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”
Photographing the Best of the Best in Cross Country
This past weekend I was lucky enough to be able to photograph the NCAA Cross Country National Championships for the second straight year. In a way I was shooting for the same person but in a different capacity. Last year I made images for Tyler at Indiana State. They were hosting the event, and my images were not really specific to any team. This year I was shooting the same Tyler, but now he is Tyler at Ole Miss. My images were very specific to his team as well as a couple of other teams. I liked this assignment much better as it was something to key on and help drive me to make images.
Louisville is NCAA Country
The last three times that I have visited Louisville was with NCAA games on my schedule. In 2015 it was for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. This past spring it was for the NCAA baseball tournament, and of course the cross country national championships this past weekend. When I am photographing these events I really don’t have much of a chance to explore the city. Someday I need to just go down there and walk around. It has changed a lot since I last visited as a tourist.
Shooting For Ole Miss
As I said above I have developed a great relationship with Tyler Wooten over the last couple of years. I was sad to see him head off to Ole Miss, but that was a big step for him, and I was also happy for him. He had two teams in my area that day, and I was glad to be able to work for him once again. When he left I knew our paths would cross again, but I was just not sure it would be so soon.
Shooting For Xavier
Another great set of teams that I have been shooting for lately is Xavier. Doing what I do for a living you can’t always afford to be picky. I have lucked out that I can be a bit picky about who I work for. Everyone that I have come into contact with at Xavier has been great. I am so glad that we found each other a couple of years ago for a great weekend in Nashville. I look forward to photographing them much more as the years go on.
Shooting For Indiana
The one new client that I picked up this weekend was Indiana. As a favor last week I made some images of their girl finishing first in Terre Haute. This week I picked up a little extra work photographing their runners in Louisville. I took a little heat in my DM’s for shooting for Indiana on the way home Saturday, but at some point I can’t turn people down just because my followers don’t like them. In some capacity I have now shot for every Big Ten team which is pretty cool. Once again the SID’s that I have come into contact with this year have been great so why not shoot for them?
The Week In Photos
Last week was sort of an off week for me as far as what I can post here. Some days I shoot some really cool stuff, but it never ends up here. That is too bad. I did have a couple of good sports shoots though. It was going to take a gargantuan effort to top last week. I really had fun there, and I think that it showed in the work. This week is another weird week for shooting. I usually work a lot right around Thanksgiving, and this year I don’t think it will be any different. I have cleared out Saturday though to be at the bucket game. I have missed a lot this year, but I won’t miss that. You can view my favorite photos from last week here.
Two Years In a Row Covering NCAA Cross Country’s Finest
Last year I had a great time covering the NCAA cross country national championships in Terre Haute. I really thought at the time that it was an event that I would only cover the event when it was held in Terre Haute. This year as luck would have it a few teams that I cover are here in Louisville which is still close enough to be a feasible trip. As this posts I will be running across the fields here at E.P. Sawyer Park covering the event. In the next couple of days I should have a full recap of the fun up here on the blog.
The ‘New’ Canon 24-105mm f/4
On the way down here I stopped at Robert’s Camera for some rain gear that I hopefully won’t need. As I did that of course I browsed the camera section and ended up walking away with the Canon 24-105mm version II. The first 24-105mm was a staple in my bag. I used it at countless events to have a wide range of focal lengths in one lens. I can’t wait to see how this new one works out for me. Incidentally the old one is for sale if you are looking for a great lens.
My Favorite 10 Images From the NCAA Baseball Tournament Louisville Regional
For the third straight year I was lucky enough to photograph a NCAA baseball regional. Tournament baseball is so much fun to photograph. For the second straight year I have photographed Xavier as they made their run through the tournament. Both of those years Xavier has made it to the finals, but could not break through. Next year it would be fun to watch them finally get that regional win. It is hard to boil down images from six games into my top 10. As always with these lists the order could change the next time that I rank them. As I went back through my images these were the ten that popped out to me.
10. I will start the countdown off with a tight shot of Jack Flansburg batting against Xavier. At some point during games I will move to this position to get some fielding shots. When the batter is facing me I will also get a couple of tight shots of them batting with the ball in the frame. I think I like this one so much because of the pine tar on the helmet. There is something about that that made this one pop for me.
9. I did not shoot any baseball for Radford that weekend, but I did make a few photos of them from time to time. Their second baseman Kyle Butler would blow bubbles in between plays at his position. I wanted to show the outfield crowd and the Louisville sign in the background so what better player to place in the foreground. For some reason I am drawn to bubble shots. This one was my favorite of the tournament.
8. Cade Harris of the Oklahoma baseball team would check his bat each time before stepping into the batters box. I made a few shots of this over the three games I covered for the Sooners, but my favorite was this one as the sun was setting. The light was almost like a spotlight on Cade as he went through his batting ritual.
