Today’s the day that will result in record numbers of football fans watching the game, record number of pizzas and beer, and record number of photographers wanting to shoot the game.
I’ve done all three and can tell you eating pizza, drinking beer, and watching it on tv is a lot more fun and a lot less stressful.
May professional carer shooting sports began before I could afford a motor drive for my Nikon F SLR. I shot single frame using two cameras, manual focus lenses, Tri-X, and a brief prayer before each game.
“Lord, let me find the action. Let me get in in focus. Amen.”
I cut my chops at Florida Field, long before it was known as “The Swamp” and had an open end zone the way Ohio Stadium used to.
I serviced UPI with action from each game and the university with a collection of photos that are probably now in a dust bin beneath the Swamp. I’m not sure I have originals of many of those photos, only some yellowed and brittle newspaper clippings store away in my personal dust bin.
Eventually, after turns at the Orlando Sentinel where I continued to travel to Gainesville to shoot Florida, and at the Ft. Lauderdale News with continued trips to Florida Field on an irregular schedule and covering the Miami Dolphins, I joined The AP in Atlanta.
Continued to shoot football sometimes shooting two games in two states on a single day. Auburn in early afternoon and Georgia Tech at night.
Then to Columbus for Ohio State Football in 1982.
I shot a lot of film during that time. Fortunately I’d been able to afford my own Nikon F motor drive to go along with the company issued gear. Still, everything was manual focus, manual exposure, hand processing, and darkrooms.
That changed in 1994 with the $18,000 NC2000, the first digital news camera. Its introduction accelerated the design and production of auto-focus lenses and accelerated the production of faster, cheaper, and higher resolution cameras leading to today’s low-end digital SLR kit cameras that have become so prolific at school sporting events.
I’m often asked which I like better, digital or film. I always answer digital.
My Keith Byars photo at top represents shooting in the black and white, manual focus, manual exposure, film processing and darkroom days. The time from shooting the photo until it was received in a newspaper photo editor’s hand was, at best, 30 minutes. That includes the 10 minutes it took for the photo transmitter, a very sophisticated fax machine, to send the photo signal over a telephone line.
On important game days (OSU-Michigan) we were lucky to be able to send 5 photos. That was nearly an hour of time on a time regulated network of analog receivers.
Today, a sports shooter used several digital cameras costing one tenth of the NC2000 with autofocus lenses, auto exposure, a speedy laptop and wireless deliver in minutes instead of hours for a complete set of photos to cover the game.
A photo editor receives hundreds of photo on a football Saturday, all crisp and focused, properly exposed, delivered within minutes after the play, editable, and archived without danger of fading like the old receiver prints.
The next time you pick up a Sports Illustrated and there is an article or photo that points out a great moment in sports before digital, compare the accompanying photo with the photos that are digital.
Digital wins hands down. For all the good reasons. For all the bad reasons film wasn’t always best.
Aperture Priority, an E-Book by Photographer Gary Gardiner, is available as a free download.
The starting point for most professionals is setting their auto-exposure system to Aperture Priority.
It means the photographer is controlling the most important aspect of any photo, what is in focus.
Using aperture to determine depth of field sets the basis for controlling shutter speed and focus point to make the best photo possible.
Begin today to shoot like a pro. Get Aperture Priority, an E-Book by Photographer Gary Gardiner
Each page now displays the following set of rules and requirements for using my photos.
I’ve decided it is near impossible to prevent personal use on Facebook and personal Web sites. What I can try to prevent is commercial use without proper compensation.
My photos are licensed for use by individuals and businesses.
Top Five Composition Techniques
The Composition Carry Guide for Photographers™, the latest in a series of pocket guides to better photography, is published and ready for download.
The PDF has the Top 5 Composition Techniques to help you make better photos. When folded, the Carry Guide is an eight page reference and instructional guide with space for notes about your next photo shoot.
The Carry Guide is a pocket version of the Composition e-Book, also ready for you to download.
