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Work Flow

Over the years I’ve learned that every photographer has their own workflow. Some are different..some the same and it’s based on your own personal preference. I’ve tried a couple different methods but here’s what I found works best for me. Is it right? No. Is it wrong? Nope. It’s just what I prefer. Here’s a step by step process of how I incorporate Lightroom and PhotoMechanic when photographing a sporting event.

Pre-game:
  1. fig. 1

    fig. 1

    I’ll make a folder on my desktop for the game I’m photographing. In this case I’ll use the last game I worked (Pittsburgh Penguins vs the Minnesota Wild) and I’ll call it “vs Pittsburgh 11-4” (fig. 1). Why? It’s just the way I have my Lightroom catalog set up (I break my folders down by sport, then year, then by opponent).

    • Minnesota Wild
      • 2014-2015
        • vs Pittsburgh 11-4
  2. Next, I’ll download my .xmp file provided by the agency I’m shooting for and save it into that folder. Then I’ll make the necessary changes to the Stationary Pad in PhotoMechanic which is usually just making a generic caption that I will apply to all the images. Speed will be important when it comes to captioning and uploading the files during and after a game.

I make my team code replacement files for PhotoMechanic. You can use the http://www.codereplacements.com/ website and pay for the service but I’m cheap and I don’t find it hard to do it yourself. This is probably a separate blog post but it’s a combination of the team data from ESPN, then using Excel and Word to create the text files. Unless it’s the first game of the season, the home team is already done so it’s really just making one for the visiting team and it takes me about 5-10 minutes. I’ll then load the code replacement files into PhotoMechanic. It usually consists of 3 different text files:

  • Home Team
  • Visiting team
  • Hockey terms (I’ll use short code for terms like celebrates, shoots, passes, skates with the puck, congratulates (cel, sh, pa, swp, etc..). It just saves me time when I caption and it’s something that I’ll use every game.

That’s it for pre-game. Let’s go eat!

During the game

For hockey, you shoot the entire period, then run back to the photo editing room during intermission and work as fast as you can. This is 18 minutes which sounds like a lot, but it flies by and there’s a lot to do.

  1.  fig. 2I import all my photos through Lightroom with a USB 3.0 card reader for the fastest transfer speed. Why Lightroom vs PhotoMechanic first? I like to apply a global develop setting to the entire card when I import it. I know my lighting is consistent so I can apply the same develop settings to every picture. In this case it’s at Xcel Energy Center and I already have a preset made (MN Wild 1250/1250/2.8). Within that preset I have a number of corrections I apply so I’d rather apply them all at once in the beginning vs individually later. Here’s why:
    • I know what camera settings I’ll be shooting at in manual mode. 1250 shutter, 1250 ISO, at f/2.8
    • I shoot in large RAW format so it’ll adjust my white balance on import. I find this the biggest advantage in photographing in RAW. I’ll adjust WB to whatever temperature I need instead of using a warmer/colder on a .jpeg.
    • *Side Note*: Some people shoot RAW + jpeg and make their edits on the jpeg thinking importing the RAW files will take too long and they’re too big. I’ve never had an issue in regards to speed. Maybe it’s my computer, card reader..who knows but I don’t have an issue with it.
    • *2nd Side Note*: The first time I switched over to RAW I was scared that it was going to be different when I processed photos. When I open a RAW file or a jpeg in Lightroom they’ll function exactly the same. There’s no compression in the RAW file and you can have more editing capabilities, so there’s no reason not to. Go ahead, make the switch, you’ll be glad you did.
  2. As its importing I go through the entire period of images. This is the biggest drawback to using Lightroom vs PhotoMechanic. PhotoMechanic is a zillion times faster at rendering the image and it’s much faster to go through and select the images you want. Lightroom takes its time rendering and you’ll get the spinning “loading” symbol at the bottom. If I ever change my workflow, this will be the reason. I’ll go through all the images and flag them using the “p” key (pick). If I screw up, I’ll unflag them with “u” key. An entire period is usually between 150-250 images. Between whistles I’ll delete images that I know I’ll never use, or they’re blurry, or they’re just plan shitty so I limit how many I import between periods.
  3. Once I’ve flagged all the images I like (including stock for later), I’ll turn on the library filter so it shows me just the flagged images or my keepers. From the “grid view” I’ll select a few game relevant images that I need to transmit, usually between 4-8 and give them a color. 1st period = red, 2nd period = yellow, 3rd and final images = green. Why these colors? It’s just the order in Lightroom so it helps me keep track of what I’ve sent and I don’t resend the same image after the game.
  4. I’ll then sort the flagged images by “label color” so the “red” images show up first and enter the “develop” mode.
  5. Within develop mode all I really need to do is crop since all the images had the “MN Wild preset” applied to them. On occasion you’ll have some minor tweaking if it’s in a dark spot in the arena.
  6. Once the cropping is done, I’ll export the files to the desktop in a separate folder and call it “USA1” so I know it’s my first set of transmitted images (next period is USA2). On export you’ll set up:
    • Folder location
    • Renaming (if you need to)
    • File size limitations
    • Resolution
  7. fig. 4

