Shooting On The NFL Sidelines

Mike Scott & Alex1sm

Solider Field 2sm

Hi Gang: As you re reading this, I m in Philadelphia for my Photoshop Tour for Digital Photographers seminar, but on my way to Philly, I headed up to Chicago for an NFL sideline shoot at the Chicago Bears vs. Cleveland Browns game on Sunday, with a couple of my buddies; Mike Olivella, and Alex Walker (That’s us above. L to R: Mike, me, and Alex at Soldier Field during the game).

Bears v Browns1sm

It was perfect weather for a football game; around 55 with no wind, and all three of us had an absolute blast! I ve included a few shots from the game (but I got into Philly around 12:30 am so I didn’t have a lot of time to go through all the shots yet), but here s a few quickies and the details on the gear I used, and settings:

I used two bodies: A Nikon D3, and a Nikon D300s. My main camera was the D3, and with it I used a 200-400mm f/4 mounted on a Gitzo carbon fiber monopod. My secondary camera was the D300s, where I switched between a 70-200mm, a 50mm f/1.4 (used mostly when the play moved inside the 10 yard line), and the occasional fish-eye lens for stadium shots (see below). I carried my gear using a Think Tank Photo modular belt system and used a Black Rapid R-Strap on the D300s (since it wasn t mounted on a monopod). I also usually lose my Lens Hood once or twice during a game, so Brad finally got me a screw-on, rubber lens hood which worked great.



Mike and Alex are both Nikon shooters, too, and Alex was shooting a D300 with a 300mm f/2.8 lens that he got from the Paul and great folks over at (here s the link—-I rent lenses from them myself, and I highly recommend them).

Soldier Field


I shot in JPEG mode (to get the most frames per second), and I left the 200-400mm wide open at f/4 all day (to get as shallow a depth of field as possible to help separate the players from the background). I shot in High-Speed shooting mode, and set my focus to Continuous as well. It was a day game, so my white balance was set to Auto most of the day (until the field got in shadows, then I changed the white balance to shade), and I shot between 280 and 400 ISO (a little higher than usual because there was a thick cloud cover most of the day).


Anyway, it was an awful lot of fun spending the day shooting with a couple of buddies, plus I got to try out some of the tips I picked up from Sports Illustrated s Peter Read Miller as well, which were a big help.


My thanks to everybody at the wonderful Bears organization (Go Bears!), and now I ve got to get back to my seminar (the next one s in Tampa, Florida in just over two weeks, on November 16th, so come on down and hang out for the day!).


  1. @ Elvis the NFL makes the photographers wear the Canon vest along the sidelines to control access. Of course now Scott Kelby has switched to Canon bodies also, at this time he was shooting Nikon bodies

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