Category Archives: Sports

Coming Down for the Restart

The field of NASCAR race cars exit turn four to take the green flag during the Geico 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. (9325)

Since the Daytona 500 was supposed to be this past weekend, I thought maybe this would be a fine image for today.

This image was taken at the Chicagoland Speedway’s 2011 Geico 400.  The race was rained out on Sunday and pushed to Monday, instead.  While pushing the race back a day sucks for pretty much everyone involved, I got lucky because I couldn’t make the original date, but I was able to make the makeup day.

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Goal Celebration

Members of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate after Andrew Shaw ties the game with a goal against the Calgary Flames at the United Center on October 15, 2014. (1193)

In my continued efforts to learn about time-lapses, I started working on another one at this week’s Blackhawks game. I learned a few things about camera settings, but also learned it’s MUCH easier to do a time-lapse with controlled lighting.

The previous time-lapses I’ve done have all been outdoors and required a lot of time to process because of the changing light. In Wednesday night’s case, my only lighting change was the stadium lights going from “work lights” to “game lights” and back again.

My attempts at time-lapses will continue to be a work in progress, but I’m already improving over my last attempt, as my camera’s battery didn’t die in the middle of things. That’s a plus!

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Wrigley Field from a Rooftop

Wrigley Field from a Rooftop

The rooftop seats surrounding Wrigley Field are as iconic as the ballpark itself.

The Cubs ownership are going forward with a plan to block the views from the rooftops and erect video boards and signage in the outfield. Even though they have a contract with the rooftop owners for a share of the revenue, the Cubs are going ahead with their plans and have told the owners to sue them. So that’s the basics.

To me, the most amusing part of the argument is from the Cubs, saying they need to keep their fans engaged. Walking around the ballpark the Cubs management sees people playing with their phones and aren’t watching the action on the field, and they feel a video board or two would solve this problem.

Have the Cubs management seen what happens on the field?

A batter walks up to the plate and adjusts his gloves and helmet. The pitcher throws the baseball and it’s high and outside for a ball. The batter, while he hasn’t moved, steps out of the box, adjust his gloves and helmet EVEN THOUGH HE DIDN’T MOVE. And, before you think I’m angry, the above example came from Bud Selig, commissioner of Major League Baseball, on why the game needs to be sped up.

Point being: In my opinion, putting a video board in right and left field shouldn’t be done to entertain the fans, the focus should instead be improving the product on the field, like speeding up the game and making the time between pitches less than what it currently is. If that doesn’t seem to be working after a year or two, maybe then look at video boards.

The current lack of video boards and signage at Wrigley Field is what gives the ballpark its charm. There isn’t loud pop music blaring from the speakers, cheerleaders standing on top of the dugouts throwing out T-shirts, and there aren’t enormous jumbotrons in the outfield. An experience at Wrigley Field is a chance to go back and watch baseball played like it was when your grandfather took in a baseball game.

Then again, the game your grandfather went to took twenty-five minutes less than a game played today.

On a side note, the above picture of Wrigley Field was taken from the 3639 Wrigley Rooftop. The overall experience of watching a ballgame from their rooftop is pretty sweet, but in addition to having one of the better views of the ballpark in front of you, there is the skyline over your shoulder and the famous L train behind you. For a rooftop experience, I can’t recommend anywhere else.

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War Memorial Stadium

War Memorial Stadium

I’ve been traveling quite a bit this fall working whatever college football game I am assigned. The first week of the season I was in Tucson, Arizona and had no time for anything outside of my assignment. The second week I made a point to get out and explore the area, which was good because I was in Laramie, Wyoming.

Laramie sits in southeastern Wyoming, essentially, in the foothills of the Rockies. Within an hour drive of my hotel I was through the rolling hills and high up in the mountains. Coming from Chicago, where everything is flat, the geography of Laramie was a welcome change.

Also, while covering the University of Wyoming Cowboys football game at War Memorial Stadium, I was able to set up and manage another time-lapse. I really like the way this one looked, although my camera’s battery died about a third of the way through.  The eleven seconds of footage I did get turned out well, and aside from failing Camera 101’s rule about charged batteries, I’m happy to be making progress on my time-lapse efforts.

The above image is a single frame from the aforementioned time-lapse.

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Waveland and Wilton

This isn’t the picture I was going for this night, but I found myself a block from Wrigley Field as the sun was setting.  Seeing the sky slowly turn pink was impressive, so I set up the tripod and waited for a train to fly by.

