Photographing the Lilly Diabetes 250

Spending The Day At The Indianapolis Motor Speedway

For the second straight year I have been lucky enough to photograph the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The speedway is a magical place that is fun and challenging to shoot at. To change positions you really have to go a long ways. Once I learned to use the golf carts that would go by it made life much easier for me. Racing is so unlike anything else that I shoot that it makes it fun to get out and try something new. It has also been a while since I made a sports picture so it was good to get out and make some sports frames as well.

Right Place, Right Time

Sometimes you can do everything right, and still not get the shot in sports photography. Sometimes you can also luck into a shot. Saturday I had a little of both on my side. I wanted a spot to shoot the start of the race from. I knew I wanted to be in turn one so that I could shoot down the straightaway and get the pylon in the shot. I went up to find a spot, and the usher showed me the spotters stand. It was a great place that I could shoot from that I will have to keep in mind. Once I had a cool spot that was mine for a while I shot the start of the race, and then I decided to shoot a round of pit stops. I had an idea to shoot vertical and get everything in. Of course chaos ensued, and I was lucky enough to be there to capture it. This turned out to be one of my favorite shots from the weekend. Click on the photo to see it larger and see the jack man flipped over with the jack still under him. There is also chaos in the background of that as well. It was a cool moment that I was lucky enough to be there to capture. Everyone in the photo was okay so I can say that.

Testing Out the Canon 600mm F/4 Lens

One great thing about being a Canon CPS member is being able to try out gear with no cost attached. Here at the Brickyard it is even easier as you can just walk to the Canon room and see what they have. I get my gear cleaned and checked, and also get to try some things out. This year I just wanted to give the Canon 600mm f/4 a shot. I had never shot with the 600 before. I have used converters to get the focal length, but never a prime 600. It is an amazing lens that comes with an equally amazing price. It was great to use it for two days though. I will have to find a weekend with a lot of field sports going on, and try this thing out again. Luckily for me I didn’t do what I did with the 11-24mm and buy it. I would like to, but for what I shoot it really doesn’t make that much sense. The first three photos in this post were made with the 600 so you can see that I really liked what it gave me. Continue reading

Back To the Brickyard

One More Year At the Brickyard

If you know me than you know that my trip to the Brickyard last year was horrible. I made a few decent pictures, but I spent most of the weekend in some state of a heat stroke. With no hot pass I could not get anywhere worth shooting, and it was a long trek to get anywhere for a decent shot. The problem was in the fact that I went way too hard on the first day because I was so excited to be there. I even tried after throwing up to shoot an ARCA race that first night. It was madness, but I learned a lot in the process. I swore that I would never shoot that race again unless I was paid a lot of money to do it. Well here I am back in Indy to shoot the weekend again. Why is that you say? The answer is a bit complicated. I have poured my heart and soul into shooting sports for the last few years. In return I have done some really cool things, but I have never really gotten to where I want to be. At the end of the last school year I made a deal with myself that this upcoming summer and school year would be my farewell tour so to speak. I have some really cool shoots lined up in some places that I have wanted to shoot for a while now. When that year is over if I am still in the same position that I am today…who knows. The hours that I have put into this thing have taken away from my family time. At this point I really only seem to be doing it for myself so why am I still doing it? With no clear goal I just seem to be drifting along. With that in mind I still want to shoot some things before the end of the year. I have a few things that I think I could do better at the Brickyard hot pass or no hot pass. I want to shoot in a few venues that I have not shot in before. This last year will be a good one to go out on if that is truly what is going to happen.

Beating the Heat

Last year one thing that really started getting to me was the heat. On day one I tried to do too much too fast and ended up with heat stroke. You can recover enough to feel better the next day, but you never really get over it that quickly. This year I decided to really make sure that I was doing everything that I could to protect myself during the day. I went in with a plan instead of just aimlessly walking around trying to get into photo locations. This year with a gameplay I was able to conserve a little energy, and make it to the end of the day.

More To Come

With the hectic day at the track and an early wakeup I know that I won’t get a good recap of the events in. With that in mind the next couple of days will have a much more detailed look at both races this weekend and the events surrounding them. Stay tuned for more.

When Art and Basketball Collide

The Basketball Court at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

For years now I have driven by the Indianapolis Museum of Art and wondered about the basketball court that I could see from the road. I always wanted to drive down and see what it was, but the time just never was on my side. I usually am driving home late at night from Butler, and I just want to get home. This past winter while coming home from a day game at Butler I finally stopped by. There was much more to explore here than I thought there would be. I finally made some pictures, and decided to come back when the trees looked a little better. I still need to get back there.

From the Air

Part of the fun at the time of finally visiting the sculpture was flying over it with my DJI Phantom 4 Pro. I liked what I saw from up above, but I wanted a different view. I basically made the same photo that is at the top of the post with my drone, but I decided that I wanted more megapixels so I broke out my dSLR to make that shot. Really what the drone has given me is the ability to completely cover something. This might be an even cooler shot around blue hour when the lights have kicked on.

