Saturday, January 31, 2009

Interview with Steelers' Trai Essex

Here is a short interview I filmed with Pittsburgh Steelers lineman Trai Essex, who is originally from Fort Wayne, Ind., at Super Bowl XLIII Media Day on Tuesday in Tampa, Fl. Head over to to check it out.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Some pics from SBXLIII Media Day

Monday, January 26, 2009

It sure is warm here

In the last two weeks at home in Indiana the temperature has been above freezing for about 20 hours, and that was barely above freezing. At one stretch we hit -20 with a wind chill of -45. Those kinds of temperatures invoke shrinkage just from reading about them.

But right now, I have a small respite from the chilling temps back home as I am in Tampa, FL for the next four days. And the temps are supposed to be in the 80's ... wow! So, anyway, I'm down here on a dual mission.

1. To pull out a few video interviews and photos from Super Bowl Media Day
2. To take a minute and just be a fan of the NFL since I won't actually be shooting the game

I got the opportunity to come down here and stay with a friend who works for a bureau of the St. Petersburg Times. He's also letting me use a car to get to the Stadium and other activities tomorrow. And if that wasn't enough, he's taking me on a charter fishing trip Wednesday. I owe this guy a steak dinner - I'm thinking Wednesday night.

Anyway, look for photos and other stuff from the spectacle that has become Media Day soon.

Even less available light

In the last post I mentioned using the available light in a natatorium and figuring out how to make it work. In this post, we'll take away some of that light and increase the speed of the athletes, making for nightmare assignments on occasion.

This weekend I drew an assignment to shoot high school gymnastics. It's the kind of draw that will make any photographer, not shooting with a Nikon D3, want to run away screaming. Okay, maybe it's not that bad, but high school gymnastics is about as bad as it gets. It's not because of the quality of the competition. Those girls work hard and I am constantly amazed by what they can do.

No, it's the quality of the light, which is mostly nonexistent where high school gymnasts compete. You've all seen the wonderful gymnastics images from the Olympics. That's the fantasy world. In the big international meets, pieces of apparatus are set far enough apart that they do not distract from one another and the lighting is designed like that of a stage production with nice dark ceilings as the backdrop.

In high school gymnastics, everything is crammed together for lack of space, there are all kinds of people wandering the floor, invariably standing directly in the middle of your composition, and then there's the light. It is usually fluorescent and very FLAT - meaning zero contrast. The amount of available light forces the photographer to push ISO settings to the max the cameras can handle, introducing a lot of digital noise. Worse yet - for the safety of the gymnasts there is no flash or strobe lighting allowed, so obtaining consistent color is almost not possible.

The bottom line is you've got to find clean angles and you've got to set up to shoot areas where there is light. You also have to experiment with slow shutter speeds and moving the camera with the athletes.

I shot the meet with my Canon EOS 1D MarkIIn cameras set to ISO 1600-3200 depending on the area of the gym, and I used the 70-200 f/2.8, 300 f/2.8, 16-35 f/2.8 and 50 f/1.4 lenses to make my pictures. I honestly don't know how anyone gets usable photos with lenses slower (higher F-stop numbers) than 2.8, considering the lack of light and the terrible background clutter, though I see plenty of people shooting with them.

As with most sports photos, background is key. Clean backgrounds place the focus on the action and it usually takes a good amount of thought to find a good background, but when you do the pictures stand out from the rest of the crowd - not that mine always do, but I certainly try.

Friday, January 16, 2009

From last night

Here are just a couple of photos I shot at a high school swim meet last night. I didn't have time to set up strobes as I normally would have, so I worked a few angles to maximize the available light from a large window on one side of the pool. When it comes to light in high school sports venues, sometimes you have to take what you can get and make it work.

Monday, January 12, 2009 is up ... finally

After a few months of moving things around, editing and uploading photos, trying to generate somewhat coherent text about myself, keeping a ridiculously busy schedule and a whole lot of frustration, I have finally launched my new website.

You can also get there by going to

There will be more moving things around and adding stuff here or there, but for now this is what I have. Take a second to look around, and if anything jumps out as being terribly bad, let me know.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Arena switch over

On New Year's Eve 2008 the IPFW men's basketball team played a home game at Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind. Four hours later the Fort Wayne Komets minor league hockey team took the ice for their annual year ender - on the same floor.

The staff at the arena, with some extra help, completed the switch over from basketball floor to hockey rink in just over three hours. I shot more than 3,500 still photos over an eight-hour period to make this two-minute time lapse video. Music created using Apple Loops in Soundtrack for Final Cut Express.

"All photographs and content within are produced by the author and are strictly copyright protected. No content from this site may be reused or reproduced in any way without author's written permission."