Mar 30, 2009

Shooting Soccer is Hard!

Thanks to a heads-up from Christina over at the Kaufman Herald I had the fun of shooting both KHS soccer playoff games at Richardson Pearce HS last week. I did not make it out to any of the regular season games, but from what I understand, both teams have played very well in a rigged-up 4A district.

With the girls starting at 6PM, there was plenty of light. OK, so there was so much light that it made for really contrasty shadowy faces for a while. But I will not complain... light is good for shutter speeds, remember?

Kaufman was playing the Highland Park Lady Scots...

Unfortunately, it did not take long to see that the Lady Lions were a bit overmatched in this one. Most of the action was happening on the defensive end of the field, so I headed down there.


There were some nice shadows forming from the bleachers which helped a little with the harsh sun

There wasn't much help for the ugly car background though.
From the side of the field...


One gets by..

With the game winding down and the score 8-0, the Lady Lions held tough for the last four minutes.

It would be easy to make excuses playing against a much larger school with a more experienced team. After all, the HP squad was making substitutions of three or four rested players at a time. And they made sure to park their big black charter bus in plain view. Impressed? Hardly. The Lady Lions took the loss pretty hard, and I got the impression that they will certainly come back with something to prove next year.

Then it was time for the boys to play Richardson Pearce. This was a home game for Pearce, but the Kaufman crowd matched them for volume. Especially with some less-than-favorable officiating. Nice sunset happening back there somewhere...

As you can tell, this is not much of a stadium. I suppose you don't need light to play soccer, but it sure helps for photographers. To make matters more interesting, there were dark and light spots in the field. I just under-exposed and hoped for the best. There was still a lot of motion blur to ruin shots.

Or maybe it is just artistry? Yes, that's it, artistry.

It is hard to decide where to shoot from in soccer. I wish had been closer to this collision.

The Pearce crowd and announcer seemed pretty proud of their goalie...

But at halftime the score was tied at 2. (do they call it halftime in soccer?)

The Lions' goalie got some knee reinforcement

And overall the team was in good spirits.

The second half was a tough battle, but the Lions had no answer for two more Pearce goals.

My timing was way off. It was a lot like shooting basketball in that you always have to be watching and anticipating. It took well into the second game to get close to a header-on-the ball shot, and there were plenty of opportunities.

The closest I got for the Lions was way out of focus.

There was plenty of mid-field action.


Did I mention it was dark?




Soccer will not likely become my favorite sport to shoot anytime soon. It is, however, quite a challenge, which makes it fun.

Prints are available, as always, at

Happy Shooting,

Don J

Mar 18, 2009

Fun Photo Stuff from the Web

I hear from some friends that it is Spring Break. I vaguely remember the concept, and it makes me want to be a teacher!

OK, here is some fun photo stuff from around the net..

The folks at del Sol photography do some crazy stuff with the "trash the dress" concept.

If any of you folks in my area are crazy like me and want to try some version of this or similar, just let me know!

Interested in Crime Scene Photography? Here is a blog for you.

For photo bugs like me who like to take pictures everywhere, are you walking too fast?

When you get an SLR camera, there is a sudden need to buy lenses. Good lenses, it turns out, can cost more than the camera. Why? Read and Watch...

OK, that was information overload... If you are having a spring break, be sure to make some great photos, not just snapshots!

City of Gold

Happy Shooting

don j

Mar 14, 2009

Location Portraits

I have been attending church across the street from Our Merciful Saviour Episcopal Church for over 6 years, but I haven't made the time to visit. Built in 1909, the little green building is a wonderfully charming place, with lots of photographic potential. When local corporate/event photographer Jim Woods asked me to take some photos of an event there while he was out of town, I jumped at the chance.

The event involved a farewell party Father Gene Baker, a much-loved interim priest at the church for some eight months, as well as welcoming in Father David Petrash who will fill the post full time.

Jim requested shots of each man in the church sanctuary, and with both of them together if time allowed. I could not have asked for a better setting or more gracious subjects...

The interior of the church is beautiful wood, with great stained-glass windows. With the sun dropping fast, I quickly set up a single flash with an umbrella and got some interior shots. First, Fr. Petrash... I liked how the cross could be framed in the window...

Canon 5D, 24-70mm, f4, 1/20, iso400

And a little tighter shot...

Canon 5D, 24-70mm, f4, 1/20, iso400

Fr. Baker wasn't quite ready yet, so Fr. Petrash indulged me with some additional shots...

Canon 5D, 24-70mm, f3.5, 1/25, iso400

Canon 5D, 24-70mm, f4, 1/20, iso400

I used the same setup for the two men together...

Canon 5D, 24-70mm, f3.5, 1/15, iso400

Then Fr. Baker by himself. Just to be different, I placed him to the left and showed the entire altar to the right.

