About Me

My photo
Monroe, Ohio, United States
Began my photography career as most people do...the highschool yearbook. Upon graduation I attended the US Naval Photography School in Pensacola Fla. After getting a qualification in basic photography and then later attending their Portrait School,was assigned to a military operation. Experiences included USO photography for Bob Hope, Brooke Shields, Kathy Lee Crosby and Wayne Newton.Have also had the opportunity for travel assignments to places such as Beruit, Israel, Africa, Australia, Brazil, Italy, Spain and England. Upon exiting the Navy in 1984,opened up a Tanning Salon and Health Club in Oxford,Ohio and began photographing weddings, all as a vehicle to fund my way through college. I enjoy travel, sports photography, special event and Cincinnati Reds photography. I am frequently contracted as a sports photographer by parents, sports teams, and organizations,throughout the Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio areas, to provide the highest quality sports photography, both on an individual and team basis.

March 31, 2011

Opening Day in Cincinnati

                        Great American Ballpark by Cincinnati Sports Photographer Vincent Rush

Reds bring new confidence into season


Defending NL Central champs know what it feels like to win by Mark Sheldon of MLB


The Reds take nothing for granted, but have carried a confidence throughout Spring Training that they can repeat as National League Central division champions.

No, there weren't any major upgrades or additions to the roster during the winter -- or spring -- while rivals like the Brewers and Cardinals were busy. Then again, when you had the NL's best offensive team, one of the best defenses and a deep pitching staff, how much tinkering can really be done?

The stability is welcomed as they prepare for Opening Day against the Brewers today at 2:10 p.m. ET, but it comes with a caveat: The younger players are expected to keep taking steps forward.

"I think any time you have or nearly have your 25 guys set before Spring Training even starts, it's a huge advantage for any team," Reds first baseman Joey Votto said. "I think a lot of people don't give us enough credit -- people come up with complaints about us not making trades or any major moves in the offseason. But so often, players come into their own over time and go from being average to above-average ballplayers in one offseason. That happens when you're in your 22-28-year-old range, the younger part of your career. I don't think we needed to make any more adjustments."

              National League MVP, Joey Votto by Cincinnati Sports Photographer Vincent Rush

Votto, 27, is the reigning NL Most Valuable Player, coming off a huge year and a jump to elite status. But he is hardly a one-man show.

                 Jay Bruce by Cincinnati Sports Photographer Vincent Rush of Ohio Sports Photography

Right fielder Jay Bruce, 23, hit a career-high 25 home runs and finished strong after a rough start to 2010. Ditto for 26-year-old center fielder Drew Stubbs, who hit 22 homers and is still developing as a hitter. Second baseman Brandon Phillips, 29, is capable of hitting 30 homers and was a first-time All-Star and became a two-time Gold Glove winner last season
The pitching staff was a stable bunch, as well -- until the final 10 days of camp, when health issues thinned the rotation.

Shoulder injuries put No. 3 starter Johnny Cueto and No. 4 starter Homer Bailey on the disabled list to start the season, but neither are considered seriously injured. No. 2 starter and 2010 17-game winner Bronson Arroyo was diagnosed with mononucleosis and will keep pitching while trying to conserve energy.

The Reds have already been able to look to younger pitchers like Travis Wood, Mike Leake and Sam LeCure to step up behind Edinson Volquez and Arroyo.

Reds manager Dusty Baker obviously didn't plan on testing his rotation's depth this much, this early. But he steadfastly remained positive about the situation.

"What you going to do?" Baker said. "Everybody is doom and gloom. I'm not like that. I was taught to find a solution. Instead of the sky is falling, Chicken Little and 'oh me, oh my,' you try to figure out a solution. The problem is going to be there. It's already there. I hate it, but it's there."

                          Francisco Cordero by Cincinnati Sports Photographer Vincent Rush

The unexpected, but short-term worries about the rotation are joined by other questions. Can a slimmed-down Francisco Cordero take his solid spring performances into the regular season? Will flame throwing Aroldis Chapman be a stable presence in a left-handed setup role? As the everyday left fielder, can Jonny Gomes build upon his career season from 2010? Can Paul Janish, who had a strong spring, thrive as the new regular shortstop? Will Scott Rolen be as productive in the second half with the wear-and-tear of the season on his body?

If the young core can make their expected improvements and others do their jobs well, Votto believes those questions -- and any others -- will answer themselves positively.

"We can be a much better team, I think," Votto said. "It all starts and ends with the pitching staff, but they're a young group of guys also. I notice huge leaps between offseasons. You can step back, think about the mistakes you've made and how you want to improve and adjust your training. You experience life lessons, and it pays off on the field."

Posted by Monroe Ohio photographer Vincent Rush, Cincinnati Sports Photography and Dayton Sports Photography of Monroe Ohio. Vince Rush can be contacted by phone at (877) 858-6295 or by email at vrush@rushintl.com or visit http://CincinnatiSportsPhotography.com Check out my about.me profile!

March 28, 2011

Major League Baseball's Opening Week....In March!?!?!

       Vincent Rush at Louisville Cardinal Stadium playing with The Freedom Fighters Baseball Club in 2006

This Thursday, March 31st, marks the opening day for Major League Baseball as the Cincinnati Reds take on the Brewers at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

Yesterday my friends little league team, The Monroe Swarm, was warming up to a snow covered outfield and 33 degree temps.

I never understood why Major League Baseball feels the need to, 1) Not only start the season so early and finish the World Series in November and 2) take a full 162 games to be able to determine a winner of a division.

I'm a huge baseball fan. I love the game. The best times of my youth were centered around baseball. But if Barak Obama appointed me Baseball Czar, I would make some changes to the game, both for entertainment as well as economic purposes.

Here is a plan that I've had in my own mind for fixing Major League Baseball, or should I say, enhancing MLB to cater to the fans and benefit the game it's self. Bud Selig, if you read my blog, feel free to call me and discuss. I have more ideas than just this, but lets start with re aligning the divisions and creating a Regional plan that works.

