Heading Back To Neyland Stadium

I have a little history with the Tennessee football program. In 1988 my father took some classes there, and when he came home he brought me back some souvenirs from a school I really had never heard of. The colors were orange which were the hometown LaPorte Slicers colors. I started following the Vols from that moment on. They always seemed to be on ESPN late at night so it was easy to do. A guy named Peyton came along and then it seemed like everyone knew who the Vols were. For years I wanted to visit Neyland Stadium. On the last day of 2006 I was headed home from the Purdue bowl game in Florida. I stopped in Knoxville to see Notre Dame and Tennessee play in women’s basketball. On the way into the stadium I marveled at Neyland Stadium and made a few photos with my point and shoot camera. Just over ten years later I will be back there to photograph Indiana State as they take on the Vols. The is a job that has been on my calendar longer than any other job in the past. When I knew about it I made sure they knew that I was available that weekend, and that I could shoot it. Now here we are a couple of days away, and I couldn’t be more excited.

A Time Of Year To Go Down Memory Lane

This time of year I always get a little nostalgic when it comes to what has happened over the last four years. In the span of eight days in September of 2013 I made a photo that is still being used today, and my daughter was born. When Notre Dame came to town on the 14th of September I was sure for most of the day that I would not be at the game. I grew up cheering for Notre Dame, and I love Purdue so it usually is a no-brainer. A deep disappointment that I could not be on the field was going to keep me away from the game. I ended up buying a $70 ticket to the game and picking a seat that I thought would make for a good photo. My hunch was right, and suddenly I had a photo that people wanted on my hands. I really did not know what to do, and I basically gave the photo away. I did however get a pass to photograph Purdue on from the sidelines. Before the Boilers came back home though I had another important moment ahead. My daughter was born on September 23rd. That day was hands down the best of my life. Before my daughter was born I heard people say that, and I wondered if they were being honest. Now that it happened to me I know that they had to be. My daughter was born on a Monday, and on that Saturday the Boilers would be home for the first time since I got my pass. I was excited about the game, but I still didn’t know if I should leave my daughter to go. I did, and although I don’t think that I made any images that I really liked that day it was still a dream come true to be there. You can see one of my images from that game above. Looking back on that time I had an amazing two week span that I can only hope that I can duplicate again. The emotions felt then would be hard for sure. There may be a couple of long posts this month because of that fact. Next year when it is the five year anniversary of these days you can bet your life that there will be.


A Ten Year Anniversary of a Very Special Day

Over the course of this season I have heard people saying that you should forget about the past when it comes to the White Sox World Championship in 2005. Yes they won it ten years ago, but it was a great time that is not easily forgotten. When the Cubs win a World Series (it is coming sooner rather than later) they will know the feeling. I still remember that night like it was yesterday. I bought a ten dollar ticket to watch it with many other fans on the big screen at the United Center. I think that the Cell would have been a better place to see it, but it was warmer in the UC. As Jermaine Dye singled in Willie Harris the roof seemed like it would come off the stadium. As Juan Uribe made his improbable catch for out number two in the ninth the decibel level increased even more. It was absolute bedlam as Uribe fielded a ground ball and threw to Paulie at first for the final out. I have many teams that I consider my favorite. I love the Blackhawks in hockey, the Packers in football, and Purdue is my college. The team that I care the most about is the White Sox, and it was amazing to watch them win it all. I hope that I can relive this feeling again

2015 MiLB Photo of the Year

Tomorrow is the last day to vote for my photo in the MiLB Awards. I keep reading that my photo is in a close race for the top photo so every vote really does count. You can vote for my Josh Bell celebration photo can be found here. Thank you if you already have voted. It really does mean a lot to me.

Seeing Your Boyhood Idol In Person

For those that don’t know my childhood baseball idol was Carlton Fisk. You probably can figure that out very easily by just glancing at this blog. 30 years ago at the end of this month I met him when I attended my first MLB game. He quickly became my favorite player, and I made many terrible trades as a baseball card fan just to get more of his cards. Ten years ago today I was at U.S. Cellular Field to see the White Sox unveil his statue. It was a great moment for sure. I got to the park very early to be first in line. I then raced to the outfield to get front and center for the presentation. I had a few VIP’s in my way, but I was as close as I could be. It was a great moment that I will never forget. That was part of a great season for me as a White Sox fan. The reconciled with my favorite player, and then went on to win the World Series.

Using the ‘New’ Equipment

I used my new camera at the time to record this moment. It was a Kodak DX7440. It had to be a sports camera because it had a burst mode that would allow me to make multiple images at once. It was a step up from my previous point and shoot for sure. It would be replaced within a year by my first dSLR though as I was starting to really get into photography at that point. At the time though I didn’t think that anything could have beaten that camera. It made many images for me in a short period of time. I had no luck at night or indoors with action though, and that led to it getting mothballed. My father still uses the camera so I can say for sure that it has been a durable camera. Continue reading “Carlton Fisk Gets His Statue at U.S. Cellular Field”

Finding Beauty in the Old Stuff

In early 2006 I went with some of my co-workers to Las Vegas for a conference. One day I went off on my own to see the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. I took the boat ride on the lake, and up to the dam. I made many photos with my point and shoot camera on that trip. Just before leaving I bought a new piece of software called Microsoft Photo Suite. It had a built in panoramic function in it. I made many images on the trip knowing that I would stitch them together as a panoramic image. This was the trip of the panoramic image. I don’t know if I have made as many since as I did on that short trip. I kept using the Microsoft program for the sporadic panorama that I would make up until a couple of years ago. I was shooting a point and shoot in auto so the pano is not perfect, but it is a nice memory of a beautiful place. If the photograph can bring back the great memory of the trip than you don’t have to have it perfect.

