The World Traveler

I apologize for neglecting my blog so badly the past few months. I promise to do a better job and keep everyone better informed of my whereabouts around the globe in 2013 and beyond.

As you may or may not know, I’m smack in the middle of a 15 day road trip. I spent the first 9 days traveling to and working in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This was the first time I had ventured outside of the airport in Sao Paulo, and I was pleasantly surprised. The weather was the first surprise. We were met with rain as soon as we walked out of the terminal to get our car, and for the most part, the rain didn’t let up for the rest of the trip.

The one thing I was told about Sao Paulo before I arrived was that the traffic is even worse than Rio de Janeiro. I don’t know if I just have good luck or people were lying to me, but I found that statement to be completely false. It took only 25 minutes to get to the hotel from the airport, and all our journeys between the hotel and the various shooting locations were much quicker than planned, as well.

The skies parted for a few hours last Wednesday for the UFC open workouts at Parque Anhangaba├║ near the city’s center. The usual cast of characters, including the main event and co-main event contestants, and a handful of local talent, put on a show for the crowd that gathered. The location was pretty neat, and the weather was much more accommodating than I have been used to during outdoor workouts in the past.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JANUARY 16:  A general view of the venue as fighters participate in an open workout session for media and fans on January 16, 2013 at Parque Anhangaba├║ in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – JANUARY 16: A general view of the venue as fighters participate in an open workout session for media and fans on January 16, 2013 at Parque Anhangaba├║ in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

After the usual pre-fight routine of portraits, press conference, and weigh-in, it was finally fight day. I headed over to Ibirapuera Gymnasium way early to get a lay of the land and scout locations for remotes. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a spot I felt was safe to remove a remote unattended throughout the night, so I canceled that idea.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JANUARY 19:  A general view of the Octagon before the UFC on FX event on January 19, 2013 at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – JANUARY 19: A general view of the Octagon before the UFC on FX event on January 19, 2013 at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The first preliminary fight started about 8:45 pm local time. With eleven fights on the card, it was shaping up to be a long night. The arena was more than half full for the first fight and the fans erupted when their countryman, Francisco Trinaldo, finished C.J. Keith with an arm triangle choke. For the most part, the crowd was pretty calm after that, until Sao Paulo and TUF Brasil 1 finalist Daniel Sarafian entered for his bout against C.B. Dolloway. Unfortunately for the crowd, Sarafian came out on the losing end of the decision and the fans showed their displeasure by booing Dolloway so loudly that I couldn’t hear a word he said in his post-fight interview.

Finally, at nearly 1:30 am, it was time for the main event. Michael Bisping walked out first to a strong chorus of boos. His opponent, Vitor Belfort was met with a nice reaction from the crowd, though nothing like Sarafian experienced. Vitor looked fired up and ready to destroy.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JANUARY 19:  Vitor Belfort enters the arena before his middleweight fight against Michael Bisping at the UFC on FX event on January 19, 2013 at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – JANUARY 19: Vitor Belfort enters the arena before his middleweight fight against Michael Bisping at the UFC on FX event on January 19, 2013 at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

And destroy he did. Belfort controlled the action in round one, landing a number of significant kicks and punches. Then, in round two, he unleashed a left high kick to the side of Bisping’s head, putting him down on the canvas. Belfort followed up with a series of hammer-fists forcing referee Dan Miragliotta to stop the fight. The crowd went nuts, as did Vitor.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JANUARY 19:  Vitor Belfort reacts after defeating Michael Bisping in their middleweight fight at the UFC on FX event on January 19, 2013 at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – JANUARY 19: Vitor Belfort reacts after defeating Michael Bisping in their middleweight fight at the UFC on FX event on January 19, 2013 at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

After completing my edit and packing everything up, I was en route back to the hotel by 3:30 am. I had some more work to do once I got back, so I didn’t finally make it to bed until sometime after 6:00. My alarm rang bright and early at 9:00 am for my next assignment. I headed back to the arena to cover the elimination fights for TUF Brasil 2. And that’s about all I can say about that for now.

The next two days were also spent covering various aspects of the upcoming reality show, until I was finally in a car headed back to the airport about 5:30 pm Tuesday evening. I flew straight to Chicago for this week’s UFC on FOX card; landing at about 6:00 am local time Wednesday morning after an 11-hour flight. I had just enough time to get to the hotel and take a shower before I was back in a car headed to the UFC Gym for the open workouts.

