Category Archives Photography

A few weeks back, I did an interview with Sophia Betz from the blog “The Photoletariat” and one of the questions she asked me “Which photographers inspire you?”

Besides the ones I mention here on the blog (like Moose Peterson, Jay Maisel, Dave Black, and Jeremy Cowart, among others), I listed a number of other photogs whose work I go to when I want to be inspired. People whose work makes me want to grab my camera and start shooting.

The list wound up being so long that Sophia asked if she could run it as a separate post, and last week she did. Here’s the link to the list of photographers that inspire me—some very well known (like Joe McNally) and some you may not have heard of, but I find myself going back to their work again and again. Hope you find some there that inspire you as well.

On Thursday night I got a chance to shoot FC Tampa Bay Rowdies (a pro team in the North American Soccer League), vs. the Austin Aztex and although I didn’t shoot worth a darn (and the score ended in a 1 to 1 tie. Ugh!), I did try out a few new things, and learned some things along the way.

Shooting at 6,400 ISO
The uninspiring shot you see directly above is only remarkable in that it’s the first time I’ve really shot at 6,400 ISO (click on it for a larger view—-no noise reduction applied. The one at the top of this post was shot at 3,200 ISO. More on that in a moment).

Normally, for night games I would be shooting in the 2,500 to 4,000 ISO range (2,500 at ISO f/2.8 or 4000 at f/4) but the game was held in a Minor League Baseball stadium, and I figured the lighting would be kind of bad (and I was right). Luckily I was able to borrow a Nikon D3s from my buddy RC Concepcion, which reportedly has even less noise than the D3, so if I had to shoot at 6,400 or higher, I’d probably be OK, and it performed like a champ! (see above).

(Above: another 6,400 ISO shot).

My Lens Lesson
I only brought my new 300mm f/2.8 lens, which I now know is a little too short for shooting soccer on a full frame camera. So short in fact, that I could only shoot when the play was near my end of the field, because at the other end, it was just about useless (they looked like ants). Last year, when I shot the U.S. Men’s team, I took my 200-400mm f/4 (which was out on loan to Matt that night—he was shooting soccer down in Ft. Myers), and that extra 100mm made a big difference (and beside my buddy Dave Cross, who shot the game with me, every other photographer working the game was shooting a 400mm f/2.8 lens).

(Above: Back to 6,400 ISO—click on it for a much larger view).

Why it works for NFL but not Soccer (Futbol)
The difference between shooting at 300mm when shooting Soccer (futbol), and when shooting American Style NFL Football, is that shooting NFL football you move your position a lot during the game, based on which team has the ball, and where they are on the field, so you can always be pretty close to the action with a 300mm. You can easily spend five to 10 minutes on one end of the Football field while a team is on a drive, so you’re right on top of the action with a 300mm on a full frame.

However, with Soccer most shooters set up near the corners of the field and stay there for long periods of time (a lot of them are sitting the whole game, either on the ground, or using portable fold-up seats). In Soccer, the possession of the ball can change every 15 seconds (which really makes it exciting), and they’ll be running right toward you—the ball gets stolen—and suddenly they’re running away from you. So, you need longer glass or you’re only going to shoot 1/2 the time at best.

(Above: Another 3,200 ISO shot).

How about trying a Tele-extender?
I actually did, (a 1.4 tele) and it got me in much closer but you lose a stop of light as a trade-off, so I dropped from f/2.8 to f/4.  While that might not sound like a lot, it dropped my shutter speed from 1/750 to 1/1000 of a second, down to just 1/350 of a second (way too slow—guaranteed blurry shots), so I had to raise my ISO to at least 6,400 with that combo, and I was afraid of the noise it might generate.

As it turned out, 6,400 ISO on a Nikon D3s is like 4,000 ISO or lower on a regular D3, so I would have been fine, but without seeing the results on a larger screen, I was a bit hesitant to try, so I took it off, and shot a lot at around 3200 ISO with the 300mm set at f/2.8.

(Above: 3,200 ISO for comparison)

You don’t know unless you try
So, I did learn that the D3s lives up to it’s low-noise legend, and I learned that next time I’ll be sure to borrow it and a 400mm lens (or I’ll rent one from LensProToGo.com). Even though I was disappointed in what I got (in fact, I wouldn’t have displayed these shots if not needed to support this article), it was still a lot of fun—I got some good practice in, and it was all made even more fun shooting with Dave. He’s a serious soccer fanatic (he used to play for this College team), and Dave got some great shots as a result (knowing the game, and where the next play is likely to happen is the key to timing the shots, and Dave knows the game inside and out). OK, back to something I’m more comfortable with—American Style football! Already got some NFL and College games lined up in the coming weeks. Can’t wait!!! :-)

Hi Guys: The very awesome and cool Brad Moore sent me this mondo epic video (ABOVE) from David Bergman, Bon Jovi’s tour photographer on their current tour (My son and I are big Bon Jovi fans, and we caught their tour earlier this year, and met up with Dave before the show. Here’s the link to Dave’s Guest Post on my blog from earlier this year).