7. The same night as the photo above I made this shot of Oklahoma shortstop Brandon Zaragoza fielding a ground ball. I really liked the way that the light was coming into the photo. I sat on the shortstop for a while hoping a ball would come to him, and I was lucky enough that one did. When you shoot a multi day tournament you hope for little things that change things up a bit. The one night of great light that we had did that for me. Continue reading “Top 10 Photos From the NCAA Baseball Tournament Louisville Regional”
The Final Day of the NCAA Baseball Tournament Louisville Regional
I have been lucky enough to photograph NCAA regional games for the last three years. I love the atmosphere that the tournament brings. Everything means a little more. The teams you are covering have highs and lows that they go through. You hope that the team can end on a high. In the three years that I have covered the tournament I have had two teams make the final, but never win. Maybe next year I can cover the winning team and get that dog pile shot at the end.
The Happy Organ
One of the best parts of the weekend was the organ during the games. You really always have a big game feel at Jim Patterson Stadium because of the way that they run gameday. The organ music being played during the game really helps the atmosphere.
The Day Started With a Rematch…
The first game of day three was a rematch between Xavier and Oklahoma. Oklahoma won the first game thanks to a big 7th inning. In the rematch Xavier had a huge eight run first inning that pretty much set the tone for the game. I ran into the same situation that I did on day one with Oklahoma. At one point of the game they had not scored yet, and I was wondering what my photo story was going to be. On day one they scored seven in the seventh to guide the story. On Sunday they did not score at all so the story had to be the journey. Continue reading “Day Three of the NCAA Baseball Tournament Louisville Regional”
Another Day at the Louisville Regional
Day two of the Louisville Regional was an interesting one. I had a game at noon to start the day. It was an important one as Xavier needed to beat Radford to advance to the next day. Elimination games are fun to shoot because the emotion is there, but they are also tough to shoot as you are hanging on every pitch. Every at bat could decide the game. Xavier came out firing and made sure that they would play another day. After a lengthy span between games Oklahoma took on host Louisville in the winner’s bracket game. The big inning that Oklahoma used to get into the winner’s bracket came back to haunt them as Louisville did the same to them. It was a rough end of the game for Oklahoma who used a lot of pitchers to get to the end. The events of day two would set up a showdown on day three between the two schools that hired me to shoot for them again. I will have more on day three on the blog tomorrow.
Shooting in the Beautiful Light
Saturday night saw some beautiful light fall into Patterson Stadium. For most of the first few innings of the game I shot with the light because it was so good. I shot the players in the field much longer than I normally would have without really shooting the batters because I wanted to use the light. As it turned out I was still able to get all of the batting that I needed, but I also was able to make some nice photos in the sun. That is what it is all about isn’t it? On a day when many games around the country had trouble with the rain we had some great light.
Brendan McKay The Pitcher
During the nightcap of the day I was able to watch Brendan McKay pitch. From what I have been told by multiple people he is either a sure pitcher in the draft or a sure hitter. At this point I say why not both? Bo Jackson could play two sports. Why can’t Brendan do both as he moves up? Early in the game I had an idea for a photo. I waited until the photo wolves cleared out from behind the plate, and I made the photo above. It is not the typical shot of the pitcher head on, and that is why I like it.
My Favorite Baseball Kit
When I am working a baseball game I have a three camera setup that I love to use. I have my Canon 1DX on my Canon 400mm lens. That is the primary camera and lens in this setup. On my left side is my Canon 7D Mark II with my 70-200mm lens on it. That gives me a chance to get some photos from a mid range. I don’t use the camera much, but it usually results in a couple of images in the gallery. On my right side I have my Canon 5D Mark IV with my 24-105mm lens on it. For most of my games this gives me a wide to moderate focal length, and it covers the extra ground lost by putting the 7D Mark II on the 70-200mm lens. This basically gives me coverage for nearly any shot I would need to make. In a tournament like this one I will change up this combination a bit to get a different look. The 400mm almost always sits on my 1DX. The rest of the kit is up for grabs. For most of the second day I had the 17-40mm on the Canon 5D4 for a change. It allowed me to get a little closer during the pregame to get something different.
Float Like a Butterfly
Saturday marked the one year anniversary of the death of Muhammed Ali. He meant a lot to the city of Louisville, and the Cardinals honored him with a decal on the helmet. What a cool way to honor the greatest.
