Ask anyone who has volunteered to lead a Photo Walk as part of my Worldwide Photo Walk and they’ll tell you it’s a lot of time and hard work. It’s also very rewarding in a lot of ways (not to mention the book they receive for leading a walk, but let me tell you—no one goes through all that trouble for just a free book). They do it because they want to do something special for the photographers in their community.
The downside of being a leader Of course, besides the hard work, the downside is that the leaders don’t get to compete to win any prizes (they already get the local prize their walkers are competing for), and that’s why this year we thought it would be fun to add a special competition just for Photo Walk leaders.
Now, they get to submit one of their images taken during their Photo Walk, and compete against other leaders from around the world. I’ll pick a winner from all the Photo Walk leaders and they will snag a really cool prize package (we’re still putting it together, but it’ll be some really cool stuff).
I’ll have more details (and a list of prizes soon), but I wanted to let the leaders know now that there’s a special competition just for them.
Walk Mini-Update We are off to a booming start this year, with nearly 700 walks already planned around the world, and more than 10,000 photographers walkers. If you haven’t joined a walk in your area (it’s free!), here’s the link to search for a nearby city. Ask anyone who has walked in a Photo Walk, it’s just a blast (but you’ll never know until you do one yourself).
I hope you’ll join us for this history-making photographic event! :)
So, yesterday we had four very awesome folks from Adobe’s Photoshop Team down at our headquarters for a visit for a couple of days, and among them was Senior Product Manager for Photoshop, Bryan O’Neil Hughes (you might recognize Bryan from his demos on stage during past Photoshop World Conference keynote presentations, or from his Guest Blog post here on my blog)
Anyway, since Bryan was here, we thought it would be fun to do a special Bonus episode of “The Grid” and have Bryan on live for what we called “Grill the Photoshop Product Manager.” Luckily, Bryan was up for, and grill him we did (in fact, I kinda felt bad a couple of times), but Bryan is such a class act, and such a cool cat under pressure, that he sailed through it all, and provided some really great insights and answers.
(Adove: That’s Bryan on the far left, during the live broadcast yesterday. Photo by Pete Collins).
One of the times I felt bad, was when we were calling Bryan on the carpet for the lame built-in presets in Photoshop CS5′s new HDR Pro. There’s a whole story behind it (which you have to hear, so watch the show), but Bryan turned the tables on me when I told him he should have called us, and we would have made some decent presets for him, and for the next version of Photoshop, he should pick up the phone and ask RC (author of “The HDR Book”), and Matt and me and we’d give them some presets. He basically said, “Why wait until the next version of Photoshop? Why don’t you guys share some presets now?” He got us with that one.
So, here (below) are my settings for my favorite HDR Pro preset (I use this preset to create the 5-image HDR image above. I show this same image on my Google+ page earlier in the week, but I had processed that version with Photomatix Pro 4 instead) RC is making two custom presets for you as well, and so is Matt Kloskowski, but since I already use this one all the time (In fact I talk about in my CS5 book for Digital Photographers—I call it “Scott 5″ because it was the 5th preset I saved to my presets list).
Once you dial those in (just click on the Curve to add points), then you’ll want to save all these settings as a one-click preset. To do that, go to the pop-out menu at the top right corner of the HDR Pro window (to the right of the preset pop-up menu where it says “Custom”), and choose Save Preset (as shown below). Give it a name (you don’t have to name it “Scott 5″—you can call it “Scott 6″ ;-) ), and then this preset will be available to you anytime you make an HDR in CS5′s HDR Pro.
My thanks to Bryan, Zorana (I think she was afraid at some point that we’d yell, “Let’s throw another Product Manger on the Barbie”), Matthew, and Jim for coming all the way to Florida to spend a few days with us. It was a lot of fun, a great exchange, and I hope we get to do it again soon. Also, a special thanks to Bryan for letting us lightly char him on the grill, and for nudging us into sharing some cool HDR presets. Safe travels you all! :)
If you ever wanted some one-on-one time with Adobe’s Principal Product Manager for Photoshop, well…today’s your day. We’re doing a special bonus LIVE episode of ‘The Grid” today and Bryan is our in-studio guest, taking your questions on the air about….well…anything!
Send your questions now (and during the show) via Twitter—just include the hashtag #grillbryan, or you can just post a question here. Hope you’ll join us for a history-making live event, today at 4:00 pm EDT, on “The Grid”
Brad here with a quick reminder to tune in to The Grid, live today at 4pm EDT over at KelbyTV.com! Scott Kelby is back and will be joined by Matt Kloskowski and special guest Richard Harrington for what I’m sure will be a riveting and entertaining topic :)
If you’ve missed any previous episodes, you can also find those at KelbyTV.com or subscribe in iTunes.
