The Start of a Game In The McLeod Center

Last year I had a cool opportunity. During a break in the MVC Track and Field Championships I walked down a hallway from the stadium I was in, and into the McLeod Center. This is a really cool basketball arena that had not yet been built the last time that I was on the campus of Northern Iowa. The Northern Iowa Panthers have some very cool facilities, and this is one of them.

Creating The Tilt Shift Look

In the past you had to buy extra software to make the tilt shift look in your photos. Either that or actually buy or rent a tilt shift lens. I don’t know how I missed it, but Photoshop now has some cool tools to re-create the tilt-shift look. This was my attempt to use the software for the first time and play around a bit. I would like to mess around with this a little more.

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My 17 Favorite Stadium Shots of 2017

2017 was a fun year for me traveling around making sports photos in different venues. I travelled to nine states this year to make sports pictures. Many of those trips make their way into this list as they were memorable venues. This list has moments of action in it, but a lot of it represents my first few moments in a new stadium. I like to get there early and then find a way to show the venue that I am shooting in.

17. This year the Purdue softball stadium finally received a name. It was christened Bittinger Stadium. That seemed to coincide with me getting some time to fly my drone around. I went out to the stadium one day to make a photo of the stadium at sunset. I liked how this turned out. I was really looking forward to making many pictures in this stadium this year, but it just didn’t work out that way. Maybe the new year will bring a few more games here.

16. For the second straight year I helped cover the Big Ten Swimming and Diving Championships. This time it was the women who made their way to West Lafayette. At the start of a race I had an idea to show off the aquatic center. I used my 8-15mm to get ultra wide to show off quite a bit of the venue.

15. I had a similar thought during the 2017 MVC Track and Field Championships in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Thirteen years prior I saw a spring football game in this venue when I lived in Iowa. It was cool to come back and shoot there for Indiana State. I wanted to show just how cool this building was so I broke out the 8-15mm lens again. It was a long distance race so I had plenty of time to change lenses and find my composition.

14. I like this photo for what it means in many ways. It is a blue hour photo of an Indiana State pitcher throwing to a Purdue batter. The top of the photo is blue and the bottom has the yellowish tint from the lights. I used to shoot for the gold team (Purdue), but now I shoot much more for the blue team (Indiana State). My past and my present all in one very cool looking picture.

13. Speaking of the past Purdue did a fantastic job of celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mackey Arena last year. They took the traditional opening and amped it up quite a bit. When the floor came to life and dropped away I was immediately blown away. Without any knowledge prior to the event I was caught off guard. I raced up to a higher position to make a few photos of the show. This one just at the end of introductions was my favorite. The basketball experience at Purdue has grown by leaps and bounds since I last sat in the stands. It is amazing just how far things have come in such a short time. Mackey will show up again on this countdown. Continue reading “Top 17 Stadium Shots of 2017”

My 17 Favorite Sports Photos of 2017

Today I shoot my first sporting event of 2018. After shooting 106 sporting events last year I have a lot to live up to this year. Last year I shot practices, regular season games, conference championships, NCAA Regional events, and NCAA Championships. It was an amazing year, and I don’t list those things off to brag. I list them off because a part of me still cannot believe that I am doing this for a living. This year I was paid to travel to nine states to make sports photos. Being paid to travel is cool, but when you are being paid to shoot a sporting event somewhere new it is even cooler. I love being on the road with the team. You get to know everyone much better, and you get to meet some great photographers along the way. Over the last two years I have met some great people who have helped me out a lot on these road trips. The is a hard list to put together. As I said before I shot 106 sporting events last year. Even making a top 106 would be tough as there would be multiple photos from one event that I would like. To boil that down to a top 17 is nearly impossible. I tried to go with the 17 moments or places that stuck out to me. I know that I am missing some for sure. The ISU track meet that they won after coach had just passed is one that seems like a glaring omission. Covering the Purdue baseball team on their return to the Big Ten Tournament is another. It is just hard to whittle it all down to seventeen moments. Here is my attempt at my favorite seventeen photos from last season.

17. I can’t think of many ways that a National Anthem shot would make this countdown. I see so many of them in a year that they start to all blend together for me. While photographing the Indiana State women’s basketball team at Illinois I noticed that the light was amazing. I went from the boring anthem shot that I had planned to this shot. It was not only an anthem shot that I liked, but it was one of my favorite sports shots of the year. This will be hard to top this year. I will scour every anthem during the year though to try and do just that.

16. I really did not cover much softball this season. During one game I knew that I was not shooting for anyone and the photos were just for me. It was then that I started playing around a little. I switched my camera to double exposure mode and started playing. Here I made the first exposure of the dark background and the Purdue P. I then would place a Boilermaker in the empty part of the frame. Maya Hughes seemed to know what I was doing and lean into the photo a bit for me here.

15. This year I covered two teams for Purdue that I had not since 2014. The first was Purdue baseball during a home game in April. I had not shot for the Boilers at home for a long time. I was glad that they won that night, and my gallery could include this shot of two of the players celebrating. This was an amazing year for the team as they exceeded expectations and made it to the Big Ten Tournament. Luckily it was close in Bloomington although I would have driven much farther than that to cover it. On these dark, cold winter days you can’t help but wish for a warm night shooting baseball. This season cannot get here fast enough.

