Travel Photography

A Jamaican dancer dances the limbo under a stick of fire which is held in place by coke bottles. 

Today’s digital camera makes travel photography easier than ever.

NEXTO DI NPS-10 Nexto Photo Storage – You add a SSD hard drive of your choice and size. Many photographers use the Samsung 2TB 860 EVO SATA III 2.5″ Internal SSD.

You’ll need several memory cards if you plan to take a lot of pictures or you can carry a small Memory Card Back-up Device to store and view your digital images. These are available in various hard drive capacities and are equipped with screens for viewing your images. If you have your laptop computer you can store your images on it and free up your digital cards for more photographs. 

The Island Breeze Lu’au at the Kona Beach Hotel located in Kona, Hawaii takes place just at dusk and makes for dramatic lighting. 

A single zoom lens such as an 18mm – 200 mm may be all you need to carry. Traveling light not only makes your trip easier and more enjoyable it has some hidden advantages. I love shooting with my Nikon 28-300mm.

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus

One, it is easier to make natural photos when people don’t perceive you as a professional photographer. They relax and are more themselves. Whipping out a huge lens or lugging a large camera bag around can intimidate your subjects. Another advantage to traveling light – you want attract as many thieves. 

Buy a good guidebook about the places you plan to visit. National Geographic publishes great travel guides that not only help you plan your trip, but your photography as well. We used their book for our trip to Hawaii. 

Guidebooks tell you about the great places and many tell the best time of day to photograph specific locations. Guidebooks are a must have. They’ll keep you from being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong light for great photos. 

Check out the postcards. They can save you time finding the best angle. Looking at the postcards and perhaps asking the locals where they were made puts you on the trail to the most dramatic locations for great photos. Once you find that general area look around, you can probably improve on the post card picture. 

At the Holei Pali Lookout, just before the 15 mile marker, there is a great view of the mountain lava flows, where you get a feel for the volume of a’a and pahoehoe that drooled down the mountain.

When you find the perfect spot make the best photograph you can, then do the obligatory “in-front-of” shot. You know, the one that shows that you and yours were there, but be careful. There are a couple of things to watch out for. Place the family so that where you are is (1) the only place that photo could have been made. Place the people to one side, perhaps up close, so that (2) the folks are recognizable and be sure the “scenic attraction” is also recognizable in the photo. If you cover it up then you could just have stayed home and made the photo in the backyard. 

Compose the background first
And then put the people in the photo. South Point, Hawaii is the southern most tip of the United States. 

Over shooting insures great photos. Give yourself room to edit when you’re back home. If you seldom write you probably wouldn’t use the first sentence you thought of to start a paper. In writing we usually put down as many thoughts as we can and then edit. From all the thoughts and ideas jotted down we find the ones that work best. 

A young boy makes me some coffee using Nescafe Instant coffee at a roadside cafe in Tenkodogo, Burkina Faso where they serve food, petrol and drinks. [Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/50, Focal Length = 27]

Do the same in photography. Take lots and lots of photos. It gets the creative juices flowing, besides, it’s fun. Try different angles: close-up, wide angle, zooming in. Shoot at low angles, climb up high and look for new ways of seeing the subject. Back up and take the long, establishing shot. Turn around and see what’s behind you, it could be just as exciting as what is in front. 

Use your camera to journal your trip. Photograph the food you eat, where you stay and the people you meet. Some of these “notes” may end up as a large print on your wall. 

Different angle which highlights the cultural differences of these kids in a class in West Africa.  [NIKON D2X, AF Zoom 18-50mm f/2.8G, ISO 400, ƒ/6.3, 1/50, Focal Length = 75]

With digital you can shoot the equivalent of a thousand rolls of film and fit it all into a memory card. Talk about traveling light… and cheap -no film cost. 

I’ve never heard anyone say they took too many photos on their trip. I have heard the sad stories of many people who left the camera in the room and missed the golden opportunities. 


A person’s expression can make the photograph or break it.

Everyone recognizes and is affected by people’s expressions of being happy, sleepy, cheerful, silly… you get the idea.

[NIKON Z 6, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/250, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

Understanding how our feelings our translated into expressions help you understand and capture these moments. 

You need to learn to look at people’s expressions and immediately be able to know how this makes you feel.  Your reactions to other’s expressions help you understand the power of what they are communicating to the world through their expressions.  One of the benefits of this exercise is realizing each of us is communicating how we feel to the world through our own expressions.