I will also state that I am fully aware that the rating for THIS post season have been very good. But lets not forget that there is the benefit of a marquee match up and any time the Yankees are in the post season there is going to be a huge ratings boost. I will guarantee that if the series was being played right now, between the Rockies and the Twins, you would have a hard time giving advertising away and there more empty seats than a Vanilla Ice reunion tour.

I know baseball went through re-alignment a few years ago, but that means it can be done again, for the better of the game, by being better for the fans.

I also know that this is not the first time the idea has been approached by columnists, bloggers and various sources. But while google searching the realignment arguments, I have yet to find a posting during the first three pages that either 1) Makes Sense or 2) Presents a valid reason behind their plan.

And while there are those who scream that my ideas mess with tradition, I state back that the definition of stupidity is to keep doing the same thing over and over, simply because you've always done it like that, even if it doesn't work.

Here's a thought; Lets not change anything and re-address the issue in ten years when there are less fans and less revenue and we start caring about the health and the future game and less about upsetting the ghosts of the past. There isn't really a corn field in Iowa where Shoeless Joe will walk out of the tall stalks to pass with you if you make him happy. It was a movie.

Baseball needs to make a radical shift in the way it does business and markets its self if it wants to continue to grow and develop a generation of fans from the ranks of the youth. Today's kids have more alternatives than ever baseball has more competition than ever before.

Look no matter how much the old "traditionalists" with hair growing from their ears want to believe that the spirits of Jolting Joe DiMaggio, Ty Cobb, The Babe and Ted Williams are going to re-appear and curse the game if Major League Baseball breaks from tradition, the fact is that interest in the game, fueled by a weakening economy and and alternatives to going to the park such as High Def TV and 300 cable channels with several games on per night.

The Vincent Rush / Cincinnati Sports Photography Plan for Fixing Major League Baseball

Lets create 3 Divisions of 10 teams each in a way that makes sense regionally;

Eastern Division:
Boston Redsox
NY Yankees
NY Mets
Toronto Blue Jays
Philadelphia Phillies
Baltimore Orioles
Washington Nationals
Atlanta Braves
Tampa Bay Rays
Florida Marlins

Central Division:
Pittsburgh Pirates
Cleveland Indians
Cincinnati Reds
Detroit Tigers
Chicago White Sox
Chicago Cubs
Milwaukee Brewers
Minnesota Twins
St. Louis Cardinals
Kansas City Royals

Western Division:
Seattle Mariners
San Francisco Giants
Oakland A's
LA Angles
LA Dodgers
SD Padres
Arizona D Backs
Colorado Rockies
Houston Astros
Texas Rangers

At the end of the season, top 8 teams in baseball advance to a seeded bracketed playoff system based on record. The winners of each division are in. If the winner of a division has the 9th best record, then a 1 game playoff or shall we say a "Play In" game would exist between number 8 and number 9, but only if that was the unlikely case.

First round best 3/5 next two rounds best of seven. This, although it does not guarantee, it does create a better probability of the two best teams meeting at the end.

Start the regular season on the 15th of April and end on the 15th of September.

Either reduce the regular season schedule by the 25 games lost or make up a portion of them in more double headers throughout the season as a way of enticing fans to come to the park knowing that they can get a full day of baseball for the money. Double headers were and are still great for families on a Saturday or Sunday. It does not matter if the players like them or not. The fans are the ones who buy the tickets.

Baseball will make it up on the increased revenue from concessions, better weather and the laws of supply and demand. If there is any doubt as to this theory, ask yourself how many teams sold out the season in the current schedule?

Regional divisions will help foster closer rivalries, and encourage more fans to attend more away games because of the closeness. There will be less time difference conflicts that lose TV viewers.

Baseball as a whole and teams in general will save money on travel throughout the course of the season and can promote it as a environmentally conscious step to help reduce carbon emissions through decreased fuel consumption. Do you realize for example that the Yankees made 10 road trips to Chicago or further. The average team made about 10 long distance road trips. What if all the coastal teams could eliminate the cross country treks?. If MLB wanted to maintain some form of inter league play, they could work coordinate cross country match ups. The savings on travel would be into the millions for baseball and the teams.

As a result of the new start and finish dates of the season, there will be less chance of snow games, rain outs, temperatures in the 30's and re-schedules. Baseball will also not be starting the World Series and competing with the beginning of the NBA season. The Series will end in October with only the NFL to compete with.

One conflict will be how to determine who plays in an All Star Game, or if it will be necessary to continue.

Or what if a team moves, folds or MLB wants to expand? What if Florida moves to Indianapolis? Then simply tweak the division by moving a team or two. The key is to be progressive and decisive and not wait 10 years to make up your mind.

Another obstacle, as I've said before, is the always strong opposition of so the called "Baseball Purists". What is purity in the game any more? If these "Pure-ists" were committed to their mantra, all players would be wearing baggy flannels and using the old mitts of yester-year, there would be no designated hitter and there would only be two teams that played it out at the end of the season. And lets do away with all domes and field turf, and the middle relief pitchers.

I think it would also, at this stage of the game become a big part of the Bud Selig legacy. The game is in better shape than when he found it, That doesn't mean that he can't set it up to be even better 20 years after he leaves.

Chances of this becoming anything more than a pipe dream????? About the same as my dream of seeing the All Star Home Run Hitting Contest done with Aluminum and Composite bats.

As an adult, I would actually sit through a HR contest if I thought there was a chance of seeing a 600 foot shot or a light busted out of the tower. As a kid, I would run out to Dicks and buy whatever bat A-Rod or Josh Hamilton just hit one out of Yankee Stadium with.

Think of the advertising dollars baseball would draw or endorsement money players would pull down from the likes of Easton, TPX, DeMarini, Rawlings or Miken! And don't cry about tradition again. Since when does a batter stand at the plate and hit off of a batting practice pitcher during a traditional game? The Home Run hitting contest should be the same type of freak show the NBA Slam Dunk contest is.

A 7-15 year kid knows nothing about tradition! Baseball has to quit marketing to the "wing tips" and start marketing to the flip fops, to continue to grow it's fan base.