Get your copy of the Composition Carry Guide for Photographers™ by completing the form below. See the Composition e-Book page to see if you also want to download it.
Provide me your e-mail address and I’ll send you the Composition Carry Guide for Photographers™. It fits in your pocket as an easy reference. It’s free. You can print it as many times as you want. Keep notes for each day’s shoot. Whatever is best for you. I’ll keep the e-mail private, share it with no one, and only use it to communicate with you infrequently.
One of the strongest elements in this photo is use of the tree as a framing device that fills the left side of the frame.
A framing device is exactly what it sounds like. Just as a frame that holds a photo or painting mounted on your wall and isolates your view to the work of art, a photograph’s framing device acts to hold eye movement inside the edge of the photo.
A framing device can be any object, in or out of focus, that forces the viewer to move toward the photo’s center of interest.
Time Magazine notes in a year-end piece about photojournalists often travel together covering the same events because of convenience and safety.
Sometimes that doesn’t end well as we learned this year with the deaths of Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros during an attack in Libya.
An earlier marker was the deaths of Larry Burrows along with Henri Huet, Kent Potter, and Keisaburo Shimamoto, when their helicopter was shot down while covering the Vietnam War.
Also interesting is how the difference of inches, sometimes the width of a body, or less, radically changes the composition of the compared photos.
Above is a simple photo of a butterfly landing on flowers with a raging forest fire spewing smoke as a backdrop. Jae C. Hong’s photo, the one on the right, places the flower and butterfly against the more open sky and the horizon line at the bottom. The result, to draw your eye to the butterfly, is more effective than Djansezian’s photo where the same flower and insect are lost against the darker background.
Remember this the next time you’re struggling through the viewfinder with composition. Sometimes it’s a matter of inches in any direction that can complete a composition and make a better photo.
As I was shooting the feature above, I must have looked quite crazy as I side-stepped and squatted my wall along the park across the street from the hedge trimming. I’m sure she wondered what exactly was going on although the presence of several camera around my neck and on my shoulders gave her a great set of clues.
I watched for background changes as she worked the length of the hedge and adjusted my position to eliminate the bright background spots that would have distracted from her as the center of interest.
When almost moved into what I thought was the best position for my photo when she stopped, looked at the trimmer, and walked away. She’d accidentally cut the only extension cord she had.
Her trimming and my feature hunt ended at the same time.
I I hadn’t been working to find the best position for each frame I fired,even the ones I wasn’t confident about, I might have missed this photo.
Trying to get the best possible composition for each frame is essential. It sometimes can be a matter of inches.
Back in my youth, a few weeks ago, I read in one of the popular photo magazines that the first accessory lens bought by new photographers is a telephoto. That placed me in the select group of people whose first lens purchase was a wide-angle. I purchased a telephoto a few weeks later when I was assigned to cover a series of motorcycle races at a track in North Dakota.
I think the designation given to short focal length lenses should be more descriptive of their greater purpose. Wide-angle more accurately describes their angle of view. It doesn’t even consider the perspective altering capabilities or how depth-of-field characteristics can be used to interpret a scene.
The assignment was a series of photos of a fitness athlete doing warmups at sunrise, then follow her for the day for training and meals.
For anyone show shoots at sunrise you know the planning is precise. The sun is in the right position for a very short period of time before it loses its warmth or the angle is too high.
To capitalize on the early arrival we began the shoot before sunrise. In our case sunrise was a little later than normal because the sun had to break across a line of trees across the lake where we were shooting.
Some photographers take a mid-day siesta to recover from the hours before sunrise wake-up call or alarm clock that allows them to be in position when the sun breaks the horizon.
While most people are enjoying a leisurely lunch with friends or a second helping of barbequed pork, most really good photographers are catching a few Zs on the couch or leaning back in their office recliner.
Street photography is part of the daily tool kit for news photographers. It can be much more difficult for photographers who are not expected to produce a news package every single day.
Walking up to a complete stranger and pointing a camera at him from just a few feet away can be disconcerting at best and dangerous at the extreme.