Category Archives Photography

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My buddy, and photography Web wizard, RC Concepcion set me up with a totally new online portfolio layout, and what I really like about it is that is kind of takes up the full size of your Browser, giving you a much larger view of each image (which was the most common complaint about my old online portfolio). You can click the Portfolio link on the left side of this page, or what the heck–-just click here.

The way I wound up with having RC do this in the first place is, he’s working on an online class on how to find inexpensive Flash components and use them for things like custom portfolios which you can easily maintain yourself without having to know Flash at all. They’re all XML-based, and even though his class isn’t up live yet, he was kind enough to let me try it out, and once I saw it—I was hooked.

At this point, I haven’t really updated enough images, and I only have three categories (I probably want to split Travel into two categories: Travel and Landscapes), but you will be happy to know that I kept it to around 20 images per category.

Anyway, I think it’s a step in the right direction, and hope you guys like the new look. Also, a big thanks to RC for hooking me up with this new layout (RC has really taken on the role of the photographer leading other photographers to the Web), and I’ll be sure to let you guys know when it goes live. Anyway, Thanks RC. I love it! :)

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Man, did I start this year off right!!! I started by shooting the Outback Bowl (Auburn vs. Northwestern) on New Years Day for Southcreek Global Media (some of my favorites are shown below), and then on Saturday I caught a flight up to Detroit to shoot the Lions/Bears game at Ford Field on Sunday (I’ll post some of those Thursday).

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The Outback Bowl was kind of dicey because it rained just about the entire first half, so I had to use (and improvise) some rain gear. I had some Kata rain gear my buddy Dave had bought me a while back, and I used it to protect my D3, but I didn’t have anything to cover my 200-400mm lens, so I had to improvise with a black garbage bag and some rubberbands (it wasn’t pretty—but it worked). A note about protective rain gear: I wound up talking with a photographer there using the AquaTech rain gear and I asked him about it. He told me he was switching the new rain gear from Think Tank, and once I heard Think Tank had rain gear—I was sold!!!!

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I pretty much my kept my second body hidden under my jacket until I needed it, but it got fairly wet (luckily, Nikons from the D300 on up are sealed, so I didn’t have any problems whatsoever).

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One challenge in shooting this game was something I hadn’t expected. At the NFL and College games I’ve shot from the sidelines this year, there was plenty of room on the sidelines. But at the Outback Bowl, there were literally about 200 people just hanging out on the sidelines, including (I kid you not) at least 50 children under the age of 14. They were everywhere (along with their parents).

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In the last quarter, I literally had to fight through four and five rows deep of spectators to get an open shot at the field. They were nice about moving out of the way, but it was a bit of a struggle all day. I missed an important play (a touchdown no less) because I got behind a dad with his daughters as we were running from one end of the field to the other, and I just couldn’t get around them.

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As a dad myself, I can’t complain, because I’d love to have my son with me on the sidelines, so I don’t blame them—I just didn’t expect it. There are also tons of teens shooting the game with their iPhones and Blackberries. It made things a bit more challenging, and more than anything it made you not want to give up a good spot once you found one, but if the game moves—you move.

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But that wasn’t the biggest challenge—it was that both teams chose to go without huddles the entire game so the time between plays was incredibly short. It was a big passing game, so they’d run a play; complete a pass downfield, and then you’d have to haul butt to the other end of the field and try to get set before the snap. The whole day was like one long two-minute drill. I haven’t run so much since I was a kid.

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Camera Specs: Same as always; I shot wide open (f/4 on the 200-400mm and f/2.8 on the 70-200mm all day). It was very gray and rainy so I had to shoot between 800 ISO and 1600 ISO for the entire first half. In the second half I was able to back it down to 400 ISO.

Tips: If you’re shooting with a lens that has VR (like I was), and shooting at faster than 1/500 of a second (like you would be when trying to freeze action—-I aim for 1/1000 of a second or faster) then Nikon recommends you turn the VR off to get the sharpest shots. Also, I know it’s a pain but shoot from on your knees—it totally changes the perspective and helps make the players look bigger than life. You usually can’t lay down in the end zone or sidelines (it depends on the stadium), but if you can’t (or don’t want to) you can try the Hoodman Right Angle view finder accessory to lay your camera on the turf and then look down into it to shoot from that super-low angle (I learned that trick from Sports Illustrated photographer Peter Reed Miller during his class at Photo Plus back in November).

Anyway, I had a ball—-the game itself was a real barn-burner (it went into overtime), and the 2nd half weather was actually decent. I made some mistakes (mostly with my preparations for the game and also I took longer than I wanted to pick, metadata tag, caption and upload my images to Southcreek Global during halftime), but I learned from those mistakes and won’t make them again.

Ahhhh, next football season just won’t come soon enough for me! I don’t think I’ll get to shoot any playoffs this year (rats!), but hey, isn’t it time to shoot some NBA games? I think it just might be. ;-)

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Yesterday (Sunday) morning, I caught an early flight to St. Louis, Missouri to shoot the Houston Texans at St. Louis Rams NFL football game at the Edward Jones dome. (Click on the photos for a larger view)

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Although I did shoot some of the game (when the Ram’s offense was on the field), I was actually there on assignment to shoot starting Middle Linebacker James Laurinaitis (#55) shown below.