Posted by Monroe Ohio photographer Vincent Rush, Cincinnati Sports Photography and Dayton Sports Photography of Monroe Ohio. Vince Rush can be contacted by phone at (877) 858-6295 or by email at vrush@rushintl.com or visit http://CincinnatiSportsPhotography.com Check out my about.me profile!

Posted by Monroe Ohio photographer Vincent Rush, Cincinnati Sports Photography and Dayton Sports Photography of Monroe Ohio. Vince Rush can be contacted by phone at (877) 858-6295 or by email at vrush@rushintl.com or visit http://CincinnatiSportsPhotography.com Check out my about.me profile!

March 17, 2011

Tips on Becoming a Great Sports Photographer Part 3

   Big East Track Championships at University of Cincinnati by Cincinnati Sports Photographer Vincent Rush

...Part 3

Freezing Action Shots

So far, we have discussed each event and they types of shots to be taken. Safeties generally are taken at times where the action is minimal, and we don't have to concentrate as much on freezing the action. But what sells, and what the viewers want to see are people suspended in mid-air. They want to see the crisp ball laying just off the receivers finger tips. To do that, we must freeze the action.

Freezing the action requires fast shutter speeds. Most modern, high end 35mm SLRs have a top shutter speed of 1/8000th of a second. Except for a speeding bullet, this is about fast enough to catch anything you or I are likely to shoot, even an Indy car blasting around the track at 230mph.

But it isn't that simple. Lets first discuss a standard photographic rule of thumb, which is the minimal speed for hand-holding a lens. The minimal shutter speed for hand holding a lens is 1 divided by the focal length of the lens. Thus a 50mm lens should not be hand held any slower than 1/50th of a second. A 300mm lens should not be hand held at less than 1/300th of a second. If your camera does not have shutter speeds between say 1/250 and 1/500, then you round up. So for a 300mm lens, your minimal hand hold speed may be 1/500th of a second. The more proficient you get, the more likely you are to be able to cheat by one shutter speed. A monopod is the preferred way for action photographers to gain additional steadiness. It can generally buy you one to two shutter speeds of hand holding.

Not only has it become more difficult to hand hold these lenses, it becomes harder to freeze the action as well. The lenses get heavier and harder to hold. Your breathing and heart beating and muscle strain are enough to cause still objects hard to capture. Longer lenses not only magnify the scene, they magnify the apparent movement. If a runner passes through the viewfinder with a 50mm lens attached in one second, then at 500mm, the same person moving at the same speed will pass in 1/10th of a second.

Generally, to freeze action, you need at least two full shutter speeds if not more faster than the hand hold speed. So for our 300mm lens, you will need at least 1/1200 to 1/2400 to freeze action with this lens (rounding up, that's 1/2000-1/4000th of a second). Even at these speeds, you may have to follow side to side movement, called panning to have the movement crisp when you expose the film Lets say you are shooting a car racing event. Even at high shutter speeds, if you hold the camera still and wait on the car, you will capture a blur. By matching the movement of the subject with the movement of the lens, you minimize the relative motion between the two.

For subjects coming to you or heading away, their apparent movement isn't as great. Many people make up some of the action freezing by getting things coming toward them.

Film is critical in freezing action. Each increase in film speed gets you one more shutter speed. So if you shoot an event with ISO 100 film and the best you can get is 1/500th of a second, switching to an ISO 400 film gets you to 1/2000th which may be enough to freeze the action. Going to ISO 1600, will take you to 1/8000th of a second.

Adding high shutter speeds, fast films, monopods, panning, or shooting objects as they come toward you, and capturing action at its peak will let you freeze fantastic shots.

Giving the illusion of movement.

Many new action photographers worry about freezing action, trying to get the crispest shots possible. Even veteran photographers will try for crisp shots, but they are not afraid to allow some blurring.

Stop and think about it for a minute. A baseball pitcher throws the ball, the batter swings the bat. Your eyes don't freeze the action precisely, so why should your pictures. A blurring bat, or an elongated ball leaving a blurry arm imply movement. As long as most of the body and the face is crisp a little motion in the hands, feet, and projectiles is acceptable and in many cases desired. This is another little cheat in not having that fast of a shutter speed.

Some times, we slow the shutter speed down intentionally to amplify the movement. We have all seen shots of runners where the background is a blur their arms and legs are a blur, but their body and head are fairly well focused. Combining panning, slower shutter speeds, and predictable movement and you can capture some very dramatic pictures showing all kinds of movement.

These types of shots require patients, work, and a lot of experimenting. Don't hesitate, when at an event to experiment with different techniques . . . after you get your safeties and your primary shots.


Shots that lack emotion are ho-hum. They lack energy. They lack story telling ability. If there is no emotion, then there is little desire to view it. Most tight action shots of players will be emotional. Regardless of level, these players, when they are exerting themselves, exhibit emotion. From the little tee-ball player messing with her hair and her helmet, to the strain of a pole vaulter working to get over the cross bar, there is plenty of emotion to be found in sports. You will, from experience be able to edit out the shots that lack emotion and do not tell the story. But it requires shooting and shooting.

You should also look for emotion from other sources. As years of ABC's Wide World of Sports told us . . . The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Make sure to save film to shoot the players after their events. Or during their events, don't always focus on the ball, but on the emotion after the big 360 degree slam dunk. Don't forget to look for emotion in the coaches and the fans. A lot of the best shots come from the crowd.

Where to Start

 It's important to understand that not every photographer will be able to take this information and expect to step onto the field at Great American Ball Park, sit in the press gallery and expect to capture Grade A shots of Jay Bruce and Joey Votto. To get to that level, you have to have a proven sports portfolio and work for an agency who can get you access.

Before you get to that level, you have to shoot a lot of minor sporting events. The best place to start is your local youth leagues. Early in my career, I got broken in on high school sports, but through my experience there, I got to shoot for my college papers and year books. That allowed me access to shoot NCAA Division I sports early on. But I would not have had that opportunity without having developed a portfolio from my early days of shooting.

Local youth leagues provide you great access and opportunities to use smaller lenses to capture shots. As your portfolio develops, you can approach shooting at higher levels. You can get a lot of practice and experience here which is valuable when going to "The Show".

