jones (a terrific guy by the way) and what a night to be there. Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Colts, is an incredible stadium—one of the best in the league. It has a movable roof, so it can become a dome stadium in cold or rainy weather, and it was 20° outside [11° with the wind chill factor], so I was glad the roof was closed, and it was a perfect 72° inside all game.

The game came down to the final seconds, but you don’t want to let Peyton Manning have the ball with less than a minute to go, and sure enough he drove the Colts down within field goal range, and with just a few seconds left, kicker Adam Vinatieri took the Colts to the playoffs (it’s up…it’s good!).

Getting Kicked Off The Sidelines
During each game I like to change my shooting position on the field quite a bit, so my shots don’t all have the same look and direction. In a day game, I’ll also be taking the sun and it’s position into account, but in a Dome like this, it’s fairly evenly lit, so it’s really more about me just mixing it up. I shoot from both end zones and both sidelines at some point during each game.

It’s near the end of the first quarter, and I’m shooting from the Colts 15 yard line, and a security guard comes over to me while I’m shooting and asks to see my photo credential. Now, as you can see in the iPhone photo above (photo by Donn Jones) I’m wearing the official red NFL photographer’s vest you’re required to wear on the field, and I’m toting a 400mm lens and a second body, so I didn’t just slip in here off the street, so I give him a puzzled look.

He pointed down to my credential, and it had turned around backward so he couldn’t see the front. He said, “I need to see the front.” I just shrugged, turned it around and showed it to him (Hey, he’s just making sure I’m legit. No sweat, right?). Then he says, “You’re with the Titans. You can’t shoot on this side of the field. You have to shoot over there…” and he points to the Titans bench across the field. I laugh and said “You’re kidding right?” (I thought he was just goofing with me, because all the staff, police, and everybody was really friendly at the stadium). He gave me a stern look and said “No sir. You can’t shoot here. You need to leave now.”

Now, I’m smiling and being very friendly, because at this point, I think he’s still kidding me. I said, “Come on, really?” He just stared at me for a moment and pointed to the other side of the field. Finally he said, “You need to go, sir.” I didn’t want to make a scene (after all, I’m a guest of the Titans, and I have zero juice in the Colt’s stadium” so I moved down to the end zone, and didn’t shoot from the Colt’s side again.

When I saw Donn (The Titan’s team photographer) a few minutes later, I told him my story, and he was as surprised as I was. We’re both aware that’s it’s generally a no-no to shoot from behind a team’s bench area (you can walk behind it, but you shouldn’t take any photos while you’re back there), but neither of us had been banned from a sideline. Oh well, I still had two end zones and a 100 yard line sideline, so I just rolled with it for the rest of the game, but I’m still a bit surprised (and I wonder if it’s really a Colt’s policy, or that of an overzealous security guard).

Despite getting banned from the Colts sideline, I had a great experience up in Indy. They treat the photographers really well, and they have a nice photo work room set up, with a buffet for the photographers, a drink cooler, a salad bar—even snacks on the tables (that’s the first time I’d seen that).

Above: That’s Colt’s Quarterback Peyton Manning (I know you know that, I just included that tidbit for Glyn Dewis and Dave Clayton). I was close enough to where I could hear what Peyton was saying. He pointed right at me and yelled, “Hey…get that photographer off the Colt’s sideline!” ;-)

Camera Specs
Pretty much the same gear as usual. Two camera bodies: A D3s with my 400mm f/2.8, and my second body was a D3, but this time I went with a 24-70mm instead of my usual 70-200mm. I was hoping to get some wide shots as they came out onto the field, and after, and with any luck a wide end zone shot (which didn’t pan out). I shot all game at f/2.8 on both lenses, in Aperture Priority mode, at 1250 ISO on both cameras, which gave me over 1/1000 of a second shutter speed.

(Above: Touchdown Titans!)

(Above: Even though I was there covering the Titans, you can’t help but snag a gratuitous shot or two of future Hall of Famer, and a man with a whole string of mind-boggling NFL records, Peyton Manning, seen above).

