My Favorite Photos From the 2016 Racing Season

One aspect of my photography that I am trying to improve on is my racing photography. I don’t spend much time around the tracks so it is hit or miss when I cover an event. This year though I was lucky enough to cover my first NASCAR races at the Brickyard. Covering a NASCAR race is pretty cool, but it featured two of my favorite drivers when I watched more racing. Tony Stewart is an Indiana boy who is currently running his victory lap of the circuit. Jeff Gordon came out of retirement just in time for me to photograph him. Last year I missed the opportunity, and this year I was able to make a dream come true. As you look through this list realize that it is made up of my favorite images. A lot of bias goes into this countdown, but it is what makes these lists fun for me to come up with. So here are my favorite 16 racing images from 2016.

16. Chalk this photo up to a little luck. While walking on pit road after Cup qualifying I saw Jeff Gordon walking towards me. He was the story of that weekend so I turned around to follow him through the crowd. I knew that they would stop and ask him for his autograph, and I had an idea for a picture. Here is that picture.

15. During the Brickyard 400 I had some time on my hands. It is a long race, and without the special hot pass I could not shoot in many locations during the race. I was tired of the couple of trackside spots that we were allowed so I made my way into the stands to try a few things. I liked this photo of the couple tethered together with their headsets. A cool moment that I liked from the day.

14. Everyone is on their phones now. Here eventual winner Chase Briscoe shares a moment on his phone with a crew member just before going out for qualifying. Part of the reason I like covering ARCA races is the fact that the drivers are happy with what you make of them. They enjoy the coverage, and that makes it easy to capture moments like this one.

13. Jimmie Johnson is now a seven time Cup champion. He is someone that millions of people look up to. He is also a dad. I think that is why I like this photo so much. We both have little girls that we adore, and I only wish I could take mine to work with me. Maybe someday she will roam the sidelines with me.

Continue reading “My Top Racing Photos of 2016”


Photographing on the Road Course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Yesterday I was back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway photographing the practice for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis. This has now become a yearly tradition where I can get out and make some images on the road course. One of the hardest sports to break into has been auto racing. For some reason that door just has not opened up yet. I will keep knocking though as it is fun to get out and shoot these drivers pushing the limits. This year I made it to a few new spots on the track as well as a few favorites from last year. Just for fun I thought that I would break down each position that I found one by one in case you ever want to shoot out on the course.

Turns 12 & 13

For some reason I have always started my rounds here. Next year I may rotate around the track in the other direction, but once again I started at the end of the course and kind of made my way around it backwards. This is a good place to shake out some of the cobwebs from not shooting racing in a while. In all reality not many of the photos that I make here I will keep. I think the backgrounds are a bit boring, and the angles are not the best. With that being said I like starting here as I don’t have the pressure to keep very much from this position.

Turn 7

This would be a great location that I would spend more time at, but the safety bales at the end of the long straightaway just get in my way. If I was a bit taller or had a stool to stand on I think that I would spend more time here. As you can see from the photo above you get a great view down the long back straightaway of the cars coming at you. I like this view to tell a bit of the story of raceday. Continue reading “The Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis Practice”

A Clutch Hit By Danny Ortiz Sends the Fans Home Happy

At some point around the seventh inning last night I started thinking that the game was going to go to extra innings. Some games just have that feel. Neither team could string together the hits necessary to score the winning run. A controversial call at second in the bottom of the 11th had the feel of a call that would extend the game even more. The call seemed to motivate the Indians though who started a rally that resulted in the winning hit by Danny Ortiz. I really love photographing the extra inning games. The game can turn on any pitch, and the emotion is cranked up a little. Who wouldn’t enjoy shooting in conditions like that? That is why I do this. The photos are always better if the Indians win in those situations, and luckily they did last night.

Meeting Carl Erskine

Some players you grow up learning more about for crazy reasons. You pick certain players for reasons that sound crazy to say as an adult. Carl Erskine was that guy for me. As a young kid I traded some cards for an ‘old’ 1957 Topps card of Carl Erskine. I can still remember the spot on the playground where the trade occurred. I knew nothing about this man or why it said Brooklyn on his jersey. I quickly learned though, and Carl was always a player that I would look for in the future as I collected cards. Last night Carl came out to Victory Field to speak a little bit on what Jackie Robinson meant to baseball and beyond. It was a treat to meet and photograph him. This hobby of mine has turned into something that really brings the kid back out in me. This summer will provide a couple of opportunities for the kid in me to come out. This was a surprise appearance that was not on the schedule, but I will take it.

