Sports Photography Auto Focus

Sports Photography For Parents – Auto Focus Mode

I see more and more DSLR’s at kids’ sporting events. It’s sports photography opportunities for proud parents. Some parents have even moved beyond their kit lens and purchased a zoom lens.  Cameras, like lenses, come in varied qualities. The quality of the equipment does have an consequence on the quality of the pictures you take.  You, the ‘picture taker’, can increase your chances of capturing that great shot of your kid catching the ball, making that block or scoring that shot.  Here is one suggestion.

Most parental sports photographers I meet up with shoot in one of the many program modes.  Knowing this, as smart as  your camera is, until you get off the program modes and on to manual or semi-manual modes, your pictures will never be GREAT.  That said, one thing you can do is change the AF (auto focus) mode on your camera.  If you have a Canon, set it to AI SERVO.  If you have a Nikon, set it to AF-C (the C is for continuous).  Refer to your manual to change the AF settings for your particular camera make and model.

What this does is when you depress your shutter button, half-way, the camera will continue to focus on the moving object.  You can also fully hold the shutter down and the camera will auto focus while shooting. When doing this, your camera will enter “release priority mode” and it will take pictures when the shutter is down regardless of if the image is in focus or not. This will increase your chances of getting an in-focus shot when your kid is running down the field.  Take into account some lenses focus quicker than others.

Taking in-focus photographs is dependent on more than just your AF Mode, and we will talk about those in future articles.

If you’re interested in private lessons give me a call.  You can also check out the Lessons page.

Added Person - Joe Randeen

Adding a Head to a Group Photo

There are times when we (photographers) have to take group photos (staff or family) when someone is missing.  In this specific case, I had to add a head to a group photo. Since Photoshop has become an everyday verb, the client asks me to “Photoshop him/her in”. Depending on the situation, that can range from relatively easy to virtually impossible.  If you know in advance that someone is going to be missing from the photograph then you (photographer) have an opportunity to set the shot so that photoshopping will be somewhat easier.

Staff Photo Joe Randeen

Photo 1 – Group Shot

Photo 1 is the group photo I shot.  In the spirit of full disclosure, this is the second group photo I shot.  The first one was missing one of the shorter ladies in the front.  It is far easier to add a person standing in the back than in the front, for obvious reasons.  When we scheduled this second shoot, everyone was present but by the time we shot it, one of the people went missing.  Since we ran out of time, I shot the remaining people and had to shot the missing person at a later time.

Missing Person

Photo 2 – Missing Person

Photo 2 is a shot of the our missing gent.  Luckily he was the tallest of the group.  When I shot the group I left a spot where I knew I wanted to place him. I didn’t leave too much room as I was unsure of the lighting and other conditions that I may encounter.

Uncropped Group Shot Joe Randeen

Photo 3 – Uncropped

Finally, Photo 3 is the finished, uncropped photo. I got his head in the shot okay but notice he’s got no legs.  Thus, the final shot had to be cropped in such a way that no legs would be shown.

Having to “Photoshop” in someone that was missing into a photograph is never ideal but it can be done.  You need forethought as to where the missing person is going to stand or sit, in addition to making sure the background and lighting is a similar to the original shot as possible.  Plus, you need know something about masking in Photoshop.

Looking for a photographer?  Give me at call

Before and After

Those Pesky Limbs

I’m sure you have heard the cliche, “the devil is in the details.” That is certainly true in photography.  Those pesky limbs, or evil tree branches that pop up out of nowhere in our photos.  What can we do?  Often we resort to Photoshop, Lightroom or some other form of photo editing software to fix our mistake. As a novice photographer we might just leave the photo as shot, or not even see the offense at all.  As a pro, semi-pro or serious hobbiest, this mistake mortifies us because it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

The fingers appear

click to enlarge

Take, for example, this photo.  The couple you see is one of two couples in the shot. I cropped out the other couple for illustration purposes. It looks nice enough until you see that alien hand creeping up around the woman’s neck.  Fingers coming out of nowhere.

It looks incredibly unnatural since his arm seems to be laying against his body in a downward positions, yet these fingers appear. CREEPY!!!

In this example, I edited out his fingers but in an actual shoot I would scan my scene for things like this; anything that might be growing out of the heads, like a tree limb, light pole, or. . . These sort of things are pretty easy to spot but, when shooting, you have to keep your eyes out for missing or hidden arms, hands or legs.

If you’re subject places one arm behind their back, in the photograph, it will look really strange.  Granted, most people will assume the other arm is there but it still doesn’t look right, nor professional.  It’s far easier to fix things like this before you shoot versus spending time in Photoshop trying to fix your mistake.

Be aware of your subjects, their surrounds and their pesky limbs.


For more information about private/group photography lessonsContact Joe Randeen

Rainy Morning at School

You Must Have A Really Nice Camera

Professional photographers often talk about a regular, back-handed compliment given to them. It’s given to them by well-meaning admirers of one of their photographs or their work.

“You must have a really nice camera.”

Good, or professional, equipment does make ones work/art more convenient or even easier to create but, the camera is just a tool – like a brush to a painter, a pan to a chef, or a guitar to a guitarist.

After a fine meal would you compliment the chef by stating, “you must have some really nice cookware”? Granted, they may have but a professional chef could make magic with a tin can if need be.

My point is, don’t focus on the equipment, rather, focus on the artist behind the equipment.

Again, there’s no disputing that good equipment does make a difference. As photographers, knowing what our cameras are capable of and how to use them is invaluable. This is one of the key items I teach in my classes (photography lessons).Kodak Instamatic

As you can see in the photo above, which I think is fairly nice photo, it was taken with a phone. It’s not what I shoot with in professional settings but, the best camera you can have is the one that you have with you at that very moment. The focus is on the capture, not the equipment.