As it turns out, this is one of my favorite pictures I’ve taken of Wrigley Field.  I think the ballpark is a photographic field day any time of day, but most pictures I’ve viewed are of the front of the building during the day.  Having an iconic part of Chicago (the CTA train) whiz by as the sun sets behind Wrigley is even more delicious.

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Rockin’ Rodrigo

Rockin' Rodrigo

A few years back I shot a boatload of concerts. From Dashboard Confessional at Madison Square Garden to Dave Matthews Band at Red Rocks, I criss-crossed the country shooting concerts to cover my rent. It was certainly a fun couple of years. When I think back, I can’t help but think about how much time is taken up preparing for concerts on the actual day of.

In everything else I do, there is a certain amount of down time. It isn’t anything “set aside,” but it just happens. In a baseball game, there is standing around as we wait for the game to start. In auto racing, there is always time between the cars coming and going from one’s side of the race track. Later this week I’ll be at the Red Bull Flug Tag here in Chicago, and that event SCREAMS downtime. However, in concerts, there seems to be a constant drum of effort. (No pun intended.)

From setting up cameras, to sound checks, to lighting checks to souvenir stands popping up, there is always activity. I don’t think I worked a single concert where we sat around playing cards or swapping stories from the road. Even when it was a four-day concert, the following day was spent going over the previous night’s show working on what we could do different. I’m not saying its good or bad, I just think its interesting.

So last year when I shot Rodrigo y Gabriella in Chicago, it was interesting to shoot a show for no other reason than myself. I showed up to took some pictures, then enjoyed the show. The deal I had with their management company (as all concert photographers this particular night had) was we could shoot the first three songs and then we were escorted out. I had tickets to the show anyway, so I joined my wife in our seats and rock and rolled to some of the best guitar playing I’ve ever seen.

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Riding to Victory

Riding to Victory

Last weekend my wife and I went to the Wild West Days in Viroqua, Wisconsin. It’s a fun throwback festival to the days of saloons, straight-razor shaves, and good ol’ fashioned bull riding.

For me, one of the highlights of the evening was the local cowboy, Levi Miller, riding his bull in the “Hell On Hooves Ranch Rodeo.” Before his eight second ride began, I was able to get right alongside the chute as Levi was tying himself in. The tension was incredible. Within seconds his body would be going from sitting near-motionless on the back of a bull to getting tossed around like a rag doll. When he was ready to go, the door blasted open and he and the bull went tearing into the rodeo ring to the roar of the crowd.

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Looking Out From Wrigley’s Scoreboard

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a television show to use my previously posted image from inside of Wrigley Field’s scoreboard. It was a nice e-mail to receive and it made me think about other pictures I have from inside the iconic landmark. Hence, this image.

As you can probably figure out, this picture was taken from inside the Chicago Cubs’ famous manually operated scoreboard, looking out at a quiet Wrigley Field before a game later in the afternoon.

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Home Run Fireworks

Today Major League Baseball begins yet another season of play.

While I wouldn’t mind it if the sport picked up the pace of play a bit, I do appreciate the “boys of summer” representing just that: Summer.

About the time of year when all of us get “Cabin Fever,” Spring Training begins and before you know it, it is opening day. Summer, at that point, is just around the corner. Sure, it is still cold through mid-June, but even then, we’re getting a hearty dose of hot, sunshine-filled days.

With the picture above, I remember it being a hot day at U.S. Cellular Field as I purchased a ticket and wandered around the ballpark with my camera. About the time the sun got low in the sky, I made my way to the upper deck because I was hoping for a picture like the one above. I remember the wind was blowing “in” really strong and thinking no one was going to hit a home run.

For whatever reason, the home run balls were flying that night, and as a result so where the fireworks. When A. J. Pierzynski launched a ball that just cleared the right-field wall, I started shooting as the fireworks launched high into the sky. At the time I was afraid the sky was too bight to achieve the picture I wanted, but once I got home I realized it was pretty close to what I was going for.

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Elevation

It has been quite awhile since I’ve posted an image.

For the last two years, I posted a picture online nearly every single day, and now I’m barely squeaking TWO in for the month. I have a few good reasons for falling behind — namely moving — but it still makes me kind of sad.

