Monthly Archives March 2010

A Different Approach:
A comparison between advertising vs. sport photography

Photo by Jefferson Graham

I have been shooting cars for over two decades, first as an advertising photographer and more recently, photographing motorsport for Rolex. The difference between the two types of photography is striking.


When I do advertising, I bring everything to the shot and I’m almost in total control. At a race, I use all the same creative skills, but the package is reversed: I have to use the light given to me and have to wait for the moments to unfold in front of me… in short, I have no control.

One thing never changes, whether it’s a race or an advertising shoot, the cars have to have emotion and they need to look sexy; that’s our job. Now let’s take a look at these two different approaches.

For advertising, let’s imagine an action shot in the city, like one of these.

My typical crew for a shoot like this would include a producer, first assistant, second and third assistant and a digital technology manager. We also need a grip truck, motor home, rig, water truck and a car preparation/transporter (which also means you need to find a staging area not too far from the shooting spot for all those vehicles).


The first step for mounting the rig onto the car is to establish the angle and the lens draw. This can take up to two hours, but once the rig is on, you are ready to start. The police will take care of traffic control while you take care of the car. If additional light is needed, I like to use HMI lights. When it comes to speed, we often let the car just roll along, depending on the road surface. If we need to avoid vibrations in the shot we can also pull the car with a cable. There is a fine line between having a comfortable speed verses a 200-mph look in the shot.

The cameras I use are medium format with digital backs and I will often rent a second camera and lens for the job. Seeing as the car does not have to go very far, we just go back and forth until all different speeds and effects have been captured.

Throughout the day we will review the shots with the art director and client. By the end of day we have the “hero” shots organized and a rough composite of a low-resolution file. When my clients leave the set there are no surprises.

The final step falls in the hands of the digital artist to put it all together.

We then go back and forth again until everyone is satisfied.


In car advertising we work really hard to show motion, whereas at a race the motion is all around us. This is now very different: exciting moments are happening very fast, in split seconds, and maybe only once. You have to be ready to capture it all.

I recently shot the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and what makes this event particularly exciting is the length of the race: 24-hours long, thirteen of which are spent racing at night.


I also like the variety of shots needed since we cover the whole event: night shots, portraits, details, ambiance, receptions, cocktail parties etc.

The crew for this type of event can vary, but typically we have an event manager, copywriter, webmaster, photographer(s) and digital photo manager(s) on-site, along with up to five translators usually working as part of the “off-site” support team. I generally have multiple photo briefs that can include an advertising focus, a PR focus and additional requests that come through the media, event manager or copywriter.

We use all these photos to create an event image gallery that accompanies press releases posted online in the team’s “virtual media centre.” The interviews, writing, editing, image selecting and editing, the posting – this is all happening at the same ferocious pace as the race.

At these kinds of events I use everything the camera has to offer in regards to top shutter speed along with low and high ISO. For the shots shown here, I used the Canon 5D and 7D, with 600mm, 100-400, 28-300, 20-135, and 16-135 lenses, then processed the images in Photo Mechanic, Photoshop and Lightroom. During a race like this, we have to move through 1200-1600 pictures a day and at the end of the event we end up with an average of 5000-6000 pictures per photographer. Once the race has ended we make a final clean up and caption all pictures, ending up with 200-1500 selected images for the archives, depending on the client’s needs.



So each approach has its benefits and drawbacks, but in spite of all these differences at the end of the day the satisfaction is the same.

You can see more of Stephan’s work at his website.

…automotive photographer Stephan Cooper!  Stephan gives an fascinating look into two contrasting sides of automotive photography – advertising and racing. One can be a slow and tedious process, while the other is a fast-moving and in the moment event.

So if you like cars and photography, make sure you stop by tomorrow and check it out :)


The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Indy Car race got rained out on Sunday (the shot above is from the 10 minutes I got to shoot the Indy Lights race in the rain on Sunday). There was just too much water on the track, and so after spending all of Sunday waiting in the Media Center for the rain to break, they rescheduled the main Indy race to run at 10:00 am on Monday (yesterday). NOTE: Click on the images for a larger view.


