The Shadow Train

The Sun Changes Everything

A while back I was back at a familiar location that I had already flown with my quadcopter. Just a couple of days apart the conditions were completely different. There was not wind the second day, and this thing that we had not seen for quite sometime was out. It is called the sun. We went through a long stretch without seeing it. Only once before that day while I had my quadcopter in fact. The shadows the sun creates changed everything about my flight that day. I would probably not have made another photo of the bridge, but the stopped train along with the great shadow made the decision a no brainer. At first look the photo can be a little confusing, and I like that about it.

Cleaning Things Up

The part of photography that nobody tells you about when you start is just how much you start to collect after a while. I started taking this a little more seriously just over five years ago. When I started shooting sports I kept everything. At some point though you find yourself with terabytes worth of files that are just sitting there. I had a plan of going through and cleaning my Drobo of a lot of these old sports files as the weather turned bad this winter. The nice weather has delayed that job a little bit. I have gone through and pitched a bunch of the photos that I didn’t consider keepers early on. I don’t like the majority of my keepers from back then so why keep the photos that I didn’t consider good enough then? My process has become much more streamlined over the years, but those early days of shooting has left me with a job to do. Slowly but surely I have rid my Drobo of the files that I don’t need anymore. I have saved some of the better stuff, but if I didn’t get paid to shoot the event it will be purged.

The Overview Effect

The day that I made this shot I picked up a book at Barnes and Noble. I had another book in hand to buy, but that all changed when I saw Overview by Benjamin Grant. The book looks at the Earth as the astronauts see it from space. The book collects some amazing satellite photos that show just how amazing this planet is. The book is inspired by the “Overview Effect” which is what astronauts feel after looking down on the Earth from above. I have become infatuated with the top down look with my drone. It was one of the reasons I bought the drone after using one for a few days. I love the different perspective that it gives me. The photos that I make are anywhere from three to four hundred feet above the ground. Seeing the Earth from space gives you a completely different take on things, and makes me want to hit several lotteries so I can get my own orbiting camera up there.   If you want to know more about the book you can click here. You can gets details on the book as well as a few ways to follow their accounts on social media. Just following the Instagram account is inspiring. I get nothing for recommending the book. I always feel the need to talk about things that really inspire me. This is one of them.

The Week in Photos

Last week was a fun week that saw me get back into sports a little bit again. I really have strayed since the start of the year, but the next few weeks will see the action pick up a bit. You can see some of my favorite photos from last week here on my Exposure site. This is a fun post that is fun to put together each week.

Thank You!

I periodically like to say thank you to the people who take the time to read this blog. Today seems like a good day to do so again. Yesterday this little blog had the third best numbers day in the over five year history of it. I have always been a numbers guy, but the numbers on the blog are not my priority. The blog is more of a creative outlet for me as it allows me to write a bit. I do notice when the numbers spike though. Eyes on my work and the blog also provide a little incentive to keep going through the process. It is one that I enjoy doing, but knowing that people are reading makes it easier to make time for. Thank you for reading this little blog, and I hope that I can keep creating things to keep you coming back to read more.

Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships Day Four

Michigan Wins the Day and the 2017 Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships

Going into the final day of the Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships I would say that both Michigan and Indiana were the two favorites to win the title. On Saturday night Michigan was the better team, and they cruised to the title. This is my second year covering the Big Ten Swimming Championships as I covered the men’s last year. This is a great event to cover as you have high emotion for four straight days. You can’t beat that. I am sure that this time next year I will be wondering why I am not going to wherever they are holding the Big Tens. It is a great way to spend a few days.

Getting Up Close and Personal

I made a point to take my 8-15mm lens to the final day to allow me to get a little closer to the action. When the final scrum happened last year I was right up against the athletes, and I wanted something that would help me capture the scene. As the final races were ready to start I had my two full frame cameras on my body with the 24-105 on one, and the 8-15 on the other. This would allow me to capture a wide range of scenes. The 8-15mm gave me another different look after four days of shooting. In those four days I don’t think that I ever used the same combination of cameras and lenses twice. I was trying to change up my look as well as how I had to shoot from day to day. I didn’t want to keep sending in photos that looked the same.

