Category Archives Photography

BradBeach

(I’m going to go ahead and apologize up front… There aren’t many, well, any, images in this post to help break up the text [I know, I should’ve had my camera with me the whole time!], but I’ve done my best to break the text up into smaller chunks to make it easier to get through. Hope it’s worth the read!)

How did I get to where I am today?

That’s a question that I get asked somewhat often when people meet me, so I figured I would share it here. That way, if we do meet some day, you’ll already know and we can talk about something besides me :)

I was born at a young age in the hills of East Tennessee…

Actually, let’s fast forward to the part where I pick up a camera, cool? Thought so.

(more…)

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This weekend I had media passes to shoot the Sun n’ Fun Fly-in, a wonderful air show that takes place each year in Lakeland, Florida (my hometown no less), and this time I got to shoot it with my buddy Bill Fortney from Nikon Professional Services and professional aviation photographer Jose Ramos (check out Jose’s work here).

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It all started by setting my alarm to go off at 4:45 am on Saturday morning, and then driving to the airshow in Lakeland (about an hour or so away) to hook up with Bill to catch first light on the warbirds on display, and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds sitting on the flight line, who would be doing demonstrations that afternoon and Sunday, and some A-10s and FA-18s (that’s one seen above at dawn).

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It was a pretty cloudy morning, so we didn’t get great light, but once the light was up, I managed to get a few shots I liked of a Lockheed 12A Electra, shown above (at least I think it’s a 12A Electra) before the light was so harsh we had to pack it in (which was about 8:15 am).

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I headed back home to rest up because my son and I were headed to see Bon Jovi in concert that night (our favorite band), and we even got to meet up with photographer David Bergman, who is touring with Bon Jovi currently, and he’s scheduled to be my Guest Blogger this Wednesday. Great guy, and just amazing photographer—you might remember him from his famous gigapan shot of the Obama inauguration).By the way; the Bon Jovi concert was insane!!! Incredible show (with high tech lighting and video that was just incredible!!!!) Jon can still belt it out, and Richie Sambora totally screamed on guitar!!!!

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On Sunday, I headed back to the Sun n’ Fun with my whole family in tow, and we met up with Jose Ramos and spent the day shooting with him (mostly in the rain—the weather was rainy and gray the whole day), and waiting for the Thunderbirds demonstration (I had never seen them before, and I knew the kids would love ’em, which of course, they totally did!).

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Tech Specs
Shooting the jets would be easy, but I wanted to also catch some shots of the aerial acrobatics going on before the Thunderbirds, and this time I wanted to make sure I got nice propeller spin in the photos (Last year, I got to shoot for maybe 20 minutes, and was called away for an emergency, and I got just a few shots, and sadly I hadn’t found that sweet spot where the propeller has motion, and the plane is still sharp. This time, I was smarter. I asked Jose.

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He told me for those types of planes, and the speed of their propellers (Jose knows this stuff inside and out), he shoots in Shutter Priority mode at 1/320 of a second (I’m glad I asked—I would have shot much slower, and had a lot of blurry shots along the way). He says he doesn’t go for a full blur, and prefers to see motion and some of the blade as well, and so that’s what I went for, and it worked really well—-planning along with the planes and letting the camera choose the Aperture (since I was stuck at 1/320 of a second).

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Once the jets came out (first a few FA-18-Fs then the Thunderbirds), I would switch to Aperture Priority mode and shoot wide open (which in this case was only f/5.6—-I was expecting a bright sunny day so I didn’t bring fast glass), to freeze the jets in motion.

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Camera Gear
For the shots on the ground on Saturday, I took my D3 and used a 24-70mm f/2.8 and I borrowed Bill’s 16-35mm f/2.8 wide zoom. I also shot a few with my 70-200mm f/2.8.

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On Saturday, with Jose, since now I would be shooting planes up in the sky, I followed Bill Fortney’s recommendation of bringing my D300s (to get closer to the action than shooting full frame), and my lightweight (yet very sharp), 70-300mm f/4.5 to f/5.6 lens, which worked great. I used that one lens for all the aerials.