I was there shooting the race on assignment for Southcreek Global Media, so even though the race got rescheduled, I really needed to be there, though a lot of photographers (and unfortunately fans) weren’t able to be there on Monday. The upside was—there was a lot of room to shoot, so there was no jockeying for position—you could pretty much shoot where you wanted to. The downside was—the stands weren’t packed, so I just pretty much avoided having them visible in the background.


Here are some of the shots from the day (the thumbs up in the shot above is because he just took second place).


TECH SPECS: I shot with just one camera all day; a Nikon D3, with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, with a 1.4 tele-extender to get me a little closer to the action. I had my 200-400mm in the car, but since I had to cover so much track, I decided to go with a lightweight set-up instead. I took my Boda Lens bag, and in it I had two other lenses; my 14-24mm f/2.8 and a Fisheye, and I switched lenses at almost every turn (they cut some rectangular holes in the chain link fence so the photographers have a clear unobstructed view to the track, so once I shot with the long lens, I switched and shot with the other two for a lap or two each).


I used two different sets of settings. I was really trying to make sure that most of the shots had some movement in the tires and wheels (as seen above), so the cars look like they’re moving and don’t look like they’re just parked on the track, so most of the time I shot in Shutter Priority mode at 1/125 of a second or 1/60 of a second, and I panned with the cars as they went by.


When you do this technique, you wind up with a lot of blurry photos as you’re panning (because of the slow shutter speed), but then all of sudden you have one that’s really sharp, but with a blurry background and wheels spinning and that’s the goal (so you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince).


If the cars were coming directly at me (like the one you see here), I switched to Aperture Priority mode, and shot wide open at f/4 (you lose a stop because of the 1/4 tele-extender, so your f/2.8 becomes an f/4 lens). If the car turns a little, you see the wheels are frozen (because now you’re shooting at a shutter speed of more than 1/2,500 of a second in daylight which freezes the motion), but if you look at a lot of pro IndyCar shots, you’ll see a lot of frozen wheels, so I didn’t lose much sleep over it. For post production, mostly just selectively adding contrast and sharpening, but two images got slight vignettes added.


The race was just over 2 hours, and I covered the course from one end to the other, and then I went directly to the trophy presentation, and then uploaded 21 images to Southcreek Global, after adding the appropriate metadata and naming conventions.


The weather turned out to be great, with blue skies above, and the temperature was a perfect 68 degrees with a slight breeze. It was a prefect day for a re-race. :)



Hi gang: Here are links to the some of the reviews you guys posted yesterday. Thanks for sharing these with my readers, and if you have a post that’s not listed here, I invite you to post the link as a comment here. :)


P.S. Photo above, by Thomas Quinn, was taken during the live shoot part of the How to Shoot Concerts Pre-conference workshop and was one of the finalist in the contest to win the Nikon D300s and lens, and was featured during the opening keynote.

Full coverage, with photos, of all three days, and David Ziser’s wedding shoot precon over at DSWfoto:

Lots of coverage and photos at Digital Photo Adventures:

Elieen Ludwig has a recap of the classes she caught right here:

Alan Hess did a post just on the after hour party, along with one of my favorite photos:

Here’s some cool coverage from Doug Plus Rox:

A.J. Wood has a post about his first East Coast Photoshop World here:

Along with photos from the event by AJ here:

Terry Reinert has a post called “Photoshop World is Over…Now what?” It’s about how to make the most of the experience after the fact:

David Ziser has a post of his own about my band’s gig at B.B. Kings:

My buddy, and fellow Photoshop World instructor Terry White has a great Photoshop World Wrap-up with lots of photos here:

Design by Firgs did a post-conference wrap up right here:


If I heard it once last week, I heard it a hundred times; “This was the best Photoshop World ever!” I think I’d have to agree.