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Of course, as a linebacker James is on Defense, so when he was on the field, my job was just to isolate on him and hope he didn’t wind up in a big crushing pile of guys where he’d get lost from a camera perspective, or that the play wasn’t a quick slant to the far sideline where the receiver gets tackled right away, so James didn’t need to get involved.

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The image above is of the Ram’s only touchdown for the day (the Texans only scored one as well, but sadly they wound up winning by a field goal in the fourth quarter). He caught the ball on the goal line so when his feet came down—it was party time in St. Louis!

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Houston dropped a pass in the end zone later in the game (that’s James on the far right), and though I don’t do a lot of wide shots, I kind of liked this one.

CAMERA INFO: It was a domed stadium, so it was pretty much like shooting at night, and I had to shoot at 4,000 ISO the entire time to get my shutter speed in the 1/1000 of a second or higher range to freeze the action. I used a Nikon D3 as my main body with a 200-400mm f/4, and my second body was a D700 with a 70-200mm f/2.8 for when they got inside the 15 yard line.

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Here’s another wide shot taken as the Ram’s learned they had stopped the Texans on 4th down and one (yard), and they got the ball back on downs. That’s James in the center celebrating the stop.

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This one I just love because of the athleticism of #70. I love to see really big guys in mid air.

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One more of James doing his thing. He’s really an incredible athlete, which is why he’s starting in the NFL his first year out of college. He was really working hard out there, which makes it all the more a shame they lost.It hasn’t been an easy year for the Rams, but I’m a Tampa Bay Bucs fan so that automatically makes me sympathetic to any losing team this year.

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Although I had a great time (I mean, afterall—-it was an NFL game!), overall I wasn’t any happier with my shooting performance than Ram’s fans were with their team that day.

Right after the game, my wife sent me a text message to ask how it went. I wrote back, “Well, I learned a lot. Does that count?” But that’s exactly why I wanted to go St. Louis and shoot this game, and shoot James, in the first place. This stuff, like everything else in photography, just takes lots of practice, perserverence and experience and the only way to get it is to get out there and do it. So I did it, and I did learn some new things that I’ll try next time (and I tried a few new things this time, too).

The good news is; I was able to get a flight home the same day, and even watched a movie tonight at home with my wife once the kids were in bed. But now, I’m beat so I’m heading to bed. Got a busy day at work tomorrow. Hope you all have a good one! :)

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OK, they’re not “technically” High-Def prints—-I call them ‘high definition’ because to me they look like the difference between an HD television and a regular television (they are that good!).

These are the prints on metal (aluminum) from Imagewizards (I talked about their prints earlier this year—here’s the link), and even though I’ve seen other prints on metal, I’ve never seen metal prints like theirs (don’t confuse these with printing on metallic paper—this isn’t printing on paper at all—your image is printed on Aluminum (they call it AluminArte). The detail is insane!!!).

Since the detail is insane, we asked them for an insane deal. Here it is:

Two (2) of their 16 x 24″ Framed images for $250
NOTE: Their Regular Price is $237.61 each, so you’re saving around $225.22!!!)

One 24″ x 32″ Framed image for $250
NOTE: Regular price is $322.77 (you save 72.77)

Shipping for these items will be in double sided corrugated cardboard. Cost of shipping depends on location and number of pieces. They do ship internationally

This “This weekend only” deal actually runs through Dec 23rd (I know, it’s more than a weekend).

To get this discount:Enter the coupon code SKB12 in the comments section right here.

My thanks to Imagewizards for hooking my readers up!!!!! :)

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Scott Bourne over at the Photo Focus podcast was kind enough (read as: crazy enough) to have me on as his Guest host this week, and we just had a ball fielding all sorts of questions from his listeners.

We really covered some interesting and varied topics, so if you’ve got a few minutes, head over there and check it out—-Scott is a teriffic host and I think you’ll enjoy it (OK, when I said “Scott” that time I was talking about Scott Bourne). :)

Here’s the link (and thanks to Scott for having me on).

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A couple of weeks ago, a friend emailed me a link to a photographer’s portfolio and he wanted to know what I thought of this guy’s work.

I followed the link and in his portfolio he had different categories there (landscape, wedding, portraits, travel, etc.) so I clicked on portraits, and a large main image appeared alongside a grid with 20 smaller thumbnails. At the bottom of the page he also had a link to a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th page of his portrait images.

After spending a few minutes going through his portrait galleries, here’s what I thought:

On page 1 of his portrait gallery I thought, “Hey, this guy is really good.”
On page 2, I thought, “Well, I guess he’s pretty good”
By page 3, I thought, “Gees, some of these aren’t all that good.”
By page 4, I thought, “Man, this guy has some pretty lame stuff”

Now, before we go any further, here’s what I’d like to ask that photographer (with some likely answers):

Q. Which images wind up on the first page of your portfolio?
A. My best images—of course.

Q. So, if you take a new photo that’s better than any of the photos you currently have on your front page, what do you do?
A. I take the weakest photo from the 1st page and move it to the 2nd page.