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  A general view of the workout area before the UFC on FOX open workouts on January 23, 2013 at UFC Gym in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 23: A general view of the workout area before the UFC on FOX open workouts on January 23, 2013 at UFC Gym in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

This particular UFC Gym location had just been transformed from it’s previous moniker, LA Boxing. I mean that literally as apparently they were still under construction the day before. Everything had that “brand new, wrapped in plastic” smell. I did a quick once-over and decided on locations to place a few speedlites. The overhead florescent lights did not provide the look I was going for, so of course I came prepared with four of my Canon 600EX-RT units. And, for the next four hours, I clicked away as various fighters cycled through the gym to workout for media. The whole day was really a blur, but I actually came away with several shots I was happy with.

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Quinton "Rampage" Jackson conducts an open workout session for media on January 23, 2013 at UFC Gym in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 23: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson conducts an open workout session for media on January 23, 2013 at UFC Gym in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

After the workouts, I headed back to the hotel to work on my edit and finally had a chance to relax and take a look out the window. It had just started snowing. It was then that I realized less than 36 hours before, I was wearing shorts and flip-flops. Now I was freezing in my hotel room and couldn’t get the heater hot enough.

The usual press conference followed on Thursday, and today saw us head back to the Chicago Theatre once again for another weigh-in. I love it when we do weigh-ins inside these old historic theatres. They create such a cool atmosphere and make for really nice wide photos.

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 25:  A general view of the theatre as Anthony Pettis and Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone face off during the UFC on FOX weigh-in on January 25, 2013 at the Chicago Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 25: A general view of the theatre as Anthony Pettis and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone face off during the UFC on FOX weigh-in on January 25, 2013 at the Chicago Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

All fighters made weight and nothing much of interest happened, other than a moment of uncertainty before Quinton “Rampage” Jackson stepped on the scale for his final UFC weigh-in. He appeared to apologize to the commission official and UFC coordinator Burt Watson, and you could see Watson was visibly upset as he stepped back while Rampage hopped on the scale. But then the weight was announced as 204 pounds. I’m not sure what exactly was said, but I was expecting him to be well overweight after seeing that unfold. After making weight, Rampage proceeded to get in the face of his opponent, Glover Teixeira, and give him a tongue-lashing as they faced off.

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 25:  (L-R) Opponents Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Glover Teixeira face off during the UFC on FOX weigh-in on January 25, 2013 at the Chicago Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 25: (L-R) Opponents Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Glover Teixeira face off during the UFC on FOX weigh-in on January 25, 2013 at the Chicago Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Tomorrow is yet another early call to head over for a long day at the arena. I’ll do my best to get some shots up before I head back home Sunday morning. But, until then, I leave you with a few slideshows from the last couple weeks.


UFC on FX 7 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges


UFC on FX 7 Weigh-in – Images by Joshua Hedges


UFC on FX 7: Belfort v Bisping – Images by Joshua Hedges


UFC on FOX 6 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges


UFC on FOX 6 Weigh-in – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC on FX Open Workouts

I am on the ground in Sunrise, Florida preparing for Friday’s next UFC card featuring the rematch of flyweight contenders Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and “Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall. Today, the fighters on the card made the quick trek across the street to hold an open workout session for fans and media at the Sawgrass Mills Mall, which by the way is probably the largest mall I think I’ve ever been to. The workout was hosted in an atrium area, just inside one of the main entrances into the mall, in a fairly high traffic area. There was a good amount of fans and media there, which was a bit surprising to me being on a Wednesday afternoon.

As I’m sure you probably guessed, I broke out my trusty FourSquare again. The ambient scene was not very pleasing to my eye with the various assorted logos, signs, and banners hanging around the mall, so I decided to load up all four of my speedlites in the FourSquare and really overpower the ambient light. The mat area was a bit larger than normal, so I opened up the zooms on the flash units to 50mm to get a bit more spread. The FourSquare (without baffle) was placed on a light stand about 8 feet from the mat near the center line raised to about 10 feet high and angled down just slightly. For the most part, my position was shooting from one of the two forward corners of the mat such that the angle between me and the light was around 60-70 degrees with relation to the subject. For some shots, I moved more to the side creating a near 90-degree angle and completely side-lighting the fighter. But, as you can imagine, they move around quite a bit, so it’s really tough to get a consistent lighting effect. One other aspect that I really had to contend with a lot today was the trainers holding pads. Often times when the fighter was in a perfect position to me and threw a punch that I caught, he was completely blocked from the light by his trainer. I wish I had a tall light stand to help with this, but sometimes you just have to pay closer attention and be a little more patient.