It started from the opening keynote, when I looked out and saw the standing-room only crowd on their feet, cheering, holding cameras over their heads and taking photos with everything from DSLRs to iPhones (yup—that’s me center stage below. Don’t ask). It ended with that same crowd giving a standing ovation to the instructors during the closing ceremonies. It was truly an amazing week from beginning to end. I could go on and on about every little detail (and write 8 or 9 thousands words about it), but I’m going to try to just give you some highlights, and a peek into what it was like to be a part of this very special event. (Photos by Brad Moore and Drew Gurian, except where noted)


Pre-Conference Workshop Day
This year, we sold out nearly every single Pre-Conference session, including the “How to shoot a Concert” pre-conference workshop (one of the students, Tom Rothenberg, won a Nikon D300s and a 35mm lens, by taking the shot you see above during the live shoot portion of the concert shooting class–that’s Tony Llanes on the left, and guest guitarist Scott Diussa on the right, who was one of the two instructors for the class).

Music was a huge theme at the conference, and I have to hand it to Richard Harrington for coming up with such a cool idea for his “How to shoot and edit video with your DSLR” workshop. He staged a shoot, with another live band, so they could shoot and edit a music video in class, and I saw some of the footage from it and it rocked (I plan on posting a video tomorrow, where you’ll see his class in action).



The Opening Keynote
Because we keep the same theme between our East Coast and West Coast conferences, we usually don’t reveal the full theme (and all that it entails), until the end of the West Coast show, but this year, it was so outrageous, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle, and photos from the keynote are showing up everywhere, so although we’re not posting our opening movie and other goodies yet, I will let you know that part of the opening is a parody where we dress up, and actually play live, with a Kiss-like theme, costumes, and make-up (with a twist which ties it all together). The photos you see here above are us playing live at the opening of the keynote (yes, live—not pre-recorded), and that’s me in the middle (it’s OK, I’m used to all the giggling by now).





Adobe Takes the Stage
Of course, the reason everybody is at the keynote in the first place is to hear from Adobe, and Adobe Senior VP John Loiacono (better known as “Johnny L” to Photoshop World alumni). Johnny put together one of, if not, the best Adobe keynotes ever, and he not only had Lightroom Product Manager Tom Hogarty to give the first public demo of the new Lightroom 3, Public Beta 2, but then they had Katrin Eismann on stage to sneak peek Photoshop CS5 (yup, we can finally call it by its name), and she showed some flat out amazing stuff, and used one of the tools in a very clever way. The crowd was literally cheering!

Adobe also announced that Photoshop CS5 would be officially revealed on April 12th, and at that point we’ll learn about all the new features, then Russell Brown took the stage to reprise his famous “20th Anniversary History of Photoshop” presentation that brought down the house in San Francisco, and he did it once again in Orlando. Simply brilliant!

Anyway, the crowd was totally into it from beginning to end, and it set the tone for the entire conference, letting people know we’re here to learn, but we’re going to have a lot of fun while we’re doing it.





The Classes
I taught three brand new classes (one each day), and I had a blast, because the students were so engaged (my new Designing with Type class for photographers really struck a chord with folks). But I actually had something happen in my second class, that shocked me because it was actually more embarrassing than the whole dress up thing I went through for the opening keynote. I did a brief introduction to the class, and then I grabbed my Wacom pen and started into my first project. As soon as I started working, I said out loud to the class, “Something’s wrong with my tablet. When I move the pen up, and goes down. When I move to the left it goes right.”

I really needed the tablet for this class, so I was kinda freaked out, and I’m stalling while I’m trying to figure out what’s wrong, and then it hits me “Oh no…’s just upside down.” The whole crowd just bursts into laughter. I made them swear right on the spot not to tell Matt or Dave, but of course that lasted all of about 15-seconds after the class, and my tablet screw-up became the running gag of the show. (In fact, during Midnight Madness, Terry White made it a point to show me which way the tablet goes).



