25 Years, 25 Favorites

This is my 25th season as the Miami Hurricanes Athletics’ team photographer, and I was a student at UM prior to that, a time period of which I have a few selections for this list.

#25 Howard Schellenberger at Lockhart Stadium

Leading off the list is the grandfather of modern-day Hurricanes Football, the one and only Coach Howard Schnellenberger. Coach is shown here at UM’s annual Spring Game in 2016 at the now-demolished Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale.

Schnellenberger resuscitated the Hurricanes program in the early 80’s, culminating in a national championship in 1983. After stops in Louisville, Oklahoma, and Florida Atlantic, he retired in 2011.

Back in 1999, Schnellenberger was hired by Florida Atlantic to promote support for a football program. I was fortunate enough to have shot several of those appearances when led to becoming FAU’s Team Photographer in 2004, concurrent with my gig at UM.

#24 Tyriq McCord sacks Jeff Driskel vs Florida 2013

Tyriq McCord sacks Jeff Driskel with just over 4 minutes remaining to set up a touchdown run by Duke Johnson to propel the ‘Canes to a 21-16 upset win over #12 ranked “The Gator” in 2013. 

Growing up in Michigan, the only real in-state rivalry was Michigan vs Michigan State, which was a one sided affair for most of my youth. After coming to UM as a transfer student from Hillsborough Community College I was introduced to two great college rivalries: UM v FSU, and the occasional UM vs UF matchup.

There is something glorious about a strip sack photo, with the quarterback’s delivery interrupted mid throw, and the ball hanging in perpetuity in the air. Add the fact our program had been on the downswing for nearly a decade, and this was a significant moment in securing a win in front of a record crowd of 76,869 at Sun Life Stadium.

#23 Frank Gore clinching TD vs Florida 2003

Frank Gore scores the go-ahead touchdown from 12 yards out during the ‘Canes 38-33 comeback win over UF in one of the greatest games in ‘Canes history.

On the following drive with 1:37 remaining, UF drove down to the ‘Canes 20 until Al Marshall sealed the win with an interception of a Chris Leak pass.

Adding to the story is the play of quarterback Brock Berlin, a transfer from none other than UF, who at the 6:10 mark of the 3rd quarter was down 33-10. Berlin led the ‘Canes to four consecutive touchdown drives, culminating in the aforementioned Gore TD run to complete the comeback. ABC’s Brad Nessler said “Once a Gator, always a Hurricane” of Berlin on the final kneel down as he launched the ball into the Orange Bowl stands and the game into the annals of Hurricanes football lore.

#22 Devin Hester blocked field goal return vs Florida 2004

Devin Hester returns a blocked field goal attempt 78 yards for a touchdown during the ‘Canes 27-10 win over UF in the 2004 Peach Bowl.

This was the ‘Canes second appearance in the Peach Bowl, the first being in 1981 against Virginia Tech in a game many consider a turning point in the Miami football program. UM won that game 20-10.

Hester’s return for a touchdown was his fifth of the season and sixth of his ‘Canes career, foreshadowing his stellar career as a return specialist in the NFL.

Hester returned this one right at me, with exasperated Gators players far behind him giving chase, making it one of my all-time favorite images.

#21 Dyral McMillan v Pat Tillman

Legendary defensive back Pat Tillman is stiff-armed by ‘Canes running back Dyral McMillan during the ‘Canes 23-12 defeat to Arizona State in 1997.

McMillan led the ‘Canes in rushing that day with 53 yards on 11 attempts, and Tillman had 7 tackles to lead the Sun Devils.

Tillman went on to play for the Arizona Cardinals for four seasons, then famously turned down a three-year, $3.6 million contract with the Cardinals to enlist in the Army after 9/11.

Tillman was killed in action while serving with the Army Rangers in eastern Afghanistan in 2004.

#20 Jimmy Murphy Tackle in Downpour

In 2018, one of those signature South Florida downpours which seems to occur every season started shortly after kickoff and proved too much for Hard Rock Stadium’s modern drainage system to handle, leaving the field partially under water for most of the first half. 

Jimmy Murphy, on the ‘Canes special teams punt coverage, met Duke returner Deon Jackson at one of the flooded sections of the field, as shown here.

Most of us photographers, despite the major inconvenience and threat to the functionality of our gear, love bad weather games for the opportunity to make unique images.

