I’ve finally had a chance to sort back through all the photos I shot last week in Southern California during the Sports Shooter Academy IX workshop. Over the course of the four days, I had the opportunity to shoot a number of different events which I had never photographed before. I took it as a challenge, and I learned a lot from the experience. I can’t wait to shoot some of these sports again. There were a number of memorable moments that happened over the course of the week, and I can’t really narrow it down to one favorite event that I enjoyed most. I guess my heart has always been in baseball, but I also very much enjoyed lacrosse and soccer. The track meet was fun too. I hope I’ll be able to cover all these sports again soon.
I’d like to take the time again to thank all the people who made this workshop a success – Robert Hanashiro, Matt Brown, Dave Black, Shawn Cullen, Rod Mar, Myung Chun, John McDonough, Michael Goulding, Wally Skalij, Sean Haffey, Michael Corrado, Christy Radecic, Rafael Delgado, Ron Tonawaki, Sara Moosbrugger, Ian Ray, and Deanna Hanashiro. It was a pleasure to work with you all, and I hope to do so again soon.
Below is a gallery of shots I collected throughout the week. I’ll probably add more to this as I have time. Please let me know what you think.
Now that Sports Shooter Academy IX has come and gone, I’ve finally had a chance to let the dust settle. The final day was dedicated solely to baseball for me. We showed up early at Anteater Park on the campus of UC Irvine to get a lay of the land and start setting up remotes. The Eaters were playing UC Riverside again for the second straight day. The first game on Saturday was not incredibly exciting, so I was hoping for more action in the second game. We only had about 5 or 6 guys shooting the game since most people were doing the track meet across the way. This allowed us a lot of freedom to move around and get unique shots. I hung my remote down the first base line, slightly elevated above the top of the dugout and pointed straight at home plate with a 200mm lens. Keep in mind, you should never bank on a remote being your only shot. Never count on it producing something you can use. It’s just an added bonus. Some people the day before setup remotes at the water pool of the steeplechase and that was the only shot they took of the event. The technology allows you to trigger a remote with another camera, so take advantage of that!
Anyways… back to the game. It started out pretty slow. I shot the first 3 innings from the third base photo well, then moved up top with my long lens to get some different angles from in and above the bleachers. The UC Irvine Anteaters, who have their own super fan who was going nuts the whole game, were up 5-2 in the later innings before Riverside stormed back and tied it. The game went into extra innings, so I trudged back down to the third base well hoping for a good shot of a walk-off hit and the ensuing celebration. While I got the shots, I wasn’t completely happy with the angle and reactions. I probably should have stayed up top or gone over to the first base side. But, it was a good learning experience.
After the game, we headed back to the workroom to file our edits and stick around for the slideshow and awards. I had some good conversations with photographers Matt Brown, Mike Corrado, and Michael Goulding about my shots from the game. It’s amazing how much you can learn from just sitting down for five minutes with someone and showing them your shots and talking about them. Seriously, take advantage of those chances and do it as often as you can. If you ever see me somewhere and want to pick my brain, by all means do it! They helped me narrow down my top 8 shots to the final 4 for the slideshow, and I’m very happy with the ones we came up with. You can see those four shots below.
I just want to take the time again to thank everyone who put this event on and made it THE coolest photography event I’ve ever been a part of. Bert Hanashiro, Matt Brown, Christy Radecic, Rafael Delgado, Rod Mar, Michael Goulding, Dave Black, Jon McDonough, Shawn Cullen, Wally Skalij, Sean Haffey, Deanna Hanashiro, Sara Moosbrugger, Ian Ray, Ron Tonawaki, Grant Brown, and all the wonderful sponsors, including Nikon, ThinkTank, PocketWizard, Samy’s, Honl, SanDisk, Camera Bits, LiveBooks, and anyone else I’m forgetting. If you ever have a chance to participate in one of these events, please please do. It is a priceless experience.
Here are my final four shots from day four that were submitted to the slideshow. Stay tuned for a larger gallery of my overall experience coming soon.