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Gray skies stink!
Although I really enjoyed the Thunderbirds (They are out and out amazing!), there is nothing more disappointing than shooting their incredible formations against a flat gray sky (as seen above and below). On Sunday, when they flew, it was raining on and off all day, with steady drizzle in between, and just absolutely flat, boring gray skies. Uggh!!! Even though it was gray and yucky, I enjoyed their show so much that I would make a special trip to another air show just to shoot them again against a beautiful blue sky.

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So, it was “gray city” all day—but that’s the thing about photography; I didn’t get the shots of the Thunderbirds I wanted, but I still had a great time!!!! (and Jose was about as gracious a host as you could possibly ask for, and he was giving me tips and helping me with my technique throughout the day). I know so many photographers who would rather miss the shot, and instead spend the day fussing around with their camera settings, rather than just asking a follow photographer with more experience for help with their settings, or some tips on how to shoot the event.

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I was not embarrassed in the least to let Bill and Jose know this was really my first airshow shoot, and that I didn’t have any idea of what I was doing. I’ve found that rather than looking down on you, most photographers are happy to share what they’ve learned, and that’s what both Bill and Jose did without reservation, and now I know better what to do next time around, how to set my camera, and I bet my results will be better (especially if it doesn’t rain).

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My humble thanks to Bill and Jose for taking me under their wing, and for being so gracious with your time, and so warm and welcoming to my family. You guys are the best!!! :)

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Last weekend, after my Chicago trip I headed up to Birmingham, Alabama with my close friend Dave Moser to shoot the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. I was really excited because I had just shot the St. Pete Grand Prix a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to take what I learned there and apply it to this shoot while it was all still fresh in my mind,  but as it turned out, I learned A LOT more at this Indy event, than shooting the St. Pete gig (more on that in a moment).

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(That’s me directly above [photo by Dave Moser], in the yellow photographer’s vest with the red headphones on for ear protection, taking the shot you see just above that, of race winner Helio Castroneves).

Dave and I flew up on Saturday and hooked up with our buddies Jeff Rease (better known as “The Chancellor of Birmingham” and Pete “The Juice Collins.” We went shooting out and around downtown Birmingham (mostly HDR stuff), and then we went to an incredible BBQ place called “Dreamland.” Had a great night, then had to get up really early for the mandatory photographers meeting at the Barber Motorsports Track on Sunday.

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The weather was absolutely perfect—high 70s, blue skies, no chance of rain, and a slight breeze. You couldn’t ask for better weather. We shot the Indy warm up session in the morning, and then the Indy Lights, and finally in the late afternoon we shot the actual Grand Prix race itself.

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Trying Out Some Tamron New Gear
Dave brought along a new 200-500mm Tamron lens he had on loan to try out, and I thought I’d give it a whirl too. I though this might be perfect lens for shooting motorsports because it’s so lightweight and compact, and the price was only around $900, which is pretty much insane to get 500mm reach. Dave shot the Indy Warm-ups with it, and when we loaded his images into Lightroom, we found that, unfortunately, out at the 400-500mm end of the lens, it’s just not tack sharp. In fact, the images were so soft they almost seems to have a little haze over them.

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We quickly changed Dave over to the Nikon 70-300mm lens, and I sent Dave back out to the track to take a another round of test shots, and sure enough—these were all tack sharp. It was the Tamron. Although I had great success with their 70-200mm f/2.8 recently, this one is just not sharp enough at the long end of the lens where you really need it to be sharp. Too bad, because the size, weight, and price were perfect. We put it back in the Dave’s camera bag, where it was never to see the light of day again.

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Tech Notes
I shot with two camera bodies: (1) A Nikon D300s for my long shots (I took this one so I could get closer to the action, since it has the standard zoomed crop factor, and (2) A Nikon D3 for my wide and closer shots.

I put my 200-400mm f/4 on the D300s, mounted on a Gitzo Monopod (shown above—photo by Dave Moser), and I put a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens on my D3, which I carried using a Black Rapid R-Strap (that camera is down by the ground near the base of the monopod). I also used a Hoodman Loupe to check my images on the LCD screen (by the way—we were in direct sun most of the day, and there is just no way to really see your screen without one).

