Post COVID Customer Tolerance Level

While we are not entirely out of the woods with COVID-19, the numbers are significantly down for hospitalizations and death compared to just a year ago. This is excellent news.

Early in the pandemic, businesses changed their customer experience. Many companies that were not considered essential folded due to a lack of income. Those that were open had to change how they interacted with the customer.

Customers generally were cutting companies slack, knowing how difficult it was to operate during this crisis.

Post Covid Customer Expectations

As we are coming out of this pandemic, customers will not continue to tolerate substandard customer service.

Most of those customer service-focused brands that built their customer loyalty before the pandemic pivoted to continue to serve their customers. However, most all had to change their customer service. Many lost a good percentage of their workers and still have not recovered.

In the service industry, the public was used to various levels of customer service. Some hotels were on the low end, providing basic shelter for the night. Other hotels realized providing more customer service was a way to grow their business and profits by learning the customer wants to feel special.

The problem was that during the pandemic when we had to travel and stay in some of the hotels, they just provided a bed for the night.

Just a couple of days ago, my wife and I went to a restaurant chain that had closed its doors but had reopened under new management. When they opened, they did so based on how many restaurants had to operate during the peak of COVID-19. This was the least amount of customer service I have ever experienced in a restaurant.

When we walked in, there was only one other person in the large dining room. No place to step up and place your order with a person. They had a few Self Ordering Digital Kiosk Stations to place your order. One employee working the grill saw us and explained that the management did this due to COVID. So, we put in our order, but the entire experience lacked customer service. We had to find our drinks, napkins, silverware, and even the table had not been cleaned since the last customer. We did bus our table when we left.

For the most part, I am noticing that customer service is no longer what it used to be in many businesses today. I can tell you I am not interested in continuing to go to a restaurant where I am not getting some better experience than just going to the grocery store and cooking it myself. 

I can see my attitude shifting from tolerance to intolerance regarding paying for services. Do you think I am the only one thinking this today?

Can you afford to start losing customers because they are no longer willing to cut you some slack for substandard customer service?

Analog to Digital ++

Within photography, Analog to Digital refers to moving from shooting film to digital capture.

In the days of film only, many photographers shot their assignments and then dropped off their films at professional labs. There was a smaller group of photographers who shot and processed their films.

I happened to be part of the group that shot and processed their film. I was a photojournalist working at a newspaper, and to meet deadlines, we had to process our film. It was standard on breaking news for newspapers and wire services to print from a wet negative.

Today, some photographers still shoot digital images and then send their files off to be processed by someone else. They do this for various reasons, but the most common sense is that shooting is more profitable than processing.

Realtor photographers are a great example of this today. They may shoot a lot of properties during the day and upload these images to have them processed overnight. I know many here in the United States who shoot during the day, and then their processors are in India and work during the daytime to process the photos.

Spring Dance Concert Columbus State University [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 120-300mm f/2.8G IF-ED, ISO 2800, ƒ/2.8, 1/800, Focal Length = 180]

Success vs. Failure

In the film days, photographers were just part of a larger group of professionals that touched an image before the audience would see the image.

Before 1995, when Mosaic helped websites to start, the primary way to see photos was in print. Most of the public viewed images through newspapers, magazines, catalogs, and billboards, to name some places we saw pictures. Here are some steps to make that happen in those days of just film.

  • Photographer shoots photo on
    • Black & White
    • Color Negative
    • Color Transparency
  • Photo Lab Processes film
    • Negatives
    • Transparency
  • Photographer & Photo Editor reviews photos
  • If negative, then sent back to the lab for prints
  • Press person prepares photos for a press run by creating a screen for plates.
  • Press run where ink monitoring to give good colors or greyscale for images

During that time, the photographer was one of many responsible for the image quality. The photographer just had to show that what they delivered was good quality before handing it off to the following professional.

Today, the photographer is responsible for much more. You don’t have anyone else color correcting your images unless you hire that service. Often the photographer is asked to provide the color separation by providing a CMYK image.

