Aug 28, 2009

Aviation pics that rock!

Just got back from a trip out to the midwest, more on that later. So, I'm catching up on a few of the photo blogs I frequent and came across some "in flight" pictures that are pretty amazing. I love flying and miss the cruising around the local air space in a single engine plane, so these get me excited. It also reminds me to put the local, Hill Air Force Base - air show on my calendar for 2010. We hit it a few years back and caught some fun stuff. One shot from the show of an F22 Raptor:

And now for the big picture shots...

Aug 19, 2009

We have a winner...Triathlon Shoot

Well actually I'm going to call it a tie. While all the contributers had some great insight to offer, SkiMoab and Justin came closest to the actual photo shoot scenario and thus are the winners of an 8x12, signed print of choice from

Here were their entries:

SkiMoab: In Utah Lake, in the morning. You're in the water with two different flashes attached to the boat. The shutter had to be fast to keep it crisp, but there's a slight delay to blur some of the droplets to show motion/speed.
Instructions were to look intense/mad and to hold his head a bit out of the water so you weren't getting just half of his face. Some post-processing to shade the edges.

Justin: Here is my very amateur analysis. Knowing you, you are probably down in the water a few metres from the swimmer. You have a couple of off camera flashes to provide the lighting. The swimmer was instructed to swim towards you and continue on a short distance beyond you so that as swimmer passed by you could capture him/her in fullstride.

(*email me with the print you would like)

SkiMoab and Justin both had the key elements correct -- 3 off-camera flashes Canon 580EX II's (although soon to be replaced with the amazing little Elinchrom Quadra AS battery pack system!) in a sandwich technique (front and behind swimmer). I'm in the water, just a few feet down the boat ramp (Utah Lake - Provo boat dock). I also have a waterproof casing (ewa marine housing) on the camera and wideangle lens Canon 16-35 f/2.8 at the widest 16mm length; all attached to the Canon 5D body (have since upgraded to the Canon 5D Mark II) and triggering remote flashes wirelessly via pocket wizard plus II's close to the Swimmer and instruction to the swimmer to swim just past my taking the pictures. There was also some post-processing work as you'll see in the before and after below to bring a bit more contrast and mood to the image. I didn't provide any instruction to how the Swimmer should look in terms of facial expressions other than to keep true to her normal swimming technique. Oh and the MAX shutter speed for a DSLR when using off-camera flashes is around 1/200th of a second. Unfortunately, that's typically too slow for freezing action completely, especially when you're mixing in ambient light, so a little bit of panning is necessary to keep everything sharp.

Check out the behind the scenes video for the lighting set-up, time of day, and interaction with the talent before and after the shoot.

Aug 6, 2009

WIN an 8x12, Signed Print -- Behind the Scenes Video


Okay, BEFORE you watch the behind the scenes video, spend at least 3 minutes (180 seconds) studying this image and writing a comment below about how this photograph was made. I don't care what your background is or whether you're a photographer, artist, engineer, teacher, millionaire or of some other background; it doesn't matter, use your imagination here folks (ideas could be centered around: camera settings, lens length, instructions to athlete, lighting, time of day, location, elaborate set-up or not, photographers position, post-processing, studio work, compositing, CGI....etc.). Don't limit yourself and remember you're on your honor to look, study and write a comment before pressing play...! If your ideas come closest what took place on the shoot, an 8x12, signed print is coming your way!- Prints here: (*note- if you were on the shoot, hold the comments :)

The NEXT blog entry will delve into the specifics behind this photo shoot, from diagrams, to lighting ratios, to an analysis of what I liked and also what I would have done differently looking back on this shoot a year later. Stay tuned....