We are sitting in the work room as I write this, wrapping up the final day of SSA IX. It has been an incredible experience and I have met some wonderful and talented photographers over the last five days. I have had the priceless opportunity to work with and learn from some of the best sports shooters in the world. And I cannot say thank you enough to all of the people who have made this workshop happen, including but not limited to, Robert Hanashiro, Matt Brown, Shawn Cullen, Rafael Delgado, Christy Radecic, Wally Skalij, Rod Mar, Michael Goulding, Sean Haffey, Ian Ray at PocketWizard, Ron, Michael, and Sara of Nikon, and a number of other people I know I’m forgetting.
Let me quickly recap what happened yesterday before I get into today. I was scheduled to just shoot soccer with my good buddy Rod Mar who is the team photographer for the Seattle Seahawks football team and Sounders soccer team. I’ve worked alongside Rod at several UFC’s and always enjoy absorbing his knowledge. We headed over to UC Irvine for a 7-on-7 women’s soccer tournament featuring a number of current and former Division I NCAA athletes. The short fields made for lots of action. It was very hard to follow at first, so I ended up just sitting on goal keepers and waiting for shots. This proved a good strategy to get a feel for it. There were a number of diving saves. Eventually, I started feeling more comfortable and started straying a bit and following different players. I also mounted a couple different goal remotes, though I didn’t get any great shots from those.
After a while in the hot sun, the soccer started getting a bit stale so I walked over to the baseball stadium to catch the game between UC Irvine and UC Riverside. I’ve shot some baseball before, so I took a different approach than normal. I walked around various points of the park shooting with my 400mm lens, with and without the 1.4x teleconverter. Unfortunately, it was a very lackluster game and I was really exhausted, so I didn’t make the best shots.
After the conclusion of the baseball game, I headed over to the track meet to see if I could get anything good over there. I’ve never shot a track meet before, and can’t really say I’ve ever wanted to. After being exposed to it now though, I have a strong desire to go back and try again. The long jump produced the easiest pictures. We had a nice back light later in the day during the finals which gives you a really nice sand splash shot. Of course, everyone wants that shot, so it’s quite competitive fighting for a straight on position. I ended up leaving the men’s final in favor of the women to get a better position. I also attempted to shoot some pole vault and javelin, but couldn’t really find the light I was looking for. the sun was still a bit straight overhead and flat for my tastes. So then, I decided to head down to the water pit to setup a remote for the final event of the night, the steeplechase. Everyone raved about this event, so I had to see what was up. The remote shot didn’t do anything for me, but I did grab a couple of nice frames with a long lens. By the time we finished up there, it was after 7:00pm, so I dropped Rod off at his hotel and hurried back to the Crowne Plaza to get to the workroom and start editing. By the time I finished my edit and had food in my belly, it was nearly midnight. Below are a few shots from the day.
After falling asleep with my laptop in my lap, I got about 6 hours of sleep to prepare for the final day. Today, I just had baseball on the schedule. I went in with the plan to make pictures I have never made before. I strayed way out of my comfort zone for shooting baseball and I shot a lot of stuff very tight. I used a lot of different angles and tried to tell more of a story. Luckily the game had a lot of drama, ending with a walk-off hit in the 11th inning. I’ll post some pictures from that game tomorrow.
I’ll be hitting the road as soon as possible tonight or tomorrow morning to drive up and see my wife and kids for a few hours before hopping on a plane to New Jersey tomorrow night for UFC on FOX 3.
Hi everyone. I had hoped the updates would be more frequent through this week but Bert and the crew have just been running us ragged. It’s been great though. We’ve been getting to work with some top notch instructors and shoot a ton of new stuff that I’ve never had the chance to shoot before. And most importantly, I’m learning to think differently. Shooting the same thing over and over for 13+ years develops bad habits over time. Re-training my brain to avoid those bad habits has been the biggest challenge, so far.
Sports Shooter Academy IX officially opened on Wednesday with the re-launch of the lighting luau and workshop. David Honl (www.davidhonlphoto.com & www.honlphoto.com) was the opening speaker, and one who I was most looking forward to. He talked about his lighting system and modifiers and showed tons of examples of how he uses them in the field. I encourage everyone to check his stuff out. After David Honl, we heard from Matt Bailey, one of the founders of LiveBooks, who talked about internet marketing for photographers. A very informative talk that also got me thinking quite a bit about where I’m lacking in my photography business. Myung Chung, videographer from the LA Times, gave a presentation of a few pieces he’s done for the Times’ website. While I’m not a “video guy”, this was a really fascinating part of the day and very moving. Myung is an incredible visual journalist, in addition to a photographer and editor, and most importantly he’s a great story teller. Capping off the day was Dave Black, a Colorado-based freelance photographer who currently specializes in high speed sync flash photography. You’ve probably noticed I’ve been dabbling in high speed sync over the last year, so this talk is what I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Dave did not disappoint. In fact, he gave a bonus presentation after the main talk that lasted for another hour afterwards, followed by a good question & answer session.