I shot everything with two cameras running Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 units with AC3 zone controllers on top. all four speedlites were set to zone A and initially set to full power. I used the AC3 to dial down the power to 1/4 power for most of the shoot. Camera settings varied a bit throughout the day, but the most common settings I kept going back to were ISO 800, 1/2000s, f2.8. That was about 2 1/3 stops over the ambient exposure, which is exactly what I was looking for to make for a less distracting background. I could have used fewer flashes at a higher power setting to achieve the same exposure, but I wanted the faster recycle time. At 1/4 power, the flashes recycle in about a second or less, as opposed to nearly 3 seconds at full power. And of course, at the lower power setting, you have less heat and longer battery life. I ended up shooting about 400 shots in total today and the flash units all still had plenty of power to keep going when it was over. For some shots, I decreased the power even more and slowed my shutter to bring in some of the background. The wider zoom on the flashes also lit up a little bit more of the background and the white ceiling and walls than I wanted, but that was the compromise I had to make in order to cover the most mat space.

Below is a slideshow of the shots from today. Please post your comments or questions.


UFC on FX 3 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges

The Ultimate Fighter Weigh In Using The FourSquare

Today, I set out to experiment with light during the official weigh in for tomorrow’s The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale card. Unlike previous events I’ve shot at the Palms Casino Resort, this time the weigh in was held inside the Pearl Theater instead of the small ballroom. As soon as I heard about the location, I decided to bring along all my speedlites, mounts, and FourSquare kits. My hope was that the upper level of balconies would be blocked off, and lucky for me that proved true. So, I carried up my gear to the top level and began setting up my FourSquares.

The balcony section is symmetrical, so it was easy to find a spot equidistant from the center of the stage on both sides to mount the two units. I rigged up two Canon 580EX II speedlites in each FourSquare unit. Communications were handled by the PocketWizard FlexTT5 transceivers on each flash, and a MiniTT1 on my camera. The speedlites were at full power and zoomed to 105mm. The rig was mounted on a rail about 30 degrees forward of the stage and aimed directly at the scale.

The FourSquare rigI decided to use the speedlites as my key light and overpower the ambient light, which most of the time at the weigh in is a pretty low exposure and a very overhead light casting bad shadows. The ambient exposure was measured at about ISO 1600, 1/400s, f2.8. I dialed in my preferred exposure on the camera and took a couple test shots. Final settings on the camera ended up being ISO 1250, 1/1600s, f2.8. I kept a second camera at my side in case something went wrong with the strobes, I could quickly switch and at least get salvage some sort of shot. I wasn’t sure what to expect of the range on the PocketWizard units, especially with the amount of wireless gear in the arena already for cameras and microphones. Everything worked perfectly though, and I made some really great shots on the scale. Unfortunately, the position the fighters were put in for the face off was not the normal mark, and thus those shots were contaminated a lot more by the brighter tungsten lights on the backdrop, creating a mix of color temperatures that was very difficult to correct. Had they been about 6 feet forward on the stage, I think the face offs would have looked a lot better. Nonetheless, those even still turned out ok and I learned a lesson for next time.

Here is a gallery of shots from the shoot. I’d love to hear your thoughts and answer any questions you might have.


The Ultimate Fighter Live 1 Finale Weigh In – Images by Joshua Hedges

The Ultimate Fighter Live Open Workouts

Today, UFC hosted an open workout session for members of the media featuring fighters from this Saturday’s live season finale of The Ultimate Fighter. I covered the action at the UFC Training Center for Getty Images and UFC.

This was my second shoot using my FourSquare units, made by Paul Peregrine’s company Lightware. The gym was a much more ideal location to feature this lighting setup, and I’m very happy with the results. I loaded each unit with two 580EX II speedlites, each running at half power. I can’t wait until I can afford to add four more speedlites to be able to fully load each FourSquare, or even double up and make an “EightSquare” like Dave Black did for his surfing shoot. The lights were positioned opposite each other, about 16 feet from the center of the Octagon and about 15 feet high, angled down. I zoomed all the flash heads to 105mm, which created a fairly narrow strip of light that ran across the Octagon. I’d say the section of best illumination was about 8 feet wide in total. Anywhere outside that section, I had to adjust my settings to accommodate the fall off.

For most of the shots, I positioned myself centered between the lights, about 10 feet in front of their plane, so that the light was shooting directly across my frame. I moved around a little and just followed the fighters wherever they went, so some shots the light wraps around more than others. I put each FourSquare on a separate zone so that I could control their power independently, or turn one off completely using the PocketWizard AC3 zone controller, which by the way is an awesome product for a fraction of the cost of the Canon controller.