Aug 4, 2009

Creating photography for Design

The finish line is further down the road! I'll speak in broad terms here, but don't we as photographers end a bit too quickly when planning and shooting in terms of what the end uses of our photo will be? We take pictures that in our mind are complete, nicely wrapped, stand-alone items and call it good. So what's missing? Probably nothing for a fine art photographer, but for the commercial photographer, the process has just begun! I just finished an article that really resonated, not because I'm a designer, but rather because I'm a commercial photographer that works with designers, art directors and creative directors on a regular basis, I can hear their little voices in my head, screaming to us as photographers to the pay more attention to Design. Clean Lines. Provoke emotion. Visual cues that solidify the message. Texture. Details. More space for beautiful TYPE! I hear you. (if you're a designer reading this, we are listening. Comment with what is missing for you.

"Of course, smart photographers without a design background may well ask those questions too but it’s also likely that many photographers are more concerned about the technicalities of creating the image than producing a product that a designer will have to use. They want to create good photos. And even those photographers who do understand that a good commercial image isn’t just one that’s well-focused and finely-composed but also usable, might not consider whether there will be room for text or a headline if the image is run full bleed on a layout, or how the background elements may enhance or obstruct type and graphic elements laid over the photo...."

Image below: "Abandoned Lift" from the archives of Kevin Winzeler:

Aug 2, 2009

Golf Photography

I love golf! Pure and Simple. So combine stunning photographs with a super cool sport and I'm in.

Golf - Images by Darren Carroll

This is a funny and informative post for those of you ever following a live PGA event with your 10fps slr in hand ready to get the POV "Tiger" shot as he tees off on the 18th...think again...\

I've decided, after years of preaching until I'm blue in the face, that trying to teach photographers who don't regularly cover golf about shooting golfers on their backswing is akin to trying to teach teenagers about sex: we can preach abstinence all we want, but at some point we have to be realistic: it's not going to stop anything. They're still going to do it. So knowing that, we might as well adopt the attitude that while we're not encouraging it, it's best to teach them to be practical (and safe) about it.

Shooting a golfer at the top of his or her backswing is the single most distracting thing that we as photographers can possibly do. Put aside any arguments or criticisms of how a golfer can possibly be distracted by that when a baseball player can hit a fast ball, or a basketball player can shoot a free throw, in front of thousands of screaming fans, as such arguments miss the simplest of points: Golf is a game that demands concentration and mental focus, and the expectation that the player has is for silence. A sudden, unexpected intrusion on that expectation--like, say, the sudden ear-splitting crack of a 10 fps motor drive firing away--is most unwelcome. For us photographers, it's also against the rules. So shut up and stop complaining.

Now, the more argumentative in the audience will point out that images abound of golfers at the top of their backswing. And they're right. But what they often neglect to mention (or, perhaps, realize) is that those images were shot by photographers who possessed a combination of three things: 1) Knowledge of the game and the player they were photographing; 2) Judgment (based on lots of experience) of the surrounding environment and its ability to minimize noise and distraction, and 3) the right equipment.

With that in mind, here's the skinny on shooting on the backswing. Don't do it if you have a testy player who can hear a bee fart. (Colin Montgomerie and Cristie Kerr come to mind.) Don't do it if you have to get close to a cranky caddie who possesses an overwhelming desire to protect their player. Steve Williams (Tiger Woods) and Fluff Cowan (Jim Furyk) fall into that category.

If you're within a hundred feet of a player, don't do it unless you have a Canon G9 or G10, and you've turned off all the beeps, clicks, and whistles (not to mention the flash).

If you're more than a hundred feet away, but still close enough that the player fills the horizontal frame from head to toe with a 400, don't do it unless the wind is blowing towards you.

If you can, activate the "silent" shutter mode. If you shoot Canon, you can. Do it.

If you can't, then also check to see if there's a source of strong ambient noise around to help mask the noise of your shutter: A power generator from a TV tower, a low-flying blimp overhead, a four-lane highway on the other side of the fence lining the fairway.

But above all, if you have even the slightest doubt in your mind; if you think there's even the most infinitesimal chance that you will distract the player, then DON'T DO IT. Period.

This photo of Michelle Wie was made on the 15th tee at Mission Hills Country Club,with a 400 mm lens from a distance of about 100 feet--with Bob Hope Drive (and six lanes of traffic) in Rancho Mirage, CA hard on the left side of the tee box. Tiger Woods