Today, I am back shooting for a small town paper and the highest level of sports that I have reasonable access to is high school. Even though I have been to "The Show", I still enjoy getting pictures of 5 year olds when they catch their first ball or score their first goal.

You may however get opportunities to shoot pro games from a fan's perspective. Depending on your location in the arena, you can get some reasonably good shots. Take your long lens and some high speed film and make the most of it. In these situations, freezing action isn't as important as being able to hand hold the lens. The players will be at such a distance that their movement will be like a person closer to you with a normal lens on. As long as you have enough shutter speed to get a steady shot you should be able to get memorable shots.


One final note. Don't rush your action assignments. Spend some time, and expect to burn some film. Only through practice and looking at the results and going back to it will you get the timing and skills needed to one day capture world class shots.

Written by Rob Miracle in 1998

Written by Sports Photographer Rob Miracle and posted by Cincinnati Ohio Sports Photographer Vincent Rush of Cincinnati Sports Photography.

Posted by Monroe Ohio photographer Vincent Rush, Cincinnati Sports Photography and Dayton Sports Photography of Monroe Ohio. Vince Rush can be contacted by phone at (877) 858-6295 or by email at vrush@rushintl.com or visit http://CincinnatiSportsPhotography.com Check out my about.me profile!

March 10, 2011

Know your Sport...Know your Players! Part 2

Karate Black Belt and Olympic hopeful Amanda Joiner photographed in Monroe by Photographer Vincent Rush

Volleyball is a rarely covered event, with beach volleyball getting more press than the traditional gym based variety. Volleyball can yield some rich, colorful and dramatic shots given the need and desire to take them. Your access in volleyball venues will vary drastically. For instance, during a high school game, you may be permitted to shoot along the sidelines, or not far behind the end lines. As the level of competition goes up, you will be moved further and further back. In beach volley ball, you probably will not be permitted in the sand pit at all. So pack a long lens and some sun block (for the beach game).

Volleyball shots are tricky to use auto focus on. If you are shooting from behind the lines towards the net, the AF could trigger on the net, the back of the opposing players, the back wall, or just about any point in between. It is best to use a vertical sensor for this sport since people are going up and down and there is little side to side movement. For manual focus, you want to zone focus. From behind the end line, most all action at the net will be at the same distance from you, so focus on an area just a little behind the net and leave it there.

For shots along the side lines, it is best to shoot at an angle to capture the faces. These are the best times to capture digs and diving players as you should have a fairly un-obscured view of all the players. Traditionally, volleyball follows the "Bump Set Spike" ritual. Learn who the diggers, setter, and hitters are. Then take your time working on a shot of the individual skill you want to capture. Your setter will be easy to track and get shots of. Digging is a bit tricky since it can come from any were on a given half of the court, be a low or high dig, involve a dive or other less than predictable motion. Hitters/blockers are fairly easy to capture since that area of play is somewhat limited.

Your safeties are the player serving and the setters since they are fairly easy to capture. Next work on your hitters/blockers followed by digs.

Golf is a fairly easy game to shoot as far as action goes, but it is one of the toughest because of the nature of the game. That is you can get good action shots if you can get there at all. Consider the following. Golf is a long distance, one direction game. It is played over a course of thousands of yards in a some what straight path and it is played from hole to hole. Secondly, it is a quiet game where the slightest distraction is not allowed. Finally, for your safety, your access to swing areas is limited.

The first problem is addressed by one of two methods. First, you can camp at one location, such as a tee box or a green on one hole and shoot multiple people as they pass you. Or alternatively, you can with the permission of the course, use a cart and follow individual golfers. Cart paths are narrow and heading against the grain is difficult. Ideally, you will learn the course and find a spot where you can shoot both green play and a tee box with minimal movement.

Even at 400mm, you may not get close enough for good tight shots. Longer lenses are almost a must for capturing competitive golf. If you are shooting recreational golf, say your beer buddies, you can get closer and a lens in the 200mm range will suffice. Any focus method will work since the players are basically standing still. Golf, in particular at the pro level is very sound sensitive. Turn off the AF (you don't need it any way) and go to a slient manual focus. If you have silent AF lenses, such as the Canon USM or the Nikon AF-S lenses, then you can AF. Some events may require you to use a sound blimp around the camera if your shutter/motor are distracting to the golfers.

There are a few main golf shots, in most all cases, they are individual shots. The primary action golf shots include a shot during the back-swing, a shot near impact of the ball, a shot after the follow-through with the golfer looking for the ball or any time during a putt (but be quiet). However, there are a lot of opportunities for safeties in golf. Any shot of a golfer studying the course, be it looking at the scorecard, messing with the golf bag, talking to the caddie, or lining up a putt are easy shots to get. These are times where the firing of the shutter will be more tolerated. Also, shots after the follow-through are considered safe shots. The action is paused and you know its going to happen so getting them is somewhat easier.

Don't forget that a lot of good golf shots, and other sports for that matter do not involve play at all. One of my personal favorite golf shots was of a greens keeper changing the pins.

Track and Field
Track and Field meets are a lot of fun to shoot. You get a lot of variety of shots, multiple opportunities to shoot most participants and events and there generally is a lot of emotion displayed during a track meet. The most difficult things about track meets are logistical.

Access can be restricted depending on the level of play that is being photographed. At a high school meet, there is little in the way of restrictions. Just stay out of the participants way, or out of the way of projectiles like shot puts and discus and you are okay. As you climb the ladder, access gets tighter and tighter. Even at NCAA Division I level meets, the access is still pretty good. Pro level, Olympic, or Major Events will be more tightly controlled due to the size of the event and the amount of media present. Access will be restricted to particular shooting areas.

Logistically, track meets are hard to cover because multiple events are going on at once. If media movement is controlled, you may only get to shoot one or two events. But at a more relaxed meet, you will have more freedom to scoot from event to event. Because of time, multiple heats/attempts and so on, the track will generally be filled with races while the inside of the track contains the field events.