Playing With the Light

At this point of the season the light is not very good to shoot in when the game begins. Most of the players are in the shade with a very bright background behind them. To combat that I have moved up for the first couple of innings to shoot down on the players. This gives me a nice background while eliminating the distracting light backgrounds. While moving around early in the game last night I stumbled upon a couple of great shooting locations in the upper deck that may come in handy later on in the season. Right now though a nice small patch of light hits the batters during the first inning. By next week this will probably be gone, but for now it provides a way to play a little early in the game. As this season moves on I will have some fun following this light as it hits other portions of the field. Right now though it puts the spotlight on the batters.

Bonus Photos From the Game

Below are a few extra photos from the game that I liked.

Continue reading “The Indy Indians Walk It Off in Eleven”

My 15 Favorite Hockey Photos of 2015

This year I shot more hockey than I ever have before. That being said it still was not really enough for me. I love hockey, and it is a very challenging sport to shoot. You may have picked the best position to stand, but with a large pile in front of the net you do not have a clear shot. When you have those opportunities to get that clear shot you have to make the most of it. As the new year begins I think that I will have a lot of chances in the first couple of months to shoot hockey. The Purdue hockey club will be back in action, and the Indy Fuel are just getting going. This will be a fun next couple of months.

15. We start the countdown with a shot over the goalies shoulder by Purdue forward Rhett Schaefer. Rhett is one of the bright spots of the Purdue hockey team, and here he gets a shot past the goalie.

14. One thing that you have to be ready for in hockey is the sudden goal. The initial reaction is usually a very good one. A goal is not an easy thing to get in hockey so the initial surprise/joy of the act is usually great to capture. You cannot always get this shot. The celebration is not always in the same place so some of this is luck, and another part is good guesswork. Here I positioned myself by the Purdue bench because at some point the celebration will come to the bench. Luckily I got the player to turn right at me to make the shot.

13. One shot that is hard to get at the Fisher’s Forum is this shot from ice level. The glass is so marked up and stained with sweat that you really don’t get crisp shots through it. I end up shooting over the glass which puts me slightly above the action. When shooting the Indy Fuel I am down lower making the ice spray shot much cooler looking. This was one shot that I was looking to make when I went earlier this year.  Continue reading “Top 15 Hockey Photos of 2015”

Shooting Baseball at Historic Schreiber Field

Last night while back in my hometown I decided to photograph my former high school baseball team. I had not set foot inside of Schreiber Field in about 21 years, but it was still cool to go back home so to speak for baseball. As a kid growing up LaPorte Baseball was on par with the Major Leagues for me. In middle school my friend Ryan helped me get a job putting the numbers on the manual scoreboard in center field. That scoreboard is gone, but the memories of the days watching the Slicer teams win state remain. I remember sitting in my driveway pitching up against the garage door listening to Bub Gale pitch LaPorte to a state championship. When I think of baseball I think of Ken Schreiber and the Slicers so it was nice to go back to shoot a game there. The bonus was that it is set up really well to make some great pictures at. The dugouts are dug out into the ground allowing you to walk up right behind them to shoot over. That helped me during my guessing game of where the ball is going to go late in the game. I think in the near future I would like to do a photo story on a gameday at Schreiber Field. There is a lot that goes into the game, and with a little access I think that I could do some pretty cool things.

The LaPorte Slicers Defeat the Merrillville Pirates 10-0 in Five Innings

This game was really all LaPorte from the very beginning. They had their bats going from the first inning, and kept them going into the fifth where the game was called due to the ten run rule. There were a lot of cool moments during the game, but watching Travis Upp who had been in a bit of a slump hit a home run to get the scoring going was pretty cool. Even better was watching his dad Scott who coaches the team and third base congratulate him as he came around the bases. That is what baseball is all about. As I said above it has been 21 years since I last saw a game at Schreiber Field, but it will not be that long until I see another one there. These kids have fun playing the game, and it shows on the field. I found myself having more fun just listening to their banter as the game went on. I don’t know much about the team, but from what I saw today they look like a close group that could do some of the things LaPorte expects out of their baseball team. I will keep an eye out on them for sure to see just how far they can go.  Continue reading “Slicer Baseball at Schreiber Field”

Stephanie White addresses the Mackey Arena crowd

Another Legend Returns to Mackey Arena

Yesterday I was in Mackey Arena again for one last Purdue women’s basketball game this season. The game was against Illinois, and the Boilers were honoring Stephanie White who is one of the legends of the arena. She was one of my favorite players to watch, and she led the team to the National Title at the turn of the century. It was good to see her back, and to hear the way the crowd appreciated her.