Storytellers Abroad Multimedia Workshop Kosovo Leadership Academy (KLA) [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 400, 1/100, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

Once you have taken the time to realize what an expression communicates you then can ask what causes this expression.  The answer to this question will help one to anticipate.  What caused them to smile?  This cause and effect helps you to know when you recognize those events which get reactions—you need only point the camera in the right direction of the reaction and zoom in for a successful photograph.

Chelle celebrated her 11th birthday on Sunday November 1st with Julia, Katarina & her sister, Simone, Finona, and Erin Snedeker [NIKON D3, , Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1250, 1/20, ƒ/4, (35mm = 14)]

When people open their birthday presents it is often those who bought the gifts will know if this was on the person’s wish list.  Watching my daughter open her presents at her birthday and Christmas was easy to anticipate the expressions of joy.

Alfred Eisenstaedt, known to millions worldwide through his work for LIFE Magazine, made a famous photograph of children’s reactions to a puppet show.  Today professional photographers are pointing their cameras as much to the reactions as the actions for story telling expressions.

Monday in Trinidad [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 12800, 1/250, ƒ/4, (35mm = 48)]

Where are some of the best places to start with making great expression driven photos?  I think special events where there are some obvious timeline scheduled events are the best places to start.  Opening the presents we have already mentioned.  Another would be an audience reaction to a speaker. 

RPC Children’s Choirs present “Table for Five. . . Thousand! The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes” A musical by Tom S. Long and Allen Pote Mother’s Day [NIKON D3S, , Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 5600, 1/500, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 120)]

Some of the funniest expressions are when people forget they are the center of attention—like a children performances.  Parents can capture great photos of their children during performances.  But to capture the expressions you have to be close.

[NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 24-105mm f/4G IF-ED, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 51200, 1/80, ƒ/16, (35mm = 105)]

A good rule of thumb for being sure an expression is seen is to remember can you tell time by the size of the person’s face.  There is a very practical reason we do not have wrist watches hanging on walls to tell time with and just a good of a reason we don’t wear wall clocks on our wrists.  When you look at a wrist watch on your hand it is very close to your face.  It is almost the same size as the clock face on the wall across the room when you hold your hand up with the clock on the wall in the background.

Military Appreciation Event [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 200, 1/250, ƒ/5, (35mm = 40)]

So, if you want people to see the expressions get close.  Great expressions only work if they have the “WOW” factor and this is achieved by the expression being large enough for people to see it.

Are you a Hawker or Fixer?

Hawker – a person who travels around selling goods, typically advertising them by shouting.

Fixer – A fixer is a person who carries out assignments for someone else or who is good at solving problems for others. The term has different meanings in different contexts. In British usage the term is neutral, meaning “the sort of person who solves problems and gets things done.” 

Stanley Leary Portrait

I have always been a fixer. I am a fixer. I like problems, and I like puzzles, and I like to help people, so I have been a fixer, and I have always been an educator.

Tabatha Coffey

I feel like Tabatha says what I believe about myself so well. Just the other day a college student came and stayed with us. He had an event to go to the next day in our town.

While we were sitting around he pulled out his Macbook Pro and then pulled out a separate keyboard and mouse. I asked why he was using the keyboard.

His track pad and keyboard were no longer working. He was a poor student and before he left our house I had the track pad and mouse working again. It was my mission to solve his problem.

Become a fixer, not just a fixture.

Anthony J. D’Angelo

Sometimes you need to be a Hawker, because you cannot find anything to fix for others. Hawking is then a matter of telling people the skills you have to fix things that they have forgotten to mention to you.

Cesare Bambaro (male Lay Leader) is the lay leader of 1st Baptist Garango. Jay Shafto helps with the translation from Bissa language into English. (Photo by: Stanley Leary) [NIKON D2X, AF Zoom 70-200mm f/2.8D, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/250, Focal Length = 270]

The problem is if you just see yourself as a Hawker you cannot become the Fixer. You are too busy Hawking.

Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.

Ross Perot

I would change that quote to “Spend a lot of time asking questions and listening to customers face to face.”

Your questions should not be “do you have photography needs,” but rather what keeps you up at night? What are the largest problems your customers are struggling with today? How is that different than a few years ago?