There are no specific safety shots in a track meet, but the individual events are fairly easy since almost all movement is predictable. Track events all move one direction. Shooting the finish, or turns provides the most dramatic events. For the hurdles, it is pretty easy to time the players as they peak over the hurdles. Relays, with the baton passing is probably the hardest part to capture because the runner taking the baton may obscure the runner handing it off. Use follow focus to catch runners and they move past, or zone focus if you are working on the finish line.

Field events, like wise are very predictable. Events like the high jump, long jump, and pole vault involve participants running towards an object, and then jumping over it. This is a zone focus heaven. Use a little depth of field (F5.6 or so) and focus on the bar for the high jump and pole vault and fire as they start up and over. You should catch them at the peak as they hurdle over the event. If you didn't get that run, don't worry, each player generally takes two or three shots and there are multiple players.

The Long jump, and its cousin, the triple-jump are pretty easy. They are also zone focus events. If you are at the end of the pit, focus just a few feet into the pit and fire when they hit the board and begin their jump. After a few jumps, you should have a feel for when they peak at their jump and will nail a few really good jumps. If you have to shoot from the side, you still zone focus over the middle of the pit, track the runner as they head down the track and fire when they go airborne.

The throwing and hurling events are likewise easy to shoot. The players have to stay within a confined space, so zone focus and you will do well. Try to catch them when their face is towards you and when their emotion is at its best or just after the throw.

If you have good access, you can get some great shots with an 80-200mm lens. If you are restricted you may need a 400mm or longer, but in most cases you can get away with smaller lenses.

Gymnastics and Figure Skating
Gymnastics, as a rule, is a no flash event. While a flash may be tolerated at a basketball game, or a night football or baseball game, its generally a no-no for gymnastics. The participants are easily distracted and the slightest hesitation can cause serious injury. The bad thing is most gymnastics happen is poorly lit situations. Lighting will be covered later.

Like Track and Field, gymnastics is a series of events with individuals performing. The events go on simultaneous to each other and depending on the level of the meet, your access may be limited to minimize distractions. With the exception of the floor program, most of the gymnastics events are kept in a small area which makes focusing easy and the movements are predictable. Even with the vault, your object is to catch the vault itself or the landing. So you will probably want to zone focus most of the events. The floor exercise will require follow focus or auto focus. Your lens choice will vary too much by access, but like other indoor sports you want the fastest glass available.

Events like the balance beam, rings, parallel bars, and the uneven bars provide several opportunities to capture the athletes in artistic, athletic, and emotional poses where capturing the moment is somewhat easier. The vault and floor exercises require more timing to get good shots. However, for the floor exercises, its about emotion anyway, so catching the cute smiles and ballet style poses is critical to telling the story more than catching someone in a tumbling pass.

Figure Skating combines the problems of gymnastics with the problems of hockey. You are limited by your access to off ice and you have to compensate for the white surface. Lighting isn't as good as a hockey game. Frequently, the lighting is spot lights, so knowing stage lighting is important. The programs can be predictable and are generally published before the event so you know when the triple jumps are coming. Lens length is determined by proximity to the surface but again, you want the fastest glass possible. Autofocus is a good idea for Figure Skating, though some success with follow and zone focusing can be achieved.

Motorsports and Racing Events
These sports are generally fairly easy to photograph. They generally occur during the daytime and you can get away with longer slower lenses. AF isn't quite as important because the action occurs in a very precticable fashion. You can follow or zone focus easy enough. Safety shots are the partcipants racing past you. The challenge for racing sports is to show motion which will be covered shortly. You don't want your Forumla 1 car looking like it is sitting still. Also much more importantly, there is a lot to the game other than the cars or horses running around the track. The pits/paddock afford some of the best shots. Be ready for an accident. They can happen at any time.

The biggest problem with racing sports is the distance from the track. You only have the partcipants for a brief time on each lap and in the case of the ponies, you only get them for one lap (per race). You will need big lenses in almost all circumstances for the race itself. Your shorter lenses work well for crowd and off track shots.

Written by Sports Photographer Rob Miracle and posted by Cincinnati Ohio Sports Photographer Vincent Rush of Cincinnati Sports Photography.

Posted by Monroe Ohio photographer Vincent Rush, Cincinnati Sports Photography and Dayton Sports Photography of Monroe Ohio. Vince Rush can be contacted by phone at (877) 858-6295 or by email at vrush@rushintl.com or visit http://CincinnatiSportsPhotography.com Check out my about.me profile!

March 7, 2011

Know your Sport...Know your Players! Part 1

               Monroe Hornets Sports Photography by Monroe, Ohio Sports Photographer Vincent Rush

Know your Sport, Know your Players Part 1

Each sport is different in the techniques used to capture the moment. Each sport has a limited number of unique shots. You can only shoot so many basketball games before you start feeling like, "been there, done that". Each sport also has opportunities to get "safeties". A safety is a shot that is easy to get and will give you something to publish if you fail to get good action. For instance, I was shooting a baseball game. In the visitors at bat in the second inning, the skies opened up and it started raining. I had time to shoot the home team in the field and at bat once. Realizing the pending weather, I concentrated on getting some simple usable shots instead of waiting on some excitement at a base, like a steal. Safeties include things like batters batting, pitchers pitching, basketball players shooting free throws, the quarterback under center. Take times when the action is slow to get some good tight shots to use in case no good action materializes. Shoot your safeties first, concentrate on action later. You always want to come back with something.

Its also important to spend some time at an event and not rush the assignment. Many photographers are under intense deadlines and cannot devote enough time to their sporting events and it shows in their work. I expect one usable shot every 20 frames. I like to shoot at least 72 (2 -36's) per event and I can come out with several usable shots and some fantastic ones. If you go to a soccer game and shoot a 1GB chip, don't expect much.

Its very important to know the sport you are covering. You have to know the coach and their coaching style. You have to understand some basic fundamentals of the game or you will become very frustrated. For instance, in football, if its 3rd down and 1 yard to go, don't expect a pass, but point the camera at the full back. In most likelihood, he will be getting the ball, unless its late in the game and they have to pass. Or don't wait on a steal at 2nd base with 2 outs. Coaches hate making the last out of the inning on the base paths.
You also need to know players and their habits. Some players are full of emotion and tend to display their patterned moves. For instance at a local high school girls soccer match, I got a dramatic sequence of a player doing a cartwheel throw in. I knew it was coming and I was prepared for her move when she got the ball.
Knowing your sport goes beyond the rules and players. Know your coaches and what tends to make them emotional. Get fan shots or cheerleader shots with their emotion. A co-worker once told me "even a blind pig gets an acorn once in a while". Any photographer will eventually get the "action" shot, but sometimes you need that crying cheerleader after a loss, or fans in costumes going nuts to completely tell the story. The game goes beyond the boundaries of the field and the rule book.