Alumni Day

One of my favorite days of the season is alumni day when we get to see some of our favorite players again. The crowd that gathers on the court to be recognized is usually a small portion of those who come back for the weekend. It is fun to see Boilers of vastly different eras having fun together. It just shows you what a family women’s basketball really is. That is what makes it so fun to watch. Continue reading “Stephanie White Returns to Purdue”

Photographing in Mackey Arena Again

After a few games away it was nice to shoot in my ‘home’ arena again. Making the short drive to Mackey today was nice after a few road trips up north and down south this past week. I love shooting in a new arena, but it was also nice to set my cameras to the Mackey custom settings on my cameras. There were some familiar faces on the floor yesterday along with a few new faces. This seems like a much different team than the one that I saw play last season. They have already cracked the top 25 although I think they may drop back out again. A good showing in the Bahamas could put them right back in it though. When time allows I plan to photograph quite a few of the games this season. I love the college game, and it is a lot of fun to photograph it.

Back to the Basics

After shooting three cameras the last week I decided to keep it simple yesterday. I took two bodies, but knew that I would just be using my 70-200mm lens on them. During the first half I sat out near the sideline with my Canon 7D Mark II on the lens. This pulled me in a bit closer to the action from out there. During the second half I put the 5D Mark III on the lens as I was sitting under the basket, and I needed to pull back a bit more. This seemed to work really well for me, and I was happy with my take on the day. Both cameras performed well, although I am liking the 7DII more and more. I need to get a grip for it to make it a good camera for basketball though. The 7D just seems to make much better photos for me. It may be all in my head, but I think that it focuses faster than the 5DIII. I have always had some trouble with the 5DIII grabbing focus initially as I pan the camera to catch something. The 7D has no such problem even with the same autofocus settings. So far though I have been very pleased with the 7D, and it has paid for itself with the work that it has gotten me.

Bonus Photos

Here are a few bonus photos from the game yesterday. I have a full gallery up on my website here if you want to see more from the game.

Continue reading “Purdue Women’s Basketball Against Toledo”

Choosing is the Hardest Part

I don’t know my final shot total from the tournament, but it has to be up there. I spent a lot of time out at the Purdue Soccer Complex shooting the seven games of the tournament. On day one I thought that I had ten images worthy of being on this list. It was a day of great games with a lot of emotion. Little did I know that the emotion would just keep building. I think that I have said it before, but I will say it one more time. I had a great time making images during the tournament. As I walked away last Sunday I was a little sad that it was over. There is something to be said about pouring everything that you have into a few games in a row. You also get to see the teams up close, and you see what it means to them. It was very interesting to stand at midfield after each game. You would have one team celebrating that they were moving on, while the other team deals with the fact that their season is over. Some careers ended on the field, and that cannot be easy. A long time ago my athletic career ended, and I still remember that feeling. With all of the upsets Wednesday though you knew that the kids went out with at least one last big win under their belt. The hard part about covering college sports is the fact that I see many careers end. The thing that you can take out of that though is that those athletes now go out into the world to help make it better.

The Top Ten

I will not even try to put these photos in any kind of order. I think that the best way to do it is to just post the chronologically as they were made. It was hard enough weeding the top ten down let alone ranking those. These may not even be the top ten best images that I made, but they are the ten that have stuck with me this week. I tried to get away from them for a bit to see if they still spoke to me. I had twelve in the folder, and a little time away made it easy to eliminate the final two.

Michelle Manning may have made the goal of the tournament. There were eight goals scored in the seven games including a double overtime goal to win the entire thing. The goal by Michelle on day one of the tournament though is the one that sent the top seed Penn State Nittany Lions home, and paved the way for the biggest underdog to move on. I have a photo of the goal, but I loved the embrace after it. In soccer the initial celebration is often the best. The first couple of players to get to the scorer make the best photo for the most part. That was the case here.

Michelle Manning is lifted up by her #8 Northwestern teammates after scoring the winning goal in the upset victory over #1 Penn State

The second photo is from that second game yet again. Actually it is from the post game celebration. I was having some fun making some photos of the girls celebrating the win, and I moved over a bit to get the celebrating parents in the bokeh. That is when the team put Michelle Manning up over them to honor her. It was a brief moment, but I was in a great spot to make this photo. I was very lucky to be standing where I was, and I am happy with how the photo turned out.