Anyway, I thought you guys would enjoy the video. Many thanks, and hat’s off to cool, awesome, and awesomely cool Dave Bergman for this epic, mondo cool video (sorry, all the cool’s and awesomes are a cool awesome hangover from Brad’s Pimpy Post yesterday. Brad’s cool like that).

You can get all the details on David’s blog and over at Fstoppers.com, the guys who produced the video.

When I shot the LSU vs. North Carolina football game last week, I wanted to take my new 32-gig Lexar Professional 600X high-speed UDMA memory card out, and when I popped it in the camera, I have to tell you—my jaw dropped when I looked at the LCD readout on the top of my Nikon D3, and saw that in JPEG fine mode, I had more than 4,300 shots available on that one card. Seriously—wow! I snapped the shot you see above of the LCD readout window using my iPhone 4 on the balcony of my hotel before I left for the game.

Now, later Paul Abell snookered me into shooting a sporting event in Raw mode, so my number of available shots went down to around 1,200+, but still—that ain’t bad for just one card. By the way—the Lexar 600X card is insanely mondo fast. I had never had that level of speed (or that big a card), but it was really sa-weet. Anyway, I had to share that moment with you guys. I didn’t even know the “shots left on card” readout went that high! :-)

I mentioned on Monday that a got a chance to shoot the LSU vs. North Carolina College Football Kick-off Game on Saturday in the Georgia Dome with my buddy, Atlanta-based pro sports photographer Paul Abell (here’s Paul’s guest post on my blog).

We really had a ball, plus it was a terrific game, coming down to the last 2-seconds, where the Tiger’s defense was able to hold off the Tar Heels from snagging a last second victory.

This was my first time out shooting with my 300mm f/2.8 (a gift from my book publisher [Peachpit Press] for being named the world’s #1 best-selling technology book author for the 6th year straight. I know—totally awesome publisher, right? Plus they really know how to give a gift!!!!!). :-)

Anyway, here’s a few shots from the game. I am getting better at my timing, which is something I’ve been trying to work on, but I let a few great shots get away because of focus issues (totally my fault), where the receiver was out of focus and the crowd behind him, or players on the sidelines were in focus. This was my first game of the season, and it helped get the rust off a bit, but shooting football is one of those things that just takes lots and lots of practice—–but I gotta tell ya—-I surely don’t mind this kind of practicing. :)

CAMERA INFO: All the shots were taken with a D3 or D700. My D3 had the 300mm f/2.8 on it pretty much all day, and my second body was the D700 with my 70-200mm for when the action got inside the 20 yard line. My ISO was generally either 2,000 or 2,500 (Note: My other sports lens is a 200-400mm f/4, and that one stop advantage with the f/2.8 lens let me shoot at 2,000 ISO in an indoor dome stadium, rather than shooting at 4,000 ISO like usual. Plus, it gave a shallower depth of field than the f/4, which I love). No color correction in Lightroom necessary (I know, I’m amazed myself—some sort of fluke)—just adding contrast and sharpening. Also, I only applied noise reduction on one single image, but sadly I can’t remember which one it was. Anyway, here’s the shots:

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Above: Taken from the upper deck with a 10.5mm fisheye lens. I removed the fisheye distortion with one click using Lighroom 3’s automated Lens Correction.

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Above: The fans get fired up during a pre-game rally!

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Above: That’s my buddy, Atlanta sports photographer Paul Abell right after the opening kickoff. He’s standing where I took the Fisheye shot you see earlier. He’s shooting a 14-24mm wide, and a 400mm f/2.8 for his long glass.

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I love shooting College Football. Your chance for high-scoring games (which translates to lots of action), goes up, and since they run some wild plays you won’t see in the NFL, you don’t always know what to expect, so it makes for a really fun day of shooting.

Hi Gang, and greetings from Photoshop World Las Vegas!!!

I’m pretty swamped today, but I wanted to share this video tip with you that I mentioned last week in my report about my trip to Maine. In that post, I mentioned how I went shooting with Scott Eccleston from WeeklyPhotoTips.com, and that I did a tip for shooting long exposure HDR’s.

The video (below) looks tremendously brighter than it actually was when we shot the video (as you’ll see by how long the exposures take). It was really really dark—so dark I wasn’t sure it was going to work at all, but the video camera did such a good job of exposing for the tiny amount of light that was there, that it looks a lot brighter than it was. (Thanks to Mark Hensley for the awesome video work).

Anyway, here’s the clip (below), but make sure you check out WeeklyPhotoTips.com (link) because he’s always posting lots of cool tips…well….weekly!). :-)

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