The main workshop started on Thursday morning. We all met in the workroom to go over some procedures and meet the staff. Then, signups started for the various events. Some events were very limited, so a lottery was held to draw names for certain things. Luckily, my name was picked for the event I wanted to shoot – Dave Black’s high speed sync flash with Cal State Fullerton Soccer players. So, after an introductory course from Dave at the hotel, we hopped in the car and drove up to the CSF campus. We were originally supposed to shoot on the infield of the track, but the track coach locked us out and sent us hiking to find a new location. Luckily, the second spot ended up better as they allowed us to use the end zone of Titans Stadium. Due to the number of guys shooting and the limited time we had the athletes, Dave decided it would be best to just use his camera and swap out cards. This was my first chance to shoot with a Nikon D800, so I got a double bonus on the day. The athletes were great and everyone made some great photos. After shooting each night, we return to the work room to file a deadline edit. Our best three shots from the day are included in a slideshow for the next morning before heading out to shoot. I’ve attached a few of my shots down below.
Day two started out with the viewing of the slideshow before heading out to shoot. I was originally scheduled to shoot a track meet at Saddleback College with Matt Brown, Wally Skallij, and Shawn Cullen. However, upon arriving we were denied access by the track supervisor. So, we all loaded up and headed to UC Irvine where there was supposed to be another track meet. After paying for parking and lugging all our gear across campus, we find out there was no meet that day, it had been moved to Friday. Determined to find something to shoot, Matt Broke out his iPhone and found a high school nearby that had both a varsity baseball game and lacrosse match scheduled for that afternoon. So, we set out to invade the games. Those poor kids had no idea what hit them. We showed up with a group of 10-12 shooters, all armed with 400mm and 600mm glass. At the start of the game, there were more photographers than there were fans in the bleachers. We were rigging remotes and going all out like it was a world series game. On the whole, the game was pretty slow, but we all managed to make some good photos of it. I left early and missed the walk-off game winning hit so I could go catch the lacrosse match. It was my first time ever seeing a live lacrosse match, much less the first time shooting it. I spent the entire game shooting with my 400mm and a 1.4x converter, giving me a focal length of 560mm, which on my 1D Mark IV effectively becomes a 728mm lens. I stuck by Matt Brown’s side for most of the first half and just absorbed everything he was telling me. Anyone who has worked with or spoke to Matt before has probably heard him say “Get in TIGHT!” That was his mantra for the day. So, I really focused on getting tight angles and lots of facial expressions. I think I had an OK shoot for my first time ever shooting the sport. Plus, the match started about 5pm and ended just before sunset, so we had some beautiful light for the entire duration. I was able to walk around at times and find some really nice side light. I had a great time and I am so thankful for Matt and Shawn sticking it out and finding us something to shoot. I’ve also included a few shots below from my take for day two.
I apologize for my tardiness in posting this blog entry. I had wanted to get it done on Monday or Tuesday, but I just couldn’t find the time. As most of you know, I covered the Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal fight down in San Diego last weekend for Getty Images, Strikeforce, and Showtime Sports. The fights were held at the old San Diego Sports Arena, now called the Valley View Casino Center. It’s a decent venue to see fights, but unfortunately the crowd for this show was not as large as expected. It’s a shame too, because there were some great fighters on the card.
Aside from a fairly odd night of fights, I had to deal with a number of issues throughout the night. For the first 4-5 fights, it seemed like the lighting would change for every fight. It was very difficult to get a consistent exposure and I found myself worrying more about my shots being exposed than focusing on getting the best shots. The night had a very frantic pace to it because of this stress. Several of the early bouts were long bouts, but not very exciting. It wasn’t until Roger Bowling knocked out Jerron Peoples that we finally got some excitement. Caros Fodor followed that up with a brilliant KO of Justin Wilcox. Fodor is one of my guys to look out for in the next year or two.