    fig. 3

    Then I go into PhotoMechanic and hit refresh and my newly editing folder USA1 will appear. Open it, select all, and then apply stationary pad to all the images. Now every image has the generic caption for all the images and I just need to fill in the “XXXXXX” for each image using the code replacement files (home, away, and hockey terms) that are already loaded. (fig. 3)

  8. In figure 4, you’ll see how PhotoMechanics code replacement works:

    fig. 4

    fig. 4

  9. Then I click “Save, Upload, Advance” and caption the next image until I’ve done all the selected images for that period (fig. 4). The FTP servers are already set up to go to the appropriate agencies. *knock on wood* – I’ve only screwed up once sending a couple files to the wrong agency. Whoops, forgot who I was shooting for that night.

Now hopefully this was all done in 18 minutes so I can run out to the next location for the next period. On occasion you don’t quite get it done in 18 and you’ll miss the start of the next period. Oh well, all you can do is try.

Post-Game

The only thing slightly different in the post-game transmission is I’ll look through all 3 periods flagged photos and find other pictures that may have been game relevant that occurred during the 1st and 2nd periods. Things like stock photos of goal scorers or other photos that were good but didn’t have the time to send. Since I’ve “colored” the photos by period, I know which ones I’ve sent already.

My PhotoMechanic by default is set to organize the pictures by capture time. This will also help when figuring out what period the action happened.
I’ve also got more time so I can relax a little. In the end I’m hoping to send about 30-35 end of game images and the others that I flagged will go to the stock folders another day.

VERY IMPORTANT: If you export your folders into separate sub-folders (like described), after you’re done shooting you’ll have to copy all the saved images with captions back into Lightroom.
So from Photomechanic:

  • Select all
  • Save photos as (select the main folder: vs Pittsburgh 11-4

Then in Lightroom right click on the folder and “synchronize the folder”. It’ll then import all the new jpegs you just captioned and transmitted and all the metadata in the caption field. So now if I need to find any Charlie Coyle pictures, my library is up to date. *Side note* – If your images look all out of whack, it’s because you’ve applied the “MNWild” import settings again on the already corrected jpegs. Just select all, right click, develop settings, and “reset”.

It sounds like a lot and it is. You’ll eventually get into your own rhythm and it’ll seem like a snap in no time.

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2014 Twins Season

My baseball season has come to a close as the Minnesota Twins finish up their regular season on the road. Some milestones I’ve accomplished this year were:

  • 40 regular season games. Almost 50% of the games this year…crazy.
  • My first editorial assignment for USA Today. Its normally game action but this was something a little different and out of my wheelhouse.
  • I covered my first concert. Its not really a baseball event but it was part of All Star Game weekend. It was pretty fun, I’d do more of that.
  • 3 assignments working for the Minnesota Twins.

Each season my pictures improve and I’m sure in a couple years I’ll look back and think “these suck too..I can’t believe I submitted them.”