In the future, my goal for this space is to not post one picture every single day, but instead, post a group of photos from one excursion. In the case above (with Koji Kraft performing stunts during the 2010 Dew Tour in Chicago, Illinois), I think I’ve posted less than a half-dozen pictures from the day. In reality, I have about 50 on my hard drive worth noting, but in the future, I’d like to post about 20 of them online after the fact, instead of slowly drawing those twenty images out over the next five years.

So that’s my goal. I’ve had it in mind since September, but now I just need to take a break from moving and unpacking to get out and take some pictures.

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Projected Gabriela

Last week my wife and I went to see Prince perform at the United Center in Chicago. The 54 year-old musician can still rock and roll and it was easily one of the best concerts I had been to.

After the show, I was thinking about how I had gone to a handful of concerts this year, which is something I don’t normally do. For whatever reason, I’m not a big concert guy. I love music and I enjoy supporting musicians I like, but I just don’t hit a lot of concerts.

Earlier this year I had taken in Rodrigo y Gabriela at the Chicago Theatre. I brought my camera with me and easily got lost in taking pictures. The first few songs of the show, I was snapping away at pictures, while most others were deep into the music. Since then, I’ve really tried to separate things that should be enjoyed without a camera, and things where a camera should be utilized.

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Happy Birthday Golf Balls

I guess I could post this picture on the anniversary of me starting my photoblog, but today is as good as any other day. As you can probably tell, there isn’t much behind this picture as it’s just some golf balls spelling out “Happy Birthday” under a bright, blue sky.

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Wrestling Towards Gold

For being my first Olympic experience, there were a lot of things that I didn’t know existed until experienced first-hand. One of the strangest things was, as I liked to call them, “pieces of flare.”

Each person at the Olympics — volunteer, contractor, participant, etc. — had a nearly identical credential hanging around their neck. A small color strip on that credential, as well as the various letters signifying access, is what made each one different from the next (as well as the picture and bar code), but by and large, the general make-up was fairly identical. Each credential was worn around the neck and, according to the employees’ Welcome Handbook the credential “must be worn above the waistline with the photo facing outwards so as to be consistently visual to zone control personel.” Head spinning yet?

This credential was worn via a lanyard around the neck and contractors, employees and participants began to trade various lapel pins throughout the week to wear on their own lanyards.

Since there is no bandwagon moving too swiftly for me, I looked into buying a few lapel pins before finding the cheapest one at a mere $10US. I’m far too cheap to buy a few at that price to trade, so I didn’t bother with them. A few of my co-workers had a couple of dozen collected by the time the two-week Olympic run was over with, so I asked them where they got all the pins. Did they buy them at $10 each to trade, or did they grab some cheap ones from home and bring them? Turns out the company they were working for had them made just for the employees to trade with other people in London for the games.

It got to the point that, going through security, each person had to take off their credential and send it through the X-ray machine because there would be so much metal on some people’s lanyards that it’d make the alarm sound with the metal detector.

I probably would have joined in the lapel-trading fun if it wasn’t for the expensive cost of each pin. Should I be asked back for future Olympics I may pack my own pins, but in the meantime it was an interesting learning experience to see how much the “pieces of flare” were traded about.

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Dedication

This is Drew Moling. At the time this picture was taken, he was a freshman at Ohio State University preparing for the 2012 Big Ten Gymnastics Championships in Iowa City, Iowa.

What impresses me is the hours of dedication athletes like young Mr. Moling put in to achieve success with their craft. In Drew’s case, it was quietly practicing with his coaches the morning of the tournament. With no one else around, he’d take off running at the spring board and vault high into the air. He and his coaches would see what could be adjusted and then he’d give it another go. For quite some time he’d run and jump, then gather ’round to look at an iPhone movie of his recent efforts.

With the Olympic games currently going on in London, I can’t begin to imagine the amount of hours, sacrifice, energy and effort put forth in the early and late hours of the day — long before anyone else arrives or long after they’ve left — from the different athletes in hopes of one day making it to the Olympics.

With Drew Moling, I don’t know if he was shooting for the Olympics, a scholarship, or first place on that particular day, but whatever the case, quietly with his coaches, he came in extremely early to fine tune his craft with no one else around.

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Tight Corner

As a kid I would always use my Legos to build racetracks and would then spend days racing my Matchbox cars around on them. Sometimes I’d use the road plates from my Legos as a racing circuit and other times I’d use the Lego blocks as hay bales to make an off road course. Either way, my small little self would spend hours racing small cars and trucks around on a small track. I never really grew out of that phase, apparently, so last night I hauled down to Joliet, Illinois for the TRAXXAS TORC Off-Road Series race at the Route 66 Raceway.