Once the broadcast started, my position was moved to an abnormal placement, directly behind the red corner. This caused me two problems. First, I couldn’t stand on the box during the introductions because the corner men use it to hold their banner and talk to their fighter. Second, I could not get any good shots of the red corner fighter between rounds, other than the directly overhead shots of them sitting on the stool, which are not at all flattering most of the time.
Given all the issues though, I think it was a good night overall. The Melendez/Masvidal fight definitely produced the most keepers. And while I had a horrible angle to capture the Cyborg KO, I did get some great reaction shots of her immediately after the knockout.
So, without further adieu, here are my favorites from the night. Full take is available for viewing at Getty Images.
This afternoon, we trekked down to the San Diego Sports Arena for the Strikeforce weigh in. We got down there in plenty of time to finally hit up Phil’s BBQ for lunch beforehand. In all the times I’ve been to San Diego, I’ve never eaten at Phil’s. Glad we did, it was quite tasty. Not the best I’ve had, but a solid contender for sure.
After lunch, we walked back over to the arena and got setup for the weigh in. We had to sit around for quite a while patiently waiting for the event to start. The first fighter finally hit the scale at about 4:15, only fifteen minutes late of the scheduled 4:00 pm start. All was going well until Jerron Peoples stepped on the scale. He had been having a rough time cutting and knew in advance that he would not make the 171 pound welterweight limit. The fight against Roger Bowling was agreed to be held at a catch-weight of 179 pounds. However, Peoples couldn’t even make that, weighing in at 181 pounds buck naked. Bowling proceeded to step up on the scale and make the original contracted weight of 170 pounds. Bowling stepped off the scale and immediately got in Peoples’ face. Scott Coker had to separate the two and ushered Peoples off the stage instead of allowing the photographers to get an official face off shot.
After that bit of drama, everyone else made weight with no problem.
Below is a sample of the take I transmitted to Getty Images.
Today, we drove down to Mission Valley for the final pre-fight presser for the Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal card. Former San Diego Charges linebacker Junior Seau hosted the event at his restaurant, named Seau’s of course.
All eight fighters from the televised card were in attendance, including Gilbert Melendez, Jorge Masvidal, Cris Cyborg, Hiroko Yamanaka, Gegard Mousasi, Ovince St-Preux, KJ Noons, and Billy Evangelista. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker opened the press conference by announcing briefly that Strikeforce would be sticking around with the renewal of their deal with Showtime, but quickly intimated that he would not address any questions regarding the deal during the press conference. He asked that all questions be addressed to the fighters on the card and pertain to the fights on the card. Of course, as everyone expected, the first question asked was about the new deal. Haha…
Nothing much exciting or groundbreaking happened, so here’s a small selection of photos to document the event. Check Getty Images. for the full take.
Today marked the first full day of work covering the Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal event here in San Diego. I got up this morning and drove over to The Arena MMA, conveniently located in the shadow of the San Diego Sports Arena (I refuse to refer to this place by it’s new moniker Valley View Casino Center). A total of eight fighters cycled through the gym over the course of the day, and while the media turnout was bleak and the fighters didn’t get too crazy with their workouts, I still feel like I came away with some decent stuff.
As I’m sure you all know by now, I’m a big fan of off-camera flash for workouts. I mounted my Canon 580ex speedlite on a small kit stand and raised it to the top shelf (about 7′ high), and positioned it at roughly 90-degrees to my starting position. Though, at times, I roamed around the room putting the camera at various angles with respect to the light. The low white ceiling in the gym presented a challenge, as I typically go for the very dramatic lighting for the workouts. Usually, I point the flash straight up and use an omni-bounce over the face to diffuse the light. Doing that inside this gym, though, would have made the ceiling a huge soft box and created a very flat overhead light look, which frankly just isn’t what I like for workout images. So, I left the face of the flash bare and pointed it directly across the room to control the spread as much as possible. Unfortunately, doing this also means you have to depend on your subject to stay within a more narrow path to be hit with the light. I guess you could say I got lucky. I always try to prepare as best as possible, but sometimes, things just come down to luck. Take the Melendez stretching shots at the end of his workout series. Had he moved just a few feet to his right, or even just turned the other direction, the photos would have been considerably worse.
Anyways… On to the gallery. This is the full take that I transmitted to Getty Images.