Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gratuitous Cheerleader Pic #7

I was going to address my first attempt at HDR (high dynamic range) photography but I've had some technical problems, so have at another cheerleader. I'm sure you're all disappointed!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Shot of the Day

Miami Hurricanes outfielder Adan Severino makes a leaping catch to save an extra base hit against Virginia on Sunday.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

It's Such a Long Goodbye #5

Went down to the OB this morning, a cascade of light rain and concrete dust kept me from shooting very long. Here's what's left...

Once I packed up an old man came across the street to talk to me. His english was poor but he was obviously not happy with the city for demolishing the stadium. I think it was the same guy that tried charging me $65 to park in his driveway when I was shut out of a full media parking lot, so I can see why he's not happy!

Monday, April 21, 2008

I Dream In Infrared

No I’m not speaking of the Queensryche song, although I play it on my iPod quite often.

I’m speaking of the spectrum of light that is invisible to the human eye.

In college, I experimented with some infrared film and came up with the above interesting scenic that ended up in the Ibis Yearbook.

I remember using a Nikon F3, guessing my exposures, and having to load and process the film in total darkness. Add in printmaking and spot toning and it became a long, painful process.

Thanks to the digital revolution, those painful days are gone.

Although you can shoot infrared on your digital camera with the use of a filter, you can now have your camera modified to shoot just the infrared wavelength, or a combination of infrared and ambient light. After some tweaking in Photoshop you can push your imagination and create some interesting images.

I first experimented with a modified Nikon D50 while in the Pacific Northwest in 2006, and snapped this shot of the Jimi Hendrix Gravesite in Renton, Washington:

Over the coming months I’ll post more infrared photos under the above Queensryche referenced moniker. I love the title because its a cool song and the reference fits.

Friday, April 18, 2008

It's Such a Long Goodbye #4

I went to see what's left of the Orange Bowl Stadium today and the excruciating pain of watching the historic lady crumble continues...

Work has begun on the West End Zone, the scoreboard can be seen through a giant hole on the west end...

The entire north (visitors) side is gone...

The press box continues to fight galliantly, more than half of it still remains...

I've also started collecting audio for use in a future multimedia project, including some quotes from a couple from California who remember watching many games on TV from the OB but had never seen it in person. They are on vacation here and decided to watch the demolition for awhile.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Time To Grow Up and Show Up

Last night was the rubber game of the FAU-UM three game series for the 2008 baseball season. The teams split the first two games (see my earlier blog for game two) and were meeting in Boca for the first time in years.

After FAU's stunning victory over the #1 ranked 'Canes last Wednesday, a large crowd was expected. Sure enough, more than 2,300 fans packed the tiny grandstand behind home plate and the berms down each foul line. By comparison, about 125 showed up for last Saturday's game with Troy.

I've shot for FAU since Coach Schnellenberger founded the football program back in 1999, and have been the team photographer for them the past three seasons. I usually enjoy shooting their events because 1) they are close to my home in Coral Springs, 2) it's easy to get in and out of their events and 3) they seem to like having me around.

Last night was an exception.

While it was my own fault I didn't think about the potential size of the crowd and didn't ask for shooting positions to be roped off, it doesn't mean that Owl fans had to act like assholes. But a few of them made the night very unenjoyable, and might have cost their hometown team the game.

"How?," you ask.

Forget about how packed they were around my shooting position, so I could not turn to see the outfield, nor could I see anywhere near the dugout. Forget that they kept bumping me while I was trying to shoot, resulting in missed moments. Like I said, I could have solved that myself with some better pre-game planning.

Many of the newly-minted fans around me used their pent-up energy to heckle UM first baseman Yonder Alonso (above) when the 'Canes were in the field. The barrage was constant, and sometimes bordered on ethnic, as the fans referenced Yonder's high school (Coral Gables HS), county of residence (Miami-Dade) and used the Miami-hater's penchant to mix in the word "thug."

This isn't the first time a FAU fan jumped on UM's undeserved reputation. Back in 2006, while at a FAU football game at Lockhart Stadium, a FAU fan (pictured below, under his girlfiend's left arm and looking glum after losing his argument with me) saw my UM championship ring from 2001, and proceeded to call me a thug. My assistant, who is Hispanic, came over to see what was going on and the topic turned covertly racial. I'm not going to get into what was being said, but it's the typical BS that many Miami fans and alumni endure, unjustifiably so.

Members of the Hurricane family do not take kindly to such BS.

So when Yonder stepped to the plate with one on and two outs in the top of the 9th inning down 10-9, I felt justice was on its way. Sure enough, BAM! 11-10 'Canes.

