Purdue Basketball Hammers Indiana

Two Straight Top 25 Wins For the Boilers

Last night I went to Mackey to see the Boilers take on Indiana. Going into the game I thought that it was a toss up, and I never expected what I saw. The Boilers led the entire game with everyone seeming to chip in. When the starting point guard gets into foul trouble the backup and his backup step up. A.J. Hammond had a monster game for the Boilers as well. I have said it many times tonight, but this was a fun game to photograph. I had a lot of photos that I liked from the game, but this shot of Rapheal Davis celebrating with the Paint Crew might be my favorite of the night. This program is trending in the right direction for sure. The future looks bright, and I hope last night was a window into the atmosphere that Mackey will have the rest of the season.


Mackey Was Rocking!

That was the loudest that I have heard Mackey Arena in a long time. It makes shooting a game that much more fun when the stadium is packed and crazy. Walking into the stadium I felt the buzz so it was no surprise how awesome it was once I got inside. After two straight big wins at home I hope that the crowds keep coming out. I took advantage of the good crowd to get some shots at the beginning of the game. You love a full stadium in your photos. I found a few vantage points that showcase just how great of a stadium Mackey Arena is.

Bonus Photos

Here are a few bonus photos from the game. More photos can be found on my website here.

10 Tips For Better Bird Photos

Ten Tips To Get Better Photos of Birds

I am not an expert in this field. This is a relatively new hobby that I have picked up as a way to spend some downtime during the winter. Over the course of the last few weeks though I have learned a few things that have made my photos better. I thought that I would share those tips here so that others don’t have to go through the trial and error that I did. Some of the tips are very simple, but others can help make a good photo a great photo.

  1. Get out your big glass – Most of the birds that you will photograph will be small. You need a big piece of glass to make that little bird big in the frame. The photo above was made with a 300mm lens with a 2x extender on it. I was also shooting with my Canon 7D Mark II which has a 1.6x crop factor to it. That means that I am basically shooting at 960mm. That helped me get this close to this sparrow.
  2. Focus on the eyes – If the eyes of the bird are not in focus, then you do not have a  picture. The same rules that apply with humans apply when making photos of birds or other wildlife. One way to help get the razor thin focus correct is to set up your situation. Set up your camera on a tripod with a point in mind that you know the bird will be. Prefocus on that spot to make sure that when the bird arrives you have your focus locked in.
  3. Be aware of your background – Another important factor of your photo is the background. Using a high f-stop to blur the background is a way to make sure that you do not have distractions in the background. You want a clean background so that the bird pops out from it. If the background has unusual lines in it they will still show up in the bokeh. You have to be aware of what your background will be so that you can make a clean image.
  4. Use a tripod – I mentioned it above, but a tripod is a must for photographing birds. It helps you stay still so that you can make a good exposure. Even at a high shutter speed you need to stay still while making the photo. A tripod makes sure that you stay still.
  5. Let the birds come to you – This is more of an advanced tip, but you have to let the birds come to you. You can set up a scenario in which they will come to you. At my backyard studio I have set up feeders and perches for the birds. This increases the likelihood that the birds will come to where I want them to. I can then make sure that I have a situation that will make a good photo. If you are out in the field you need to use your vehicle as a blind, or make yourself blend into your surroundings so that the birds come to you. It is easier said than done, but it is worth it in the end.
  6. Put the sun at your back – One way to make sure that you have the light that you need on the bird is to put the sun at your back. Your bird will be well lit, and you will have a consistent light source. Shooting into the sun creates problems. Unless you have a fill flash you will have either a bright background as I do in the photo above, or a dark bird. In a perfect world you will have a low diffused light on the bird. Having the light at your back also helps make sure that you have a little catchlight in the birds eye. That little catchlight can help make the bird look more alive.
  7. Don’t be afraid to crop – In my landscape work I do not like to crop. I like to think that I have made the photo at the scene. One thing that I have learned shooting sports and wildlife though is that you can’t always get to where you need to be. You have to crop to get in that little extra. You still have to fill the frame as much as you can, but a little cropping helps make the bird appear larger.
  8. Use a high shutter speed – When birds are in motion they are surprisingly fast. The wings are beating fast enough to blur in your photo. A shutter speed of 1/500th or even better 1/1000th is needed to stop the motion of the bird. For a hummingbird you will need to be at least at 1/1600th of a second. A crisp bird looks great. That being said you can also slow the shutter down at times to show the motion of the bird. To start off though crisp is the way to go.
  9. Take multiple shots – This should go without saying. Birds are a subject that seems to be constantly doing something new. Don’t be afraid to let the motor drive go. You will increase your keeper rate this way. I am not advocating spraying and praying, but when the moment happens let the shutter fly. This also means that you can make multiple photos from one scene. If you have the ability to zoom in and out make the close up shot, but then make some shots that give the sense of where you are.
  10. Patience! – This might be the best tip of them all. The birds can be fickle. You need to have patience to wait until the time is right. Just because you have everything set up perfectly does not mean that your subject will always come to you. You need to have the patience to be ready when they do.