Hi, and welcome to Scotts blog. Let me first say what a privilege it is to be asked to write an article this week. Well, as many of you know, Scott and I share a common passion and subject interest, sports photography. So it seemed natural for me to write about a sports related topic.
Ive been on the road a lot lately and Friday was a rare afternoon at home. As I sat down to write this article I had the TV tuned to the Golf Channels coverage of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. I happened to catch the interview with Tiger recapping his poor 2nd round performance. A reporter asked him if he was going to set a lower goal seeing that he was coming back from an injury and all that has happened. Tiger instantly answered, No. Never have. Why show up at a tournament if you’re not there to win.
You think Tiger has a game plan for a few more green jackets? Ya think? I have always walked into each photographic project with a game plan for improvement. It is this mindset that fuels my passion for whatever I am photographing. Passion can only motivate a person so far before improvement and encouragement is needed to continue on. During my 30 plus years of photographing Professional and Olympic sports I have applied several guidelines that have helped me improve my image making at each event I covered. Let me add that these guidelines can apply to any photographer no matter what subject they shoot. So even if you photograph weddings, portraits, wild life, landscapes or whatever, grab your seat in the front row, buy a hotdog, and enjoy the play-by-play.
Know Your Subject I began my sports photography career as the team photographer for the mens and womens USA Gymnastics teams in 1980. I grew up in the sport and competed at both the High School and NCAA College level. I even coached for several years before stepping into the photography position for the US team. I knew only what I had learned in a single semester B&W photography class in college, but I knew everything about gymnastics. This in-depth knowledge of my subject, gymnastics, gave me a distinct advantage over even the best photographers in the sports magazine industry. I knew the athletes, their routines, their new skills, and all the best angles to capture the action from. It was as if I had seen a video of the competition the day before. I always seemed to be more than 1 step ahead of the photographers from Sports Illustrated, Time, and Newsweek.
So, when Mary Lou Retton landed this vault scoring a perfect 10.0 and won the Olympic gold medal she became the biggest story of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. The sport became very popular and I then became the go-to guy for Gymnastics images. This led to other major sports event coverage both Professional and Olympic, and the rest, as they say, is history. Anyone can improve their images just by knowing something about their subject. The great wildlife photographers know the habits and best season to photograph specific animals. A great wedding photographer knows the layout of the church in advance so they can move quickly into position for key moments. And the portrait photographer makes conversation and builds relationship with their subject so as to capture the mood and personality of the individual. If you want your pictures to improve, Know Your Subject, whether its an athlete, a bride, a moose, or the environment.
Get There Early Back in 2003 I had the opportunity to photograph Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts during the final regular season game. Sounds simple enough except that he was scheduled to only play 3 downs before being pulled to save him for the playoffs. Although I did get a nice image or two of him handing off the ball 3 times, this pre-game picture was more to the liking of my client. I had photographed Manning several times over the years and knew that he liked to come on to the field early for stretching and warm-up throws (sound familiar? Know Your Subject).
While other photographers were still preparing gear for the game I headed out to the field very early just to capture this image. Stylized by underexposing the image 1.3 stops and then lit using 2 Nikon Speedlights rubber-banded together, I held them well off camera in my left hand. I made a single frame of him running onto the field. Get There Early, youll never regret it.
Stay Late If getting to the game early helps you make a unique picture, then staying late can also be of benefit. When Troy Aikman was injured in the 4th quarter it seemed natural to follow him off the field at the end of the game, but no other photogs seemed to think so. After all, it might be his last game, and I believe it was his last game for that season. Apparently TV also thought it was important to stick around and get coverage of him in civilian clothes and a sling.
I was the last photog on the field when Aikman disappeared into the locker room. It was a small bit of Aikman history that sold and resold several times over the course of his career. My advice is this, after the game is over and your job is seemingly done, stop, dont pack up the gear yet, and look around to see what might make an interesting picture. More often than not, something will catch your eye, and if it does, then make a picture of it. Stay late, a good picture might be waiting for you.
Think Coffee Table Book These next few images were made at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.
Whenever I cover a sporting event I try and make a collection of images as if I was working for a coffee table book publisher. Not because I am working on a book, but because I want to make a total package of documentary coverage.
You never know what the magazine editor or schools sports information director will want. So why not give it all to them, from sunup to sundown, from close up, too wide angel, and from event ambiance to heart pounding action.
This allows your client to pick and choose, and perhaps publish more pictures. Yes, its more work, but so often my client would request a single image in advance, but when the magazine came out I would have several photos published that they didnt request.
Think Coffee Table Book and watch how many more of your pictures get published. Besides, its just fun to make pictures.
“Go Big or Go Home” This is a quote from Mike Powell, one of the former owners of the All Sport picture agency, which became the sports division of Getty. What he meant by this was if the photographer next to you is using a 300mm lens, you should use a 400mm. If they are using a 400mm, then you should use a 600mm. And, if they use a 600mm, then put a 1.4 teleconverter on your 600mm. Simply said, use a longer lens to draw in your subject and make a different picture than your colleagues do.
