Friday
Apr
2010
16

Shooting the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

by Scott Kelby  |  67 Comments

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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!).

Thursday
Apr
2010
15

Photoshop Product Manager Bryan Hughes on today’s Free CS5 Webinar

by Scott Kelby  |  15 Comments

Hi Gang:
Just a quickie: We’ve got Bryan O’Neil Hughes, Photoshop Product Manager, as a call-in guest on our 1:30 PM EDT free Photoshop CS5 Webinar, and he’s going to be talking about Adobe’s JDI (Just Do It) initiative to enhance and improve existing features in Photoshop to make our daily lives easier (and there are a TON of JDI’s in CS5).

Here’s the link where you can watch us live, and we’ll be taking your questions on the air. Also, please help us spread the word about today’s show—everybody’s invited—it’s all free—and I hope to see you in our live Q&A forum where you can post questions. See you then!

P.S. We’re giving away another free upgrade to CS5 on today’s show, so don’t miss it!

Thursday
Apr
2010
15

Photoshop CS5 Upgrade Q&A

by Scott Kelby  |  126 Comments

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Hi everybody. :)

After three days of doing two live Photoshop CS5 seminars a day with the NAPP crew, and fielding thousands of questions from viewers, I wanted to address a few of them here, but I also wanted to address one upgrade topic in particular, that’s starting to wear on me a bit. Here goes:

Q. I just got Photoshop CS4—-how can Adobe already be bringing out CS5?
A. Adobe released Photoshop CS4 back in September of 2008. It’s April of 2010.

Q. Yeah, but I just bought it recently.
A. Why’d you wait so long?

Q. I dunno.
A. Neither do I. I know you want to blame Adobe, but the fact that you waited this long isn’t Adobe’s fault.

Q. I know. But it seems like CS4 just came out.
A. That’s because you waited so long to upgrade. But I have a question; How long do you think Adobe should wait between upgrades? Two years? Three years? Personally, I don’t want to wait two years to get the new features I want. In fact, I want them now (if they had more frequent updates, I’d be all over it, because I can always choose not to upgrade, right?).

Q. Well, since I just got it, do I have to pay for the CS5 upgrade now, too?
A. That depends on your definition of “just got it.” Does that mean you “just got it” last week? Last month? Three months ago? If you really just bought it (in the past 30 days), I can tell what I’d do. I’d call Adobe Customer Service and ask them if they’ll move you up to CS5. You never know what they might do for you until you ask. Maybe you fall under some “internal grandfather clause,” that’s not publicly stated because of the broad definition of “just.” (Wink Wink).

Q. Well, what if I have Photoshop CS2. Can I upgrade all the way to CS5?
A. Yup.

Q. Are you sure?
A. No. But I do believe Adobe’s policy is that you can upgrade from three versions back.

Q. Why aren’t you sure?
A. I don’t work in Adobe’s Customer Service Dept.

Q. Are they sure?
A. I’m not sure.

Q. Can we change the topic?
A. No.

Q. I have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. Can I upgrade to Photoshop CS5?
A. No.

Q. I have Microsoft Office. Can I upgrade to CS5?
A. I believe Adobe does let you upgrade from MS Office to Photoshop CS5.

Q. Really?
A. No.

Q. Rats! You had me there for a minute.
A. I know.

Q. I saw that the upgrade costs $199 for a standard Photoshop CS5 upgrade. Why so much?
A. Adobe has the right to charge whatever it wants for its upgrades just like we have the right to buy them or not. By the way, how would you feel if people told you that you should charge less/make less per hour/job, etc.? You’d probably tell ‘em “Hey, this is what my work is worth. If you don’t want it, try someone else with a lesser skills.”

Q. So, do you think the Photoshop CS5 upgrade is worth it?
A. Absolutely!!!! I think it’s the most important upgrade Adobe has released in years, and because so much of it either makes you faster, helps you get your work done easier, or replaces a load of expensive plug-ins that we’d normally have to buy, I think it’s worth every penny and then some.

