My buddy Jeff Revell, who lives in Northern Virginia, invited me to come up for the day to shoot the International Gold Cup Horse Race, held each year in Great Meadow near The Plains, Virginia (some of my shots from the event are shown here—click on them for larger views).

It was a quick trip for me; I flew up first thing in the morning, and back that same evening, but it was totally worth it. We had a wonderful day—-absolutely perfect weather, full access photo passes, lots of laughs (as is always the case when Jeff and I get together), and access to a wonderful hospitality tent that was packed with yummy hospitality. What a great way to spend a Saturday!




My Sport Photography Gear Air Travel Test
I didn’t have time to buy a new camera bag (though I got some great leads from you guys after my last NFL shoot travel trials), but I came up with something that worked surprisingly well in the interim. My problem was the same; I needed at least three carry-ons, but of course, the limit is two (one large, one small). Here’s what I take for a sports shoot (minimum):

  1. My camera bag, with body, lens, backup stuff, etc.
  2. My Mac laptop
  3. My Think Talk Photo gear belt system
  4. My 200-400 f/4 zoom lens (which has a carrying case of its own).
  5. My Gitzo Monopod
  6. My Husky Gel Knee Pads

So, here’s what I did (as seen below [photo by Jeff Revell]–click for a larger version):


I used my rolling Pelican Case Cruzer again (by the way; I learned that the Case Cruzer is made by a third-party that customizes Pelican cases, a company called aptly enough; “Case Cruzer” (link) and not by Pelican themselves), and that covered me having to have a separate camera bag and laptop bag. I put the 200-400mm lens inside the Cruzer, but to make the D700 fit vertically, I had to remove the Battery Grip. Hidden under it is my Epson P-5000 (which I use for on-location back-ups). I also have two backup batteries for my Laptop in there as well.


Now, here’s where I tried something new and it paid off: since I wasn’t spending the night, I didn’t check any bags, so I had to find a way to get the Think Tank Photo Belt System there, so I put it inside the empty Nikon lens bag. One big benefit of this is; it has an outside holder for the monopod (as seen above). Then, I attached my kneepads to the outside of the bag, and that was all it took; I had everything in two bags; and best of all, the 2nd bag weighed much less than normal, since the lens wasn’t in the bag.

It’s not pretty, but it worked!


This was also my first outing with the long-awaited new Hoodman Loupe 3.0, which lets you see your LCD in direct sunlight. (that’s me using it above—photo by Jeff Revell). A lot of the photographers out there were asking me about it (and borrowing it), and every one of them said the same thing; “I’ve got to get one of these.” I’ve still been using the older Hoodman Loupe, but it doesn’t fully cover the new larger 3″ LCDs found on most new mid to high-end DSLRs. The new Loupe doesn’t really seem much larger than the original (which is good), but the unit, with it’s built-in diopter for getting perfect focus on the screen, feels really well made—-it was worth the wait.

One of my readers, Dave Bergman, is a regular shooter for Sports Illustrated, and he shared a great post from his blog about how he packs for a sports shoot, and if you’re into this stuff, it’s definitely worth check out (here’s the link).


The Press Passes
Getting the photo passes was easy; there was a section on their Web site where you could just apply for a freelance photo pass–after the event you just have to give them a few of your best shots for their PR purposes, which I was more than happy to do. I met several NAPP members who were shooting the event that day, including one guy who had been to three Photoshop Worlds, and another shooter who reads this blog daily. Small world.


Lastly, above is a photo I took of my buddy Jeff Revell during the event, who was toting not one, not two, but three bodies that day (two Nikons and a Canon 50D). As Jeff says “I hate to change lenses.” Thanks Jeff, for inviting me and for a really great day!


Howdy folks; it’s Friday, and here’s what’s goin’ on as we head into the weekend:

  • As I was pulling into my driveway, back from taking my son to school on Wednesday morning, and I looked up to see a huge Bald Eagle heading straight for my back yard; but this time I was ready. I ran in and all my gear was in place; monopod attached, memory card formatted, all the settings in place; so I ran outside and never saw him again. Waited for quite a while, but not a sign of him. Now, he’s toying with me. Even though I missed him again, one of my readers, Joel Schilling, had a similar experience, but by golly he got the shot! Here’s the link to Joel’s shot!
  • Another one of my frequent readers (and commenter), photographer Crash Taylor has put together some very cool things on his blog where he interviews photographers, and shows samples of his work, and although he just recently started it, he’s already got some great stuff up there. Here’s the link to check it out.
  • We have two new online classes up at, both of them from the amazing Corey Barker (that’s Corey pictured above), and both of them on the just released Photoshop CS4. The first is “Photoshop CS4 for Beginners” (link) and the 2nd is for graphic designers, called “Design Effects with Photoshop CS4” (link).
  • Our buddy, and digital video mega guru Rich Harrington has been doing a series of videos on the new features of Photoshop CS4. You can check them out by clicking here.
  • Next week is the deadline to enter my ‘iPhone Photography Contest” (The cut-off is October 24th), so get your entries in ASAP for your chance to win a $500 Apple Gift Card, or a $100 iTunes Gift Card if you win one of the categories. Here’s the link for details. Also, my iPhone Book is now in stock at (They’ve got it for only $13.59) and Barnes& Makes a perfect gift, eh?). Also, don’t forget; today is “iPhone App” Friday at Terry White’s Tech Blog. 
  • I hope I’ll see some of you at the kickoff of my Lighroom 2 Live! Tour in Dallas, Texas on October 27th, and then onto Orlando, FL on October 29th. Here’s the link for more details and to sign up for the full-day event (NAPP members can sign-up for just $79).

