I Guess It Went Better Than I Had Expected….

…especially being rusty (regular season football has been over for nearly eight months), and for making some stupid mistakes (coming up in a moment), so you can totally understand why I did a BIG happy dance when I saw one of my shots from Friday’s Bucs vs. Titans NFL Football game (above) on the front page of SportsIllustrated.com’s NFL home page.

That came after two of my shots had been on Zumapress.com’s Sports “Pictures of the Day” (shown below).

(Above: I’m not certain, but that just may be a “hold.” Wink).

Mistakes were made
I’ve shot in Raymond James Stadium a number of times before, so I knew in advance what settings to use for a night game (which this was), so as soon as I took my camera out of the bag, I set up my camera with those settings. [Aperture Priority mode, f/2.8, and my ISO at 1,600 which is enough to get me the 1/1000 of a second shutter speed I need to freeze the action and have sharp non-blurry shots).

So, I attached my lens and set out to shoot and about 1/3 of the way through the first quarter, I zoomed in tight on one of the images and it was blurry. I started looking at other shots and a lot were blurry. I was freaking out until it finally hit me that I had added a 1.4 tele-extender to my 400mm f/2.8 lens, and when you do that you automatically lose 1-stop of light, so it changed my f/stop to f/4 (agggghh!!!!) and so my shutter speed fell to 1/640 of a second and I had blurry shots. No need to tell me all the things and features I could have used to avoid this — it won’t happen again.

I didn’t test my 2nd body…
And sure enough, there was a problem with the dial on top and when I had to quickly switch to my 2nd body to get the touchdown catch happening right in front of me, instead of firing in High-Speed Continuous mode (burst mode) it took just one single shot……and stopped. Sure enough, he caught it. I was (for once) in the perfect position, with the ideal angle, and just one single “click” before the ball even got near him. I was really cranked. It took me 10 minutes to figure out the dial on top was sticking. Totally, my mistake (but I did have a back-up body if all were lost back in the photographer’s work room).

Luckily, I recovered
After that very rusty (and frustrating first quarter) I was able to shake the rust off a bit and focus back on the action instead of messing with my equipment, but at the end of the day, I still felt like it was my first game of the season (which it was), which is why I was so doubly-psyched to see that shot on SI.com and making Zuma’s “Photographs of the Day” especially since this was my first assignment for them.

(Above: that’s me and my buddy Donn Jones, Team Photographer for the Tennessee Titans. They give him a green vest so he’s an easier target for the defensive line. Kidding, it’s to designate that he’s with the team and he has access to areas, like the Titan’s bench, that the rest of us “khaki-vesters” can’t. Photo by George Walker).

And then, where was this….
There was also an issue with my new Apple MacBookPro with the Retina Display (unreleated to the display itself), but I’m hoping to write about that separately tomorrow), that caused a mini-nightmare, but that’s what Tuesday’s are for, right. :-)

Bring on the Patriots!
This Friday the New England Patriots are coming to play the Bucs at home and I’m excited because:

(a) It’ll be my first-time shooting the Pats, and…

(b) I’ll get another chance to shake some more of the rust off before the regular season begins in two weeks, and I know I won’t make those same mistakes again.

I am still struggling with my post-processing workflow (tagging, editing, adding metadata and uploading at the speed I would like to), but that’s yet another story. Can’t wait for Friday’s game now, but first I’m off to Sacramento to teach my Photoshop for Photographers seminar on Wednesday.

Here’s wishing you a “Big Happy Dance” Monday! :)


  1. Scott, you mentioned on twitter a few weeks ago that you had found a solution to your storage problems (after you decided to ditch DROBO).  I was wondering when you were going to put up a post about your new storage solution?

    Great shots from the game btw!  I always appreciate that you highlight your successes and mistakes — makes all us regular folks feel a lot better for not nailing every shot we attempt. 

  2. SI.com…I would freak.  Congrats!  I beat myself up over my mistakes too, but if I ever got a shot on the front page of SI (even the .com version), that would totally make up for all the mistakes.  You rock!  I can’t wait for the local high school season to start so I can get back to shooting football.  Gotta keep following the dream to shoot NFL someday and perhaps see you on the sidelines in person.

  3. Congrats Scott. Wonderful captures, all spot on and images to aspire too. You teach in many ways and these shots are great examples of your work. Thanks for discussing the challenges as well.

  4. Big Congratulations on getting your photos on Zuma and SI. Had the same feeling when Princess Cruises used mine on their Facebook and aboard their new ship.
    Your training class on shooting football has inspired me to give that a try this fall.

  5. Hey Scott!  Congratulations on the SI photo!!  Wow, that’s just Super, and the photo is fantastic!  Also, congrats on the Zuma’s photograph of the Day!!  Awesome!  (Okay I know I’m not suppose to use Awesome, but it works here :-))  Those camera malfunctions only when you’re in the heat of it!  I was photographing my granddaughter in a Ice Skating Competition and forgot to set it to my Custom Setting (Canon 7D) for shooting action.  Fortunately, she was just practicing when I found out what I had done.  I just got to excited I guess. :-).

    Again, congratulation on the SI and Zuna photos!!!


  6. Congratulations Scott!  Great shots.  And as you noted, and I paraphrase, painful mistakes only happen once  (well at least for each type of mistake).  Tele-extender attached will never be an issue for you moving forward. ;-D   

    Thanks for sharing the photos and the pains, as the photos are a joy to see and the pain points are valuable lessons for us all.

  7. Thanks for sharing your problems as well as your successes. Makes it easier when it happens to us mere amateurs. Hard to get past the idea that every shot is a winner and everything always works perfectly…for everyone else. Congrats on the shots!