Here is Michael Phelps winning gold at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Swimming imagery is all about the face, but thats a very small subject within the Olympic pool. Most photographers had 400mm or 600mm lenses, but I went with a 600mm and 1.4 teleconverter all on a Nikon D2h with DX sensor. Yikes! Some would ask why not just crop the image later, because I want to capture it in such a way that it would have impact when my editor opens the file. I want my picture to get noticed immediately, and have a chance of making the cover, or a double page spread. It takes practice and sometimes it takes courage, and sometimes you can fail, but for sudden impact, Go Big or Go Home.
Have an Edge I had shot very little golf coverage during my career prior to being asked by Golf Digest to do documentary coverage of the Masters. I would be part of a team of 4 other photographers who were the best in the golf business, and here I was, no one in the business of golf. I felt I needed to walk into Augusta with an edge that would help my work standout and contribute to the coverage. I had brought all my normal cameras with long lenses, but decided to include a small Nikon Coolpix 8700. Sounds crazy, but I felt I could use the silent shutter of this small consumer camera to capture a very rare moment in golf, the top of the back swing.
Clicking the shutter on a 35mm DSLR camera is highly unethical at golf tournaments. The abrupt sound can cause a golfer to loose concentration and result in the golfers caddie grabbing your camera and throwing it into the lake, not to mention having your credential taken away. The silent shutter of the Coolpix 8700 along with its RAW file capability was my edge. The editors were blown away when the first round of back swing images came across the computer screen. “STOP!” they said. “Youll get us all thrown out.” Its OK, I said. The shutter is silent. Here is Phil Mickelson at the top of his back swing making his final drive off the 18th tee on route to winning his first major, the 2004 Masters. Have an Edge, and walk in with confidence knowing you can offer your client something new and unique.
Take a Chance I dont think of myself as a gambler. My wife would suggest otherwise and say my entire business as a freelance photographer is based on taking chances. After all, I have no daily guarantee of being hired, of making picture sales, or of receiving a paycheck at the end of the month. Well, here I am, still in business 30 plus years later partly because I do take some chances.
Most of the photographers at the 1994 Winter Olympics used fast shutter speeds to freeze the 85mph flight of the Sky Jump finalists, but not me. I took a chance and decided to use a slow shutter speed of 1/30 during the entire competition. This included photographing the jumps of the eventual Olympic medalists. Not an easy task seeing that I was using an F3 film camera with a 600mm f4 lens and a 1.4 teleconverter hand held (a monopod tends to sink in deep snow). My editors at Newsweek applauded the risky approach and the unique images. So, Take a Chance, you might win.
Capture the Moment
If you dont capture the key moment, youre toast. Simple as that.Its not going to go well for you back at the office.
This image of Kevin Barrnet serving up the winning point during the final game of the World League Volleyball Championships was one of Sports Illustrateds first digital Leading Off images. Many of the guidelines and advice that I have mentioned contributed to the making of this picture. Although Im not an expert on volleyball I did Know MySubject from previous competitions and was very familiar with Kevins perfect serving style. Once Jimmy Colton, SIs picture editor, had assigned me the championships, I began planning my Coffee Table Book approach so that I could provide plenty of choices regarding the magazines Leading Off section.
I Got There Early during the practice days prior to the week of international competition and spent time with the event organizers in an effort to secure permission to do something special. My Edge would be to install my Nikon D1 as a remote camera in the catwalk over the colorful court, and use Sport Strobe Lighting to illuminate the court. I would trigger the camera/strobes using the wireless Pocket Wizard system from my courtside photo position. This would of course mean I would need to Stay Late after the court was cleared to retrieve the remote camera and shut off the strobes. In 2001 digital imagery was quite new to the magazine industry and I felt I would need to compose the scene very tight in order to have enough quality to be published as the Leading Off double page spread. Cropping the image was not an option so I decided to Go Big rather than Go Home and used a 70-200mm lens at 200mm. To Take a Chance like this is very risky, but I felt that if I could pull this off I would have an exceptional image. This image is not cropped. All my planning and careful study of Kevins airborne serves helped me position the camera precisely over the area of court where he achieved perfect form. Capturing The Moment of Kevin serving the final match point to win the World title for the USA was just what SI expected, as did I.
Well, there you have it, A Game Plan for Improvement. Perhaps more effort than some would care to apply, but when a photographer, regardless of their chosen genre, incorporates even some of these guidelines into each event, portrait, wedding, or landscape they photograph, I guarantee that their imagery and their clientele will improve significantly.
Its been a pleasure to write this article for Scotts Guest Blog. I hope you have enjoyed the images and commentary.