For three hours various classes of cars and trucks raced around the dirt track launching off of jumps, bouncing off of each other and battling it out for trophies, points and cash prizes. Travis Pastrana (the U.S.-born racing phenom) flew in to give his driving skills a test and, not-surprisingly, finished second in his race.

It was a fun night with good, hard racing (as Mark Jenkins (25) and Scott Douglas (7), pictured above, can attest). My seven year-old self would be proud that I’m still making my way to occasional off-road races, even as a thirty-two year-old.

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Not Your Father’s Gas Station Stop

This weekend the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. This picture was taken last year during the Sprint Cup race in September when rain postponed the event until Monday. I had a fun time wandering around the track shooting my first auto race, and had a great vantage point to cover all of the action in the pits. In the above image, Kyle Busch received service from his pit crew during the Geico 400.

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Bricks and Ivy of Wrigley Field

In the day and age of player safety, the fact that Major League Baseball lets the Chicago Cubs have a completely padless wall in their outfield is fascinating to me.

Tradition? Yes. Crazy? Quite possibly.

The outfield wall of Wrigley Field is great because it’s old brick covered with nearly a century of ivy. Throw in some bright yellow paint and a random baseball stuck in the vegetation and it’s fun to sit and stare at the wall.

Every time I am fortunate enough to be able to stand close enough to touch it, I always look hard for a baseball. I’ve been at games where one ball falls into the ivy and two balls fall out. I’m curious, at the end of the season, how many baseballs (and other objects) are found lodged in the ivy of the friendly confines.

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Pierzynski Puts the Sox on Top

For several years I’ve been covering the Chicago White Sox. I’ve worked my share of day games and night games at U.S. Cellular Field (or as I still call it: Comiskey), but always for somebody else. Last week, for something a little bit different, I bought a ticket and went as a fan.

Well, I didn’t really keep score and take in the game like a true fan, but I dragged my camera along and took a number of pictures I’ve wanted to take for quite some time.

It was a beautiful early summer evening and a breezy 81°F (27°C). The wind was howling in from right field so I didn’t think there would be many home runs. Apparently I was wrong.

Very, very wrong.

Eight home runs were hit during the game (including a grand slam by Alejandro De Aza), but A. J. Pierzynski got things going in the second inning with a solo shot to right field. The White Sox would beat the Minnesota Twins 11 to 8 and I got a lot of pictures I was really happy with.

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Major League Baseball

Over the weekend I worked a major league baseball game, which is where the pictured baseball came from.  I had been wandering around the house last night and today, essentially, playing catch with myself as I moved from room to room. With the desire to take some pictures, but the pouring rain making it difficult to leave the house, I sat down and shot my new baseball.

I didn’t like how it looked with the hardwood floor in background, so in between rain showers, I headed outside.  The extremely overcast sky made the lighting near perfect, as there weren’t any shadows to be found.  I tossed the ball into the grass and proceeded to shoot a bunch of images, before turning to nearby plants and the water droplets collected on their leaves.

Eventually the rains came back and I scrambled back into the house, but shooting things around the backyard certainly have their perks.

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Night Game at Wrigley Field

A new baseball season brings so much anticipation and excitement. Up until this point, the slate is clean and hope springs anew.

Oftentimes, because of my job and living in the city of Chicago, I’m asked who do I like better: the Cubs or the Sox? Truth be told, I like both teams a lot.

While I think the American League is more difficult because of the designated hitter, I like that pitchers have to bat in the National League, making it more of a “team” thing (besides, if you get a pitcher who can hit, it becomes another threat to the opponent).

In the end, I just look for quick games.  The Cubs and Sox have the ability to draw out some excruciatingly long games, and Major League Baseball never bothers enforcing the “12 seconds between pitches” rule.

As for the above image, obviously, I took this picture of Wrigley Field at night.  I remember it being one of those blazing hot summer nights and I rode my bike to the ballpark. Carrying my photo gear while peddling through Chicago’s streets was a pain in the butt, and I was a sweaty hot mess by the time my image-making was completed. However, some friends called as I was wrapping up and it was nice to enjoy some frosty, cold beverages with them.

The hotter summer nights get, the better tasting a bucket of beer can be.

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