Get to know their business, not just looking for how they can use your business. Sometimes the best way to build a client is to refer them to someone else for something you don’t do, but someone you know does really well. They will remember you.

While there are times you may need to be a Hawker, spend most of your time trying to be a Fixer.

Want to be a full-time Pro?

I have written several posts in the past talking about business practices to make it.

Today I want to address what I have noticed is the difference between those who are successful and those who fail.

Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (4) breaks up an interception attempt by Duke cornerback Josh Blackwell (31) in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga., on Saturday August 31, 2019. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 380)]
What kind of a Dreamer are you?

There are typically two types of photographers. There are those who dream about having the experience of enjoying the perks of being a photographer.

Former President Jimmy Carter speaks to the moderator Karin Ryan, senior policy advisor on human righs and special representative on women and girls at the Carter center during the Harmonizing Religion and Human Rights Conversations at The Carter Center on Wednesday, December 5, 2018. [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 10000, ƒ/5.6, 1/200]

I know many people are fascinated by who I have met by being a photographer.

Tonight’s Sunset looking towards the Andes Mountains from Santiago, Chile. [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 24-105mm f/4G IF-ED, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 450, 1/100, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 75)]

Many people want the experience of seeing the world. Whatever it is they dream about it is more about the experience of being a photographer that occupies their dreams.

The other type of photographer dreams as well. They are thinking about their clients and prospects. They are thinking of how their photography can help them.

Cosmic Bowling for 2014 Awards Book [NIKON D750, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 2200, 1/80, ƒ/1.8, (35mm = 85)]

I often find myself thinking through assignments and what I will need to help take the end product up a notch. I am thinking about questions I need to ask to better understand the expectations of clients and prospects.

If you just dream about how fun it would to have a career then don’t pursue this as a career, keep it as a hobby.

However, if you are thinking of how to problem solve for people to use your skills to improve their lives–you just might make it.

Creating a Portfolio

[NIKON Z 6, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/160, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

Creating a portfolio should be about showing what your are capable of doing so that others can decide to hire you. The decisions on what should go into your portfolio should be to persuade people that your style of work will help them in promoting their business.

Island Breeze Performance [NIKON D3S, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 400, 1/500, ƒ/3.2, (35mm = 14)]

With my portfolio I like to show my skills to educated buyers. Most of the time I am hired by people who are used to hiring photographers and therefore are looking for competency and warmth.

I like to show my ability to create using light and not just capturing the natural light.

Fire Dancer [NIKON D3S, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 200, f/7.1, 1/100]

My good friend Tony Messano, an art director, coached me to show a different skill with each photo. Once you have established you can do something, don’t just show the same skill over and over.

Duke 3 vs Alabama 42 Final Score [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

One of the skills I like to show is my ability to get the moment. Sports photos show this, but also everyday life that seems to be moving slow is just as fast as a sports game. This is very true when you are looking for that “slice of life” to grab people’s attention and move their hearts as you need to do with nonprofits.

The Cows at Roswell Town Center are celebrating on Cow Appreciation Day 2018 in Roswell, GA. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/3200 – Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT]

Some of my clients want to know that I can “Create a Moment” as much as capturing it.

This police officer is modeling the AmeriGlo serrated ghost ring. AmeriGlo sights are machined from solid bar stock steel and assembled with laser-sealed tritium lamps. Unsurpassed tritium brightness makes this ideal for law enforcement, public safety, personal defense and recreational use. This photo was made for the client to use in a display for a trade show. [NIKON D100, 24-120mm , Mode = Manual, ISO , 1/160, ƒ/22, (35mm = 300)]
Dodge Viper [COOLPIX P7000, , Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/1000, ƒ/7.1, (35mm = 119)]

While the ability to get the norm is required, getting the unexpected is what can separate you from others.

Bertil Brahn, Clean Air [NIKON D2Xs, AF Zoom 122-300mm f/2.8D, Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/8, ƒ/14, (35mm = 330)]
My tips for a portfolio
  • Your Best Technically Executed Photos
  • Photos that evoke emotions and engage the viewer
  • Show your technical versatility
  • Each photo is showing something different
  • Show you can work with a subject
  • Show who has already used you
  • Show what you love to shoot – Your Passion [that people will pay you to shoot]
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl 2018 Florida vs. Michigan [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 32000, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 550)]
Fruits sold in Chick-fil-A [NIKON D750, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/40, ƒ/6.3, (35mm = 270)]
Father and Son Campout [NIKON D3S, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 3200, 1/25, ƒ/3.8, (35mm = 28)]

I like to show clients I know how to capture lasers which are invisible to the eye most of the time.