Canon 5D, 24-70mm, f3.5, 1/25, iso400

and closer...

Canon 5D, 24-70mm, f3.5, 1/25, iso400

Such a wonderful face.... gotta get even closer!
Canon 5D, 24-70mm, f3.5, 1/25, iso400

While time was short before a Shrove Tuesday service (and the following pancake meal), they gave me a few minutes for the shot I really wanted to try, outside in the fading light with the building as a backdrop.
Canon 5D, 24-70mm, f5, 1/50, iso640

Light was disappearing fast, and bumped the shutter speed a bit to make the background even darker. This made for a dramatic shot that really highlights the subject. (and of course, I have forgotten his name, my apologies!)

Canon 5D, 24-70mm, f5.6, 1/60, iso640

After the pancakes and a group shot, I managed to snag the two priests together in the sanctuary for one more shot with the altar.

Canon 5D, 24-70mm, f22, 1/15, iso3200

Happy Shooting,

Don J

Mar 9, 2009

Random Fun Shoot: Team Impact at FBCK

OK, two random fun shoot posts in a row... I will try to get back to some how-to's soon. Yes, I've been too busy having fun with the camera, which is not a bad thing!

Three members of Team Impact, a group of very strong guys who excel at breaking things, visited my church for five nights of last week. For those of you who are not Christians, it may seem odd to have giants come to break things in church, but dont' worry, it is a bit odd to me also. Break things and tell people about Jesus? Yes indeed... If you want some deeper spiritual aspects of this sort of thing, head over this blog by one of the church leaders for some thoughts.

Naturally, when you combine modern-day giants, fire, and feats of strength, there are photos to be had. Of course, we don't want snapshots, do we?! I spent three nights trying to get some photos that I liked, and had a blast watching Chris, Marc and Greg do what they do.

One thing I already knew... the church is not very bright inside. Of course, I wanted to set up lights. My first attempt was to put one strobe (Canon 430ex 1/4 power) on a column to audience right, about 5' back from the stage. (how does this work? Go to!) This was supplementing another strobe on the camera with a bounce card. Results... fair.

As you can see, the background is really busy, and the flashes are lighting it up, a lot. I was pretty happy with the timing anyway.

Using only ambient light, the Team Impact logo showed up as a nice background element, but there was no way to stop action that way.... here Marc talks to the crowd

You can see there also how the ambient stage lighting causes dark shadow areas in the eyes... not attractive.

Using only the remote flash gave dramatic results, and I got my favorite shot of the evening when Marc was crushing diet 7-up cans...

I knew I would have to work on that in the coming nights.

Finally on Friday, I saw that the single flash was making a nice silhouette on the opposite wall... so I waited for a gesture, thanks Greg

I was completely unprepared for fire.. this is the best I could do, even with a lot of correction in the computer afterwards.

Friday night was a great learning experience to see how these guys operated, and to be prepared for the quick pace as they moved from one thing to the next...

I was ready for Saturday, putting a flash on each side of the stage, barely at the front edge firing directly across the room. Wherever the sprite would fly, I would be ready. It made for dramatic lighting...

It was also awards night for the church's Upward Basketball League so the place was packed for two performances. It is always good to get a perspective that most people don't get to see. Of course, you risk embarrassing yourself in front of a crowd too. Unfortunately, the flash was catching the chandelier, so the attention goes to that instead of the bent-around steel bar.

The kids really enjoyed the can crushing extravaganza..


Sunday night was the big finale, so what to do photographically speaking?

First up I wanted to try a lot of things so I started with a 14mm Sigma on the Canon 5D. Very Wide, unique angle, no flashes, and very dark.


Unfortunately, with the flashes on, the wide angle almost always had a flash in the field of view causing lots of flare.

I went with two remote flashes again, on each side of the stage but further back. I also set them on different channels of the remote (Elinchrom Skyports) so that I could fire them individually or both at the same time.

Together, they lit the stage nicely, although I should have worked on getting less light on the background

Even getting in close the background is busy, but the fire makes it OK, right? Shortly after this i was cleaning fire extinguisher residue off of the camera.

The camera cleaning was a bit pointless, as bursting soda cans was coming soon.... and I wanted to get close.

That was a little too close!

As the program wrapped up, it was time for the promised attempt at snapping an aluminum bat. As you might expect, this took a bit longer than breaking a standard wooden bat... and gave me time to play with using only one flash.

With both, the light was OK..

With only one flash, the light was much more dramatic, and there was less light hitting the ceiling for a cleaner background. I was in the right spot to "frame" Chris' face with the bent bat as he made the final pull.

While their approach may be unorthodox, these guys did a great job of both entertaining and sharing the message of Jesus.

Happy Shooting,

don j.