A big thanks to Donn “Double-n” Jones, and the Titans organization for having me there. I had just a fantastic time, and outside of a Titan’s win, I had about as good a time as you can have. Plus, as a special bonus, my iPhone alarm did go off the following day, and I made my 8:05 am flight, and I was back at work right after lunch. Not a bad way to start the New Year! :)

P.S.: I’ll be posting more shots over on my Facebook page, including some taken at center field moments after the game. When you visit my page, click the “Like” button up top to keep up with my Facebook posts and photos.

At the end of last month I did a post about my fisheye shot of the Miami Dolphins stadium called “To correct or not to correct” (link) and although I made a few comments about the results on my Facebook page (link), I didn’t really share the results here, so before the year runs out, I wanted to share them here.

(1) 83% like the un-corrected original Fish-eye image

(2) 17% like it corrected in Photoshop CS5

However, some folks mentioned what bothered them about the corrected version is that the horizon line (across the top of the stadium) should have been straightened. I agree, so I straightened it out a bit just so you could see it (above), but even after the straightening, I personally still like the uncorrected version.

My favorite comment from the post was from Chase at, who wrote:

“Whatever photo brings the most “tension” and to me that is the uncorrected image. Tension and drama always create better photographs.”

Well said!

Thanks to everybody who participated in the discussion. Everybody kept it totally civil (which is awesome), and at the end of the day, neither answer is wrong, which is what I love about photography—it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

How’s that for a headline? I had actually announced that today would be a “holiday no-guest blog,” but then Nikon just released a 15-minute video as part of their NPS (Nikon Professional Services) Pros Spotlight series, where Joe and I discuss a wide range of photography topics, and Joe is as funny as he is insightful. There is no “interviewer” per se–it’s just Joe and I, and we go back and forth discussing the topics, and it was a lot of fun (which, of course, describes any interaction with Joe).

We talk about everything from our favorite lens to what we see happening in camera technology to our backgrounds in photography, and much more.

Here’s the link. Hope you guys enjoy it.


P.S. I apparently was having a bad “hair mousse” day when this was shot, which diminished my usual on-screen beauty by 12 to 15%, so adjust your eyes properly.

Last Tuesday I got the assignment from Southcreek Global Media to shoot the Beef ‘O’ Brady College Bowl Game (at the Tropicana Dome in St. Petersburg, Florida) between the Louisville Cardinals and the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

My Fluke Mistake of the Day
If you’re thinking that the image above looks like it has some clipped highlights, well…you’d be right. At one point during the game, I turned D3s upside down, and leaned it against a wall in the end zone, so I could focus in-close for a series with my 70-200mm. Unfortunately for me in this case, the bracketing button is on the top of the D3s, and it turned on bracketing without me knowing. When I went back to my camera, and starting shooting, it took me a few minutes before I noticed that some of my photos were dark, some were really light (like the one you see above, which had been overexposed two stops), and some were OK. Of course, that shot above is one of my favorite shots from the day, and while I could lower the Exposure to recover some of the highlights, I couldn’t get them all back. The shot’s still “OK” but the clipping on his helmet and arm wrap on his left arm really bug me. NOTE: If you click on the photo to see the larger version, you can really see the blown out areas).

Southcreek arranged for me to have a Editor at the game to make the editing and uploading of images live during the game much faster and easier. I asked my buddy Matt Kloskowski to be my editor, and work the game with me. After each quarter, and at half time, Matt would come down to the field, we’d swap memory cards, and he’d head up to the Pressbox to import the images, find the best ones, do the editing, add the metadata required by Southcreek, and then upload it to Southcreek’s live servers. Not surprisingly, Matt did a fantastic job, and we had images uploading the entire game, and afterward. (Photo above by Andy Gregory, who was ejected from the game for once again trying to steal my shots).

Above: That’s Matt up in the press box, editing away. He looks very serious. Well, for Matt, anyway. ;-)

Above: Not only does he make the catch, he takes it in for a touchdown!

Above: It’s kind of a boilerplate shot, but for some reason, I like it (well, except for that foot on the far right edge of the shot. Because this is for a wire service, you can’t clone stuff like that out, but if I were going to make myself a print to hang on my wall, that foot would be gone in about two seconds.

