Albuquerque Hispano Chamber Golf Classic 2018

Albuquerque Hispano Chamber Golf Classic 2018

Dancing and golfing for educational scholarships

The Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce knows how to put on events, and the Hispano Chamber Golf Classic 2018 is the biggest event of the year where 100% of the profits go to educational scholarships.  With some 36 foursomes out on the greens, a lot of local students will be benefiting from participants' generosity.  My contribution was to go out and make as many photos as I could in the short time I had available to be on the golf course!  What did I learn?  A lot of dancing goes on at a AHCC golf event!

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Rio Grande Celtic Festival Highland Games 2018 Albuquerque Event Photography

Rio Grande Celtic Festival Highland Games 2018 Albuquerque Event Photography

I took my new Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 lens to the 30th Anniversary Rio Grande Celtic Festival and Highland Games at Balloon Fiesta Park to see what kind of olde worlde action I could photograph.  There was not a tremendous amount of organization, so I did not hear the name of any of these feats of strength you see pictured below.  I will describe them as I saw them.  The first are photos of a square of perhaps hay and stone being tossed up over a high bar like a pole vaulter, but with a pitchfork!  The next I would call throwing a very heavy lollipop as far as you can.  Then the other could be carrying a telephone pole until you find where you want to toss it!  Then there was dancing and music too!  No idea what the dances were called either!  I ate a great Welsh cake, though, with lemon curd on it!

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Mayor Tim Keller Plays Quarterback in Albuquerque

Mayor Tim Keller Plays Quarterback in Albuquerque

In the past few weeks, I have photographed Albuquerque, New Mexico Mayor Tim Keller quite a few times.  First was at the General Atomics grand opening event, then in his office for a Duke City Gladiators promo shot, then lastly him actually playing in an arena football exhibition game!  Scroll through the gallery below to see Mayor Keller get his official #18 team portrait made, then go through warmups, introductions, then handing off for a touchdown late in the first quarter!  It has bee an exciting few weeks of sports and politics and photography!

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2018 Duke City Gladiators Arena Football Player Official Portraits

2018 Duke City Gladiators Arena Football Player Official Portraits

Before Saturday's first 2018 exhibition game for the Duke City Gladiators in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I had a small window to make official portraits of all the Gladiators arena football players.  When I say small window, I mean small.  Kickoff was scheduled for 6pm.  I made the first player portrait at 4:29pm!  Being a professional photographer means being prepared for just about anything, so I made sure I practiced the exact lighting setup I wanted to a few days earlier, so all I had to do was show up, set up, and start making photos!  

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Action & Sports Photography Settings Tips from Aperture to Manual to Shutter Priority Exposure Modes

Florida high school baseball action shot using aperture priority - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 320 1/3200I am a self-taught photographer with a careful ear for picking up photography knowledge from a variety of sources.  If you browse my work you can see that you can teach yourself to make photographs that people will eventually pay you for.  However, I spend a long time grinding away teaching myself, starting with making thousands of images in Japan over a 6-month period when I first got a DSLR, then for several years back here in Florida.  I would not recommend this method!  That is why I have been offering 1-on-1 photography lessons to teach people in 2-hours what it took me 2+ years to formulate and define.  Taking a lesson or class from a competent photography teacher is a great way to jump start your shooting skills.

So the weekly photography tips I post on this site are part of sharing the practical photography knowledge I gained grinding through those years out in the field, and the knowledge I continue to increase by now shooting paying jobs as a full-time pro photographer.  

In this post you can see action and sports shots that span this window of knowledge.

The baseball photo above was made I believe on my very first sports assignment, so you can say it is the epitome of beginner's luck!  Looking at the settings I used for the shot I would definitely yell at myself for that now.  I was shooting action in aperture priority, probably never the best choice, had my ISO at 320 during daylight, and the shutter speed was way faster than it needed to be.  