What to Do Next?

For the last few weeks I have had a very light sports schedule. This championship allowed me to really get my feet wet again both literally and figuratively. The next couple of weeks will be busy as well with two more conference championships to cover. For some reason people shy away from these events, but I love them. When I played sports way back when I would always play better after I got going a bit. Getting immersed in a tournament like this is a great way to keep going and challenging yourself. I usually get very busy in March, but this year that was moved up by a couple of weeks. This could be an interesting month or so for me. There are a lot of great shots ahead, and I have to keep moving to improve myself. I also have to get out and fly the quadcopter a bit as I only flew it once last week.

The Week in Photos

After not having a lot of sports in my weekly collection of photos I have a majority of the collection as sports photos here. This was a week full of celebrations as well as the sports moments. I shot two Valentine’s Day parties as well as the events surrounding the 8th birthday of my step-daughter. I love being swamped, and I was that for sure this week. You can view some of my favorite photos from the past week here on my Exposure page.

Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships Day Three

The Emotion Starts to Heat Up On Day Three of the Big Ten Swimming and Diving Championships

Friday night was the finals for day three of the Big Ten Swimming and Diving Championships on the campus of Purdue University. It seems as if the emotion is ramping up with each day as the Big Ten Tournament Championship gets closer. Each race means more to the teams in contention. On the flip side is the fact that some racers are now starting to compete in their final collegiate races. There were some genuine moments Friday night that I was lucky enough to capture. As I write this I am just a few hours away from shooting the finals. Last night I did not really shoot the action, but rather I sat on a few situations where I thought emotion might come into play. Tonight I plan on doing the same thing. At this point teams have action shots from throughout the season. Getting tight shots of the swimmer in the pool does not show the setting. I have been trying to show what it feels like to be on the pool deck at the Big Ten Championship. Those are the photos I think that will stick around from this tournament.

Lilly King Breaks Records

One of the stars of the event has to be Lilly King. It is no secret that I love Purdue. Some people think that you should dislike all things IU, but in reality those are kids just like the ones on our teams. One of the Indiana swimmers is not like any other kids though. Lilly King smashed the Pool, School, Big Ten, NCAA, and American records for the 100m Breaststroke last night by knocking over 30 seconds off of her previous best time. She really is the star of the event, and one reason that Indiana is near the top of the leaderboard overall. I made a point of making some photos of her over the course of the week to document this run she is on.

Shooting the Action in the Prelims

One thing that I decided during days two and three of the tournament was to get my action shots in during the prelims. My job during the event was not to get a tremendous amount of action, but rather the podiums and emotion of the event. As a sports photographer I love capturing emotion, and that is a great job for me to do. I also like shooting swimming as I don’t get to do it as often as I would like to do. With that in mind I went to the prelims with the action as my priority. The emotion is not there as much so I can focus on making some images of the swimmers. So far in the championship this has been a good strategy as I was able to get the swimmers in the pool, and then at night focus on the emotions of the night. For the final night I will not be able to attend the prelims, but I think that I have one job one the final night, and that is to cover the emotions that the teams are going through. Two teams have a great shot at the overall title, and of course with a good night a couple of other teams can get into that picture as well.

Photographing the Divers

This season I had not shot diving yet. The two teams that I have covered during the year do not have a diving squad. So of course my first diving of the year comes at the Big Tens. I didn’t have to get much of the diving, but I photographed some of it just to get some in this year. I like the beauty of it, and I need to find a time to get serious and dial up my diving coverage a bit.

More Photos From the Night

I put together an Exposure page with my favorite photos from the night that you can find here. It is on the Purdue Exposure site so it is all about Purdue, but I am very proud of some of the images in it. Give it a look. Tonight I will be putting together my Exposure post on my site with some of my favorite photos from the week in it. With four days of a tournament in a row it should be a good one. My landscape and quadcopter photography took a hit this week, but I made some images that I really like.

Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships Day Two

Day Two of the Big Ten Swimming and Diving Championships

The first day of the swimming championship is a pretty easy one session two event deal. It is a great way to kick things off. Day two starts the multi event format with a morning session and a night session. For what I am doing I am only getting paid to be at the night sessions. I have been attending the prelims during the day though to get stuff for myself, but also to get some action shots that I would not get at night. We are more focused on the emotion and the event for what we are doing, but I am almost shooting the action during the day like a videographer would shoot b-roll. The little action compliments the story, and it is fun to shoot as well.

Slowing Things Down

If you have ever shot swimming then you know that the freestyle gives you very little to photograph. The head only comes out of the water for a second, and it may or may not be on your side of the pool. A long event such as the 500 freestyle can seem like forever unless you give yourself a challenge. I played the how low can I go game with my shutter speed. I just keep going lower until I can’t get a usable image. With a stroke like the freestyle it makes it harder, but when you get something good it makes it that much more rewarding. I love how the water smooths out into an almost painting like look. As I said on social media yesterday, this is not for anyone else usually. This is just for me to make a pretty picture.

When Your Team Medals

During the second night Kaersten Meitz was having a heck of a swim. As the 500m freestyle moved on her team was getting more and more animated. I was across the pool from the team where Kaersten was swimming, but I made my way as fast as you can on a slick pool deck to a spot in front of the Purdue team. I wanted their reaction to the performance. As Kaersten finished third and medaled the team went crazy, and I was rewarded with some nice photos.

More Photos From Day Two

Here is an Exposure page that I was a part of from day one of the championships. It is just based on the Purdue side, but it still has some images in it that I am pretty proud of. Since I am writing this late the page for day two is up here as well if you want to look ahead a bit.

Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships Day One

Lots of Emotion at the Opening Night Relays

Thankfully this is not a news source so I don’t have to post things as they happen. The races featured in the post actually occurred on Wednesday night as the Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships opened up. Last year I helped cover the men’s Big Ten Championships at Purdue, and they were a blast to cover. You finally see some emotion in swimming. This was one event that I had marked on my calendar to shoot if I was getting paid or not this year. I love the spontaneous moments that occur throughout the week. It is impossible to get the all, but the fun is trying to do so.

Putting the Action on the Back Burner

For the opening night I really did not shoot much action. In fact I made the picture above of a Purdue swimmer, and one other of an Illinois swimmer during the night. The rest of my efforts were spent trying to capture the emotion of the night. As the week goes on I usually make more action images during the prelims, and then when the Big Ten Championship is on the line I focus on the emotion. That worked well last year, and hopefully will work well again this year. Continue reading

Flying High Over the Purdue Olympic Sports Venues

Flying Over Alexander Field

The first venue that I made sports images at in the new athletic complex just off of campus was Alexander Field. That seems like a good place to start this post. I have made a couple of flights over the field, and it really amazes me just how good it looks for mid February. My yard doesn’t look this good at the beginning of summer let alone in the middle of winter. I wanted to go up and try and get some views of the stadium that I have not been able to get on the ground. I have made a lot of images of Alexander Field over the years so it was cool to have a new view of it. The photo above is probably my favorite of all of the photos that I made over the course of a couple of days. After making photos of the stadium under cloud cover late in the day I decided to head back one morning in some good light. The sun was coming up perfectly here for me to make an interesting photo.

Flying Over Bittinger Stadium

One of the main goals of my early morning flight was to make some photos of the newly named Bittinger Stadium. The new signage on the stadium is something that I do not have any photos of so I wanted to get them in good light. I think that part of the reason for these two flights I took was the fact that the bat and ball season is starting. Being this far north I will not get to see either of these two teams play for a month or so. I am getting antsy to start photographing these sports again so I am doing the only thing that I can.