Above: I love the way he’s hanging on to the drawstring on the receiver’s pants. Anyway, here’s a few more from the game:

Above: It was a back and forth battle all day, but in the end, Louisville edged Southern Miss 31-28. A great game, a great time, and it’s my last college game this season [sigh], but at least it ended on a high note —my first game where I had an on-site editor, and it was shot in a comfortable 72° indoor dome, which after the Steeler’s 22° shoot on the previous Sunday, that was a real pleasure.

Above: One last thing: I was psyched to see that one of my shots from the game—seen above—wound up on Southcreek’s home page in their highlights reel of their latest coverages.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably recognize both of the guys in the photo above. If you’re kinda new here, that’s Alex Walker (left) posing with my buddy, pro sports photographer Mike Olivella (Photo by Melina Vastola).

Alex won a contest last year that we hosted here on the blog called “Shooting on the Sidelines with Scott & Mike” which was a sports photo contest only open to non-pros, and the winner would get to shoot a big time College football game from the sidelines with Mike and me. Sadly, it turned into a huge debacle (in short, a group of sports photographers got up in arms over the contest and they got Alex’s sidelines pass revoked—-you can read all the gory details here—it’s one of my most commented upon posts ever). As it turned out, although he got his College game pulled out from under him, we were able to get Alex on the sidlines of an NFL game, to make up for his missing the College game (you can read about that here).

Well, Mike being the big-hearted guy that he is, never got over what happened to Alex, and earlier this month arranged to have Alex get his rightful prize,as he got to join Mike for a sidelines shoot during the ACC Collage Championship Game, where the photo you see above was taken. Anyway, I just wanted to share a shot of two really good guys (above), and another happy ending for Alex—-a really great guy, a super dad, and a top notch photographer.

I decided to try something different with these images from my Steelers vs. Jets game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

On my flight home, just to see what it would look like, I made the shot you see above my laptop’s desktop background, and I kind of liked the way it looked, so I’m presenting all the shots from this shoot as screen captures of Desktop backgrounds from my laptop.

(NOTE: These images look MUCH better larger, so click on any photo to see a larger view. Once there, you can click the “Next” button on the top right to move through the gallery).

I was shooting the game as a guest of the Steelers, and it was my first time at Heinz field, and I loved the stadium. When the crowd gets into it, and they start waving their yellow Terrible Towels, it’s a really electric atmosphere.

Frozen Lens Dilemma
It snowed all four quarters, but there was very little wind, so although it was 22°F on the field (-5°C), I dressed in multiple layers and so the cold didn’t affect me at all, but it did a number on my lens when I came back out on the field from half time. I started to shoot and my lens wouldn’t focus. I reseated the lens, checked all the knobs, restarted the camera, all the usual stuff, and nothing seemed to work. Then it finally focused on something, but it was all hazy. What had happened was—the lens had fogged up inside, and there was nothing I could do but wait, so I switched to my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, which for some reason wasn’t fogged up at all, and shot for another 10 minutes or so until the 400mm cleared up.

One of the real highlights of the game for me, surprisingly happened at halftime in the photographers/media room where I ran into one of the best, and best-known pro sports photographers out there today—Bill Frakes. For me, that was cooler than seeing Hines Ward in person. :)

Anyway, here’s a few more, all sized to 1440 x 900 pixels to fit my laptop’s screen size (except for the last image). My camera specs are the same as always for night game (1000 ISO early in the day, during daylight, and 1,600 ISO once it got dark).

Above: First Down!

Above: Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger shouts out to the cheering crowd.

Above: Matt Spaeth Spikes the ball in the end zone after catching a touch down pass.

Above: Jet’s Wide Receiver Brad Smith returns the opening kickoff for a touchdown. I was at around the 20 yard line, aiming right at him. It was such a long run, that my buffer filled up right before he got in the end zone (that means, I took 144 continuous high speed shots with the shutter button held down).

A big thanks to Mike Fabus, and the Steeler Organization for their gracious hospitality, and for giving me an opportunity to shoot in such an amazing place, during such an exciting game.