My first camera was a Kodak Instamatic 110, with flash cubes. It took terrible pictures, quality wise, but it trained my eye. I had to have a good eye in order to make a terrible camera take good pictures.

Next time you see a nice photo, compliment the photographer not the camera.

Joe Randeen :: 3 Penguins Photography

Free Spec Work?

Free Spec Work?Creatives are often asked to do FREE work, especially Spec Work.  There are grandiose promises of future work, at a reduced rate of course.  Especially when we are starting off, or hungry, we will agree to almost anything.  Don’t be tempted.  Not only does it hurt you but in undermines our industry.

I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on training, software, hardware and other things that have made me better at my craft.  Why should I, and you, get paid as any other professional?  When I hear from a potential client that a friend of theirs will do it for FREE, that doesn’t motivate me to under sell my craft, and it shouldn’t you either.  Also, please don’t shoot weddings for $300-$500.  You’ll lose your shirt and you hurt the industry.

Adweek just posted this article and video that we, as creative professionals, and our potential clients should take a look at.  ENJOY!


People in other industries don’t provide their would-be clients with “spec work” for free. That would be asinine. So, why do advertising agencies continue to do it?

It’s not a new question. (This Adweek story from August was just the latest assessment of a practice that goes back decades.) But Toronto agency Zulu Alpha Kilo really illustrates just how ludicrous it is—in the great video below, in which a guy approaches real men and women (not actors) in other businesses and asks them to provide him with a product or service for free, to see if he likes it before committing to more. [read more]

Should Weddings Ban Smart Phones and Selfie Sticks?

Personally – I say YES!!!!  The wedding is NOT about the attendees, it’s about the two people who are getting married.  I ask myself, what is SO important that you, as the attendee, feel that you must use your phone and a selfie stick to capture the moment – often ruining the shot for the pro photographer that they couple has hire to take the pictures.

wedding-selfie--670x446I saw a great article on this very subject.  It was so popular that it broke their website.  As a result DIY Photography re-posted it.

Many photographers don’t appreciate the fact that wedding guests use their camera and smartphone to take photos during a wedding. This is mostly because those many times interfere with the work of the photographer.

The post below surfaced on Facebook and was massively shared gaining around 4,000 shares and 5,500 likes in the course of three days:

I rarely get this upset, but this has me upset. I don’t want to ever see this happen to our clients photos ever again.

This just has to stop. Over the years it’s become harder and harder to fight the occasional over zealous guest with a camera phone. Now with the invention of the selfie stick it looks like we’re just losing the battle.

Brides and Grooms, please have an unplugged wedding ceremony. Please tell your guests to put their phones away. Please tell them to leave their selfie sticks at home.

Guests, please have respect for the wedding you are attending. Simply put, the Bride and Groom pay a lot for professional photography. You have no right to ruin it for them. Sticking a selfie stick out in the middle of the aisle during a processional in a church is so completely selfish. Think twice, think about your friends and their memories. Just put the phone away and enjoy the day.

In fact the post has become so popular that the photographer had to take it down as it was taking the page’s attention from her wedding photos to a bigger and heated discussion.

We contacted the photographer who agreed to share the post and asked not to be mentioned by name to keep focusing on her work, rather than the facebook status.


Fewer wrinkles, thinner arms: TODAY anchors get Photoshopped

“Photoshop” – it’s become part of nearly conversation I have with clients these days (3 Penguins Photography). Can I? Yes. Do I? Most of the time, No! I, personally, like to capture real life. It’s what we look back at with fond memories. This is an interesting article. This topic seems to growing these days.

From Lena Dunham in Vogue to popular online videos, the difference between photo-shoot and Photoshop is becoming more evident. And with the rise of social media, there’s heightened interest in how images are manipulated — how you can go from a plain-looking photo to a glamorous cover shot.

There’s no limit to what can be done with Photoshop — the image editing program that whitens teeth and smooths away wrinkles, among many other features. As part of our Love Your Selfie body image series, TODAY anchors Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Natalie Morales decided to take a look at the process with Cosmopolitan magazine to show how much an image can be Photoshopped. See how the keyboard, mouse and tablet work. [read]

Why does your food look different in the advertising than what is in the store?

Why does your food look different in the advertising than what is in the store? The reality is – if the ads looked like the food you purchased, you won’t buy it. The truth is, A LOT goes into food photography and giving our clients what they want and need.

Okay, it’s from McDonald’s but I still think you’ll find it interesting.  Especially for those that seem to think that photographers just take pictures.  A tremendous amount of time goes into getting “the shot”.  Enjoy.


National Geographics Vintage Collection Archivist – Bill Bonner

If photography is important to you, then check out this mini documentary.

Bill Bonner presides over eight million images as the longtime keeper of National Geographic’s vintage collection. He’s a keeper not only of photographs, but memories—and he treats each like it’s the greatest treasure in the world.

Read more about Bill Bonner and his work:

There is more to a photography than pressing the shutter button

Screen shot 2014-02-07 at 3.36.57 PMThere’s so much more to photography than pressing the shutter button.  The more you learn about photography the more you will discover how truly complicated it is.  Professional photographers will invest a lot of time, money and other resources in order to learn their craft, their art.

Granted, today’s cameras are pretty amazing.  Even my 9 year old can take a decent photograph – the key word is decent.  A great photograph – not so easy.

Came across this video from architecture and interior photographer Mike Kelley.  If you’re interested in photography this is a good video about some of the realities of photography, even if you’re not interested in architecture.

KNOW your camera, what every button and setting does. KNOW light. KNOW composition. It takes time and lots of practice.

Fstoppers Original: Mike Kelley – How To Photograph Twilight Images from FStoppers on Vimeo.