Robin Williams Gone Too Soon

As a kid growing up my favorite comedian by far was Robin Williams. I first knew of him as Mork on Mork and Mindy. Of course he then played Popeye which was great for a kid. I could not understand why my parents would not let me watch his HBO special. Mork is funny why can’t I watch him? Being an enterprising young man I used my parents VCR to tape Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom on HBO. I accidentally let the recorder go long in order to see Robin Williams Live at the Met. That is still one of the great comedy specials that I have seen. From that point on anytime that someone would ask me what I wanted to do in life I would say stand up comedian. Robin would be listed as the reason why. He was a little blue, but he was still funny. The picture above was taken with a ¬†point and shoot the second time that I saw him play live. I grew up watching his standup, and it was great that he came back out so that I could see it live not once but twice. It is crazy to think that this man who gave the world such joy ended his life because of great sadness.

Getting the News that One of You Boyhood Heroes Has Died

Tonight I was out to eat with my wife when I got a text from my brother. I saw that it included a picture of Robin on it, and I shut my phone back of knowing that it could not be good. A couple of minutes later I picked the phone back up, and I could then confirm that my worst suspicion had come true. Robin was always a tortured soul that may finally now have piece. As a manic you saw how up he would get when he was on TV. One could only imagine how low he could get as well. His pain finally ended today apparently by his own hand. When I first heard the news I thought that it could have been his heart. In a way maybe his heart just wasn’t in this life anymore. Tonight I spent some time watching some of the work that made me laugh all through my life. From his early work with Mork to some of his great appearances on talk shows and movies lately. I don’t normally post something topical, but when it hits home I tend to do so. Besides my dad I had three heroes growing up as a kid. Robin, Carlton, and Michael. One of them is now gone.

Throwback Photo

I have a new idea that might bring this weekly segment back. Until I can get ahead on it a bit I thought that I would post a couple more older photos from my archives. This photo was taken in 2006 just before I bought my first dSLR. This might have been one of the last outings with a point and shoot for a long time. When I lived up north I used to attend a lot of Gary Railcats and South Bend Silverhawks games. This was the game at Gary that made me realize how much fun the ballpark in Gary could be. This combines many things for me in one location. Baseball, sunsets, and warm weather. I can’t wait to see all three of them together again.

Photo of the Day

It has been a while since I have visited Las Vegas. The first and only time that I have was in 2006. I had a point and shoot camera at the time, but that didn’t stop me from trying to capture some of the great things about the city. With the point and shoot I was not able to do much after dark, but that didn’t stop me from trying. Occasionally things went in my favor, and I made a nice image. ¬†One of the places that I loved was New York, New York. I had not been to the Big Apple yet so this was my first taste of what it would be like. Of course the real buildings were much larger, but it did wet my appetite to see the real thing.

Technical Data

You could say that I have been working on this photo since 2006. Just before leaving for the trip I picked up a copy of a a photo editing program called Microsoft Photo Suite. In that program was a way to stitch several photos into one nice panorama. I spent a lot of time on that trip making photos that I could stitch into panos. This was one of those. I decided that on the left side of the frame a bunch of streetlights and power lines were worth the pano. Power lines also dominated the right side of the frame. Part of the editing here in 2013 was to get rid of some of the excess in the frame. I think that the photo is much simpler now as it should be. I did use an HDR preset in Lightroom to bring out some of the detail in the photo. Of course this was shot at high noon so I tried to get rid of some of the harsh shadows. The Photo Suite was my first real editing program. I never did dig too deep into it though. Cropping and panos were the main things that I found for it. I did find some painterly filter that I used way too much as well. It is still a good program that I used for panos up until about a year ago.


Throwback Photo

This is a photo from near my hotel (Bally’s) in Las Vegas looking towards the Paris hotel next door. I loved everything about this hotel from the scaled down Eiffel Tower to the nice balloon shaped sign out front. Using a point and shoot makes a shot like this tough though. I really had to focus on staying still to get it. In the end it turned out. I have often wondered how my dSLR would do on the strip. It is not as concealed as my point and shoot was, but I think that I would have had a blast with it.

Technical Data

Here is a good luck at things that I used to do because I was limited by my equipment. My old point and shoot cameras would not capture the entire scene. I had to improvise. I would take to pictures trying to line them up as best as possible up and down. From there I would run them through my panoramic program in Microsoft Photo Suite 2006. In fact I only quit using this program last year because I liked it so much. I now know that I have better programs to use, but my limited pano work is still done with this program. Almost seven years after I initially edited the photo I ran it through Lightroom to add a few highlights to it. Even with an old jpeg Lightroom let me bring it to life a little more. You really have to be careful though not to overdue it, and break apart the picture. This one when zoomed in all the way is really not very sharp. Too much tinkering would have ruined it. I think that I walked the fine line pretty well here.

First Down

Photo of the Day

This was a shot that I was debating putting on here. When I took this picture it was really advanced for me. I guess that this section of the blog is meant to show images that I liked in the past, but it is also here to show how I have grown. Shooting with my point and shoot was a blast, but it had its limits. Even when I found one with a good burst mode the quality was still not there. It did its job though, and I have this nice image to show for it. I went to the game to shoot #40 here, and twice that day I got shots that made it worthwhile. Little did I know how far I would go after shooting this.

Technical Data

This is a shot that I found out how to make by accident. I made a panoramic out of the six pictures in the burst in Microsoft Photo Suite. That left me with a lot of ghosting especially with my target the running back. I had to go back and get the shots of him from four of the images to bring back into this shot. With the software I had at the time it was a hard process, but worth it.