Horse jumping in Venice Florida - Aperture Priority - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 400 1/1600Early on in my time in Florida I also photographed horse jumping a good bit.  You can see by my settings I was making progress, even though still using aperture priority mode.  My ISO was still above the minimum even during daylight, but if I recall at that time I thought I needed that very fast shutter speed of 1/1600th to freeze the action, and to get a good exposure I had to increase the ISO.  Clouds would come and go and settings often needed to be tweaked, but choosing aperture priority and letting the camera adjust the shutter speed on the fly was definitely not the way to go.  I should have been using shutter priority mode.

Triathlon cycling in St. Petersburg Florida - Manual Exposure - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 640 1/1250Now we are jumping ahead two years to when I photographed the St. Anthony's Triathlon in St. Petersburg Florida.  I was now comfortable and competent shooting action & sports in any exposure mode.  Why did I choose manual mode then?  At this time the cyclists were coming by in consistent light (no sun going behind clouds).  I was photographing them as they passed by the exact same spot on the road too, therefore there was only one set of settings that produced the best exposure.  So I locked those in with manual exposure mode.  Why did I use the settings I did?  Well the cyclists were going really, really fast so 1/500th was not freezing them, so I used 1/1250.  I used f/4 because that fast shutter speed required I let a lot of light in, but I wanted to retain some depth of field and better sharpeness, so I did not use the maximum aperture of f/2.8 of my lens.  So having aperture and shutter speed restricted by the nature of the subject matter, to get the exposure I wanted I then had to increase my ISO to 640.  This was not the middle of the day, but rather just shortly after sunrise.  As the sun went up, I could gradually decrease the ISO I was using.

Pelican in flight - shutter priority - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/1250In this pelican shot you can see my full progress in shooting action shots.  I was using shutter priority mode, had my ISO at its lowest setting, and set the shutter speed to be plenty fast enough to freeze even the bird's wing tips.  The camera was choosing the aperture for me on the fly, and getting consistent f/5.6 results allowed for very good sharpness and depth of field.

So now I would recommend using only manual or shutter priority mode for sports and actions shots.  If no lighting conditions are changing, then lock things in with manual.  If lighting is changing due to shifting cloud cover, or the subject moving across different foreground and/or background light, then use shutter priority mode.  

Of course the minimum shutter speed to use for any action shots, or any moving subjects, is 1/500th and you must also use AF-C (Ai Servo) focus mode.  Both of those are musts.  As you can see from my above examples, though, other settings and parameters remain variables, and there may be multiple ways to get the same shot, but some settings combos are much better to use than others!

Lance Armstrong Winning Ironman 70.3 Triathlon Haines City Florida 2012

Lance Armstrong crossing the finish line of Ironman Florida 70.3 Haines City 2012 - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/9 ISO 200 1/250th shutter priorityI woke up at 4:45am Sunday morning to get ready to make the drive out to Haines City, a small, inland town I had never heard of before to photograph the Ironman 70.3 Florida.  I drove east on I-4 into a totally dark sky that as the miles past began to reveal dawn light.  It made me realize what a great time of day this is to be out on the open road.  As I got off the highway it was still before sunrise and I was treated to views of horses grazing in misty fields.

My road location for photographing Lance Armstrong on the bike route - photo made with an iPhone 4Then finally as I turned onto the road that would be my shooting location for the next three and a half hours I saw the sun peak over the horizon for the first time.  It was a beautiful and peaceful scene that I really appreciated.  Soon though I would get very busy photographing the nearly 2,000 participants of the triathlon on the bike portion of the event.  There was a bit of glamour to this triathlon as Lance Armstrong was competing in it and the favorite to win.  Neither I nor my shooting partner could recognize Lance in the initial group of riders coming down the road.  Then once the main wave of competitors starting rolling by there was not much time to even think, just photograph as many of the passing riders as possible.  Not so glamorous.

