A couple weeks ago, I was summoned on a day’s notice to shoot portraits of Urijah Faber and Renan Barao for the poster art for their upcoming interim UFC Bantamweight Championship bout at UFC 148. The direction was simple – “get a good face off shot”. The budget was non-existent. The space to be used was our office building, though I was not allowed access to the studio due to another crew utilizing it. With my wife working for free as my first assistant, we setup the seamless and lights in the area of the office which I like to refer to as the “call center”. It’s a crowded space of cubicles that used to house our operations department. It’s vacant at the moment, but there still isn’t a lot of space. We hung the nine-foot seamless against the wall and got a sweep of about seven feet off the wall. This didn’t give me enough room to use separate background lights and hair lights, so I just used a sport-type reflector to light the background while throwing a bit of light on the back of the subject. The key light was a thirty-inch softbox about three feet overhead of the subject and about one foot in front with a slight angle towards the subject. For a fill light, I used a second boom with a thirty-inch octabox centered just above the camera, at about eye-level with the fighters. I didn’t bother with a fill light for the legs since the artwork only called for a knees-up shot and would have a gradient laid over the bottom.
I had each guy for a total of about five minutes, and the two of them together for the face off for about a minute. So, the point was to just focus on the shots that were absolutely necessary and then try to get extras if time allowed.
For this shoot, I used my Speedotron strobes – four 202vf heads, two 805 packs (fill and key lights), and a 2405 pack (background/back lights). This could have easily been achieved with speedlites, as well. I had my speedlites and modifiers with me in case there was an issue with the power, but they never came out of their case. Settings were as follows: key light f11, fill light f5.6 1/2, background/back lights each measured just a bit over f5.6 at the subject and f8 at the center of the backdrop. Camera settings were ISO 100, shutter 1/160, aperture f11.
Hello again everyone. It’s been a couple hectic weeks since we got back from Australia and I haven’t had the time to post a proper update. Less than twenty four hours after arriving back in Vegas from Sydney, the new season of The Ultimate Fighter debuted with the first ever live episode featuring sixteen elimination fights. Jet-lagged and sick, I hauled my gear over to the TUF Gym to shoot the fights. Luckily, I was splitting duty with my buddy Al Powers, who scored some great shots of his own and really helped me out. Also working in our favor was the fact that all the fights would only be one round instead of the normal two. For the most part, this seemed to make the fighters come out looking to finish and resulted in a much more exciting collection of bouts. I think the early favorites this season have to be Justin Lawrence and Myles Jury.
The most difficult aspect of shooting The Ultimate Fighter is the lack of light in the gym. The exposure during the fights is at least two full stops less than the typical exposure for pay-per-view events, which means I have to shoot at a much higher ISO than I would prefer and also a slower shutter speed. The end result tends to be less keepers and an overall decline in sharpness, as well as a higher amount of noise. Nonetheless, we still came up with some good shots.
As the season continues, I will do my best to post regular blog updates.
Below is a selection of my shots from the first episode. Be sure to check out the full take on Getty Images.
Finally had a chance to go through the UFC 139 photos and pull my favorites. I had a blast shooting. It was a really fun event from top-to-bottom. My favorite fight without a doubt was Shogun vs. Henderson. Not sure if I’d call it fight of the decade like some people have coined it, but it was a solid fight of the year candidate. The Wanderlei Silva vs. Cung Le fight was also a good one. I think I was most impressed though by how Urijah Faber dominated and finished Brian Bowles. If Faber comes out like that against Cruz, I truly think he will finish the Dominator and take his belt.
Today, all the fighters on the UFC 139 card weighed in at the HP Pavilion to make their fights official for tomorrow night. Before the official weigh-in, as is customary, UFC hosted a Fight Club exclusive Q&A session with welterweight fighter Josh Koscheck. Though Josh was a bit subdued, he still managed to raise a couple stirs from the crowd. He mentioned that he has considered changing his name to “Boo Koscheck” so that when he enters the arena, people Boo’ing will be cheering for him. He also expressed his sadness for friend and teammate Cain Velasquez after his loss last weekend to Junior dos Santos, but mentioned that Cain was back in the gym again Monday morning after the loss. Finally, in answer to a common question Koscheck always receives, he said that he would rather move up to 185 pounds or stop fighting completely instead of facing teammate and fellow 170 pound contender Jon Fitch.
As the weigh-in began, there appeared to be issues with the scale, or perhaps the operator, as several fighters missed weight. It began with Shamar Bailey who came in 2 pounds over and was noticeably upset about it. Next, Nick Pace weighed in well over the limit, but his overage was apparently known about ahead of time and he came in 5 pounds over the limit. His opponent, Miguel Angel Torres, also mixed weight. Torres was also noticeably upset and turned to UFC President Dana White to say something. After that, the rest of the guys on the card made weight without (much) event. Dana had to separate Rick Story and opponent Martin Kampmann after Story got in Kampmann’s face and Kampmann, in turn, pushed him away.
In other news, I received a call last night that I had been bumped up to first shooter for the event due to an unfortunate scheduling conflict. Though I never wish for someone else not to be able to do the job, I’m quite happy and excited to back on the box for a big show again. And of all the shows we have lined up, this is probably the best option as far as excitement. So, I will do everyone proud and make the most of my opportunity. I’m really looking forward to it.
Today saw us drive up to San Francisco for the final pre-fight press conference for UFC 139. The conference was held at the Fort Mason Center at Golden Gate Park. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get to the other side of the building to get a decent shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. Dana White was unavailable to attend, so our UK import Ant Evans hosted the presser, and did a fine job I might add. Unlike last week’s press conference, we were stuck with the usual flat lighting. So, I wasn’t able to get too creative, but tried nonetheless.
I landed here in San Jose, California yesterday morning at 7:30 am and hit the ground running. Typically, I’d prefer to fly in the day before the first events start, but it’s always nice when there’s a flight available to get me there in plenty of time on the day of the event. In this case, I had plenty of time to work on the second edit from the UFC on Fox fights before walking down to the Heroes Gym just a block from the hotel.
The gym provided a very pleasing setting for the workouts. The sidewalls were a nice red brick and the open beam ceiling had huge skylights that provided more than enough light to get creative. I still fired the flash on some of the shots, as well.
Of all the fighters scheduled, Urijah Faber was really the only one that worked out for any considerable amount of time. Dan Henderson did not work out at all, so that’s why there are no photos of him.