The Mortar Board Premier

Shooting a Multi-Day Tournament

I was lucky enough to be able to shoot this tournament for two schools. I have not shot a lot of volleyball, but I feel that I learned very quickly where to be to make a good shot. These women are very athletic, and you want to show that. Normally for any sport you want to get as low as possible. In volleyball I found the higher I was the better the shot was. I really wish that I could have gotten a bit higher. I will have to save that for when Purdue plays in Mackey. Shooting five games in two days in a hot gym is not the best scenario, but it was great. I think that I finished on a high note, and I will have to go back and shoot a little more to see if I can build on what I have done here.

Trying Out the Canon 7D

Birthdays are always an excuse to act a little selfish, and I am no exception to that rule. I rented a Canon 7d from for the holiday weekend. My original intent was to shoot a lot of football with some low light testing. When I picked up the volleyball gig I then switched gears a bit. I wanted to see how it worked indoors. I was really impressed with what the camera was able to do in low light. I did not push it too far, but it did give me enough to get up to around 1/750th of a second inside of Holloway Gymnasium. The middle two photos below were taken with the camera mounted on my 300mm lens. With the 1.6x crop factor that the camera gives me I was able to shoot at around 480mm. It excelled at football as well. Sometime within the next week Canon is expected to announce the 7D Mark II. From what I have read they have addressed a couple of the areas that I was concerned with. If that is the case I may have to think about picking the Mark II out when it ships.

A Quick Thank You

Statistically speaking August was the best month for this little blog in about a year. It was also the second best month since I changed the format to a little more user friendly one. I don’t put a bunch of stock into the WordPress numbers as early on in the life of a post I can have more likes on the post than page views. That seems a little impossible to me. After working with SPC for many years though I have to look at numbers. With the WordPress stats I use them more as a sampling than anything else. I can see trends with the numbers, and thank you for the trend up. Hopefully I can continue to provide quality content on this site.

Bonus Photos

Here are a few other photos that I liked from the final day of the tournament.

Purdue Beats Western Michigan 43-34

Back on the Sidelines Photographing College Football

There really is nothing like the atmosphere of a college football game day. I love everything about it. I may have gotten to the stadium a little too early yesterday just out of excitement. I shot way too much of the warm ups, but as I have said before it is a chance for me to warm up as well.

Purdue Wins Their Opener

Purdue put up 43 points en route to a season opening win. As a photographer you like when your team gets in the end zone multiple times. When they only score one or two times it really puts the pressure on you to pick the right spot to stand. Today I guessed right a couple of times, but I also guessed wrong a couple of times. That is how it works. Shooting sports is messy, and sometimes you don’t always get the shot.

A Spirited Introduction To Shout!

Just before the fourth quarter Purdue volleyball head coach Dave Shondell pumped up the crowd. I have seen almost all of the Shout introductions, and this one might have been the best.

A Big Hit

During the fourth quarter Western Michigan defensive back Donald Celiscar laid a huge hit on Boiler running back Raheem Mostert. Celiscar appeared to knock himself out on the hit. From the reports of the sideline reporter for Purdue the hit broke the face mask of Mostert. You just don’t see hits that big anymore.

More Photos From the Game

Once again I have made an Exposure page. I really love the format, and the way that it allows me to show large amounts of photos at once. You can find the page here.

Photographing the Mortar Board Premier

Photographing a Volleyball Tournament

Between yesterday and today I will photograph five of the six matches for of the Mortar Board Premier. This is a tournament that I have photographed in the past, but never for pay. Last year I was just learning the ins and outs of photographing volleyball. It is a sport that I have not really photographed. Following the action with a 300mm lens can be daunting. I rented a Canon 7D for the weekend, and essentially I am shooting at 480mm with that on my 300mm lens. A lot of volleyball is anticipating where the action will be. When you are right you are rewarded. When you are wrong you miss the shot. I shot three matches yesterday, and I had a blast doing so. After the football game this afternoon I have two more to photograph before everything is all said and done. I think that I am getting better as the tournament progresses. Maybe I will have to photograph more volleyball this season.