Flying Over Folk Field

I had some ideas for Folk Field, but a large white tarp on the field took most of them away. I had one idea left though, and it ended up turning out pretty good. One thing that I love to do in case you haven’t figured that out already is to shoot into the sun. Even with one RAW file you normally cannot get away with this. What I did here though is to take two sets of five exposures of the scene, and merge them into one HDR photo. I was shooting in aperture priority mode with the aperture closed down to get a starburst. In aperture priority I exposed for the sky and made five images. Then I exposed for the building and made five images. A ten image HDR seems like overkill, but I wanted to be sure that I had all of the data that I needed to make the scene look close to what I could see with my eye. At the end of the day I loved this photo, and it might have been my favorite of the trip. Continue reading

More Snow on the Campus of Purdue University

The Snow Falls on the Neil Armstrong Statue at Purdue University

A while back I posted some photos from my snowy photowalk around the campus of Purdue University. For some reason I left a few photos out of that post. I was going to go back and re-insert them, but I decided that they could have their own post. This photo of Neil Armstrong was one of the reasons that I decided to break this out into a second post. I really like the way that this turned out. The pose by Neil along with the way the snow is falling really worked for me here. Neil looks as heroic as he should, and the snow does the rest for the photo. I love the campus of Purdue University, and snow just adds to the beauty of it.

Making Good on a Promise

As I was writing up my ‘best of’ posts for last year I realized just how little I explored my own area. When I visit a new town I try and get out and see what makes it worth visiting. The problem with having a place as cool as Purdue in your own backyard is that you take it for granted. You can go out tomorrow and make images of it. This year I decided to really bear down and photograph the place where I live with the same ferocity that I photograph towns that I visit. So far I have kept that promise to myself. It has also been very rewarding as I have made a lot of images that I really liked. This is something that I intend to keep going long after 2017 is over. There is always something new to explore around here. The campus changes so much that you can be sure of that.

The Week In Photos

Last week I had a lot of fun making photos. I think that it shows in my weekly collection of my favorite photos. Near the end of January I decided that I would start making the photos I wanted to make. I have been banging my head into the wall for a couple of years doing the same things over and over hoping for a different result. I decided that I would go back to really enjoying what I am doing, and it has paid off. I have really been enjoying myself, and I think that it shows in my work. Here is a link to my favorite photos from last week.

Time For Some Baseball

Pitchers and Catchers Report Today

I am a huge White Sox fan, and excited to see that spring training is starting today. It will most likely be a while before I shoot any baseball,  but it is nice to know that someone is. This is the first year in a long time when I don’t know what I will be doing during baseball season. I have some games on the schedule, but for the most part I am on my own to start the year. Looking back at some of my Major League stuff I realized that I did not attend a Major League game last year. Many things got in the way of that, but with a schedule in June that looks a little better right now I need to make a few Sox games. As the winter moves on I find myself watching more and more old baseball or the MLB Network just to get a fix until the season starts. Until the season does start though I will just have to go through my older photos for a while.

Tim Lincecum Pitches Under the Full Moon

It is at this time of year that I really want baseball to come back as soon as possible. I like the winter and making photos in the snow. I like that I get to photograph bald eagles in the winter. I also really like photographing baseball on a warm summer night. In the photo above it is not quite summer yet, but it was a beautiful night to watch a baseball game. I only had a few hours to spend in San Francisco thanks to a problem with our flight out there. I had my ticket to the game purchased already, and the pitcher that I would have liked to photograph was on the mound. Tim Lincecum has a great motion that looks amazing from a few angles. Everything was working in my favor. With no clouds the sunset was a bust, but a full moon rising over the stadium made up for that. As the moon came up I was in the upper deck making some blue hour photos of the stadium. I came back down to my seat just in time for the moon to rise up over the action down there. It was a night when everything seemed to be working in my favor. I had a blast photographing at AT&T Park. I would really like to do it again sometime.