Well that is ten quick tips for photographing birds. This is not the definitive list, but rather ten tips that I found helpful. If you have a tip that I have missed here leave it in the comments to help this list grow.

My Backyard Birds: The Dark-Eyed Junco

Photographing From the Comfort of Your Own Home

Part of the fun of this project is the fact that I can do it from my house. The success rate is not very high so it would not be fun if I had to drive a long way to make the photos. As it is I can take a break from editing to make some photos out of my window. It is a welcome break, and a way to make the most out of the winter. After spending some time photographing birds a basketball player seems pretty big, and easy to shoot. This may be the best practice that could have thought of.

Bonus Photos

Here are a couple of other photos that I made yesterday of this bird.


West Side Basketball Defeats North Montgomery

West Lafayette Completes the Weekend Sweep

For the second night in two days I saw West Lafayette win a home game. This game did not have the drama of the night before as the Red Devils cruised to an easy victory. Those are the nice ones that give your heart a rest, and clear the bench. I was trying to get a few different images during the game as it seems as if I am making the same photo over and over. I put the 17-35mm lens on the Canon 5D Mark III for my bench shots. Here I liked the added area that I was able to cover. It doesn’t hurt when the coach gives you a fantastic face either. This was a fun game to cover, and I can’t wait until next weekend.

Bonus Photos

As I usually do I added a couple of bonus photos below. The rest of the album can be found on my website here. There are over 150 photos in the album. A lot of faces on the court leads to many more photos.

Purdue and Ohio State Play An Overtime Thriller

The Boilermakers and the Buckeyes Duke It Out

Yesterday I was back in Mackey Arena to photograph the Big Ten contest between the Purdue Boilermakers and the Ohio State Buckeyes. I have always tried to make it to these games as the Buckeyes and Boilers always seem to have something good for the fans. Yesterday was no exception. Both teams made their cases, and looked to be in control. In the end overtime was needed after the Boilers could not score with regulation winding down. It was a physical contest that was fun to watch. It also made for some good photos. Whitney Bays had a monster game for the Boilers scoring 22 points and pulling in 19 rebounds. On the other side of the ball freshman Kelsey Mitchell scored 37 points for Ohio State. She was the real difference maker scoring 31 of those after the break.  Continue reading

An Energetic Purdue Squad Beats #25 Iowa

Purdue Gets Top 25 Win Over the Hawkeyes

Yesterday I shot my first Purdue Basketball game in almost two months. It seems as if I had another job every time that they played, or something else came up. I picked a good one to see as they played great defense in getting the 67-63 win. The baseline at Purdue has gotten very crowded lately so I shot the first half on the Purdue end standing up, and then moved forward to shoot the second half on the same side but sitting down. Overall I thought that I had a good game shooting. It was fun being back in Mackey with the crowd in the game. I will be back Wednesday night to see the Boilers take on Indiana. I am sure the crowd will be into that one. If Ray Davis has the same kind of game that he had yesterday they will have a good shot at two straight top 25 wins. That would be one huge step in the right direction.