Purdue Volleball coach Dave Shondell serves breakfast to the fans before the morning matches of the Mortar Board Premier

Coach Dave Shondell Serves Breakfast

I made my way to campus to see the Purdue Volleyball coach Dave Shondell serving breakfast to the fans. I thought that it was a unique photo opportunity to see the coach thanking his fans. From what I have seen Coach Shondell is a very down to earth guy that appreciates the fans that come to see his team play. Continue reading

A Cold Mountain Day In Colorado

Photographing After a Huge Snowfall

While out in Colorado a couple of years ago the area was hit with a huge amount of snow. When people who are used to huge amounts think that they got nailed then you know that it was big. Once everything cleared I went out to make some photos. For someone who likes snow and old barns I was in heaven. It seemed as if everywhere that I looked there was another barn just waiting to be photographed. As the hot and humid end of August continues I thought back to that nice cold day in Hahn’s Peak, Colorado. You can throw on layers to deal with the cold. When you are out in the heat there is only so much that you can do. I would love to get back out west this winter for a few days.

Dealing With the Bluebird Day

In Colorado they talk a lot about the bluebird skies. A perfect day to a local is one that does not have a cloud in the sky. As a photographer you want something in the sky otherwise the photo can get boring. Here I didn’t want the boring sky to take up too much of my frame so I put as little of it as I could in the shot. I love to include a lot of sky in my photos, but if it does not add to the picture, then it has to be cut out.

Throwback Thursday: The LaPorte Slicers Win Their Regional

Coach Bob Schellinger Points the Way to Semi-State

A few years ago I was dabbling with my new dSLR. At the same time the LaPorte Slicers were on a historic run as far as program history goes. That season seemed to be one that was very lucky for me. I kept ending up in the right place at the right time. This photo for example should never have happened for me. The night of this game I had tickets to a comedy show in South Bend. A terrible storm came through delaying the game just long enough that I was able to see the second half. After the game was over and the photos had been taken with the new hardware Coach Schellinger spoke to his team. I loved the expressions on the faces of the kids as he explained what was in store for them. He turned to point at the fans who stuck it out to support the team, and I made this picture. Moments like this one helped me understand the power of a photograph, and inspired me to make more like this one. Last week I made a similar image at the West Side game after they had a huge comeback victory. I took what I learned here, and added a bit to it. The one thing that doesn’t change is the pride and emotion on the faces of the kids. That is what keeps you coming back for more.

The Re-Dedication of Kiwanis Field

Tomorrow night the Slicers play their first game on the new turf that was installed this summer. I got a chance to get a sneak peak of the turf while it was being put down. You can see some pictures of that process here. I had planned on attending the game tomorrow night, but I will be covering the volleyball tournament here at Purdue. Before this season is out though I would like to get back up to LaPorte to cover a game.  Continue reading

Land of the Marigolds

An Orange Marigold in August

This is another photo that I made while spending some time at my brother’s house in Martinsville. They have a beautiful flower garden that is a target rich environment for making photos. I had some fun with the 24-70mm lens getting up close and personal to the flowers while throwing the others out of focus. It makes for a very colorful background. With a macro lens I could get even closer,  but for now this will do.

Making Photos of Flowers

I am most comfortable making images of athletes in action. This coming weekend I will be shooting six volleyball games in two days with the Purdue season opening football game thrown in the middle of that. In all of that chaos I feel the most comfortable. Sometimes though I enjoy being outside where it is quite, and I can craft a picture. This is one of those times. It is not long before I long for the chaos again though.