Back in 2013

Life was so much simpler in 2013 as far as photography goes for me. I only had the one camera. The Canon 60D. Had I gone on this trip this year I would have agonized over what camera to take. I probably would have found a way to take two. In 2013 the choice was easy. I only had the 60D so that is what I took. As far as lenses go that was an easy choice too. I had the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 with a 1.4x extender that I could put on it. I had a Tamron 10-20mm lens that I would use for my wide angle photos. I had also just picked up the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens from my friend Andy who now lives in the bay area. At the time I really wanted the Canon 24-105mm f/4 for trips. On my crop frame body I don’t know how good that 24-105 would have been. I of course own it now, and it is a great travel lens. You get a wide range in one lens. It is fun going through these older photos because you can put yourself back in that time. Everything was new and fresh. I was really doing it! The good news is that I still get that feeling today. I love what I do, and it amazes me all of the time that people pay me to do it.

Wildlife on the Wabash

Still Having A Blast Photographing the Bald Eagles in Lafayette

No matter how many times I see them I still enjoy watching the bald eagles over Lafayette. They really are beautiful creatures, and they can put on quite a show when they want to. Today I just had bad timing. They all seemed to be stuffed when I showed up to the pond, and they were more intent on soaring in the high winds than fishing. No matter what it is still cool to see them flying around the Wabash. The bluebird sky made for a great backdrop. This unseasonably warm weather has some advantages to it.

The Eagle Butt Photo Nobody Wants to See

It is basketball season, and no matter how hard you try not to you still end up with ref butt photos when you are on the baseline. I would think that the wildlife equivalent of that is the photo above. The lone strike in range for me yesterday was performed with the eagle flying in the exact opposite direction. With the wind at the time coming straight at me I suspected that this would happen. I would rather have had the light, and I was gambling on the eagle turning my way to escape with their lunch. Of course the eagle went the opposite way with no other eagles in the pond area to force it back my way. Sometimes you gamble for the great photo and you lose.

More Than Just Eagles

I really photograph anything that looks interesting to me while down by the pond. Yesterday in addition to the eagles I photographed ducks, geese, and seagulls. The photo above has an interesting story to it. While sitting quietly on the shore waiting for the eagles to feed I heard a boat zipping down the Wabash. It slowed near the entrance to the pond I was at, and I was hoping that it would just look around before heading back to wherever it was going. It did not though, and seemed to move all through the pond scaring every living thing out of there. The only thing really close to me was this flock of ducks. When they took flight I let my shutter rip. They are really beautiful in flight, and this photo has a little bit of every part of their technique. This was not the photo that I went down there to make, but it was one that I liked.

The Week in Photos

Each week I compile some of my favorite photos into one Exposure post. This week I have no sports action again, but still some interesting photos. This was another good week for me. The eagles photos yesterday were just the icing on the cake. You can view my favorites from the week here. This might be my favorite posts yet. A lot of photos that I really like this week.

Continue reading

Lucky Table 13

Photographing the Bowl For Kids Sake

I don’t always post about every shoot that I do, but this one was kind of special. It was for the Bowl For Kids Sake event by the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Lafayette. The photos are for them, and I don’t plan on posting any of them here. One photo that I really did like was this one that I made early on before we got going. I love the way the light plays together here. The only place you can find light like this anymore is a bowling alley or a roller rink. I knew that I had a photo so I made this one with the thought of posting it here. I wanted to be able to use this little platform that I have here to talk about the many good things that Big Brothers and Big Sisters do for both the bigs and the littles in the relationship. It is a great organization that deserves your attention. Give them a look through the links that I have provided.

Expecting the Unexpected

In the middle of our shoot yesterday the entire bowling alley lost power. Of course our strobes need power too so at first I thought that we were done. I went out into the alley to make some photos of the bowlers having fun with the lights out. iPhone lights are very powerful, and really helped make some of my favorite images of the day. We decided to try and move on with the portraits using the natural window light. My friend Trevor Mahlmann. came up with the bright idea of bouncing my strobe off of the ceiling to add to the ambient light. It worked great, and got us through the shoot. The only reason that the speed light was in the bag in the first place was an emergency of some sort, and it came in handy for us yesterday. Big or small something can go wrong on nearly every shoot that you have. Over preparing can help make big things like losing power become insignificant.