Baseball is one of the hardest sports to shoot. The action is unpredictable. You wait and wait and then when you are half asleep, something happens. Much of the field is out of range of normal zoom and telephoto lenses. Depending on the level of your sport, you will need long lenses. For most regulation fields (90 feet between bases, 350+ feet to the wall), you need 400mm or longer if you are shooting from the dugouts. It lets you shoot all the infield positions reasonably tight from the dugout/press area. The near base can be gotten with a 200-300mm lens. If you are shooting little league, you can get away with a 200-300mm lens because of the smaller fields unless you are trying to catch the outfield. Night baseball is too poorly lit and you need professional long telephotos to capture good images here.

Your safeties in baseball consist of the pitcher, throwing the ball, the batters batting, the catcher catching or getting a sign from the dugout. After these shots, the game becomes a little less predictable. When a batter hits the ball to an infielder, you have to find the play, aim the camera, focus, and fire. Generally its too late. What you have to do is kinda keep the camera pointed at the short stop or the second baseman. Keep the camera near your face, but you need to watch the play. In particular, if you are standing where you can see the batters stomach, you are in risk of getting hit by a foul ball. If you see the batters back, you will rarely see a foul ball. Once you have an idea of where the play is going, you can adjust, focus and fire. If you are shooting from the first base dugout, 3rd and Short Stop should be about the same distance away, so you can zone focus here. Likewise, from the third base dugout, 2nd and 1st are about the same distance.

Unlike baseball, basketball is the easiest sport to shoot. Action is contained in a 100 foot x 50 foot area. There are two objects (the nets) where the action always heads. Basketball is a game of limited shots though. You can shoot jump shots, lay ups, free throws, blocks, dribbling, and defense. Zone focus works well in basketball. You know lay ups are going to happen close to the net, so focus on the net and wait on the action to come to you. Your focusing techniques will vary somewhat if you are on the side line or base line. If you are on the baseline, zone focus is the best method. If you are along the side, you can follow focus. Your safeties are free throws and players dribbling or looking to pass. At these times action is minimal and you can get some good tight shots of players.

Basketball (and other gym sports) is probably the worst lighting situation you will get into, however, you can get away with much slower shutter speeds. When a player drives for a lay up or takes a jump shot, they almost pause at the top of their jump. This is the peak of the action and the shot should be taken then. Since they have stopped moving for a millisecond, that is the best time to freeze them. Once you have these shots under your belt, you can then start working on emotion shots, blocks, and other action which may not come along as often.

Generally you can get away with anywhere between a 50mm and 135mm lens with 85-105 being optimal. This lets you cover out to about mid court. If you want to shoot shots under the far basket, you will need a longer lens. However a fast lens, like an 85mm F1.4 is an excellent choice for most of your basketball action shots.

Football is also an easy sport to shoot but may be one of the most equipment intense sports. Most of the time, you will be shooting at night and fast glass is required. Motion is predictable and a student of the game can almost predict the plays to allow you to get ready. Knowing your sports allows you to know if its a passing situation or running situation so you know where to focus your attention. For instance, in a football game, if it is 3rd down with 1 yard to go, you can be pretty comfortable that a running play is coming. So get your lens pointed at the backfield and get ready.

Football affords the fewest safeties. You can get the QB getting ready to pass or the coach on the side lines. However, the action shots are plenty. You will get opportunities to photograph the quarterback throwing the ball and running backs running the ball. Make sure you get these shots. Then you can go hunting pass plays to the receivers.

If you have freedom of movement, you want to set up 5-10 yards down field from the play. That way you get the QB and running backs coming at you. If you are stuck in photo zones between the goal line and the 35 yard marker, you will be limited to shooting plays that occur in that area. Big glass is important to football. If you have freedom of movement, a 300mm F2.8 is the ideal lens. However if you are restricted, you either need a 2x on the 300mm or a 600mm to reach plays on the far end of the field. If you are patient or shooting youth league, you can get away with an 80-200 zoom. You will have to wait on more plays to come your way. You wont get much in the middle or far side of the field.

Since football movement is up and down the field and most photographers shoot from a side line, football is a follow focus sport. It is a pretty easy sport to follow focus because the subject to camera distance changes constantly, so once you start focusing, you should be able to time your turning the focus ring with their movement.

Soccer and Hockey
Auto focus was invented with soccer and hockey in mind. These two sports involve rapid changes in direction. The subject to camera distance changes so fast, its hard to follow focus because in an instant, the play is heading another direction. Zone focusing is a bit more applicable, except there is no guarantee the play will enter your focus zone. AF solves this problem because it tracks the play better than you. These two sports alone are the reason I moved from manual cameras to auto focus.

Soccer is a game where you need long lenses. Generally, you have good access to the side lines. At the major league and college level, there may be some limits, but they probably are not as tight as football because the number of players on the sidelines is much less. You will typically shoot from the touch (or side) lines, though you can get some real good shots from behind the net or along the goal line. The lens of choice for Soccer is a 400mm F2.8 or longer. Many pro soccer photographers will have two cameras. One with the long lens mounted and a second with an 80-200mm zoom. This gives me some flexibility in composition while giving me the length needed to capture this large field game. If play gets close, they can switch bodies and go to the shorter lens.

Soccer is a good game to get some dynamic and exciting photos. Your safeties include players dribbling the ball and throw ins. Get these shots and then work on catching headers, traps, corner kicks, and goalie saves. Soccer headers require the most accurate guessing on timing. The ball will be out of the frame quickly. It takes a lot of practice to capture these.