#19 Ed Reed w/ Javelin

Ed Reed.

College football National Champion. NFL Super Bowl Champion. College Football Hall of Fame. Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

So what’s one of my favorite Ed Reed images? 

Ed with a javelin.

When then-head coach Butch Davis made his recruiting visit to see Ed in high school, it wasn’t a football game Ed was participating in, it was a basketball game. Coach Davis loved multi-sport athletes.

Besides basketball, Ed was a standout track athlete. He was a member of the Louisiana state champion 4×100 meter relay team, was a long jumper, and set his high school record with a 56.94 meter javelin throw. With a throw of 66.32 meters, Ed was also the 1999 Big East Champion.

While this image isn’t from the football field, it’s an image related to a sport that helped lead Ed to greatness on the gridiron at “The U.”

#18 Sherko @ The White House

Since the 1980s, one of the perks of winning a national championship in a major sport has been a trip to visit the sitting president in the White House.

Privileged to have been invited along with the ‘Canes baseball and football teams in April, 2002, I was fortunate enough to notice offensive lineman Sherko Haji-Rasouli sitting on a windowsill with the drapes drawn around him.

Sherko was a member of arguably one of the greatest ‘Canes offensive lines ever, alongside Bryant McKinnie, Brett Romberg, Martin Bibla, and Joaquin Gonzalez. This starting unit surrendered only three sacks in all of the 2001 national championship season.

Sherko later returned the favor by taking a pic of me sitting in a chair in the Green Room. I usually don’t like pics of myself but this one was special, as my 4th great grand uncle once occupied the White House.

#17 Flying James Jackson

During the 1998 Micron PC Bowl, running back James Jackson leaps over a defender.

Jackson carried the ball 11 times for 99 yards and two touchdowns. Although this 2nd quarter run only garnered four yards, noted ‘Cane hater Mark May proclaimed it was a “pretty move.” So pretty, in fact, this image was a part of the cover of a future media guide and poster.

The ‘Canes went on to defeat NC State 46-23.

#16 Flying Andre King & Santana Moss

During the 2000 Gator Bowl, wide receivers Andre King and Santana Moss celebrate King’s touchdown.

On the first day of the 21st century, former minor league baseball player Andre King scored on a 15 yard pass from future minor league baseball player Kenny Kelly in the 2nd quarter of the ‘Canes 28-13 victory over Georgia Tech.

King played professional baseball for five seasons with three organizations before coming to The U, while Kelly played professional baseball for 11 seasons for six different organizations.

#15 Mark Richt Fisheye Photos

During Coach Richt’s brief tenure, the stretching portion of pregame warm-ups would always end with a team huddle.

It became a challenge to create different images of this moment, so I employed some old-fashioned one-trick pony lenses to help. 

With its enormous field of view, I used a fisheye lens to get close to Coach Richt, exaggerating the perspective and bringing in more of the scene.

The first image was shot with a Rokinon full-frame fisheye lens. The other was shot with a Lensbaby circular fisheye lens.

#14 Najeh Davenport with whiteboard @ Pitt

Near the end of the ‘Canes 43-21 win at Pittsburgh in 2001, running back Najeh Davenport had some words for the obnoxious Pitt fans who had been yelling at the ‘Canes all day.

Instead of verbalizing those words, Davenport grabbed a whiteboard and scribbled his feelings at those Pitt fans who were yelling at UM for most of the game, then begging for autographs after it.

#13 Gino Torretta on shoulders @ SDSU

Late in the 1992 season, Miami quarterback Gino Torretta and San Diego State running back Marshall Faulk were the leading Heisman Trophy contenders, and were to face each other at San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium in the last game of the regular season.

In one of the season’s ugliest games, punctuated with two bench-clearing brawls, a scary injury, a player ejection and a death threat against Miami coach Dennis Erickson, Faulk ended up missing the game with an injury and Torretta went 19 of 35 for 310 yards and was carried off the field by teammates Mark Caesar and Kip Vickers.

“They said they wanted to carry me off,” Torretta remembered. “Nah, you don’t have to do that.” Mark Caesar replied, “We’re going to carry you off no matter what.”

#12 Our 12th Man In 12th Man Land

In football, the term “12th Man” is generally considered to reference the fans, who as a group can have a tremendous impact on how their team performs. 

The first known use of the term “twelfth man” was in a campus magazine published by the University of Minnesota in September, 1900, that referred to “the mysterious influence of the twelfth man on the team, the rooter.”