At every Photoshop World there are certain classes that go over so well, you get people that stop you in the halls just to tell you about, and I heard people raving about classes from Zack Arias, Joe McNally, Deke McClelland, Jay Maisel, Alan Hess, Matt Kloskowski, Helene Glassman, Julieanne Kost, and David Ziser (among others). The art of Digital Photography panel was a massive hit (perhaps even bigger than usual).

The Best Tweet-Up Ever
Nancy Massé held the official Photoshop World “Tweet Up” poolside this time, and it was the best Tweet-up yet. It was the perfect location, and a few friends of RCs set up an impromptu photo shoot with tethering direct into Lightroom, and people were “photo bombing” and lots of Adobe folks were there, and it really was so much fun that I think we’re going to do the poolside thing again in Vegas this fall. Perfect place for a Tweet up! (Matt, Dave, RC, Corey, and I were all there, along with a bunch of other instructors like Joe McNally).

The iPhone App was a Big Hit
I literally had people stopping me on the show floor to tell me how much they loved the Photoshop World iPhone App. We also got a couple of great ideas from users, so we’ll be tweaking it and making it even more useful for Vegas.






Cool stuff on the Show Floor
I didn’t get to every booth on the Expo floor, but a few things that stood out were Action Runner (which puts a visual interface on your, or anybody’s, actions); Hoodman’s new “glasses for photographers” (which I hinted about last year at Photo Plus—they’re here now, and I saw Vincent Versace had bought a pair; Media Lab’s new Site Grinder 3 (which takes your Photoshop design and turns it into a fully working web page) was making quite a big splash as well, and it looks like it’s really reached a whole new level.

MPIX’s “MPIX Pro” service has really taken off (and I learned some things about MPIX Pro I hadn’t realized, like the fact that they hide their prices from the public, which is an advantage to pros for obvious reasons), and they were showing some new products that had people talking (I particularly like their mini-fold-out books. I’m ordering my first one this week—–I could see wedding clients, or portrait clients losing their mind over these $12 mini marvels).

Westcott was showing for the first time (well, for the first time I had seen anyway), a new specially designed shallow softbox for their TD-5 Spiderlites that made me want one badddd!!!!!; I did a presentation at the Bogen Imaging booth, and I had a great crowd and a lot of fun showing them a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff, including their Quadra lights (which was their big buzz point the whole show, and everybody from RC Concepcion, to the Terry White, to Joe McNally where doing free demos in their booth).

Of course, Adobe had ’em packed in, and four people deep behind that, showing off the new Lightroom 3 beta 2 to a very Lightroom-friendly crowd (by the way, my Lightroom Killer Tips session was packed, but ALL the Lightroom sessions were packed. Big, big interest in Lightroom from beginning to end).

The show floor was packed nearly all three days, and there was so much going on, sometimes you didn’t know where to turn next. I’ll tell you this—it sure wasn’t boring.





Party Time!
My band, Big Electric Cat, played a live set at the attendee party at B.B. Kings Bar and Grill at Pointe Orlando, and we just had about as good a time as you can have. What an incredible crowd to play for and they were dancing, singing along, and taking lots of photos the whole time (Band photos above by Mike McCaskey).




Midnight Madness
This was just nuts. The crowd walked in the door ready to have fun, and things got crazy quick. Larry Becker was his usual hilarious self, and we pulled all sorts of stunts and jokes, and we even gave away an Apple iPad to one lucky winner (along with an iPod touch to somebody else, and even a few of the new iPod nanos as well along the way). RC provided the musical portion of the show with an all-acoustic version of Kiss’s “Rock n’ Roll All night.” For not rockin’—it rocked! We all laughed ’till way late in the night, and on our way out, we saw Zack Arias’ late night “Tweet Up” was in full swing (folks were hanging out with Zack at the sushi bar until after 3:00 am).