560Researchers are testing a new jet nozzle using a laser to measure the efficiency at the Georgia Tech Jet Propulsion Lab.

Photography is about transporting people to a moment in time that they would like to be a part of as well.

People’s Fest @ Atlantic Station Celebrating the launch of People’s Food Truck Featuring Marc Broussard [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 12800, 1/125, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 14)]
Early morning walk on the beach at Ocean Isle, North Carolina. Leary Family Vacation [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 24-105mm f/4G IF-ED, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 110, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 48)]
You are busy but not Happy

Sometimes you have done an excellent job promoting yourself, but you forgot to pursue your passion. This is why you should do personal projects that help define what you are most passionate about. While you may still need to do some of the work you are good at to pay the bills, it is important you have projects on your calendar that you look forward to as well.

Children of the local pastor in his corn field in Togo, West Africa [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/2000, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

I love shooting work missionaries are doing around the world. I love meeting people from all walks of life.

Herăști, Giurgiu, Romania [NIKON D750, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1400, 1/100, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 250)]
Work in remote village of El Pedrero, Honduras. [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 160, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 15)]
Father Flor Maria Rigoni, “a world leader in the field of migration”, after working in Europe and Africa, Father Rigoni settled in Mexico in 1985. Since then, he has fought tirelessly to better the lives of migrants seeking relief at the Scalabrinians’ Bethlehem shelter in the town of Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico. [NIKON D3S, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 800, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 82)]

Check out how I have presented my work on my website under “Portfolio”

Calibrating the Face for Portraits

Christi Lamb
[NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/125, ƒ/4, (35mm = 85)]

Every semester I go down to Columbus, Georgia and help Columbus State University Theatre majors by doing headshots for a small price.

I find that getting actors in front of the camera that they just need permission to show what they can do with their faces. To be a good actor they often spend a lot of time in front of a mirror perfecting expressions.

I like to think of this as like stretching before you run or warming up the voice.

Then when you hit an expression you are more relaxed.

Debrinja Watts [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/125, ƒ/4.5, (35mm = 85)]

When you laugh it is more genuine.

Gabrielle Solomon [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/125, ƒ/4, (35mm = 85)]

I always have so much fun with the actors.

Jasmine Campbell [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/125, ƒ/4, (35mm = 85)]

This year we had more freshman than in the past. It was great to meet so many new students. I can’t wait to see them in performances.

Britt Woods [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/125, ƒ/4, (35mm = 85)]

While often this is all you will see as the final headshot that they use, we had fun working on this to get those natural and authentic expressions.

Next time you have your portrait made ask the photographer to let you try a range of expressions.

Kiki Ellis [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/125, ƒ/4, (35mm = 85)]

Ian Rossin is not trying to be an actor, he is studying theatre tech. That is the guys who deal with lighting, sound, costumes and set design. He however could easily find himself on stage or in front of the camera.

I had a couple who just tried more expressions than I have seen out of one person.

Coco Holt [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/125, ƒ/4, (35mm = 85)]

To be a professional actor/actress you have to be able to do more than just one expression. The more you can do the more opportunities for different roles.

Coco Holt [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/125, ƒ/4, (35mm = 85)]
Now my clients are promoting me since I started doing this

No Longer Just Pictures

I have been reflecting on the work I am doing, what I used to do and what I think I will be doing in the years ahead.

If I had the same skills I had ten years ago today, I wouldn’t be a photographer now. In 2002 I had just bought my first digital camera the Nikon D100. I was able to make the digital switch relatively easily.

In 2002 most of my work was shooting still images. I was shooting a great deal for colleges and publications covering sports. I was covering the games, shooting portraits and helping shoot the team photos that were used for promotions. Many of these photos were used in the media guides, used for promoting ticket sales and some of the photos even made it to the sides of buses.

Today, there are mainly hobbyist who trade out giving the photos for free to those organizations for the opportunity to be on the sidelines. Some of their work is quite good. However, I could no longer get the clients to pay me when they were getting the photos for free.

In the fall of 2005 I did a coverage in West Africa. When I returned I worked on my first Slide Show using the software SoundSlides. They now have a newer version that no longer uses flash. I haven’t tried it but this may be a good solution for those just wanting to combine still images with a sound file.