Don't get me wrong: while I am a UM alum and have been their team photographer for 13 seasons, I really do enjoy my FAU gig and am impressed with the growth of their athletic programs over the past decade. However, FAU fans, its time to grow up and show up. Not just when a Miami comes to town, but for every opponent. Your athletic department deserves better.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Smug Mugs

Another in this continuing series, Hurricanes coach Jim Morris tried to get one by yours truly back in January 2003...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Baseball 101 Anyone?

Every school has “homers.” I’m not referring to the baseball term but the definition of one who roots exclusively or disproportionately for athletic teams from one's home town or area.

While FAU’s fan base is much smaller than that of Miami, Florida or Florida State, they still have their share of “homers.”

During FAU’s game with Troy University on Saturday in Boca I was shooting in front of a group of fans of which at least one needed some education in the rules of baseball.

In the top of the 8th, Troy’s Shohei Fujita was on second with no one out. Charley Williams bunted and the FAU’s Nick Melendres threw to third base in an attempt to get the lead runner. The throw was in time but the tag was not. What followed from the peanut gallery behind me was both amusing and troubling at the same time.

“Why wasn’t he out? The throw was there before the runner,” screamed one co-ed.

Okay, I thought, here is someone who doesn’t realize that it wasn’t a force play, and a tag needed to be applied to the runner. I thought someone would correct her but I was soon proven wrong.

“Comeon, blue!”

“You suck, blue!”

“What a horrible call blue!”

The jeers rained upon my ears in living stereo. I thought about correcting them but thought better of it, as I was now listening to “homers.”

As they say in politics, don't let the truth get in the way of your argument.

Friday, April 11, 2008

It's Such a Long Goodbye #3

Images from late yesterday of the continuing demolition of the Orange Bowl Stadium...

Panoramic view from the northeast...the press box is hanging in there, but the rest is falling like a house of cards.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

9th Inning Dilemma

Last night I shot UM Baseball's 6-3 loss to FAU. I also shot FAU Baseball's 6-3 victory over UM.


Such is the dilemma when you're the team photographer for both schools. UM and FAU, despite their close proximity, don't get together very often. Last night they met in Coral Gables, and the game eventually provided a dilemma for me late in the game.

Heading into the bottom of the 9th inning FAU led 6-1 behind a two homer performance by William Block. I positioned myself in one of the empty seats behind home plate, hoping to get a jubilation shot of FAU pitcher Michael Obradovich, who started the game and held the 'Canes to one run through 8 innings.

When UM's
Jason Hagerty and Joey Terdslodovich reached base to lead off the bottom of the 9th to knock Obradovich out of the game, my thought process started to change. I had to start thinking how I would "play this" if the potential tying run would come to the plate. Sure enough, after a Blake Tekotte and Dennis Raben walk, sandwiched around a strikeout by Jemile Weeks and a sacrifice fly by Yonder Alonso, Ryan Jackson came to the plate as the potential tying run with the bases loaded.

I could hear it now, my Miami PR guy wondering why I missed the game winning homer and my FAU PR guy wondering why I didn't have a fist pumping "jube" shot of a game ending strikeout.

While a game ending strikeout for FAU might have been more likely than a walk-off homer by UM, I repositioned myself down the third base line in time for Jackson's at bat.


It was a UM home game, I decided. Next week the teams meet again in Boca Raton, and I'll treat it the same way for FAU there.

Before you scream "conflict of interest" to me any newspaper or wire service photographer would have the same decision to make. Besides, what I do for these schools is PR, not news.

Ryan Jackson singled to make it a 6-3 game, and Dave DiNatale came to the plate. I was feeling good about my decision, as DiNatale had hit a walk-off homer to beat Florida Gulf Coast the night before, and had homered against Clemson on Sunday.

Well so much for my analytical thought process, as reliever Glen Troyanowski struck out DiNatale to end the game.

Turns out there wasn't much of a fist pump either, as FAU's celebration of its first ever win over a #1 ranked team in any sport was kept low key with just a few high fives.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Smug Mugs

Occasionally, when shooting mug shots, someone tries to sneak an expression by me. Most of the time they fail. This is the first in an occasional series. Above: Chris Myers (now with the Houston Texans) in 2004.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Why I Switched to Nikon

If you are a photographer you have probably heard by now about Canon's inability to repair its current professional camera body, the EOS 1D, Mark III. My problem with Canon has its roots as early as the EOS 1D, Mark II. Rated for 150,000 shutter cycles, I had two of those bodies blow their shutters before their 30,000th cycle. Just in case you've never seen an image with a blown shutter, here is a look from one of my Mark II's:

While those bodies were under warranty and were repaired by Canon, more problems surfaced after their return. No longer were the bodies consistently sharp, frame after frame. A return trip to Canon didn't improve their performance. After dumping them for a Mark IIn, the same problem persisted. So when Canon announced their latest professional body, the Mark III, I decided to wait as see what others experienced. Thank god I waited, the body is a $5000 lemon! Numerous firmware updates and "sub-mirror assembly" fixes have failed to improve its performance. Now Canon has even proclaimed the problems "fixed" and that the body is one of its sharpest ever, while privately they admit many of the pros sticking with them have gone back to using Mark II's.

