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Live Show Recap: Action

New studio set up! Which means no me this week because we haven’t worked out the bugs yet. Don’t fret, I’ll be back.

Things are looking bluesy this week as we look at your action shots.

Alright, let’s get right into your photos:

-getting air


-“their Amazon history is probably weird”

-“they’re needy little SOBs, aren’t they?”

-“it’s kind of erotic and I like that”



eagle among the “skeeguls”

-“swans are the a-holes of the bird world”

playground spinner

stacked B2 landing

-what’s with bull riding? It’s the worst. “They like, tie up the wiener, right?”

-catching breakfast

-“don’t you feel like you want to catch him and tickle his belly?”

-pick for dog shoes

Time for chit-chat! Where you say mean and dumb things and we reply:

-Tony’s not moon-landing old either

-the moon landing is probably real, ya’ll

-$$$ comment

-they started talking about Axe body spray for some reason

-Chelsea is hella Bob Ross

-T&C are the Nostradamus of photography

Questions from you all, via Justin:

-how’s the battery life on the Tesla? Rough in the winter, and finding charging stations when travelling is difficult.

Time for a portfolio review. Jefferson Ashby. Nice shots, pare down your worst ones though, and start with your best in each category. He’s 15! Great work.

Back to photos

Justin, entertain us with a song:

-6D Mark II review? Meh. It’s good, nothing new or exciting though.

And more photos:

-interesting crowd shot

-Chelsea made an impressive Avatar the Last Airbender joke


-wild horses

duck throwing its hair back

-baby elephant

-flock of seagulls

-“Justin, you’re too cool for me, I regret asking”

-“oh, this is how America was made”

-actual wild horses

race car getting air

-another car


-“this guy should get, like, a man-sized horse, right?”

dogs get picks


bird on a thing

Questions from Justin:

-how to make sharp star trails? Make sure you have a sturdy tripod and use a remote timer or a delay to not shake the shutter.

-D80 to D500? Or wait for the D850? D500 is great for action and wildlife, but not everything else.

-$$$, thanks! 

Still reviewing photos:

-“blowing my mind and exploding my ovaries it’s so cute

-“you know, those Hispanic women, we’re just cleaning up. How do we do it?”

-skate boarder

-bike trick

-truck driver


-sky diving

-diving bird

-“I got comfortable with it, I was like ‘fight babies'”

And that’s our show! We really flew through them at the end there, but you guys had some incredible shots.

Next week we’re doing street photography with our good friend Gisele Duprez!

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Beginner Photography: Action

Whoo boy, action is hard! As you may have guessed, I’m not big on sports which seems like the obvious place to go for action shots at short notice. But I do happen to have children. We were invited to a kid’s birthday party this weekend at an indoor playground, so I lucked into some action. The lighting wasn’t ideal, but I did my best.

This is a great post on how to shoot action on a budget, written by a reader of ours. And a great video on shutter speed from Tony and Chelsea here:

I don’t regularly shoot in shutter priority, but it’s a necessity for shooting action. You want to shoot at the slowest shutter speed possible and still freeze the action, but also¬†get enough light and show a bit of motion. If you freeze the subject entirely, the motion won’t convey. If your subject is moving too much, you’ll totally miss focus (although you can make that choice artistically.)

So I pretty much followed my daughter around for the day and shot on continuous shutter to capture as many different moments of movement as I could. Here’s what I got:

f/3.5, 1/80th, ISO 800

This one doesn’t really convey the motion I want. She’s at the top of the slide so it’s a moment before action, but I liked her expression and eye contact.


f/3.5, 1/125, ISO 1600

The motion is better on this one, the hoop is blurred but she is still. I just wish the background had been better.


f/3.5, 1/160, ISO 1600

Jump! I think this was a good speed, only her hair and hands are moving.


f/3.5, 1/80, ISO 1600

I love the motion in this one of the balls in the foreground and of her hands moving. Unfortunately her face is out of focus.


I think these came out pretty good considering the lighting and busyness of the background (that’s why I went black and white for most of them.) I think I captured some of the fun and focus of a kid at play. How do these work for you?

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Beginner Photography: Sports

Hey y’all! This week’s topic was sports, which, ugh. Not my interest, not my topic. I did watch the Super Bowl though, but I was told photographing the screen wouldn’t count.

