Category Archives Photography

My buddy Matt Lange came up with a really cool way to showcase the images he’s taken on assignment for Southcreek Global Media—he puts them into a layout that looks like a football trading card (as seen above).

You can check out his other layouts right here. Also, I love his new layout for his portfolio (here’s that link). I guess it helps if you’re a great photographer who’s also a great designer, eh?

Hi everybody. I’ve been very fortunate to have shot a lot of both College and Pro football this season, and I’ve been sharing some of my favorite shots from those games here on my blog.

Well, I didn’t shoot any Wildcard Playoff games this weekend, which gave me an opportunity to do something different: dig up some of my worst football shots, and foolishly I’ve chosen to share them here with you.

Now, when I’m out there shooting, and I fall for the fake handoff and shoot 22 frames of a running back carrying nothing, I will normally delete those right in the camera (just out of sheer embarrassment). If I miss deleting them on the field between plays, then when I import the images onto my laptop, I’ll usually delete the really bad ones then, but alas, I still had plenty left over. But today, I’m just going to share a few. That way, I have enough left for a part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5………part 62, part 63……

Here we go (hang on folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride):

Above: Focusing on the player that has the ball isn’t always a big priority of mine. I think the real story here is those guys in the rain ponchos back on the bench, and as you can see—-they are tack sharp! A lot of photographers out there get all distracted by the ball, and the play that’s going on, and stuff like that. Such a shame.

Above: A lot of guys try to make sure they’re in position to nail that end zone corner catch (like these guys here), but then they miss out on getting that really dramatic shot of the blue padding on the goal post, and the ref jogging over after the play, and I think that’s pretty short sided on their part.

Above: I think a lot of shooters out there are all hung up on the action, and miss out shots like this where you really get to use the “rule of thirds” composition technique. It’s not what you see in this shot—it’s what you don’t see.

Above: I know it looks a little soft here, but you should have seen how sharp it looked on the back of my camera. I was psyched!

Above: Remember, if you’re afraid you won’t capture the action, why not try capturing what happens right before the action. See, a lot of guys would have missed this shot.

Above: A lot of shooters on the sidelines are all hung up on the shot being, ya know…in focus, but hey—-you can still tell what’s going on, right? I mean, you can see he caught the ball and all. This would make a great 17×22″ print. Maybe larger.

Above: Touchdown! In an image like this—catching a pass in the end zone—-it’s really all about capturing the player’s emotion. That look on his face is priceless. Heck, you can almost see the ball in this one! Wait for it…..wait for it…..Epic!

Above: Picking the right spot to shoot from, where you won’t be obstructed by the chain gang, or a ref, or a video camera man, is really critical, so I’m always very careful to be in just the right position to capture “the shot.” Look at the expression on the Michigan player’s face. Classic. Could have been a poster. Could have sold millions.

Above: At the end of the day, it’s really about knowing how to frame your shot in the heat of the action. This is one of those shots where it just all came together for me. People ask me why I do it. This….is why I do it.

Above: My rule is: leave a lot of headroom up top, ya know….in case Sports Illustrated wants to use it for their cover shot.

Above: It’s not easy capturing an out-of-focus shot of a field goal kick. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one, but this is the kind of magic that sets me apart.

Above: There was something really thrilling happening there just a moment or two ago—I’m almost certain. Sidenote: look at how sharp the gloves are on the player on the far right side. When you get one like this, it reminds you of why you do it all in the first place.

Above: It’s all about getting tack-sharp images, and if you look closely, you can almost read the brand of drums they’re using. That’s tack-sharp my friends!

Above: I hate it when they run to the other end of the field. Everybody’s so tiny, so I don’t worry about actually composing my shots, which really takes the pressure off.

Above: Capturing that peak celebration shot after a big play, and the raw emotion of these headless players is really what it’s all about.

Above: The referees are such a big part of the game, I try to work them into at least 20 to 30% of my shots each game. It helps me to stand out.

Above: I don’t usually like to brag, but every once in a while you just nail one! Can you say “SI Double Truck!” I’m livin’ the dream, baby!

Above: So many guys out there are all about capturing the entire player, but I say, a chopped off limb here or there, especially a throwing arm, really isn’t a big deal. It’s about the moment—not the individual body parts.

Above: My instincts told me “Hey, this guy is going to catch a pass” and my cat-like reflexes took over. I turned, nailed the shot (BAM!), and headed to the photographer’s work room for a chili dog, knowing I had this one in the bag.”

Above: When you’re covering a big name Quarterback like Donovan McNabb, you have to put yourself in a position to capture the moment. I kept yelling at this player in front, “Hey, move to your right!” but he just stood there—blocking. I was so pissed.

Above: In the NFL, plays unfold so fast that you have to react in a split second. The play was over, so I whipped over to catch this majestic moment, frozen forever like a moment in time. Look how the ref is dragging his foot. Amazing!.

Above: They say that shots where you can’t see the ball, or that are partially obstructed by an official, or that don’t seem to have any focal point or story behind it are useless, but I think this powerful image proves them all wrong. While I’m on the subject; I know as photographers we’re out there to do a job, but when we’re side-by-side shooting, you know what we don’t talk enough about? Love. That’s right. Love. Between plays, we need to share our feelings, and talk about our relationships, and our struggles and dreams. And gosh darn it, if one of us really nails a great shot, we should all go over and hug him. Ya know…or not.

Capturing the moment. Or at least the one right after it.
Well, there you have it, part 1 of some really stunning shots that I cannot believe didn’t get deleted right out on the field. I wish I had 20 more to share. Unfortunately, I have hundreds. Maybe a thousand. Maybe more. I’ve got a playoff game lined up, so hopefully more of these magical shots will be heading your way soon (and if I actually get any decent ones, I post a few of them, too!).

Have a great Monday everybody (and stop all that snickering). ;-)

UPDATE: I added a few more “keepers” over at my Facebook page. Here’s the link. (to see all my Facebook posts, click the “Like” button).

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 ChasingPhotography.com, 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.

-Scott

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.

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