Q. Do NAPP members get a discount?
A. Yup. 15% off individual upgrades, full suite upgrades, and apply even if you’re buying the full product from scratch.

Q. Yeah, but what if I’m not in the U.S.?
A. This time we were able to get a number of International discounts on Adobe upgrades as well, so it’s not just the US (which we’re really thrilled about).

Q. Yeah, but I just bought CS4!
A. Oh boy. Here we go again. ;-)

Wednesday
Apr
2010
14

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Paul Abell!

by Brad Moore  |  49 Comments

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Photo by Dale Zanine

I want to thank both Scott and Brad for the invitation to compose a blog entry for what I consider to be the most informative photography/creative blog on the web today. Scott is a true pioneer within the creative industry, and his site is always the one I look to for answers when I am lost. So, when Brad sent me an email asking me to guest blog, as many of you might imagine, I was about as jacked as I have ever been.

Soon after, I began to realize the heavy burden of following in the footsteps of Joe McNally, Bill Frakes and all those photographers whose work I have on a pedestal so high I could not reach it if I were on a trip to the moon.

All kidding aside, those that know me well will tell you that I have never been an out-front, in your face guy; I have always wanted my work to speak for itself, so if you have never heard of me or seen my work, no fear… After reading this Blog/Book, you will know why… I am Paul Abell, a relatively new photographer mostly known for sports photography.

For the last several weeks, I have contemplated my approach and how I might present something different from those that have come before me, and once again, reality set in… What could I possibly share with you all that these amazing photographers have not already shared? Conclusion: I did not find a thing…

Scott, thank you for thinking enough of me and the work that I have done to ask me to share it here. To those that are reading this, thank you for allowing me to share my work and story with you… Most of all, best of luck in all live and all your creative endeavors.

MY PATH TO PHOTOGRAPHY

My journey as a photographer is more than likely different than most photographers. It began just eight years ago, this April, while working as a graphic designer for an arenafootball2 (af2) team named the Macon Knights.

Today, the Knights are no longer a team in operation, but I credit their ownership for giving me every opportunity to succeed at the highest level.

In 2003, I had the opportunity to work with multi-talented, award-wining creative director, Kurt Tausche. Over his career, Kurt has won more than 500 national & international awards, and he was brought in by the Knights to help create a sports brand second to none in any level of professional sports.

Kurt and I hit it off from the start, and I credit him for taking the time to work with such an unknown photographer; Looking back, I am not sure how we accomplished so much, but I credit the final award-winning productions to his abilities as a national, award-wining creative director. With all of Kurt’s award-winning projects, he could have easily refused to work with me, but for whatever reasons he did not, and I was awarded the opportunity to work alongside one of the top creative directors in the advertising industry.

Over my 5 years with the Knights, I worked on and produced over 30 award winning designs & photographs, taking home photo of the year 2 times, Media guide of the year 5 years, as well as numerous other local Best of Show, Gold & Silver ADDY Awards.

SAMPLE DESIGN: 2003 Macon Knights Pocket Schedule, design & photo by Paul Abell

This was one of the award-winning designs I produced shortly after beginning my work with Kurt Tausche. Prior to the season, Kurt and I scheduled a photo shoot with many of the Knights’ players. The image seen in the design is of Knights’ fullback Byron Douzart. Our lighting was even and flat, as is was all I knew how to do… For the session, we used Continue reading

Tuesday
Apr
2010
13

Tomorrow’s Special Guest Blogger is….

by Scott Kelby  |  1 Comments

…..Pro sports photographer, and all around cool guy, my buddy Paul Abell.

Paul has helped me SO much with shooting sports over years, and any time I’m stuck on something, he has always been incredibly gracious to help me out by sharing what he learned in his many years of shooting pro sports.

In the meantime, go check out some of Paul’s work right here (make sure you check out his Football portfolio).

Make sure you stop back here tomorrow as Paul takes the blog for the day. I can’t wait! :)

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