So when Nikon announced their latest pro and prosumer bodies, the D3 and D300, I started to think about switching back to Nikon, which I used prior to 1996. Nikon's previous digital offerings have suffered from excessive noise at high ISO settings. When samples were released from the new bodies at ISO 1600 and above, I decided to make the move.

The following image was shot at 2000 ASA, 1/400 sec @ f2.8 at FAU Softball last Saturday using the D300 and a 70-200 f2.8:

This one was shot a few moments later, after the sun had completely set, at 3200 ASA, 1/500 @ f2.8 using the D300 and a 300mm f2.8:

These are amazing results that Canon can't touch. Nearly every frame in these sequences were sharp. With Canon I might have 1 of 3 sharp. Shooting at ASA 3200 is very conceivable now, and as an added bonus, they throw in a sharp image....what a deal!

I'll post more on my Canon defection in the coming weeks.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Gratuitous Cheerleader Pic #1

The first in a potentially long running series...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

It's Such a Long Goodbye #2

Highlights (or lowlights from a 'Canes fan's perspective) from yesterday's edit of more Orange Bowl Stadium demolition photos...

Iron Arrow

Today was spring tapping day for Iron Arrow at UM's main campus in Coral Gables. I have shot for them for 15 years, and was tapped myself back in 2001.

For those of you who aren't alums, Iron Arrow is the highest honor attained at the University of Miami. Most tappees are elated at being chosen; some laugh, some cry. Claudia Medina (above) did a little of both this morning.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

NFL = Not For Long

This week the annual NFL Owner's Meetings are back in West Palm Beach, at The Breakers Resort. It's also the fourth anniversary of my last ever assignment from the league. I shot the annual coaches photo and the coaches golf tournament when the owners last met at The Breakers in 2004.

Soon after, NFL Photos was disbanded, and the archive "returned" to its owners, most of which were the photographers who shot the pictures. I say "returned" because most of us chose to send out our portion of the archive to either Getty Images or WireImage. Many of us league photographers saw this move as a short sighted and a blatant disregard for the league's history, in exchange for a quick buck from Getty, with whom the league wanted to sign an exclusive deal with. Instead of a coherent collection of still imagery, the archive would now be fractured and spread out amongst many entities.

Ironically, 2004 was also the beginning days of the NFL Network, the league's upstart cable channel. NFL Network's schedule was initially loaded with programming from NFL Films, the legendary arm of the league that has won 92 Emmys over the years. But now it seems the same "suits" that swept NFL Photos into oblivion have their sights set on the legendary film company started by Ed Sabol and his son Steve (below photo). Recently the league laid off over 7% of NFL Films staff, and the feeling from insiders is the NFL Network people and others with the league think NFL Films has outlived its usefulness.

It's like Deja Vu all over again.

When I started contributing to NFL Photos in 1997 I thought I was set. Instead, my career ended up being slightly longer than that of the average for an NFL running back.

As former NFL coach Jerry Glanville famously said in one of those NFL Films highlights, the NFL stands for "not for long."

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Just Another Day at the Office

The old saying goes, "a bad day at the golf course is better than a good day at the office." A few times a year, I'm lucky enough to have my "office" on the course. Usually for me, most of those days are good days, stress free, no distractions, no obstructions (as in track officials and rent-a-cops getting in the way), occasional spectacular early morning light, just lay back and wait for the subjects to pass by. Better yet, today, two of my clients are paired up for the final round, which cuts my workload in half.

Well, in reality, its not quite that easy. There is some thought as to capturing the needed images - there is a method to my madness. Often times I have more that one client (team) playing a tournament. To maximize my time I find a green that is in close proximity to the following tee. Ah, but hold on, sometimes my clients don't want an iron shown from the tee box, so a par 3 tee is out. A par 3 green also doesn't work, often there isn't time to get back to the green in time from the tee box. Then there is the early morning light, shadows from trees, backgrounds, and you start to get my point.

I had many of the local courses figured out. The 14th tee at Shula's in Miami Lakes had lots of foilage for a clean green background and the 13th green was a par 5. Same for Westview CC's 6th tee/5th green in Miami. But then the storms of 2005 changed everything. Gone were my backgrounds and shadows. Hurricane Wilma took out 277 trees at Shula's alone. Nice green backgrounds in my photos became an ugly view of the Palmetto Expressway.

Well, nearly three years have passed and things are getting back to normal. Today's shots are from the 5th fairway/green and 6th tee at Westview.