While I just put the images to African Music I had recorded, it was a turning point for me. Now I am shooting video and combining it with still images and audio to create multimedia packages. Now I am using Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

The majority of my work today is as an executive producer who shoots, edits and then gives this to clients to post on the web. Many of these packages are 2 to 3 minutes in length. Here is one I did on my daughter’s mission trip to Chattanooga this summer.

Many of the packages I have done are for “Best Practices” of people in a company to share internally. The stories have helped spread good ideas.

Looking into the future has been very difficult to speculate. If cameras continue to change as they have these past ten years then I can expect to be upgrading a camera every two years.

My computer will need to be replaced every 3 years to keep up with the software and the camera files. My first computer’s hard drive was 20 mbg. That would not even hold one of my photos that I shoot on my Nikon D5 or Nikon Z6 today.

I will most likely still be telling stories in ten years, but how I tell them will most likely change in some way. I will still use visuals and audio to communicate, but who knows. Maybe we will be able to capture smell and play it for audiences as well in the future.

If the past is any indication of the future, I know I need to stay informed of changes happening. I need to read all I can to stay current. I need to be involved in professional organizations. Most of all I will need to remain curious and asking myself “What if” questions.

Don’t be like a lot of my friends who didn’t like to change and today are out of work.

My thoughts on Photographing Sports

Duke’s running back (21) Mataeo Durant fumbles the ball due to defensive pressure of Alabama’s defensive back (22) Jalyn Armour-Davis during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff on Saturday, August 31st at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

The ultimate sports photo for me is when there is a conflict between players who are fighting for the ball and I have capture the emotions of the moment shown in their face expressions and body language.

Chick-fil-A Kickoff Duke 3 vs Alabama 42 Final Score, August 31, 2019 [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 460)]

Getting to the game early helps me to scout best spots to shoot from. I prefer shooting from the endzone for football, because that is where the offense is trying to go.

[NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

When you are not shooting the offense from the endzone you can see the faces of the defense.

Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (4) breaks up an interception attempt by Duke cornerback Josh Blackwell (31) in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga., on Saturday August 31, 2019. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 380)]

I grew up watching on ABC Wide World Classic “The Agony of Defeat” by the skier Vinko Bogataj. When plays don’t go well and there is an “Agony of Defeat” moment, it reminds us of how difficult it is to play the sport.

You can see in this series the competition and the emotions in the body language of both players.

Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs, III, (11) makes a move on Duke safety Dylan Singleton (16) the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga., on Saturday August 31, 2019. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

Getting these moments takes really high end professional gear. You need a camera that is able to focus quickly and shoot enough frames so that you don’t miss the action.

[NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

While you are following the quarterback you are quickly then transitioning downfield to the receiver. My Nikon D5 screams speed. From the focus to the frame rate to the way you can scrub through images on the rear LCD. With your eye to the viewfinder, a light press of the shutter release see’s the camera unleash its almost endless volley of image capturing prowess. A minimal viewfinder blackout time makes it easier to see the action and follow your subject.

Alabama wide receiver (17) Jaylen Waddle is forced out of bounds by Duke linebacker (49) Koby Quansah. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 20000, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]
David Cutcliffe, Duke’s head football coach, talks with Nick Saban, Alabama’s head football coach prior to the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 640, 1/320, ƒ/4, (35mm = 58)]

By arriving early I was able to get onto the field prior to the kickoff and capture a light moment between the two head coaches for Duke and Alabama. For this moment I went with my Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera. Other than for fast action sports I love this camera. Seeing the image before you click the shutter is just awesome.

You can see if the exposure is correct. You can see the white balance. You can see the Depth-of-Field. You can see if you are in focus.

The mirrorless Nikon Z6 lets you see the photo before you shoot except for the split second that you capture. The Nikon D5 doesn’t give you this ability through the viewfinder. You could do this in live view, but not as easy to see.

This is CJ Byrd and Mohamed Massaquoi before the game. They were roommates at University of Georgia and played football together. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 640, 1/160, ƒ/4, (35mm = 28)]

There is so much more than just the plays on the field that make this a community event. The bands, the celebrities, and much more, but you must look for them.