Camera Settings
I used two different sets of settings during the day.

(1) To make sure I had wheel spin (so the cars don’t look like they’re just sitting there parked on the track), I shot in Shutter Priority mode and panned along with the cars at 1/100 and 1/125 of a second (though Hal did talk me into shooting as low as 1/30 of a second, but I wasn’t having much luck, so I raised it up to 1/60 second a did much better there). That had the camera setting my Aperture at around f/22 (which is why you see that nice starburst effect on the shot at the very top of this spot. That comes from shooting at f/22 or higher).

(2) If the cars were coming straight at me, where you can’t  see much of the side of the wheel, which means you don’t have to worry about wheel spin, I switched to Aperture Priority mode and set my f/stop at f/4 to get a very shallow depth of field. This put my shutter speed anywhere between 1/1000 of a second and 1/2400 of a second, which just a great job of freezing the car and making everything really sharp. Again, you can only use this setting at certain angle.

A Day of Learning For Me
A number of media photographers were gathering on a hill overlooking the track for the start of the race, and we start chatting and before you know it, I ran into a longtime NAPP member. We started talking, and this guy is an absolute motorsports photography veteran whose been shooting professional motorsports, for teams, magazines, and manufacturers since the late 70s. His name is Hal Crocker, and since he had so much experience, I asked him if he would share some shooting tips (I’m always trying to learn), and he was an absolute fountain of information, and he helped me immeasurably with everything from my panning technique to composition for motorsports.

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I put Hal’s tips immediately into practice, and any time Hal would see me on the track he would come up and offer suggestions and share more tips, and I just can’t tell you how helpful he was (that’s Hal in the background on the left side of the photo with the red arrow pointing to him—-photo by Dave Moser). Hal has done some seminar training and teaching during his career, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that maybe one day soon Hal will be sharing his experience and techniques with you guys as well.

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I wasn’t on an official assignment this time around, so I made a pretty leisurely day of it, hanging out with Pete and Dave as we hiked to different parts of the beautiful road course.

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I’m not sure if we did more laughing or shooting, but we surely had a blast on a beautiful April day doing something we all love, and I got to meet some great people (and learn a lot) along the way (I met a number of NAPP members on the track that day, and some photographers covering the race from Japan as well).

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Thanks to Pete “The Juice” Collins (shown above far left, wearing the unspeakably large gaucho hat for which he took an unending stream of teasing) for putting up with Dave (2nd from left) and I, and for taking a bullet to make sure we made our flight home on time. I also owe a big thank you to my buddy Jeff Rease (that’s him on the far right above—check out his coverage of our trip right here—-he’s got an absolute killer shot of Danica Patrick’s car).

If it wasn’t for Jeff, I never would have gotten to shoot Indy in the first place, and now not only have I gotten to shoot a couple of races on assignment since then, I even got invited by the Indy Racing League itself to shoot for them at the Indy 500. It all started with a comment left by Jeff on my blog, and I’m so grateful for everything he’s done—for his wonderful hospitality—and for hanging out with us while we’re up in his home town. I owe ya, man!

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(Above: This is one of my buddy Dave Moser’s shots, and I’m showing it off because I shared Hal’s panning tips with Dave while we were on the track, and he jumped right on it and got this super sharp panning shot with great wheel spin, yet the car is sharp as a tack from tail to nose. He was nailing these panning shots all day long!).

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I’m in Chicago for my Photoshop seminar tomorrow (over 600 photographers will be there, which is awesome), and since I was getting in the day before, I got a chance to shoot the Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers NBA game last night with my buddy Mike McCaskey (we were guests of our other buddy, Bulls Team photographer Bill Smith).

The shot above was taken with a 10.5mm fisheye lens. You have to see it big to appreciate the fish-eye effect, so click on it for a much larger version. I used the 10.5mm fish-eye lens, which is a DX (cropped format) lens on an FX (full frame) body, so it crops in a bit, but I like that it doesn’t look too crazy.