Being In The Right Place At The Right Time

During the game Iowa guard Mike Gesell was driving hard to the hoop time after time challenging Purdue center A.J. Hammond. It was only a matter of time before he came into the photographers. Of course yesterday that photographer was me. I took a solid hit, but thankfully it was a guard, and not Isaac Haas or A.J. Hammons. If either of those guys hit me going that fast I would be dictating this post from the hospital.

Bonus Photos

Below I have posted a few bonus photos from the game. You can see the full gallery here on my website.


West Side Wins A Thriller Against Twin Lakes

Nai Carlisle Leads the Way For the Red Devils

Last night Nai Carlisle had a career night for West Lafayette who won a thriller 71-69 over Twin Lakes. The 32 points that Carlisle scored were enough to tip the scales. He seemed to take the game over late, and will his team to victory. I had a blast shooting the tight game. I got a late start shooting, but I tried to make up for it. I used my Canon 7D Mark II in the first half on my 70-200mm lens, and then put the Canon 5D Mark III on the Canon 70-200mm lens for the second half. I miss the fps with the 5D, but I like the added range that I get. All but one of my favorite shots from the game came during the second half when I was shooting a little looser.

Bonus Photos

Here are a few bonus photos from the game. More photos from the game can be found on my website here.

Continue reading

Star Trails Over West Lafayette

Looking For a Distraction

As you may or may not know I am a huge Green Bay Packer fan. Sunday was not a good day for me. The Packers dominated the game, but could not score touchdowns. That led to a late improbable comeback by the Seattle Seahawks to reach the Super Bowl. I was not thrilled with the outcome of the game, and I needed something to get my mind off of it. I decided to go outside and try and photograph star trails. I had only tried this once before, but I thought it would give me enough problems to take my mind off of the game. I don’t think that the sky was quite dark enough for this to really work, but it did work fairly well.

Getting Through the Problems

To start out here I knew that to make a longer exposure that I would need a trigger to get my hands off of the camera, and to lock down. I do not have one for my Canon 5D Mark III or my Canon 7D Mark II. I found my remote for my 60D, and made a couple of alterations to make it work for the two newer cameras. Now that I had a trigger I used a thirty second exposure to figure out my exposure. From there it was a matter of using a little math to calculate the longer exposure that would produce the trails that I was looking for. I made an exposure at ten minutes, and it looked good. I decided to go up to twenty minutes where I got the photo that you see above. I then set up the camera to make a thirty minute exposure which I thought would be the one. During that thirty minutes though my lens fogged over as a heavy frost was beginning. I then switched to the 7D Mark II to use the interval timer on it, but once again my lens would not stay clear. At the end of the day though I made one photo that I liked, and I got lost in the process which is important.

Quick Tip: Using the 2 Second Timer Instead of a Cable Release

Using the Timer Function to Make a Crisp Image

Have you ever been out making a photo when you realized that your cable release was at home? You want to have your hands off of the camera so that the little camera shake does not ruin your photo. What do you do? A quick and easy tip is to use the timer function of your camera. You can use the two or ten second timer so that when the exposure is made your hands are off the camera. I love this so much that my cable release does not even go with me anymore on trips when I know that I will be under 30 seconds of shooting. If you are shooting an HDR image, or just bracketing it will fire all of the frames that you selected if you have continuous shooting on. This is just a quick tip that might save you out in the field one day.

My Backyard Birds: The Cardinal (Part 1)

Some Color During the Winter

This whole bird adventure started one day with a scene much like the one above. A bright red cardinal set up against the blue sky. It was a little color on a bleak winter day. That inspired me to learn more about the birds so that I could photograph them more. In the winter I have a lot of photography gear that is used for field sports that gets very little use. Making the photos of birds gives me a chance to use my long lenses, and also to make some photographs.

Setting Up The Backyard Studio

As this project gains a little steam I am coming up with ways to make my photos a little better. I think that the above photo works because the background is clean for the most part. The tree that draws the birds into the yard initially is also a busy tree that does not work well as a background. I have tried to set things up so that I have a good shot of the birds as they wait for a turn on the feeders. Other than putting a background up behind the tree I have to use my placement with the birds to get the look that I want. Here I was very lucky, and I hope to help that luck as time goes on.

Bonus Photos

Here are a couple of other cardinal photos that I like from my first few days shooting.