The first day of the tournament was full of great light. The first two and a half games were played in a great golden light that you only get this time of the year. The sun never made it very high in the sky to cast the harsh shadows on the players. As it went down the show just got better. For some reason I really have enjoyed this photo of Kinley McNicoll bringing the ball up the field. Her airplane pose that was also mimicked by the Illni defender just struck me for some reason. Kinley would go on to score the championship goal as the second overtime of the title game was almost over.

Big Ten Gen

As the light faded Wednesday of course a brilliant sunset occurred. I wanted to put a player in front of that sunset, and Wisconsin goalie Genevieve Richard was in the right place at the right time. At the time I did not know that she was the Big Ten goalie of the year. That just seems even more fitting now that I know that. Big Ten Gen as her teammates called her never gave up a goal during the three games she was in between the pipes. Not a bad tournament, and she received the defensive player of the tournament award.

Shortly after making the above photo of Genevieve I made this photo of the field as the sun set. The Purdue Soccer Complex is placed in a perfect position to have the sunset in the background of a photo like this one. You get the press box, the field, and the sunset all in front of you. I have made a few sunset photos at the complex, but this is my favorite one. This is a three shot HDR image that I made in Photomatix. I used the program to choose just the one image of the players that I wanted for this photo. This eliminated ghosting, and made the photo for me.

The first game of the second day of the tournament involved Iowa and Northwestern. Both teams won in upset fashion Wednesday, but one of them had to go home Friday. For some reason when I saw this photo I loved it. I think that the Iowa player looks so graceful as she sends a ball downfield. You also have the scoreboard and field in the background.

This photo was from the same game as the photo above. I made many photos of headers during the week, but this was the one that I liked the most. You see the fight that goes on during every header, and I had some good timing here as well. This was also in some great light so I had to include it on this list.

The second game on Friday was between eventual tournament winner Wisconsin and Minnesota. During that game I made many images that I liked in the first half. That allowed me to risk a little more during the second half. I just had to have around twenty images from each match so knowing that I just needed a couple in the second half made me a little braver. I went to midfield, and I shot with the 300mm on the 7D Mark II. That gives me the equivalent of a 480mm lens on the end of my camera. I went there with the idea of getting a great header shot that was very tight. What I got was this shot that might just be my favorite action shot of the tournament.

The final two images were taken during the Wisconsin celebration. As a photographer I live to capture moments. You spend the whole match waiting for moments, and then when it was over I was flooded with those moments. Actually it was worse than that. There was constantly something going on that would make an awesome photo. This was one that I saw and made it just before it was gone. I won’t lie. I missed many moments after the game. I got this one though, and it was great to me. The sheer joy of the players as they went through the championship process was amazing. I wanted to capture as much of that as I could. This championship selfie was one of those moments. I could have had the whole group in the shot, but on the spot I made the decision to get in tight to see the faces of those in the shot. I think that I made the right decision.

The final photo of the countdown was made a few moments later. Wisconsin player Rose Lavelle called her dog onto the field. From what I gathered her dog had never seen her lose. She sat down to pose with the dog when of course the dog stole the show. Yet again this was a fleeting moment that I was very happy to capture.

I hope that you have enjoyed this look at my favorite photos of the tournament. It really is an impossible task to pick ten photos from the seven games.  I made an Exposure page for the tournament for just this reason. It allows me to show many more photos from each game in one large photo story. You can find that page here. The tournament is moving away from this format so I will not be able to have this much fun again.


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Photo of the Day

This morning I posted an image made by Ansel Adams. I wanted to process one of my photos in a manner that I thought Ansel would have approved of. I have made many photos of Hans Peak in the years since I first saw it. Some might say that I make too many photos of it. I really think that it is an interesting subject from many different angles. For this photo I was lucky in the way that the light hit the mountain. Sometimes you just need a little luck on your side when you don’t have much time in an area. The conditions have to be right for the photo when you are there.

Technical Data

I think that this photo works so well here because of the lack of clouds in the sky. Had their been a few clouds this image would have not been the same processed in this way. I might have kept it in color. As it was I thought that a moody black and white would be perfect. I started out by using the Trey Ratcliff preset An Infared Morning on the image. From there I tweaked the sliders to get the look that I wanted for the photo. The last two that I worked on was the black and the white sliders. I wanted to get those just right. I think that the attention to detail here paid off.

Photo Sale!

This image and all of my others on my website here are now 50% off until Labor Day. I thought that after the long winter that we endured a photo sale was in order. If you like the photo above just click on it, and you will be taken directly to the image on SmugMug. If you just want to browse my online portfolio you can click on the link below.

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