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I had a much better time shooting this game than the Orlando Magic game I shot a month or so ago, because of one main thing I learned at that Game—buy a  fold-up portable floor chair for back support (my chair is shown below in the corner of court where we shot for most of the 2nd half).

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Man, that thing is worth it’s weight in gold because you basically sit cross-legged on the floor for hours at a time, and it made the whole experience 100% more comfortable and enjoyable (I had Mike pick up one, too and he thanked me several times during the game).

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Bill Smith took this shot above of Mike and me shooting during the game (that’s us in the left bottom corner, Mike’s in the light blue shirt). Also, you do have to kind of keep your other eye open while you’re shooting, because you’ll get beaned with the ball (at the very least), or run right over if not you’re watching out (by the way, even if you’re watching out, you can still get run over, but at least you can cover up a bit).

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Tech Specs: Here’s what I shot with, then I’ll tell you what I wish I had been shooting with. I used a Nikon D3 with either a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens (most of the night), a 24-70mm f/2.8 (for some wide angle shots and stuff near the close basket), and I took one series of shots with that 10.5 fisheye lens. I shot in Manual mode, at 1/640 to 1/800 of a second, at f/2.8 all night. I used a gray card to set a custom white balance at the beginning of the game, but I shot in raw in case the white balance got squirrely on me. I shot at 2,500 ISO to get that fast a shutter speed (no reduction was applied, which is the marvel of the Nikon D3).

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Now, here’s what everybody was shooting out there. They all did have a 70-200mm (either Nikon or Canon), but then just about every photographer had a second body with a 300mm f/2.8 for when the action is happening at the far basket. The 70-200mm is just that little bit too short to cover the far basket the way I’d like (about 100mm too short with a full frame body).

They would sit the 300mm on the floor, lens facing straight down, and shoot the other lens, but then when the action went the other way, they just picked up the 300mm and starting shooting. That part was a little frustrating, but next time I’ll rent a 300mm f/2.8 from LensProToGo.com

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Mike took this shot of me during a time out using my iPhone. This is about where I was sitting for most of the game. Here, and just on other the other side of the basketball goal post behind me. We thought Lebron James was going to be playing that night, and that he’d be playing toward our basket in the first half, but we found out right before tip off that he wasn’t able to play tonight because of an existing injury.

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So, the good news is I think I made some progress on this, my second NBA shoot. It’s better than what I got on my first game, but not nearly as good as what I’ll get next time (at least, that’s the plan). Either way—-it was an incredible way to spend the night before my seminar (thanks Bill!), and Mike and I both had a ball (we had been shooting earlier in the day around Chicago, and in the Little Italy area. A little HDR stuff at St. Inglesia’s Church, and then followed by a fantastic Italian Dinner at Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap. That place rocks!!!!

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Two Last Things:
(1) Don’t forget the big stuff kicking off on Monday (from Adobe, of course, and from us at NAPP, too!).

(2) Hey, isn’t there an Indy car race in Birmingham, Alabama this weekend? Man, that would be fun to shoot (wink, wink) ;-)

Have a great weekend everybody, and we’ll see you on CS5 Monday!

psdt

Hey gang—Just a quick update:

Grab One of The Last Seats in Chicago!
I’m in Chicago tomorrow with my “Photoshop for Photographers Tour”, and as of yesterday morning, there were only 19 seats left, so if you want to join me, grab one of those last seats now. Here’s the info.

McNally Sells Out Philly!
Yesterday in Philadelphia, Joe McNally kicked some major butt on his Kelby Training Live tour (which was sold out in advance!). This guy is just unbelievable!!!! He’s coming to Denver next, and I’ve seen the pre-registration numbers—he’s gonna sell it out again (if you’ve ever seen him live, you know why). Details here.

Catch Corey in Beantown!
Corey Barker is bringing our “Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks” tour to Boston next Wednesday, and if you’re up that way—you do not want to miss him. He’s got some absolutely stick stuff to show you (in a good way), and you can sign up right here.