Duke Band during the pregame show [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 18000, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]
Alabama’s Color guard performing choreographed dances and routines with various equipment to enhance and interpret the music of the marching band show. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 340)]

Bands, Cheerleaders, and Color Guards help bring fans to their feet.

Duke takes the field [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 36000, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 260)]

Just coming onto the field today with a football team is a spectacle.

Nick Saban wears the leather helmet after winning the Chick-fil-A Kickoff over Duke 42 – 3. [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Shutter Priority, ISO 5000, 1/800, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 150)]

To keep objectivity in sports media, a photographer cannot cheer for teams while doing their jobs. Now if you are the team photographer, this is different because you are not reporting as the media.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) passes against Duke in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga., on Saturday August 31, 2019. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 460)]

Camera Setting Tips for better photos

These are some photo tips I taught to staff camp photographers for WinShape Camps located in Rome, Georgia.
Here are some camera settings that we all made on the cameras.
Nikon D5 Auto ISO setiup
  • Quality of Image. We chose to set the camera to the largest JPEG file at the highest quality setting. (The camp did not provide the software for all the computers to use RAW)
  • Auto ISO on a NikonAuto ISO. We all then set out cameras to Auto ISO and set our lowest ISO on the camera default preferences of either 50 to 200 ISO. We then set the highest ISO on what the camera is realistically capable of shooting. For most of the cameras this was between ISO 1600 and 6400. Both Canon and Nikon allow you to also set your highest shutter speed.  We set this according to the situation.
  • Shutter speeds (Using auto ISO) The camera will raise the ISO to get the optimum shutter speed and will drop the shutter speed once it hits the maximum ISO.
    • If shooting under fluorescent or sodium vapor lights we recommended that shoot at 1/100 shutter speed, unless they had to shoot sports.
    • For shooting sports we recommended setting 1/2000 shutter speed
    • For general shooting we recommended 1/250 shutter speed
  • White Balance
    • We recommended getting a custom White Balance as the primary choice
    • Our second choice was to use a preset like Fluorescent, Daylight or tungsten for example
    • When we were changing lighting that affects white balance often we recommended using Auto White Balance
  • Aperture
    • For general shooting we recommended to not shoot wide open but use f/4 or f/5.6 so that your subject is in focus.
    • When your subject can cooperate a little more with you then we recommended shooting wide apertures if you choose for artistic reasons. This is when f/1.4 is more appropriate. We have found the trend of too many shooters buying 50mm f/1.4 lenses and shooting all the time wide open and having very few in focus photos due to the shallow depth-of-field.
  • Inside Flash or when dark. Use a higher ISO to help open up the background. Here is an earlier blog post on how using the higher ISO helps open the background up. 
  • Flash outside in daylight. When it is the middle of the day and the sun is straight up you are most likely to get dark circles around the eyes. I call this the racoon eye look. If you are less than 10 feet away from the subject you can use either your built in flash or hot shoe flash to fill in those shadows. In addition to filling in the shadows you will get a nice catch light in the eyes. You can also use the flash when you back light a subject. (I wrote about this in earlier blog post here)  This helps them from looking directly into the sun and squinting. Since the shadow side of the face is now towards the camera a flash can help balance the light.
Camp staff photographers are discussing ideas that they will be doing with the campers in a couple weeks. [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 2000, 1/100, ƒ/5, (35mm = 28)]

Some of the camp photographers are photography students or recent graduates of photography programs, but not all the photographers were photography majors. Due to the range of talent we showed them a place that would help them get more photos in focus that are properly exposed and good skin tones.

Staff plays some games with each other after dinner. [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 200, 1/500, ƒ/5.3, (35mm = 112)]

After practicing with these settings we then covered the three stages of composition. I will refer you to my earlier blog on this topic about what we covered.   

The last thing we did during our time was go out and practice shooting looking for photos that tell a story. Then we reviewed everyone’s best 5 photos for our last hour together.

The staff of one of the boys camps shows their camp cheer that they will be teaching the campers. [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 200, 1/400, ƒ/5.3, (35mm = 112)]

If you would like me to come to your organization and do this workshop for me just give me a call. I am doing this same workshop in a few weeks for the Boy Scout troop that meets at my church. We will do the class time and then meet four weeks later after they shoot a photo story.

The really cool thing about WinShape camps is the emphasis on relationships. As you can see the staff really enjoy each other and this spills over to the campers. [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4500, 1/500, ƒ/5, (35mm = 28)]