Fuji X System

Bottom Line for Today’s Digital Photographer

Rates have not gone up all that much from the Analog days of just film. However, the photographer is responsible for the client’s color balance, resolution, and many more steps.

To be successful in today’s market as a professional photographer, you must know so much more than in the past to function. Either you master these skills or subcontract some of this out to others.

While it is true that your smartphone’s camera can take excellent photos and deliver these instantaneously worldwide, it is the person operating the technology that affects the quality more than the technology itself.

Without proper training, mixed lighting conditions will produce awful skin tones. In addition, not understanding how to change the settings in your camera can result in speakers in spotlights being overexposed. Finally, photographing action will result in blurred images or out-of-focus photos.

The successful professional photographer for today anticipates what is needed to make great photos. Unfortunately, most of the pitfalls of capturing images are often related to being unprepared for the situation.

You may not be the photographer, but the communications lead is ultimately responsible for the ROI [Return on Investment] for the communications for a project. Therefore, your career rests on you knowing enough to know when to hire a professional.

Roswell defeats Johns Creek 56 to 13

[NIKON Z 9, VR 120-300mm f/2.8G + 1.4X converter, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/1600, ƒ/4, (35mm = 360)]

The first thing I noted about shooting at Roswell High School’s Ray Manus Stadium is it is a lot darker than shooting at the Mercedes Benz Stadium. But, of course, high schools will not have as good of lighting as an NFL team’s stadium.

Lightroom + Topaz Topaz Photo AI [NIKON Z 9, VR 120-300mm f/2.8G + 2X Converter, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/500, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)] Lightroom + Topaz Topaz Photo AI

So shooting at ISO 25600 and 1/500 shutter speed introduced some noise and motion into the photos. So I tried out Topaz Topaz Photo AI.

Lightroom only [NIKON Z 9, VR 120-300mm f/2.8G + 2X Converter, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/500, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

While I think the Artificial Intelligence ability of the software was incredible, I did note that I needed to adjust some of the corrections using the sliders.

What I was surprised by the most is that the Nikon Z9 at ISO 25600 and just processing with Adobe Lightroom were giving me great results.

[NIKON Z 9, VR 120-300mm f/2.8G+ 1.4X Converter, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/640, ƒ/4, (35mm = 290)]

Every once in a while, there is a little luck that improves the image. For example, when Roswell’s #2 looked toward the sideline, he turned his head into the light. Also, I could see his face much better than other players by not having an acrylic facemask.

[NIKON Z 9, VR 120-300mm f/2.8G+ 1.4X Converter, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/800, ƒ/4, (35mm = 420)]

As you can see, when the player is looking downfield and has an acrylic facemask, it is much more challenging to know the player’s face.

[NIKON Z 9, VR 24-105mm f/4G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/1600, ƒ/4, (35mm = 82)]

The ideal place for photos on the field is the 50-yard line with people facing the sidelines; as in this check presentation, there is not as good lighting on the faces if they were facing the endzone.

[NIKON Z 9, VR 120-300mm f/2.8G+ 2X Converter, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 25600, 1/400, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

The NIKKOR Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S would be the perfect lens for shooting sports at this stadium for nighttime games. With the Nikon Z9’s resolution of 45.7 megapixels, you can crop a great deal making the 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 a great lens to use.

I can tell you this was a lot of fun to shoot. But, there is more room to move around than in college and pro football games. I hope to get back to shooting more games this season.

Photography Then & Now

Caption: Ron Sherman talks about his work on display at the Roswell Arts Center on Friday, September 23, 2022. [NIKON Z 9, 35mm f/1.4G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1000, 1/200, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

Today I went to hear photojournalist Ron Sherman share some of his 60+ career highlights at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center.

For those who are new to photography and specifically commercial photography, I am writing this to help you understand there is not a well-worn path for newbies to follow those who went before.

Many who came to hear Ron Sherman are part of A2D [Analog to Digital} who meet every Friday at Einstein Bros. Bagels at 2870 n W Druid Hills Dr, Atlanta, Georgia. [NIKON Z 9, 35mm f/1.4G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 16000, 1/200, ƒ/7.1, (35mm = 35)]

Ron is about eighty, so his career started twenty-some years before I entered the profession. Ron’s dream job early on was to be on staff as a photographer for Life Magazine. Unfortunately, Life Magazine went under in 1972, just about when Ron’s portfolio was strong enough to be published.