Ocean City, Maryland From Above

An Aerial View of Ocean City, Maryland

Recently you have seen photos that I have made of many places overhead with my drone. I love how the drone allows me to get a new view on a city that I have seen many times. I would have liked to have done the same thing in Ocean City, Maryland, but they have banned drones from the city. I saw no signage while in the city, but a nearby airport means that you can’t use the drone near the boardwalk anyway. What can you do when you can’t fly your drone? Get in the ferris wheel to get your shot. I have been wanting to do this for a couple of years, but the weather has not cooperated when I was ready to do it. This year the clouds and the beach were cooperating for me. The beach soccer tournament also lent a nice element in my photo as well. I love the way that you can see the beach goers on the ocean for miles into the distance.

A Photographer Afraid of Heights?

If you know me then you know that I don’t like heights. That makes it fun when I am setting up remotes in the rafters of stadiums. I not only don’t want my body to fall, but I don’t want to lose my equipment either. In my mind that is actually a good thing as I over protect all of my gear when I have it up high. I make sure that nothing will become a story other than my photos. Even in a ferris wheel I had some of those thoughts. It took a couple of revolutions before I felt comfortable enough to start making photos. I am glad that I did as I like this photo of the beach.

Short Glimpses of Ocean City

While on the way to Ocean City I had an idea. The girls have been watching some vloggers lately, and while we were delayed for a few hours at the airport they were making short videos of their own. I decided that I would film little buffers for in between their segments. I started making short time lapse videos with my iPhone while at the airport. The project just kept going as we made our way on the trip. I tried to make videos that complemented what they were doing, and then I made some for fun. The entire video is set to different music, and is not yet done. I thought that it would be fun to show the buffers all together though. I really like some of these short time lapse videos, and with the right music this could have been a much cooler project. Next year I may just make a video of our trip with everyone involved. That is a long time away, but it could be really cool to see. For now check out this short video of some of the sights of Ocean City.

Let’s Go For a Fountain Run!

Going For a Fountain Run on Campus

One thing that I never really did while on campus was to go on a fountain run. I think I may have run through them a time or two, but it was never an planned event. Now that I live near Purdue again, and I have kids we find ourselves on campus quite a bit having fun in the fountains. The pool is fun, but the fountain is a nice change of pace. It is also nice to get out and walk campus again as well. Right now campus seems to be nearly shut down with construction. If you weave your way around enough of it though you can play in a couple of cool fountains. I hope that someday both kids will bring their kids here as well to enjoy this great campus.

Having Fun While the Kids Play

Part of the fun for me on these fountain runs is going through the fountains with the kids. I also usually spend a few minutes making photos each time. On this particular trip I used both my GoPro and my Canon 5D Mark IV. The photo at the top of the post was made at the engineering fountain with my 5D Mark IV, my Canon 17-40mm lens, and my Lee Big Stopper. I don’t break out the big stopper often, but I usually like the results when I do. The big stopper is a 10 stop neutral density filter that allows me to have a 15 second exposure in the middle of the day. That allowed the fast moving clouds to blur a little more making something a little more interesting than the normal middle of the day shot. At the Loeb Fountain I used the GoPro to make some videos of the kids inside of the fountain, but I also made some photos from inside of the water jets. It is a shot that I would like to get with my dSLR, but the GoPro is waterproof so it gets the job. When I have both kids in the summer I can start to feel like I am not being creative. Trips like this one allow me to get a little creative while still having fun with the kids.

The Statues of the Great American Ballpark

Seeing the Statues at the Great American Ballpark

One of the things that the Cincinnati Reds do very well is the way that they honor their past. The last time I visited the park in 2009 I toured the Hall of Fame, and I was very impressed. This should be a model for other ballparks to follow. From what I have seen St. Louis did follow this model, and they have a very good hall of fame as well. At the early hour I was walking by I was not able to tour the hall of fame, but I was able to see the statues outside of the park. They have added a few since I was there last. I concentrated on the statues that were new to me during my short stay. I can’t wait to see how they honor more of their heroes in the future. I may be there when they honor Junior.

The New Pete Rose Statue at Great American Ballpark

The big reason to head back to the Great American Ballpark in my limited time in Cincinnati was to see the new Pete Rose statue outside of the ballpark. I loved watching Pete play as a kid. He played the game the way that it should be played. He played with a heart and passion that few can match. His statue shows that perfectly as Pete will forever slide head first into a base outside of the park. This is a great statue that will be a destination for fans for years to come.

More Photos From the Park

Below are a few more of my favorites from my short walk around the park.