That’s it for this Friday. Have a totally kick-butt weekend everybody, and I hope you’ll check back in here on Monday!


By now you’ve probably heard that Photoshop CS4 (and the Creative Suite) started shipping yesterday (I would have mentioned it yesterday, but it was “Special Guest Blog” Wednesday, where Laurie Excell did an absolutely wonderful, inspiring post—thank you Laurie!), but beyond that, I wanted to point out something very cool for NAPP members, that Matt Kloskowski pointed out a few weeks back on his LightroomKillerTips blog.

If you’re a NAPP member, you can get the upgrade to Photoshop CS4, AND the upgrade to Lightroom 2, together as a bundle, for just $238. (Adobe is offering a 30% discount on Lightroom 2 if you upgrade it with Photoshop CS4, then as a NAPP member you get. Throw another 15% off, so the total upgrade is only $238). Not too shabby!

You’ll find the details and discount code for bundle deal on the NAPP member Web site; click the “Discounts for Members” link. NOTE: Matt pointed out that you have to add the items to your shopping cart first, to see the properly discounted price.


I did a bridal shoot last week, and here are a few shots from the shoot. I used the same lighting rig used by Wedding photography rock-star David Ziser, for all the photos you see here (I used flash in every shot, but sometimes I balanced flash with natural light). David’s rig is made up of five small parts:

  1. A Quantum Qflash T5D (with a pocket-sized Quantum Turbo SC battery pack)
  2. A Quantum QNexus Wireless trigger that lets you control the Qflash from either a Nikon or Canon camera
  3. A white 39″ translucent shoot-through Umbrella
  4. A flash adapter bracket
  5. This is all mounted on top of a monopod (using that adapter I just mentioned) which is held by an assistant (in my case, I was lucky enough to snag RC to help me during the shoot).

I was able to control the power of the flash from the LCD controls on back of my Nikon D700 (it could also be triggered by a D300, D200, etc. or any Nikon as long as you have a Nikon Commander Unit on top).

Although the advantage of the system is that the Qflash is dang powerful, and if you shoot outside and need to overpower the sun; it’ll do it. That being said, the brightest I ever got the flash was 1/4 power, and most of the day indoors it was at 1/8, 1/16, and 1/32 power, so I could have easily have used a Nikon SB-900 or SB-800 (ala: David Hobby).

I shot in Manual mode all day, usually at 200 ISO, with a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, and I used a slow shutter speed to bring in the ambient room light in the background. Anyway, here are a few shots from that shoot (below).








Creativity lies within each of us. Anyone can learn the technical functions of a camera, it's the unique vision we each have that brings a personal touch to our images. Too often photographers get caught up in the technical aspects of photography wanting to capture the perfect exposure & composition. More important than what aperture we select or which lens we choose, is digging deep down within ourselves and creating the image we see with our heart and our mind. Knowing what it is that we want to communicate in our image will help us to decide the technical details and select the appropriate equipment that will help us to bring our vision to life both in the camera and later in the digital darkroom.

Photographing things we love is a great place to start. If we have a personal involvement with our subjects, our images will improve. Familiarity breeds an understanding of our subjects that allows us to anticipate when the light will fall just right across the scene or the peak of action as a grizzly climbs from the river to the bank and shakes the water from his fur. It's this knowledge that takes us to the next level in our photography. And that knowledge is gained from spending the time learning about and observing our subjects.


Today's cameras are technological wonders; accurately reading the light value and automatically adjusting the white balance to give us most technically perfect image possible however, our cameras are inanimate objects without emotions or a personal connection with our subject. It's up to us to add our own creative touch when deciding which aperture/shutter speed combination best captures the essence of the moment or which lens allows us to include the elements that tell our story.


It's the love of my craft and a deep passion for the subjects I photograph that is the driving force behind my photography. I enjoy the planning and anticipation of visiting a new location to photograph new subjects, deciding which camera, lenses and accessories will help me to realize my vision in the form of images that I can share with others. I love every aspect of the image making process, immersing myself in the sights, scents & sounds of the environment, waiting for the composition that best captures my emotions to reveal itself. It may be the quality of light falling upon my subject that first catches my attention, or the sheer force of a storm that draws me in. Bright colors and patterns may cause me to isolate my subject capturing intimate details within scene rather than that of the overall landscape.

The blossoming image may lend itself best to B&W or other techniques that I will use to (more…)

â¦one of my favorite outdoor photographers, the head of NAPP’s Gear Desk, a Photoshop World instructor, and one of the nicest, most genuine, and fun people you’d every want to meet, the amazing Laurie Excell.

Laurie has one of the coolest, and most demanding jobs in photography training, as one of the instructors for the famous “Digital Landscape Workshop Series” (link) along side photography legends Moose Peterson and Joe McNally. So, how do you get to be that “third instructor” beside Moose and Joe? You have to be really, really good (and Laurie is exactly that). I’m honored to have her here tomorrow as my guest blogger—make sure you check back to see what Laurie has in store (in the meantime, here’s a link to Laurie’s photography blog).