My dream job was to work for The Commission Magazine, which I did get to do in 1985. However, a few years later, I was laid off due to funding.

Both Ron and I had watched the industry change. Unfortunately, while my 40+ years overlap with Ron’s because of timing, we didn’t get the same opportunities due to changes.

Most of Ron’s career was in the film. Digital capture didn’t take hold of the industry until around 2000. Of course, there were digital cameras earlier, but the quality hadn’t surpassed film, in my opinion, until about 2002 at the earliest.

Ron did well with owning the copyright to his images and selling them through agencies for large sums of money compared to today’s rates. $300 was the lower end of photography stock sales when the film was the standard. Today sales start below $2.

Film cameras required photographers to know what they were doing because it took more than an hour if you process your film to see what you had taken. In addition, the ability to reshoot something because your settings were wrong wasn’t possible with film. Digital changed that in a significant way.

Digital exploded the number of photographers. Finally, they could take a photo and see the results instantaneously. Make a mistake with focus, exposure, or color balance; you can correct your settings and reshoot a photo in seconds. Digital capture was a game changer for the industry.

Most large businesses hire advertising and public relations agencies to hire photographers for commercial work. Photographers created portfolios and showed them to the agencies for work.

Art directors with great eyes didn’t always have the skills to shoot film and make it do what they needed. With digital capture, that changed. As a result, many of those agencies started shooting their photography rather than hiring photographers.

Today it is no longer just about digital capture with professional cameras; smartphones have cameras capable of rendering results good enough for advertising campaigns.

So today, the one thing that isn’t a differentiator for commercial photography is the camera and how to use it.

Today I see these as the differentials for helping photographers stand out and get work.

  1. Understanding Light – This means the ability to use natural light by moving around until you get the best possible light on the subject.
  2. Creating Light – Photographers need to know how to start light from scratch in a dark room to work with available light and add lights to make subjects look even better.
  3. Subject Expertise – Without understanding a subject, you will struggle to take intense photos in communicating this to an audience without someone else directing you. The more you know, the less the client does less directing and looks to you, the photographer, to help them get strong images.
  4. People Skills – You must be able to listen to your clients and communicate to build trust with everyone involved in a project. Building trust with clients requires listening, asking the questions that lead to better photos, and knowing how to get the client’s approval before shooting.
  5. Business Skills – You must know what it costs to run your business. How to charge the correct prices to pay your bills, put money back into your business, and market your business to prospective clients.

Today I believe that while photographers still need to do what Ron Sherman was doing early in his career in the 1960s by having a solid portfolio, good work ethic, good people skills, and business acumen, in 2022, there are just way more photographers competing for jobs than in years past.

A client’s customer experience with a photographer is more important than ever. So many people are always knocking on their doors, and if you are not easy to work with, they have an easy replacement at their door.

Revisiting Older RAW Files with Lightroom Classic 11.5

I just played around today with photos from November 2011 when my son was doing airborne jumps at Fort Benning in Georgia.

Airborne School First Jump of school

One of my favorite tools is AI Masking. Selecting a subject and then inverting it is one thing I love doing.

I selected the subject and just used the tools on the guys.
Inverted and worked on everything but the sky. You can intersect your selections with or without things like the sky.
Airborne School First Jump of school

I could improve the people, select everything around them, and color correct or more.

The time to do this in the past would have taken at least 15 to 30 minutes just to create a mask as good as AI is doing here in Lightroom. Before AI was in Lightroom, attempting this manipulation would have you in PhotoShop.

Now, this was all done with my older Nikon D3S. With my newest Nikon Z9, the resolution will only make this even better.

Airborne School First Jump of School

The Airborne Jumpers are so tricky to balance to the sky. So I chose to semi-silhouette them for these photos.

Airborne School First Jump of School

I know many people complain about the monthly plan that Adobe products have you paying, but they are always coming out with better editing tools. I am sure this is due to having the ongoing funds to pay people to innovate.

Airborne School First Jump of School

Take Away From Reprocessing Images

Here is a list of things I think will make you shoot differently today.

  • Shoot RAW – The most information that, even today, you can adjust using software like Adobe Lightroom Classic
  • Shoot Highest Resolution – Often, photographers dumb down the file size because they don’t need it for the present moment. This limits you in the future of things like cropping differently than you did at the time you shot the photo.
  • Good Archive – Today, I recommend SSD for storage and redundancy. Most IT people say to have A, B, & C copies.
  • Bracket – While not always possible, it is excellent if you do more options later. Very important with Real Estate and landscapes.

You can only maximize what you use in the future. While today we have some AI software like Topaz Labs that will help with noise, sharpening, and enlarging, it can only do a percentage of improvement, so larger files with more dynamic range will yield better results.

Airborne School First Jump of School

If you have older photos from years ago, why not open them in Lightroom and see what the new tools can help you do to make your more senior images look even better today?

Often I Feel Like I am Drowning in Life

I am writing this for those who will find solace in that someone else struggles with life each day, as well as you. Spoiler alert I don’t have a solution, but just to let you know, we are on this journey, not alone.

If you are breathing, you most likely have choices to make in dealing with life.

One of the most important things I have learned through the years is that we are not entirely in control of our lives.

In my life, there have been challenges related to health, cars, houses, and jobs, to name a few areas of conflict I have experienced. The one thing that my brain has done in analyzing these conflicts has been to know if I caused them in any way. Sometimes, if I had made another choice, it would have been a different outcome.

I have been in a few car wrecks where I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. In addition, I have had medical issues like getting the flu that was not preventable.  

Maybe you can relate to having life happens, and sometimes you feel overwhelmed.

I lost two staff jobs in my life. As a freelancer, you are only sometimes sure you lost a job to another person, or they just decided not to do a project. Either way, you still lost a job that someone asked you to bid on for them.

Each of us has taken control of some of our life decisions. Most of us chose to work on our school work to move on to the next grade. However, many of us decided to go to college to learn more so that we could work in a career of our choosing.

Each day I must work at not trying to live so much in the future that I create anxiety. Unfortunately, this is such a real struggle that I find more times than I care to admit; I succumb to the pressure and find myself in depression.

When unexpected bills and broken relationships happen, I often feel like I have no control over anything in my life.

Most of the time, prayer helps me lift my head and take a step forward. But God isn’t fixing all my problems.

The more that is on my mind, the more difficult it is to focus. I am reminding myself to look at each crisis and try to understand the things over which I have no control and the things I have overpowered.

The most challenging crisis that I constantly deal with in life is that of relationships. So many other problems in my life take just enough time from my relationships, damaging those relationships.

I believe that this is why there is so much depression and suicide in our culture today. Each of us is trying to deal with each crisis alone. I believe that even prayer time alone isn’t enough.

Prayer always helps me clear up some of the mess in my mind to remind me of my compass better and make plans to move forward each day.

Dorie showed Bill Bangham and me here oasis sport at the Beach and Kona Brewery on The Big Island of Hawaii. [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 24-105mm f/4G IF-ED, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 320, 1/500, ƒ/8, (35mm = 48)]

“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”

― Martin Luther

Do This In Remembrance Of Me

I love how, in the Jewish tradition, memory is not just individual but also communal. For the Jewish people, collective memory flows through ritual and recital. 

This past weekend the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb has a lot of similarities to the Passover seder.

Seder customs include telling the story, discussing the story, drinking four cups of wine, eating matza, partaking of symbolic foods, and reclining in celebration of freedom. The Seder is among the most commonly celebrated Jewish rituals performed by Jews all over the world.

On 9/11, the New York City Fire Department responded to the airplanes crashing into the Twin Towers. They rushed in as the office workers rushed out.

Elevators are generally tied to a fire detection system and are not available to occupants once the alarm sounds. So firefighters take to the stairs.

The importance of the Seder dinner is to relive Passover. You retell the stories, so you don’t forget and pass these traditions on to the next generation.

So Metro Atlanta Firefighters from various communities participated in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb at Sovereign Condominium on Saturday, September 10, 2022. The event is a fundraiser to help families when tragedy strikes a firefighter and they need help.

Some firefighters not only brought their children to witness the event but carried them while climbing the 110 stairs to remember. The children will see how taxing this is on their parents as those steps become more and more complex with each step.

What I love about the Passover Seder dinner is encompasses more than just the food. Each family adds to the first Passover stories, telling their family struggles through the years. They take what happened in the first Passover and connect their life story to it through their own families’ and communities’ stories.

Chaplain Dorie Griggs gives the invocation.

Dorie Griggs, my wife, and chaplain of the Roswell Fire Department gave the invocation for the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. In its simplest form, invocation is a prayer or request for the spiritual presence of God in a ceremony or event. So, she was asking for God’s presence in the ritual just as Jews say a prayer each Passover.

Eternal God of all the generations, we welcome this festival of freedom with joyful hearts. We have assembled together seeking Your presence. As You redeemed our ancestors from the slavery of Egypt and led them to the land of their inheritance, so have You been our Redeemer and Protector throughout the centuries. You have watched over us and guided us at all times.

Passover prayer for first night

We started the day with an invocation asking God to be present with us. Then, we told stories of firefighters’ families whose lives had benefited from the funds raised in the past 21 years since 9/11.

The widow of a fallen firefighter tells her husband’s story and how the funds raised in past years helped her family during this difficult time of loss.

I thought it was touching that the day ended with CW 69 reporter interviewing my wife. Sharing the importance of remembrance of 9/11 firefighters and also firefighters in our communities who are sacrificing for us. We must tell those stories.

A CW69 reporter interviews Chaplain Dorie Griggs.

Hobby or Profession? | Calling or Vocation?

photo by: Dennis Fahringer

“Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”


Two groups in my life have approached this topic of vocation with one thing in common. Both groups ask themselves if they have the talent to pursue a profession.

These two groups are photographers and those in ministry. They both start in photography or church without pay. They are hobbyists or volunteers in these vocations.

As they grow in their knowledge and skills within these two professions, many will be facing deciding whether this will be a career or a hobby/volunteer.

How do you know if your calling to ministry is real?

  1. You possess the traits of a spiritual leader. In Paul’s letter, 1 Timothy 3, he describes the qualities of God’s shepherds.
  2. You have a genuine desire to serve God.
  3. Others are telling you’re well-suited for ministry.
  4. God is flinging open the door of opportunity.
  5. You’re spirit-filled.
National Geographic contributor Amy Toensing is a guest speaker at the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 15, 2014. [X-E2, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/17, ƒ/3.6, (35mm = 54)]

I believe hobby photographers asking if they should do this professionally ask the same questions.

  1. You possess the traits of a Photographer.
  2. You have a genuine desire to serve others with your work.
  3. People are asking to purchase your work or hire you.
  4. The door of opportunity is wide open to you.
  5. Photography fills your spirit with joy.

I have done both of these in one career.

I responded to being called to ministry in high school. My spirit was responding to God, wishing me to devote my life to serving in ministry full-time. They often become pastors, missionaries, nonprofit organization directors, and parachurch leaders. Over many years this calling would be merged with photography.

I took this photo of Hannah Baldwin during the Storytellers Abroad Missions Multimedia Workshop in Togo, West Africa. [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/200, ƒ/8, (35mm = 24)]

Paying The Bills & Fulfilling A Call

I think those with a faith background may be aware of the Apostle Paul, who had a dramatic calling by God on the way to Damascus. You may or may not be aware that his occupation was as a tentmaker. This is how he paid his bills.

During those times, synagogues did not have a single leader who preached every week like a rabbi or pastor does today.

So the concept of full-time ministry as we think of it is more recent than when the Apostles lived.

Chick-fil-A Kickoff 2012 Clemson vs Auburn [NIKON D4, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Shutter Priority, ISO 8000, 1/2000, ƒ/3.5, (35mm = 300)]

Part-time or Full-time or Hobby

Those called to the ministry and photographers familiar with others tell them they’re well-suited for that role.

You will find that all those who become professionals have an affirmation made by others.

Photographers will have people asking them to do photography for them. Those who feel a call into ministry will have a faith community asking them to serve in various roles.

If no one asks you to serve them, you will most likely remain a hobbyist or volunteer.

Now the difference between part-time and full-time is usually something that takes time.

As a person who pursued the call into full-time ministry, I first thought I would be going in the direction of a pastor. However, the church and my father, a minister, advised me to attend college and seminary. So while I was studying, I was doing other jobs and leading the church in volunteer roles.

My path with photography was similar. I first realized I needed education and did this with one-on-one learning with my uncle, a professional photographer. I bought lots of books and then spent almost all my free time in college doing photography. Finally, I got a part-time job working for the college paper and yearbook. These are paying positions. In my senior year, the photographer for East Carolina University quit their job and asked me to fill in until they found a full-time photographer.

During that time, the chief photographer for The Hickory Daily record saw my work and offered me a staff position.

At that moment, I could fulfill my calling to ministry with photography.

Earlier my uncle had introduced me to his mentor and former boss, Don Rutledge, who was doing photography for a missionary organization.

After covering President Jimmy Carter teaching Sunday School Class at Maranatha Baptist Church, Ben Gray, a photojournalist at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is transmitting his photos from downtown Plains, Georgia, on August 23, 2015. [NIKON D750, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 200, 1/500, ƒ/3.5, (35mm = 28)]


How do you know you should do something professionally? Regarding photography or the ministry, you must have others confirm that you are gifted. They will contact you and ask you to do photography, or if in church, they will call you and ask you to lead something in the faith community.

It would help if you spent time learning before you can be ready to work professionally.

These jobs don’t have to be full-time. You may find that your lifestyle for your family is better suited for you to keep your daily job to pay the bills and pursue your calling part-time.

You may find that you may need to pursue this full-time. However, I recommend that this is when you know this choice allows you to pay all your bills.   

Which ISO Is Best For Sports?

This photo was taken during the Georgia Tech vs. Brigham Young 28-19 at Grant Field on September 21, 2002. [NIKON D100, 200.0-400.0 mm f/5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 200, 1/1000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 345)]

Photographers talk about the ISOs they choose to shoot sports on social media. But don’t they know you always try to pick the lowest ISO possible?

Some photographers post these comments on social media: “Is it possible to get sharp, relatively noise-free images at ISO 16,000? I pushed it to see what I could get away with, and I hit my level of noise tolerance.”

Why would you ever shoot a higher ISO if you can get away with a lower ISO?

The top photo was with my first digital camera, the Nikon D100, in 2002. The game was an early evening game. This photo was taken before sunset when there was still good light. At this point, the sun was low in the sky but still had ample light. The lighting conditions allowed me to shoot at ISO 200.

Photography is all about tradeoffs.

The tradeoff is due to the Exposure Triangle, where you balance 1) Shutter Speed, 2) Aperture, and 3) ISO.

In the days of film, this was a more significant tradeoff than today due to film ISO being much more limiting than today’s digital ISO.

On 4th and 24, Georgia Tech Jason Bender’s punt is caught by Florida State’s #20 James Colzie, who is picked up and slammed by Georgia Tech’s #28 Jimmy Clements. Florida State beat Georgia Tech 41 to 10 on November 5, 1994, for the final score. Shot on transparency film ISO 100.

You can watch the play action in the photo above of Florida State vs. Georgia Tech is here on YouTube.

Search for football photos before 2000, when most photographers were still filming. The noise didn’t exist then, but the grain was very noticeable in sports photos.

Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson (21) shaking off a tackle during play on September 16, 2006, at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. [NIKON D2X, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8 + 2X Converter, Mode = Manual, ISO 400, 1/1250, ƒ/5, (35mm = 840)]

As we know, you can usually only get two of the three parts of the Exposure Triangle. Sports photographers want to freeze the action and have it in focus. Therefore, they sacrifice ISO.