The Conference Wrap-Up Session
At the end of every Photoshop World, we all get together and take a fun look at the week that was (it’s really only three or four days, but you absorb so much, it feels like a lot more), and not only do we show highlights from the week (I’ll show one of those videos tomorrow with any luck), but we also introduce the whole crowd to presentations from the key instructors (with six or seven tracks going at once, it’s a chance for them to see a little bit of what they might have missed). This year, we featured short presentations from Moose Peterson (who showed an inspiring slideshow, of his amazing landscape and nature photography), and RC Concepcion (who blew everybody’s mind by creating a photo slideshow, complete with music, and did it all inside Photoshop CS4 Extended, without using any outside applications—that’s right—even the music played from inside Photoshop).

I also asked “the new guy” Zack Arias to do a presentation (he only had a few short hours to prepare), and I have to say, he totally rocked it. He did a presentation about what he would do if he was starting over as a photographer today. He gave some truly brilliant advice and insights, and he presented it in a way that was both humorous and inspirational at the same time. As many fans as Zack has—he just pick up a few thousand more.

“The People You Meet at Photoshop World”
Yesterday, I found the first published review of the event, from attendee “William Beem” which he called “The People You Meet at Photoshop World”, and although it is about the event, it’s really about the people and instructors he met during the event (including a section about my assistant Brad Moore, which made me particularly happy, because he was right on), and I found the whole thing really interesting and insightful. If you’ve got a second, give it quick read right here. NOTE #: Warning: when describing Jay Maisel, he uses a very “Jay” word (as a joke), which is similar to what you might hear if you cut someone off in traffic while driving in Brooklyn. Just so you know. NOTE #2: if you have posted a review of Photoshop World, let me know in a comment here, and tomorrow I’ll post live links in my follow-up post with the video.






The Bottomline
I’ll never forget this week. I had thought, on some level, that I had planned a schedule that would give me a little time to breath, but I was totally wrong. I wound up teaching three conference sessions, an expo floor session. I played three gigs (the concert pre-con, the keynote kick-off, and at B.B. Kings). I had three breakfast meetings, a dinner meeting, I taped stuff live for Midnight Madness, I hosted Midnight Madness, a dinner party for friends, I wound up doing some portfolio reviews, I co-hosted an episode of Photoshop User TV and did a trade show floor tour, I signed books, and hosted an opening and closing dinner party for all the instructors.

Then I drove home Friday night, fell into bed; slept for 10 hours straight; took a day off (but took the kids to see “How to Train Your Dragon” in 3D which was surprisingly good by the way), then got up at 5:45 am yesterday to shoot the St. Petersburg Grand Prix Indy Car Race on assignment for Southcreek Global Media (as it turned out, the actual race was rained out, so as you read this, I’m back at the track shooting the rescheduled race this morning). Whew—it’s been a busy week—-but what a week it was!

Thanks to everybody who came to Photoshop World, and to my wonderful, dedicated staff, and the world’s most amazing and passionate instructors, who all come together to create something very special for some very special people. You!


Hi Gang:
Here it is Friday, and it’s only my second post of the week. I had such high hopes about shooting all these photos on my iPhone, and uploading them live like I did in Las Vegas, and blogging at night, etc., but I have been just back-to-back slammed since the moment I got here, and this is the first time I’ve sat down all day, and it’s quarter to three in the morning (and I am just beat).

I’m so sorry I haven’t been able to post more this week, but I did want to let you know that I’ll be back in full swing next week, with lots of details about the show. I had just an amazing time this week—one of my most fun and fascinating Photoshop World’s ever!

I’ve met such incredibly cool people, and I’ve got a lot of stories and photos to share (the one above of me, waiting off stage during the keynote, was taken by photographer Carol Sahley), but my head is about to hit the pillow. Thanks for hanging in there with me, and I hope you all have a great weekend, and we’ll see you back here on Monday.

All my best,