14. Another year has gone by as the photographer for the Lafayette Brawlin’ Dolls. This is truly the thing that is the most fun to photograph. I was only able to make three of their four games this year as I had other events get in the way. The players are great to me, and you can’t beat the photos. Here two former teammates hug during warmups while skating around the track. What other sport can you make this shot in? Continue reading “Top 17 Sports Photographs of 2017”

Emotion Rules the Final Day of the MVC Track and Field Championships

You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that the stakes are raised on the final day of the MVC Track and Field Championships. The majority of the races on the first day were prelims setting up finals on Sunday. With that in mind I decided to focus on the action and emotion rather than play around like I did on Saturday. I love being able to capture some of the little moments that happen between the athletes. Some of them like the one above occurred on the podium. These two also had a great moment right after their race as well that I was lucky enough to be there for. That is what keeps me going with this photography thing, and what justifies being away from home for so long.

Working For a Photo

One of my favorite photographers is Joel Sartore. He really does not photograph sports, but rather whatever assignment National Geographic sends him on. He is probably best known for his Photo Ark series of photos. There is a great video featuring his process that will show up on Netflix from time to time. In it he talks about working a photo until you have what you need. During the MVC Track and Field Championships I did that with one photo. Having never shot in the UNI-Dome in the past I went looking for track photos made in the dome. One thing that I noticed was the fact that the American flag was behind the pole vaulters. The photos that I saw had the flag very small in the frame. I spent some of the time on the bus heading to Iowa thinking of a way to make the flag the entire background. I came up with a couple of ideas depending on how the pole vault was set up. During the walk through Friday I didn’t think the photo could happen. The way I envisioned it was way off because the flag was too high, and the pole vault was moved from where it was in the past. I worked it a little Saturday, and I came away with a photo that I liked enough to share on social media. Sunday during a slow period I decided to work on it a little more. I wanted to see a face, and I had yet to make that photo. I had to sit in an amazingly uncomfortable position to make the shot, but in the end I am glad that I did it. I came away with a shot very close to what I envisioned on the bus ride to Iowa. Sometimes you have to really work to make the photo that you have in mind.

Late News is Better Than No News

For the past two weekends I made the choice to not be so current with the blog. I wanted to be able to sit down and spend some time writing the posts instead of shoe horning my writing in to a couple of busy weekends. Those posts written in the moment are always lacking some things that I wish that I had put in. I think that stepping back a little gives me a little time to give a little more insight into an event. I can think a little more clearly on it with a little time between the event and my writing. I have made apologies in the past when my posts have come late from sporting events. From here on out that may just be the norm. I would rather take my time to write something that is decent rather than rush a post just for some quick hits and views. This is not a news site so I think I can get away with doing that.

Looking For More Photos From the Weekend?

You are in luck! I have put together an Exposure page with some of my favorites from the weekend. I had a great time shooting a couple of long days in Cedar Falls, and I knew that I would want to put all of the photos together in one place. You can find that photo story here. These Exposure pages are a great way for me to look back at an event to see what I came away with, and what I could have done better.

The Week in Photos

The last full week of February was a fun one for me. I was able to get some wildlife shooting in along with a good old fashioned drive myself into being lost session. Back when I started to get serious about photography I would just drive somewhere without caring about where I was headed. I did that this past week with one caveat that I still had to head south. The way that I got to my destination was not set in stone though. I would pull off the road when I felt there was something interesting there. Add in a senior night for basketball along with a weekend of emotion, and I have a collection of images from last week that I really like. You can find that Exposure page here.

Heading to Cedar Falls, Iowa

One draw to shoot these championships besides the obvious action was a return to Iowa for me. A little over ten years ago I moved away from Iowa looking for what I wanted to do with my life. Being a manager in a factory was not for me. That road away from Iowa directly led to the road back there a few years later. I was about an hour from where I used to live in a familiar place. Our driver Bill made sure that we got there safely on our charter.

Slowing Things Down Again

Early on during day one there was only the Heptathlon in progress. With warm ups under way for the long jump I really had nothing to photograph. I decided to play around with some slow shutter speeds from across the arena to see what I could come up with. I really liked the way that the background blurs into a series of colors here. This was a fun idea, and a great way to kick things off for the tournament. I wanted to get the usual shots during the weekend, but I also wanted to create some special images. It was a way to show the special nature of the conference tournament. This was a great way to start off making those images.

Getting Inside the Cage

I knew that I wanted to put a remote inside the throw cage during the tournament. After some negotiations by my SID I was allowed to place a remote in the cage in a specific place. The camera is not the safest in the cage so I put a couple of old, but trusty pieces of equipment inside. I placed my 5D Mark III and┬ámy Tamron 10-24mm lens on my Joby Gorrilapod in such a way that I could get the field in the background with the large scoreboard as well. I like the way that the remote provides a clean background when often the straight on shot does not. The unique nature of the building also helps the shot out. Continue reading “The 2017 MVC Track and Field Championships Day One”