  8. Hi Scott,

    I’ve always assumed that your sports photography for wire services is basically unedited (following news photography rules on minimal retouch).  Is this indeed the case?

      1. Hi Scott, 

        I only ask because I think of this blog as being primarily photoshop oriented.  My impression is that a lot of the tools that get used commercially (selective sharpening, edge enhancement, contrast boosting, saturation alteration) are off limits for straight news (like the Reuters guidelines on saturation etc).  The reason I ask is that I like the photos and I want to confirm that these are basically straight from camera and it has a lot more to do with your ability to capture the moment than any form of post processing. So, it is only because this is a photoshop oriented blog that I ask ~ after all these seem like unedited pics.

  9. Scott,

    You should try Photo Mechanic. It’s a lot faster than Lightroom when your just going through picking the selects and adding the keywords/copyright. Where Lightroom can take 4-5 seconds for a picture to load, Photo Mechanic loads almost instantly and you don’t have to wait to import all of the pictures into the catalog, just ingest(import) them onto the computer. It’s a lot like Bridge, but faster and made for sports photographers. You can do almost everything you want to in Photo Mechanic as you can in Lightroom except the exposure/noise editing. It easily cut my editing time in half after a long game. You can check it out at http://www.camerabits.com/ 

    Thanks for everything!


  10. Scott I am with Krody in that you should use Photomechanic for your captioning and choosing selects. The speed of PM alone will save you time. I used Lightroom in the beginning then switched over to PM. You will save time during your editing workflow, trust me. Download a trial and give a shot. I think anyone who uses PM would tend to agree. Congrats on a successful assignment! Have fun shooting my Pats next week. Get a lot of shots of Brady!!

  11. OK Scott, Where is Ken Toney’s comment?  Did you make him mad or something, or is he just bummed because he isn’t going to be with us at Photoshop World?  Great shots Buddy, and congrats on the SI front page thing!!!

  12. Hi Scott!

    Congratulations of the SI homepage and Zumapress image features! Your shots are awesome! I was never really into sports photography, but it was a series you shared last season (remote camera catching the guys coming out of the tunnel – then a little Nik filter) that completely changed the way I see sports shots. Part Energy, Emotion and Art!

    Now I find myself looking and although I have no right… Critiquing shots. Then Tom Bol and the Awesome Mr. Black on KT solidified in my mind, it takes fast thinking and crazy shooting skills to get these shots. It’s unlikely I’ll ever be a sports shooter as my skill set and access points just aren’t there (well, can shoot racing at LRP in Lime Rock, CT anytime I want, a buddy teaches there), I still have 3 sports shoot dreams, Shooting F1 w/ Ferrari, US Tennis Open, and… A Pats game!!! Been a Pats fan when we were basically a scrimmage team for the rest of the NFL in the ’80s early ’90s.

    Anyway… Thanks for sharing your goofs with your successes! :-)

    I’m curious what bodies? D4/D700?

    Thanks for all you do and…. Go Pats! (sorry, I had too) ;-)


  13. Scott,

    You gave us the setup (lens and settings) on your first body.  What lens setup were you using for the 2nd body?  Thanks for the tip.  I got an opportunity to shoot on the sidelines of a Steelers game last year and loved it.  I hope I’ll get the same opportunity this season.  Looking good so far.  Thanks again,


    1. Same settings for both cameras (except that the 2nd body didn’t have a tele-extender, so it was actually f/2.8). The 2nd body had a 70-200mm f.2.8 VR lens. Hope you get the Steelers shoot. I shot at Heinz stadium last year for the Steelers/Jets game. 22° and snowing, and I loved every minute of it. :)

  14. I admire your take on being upfront with live game shooting goofs. I shoot collage football but use the local high school scrimmages to knock off the rust ( I had a whole scrimmage with every players feet cut off… ha  ) . It really takes a cool head to work thru a problem on the sideline and get it all back on track so to speak. I’m looking forward to future post on this season. Best of luck Scott.

  15. I think a mark of talent and reaching a pinacle of your craft is when you can  admit that you screwed up. It speaks volumns for character. 
      I know NFL games are well lit for TV and is the best lighting you can get for a night game, but those (SI cover for ex) are perfect. I’m surprised there is enough light to get up into a helmet of a player facing the ground so you can see his face. Note the total lack of shadows. I shoot a lot of guys in brimed hats or motoX visors and without flash or over exposing, it is a challenge.
      So we are all awaiting the news……1) what lies beyond Drobo? and 2) what are alternatives to Kensington besides locking your laptop into a bag chained to a table?
      Quick story: I was behind the bucking chutes at a big rodeo in Wyoming shooting “behind the scenes” and had my Pelican case chained with a TSA lock and welded steel chain, fastened to what I thought was a safe place: under a shelf at the striping chute where a guy stands and leans over to remove the rigging from a bucking bronc or bull after his ride. So this one bronc was ornry and kicked and kicked breaking a 2×10 board and kicking my Pelican about 10 feet away breaking the TSA lock. The case has a small “smudge” (not even a dent) on the side where the hoof kicked it and nothing inside was jostled. My associates sit on their Pelican cases IN THE MUD at rodeos and wipe or hose them off. I’ve stood on mine to get more elevation over other photographers….OK, so I put a thin piece of cardboard over it to keep it clean. I can’t say enough praise for their cases. Jock Goodman, Waimea, Hi

  16. Great shots! Love your football and hockey work.  BIG happy dance indeed.  I’d love to cover golf and hockey someday for a wire.  Too bad about the security slot on the Retina Pro.  Maybe there will be a solution in the near future.  Hey, at least you have the beautiful screen to work with.  

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