Shooting The Redskins With The Team from Hail! Magazine

This past Sunday I got really a wonderful opportunity—to shoot the Washington Redskins vs. Tampa Bay Bucs with the amazing team at Hail! Magazine (I talked about their magazine for Redskins fans here on the blog a few months ago), and despite the chilly weather and non-stop rain, I truly had a blast.

So while the weather wasn’t pretty (though thankfully the 16 mph winds never materialized) I really learned a lot from spending the day shooting with the four talented sports photographers behind Hail!: Brian “Murf” Murphy, Eric Espada. Melvin Arroyo and Peter Lockley. They work on a really tight schedule, and it was great observing their workflow on and off the field. These guys really have it together and it shows in their work.

As much fun as I had at the game, my biggest thrill was having them include two of my images in this week’s issue of Hail! (that’s two of my shots at the bottom of the page spread from Hail! shown above). Now that was exciting! Thank you guys—it’s truly an honor.

Tech Specs: I used a Nikon D3s with a 400mm f/2.8 as my main camera, and my D3 with a 70-200mm f/2.8 as my 2nd body. Because it was raining and overcast, I had to shoot at 1,600 ISO pretty much all day, like I would for a night game. Toward the end of the game, as the rain and clouds increased I had to crank the ISO to 3,200 to keep my shutter speed above 1/1000 of a second.

Protecting My Gear
I used Think Tank Photo’s Hydrophobia lens and camera rain cover combination on both cameras, and I have to say, they worked brilliantly, and my gear was bone dry the entire day. The one piece that winds up outside the cover is your viewfinder eyepiece (it kind of has to be that way, but they give you a viewfinder eyepiece extender with the kit), so since it’s out in the rain, you get rain drops on your eyepiece, which makes judging focus a bit harder. Even though the water isn’t really on your view finder or lens (just on the eyepiece extender), it takes a bit of getting used to looking through your viewfinder and everything’s blurry like your glass is wet.

Above: Bucs Guard Jeremy Zuttah celebrates after the Bucs score in the 2nd half. The Bucs would wind up winning by one point after the Redskin’s missed scoring the extra point, with nine seconds left on the clock, due to a really bad snap (over the kicker’s head).

Thanks again to the wonderful team at Hail! magazine, for giving me the opportunity to shoot alongside you guys and learn along the way. Photographers will particularly love Hail! since it’s run by photographers, so the emphasis is on great sports photography and that really helps make the mag stand out. You can subscribe to Hail! for free, right here. Don’t forget to check out their brand new issue while you’re there.

Thanks Brian, Eric, Mel, and Peter for giving me a day I won’t soon forget.

  1. Nice job Scott. Your football photos are awesome to see! Congrats on the excellent photo opportunities you’ve been given. You have certainly taken full advantage of them.

  2. Great photos, beautifully presented – as usual :)

    What I’m curious about though is why you use waterproof gear at all on such kit? Those bodies (and the glass) are weather proof and personally I’ve shot with them in all sorts of crazy weather with no extra protection and I’ve never had a problem. I keep seeing people mention that they use this gear and I’m wondering why?

    Are Nikon lying about their weather proofing and I’ve just been incredibly (and continually) lucky or is there some other benefit that I’m not aware of? Heaven forbid that a photographic accessory supplier might sell us something we just don’t need. That could never be the case right? :)

    1. Dear Cynical Jay:
      Nikon pro gear is sealed, and one of the guys from Hail! stood right beside me during the game, in the pouring raim with his gear totally uncovered. I’ve done the same thing myself out shooting landscapes.

      I prefer to shoot with my gear dry, so I use a rain cover when I can.


  3. Scott, I love your pictures of the Bucs and Redskins. I am a long time reader of your blog and your digital photography books (1-3)! I am a high school football coach in Snellville, GA and I coached Stephon Heyer (#74) of the Redskins. He is a terrific young man! I don’t know if you would be able to do this, but would it be possible for you to send me a few pictures of him if you have any! Thanks and I understand if you are not able. Keep up the great work!!

  4. Ho hum…some more football shots… :D :D

    Great captures as always, Scott. I think the two stand-out shots for me would be the very first one (it’s all about the eyes!) and the one where McNabb is being tackled from behind, but getting the ball away.

    And it’s worth mentioning that these photos REALLY pop when you click on the photos and see them in full screen! All the little details in the first photo alone (raindrops, wet spots on the football, the water drops on his helmet, and those eyes!)!!! I can imagine what these look like as large prints.

    One question about the Bears game…if you had been shooting THAT game instead, what would you have done to protect your equipment in those elements (driving snow, AND bitter cold)? With winter coming, maybe you could mention some cold weather tips on D-Town? Not all of us live in Florida, you know! :)

    Thanks for sharing, Scott!


    1. Hi John:
      First, thanks for your very kind words. :-)

      As for protecting my gear; I would have done the same thing: use Think Tank Photo’s Hydrothermia rain gear. I would have kept more back-up batteries handy, as you go through them faster in cold weather. I might get to test both this weekend. Looks like snow! :)


  5. Scott,

    Love your work and insights you provide into the industry and on technique. I have immensely enjoyed your posts.

    This is not meant to be a dig in any way, but I am a proud Rutgers Alum and #76 is Jeremy Zuttah. = )

    1. Hi Donnie:
      Although Nikon camera’s are sealed, and you can shoot in the rain with them, I wouldn’t recommend doing it for four hours+ straight in pouring rain, like you do at a game like Sundays, so that’s when the Hydrophobia is worth every penny. If you’re shooting outside for a landscape shoot, and it’s going to be 20 or 30 minutes, then you can probably skip it. Well, I do anyway.