Continue reading

Staying At the Hotel Lincoln

Staying at the Hotel Lincoln in Lincoln Park

While in Chicago to see Dead and Company over the 4th of July weekend we stayed at the Hotel Lincoln. Usually on a trip I have some idea of where we are staying. I usually have had some say in the process. Here we didn’t book the hotel so I didn’t even know where we were staying until we were on our way up there. With that said I really had no real knowledge of what it looked like until we pulled up to the hotel and walked in. Instantly I was impressed with how it looked, and I knew that I would be back to make more frames of it.

Visualizing the Shot

I had not had a chance to go through the hotel with my camera yet when I was exploring it with my family. I just had my phone with me. During that time I made many photos most of which ended up on Instagram. What was a small trip with the family turned into a scouting mission essentially for when I came back with my camera. I knew where I wanted to go, and basically what angle to make the photos from. Each of the photos in this post was basically part of a three step process. I walked through and just checked things out first. Then I made an iPhone photo of the situation. Finally with some free time in the morning I came back to make the photos that appear here.

Thoughts on the Lincoln Hotel

My thoughts on this hotel are very easy to sum up. I loved this place. I really did not have much time there with the schedule we had that weekend.  By the time I had free time the top level which is normally open was closed for a private event. I would love to see the view from up there. I loved what I saw here, and I can’t wait to go back and see what else the hotel has in store for me.

The Great Wolf Lodge

Hanging Out At The Great Wolf Lodge

Last weekend before heading to the Jimmy Buffett concert in Cincinnati we spent a day at the Great Wolf Lodge. I had never been before, but my step-daughter loves the place. I made this photo as we were waiting to head up to our rooms for the first time. I was checking out what was ahead of me for the next day or so, and it brought out the ten year old in me that is never very far from the surface. The large bucket tipping over was all that I needed to be excited for the fun on the day.

Taking the Kids on a Road Trip

Usually when I go out on the road it is by myself. This was the end of basically three straight weeks of travel. By this point the three hour ride to Cincinnati could have gone either way. We had some fun playing the license plate game. Being the tech guy that I am I found an app for the phone that made it a lot of fun. By the end of the trip we found 35 out of 50 plates, and a great way to make the trip fly by. I have made a couple of trips since then, and I sort of miss my co-pilots helping me find the plates.

Making Photos With the iPhone 7 Plus

This photo was made with my phone. As soon as I knew what that bucket was going to do I knew the kind of photo that I wanted to make. I wanted to slow the shutter down a bit to show a little motion. An app I use on my phone called ProCam allows me to treat my phone like I would my dSLR. It allowed me to get my shutter speed down to 1/30th of a second which was good enough to get this shot. To make sure it was sharp I simply pressed the phone up against the window.

Testing the Canon 11-24mm f/4 Lens In Downtown Lafayette

Having Some Fun With the Canon 11-24mm Lens

The day that my 11-24mm lens arrived from LensRentals I took it to dinner in downtown Lafayette. We met my wife after she got off of work, and when dinner was over I went for a short walk by myself around town to check out the new lens. I knew right away that I had something great in my hands. The 11mm look without the crazy fisheye look. It stretches the frame in a very cool way that will be fun to play with over time. I did not spend too much time up there, but it was fun while it lasted.

First Thoughts On The Canon 11-24mm f/4

This was my first chance to use this lens. From square one I knew that I had something special in my hands. By the time I made my way down to the courthouse which is under construction I was sure of it. As I have been editing these photos I have found myself going a little further with them because of how they look. They have such a cool look to them that I find myself going a little over the top with the editing as well.

Watching the Sun Set Behind Chicago Night Two

Watching the Sun Set Behind Chicago For the Second Night In A Row

For the second night in a row I joined my friend Trevor Mahlmann at Porter Beach to watch the sun set behind Chicago. Trevor organized this pretty cool shoot for many of his social media followers to join him on. It was a fun night meeting some new photographers. You get to find out what they like to shoot, and what motivates them. Seeing how everyone takes a different angle to view of the scene is great as well. It is funny how it works. All week long the first few nights of the meet up looked bad, and they were. It was too cloudy to see the show. Thursday night was iffy, and Friday looked like the sure thing. Of course Thursday was the best night, and Friday didn’t quite pan out. We still got a heck of a show as the sun broke through the clouds and moved towards the city. The haze in the city combined with the sun gave us a heck of a show. If you want to check out this cool phenomenon you still have about another few days to witness this.

A New Show Every Night

I bet if you had the time to head up to the lakeshore to watch this every night until it passed through Chicago you would see a different show every night. We had many different chances to make a photo before the real show was even ready to begin. On the way there I was wondering how I would make a different set of photos on night two. Looking up at the sky I realized that the sky was going to do most of that work for me.

At The Beach With Some New Friends

Part of the fun of the last two days was meeting new photographers. This is a fun hobby/job for many people so it is fun to share that enthusiasm. If you want to see some of the work from the others from last night check them out on Instagram here kurtsteiss, ecotwin1marissacadavidberns, and joshdinner. I have met some amazing photographers the last two nights that have really given me some inspiring ideas. Photography is fun. Photography with others is even more fun.