Easily, the highlight of the year was working the All Star Game for the Twins organization. Even though I wasn’t on the field for game action during the Home Run Derby and the All Star Game, it was pretty amazing being at Target Field and getting an inside view of the Twins putting on a spectacular event. Who knows if I’ll ever have the chance to work or be at another one.

So here’s a video recap of my favorite images from Target Field. Not always the best images but my favorites. Enjoy!

 

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The Angels Come to Town

An ugly 4 games for the Twins as they got swept by the Angels dropping all 4 games. It included a 14-4 beat down and a game that last 4h 15 mins……and then it went into extra innings…good times. Some close games and I was really hoping for a walk off winner Friday, but no such luck. Here’s my favorite 21 images from the series. Enjoy!

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Baseball Week

So this past last week I’ve covered 3 Minnesota Twins games (Cleveland, Cleveland, and Chicago) and 13 teams in the Minnesota State Little League Championship. So it works out to approximately 2000 images imported and selected. I say imported because I take a lot more than that but I delete obvious ones I know I won’t use. Here’s a handful of my favorites including some of the youth pics. Enjoy!

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All Star Game 2014

It’s hard to describe my experience for the All Star Game weekend…fun, chaotic, some regrets, awesome, and potentially once in a lifetime. I had the privilege of working as a photographer for the Minnesota Twins the entire weekend so I had some amazing access to events and special privileges that I don’t normally experience. Although temporary, it was great being a Twins staffer for a weekend.

There were four photographers on the Twins team, Brace Hemmelgarn and Bruce Kluckhohn were covering all the game action, while myself and Wayne Kryduba would try and capture behind the scenes and ASG atmosphere. This is something completely new to me as I’m usually limited to a few spots on the field and its 98% game action. For this assignment I was free to roam wherever and try to get creative and new, so I was slightly nervous.  So my blog post has no action shots…none! Since I’m usually on assignment to cover game action and you never want to miss any, it was very foreign to me walking around the concourse and the stadium looking for new things to photograph. Fact: before this, I had never been on the north side of the stadium or even seen Target Field Station.

I was assigned to cover the TCF Bank concert with Atmosphere and Imagine Dragons (first ever concert), two days of Fanfest and the insanity of following around Joe Mauer, the red carpet parade, and pre-game activities for both the Home Run Derby and the All Star Game. In the end, they were long days with sore feet.

My regrets… few and totally minor.

  1. I totally missed the rainbow shot over Target Field during the Home Run Derby. I was walking the concourse when I heard the PA announcer mention it but I wasn’t in a position to take a good picture. Next time I’m at Target Field, during the All Star Game, field painted with ASG logos, and there’s a double rainbow in the skyline, I’ll be sure to capture it…so I’m guessing once in a lifetime shot. F!
  2. Next minor regret, I wish I had taken the flyover shot from behind home plate. Since there were four of us shooting for the Twins and there were multiple remotes, we all got assigned a spot on the field so we had it covered from multiple angles. I was on the first base line facing the scoreboard. Is it a bad shot? Nope, I like it and it turned out great. Just for my personal collection I would have liked to take the shot behind home plate but Brace had a remote there so it made it pointless for the Twins to have multiple images of the same thing. FYI…it looks really good too. Team player and the Twins got some great shots.
  3. I wish I was down on the field a little more to meet some of the other photographers. It could have been some great networking and I could have met some people face to face I follow on Twitter and Instagram.
  4. Lastly…I lost my UND sunglasses. So some lucky fan scored a very used pair of sunglasses…lucky Sioux fan!

Positives….so many. The biggest was I got to work alongside some of the Twins staff including Dustin Morse,  Andrew Heydt, and Mike Kennedy. The amount of organization it took to pull off this event was unbelievable and I think they did an amazing job.  I’m glad I was a part of it. The way they utilized the space at the facility was insane and the accommodations they had to make, I’m sure at the time seemed completely unreasonable, but they made it all work.

Enjoy the pics!

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