      Hope that helps.


  6. So how did it feel to be shooting a game featuring your beloved Bucs, yet shooting with the primary goal of getting good Redskins shots? I’m guessing you were fine with it because it must be a thrill to get to shoot an NFL game no matter what team you’re covering. If you are there covering a specific team, do you try to always face that team whether they’re on offense or defense? If you are there covering the game as a whole (like for a wire service), do you try to always face whichever team is on offense, or do you just mix it up throughout the game?

    1. Hi Trask:
      The Bucs are my home team, but my assistant and one of my best buddies are both huge Redskins fans, so I’ve been a fan for a while now too (or I’d have to find a new assistant, and another friend), so it was weird having two teams you’re always rooting for playing each other. I figured, no matter which one wins, I’ll still win, so I just focusing on trying to get some decent shots. Since I was shooting for Hail!, I did try to make sure I focused on Redskins shots, and that one of Moss at the top is my favorite from the day.

      If I’m covering the game for a wire service, then I hustle up and down the field covering the team on offense.


  7. Scott, the shots are awesome. I am a huge Bucs fan but being from Eastern Canada I dont get to see them as much as I would like too. In fact I dont get to see them. My favourite shot is of what looks to be Ronde’s INT. Great work look forward to seeing more game shots in the coming weeks

  8. Okay, now you have done it. My favorite photographer and my favorite team all at one time. I have died a lot with the Redskins over the last 19 years since their last Superbowl win. Here is a question for you. I love that one of McNabb at the top. I would love to purchase a print from you, signed by you of course. Is it possible to do. If not I understand but it would truly be an honor to have a Kelby print of my favorite team hanging in my house. I have been waiting for a post like this. Thanks Dave

  9. What was most interesting to me here was your comment about going to ISO3200 in order to maintain exposure faster than 1/1000. It seems like most of the photos you have would have been fine at ISO1600 with 1/500? I suppose you need to be ready to freeze the ball whenever the situation arises.

    I have been trying to understand the trade-offs between noise and blur and depth of field for low-light sports like swimming and basketball over the past several weeks at my kids events. It seems like the benefits of a fast lens can easily be wasted if you don’t optimize the exposure time to be as slow as the sport allows.

    The tip in your book on luminance noise reduction in Light Room 3 has been a godsend for my ISO3200 photos. — Thanks!

  10. This football stuff is getting old.. I guess if I dont Love football I should find somewhere else to go huh.. I could care less what these overpaid jocks are doing trying to (get the ball) anyone with enough since and money to have a fast shutter speed in these conditions and capture expressions and the ball in the air can shoot this stuff. Its a crap shoot. (look what he did in this frame).. Im sorry but its so boring. Go back to portraits and landscapes where you do a lot of photoshoping to make them look bad a**! Show lighting and photoshop skills.

    Sorry Scott, Ive been trying not to say anything for a while now.. I still love you though man!

    1. Why would you leave a post like this? I am all about freedom of speech but you really insulted this guy on his own blog. If you don’t like it then don’t visit the site. I really doubt your photography is anything like this. Get a life.

  11. OK Scott I know your a great sports photographer (well photographer in general) but WOW the lead shot here has blown me away! So very impressive with the framing and timing of the shot. The colors in the shot are really what caught my eye, the are just so rich and not over saturated. I know you shoot your sport shots in jpg, but did you edit them at all for exposure or color adjustment? I’m sure the fact that it was raining and things were wet would add to the richness somewhat but just curious about the processing.

    An aside note; thank you so much for DTOWNTV, I’ve watched since the beginning (despite being a Canon shooter, I still picked up some tips) and I owe a large portion of my photography knowledge to the show and its really upped my skills (well relatively speaking, I how so much more room to grow). Just wanted to thank you invaluable resource!

    1. Hi Jonathan:
      I wish I could take credit for the post processing, but it was the rain that made the colors pop—I didn’t tweak the color at all. No vibrance, no saturation. All I did was add contrast (if it needed it) and sharpening.

      Thanks for your kind words about D-Town. The new season is starting in just a few weeks, and we’ll be on our new set! :)


  12. Please forgive my post above this. Im really sorry and it was a dumb thing to do. I had a few to many drinks and a very bad day. I didnt mean to take it out on you.

    Again, Im really sorry and I hope you can forgive me some time.

    Sincerely, Mark

    1. Mark: No harm done. Especially since you did something very rare—you said “I’m sorry” with no “but…” after it, which in my eyes makes all the difference in the world. :)

      The reason I’ve been showing so much football lately is: that’s what I’ve been shooting lately, and that’s all I’ve got to show. When I did that fashion shoot in NYC last month, I showed that, but this year I’ve been really trying to work on my football shooting, so you’ll have to bear through three more football shoots I have lined up, but then I’ll be back to people, travel, and everything else.

      Thanks for understanding, and thanks for your 2nd post. It means a lot. :)



      1. Ive been feeling just so awful about writing that. I look up to you SO MUCH. My house is getting foreclosed on and the sheriff came by my house that day telling us we had 30 days to leave. I was drinking my sorrows away and was reading your stuff and said the wrong thing. I am really really sorry. It will never happen again.

  13. You know, after looking at that spread, Scott’s photos are SO much better than the other guys. Don’t get me wrong, the other guys are far better than me, but Scott’s shots beat them all. Scott should have gotten a full page spread. Very nice, sir…

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