Q. That makes sense. So, basically the images on 2nd page of your portfolio are the ones that aren’t quite good enough to be on the front page, or they’d still be on the front page, right?
A. Well, yeah I guess.

Q. So what’s on your third page?
A. Ummmmm.

Q. You’ve obviously taken much better photos than these back on the third page, or these would at least be on your 2nd page, right?

A. Uh, I suppose.

Q. OK, now what about the photos on your 4th page? I guess these weren’t as good as any of your previous 60 images, so this is basically the bottom of your barrel (so to speak)?
A. I really hadn’t thought of it that way.

Q. Why do you even have a fourth page? It’s a page where all your worst portfolio images are presented to the public?
A. I dunno.

Q. So take a step backward now; Why do you have a third page?
A. Hey, I like some of those images!

Q. Then why aren’t they on your second page? Aren’t they good enough to be on your 2nd page?
A. I guess not.

Q. So why do you have a second page at all? These are photos that you admit aren’t your best work. Why show your 2nd rate stuff at all?
A. I dunno.

Q. If you narrowed your portfolio down to just your 20 or 24 absolute all-time best images in each category, what would people think of you as a photographer?
A. [long pause]….I know, I know, but it’s really hard narrowing it down like that. Some of these photos mean a lot to me.

Q. Then maybe you should have someone else narrow it down for you, right?
A. I guess that would work.

Now, let’s jump back to before we started the Q&A. If he had only posted one page of portraits, I would have only seen his 20 very best photos, and then I would have based my opinion of his work solely on those and left his site thinking, “Man, this guy is great!!!!”

But instead, I also saw lots of his 2nd and 3rd rate shots, and even some of his so-so work, too, so instead I left thinking, “I dunno, I guess he’s OK. I mean, he does have some good images, but the majority (60 or so images of the 80) weren’t all that great.”

Changing Perceptions
I just went through this with a photographer friend of mine last year. He was shooting one style of photography, so he had 80 photos (4 pages full), and I told him the same story I’m telling you today. He said there was no way he could trim it down to just the first page of photos. He told me he just simply couldn’t do it.

But the next day, after thinking about what I said, he called me and asked if I would do it for him—would I narrow his portfolio down to just 20? I obliged, and I took a screen capture of each page, and put a big red “X” through each one I thought wasn’t his best work, leaving only the 20 best one–the ones that would wind up on his home page.

Naturally, almost all of the ones I chose were already on the 1st page (because like most folks—his best work was already there), though I did find a few gems on the 2nd page; one from the 3rd, and nothing from the 4th page.

He was really reluctant at first, and he tried to defend an image that I had cut here and there, but to his credit—he did it—he took it down to just 20. The next day, he called me to let me know that now, after the emotional trauma of making those tough cuts, he was really happy he did it.

A few weeks later he called to tell me that trimming down his portfolio turned out to be the best thing he had done for his photography in years. He was already getting not only more offers for work, but better quality jobs as well. He has thanked me (and I’m not exaggerating) at least 10 separate times since then, and now he’s the biggest proponent of “less is more” when it comes to your portfolio, and he’s a total evangelist for only showing your best work. Now he convinces others to do the same thing.

Do Some Research
Check out the online portfolios of the big name photographers whose work you admire. You may not love every single image in their portfolio, but you can be sure of one thing—there’s not a “stinker” in the bunch. They’re all “page 1” photos, because successful pros are experts at editing things down so they’re just showing their very best images. They limit the number of images so every one’s a winner. Every pro takes 2nd rate shots sometimes—-you just never see them because (come on everybody, say it with me), “They only show their best work.”

You can do the same thing, then sit back watch how this this changes people’s perception of you as a photographer, and how it impacts your business. You will be amazed.

Important Disclaimers:
(a)
I’m not saying you can’t have 80 photos in your portfolio if you shoot multiple styles. I’m saying don’t have 80 in a single category (like 80 wedding photos, then 80 portraits, then 80 travel photos, etc.). Nobody needs 240 photos in their portfolio. Also, if you just shoot one style of photography, then try just going with 20 or 24 photos of your very best stuff.

(b) Don’t post a comment pleading the case that all 80 images are your best work—that they’re all equal in quality, and that one isn’t better than another so you can’t narrow them down. You won’t find anyone that agrees with you (especially a potential client).

(c) If you use flickr as your portfolio, go back and look a few pages deep. Chances are a lot of these photos are your old work, since people tend to post to flickr in the order they took the shots. Also, chances are you are a lot better today, and are taking better shots, than you were a year ago, so get rid of those shots you took when you weren’t as good as your are today.

(d) If you’re one of these photographers that has multiple-pages of photos like this, please don’t post a comment telling us why you just have to have all of them there, or about the time you got a job because the image a client fell in love with a photo on your 4th page. The story you’ll never be able to tell is of how many jobs you didn’t get because a potential client left once they got to your third page.

(e) If you disagree with all this—no sweat. Just leave your 80+ photos as is. It won’t change my fortunes one bit (but it just might yours). ;-)

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