Traveling To Photograph The NCAA Tournament Again
This is the third year that I have travelled to photograph the NCAA Tournament. In the first year I followed a team I had worked for, and picked up a team I have shot a few times since. Last year was much the same. This year I followed Xavier to Louisville to photograph them here. Along the way I also picked up Oklahoma which makes the trip much more worthwhile. This is the time of the year that I live for. I love baseball, and the emotions of a tournament atmosphere are amazing. Last week I was lucky enough to see some great tournament baseball in the Big Ten Tournament. Here in Louisville the stakes are higher, but the same seasons are on the line. That win or go home mentality makes the photos better, and that will keep me shooting this tournament as long as I can.
Photographing From The Xavier Perspective
As I said above I am shooting for both Xavier and Oklahoma this weekend. Of course the first game saw both teams play each other. I thought that I would talk about what I saw from the Xavier perspective here. For most of the game Xavier was in the drivers seat with a two run lead. They had their ace on the mound, and all they needed was three more innings of clean baseball. As far as Xavier was concerned I had some really good stuff that I just needed to upload to the team. Had they pulled out the victory I think that I had a really good gallery to give them. Two days later we all know how that ended. They did not win the game, and I don’t know how many people saw the gallery.
Photographing From the Oklahoma Perspective
For most of the game I had some decent stuff from the Oklahoma perspective, but nothing great. They only had gotten a couple of hits with no runs. Then the seventh inning happened. In that inning they used a couple of breaks to put seven runs on the board, and move into the winners bracket. I was trying to think of how to put together a gallery before that inning. You still have to give your client something. That inning helped me make my best images of the game, and give them something really good.
Seeing Louisville Play in Person
After I was done uploading my files to both teams I walked out to the field to photograph Louisville for a while. They are an exciting team that has produced a large amount of pros over the last few years. It looks like there is another crop getting ready to be drafted again this year. This team could go very far in the tournament. They have to beat some good teams along the way to do it though. As I write this they have a very good Oklahoma team coming up shortly. At this point it would take two wins to get to the super regionals. From there it is a coin flip as far as Omaha goes.
The Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky
After my games yesterday I checked into my hotel on the Ohio River. The view out of my window was okay, but I walked around the floor to see if I could find a better view. This was the view out of the elevator bay window. I am sure that I looked crazy to people coming and going as I sat there waiting for cars to go by to make pictures, but I am used to that by now. Why wouldn’t a grown man be sitting in a window bay awkwardly making photos?
Muhammad Ali’s Death One Year Later
Last year during a rain delay I learned of the death of Muhammed Ali. I was in Nashville at the time, and I had just driven through Louisville on my way there. The signage for Ali was amazing, and I thought that the city would heavily mourn him. That they did. They had a huge funeral that drew leaders of the world to Louisville. Ali was one of those men that stood out from the rest. He was a once in a lifetime athlete. This weekend Louisville has some special promotions to honor Ali. I thought that I could at least make a photo of his center here in Louisville.
Where Are The Baseball Pictures?
I am here in Louisville to make photos of the first round of the NCAA Baseball Tournament. I had a full day making photos yesterday, but I really didn’t have the time yet to sit down and put my thoughts from the day together. With a long delay between games today I should be able to do that. What that means is that once again this site will not be breaking news as the photos will be two days old by the time that I publish them. I will be able to tell a better story about the tournament though by waiting an extra day.
My 15 Favorite Basketball Photos of 2015
This has been a great year for me as far as shooting basketball goes. I have been really lucky to shoot for some great teams. Shooting in a loud, packed Mackey Arena is always fun. I was able to shoot a couple of games in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse as well. The highlight of the year though was shooting the first round NCAA Tournament games in Louisville, Kentucky. I was able to watch a lot of good basketball through my lens that weekend. I was hired to shoot games for Iowa State and Hampton, but it was great to see Purdue in their return to the tournament as well. 2015 was a great year to shoot basketball, and I hope that 2016 can match it. I will be shooting in Mackey tonight so I hope that it can start off as good as I think the season can. While we wait for that game though let’s look back at my fifteen favorite basketball images from last year.
15. One bittersweet moment this year was watching the five great seniors leave the West Lafayette basketball court for the last time. I covered many of these guys in other sports as well as basketball over the years. They were a great group that will be hard to replace this season. Here they gathered one last time on the court for a photo after a win.
14. Media day at the NCAA Tournament can be a slow day if you let it. For some reason instead of complaining I decided to make some fun photos. The top photo was made in the Iowa State locker room before the media was allowed in. I loved the chilled nature of the photo as the player just listened to his music. I also liked this photo of one of Fred Holberg’s kids in the locker room. Who knows how good he will be in the future, and this first NCAA moment will be one that he will remember.
13. Early this season Ray Davis sat out part of an early game with what appeared to be a leg injury. When he came back into the game, and laid down this sick dunk. I guess his leg was okay after all. Ray will appear on this countdown again. Continue reading “Top 15 Basketball Photos of 2015”