Being that it’s winter, I didn’t have a ton of options for shooting sports outdoors, which is what I wanted to do. Indoor sports are incredibly difficult to shoot with it’s weird lighting conditions (read some tips on it here,) and I would have felt strange just showing up to some random event. As it turned out, I was even weirder. I decided to go shoot at Kelly Drive, which is a trail along the Wissahickon River in Philly where people go to run and bike year round. There’s a section of it called Boathouse Row where the colleges keep their boats for crew, so I attempted to shoot a few boats on the water as well. Turns out people who are exercising don’t like being photographed. I was as stealthy as I could be, using my little Olympus with the back screen flipped out, but they always noticed me. No one said anything though.

I have very little experience shooting action, so this was a bit rough. I used the focus trap technique Tony demonstrates here:

I shot in shutter priority at 1/160th for runners, and a bit higher for bicyclists. I wanted to show a bit of motion, but freeze most of the subject. Here’s what I came up with:

They spotted me.

f/5, 1/160th, ISO 250


I wish they were facing me, but I couldn’t capture them once they passed.

f/6.3, 1/160th, ISO 200


I had a really hard time with the crop for this one. I shot wider than this, but the women got lost. Not sure if I did well by cropping into the bicyclist.

f/4.5, 1/160th, ISO 200


Three in a row.

f/5.6, 1/160th, ISO 200


¬†I obviously did some editing to these shots, as they’re all in black and white. The weather was grey and most workout gear is bright, plus all the background made the shots very busy. Going black and white eliminates some of that and draws focus to the subjects. I did a bit of dodging and burning in Lightroom and sloppily cloned out a car or two in Photoshop (follow those links to see tutorials on each.)

So these aren’t the most compelling images. I would have liked to shoot some contact sports, but hopefully I can try that once it’s warm out again. Let me know how I did and what I could have done to improve!¬†

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Beginner Photography: Adventure

Hey guys! The topic for this weeks upcoming live show is “Adventure,” which is a pretty broad topic. I was trying to think of what I could shoot this week to fit the theme, as I don’t get a whole lot of adventure in my day-to-day life. It just so happened that we were headed to my brother-in-laws for a family party over the weekend and my focus changed. Instead of shooting something adventurous for me, I got to shoot the adventure of being children.

I am lucky to have an adorable child and equally adorable nieces and nephews. They spent the day splashing in kiddie pools, sliding down plastic slides and (my daughter’s favorite) jumping in a bouncy house.

While I did just borrow a cute little Samsung WB1100F from my stepdaughter, I hadn’t thought to bring it with me. So as always, these are shot on my Samsung Note 5 smartphone.


The lighting and the color of this photo just screamed “summer” to me



The movement and expressions make this one a favorite.


final-175039And another of this cool baby in B&W to focus the image on her and not the distracting, bright pool in the back. 



The backlighting caused me to lose some detail in their faces, but I dodged them a bit to make up for it.


I spent some time with these images in Lightroom and Photoshop, adjusting the exposure,¬†cropping and straightening. I feel good about these. While the detail isn’t there, the colors, lighting and action make up for it. I think I captured the mood and joy of the scenes, which is what I hope for!

What would you do differently? How can I improve? Comment down below!

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How to Shoot Action on a Budget

A Little League pitcher delivers during a game

A Little League pitcher delivers during a gameThe thing that got me into sports photography is high school band. Before you chew too much on that non-sequitur, let me explain. See, I’m a marching band instructor with a small high school in Maryland. I wanted to make images of the kids performing and rehearsing for our various media outlets, and I wanted them to be dynamic and eye-catching, and I wanted them to look like the professional photos of sports and action that I saw in the magazines. I amassed all the camera gear I had (an iPhone) and literally all of my photographic knowledge (you point it at the thing you want to take a picture of and press the button, right?) and set out to make the perfect action shot.

I failed miserably. 

I know- it’s shocking that the patented combination of no equipment and no knowledge didn’t yield professional-quality results. But I knew I could fix the lack of knowledge. Photography became my obsession, and I would read and watch every how-to, every tutorial, and every workshop I could get my hands on (including many of the ones on this site, thanks Chelsea and Tony!) I became very interested in shooting sports and action, but as I read about those fields I became more and more dismayed. Often I would hear how the type of photography I was most interested in was also the one that demanded the most from camera gear, and thus quickly became one of the most expensive.

Stubborn as I am, I thought that I could still approach the quality of pro action and sports shots without the crazy investment in gear. I spent about eight months doing just that. Here’s what I learned. Continue reading How to Shoot Action on a Budget