Book Review: The Glory of Titletown by Vernon Biever


Photographing the Green Bay Packers

It has been a while since I have posted a book review. With football season ready to begin I think that it is time to crank the series back up again. What better way to do so than with a book by Vernon Biever. Vernon was the photographer for the Packers from 1941 until he retired in 2006. He was still making images until his death in 2010. His images have helped document the glory years of Packer football. His legacy continues as one of his sons works for Sports Illustrated, and the other photographs the Packers with his own son.

What you have to think about when you look through a book like this is that for almost all of the images Vernon was shooting film. You really had to know your stuff to do so. Combine that with the fact that many of those years also featured manual focusing lenses, and you have a unique skill set that was required to shoot sports. Now when a big play happens you just look at the back of your camera to see if you got the shot. Back then you had to wait until it came back from the developer. With that in mind you can really appreciate what a genius Vernon really was at his craft.

Below is a great video that shows some of the work of the Biever family with comments on the pieces by the men themselves.

Sample Images

Here are a few sample images from the book

Forrest Gregg

Forrest Gregg

Jerry Kramer, Tom Moore, Fuzzy Thurston, Forrest Gregg

Jerry Kramer, Tom Moore, Fuzzy Thurston, Forrest Gregg

Ray Nitschke

Ray Nitschke

Don Majkowski, Sterling Sharpe, Brent Fullwood

Don Majkowski, Sterling Sharpe, Brent Fullwood

Brett Favre

Brett Favre

Vince Lombardi and Lambeau Field

Shooting at an Iconic Stadium

When I made it to Lambeau Field in 2009 it was part of a great weekend road trip. I saw Purdue play at Wisconsin the day before, and then the Packers play a guy named Favre in Lambeau. Neither of my teams won that weekend, but sometimes it is just about the journey. With football season back I thought that it would be fitting to post a quick picture that I made on my way into the stadium. There are a few stadiums that it would be a dream to shoot from on the field. Lambeau would have to be near the top of that list. The appearance of the stadium has changed a bit, but the history of the field remains. Guys like Lombardi, Bart Starr, Max McGee, Jerry Kramer just to name a few from the old days. Then you have players that I remember wearing the Green and Gold like Lynn Dickey, James Lofton, Brett Favre, Sterling Sharpe, and Leroy Butler. You know the current group is pretty good as well. The game day atmosphere seems like it has not changed much over the years. They have a band and cheerleaders, and a great atmosphere. I would love to get back to Lambeau for another game on the field or not.

Shooting With Your Phone

In the right conditions your phone can be used to make very usable photos. I shot this with my old Blackberry Storm. If you have read this blog for very long you will know that I had a bad relationship with that phone. On a trip like this where I was sneaking in a camera and a long lens, I would use my phone for the wider angles that I wanted to take. Here it worked quite nicely.


Purdue Soccer Tops Ohio 2-0

Back to Photographing Soccer

Last season I really came to love shooting soccer. I really did not understand most of the sport, and I spent a lot of time studying it so that I could learn some of what makes a good photograph. As with the dawn of every new season you see some familiar faces, and you have a few new ones to learn. Two new faces made an immediate mark on the game today. Freshmen Nicole Robertson and Erika Arkans scored both of the Purdue goals leading them to victory. Robertson also made a nice pass that set up the Arkans goal.

Bonus Photo

Sophomore midfielder Christa Szalach has a unique way of throwing the ball in play. Her flip is fun to watch, but no one frame really does it justice. I might have to come to a game at night to try a multi exposure of the flip. Of course you never know where or when they will happen, but it would have to make a good photo.

Bambi in the Meadow

Photographing Wildlife at Assateague Island

My main goal while at Assateague Island was to photograph the horses. That is why everyone goes there. I did not expect to make good bird photos with the gear that I took, but they came close enough that I was able to. On the way off of the island I spotted this deer just off the road. I grabbed my camera thinking that I only had one shot at this. I rushed the first photo before realizing that the deer was not worried. I made a photo with the deer just watching me as it fed. I am not much of a camper, but if camping at Assateague Island would allow me to see more photos of wildlife than count me in.