Monthly Archives January 2010

Hi Gang:
Here’s a quick video about my latest project called Photo Recipes: Behind The Scenes” published by Peachpit Press, which is a DVD/Book combo based on one of the most popular sections of my Digital Photography book series, Volumes 1, 2 and 3.

You can order yours now (they’re in stock now—-well at least they were last night when I wrote this) at:

or wherever cool new books are sold. :)


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).


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!!!!


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).


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).


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.


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.


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.


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. ;-)


Hi everybody—-welcome to 2010. I’m back after a wild weekend shooting a College Bowl game and an NFL game (more on those tomorrow), but to kick off the New Year, I present my first ever “Best of 2009 Awards.”

It’s important to note right up front that I didn’t say “Best photography gear” or “Best Photoshop stuff” (though both of those are represented). Instead, this is just my favorite “bestest” stuff from 2009, (including things like songs, movies, travel stuff, food, etc.) presented in no particular order. Hope it starts off your New Year right! (By the way; make sure you read my disclaimers at the end of the list).

Best Photoshop plug-in update of 2009: Nik Software’s Viveza 2

My most-used plug-in of 2009: Topaz Adjust

My most-used plug-in on landscapes: Nik Software’s Color FX Pro

My Biggest goof of 2009: leaving all my camera gear in my hotel room in New York, the day I left for Italy

Biggest surprise of 2009: That the Nikon D5000 is a pretty darn good camera

Best new lens of 2009: Nikon 50mm f/1.4

Best candidate for replacement in 2010: Nikon 85mm 1/4

The Best five photographers you might not have heard of (not in any particular order):

  1. Patrik Giardino (link) Note: I want to be him when I grow up.
  2. Robert Seale (link)
  3. Manuel Libres Librodo Jr. (link);
  4. Costas Stergiou (link)
  5. Stephan Cooper (link)

Best photo App for iPhone: Best Camera

Best iPhone App for working photographers: Photo Assist
…and it keeps getting better.

Best iPhone News App: USA Today. They did it right!

My favorite iPhone game of 2009: Flight Control
It’ll get you hooked!

Best travel App for iPhone: TripIt
If you do a decent amount of travel, you will fall deeply in love with TripIt.

Best coach seats in the sky: United’s Economy Plus

Would be best if they flew more routes: JetBlue
Roomy seats, but their in-seat TV and service put them over the top—they just need more routes.

Best reason to fly Delta: Go-Go high-speed Wi-fi Internet
Now that they’ve merged with Northwest, if they can just get the Northwest jets to have Go-Go, we’d be set!

Best way I’ve found to keep on top of everything happening in our Industry:
It’s better than any RSS reader.

Best all-around blog: Seth Godin’s Blog (link).
He’s my favorite writer of business books, and his blog rocks!

Best Football blog: (link).
I love Mike Florio. Lots of folks hate them, and are terribly mean to him, but they go there everyday just the same.

Best deal on a printer: The Epson 1900

Best printer for serious black and white: Epson 2880

Best HDR software: It’s still Photomatix.

Best Apple thingy I really love besides my iPhone: AppleTV
Ask anyone who has one.

Best thing I can’t believe is free: Google Earth

Best steak of 2009: Keens steakhouse, New York City (link)
The steaks are awesome, but the “old New York” atmosphere puts it over the top

Best gift idea of 2009: 16×22” framed prints shipped direct from

Best iPhone Movie Theater App: OneTap Movies

Best iPhone App to use during the Movie: Run Pee
It tells you when you can go to the restroom during a movie, and not miss any important parts. It’s does more than just that, too!

Best way to send large files: (link)

Best way to not be in the moment: Tweet what you’re doing

Best business book of 2009: Tribes by Seth Godin

Another that comes really close: “What would Google Do,” by Jeff Jarvis

Best real quality lighting deal: Elinchrom’s BXRI strobes

Best thing to put in front of your flash: A Lastolite EZBox Hot Shoe softbox

Best romantic comedy I saw in 2009: Love Actually

Or maybe it was this one: Maid of Honor
I know it came out in 2008, but I didn’t see it until 2009.

Best guy movie of 2009: Tropic Thunder
The Hangover was great, too, but Topic Thunder actually had good acting. Kinda.

Best song I used to not like, but bought after hearing it in the movie “I love you man” and now I actually really like it: Limelight by Rush (iTunes link)

Best old song I added to my iPod: Ebony Eyes by Bob Welch
I know—I can’t explain it, but I heard it in a store in the mall one day, and I was like, “Hey, that song wasn’t all that bad.” (Come on, sing with me: “Have you see that girl in the corner…I want to break her out of her chains…”). See, it kind of gets under your skin, doesn’t it? Here’s the link to it on iTunes (this is the best version–from his album “French Kiss.” Ooh La La!

Best really old song I added to my iPod: Tossin’ and Turnin’ by Bobby Lewis (iTunes Link)

Best old soul song I added: Work to Do by the Isley Brothers (iTunes Link)

Best classic rock song I added: Mississippi Queen by Mountain (iTunes Link)

Best new song: Rock That Body by Black Eyed Peas (iTunes Link)
F to the E-R, G-I-E!

Best new song I love that I would never have guessed was sung by her: Mercy, Mercy, Mercy by Queen Latifah (iTunes Link)

Best song I bought after hearing it on my son’s iPod: Go Figure by Everlife (iTunes Link)

Best song that I have no idea who turned me onto it: Welcome Home by Coheed & Cambria (iTunes Link)

Best inexpensive gift for the guitar player in your life: Custom guitar picks from

Best shoot thru umbrella: David Ziser’s Zumbrella

Best paper for printing: Epson’s Exhibition Fiber

Best new restaurant: Ocean Prime (link)
They’re popping up all over.

Best thing Apple did for their MacBook Pro: Giving us the option to have a non-glossy screen
Yes I ordered with a non-glossy screen. I got it—I love it.

Best new fangled way to print your images: Printing on aluminum for a high-definition look (from ImageWizards). Link.

Most under-rated photographer of 2009: Dan Steinhardt

Best way to start a fight since the whole Mac vs. PC thing: Mention HDR


(1) I could be totally wrong about any of these—they’re just my opinions

(2) Some of these things could have actually come out in 2008, or even 2007. I’m old and lose track of time easily.

(3) If you disagree with any of my picks, that’s OK.

(4) If some of my picks make you seething mad, and you want to post mean comments to me, remember, you can start your own blog today, for free, and by this afternoon you can post your own list (don’t worry—everybody will be agree with all your picks). Here’s a good place to start (link).

Well, that’s it gang. I’m always on the lookout for great anything (songs, movies photo gears, iPhone Apps, restaurants, etc.), so if you have something I missed on my list, just let me know. :)


Guys—-we raised nearly $2,500 with this raffle (link), of which 100% goes directly to the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya to feed, clothe and care for this wonderful kids.

And the winner (chosen at random) of my “Signed by the Photoshop Guys” Signature Series Schecter Diamond Series Electric Guitar (including the display case, signed photo, and iStockPhoto guitar pick) is:

Ken Toney
of Fairforest, South Carolina

Congratulations to Ken, and to everybody who donated and invested in the lives of these children. This is a great way to start the year! :)

Happy New Year

A friend of mind emailed me this thought, and I’m passing it on to you:

“2010 is an unwritten chapter…love deeply, live boldly, and go after something big!”

I think that’s fantastic advice for starting off this New Year. :)

Here’s wishing you all a Happy, Safe and Prosperous 2010!!!!

All my best,