For the most part, I kept my camera settings at ISO 400, 1/1600, f2.8. Ambient light was pretty low in the gym, so I decided not to try to incorporate it and just used the FourSquare as my main light source. The backgrounds were also crowded with people and gear at times, so all the more reason to not expose for the ambient.

I think the only thing I wish could have gone differently was to have the fighters do more intense workouts. Most only did short shadow boxing routines. Of course, it’s the day before their weigh in, so it’s understandable that they don’t want to go crazy hitting pads or anything. I’m hoping to get into some training camps with these units soon and then I think they will really make some great pictures.

I’d love to hear your opinions and answer any questions you might have. Post a comment here or email me through my website.

Here is a slide show of shots from the shoot.


The Ultimate Fighter Live 1 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC on FOX open workouts gallery

Nate Diaz works out for the fans and media during the UFC on FOX open workouts at Church Street Boxing Gym on May 2, 2012 in New York, New York.Today was my first day covering events for the UFC on FOX card on Saturday night here in New Jersey. We got up really early this morning to drive into the city to Church Street Boxing Gym where the workouts were being held. This was my first time at the Church Street Gym and I was really impressed with the layout. It worked out really well for my lighting ideas as there was a balcony above the mat area that allowed me to mount a light. My plan from the outset was to shoot everything using high speed sync flash, which I’ve done several times in the past, but this time I wanted to push the limits even more and try a couple techniques I haven’t before.

Aside from a couple minor hiccups in the beginning, everything went very smooth and overall produced the results I was looking for. If I had to change anything, I would have probably narrowed my triangle a little between myself, the fighter, and the light. But I still think this looks really good. Most of these shots were taken with the following settings, though there was some variance – ISO 800, 1/1250s, f2.8, white balance 5600K. The light mounted on the balcony was a single Canon 580EX speedlite, running at 1/2 power. The face of the light was probably setting about 15-20 feet from the center of the mat. For the blurred shots, I used second-curtain sync at 1/15s, f16.

Take a look at the gallery and let me know what you think.


UFC on FOX 3 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC on FX 2 open workout gallery

Ian McCall - UFC on FX 2 Open WorkoutsHello again from not-so-sunny Sydney, Australia. Today was a complete wash-out, so I never made it out of the hotel. Here’s hoping for better weather the rest of my stay here. My wife Jody and her sister will be arriving in the morning, and I’m hopeful their first trip to Australia will be filled with all the great sights I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. Luckily, the bad weather allowed me to focus on getting some work done. I shot a number of portraits of with some of the guys on the card and prepped the final headshots for the production team.

As I mentioned previously, we hit the ground running yesterday and shot the open workouts before even checking into the hotel. The workouts were held in a dimly lit corner of the casino back behind the 24/7 sports bar. A selection of the top six fighters on the card and a couple of the native Aussie’s worked out for the media contingent.

Below is a selection of shots from the morning’s workout sessions. As always, check out the full take on UFC.com and Getty Images.


UFC on FX 2 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC Japan Open Workouts

Greetings from Tokyo, Japan. I arrived here on Tuesday afternoon to cover all the events during the week for UFC 144: Edgar v Henderson, which takes place Sunday afternoon at the Saitama Super Arena. This marks the UFC’s first visit to the Land of the Rising Sun since December 2000, and promises to be a huge event. Several notable Japanese fighters are featured on the card, including Yoshihiro Akiyama, Yushin Okami, Takanori Gomi, and Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. In the main event, UFC Lightweight Champion Frankiei Edgar continues his quest to be the most traveled UFC Champion as he defends his title against former WEC Champion Benson Henderson.

Yesterday, I covered the open workouts at Gold’s Gym in the Harajuku district. The area the gym set aside for the workout was quite small, a room that measured maybe 30×30 feet. The media turnout was good, including a strong contingent of North American press, as well as the expected Japanese websites, magazines, papers, and TV networks. The room proved to be far too small for the crowd that gathered, but everyone was polite and friendly, so it all worked out good. The mat area only measured about 15×15, so the fighters really didn’t have a lot of room to workout. Most guys just did short shadowboxing routines and hit pads for just a few minutes.

Below is a gallery of the images I captured throughout the day. Lighting was a single 580exII speedlite on a 7′ stand. Most shots were captured using high speed sync at 1/1000, f4. As always, I encourage you to check out the full take at UFC.com and Getty Images.


UFC 144 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges