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And So It Begins…Year 17!

Today was the start of my 17th season as the Hurricanes’ Team Photographer, and my 21st overall including my student years. Things have changed over that period of time, going from processing and printing film in my closet to digital processing and Photoshop work on a Mac. Photos that were distributed to primary clients via FedEx back then are done so via FTP today. Outside sales to editorial clients have been nearly entirely eliminated by agencies suck as Getty Images, who have largely commodified the market for stock photography, resulting in use fees at a fraction of what was realized in the past. In its place some photographers have moved to promoting themselves via websites and social media sites including Twitter and Facebook.

“Caneshooter” has become my identity and my brand online and in social media after just being a nickname hurled at me by another photographer back in the late 1990′s. I spend more time promoting my brand than I do shooting photographs. I have over 91,000 photos online, of just Hurricanes Athletics. I have this blog, a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account. I hope I post interesting stuff, and that you’ll look at my website, my blog, fan my page on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. And I really hope you’ll buy a print or a download!

ABOVE: Kenny Kadji poses earlier today during our basketball freshmen/transfer studio shoot at the School of Communication.

Russell Maryland Elected to College Football Hall of Fame

Hurricanes great Russell Maryland was one of 14 players and two coaches chosen for inclusion into the 2011 College Hall of Fame Class, announced by The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame this morning.

Maryland won the Outland Trophy in 1990 and was elected to the UM Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. He becomes the fifth player in school history inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, joining quarterback Gino Torretta, safety Bennie Blades, defensive end Ted Hendricks and running back Don Bosseler. Former UM coaches Jack Harding & Andy Gustafson are also in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Shooting Hoops

To many people, the term “shooting hoops” means grabbing the ball and heading down to the park for a game of pick-up basketball. To me, it’s another facet of my job. Here’s how I shoot hoops for the Miami Hurricanes.

I’m a bit of a equipment minimalist when it comes to photography. I don’t keep and cart around much more photo gear than I need on a daily basis. It is, after all, a business, and if gear isn’t working for me on a regular basis, then it’s not generating revenue. So the following is what I use while shooting men’s and women’s basketball for UM:
Camera #1 is hand-held with me on the corner of the floor. I use a Nikon D300s with a 70-200 f2.8 lens attached.


Camera #2 is a D300 with a 17-55 f2.8 lens attached, and I attach it to the basketball stanchion with a Manfrotto Magic Arm and clamp.

Camera #3 is usually a D300 with a 12-24 f4 in front of me on the floor looking up towards the paint.  However, I recently bought a Canon G12 (a point & shoot which many pros keep in their bag) and noticed it had a remote jack, so it served as Camera #3 last night, mounted on the catwalk above the scoreboard.

My strobes and remotes are fired using Pocket Wizard radios. The strobes are Speedotron 2401SX packs with quad lampheads, permanently installed on the catwalk, one in each corner with the fifth set for down court fill.

Here’s a result from position #1:

1/250 f6.3 @ 200 ASA

Here’s a result from position #2:

1/250 f7.1 @ 200 ASA

Here’s a result from position #3:

1/400 f7.1 @ 200 ASA

The overheads in the BankUnited Center are a challenge. Like I stated in my previous post, there is no catwalk directly above the baskets like there were in the Miami Arena. As you can see from this image from above the scoreboard, the view has many obstacles. This may prove to be such a low percentage shot that I may abandon it altogether at some point. If I had to dedicate a $4000 camera and lens in this position, I would have abandoned it already.

Something to remember: by using strobes, I have only one shot every two and a half seconds. That’s how long it takes the Speedos to recycle to full power – no high speed motor drive here. Timing is everything. Using strobes also allows me to use the G12. Its poor drive and focus speed are not a factor here, but how I make the G12 work is another topic for another day, as is my post-game editing workflow.

Here’s Looking at You, Reggie

Often we photographers will go to extremes to get a unique image. After recently acquiring a Canon G12 “point-and-shoot” consumer camera, I noticed it had a remote control port.

The bells went off in my head. Could I actually use a small consumer camera as a remote?

So for last night’s men’s basketball game vs. Maryland, I mounted the Canon G12 on the catwalk above the scoreboard at the BankUnited Center.

The Canon G12 is a 10mp consumer point and shoot camera with some pro features. Relevent to the image above, it has a 28-140mm f2.8-f4.5 lens, a hot shoe and the ability to manually expose and focus. But it’s main unpublicized feature is its ability to sync at a higher shutter speed than usual when using external flash due to its CCD sensor. With the right strobe and shutter speed, a photographer can overpower the sun on an outdoor shoot. That’s actually the reason I purchased one.

While mounting an overhead camera is nothing new, it’s the first time I’ve done it at the BUC. In the old Miami Arena, the catwalks were perfectly positioned above the rim on each end of the court. I often mounted a remote above one of the hoops there, as you can see from this shot of Darius Rice. In the BUC, the catwalks are farther out along the perimeter of the floor, with one climbing to a platform above the scoreboard. The view is at a slight angle, and through a hanging speaker assembly.

The next challenge was actually firing the camera. Using Pocket Wizard brand radios to trigger the shutter was easy, but the “shutter lag,” the time it takes for the camera to respond and fire the shutter, was my concern. Sure enough, it took an average of a second and a half between my pressing the button on my radio and the camera actually firing. While that may not seem like a long time to some, to me that’s the time between the ball leaving a shooter’s hands and it getting to the rim.

While I came up with six usable images, the “shutter lag” issue took some of my attention away from using my main camera. I just could not go from using my handheld setup to firing the radio in time to catch a rebound. So while this setup isn’t practical for every game use, it is workable for an occasional different look.

Image details: Canon G12, 140mm, 1/500 sec, f5.6 @ 200 ASA. Used with Speedotron 2401SX strobes, triggered via Pocket Wizard radios.

The Best Entertainment Value in Town is…

The Miami Hurricanes Women’s Basketball team is creating excitement not seen in a generation.

Nineteen years ago, the ‘Canes sandwiched 30 consecutive wins between an opening night overtime loss at FSU and a loss to Vanderbilt in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament. The 2010-11 version has a chance to be just as special.

Sunday, the #16 Hurricanes were tested by #25 Georgia Tech, trailing for much of the game against the larger Yellow Jackets. The ‘Canes’ aggressiveness forced 28 Yellow Jackets’ fouls, resulting in four of the five Georgia Tech starters fouling out. Once the opponent’s size was sitting on the bench, the game was in hand.

The win was the ‘Canes’ 21st straight at home, and pushed UM’s record this season to 20-2.

Games like Sunday’s against Georgia Tech are games the ‘Canes need to win to receive a high seed come tournament time in March.

While the next test is a road matchup with #3 Duke, this team needs and deserves your support, regardless of the outcome on Thursday in Durham.

This time you don’t have to go to a glorified high school gym to see them. Despite the curtains ringing three sides of the BankUnited Center, the games have an electric air about them.

In the opening round of the WNIT Tournament last year the ‘Canes hosted Florida Gulf Coast in front of 636 fans, many of them Eagles fans from across Alligator Alley. The place resembled an echo chamber at times. Last Sunday, 1227 noisy cheering fans were at the BUC. There’s plenty of room for more. At $5 a ticket, it’s by far the best entertainment value in town.

Riquna Williams and Shenise Johnson will be in the UM Sports Hall of Fame someday. Each has surpassed 1000 career points and are #1 and #2 in scoring in the ACC this season. Morgan Stroman has led the ‘Canes in rebounding 10 times this season and has seven double-doubles. Stefanie Yderstrom has connected on 31 three-pointers this season, including twice Sunday in overtime. This success should carry over into next season as there is not one senior on the roster.

While I’m a fan of the big black curtains, photographically speaking, I’d rather they lift them in order to seat more of you. For a little more than the price of a value meal, you can be entertained for two hours and see some Hurricanes student-athletes who will be talked about for generations.

Major Wallpaper Update at Hurricanesports.com

Publications Coordinator Etta Schaller of the Hurricanes Media Relations department has created dozens of computer wallpaper graphics for your downloading pleasure over at Hurricanesports.com. Images include our work from the Coach Golden press conference and men’s & women’s basketball photo day and game action through this season. You may access the wallpaper section of Hurricanesports.com directly by clicking here.

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