Ironman 70.3 Florida finish line just crowded with people waiting for Lance to finish.My assignment was to wait at that location until the very last rider came by.  That poor final rider was probably at least 10 minutes behind the second to last rider and did not look like he would close that ground over the remaining 45 miles!  So off I was to my next assignment near the finish line.  Totally unexpectedly to me I arrived before the winner did and since I was between assignments, I was able to take a few of my own photographs of Lance.  I had an all-access media pass on that allowed me to waltz right up to the first row of other media (TV & newspaper) waiting for Lance to cross the finish line.  The glamour of it all was back!  

The crowd was very amped up as Lance rounded the corner and he high-fived many outstretched hands.  I filled my D300's buffer just holding down the shutter trying to get the best possible shot of Lance in a very crowded area of cameras.

Lance Armstrong after winning the Ironman 70.3 Florida 2012 in Haines CityLance walked right past me!  But then he was swarmed by a crowd of people hoping for an interview.  All I could do was hold my camera up over my head and hope to get lucky.  Well, I got an infocus shot, but only of the back and side of his head.  Then Lance was gone and so was the finish line crowd as well as any and all glamour.

My next assignment was to shoot the "front of finish" shot which was in direct late morning and afternoon sunlight.  In those 3.5 hours the top of my kneecaps got sunburned as I sat in my small folding chair.  Not glamorous at all!  As my own finish time of 2pm approached, I was definitely fading.  Taking the same shot, over and over times about 1500x in direct Florida sunlight is a real challenge.  That is what photographing a triathlon in Florida is mostly about, surviving and trying to be consistent with your shots.  I believe this will be the last triathlon I ever photograph as the cost-benefit ratio is just not in the photographer's favor.  The money is actually not good at all considering the large wear and tear one puts on their shutter (anywhere from 3,000 to 4,500 actuations depending on the event) and the physical toll it takes on everything in general.  Photographing Lance is a good way to end my triathlon photography career.

3rd Annual Florida Beach Halfathon at Ft. Desoto Park 2012

On the return leg of the halfathon - Nikon D300 with Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/6.3 ISO 400 1/800th shutter priority on monopodI had the opportunity to work with a team of sports photographers to photograph the 3rd Annual Florida Beach Halfathon at Ft. Desoto Park in St. Petersburg, Florida recently.  I really like photographing these types of running, triathlon events as they present unique challenges.  The first is being in kind of an "assembly line" mentality for shooting.  The same subject comes by often, and for a long time.  Can you stay focused shooting the same shot over and over especially after a few hours of standing outside in Florida?  To do this I adapt the mindset of ever trying to perfect the shot of the runner.  This keeps me focused and engaged and of course always trying to produce better photographs.

body paint was a popular form of expression for runners - Nikon D300 with Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/2.8 ISO 2000 1/500th shutter priority mode on monopodOne thing that I find interesting is what the runners choose to wear, what messages are they promoting and how do they express themsleves while running, especially when they see the front of my lens approaching.  The runner above was covered in St. Patrick's Day themed body paint (which was the day before).  

Taking time out to pose for the camera! - Nikon D300 with Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/2.8 ISO 800 1/500th shutter priority mode on monopodMany runners waved or gave some kind of sign and flashed a smile when they past me, like the woman above.  There were of course many more smiles on the way out than there were on the way back in!

All ages participated in this halfathon - - Nikon D300 with Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/2.8 ISO 800 1/500th shutter priority mode on monopodOne major shooting challenge was the fact that due to Daylight Savings Time happening the weekend before this halfathon, the race actually started well before sunrise in near complete darkness!  We were not allowed to use flash either so shooting wide open at f/2.8 and maxing out ISO at 3200 still was not really enough for the first few runners.  Really the problem was the auto-focus finding anyone in such darkness moving so fast, plus the exposure challenges.  Slowly the sun started to rise and slowly ISO could be dropped to reasonable settings.  

I enjoyed photographing this event and was surprised to be cheered on so much by the runners who often also said "thank you!" to me as they past.  When I could I shot out, "thank you for running!"