KTOipad

Showing your photography portfolio on your own iPad is no problem. In fact it’s about the best showcase you can possibly give your photos on a screen. The iPad was born for this stuff. That’s not the problem.

The problem is what happens when people visit your web site on their iPad to look at your portfolio, which is probably a Flash-based portfolio (it’s tough to find a pro photographer’s web site that isn’t Flash-based these days. They’re out there, there’s just not that many of them), and the iPad doesn’t support Flash.

Now, this isn’t a debate about whether or not the iPad should have Flash. That debate is over—it isn’t there, and I don’t think you’re ever going to see Flash on the iPad period (just like we’ve never seen it on the iPhone), so let’s just deal with what we’ve got, and move on (in other words; please skip the debate. For more on the whole Flash on the iPad thing, you’ve got to read Terry White’s review today. It’s a must-read—here’s the link).

So, if you have a Flash-based portfolio (like me), what do we do now?
Millions of people are going to buy iPads. It’s estimated that nearly three quarters of a million people bought them just this weekend. But let’s put that aside for now. What about the iPhone users? They don’t have Flash support either.

Just how many of them can’t see your portfolio on their iPhones? Well, Apple sold about 25 million iPhones in just 2009 alone, so we’re somewhere in the area of 70 million iPhones sold total so far. None of those 70 million or so people can see your Flash-based portfolio on their iPhone.

When In Doubt, I Call RC
If we want iPad and iPhone users to see our portfolio, we’re going to have to use something other than a Flash-based portfolio, or keep the Flash for your computer-based viewers, but swap out iPad and iPhones users for some sort of HTML portfolio.

Now, I’m lucky. I’ve got RC Concepcion on my team. As you probably already know, RC is a Web/photography wizard, and in just two days, RC was not only able to come up with a solution for me, he added something that totally blew me away.

First, if you click on the Portfolio link here on my blog, you get my full Flash-based portfolio (the new version we updated earlier this year, which was based on flash-templates from Diablo Tibi, one of the talented designer brains behind Flashcomponents.com)). However, if you come to my site on an iPad, and click that same link, RC set it up so you go to a different version of my portfolio—an HTML and Javascript version that works on an iPad or iPhone, and (get this), you can change images by swiping your fingers, just like you would normally on an iPad or iPhone (he did that using a common jquery library – Galleria).

(ed Note: Single Finger Swiping on the gallery is now live – RC)

Now, he had some help from Alan Brusky of Fireleaf Design (link), and together they created this alternate portfolio, complete with thumbnails, finger swiping (or you can tap on the photo to advance to the next photo), and the good news is—RC is making all this a part of his new class called “Portfolio Power” (I’m not sure if it’s an online class or just a DVD), but either way—he’s including four templates you can use for this type of stuff today (which includes the one he using for me).

We Need a Plan Now
By next weekend, more than a million US users will be missing your Flash-based portfolio. Don’t wait. Come up with a plan now. I’m having to do the same thing here on my regular blog. I use a Flash-based player for videos I embed on the blog, but I can get around that, and make my videos playable on iPhone and iPads by simply uploading them to YouTube.com instead.

Now, I’m not giving up on Flash—-I love Flash personally, but I want to make sure I’ve got a Plan B—a back-up plan, for anyone visiting my site without Flash support. Also, I know a lot of photographers have been doing this “visit the HTML version” for a while now, so I’m not breaking new ground here, but Flash has received such wide support that few photographers have had to worry about a browser not supporting Flash. Until now.

Let’s Help Each Other Out
That’s my plan for now, but it’s still evolving, so I’m totally open to hearing your ideas for serving video to this market, and for having a way to show your portfolio online so it can be seen to iPad and iPhone users. I really want to hear what you’re doing—-my work, what you’ve tried, and I know a lot of others will be interested as well.

Thanks RC for helping me out (you’ve done it again, my friend!), and for passing on what you’ve learned to me, and my readers. Also, many thanks to Diablo for the incredible Flash work you’ve done for the community, and to Alan for helping make sure RC didn’t get any sleep this weekend.

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