Hockey, while similar to soccer in its unpredictable movement, has an advantage of being played in a smaller contained area. An 80-200mm lens is good for shooting hockey regardless of where the play is. To get shots on the far end of the rink, up to 300mm may be needed. Hockey however has some quirks that you need to be aware of. Frequently you are limited to shooting through the glass which limits the angles you can shoot or through chain link fence for outdoor roller hockey. Some arenas you are limited to one location and have a small hole to shoot though and you most likely will be competing with other photographers for this real estate.
The ice or deck wrecks havoc with your camera's meter. You will need to overexpose by at least one stop in ice rinks to get white ice. This takes away from your available shutter speed. Your safeties includes face offs, and players skating with the puck/ball. Good shots can be had of the goalies, though many of your shots will be of players on the rink.

Written by Sports Photographer Rob Miracle and posted by Cincinnati Ohio Sports Photographer Vincent Rush of Cincinnati Sports Photography.

Posted by Monroe Ohio photographer Vincent Rush, Cincinnati Sports Photography and Dayton Sports Photography of Monroe Ohio. Vince Rush can be contacted by phone at (877) 858-6295 or by email at vrush@rushintl.com or visit http://CincinnatiSportsPhotography.com Check out my about.me profile!

March 3, 2011

Tips on Becoming a Great Sports Photographer Part 2

               NFL Pro Combine 40 yard Dash Time by Cincinnati Sports Photographer Vincent Rush

Part 2 from Rob Miracle;

Besides these long lenses, you need a camera that can drive them. Today, most new cameras are auto focus. Auto focus makes this easier on us, but the AF systems are not fool proof. Luckily, many sports lend them selves well to manual focus, so sometimes you can get a bargain on a manual version of a lens to use on a manual camera and still get good photos. However AF comes in handy for a few sports. Hockey and Soccer involve many subject to camera distance changes. Motion is less predictable and these sports are some what harder to manual focus. Football, Basketball, and Baseball are quite easy to manual focus.

You may also need a flash with a high output. I personally do not recommend a flash at any sporting event. I find the results unpleasing. However the new modern flash systems produce great results. Some sporting events like gymnastics and others are no-flash events. It is best to talk to an event official (referee, coach, etc.) before using your flash. Flashes will be covered more in the section on lighting.

Other equipment which can come in handy are remote triggers. These allow you to mount a camera where you cannot be during the game and remotely triggering it, recovering it after the event. Basketball and Horse Racing are two good examples of sports where great photos come from someone who never sees the viewfinder while they are shooting. Pictures of NBA stars slam dunking the basketball taken above the rim or the winner of the horse race thundering by are done remotely.

Depth of Field -- Isolating the subject.

Most all dramatic sports photos are shot with the lens wide open or one stop from wide open. This is done for two reasons. First you need all the shutter speed you can get, which means shooting wide open, but just as important, it has to do with isolating the subject. As the aperture on a lens opens up, less and less of the photo is in focus. The longer the lens, the more dramatic the change. The larger the distance between the subject and the background the more out of focus the background will come. If you use a long lens and a fast aperture, then your subject will stand out and the background elements will have less impact on your photo.
Reducing background noise is an important goal in many photographs, sports action or not. In studio or landscape settings, you have time to control the elements that make up the picture. Action photography is a "grab it now" type of shooting and you live with the background that is there. If you open up the lens to its maximum, you will find your subjects standing out and becoming memorable.

When you are shooting sports, in particular football and soccer, keep in mind that plays shot on the far side of the field are closer to the background than shots on the near side of the field. Thus if you are shooting a soccer player moving the ball down field and the player passes in front of the bench when you snap the shot, you will have a very distracting background. It may be hard to separate the player and ball from the background noise. Fences, signs, poles, bleachers, stands, and people on the far sideline can really mess up a good shot. Even though you might be shooting wide open, the background will be too prominent in these shots. Should they be avoided? If you have better shots, don't use it. However, it may be your best shot. Shoot it, just be aware that distracting backgrounds are more problematic on shots on the far side of the field.


An out of focus shot is pretty useless. There isn't much you can do with them other than throw them away. So achieving crisp focus should be a goal of every one. Today's AF cameras do a very good job of focusing, and focusing quickly. AF has really made a lot of photographers lazy. I used to manual focus everything, but now that I have an AF system with AF lenses, I let it do my work for me.

However, many times, manual focus works better. To understand this, you need to know how auto focus works. The camera takes a series of measurements across its AF sensors. It looks for contrasting lines. It moves the lens until these lines achieve the maximum sharpness. These sensors are located in the viewfinder of the camera. Different camera models have different sensor configurations and different capabilities. These sensors either are a simple spot meter in the center of the view finder. A line of three sensors that run across the viewfinder. Or a cross which run side to side and top to bottom. Generally, these sensors do not cover the full range of the view finder and your view finder will have markings showing where the AF sensors are.
If you are following a football player as he runs down the side lines, or a horse as it heads over a water jump, you start by pointing the camera at the subject. If you have a spot AF sensor, you have to be dead on the subject or you will find a focused background and a blurry subject. Wide horizontal sensors will allow you to lead your subject a little bit or allow you to compose shots that are off center. However, when you turn the camera to shoot a vertically framed shot, your sensors now run up and down. There are two things to be aware of here. First the AF is now vertical, thus your subject now has to be in the middle of the frame again, just like the spot sensor. Depending on the AF sensors in your camera, they may not focus on horizontal lines as well as vertical and you may find the AF less than responsive. However, you are shooting vertical sports, like volleyball, shooting vertically works pretty well.

Depending on your composition, many sports photos are shot vertically. Humans are vertical people and if you are trying to get a good shot of your favorite baseball player cranking a home run, you want to turn the camera to a vertical format. Luckily, baseball lends itself well to a small AF sensor for pitchers pitching and batters batting.

Some of the high end cameras have a cross pattern of AF sensors and they are generally selectable. By using a sensor array in this format, you have good vertical and horizontal sensor patterns regardless of which way you hold the camera.