As long as you emphasize sharp and in-focus photos, I suggest you always shoot the lowest ISO to achieve this.

This action shot is inside the Mercedez Benz Stadium without any sunlight. [NIKON Z 9, VR 120-300mm f/2.8G + 2X converter, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 20000, 1/2000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

Sometimes, photographers will choose a deeper depth of field because focusing isn’t ideal, and to ensure an in-focus photo, they then have to increase the ISO.

Other photographers shoot at a faster shutter speed to avoid motion and bump the ISO.

The bottom line is that all the veteran professional sports photographers I know are always looking to shoot the lowest ISO.

Today, with some post-processing possibilities, we are not as limited in our choices.

Chick-fil-A Kickoff Oregon vs Georgia [NIKON Z 9, VR 120-300mm f/2.8G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 5600, 1/2000, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 120)]

Commercial Real Estate Drone Work

Drone photography allows real estate agents to showcase the entire property and all its exterior selling features in a single shot that receives that coveted 12 seconds of focus. What used to take several photos, which research shows most buyers won’t bother scrolling through, drones can capture in a single shot.

The photo above is a composite. I was limited to 400 feet straight above didn’t work so well, so I shot two shots and stitched them together.

In commercial real estate sales, the customer often buys the property without seeing it in person. Instead, they may be an investor from out of town and rely on drawings and photos to understand what they are purchasing.

The agent often wants to pitch the surroundings as value added for a particular plot of land.

When asked to get those aerial photos, I know I am getting pictures looking North, South, East, and West. I also know to get these from around 400 feet and then some at lower altitudes of 200 feet and even lower.

Detail shots in drone work for real estate capture specifics like buildings up close and access roads around the property.

I prefer stills to videos for a straightforward reason–they capture the property quickly for the audience.

Videos are fantastic if the customer wants to take the time to watch them, but they appreciate the still photos to give them a quick overview.

Here are some aerial photos I did today for a commercial real estate client. Which photos would you use as your primary photo if you were limited to just one photo?

ISO 20000+ Unbelievable with Nikon Z9

[NIKON Z 9, VR 120-300mm f/2.8G + 2X Converter, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 22800, 1/2000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

Getting sharp and in-focus photos of football, one must be sure you are using a fast shutter speed.

For my past two games at the Mercedes Benz stadium covering the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games, I have been using 1/2000 as my shutter speed.

The primary lens I use with my Nikon Z9 is the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8G Sport with the TC-2001 2X Converter. I own the TC-1401, the 1.4X converter, but rarely use it.

I also have on my second Nikon Z9 the 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 lens. This lets me get a lot of different shots without the worry of not having the right lens to get a picture.

As long as the 2X converter is on the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8G Sport, I am shooting with ISO above ISO 11400. More than half of those action shots are at ISO 25600.

I use Lightroom to lower the noise by sliding the noise to about 40 on that scale.

Today’s cameras, especially Nikon’s Z9, let me get some of the best action shots in my career. Why? Shutter speed has got to be high, and secondarily, the camera must be able to lock in the focus on the players.

I have found that the Nikon Z9 focuses better than any camera I have ever owned, and the lack of noise is incredible at those ISOs I have to use.

Here are more photos with the settings that were used. Bear in mind that since the 45.7MP Stacked backside-illuminated sensor, it lets me crop a lot more than the Nikon D5.

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Nikon Z9 using Shooting Menu Bank to go from Weddings to Football

My shutter speed settings for shooting sports are 1/4000 versus for weddings, 1/125, or 1/250.

For sports, my release mode is 20 fps versus for weddings, single frame.

Both of those settings affect my ISO. I use auto ISO for weddings and sports but mainly change the shutter speed.

If auto ISO sensitivity control is enabled, ISO sensitivity will automatically be adjusted for optimal exposure at the selected shutter speed and aperture. In addition, you can choose an upper limit for auto ISO sensitivity control to prevent ISO sensitivity from being raised too high.


Use the Shooting Menu Bank to save the settings you use for sports in one of the four presets you can even rename. Here are my four banks:

  1. Normal
  2. Sports
  3. Strobes
  4. Fluorescent