For those times where AF isn't working well, or if you have a manual focus camera, you need to understand how to focus. There are two primary means of focusing a camera: Follow focus and Zone Focus. Follow focus is where you keep your camera on your subject, rotating the focus collar attempting to keep the subject in focus. This works very well on side to side movement, where the camera to subject distance is not changing rapidly. You might use this method for football, auto racing, or other events where you turn side to side following the action. This requires practice to get down. A good way to practice is to go out to the street and follow focus cars as they drive past.

The second method is called zone focus. Here you expect the action to take place at a particular place, at the goal mouth on a hockey rink, or at the jump point on a long jump event at a track meet. You can focus on the area you want to be sharp and when the subject moves into the zone, you then take the photo. This is timing related. You need to practice the timing on this as well, Both of these methods allowed photographers to capture fantastic photos before the invention of auto focus and will continue to into the future. Even if you have an AF system, you should learn to follow focus and zone focus because there may be times where your AF isn't available (low light, low contrast situations for instance) and you need to be able to come back with the shot.

To Be Continued

Posted by Monroe Ohio photographer Vincent Rush, Cincinnati Sports Photography and Dayton Sports Photography of Monroe Ohio. Vince Rush can be contacted by phone at (877) 858-6295 or by email at vrush@rushintl.com or visit http://CincinnatiSportsPhotography.com Check out my about.me profile!

March 1, 2011

Tips on Becoming a Great Sports Photographer Part 1

              Yankee Stadium on Closing Night. Posted by Cincinnati Sports Photographer Vincent Rush

We have all at one time or another been captivated by sports images. It may be Kirk Gibson's World Series Home run, and the image of him running the bases, overcoming the pain he was in or an image of high flying Michael Jordan slam dunking a basketball with his tongue out. We have all been captured in the moment of human drama. We all like a good action photo and, in particular, if your kids play sports, you want to remember them in their toils.

Quality sports shots are somewhat difficult to come by. Most people have limited access to events to photograph them. The further away you are from the event, the harder it becomes to capture the event in a pleasing manner. Sports are an event where crowd control is important, not only for the crowd's safety, but for the players also. There is nothing more frightening than to be on the sidelines of a football game, focused on a play in the field, when out of the blue a 250 pound line backer drives a player into your legs or a foul ball comes crashing at your $8,000 lens!

World renown sports photographer Rob Miracle shares his knowledge on the subject

Location, Location, Location!

You can only photograph things you can see. The closer you are to someone, the better you can see them. Sports are no different. You have to get as close to what you are shooting as you can. Typically, for a photographer with a press pass, you can get to the sidelines or other similar locations. You generally will not be permitted on the playing field. Depending on the sport, you most likely will be limited to designated locations. For instance, at most Division I football games, the media cannot shoot between the two 35 yard markers. For most people, the situation is even worse. You probably don't have press access and are stuck in the stands for your shots. Get as close a possible. Even if you make it to the sidelines, you will be jostling for space with many other photographers, both still and video who have worked hard to get there and have the same job to do that you have.

You also have to be familiar with the sport to be able to capture the moment. This means knowing where to position yourself for the best action. This is critical because of angular momentum that will be discussed in the section on freezing action. Not only does it matter with the subject, but the background. Look at what is going to be behind your subject. While we will try to minimize the impact that a background has, it will still be unavoidable. So you need to position your self where the background is the most pleasing.

The Decisive Moment

Sports and Action photography is all about timing. Its about reacting. Its about being in the right place at the right time and its about execute. These are all qualities of the athlete and those of the photographer as well. Each sport has predictable and unpredictable moments. Under "Knowing your Sport", you will learn about these moments for individual sports. For instance, in basketball, you will have opportunities to photograph layups, jump shots, free throws, etc. Understanding the timing of these predictable actions allows you to capture the peak moment, when the action is most dramatic.

By knowing these moments you can anticipate the action. This helps in two ways, one it helps you with focus which will be discussed in a later segment, and secondly it helps you snap the shutter at the right time. The saying goes "If you see the action you missed it." This basically means if you wait for the soccer player to head the ball then press the shutter release, the ball most likely will be sailing out of the frame. You have to push the button before the action so that the mirror has time to flip out of the way and the shutter open and close. There is a delay between the image hitting your optical nerve and the shutter closing. You have to, through experience, learn what that time is and adjust for it.

Required Equipment

Most sports are shot on 35mm cameras because of their portability. While some photographers have captured great sports moments with other format cameras, we will concentrate our efforts on the 35mm arena which is the most commonly used gear.

"Its not the equipment but the photographer who makes the picture" is generally a true statement. However with sports and action photography, having the wrong equipment means not getting the shots you want or need. This relates back to the section on location. The further away, the longer the lens is needed to capture the same image in the frame. Different sports require different lens lengths. For instance, basketball is generally shot from the baseline or sideline near the baseline. You generally can get good results with an 85mm lens in this situation. However, by the time the players are at mid court, you need a 135mm to capture them. If they are playing under the far goal, a 200-300mm lens is needed to fill the frame well, yet for shooting a soccer game, a 300-400mm lens is needed for just about anything useful.

Lens speed is also a critical factor. The faster the lens, the faster the shutter speed you can use, which as the lens grows longer, this becomes even more important. This will be covered in the freezing action section in more depth. If you look at the sidelines of any Division 1 college football game or an NFL football game, you will see people with really big lenses. These range from 300mm to 600mm or longer and even then, they may have a 1.4X converter or 2X converter on. You need fast shutter speeds to freeze action with long lenses. Every F Stop you give up requires a faster film or less freezing potential.

Most consumer grade long lenses and zooms have variable apertures, but most are F5.6 at the long end of the lens. F5.6 is good for outdoor day time shots, but becomes very inhibiting for night games and indoor action. Most people use lenses that are F2.8 or faster. These lenses are very expensive. A 400mm F2.8 sells for over $8000 US. They are also very heavy and bulky. Using a monopod is a life saver with these big lenses.

To be continued....

Posted by Monroe Ohio photographer Vincent Rush, Cincinnati Sports Photography and Dayton Sports Photography of Monroe Ohio. Vince Rush can be contacted by phone at (877) 858-6295 or by email at vrush@rushintl.com or visit http://CincinnatiSportsPhotography.com Check out my about.me profile!