The term can also refer to individuals who have an impact.

Kyle Field, home of the Texas A&M Aggies, considers themselves the “Home of the 12th Man.” In 1922, playing in the Dixie Classic in Dallas, a student named E. King Gill came down from the press box and donned a uniform when coach Dana X. Bible realized his injury-depleted bench was dwindling. Over the years the legend has grown to the point the school has trademarked the term “12th Man.”

In 2008, the ‘Canes handed Texas A&M its worst non-conference defeat at Kyle Field in 20 years, beating them 41-23. I’d like to think the victory was due, in part, to this unidentified brave soul who was seated high above the press box in a Corps of Cadets.

#11 Miami Magic Miracle

Trailing Georgia Tech 24-22 late in a rain-soaked 2017 game, the ‘Canes faced a 4th and 10 from the Yellow Jackets 43 yard line. On an under thrown pass from Malik Rosier, Darrell Langham made a juggling off the helmet catch to convert the 4th down, leading to Michael Badgley’s game winning field goal to keep UM unbeaten with a 25-24 win. While I chose one image for some platforms, the entire sequence is worthy of inclusion. See the GIF of the sequence on my Caneshooter Instagram page.

#10 Sebastian Smoke

Before a game in 2002 colloquially known as “Wide Left I,” Sebastian the Ibis leads the ‘Canes onto the field to face rival Florida State before a record crowd of 81,927. Seminoles kicker Xavier Beitia missed a 43-yard field goal attempt to the left as time expired and the ‘Canes prevailed 28-27.

In the 1950s, UM transportation director Bob Nalette came up with the idea of using fire extinguishers and welded pipe to produce the now-famous smoke that Hurricanes run through as they enter the field.

Before other schools copied our recruitment of speedy athletes and our fourth quarter four-finger signal, they copied our entrance through the smoke.

#9 Sean Taylor Hit @ Pitt

In Miami’s final Big East appearance, Sean Taylor had two interceptions and three tackles, including this hit on Pitt tight end Kris Wilson, during their 28-14 victory over the Panthers.

Taylor helped the ‘Canes defense limit Heisman Trophy candidate and future NFL Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald to 3 catches for 26 yards – 18 of which came on a late meaningless touchdown.

“We’re not going to let any one player come in and dominate us,” Taylor said.

#8 Ice Cold Rock

Dwayne Johnson, known by millions as “The Rock,” is a wrestling legend and an A-list actor in Hollywood.

Before Johnson was known as the wrestler “The Rock,” he was a Hurricanes defensive end who everyone called “Dewey” and loved to sing country music tunes – in his campus apartment, at practice, and even on the team plane.

In Dewey’s wrestling days, he was known for phrases such as “can you smell what The Rock is cooking?,” ”just bring it,” “know your role,” and “candy ass.”

Here is Dewey knowing his role and just bringing his candy ass to a sideline heater during a game @ Pitt in 1993.

P.S. Hey Dewey, I’m just kidding.

#7 Sean Taylor @ FSU

Sean Taylor intercepted two passes, returning this one 50 yards for a score, and Miami built a 22-0 lead and held on to win 22-14 in a torrential downpour in Tallahassee in 2003.

In a game with weather conditions barely suitable for water fowl, Taylor intercepted a duck from FSU QB Chris Rix, ran down the sideline and dove over the goal line and into the virtual lake on his way into the end zone to put the ‘Canes ahead 19-0 late in the 1st half.

“Our motto was, ‘We’re going to come in here and punch them in the mouth,” Taylor said after the game. “And we weren’t going to stop punching them in the mouth.”

This game ranks at the top of bad weather ‘Canes football games I’ve worked, edging out the 2018 Georgia Tech game featured in image #20.

#6 Hester’s Home Debut

Devin Hester returns the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown during the ‘Canes 38-33 epic comeback win over UF in 2003.

This was Hester’s first home appearance in his Hurricanes career.

Hester’s return for a touchdown was his first of 7 special teams touchdowns of his ‘Canes career, foreshadowing his insane total of 20 special teams touchdowns in the NFL.

I don’t think I ever felt the Orange Bowl ground shake as much as it did during this play. The stadium was electric and this play is one of the all-time plays in ‘Canes history.

#5 Ed Reed @ the Rose Bowl

Defensive back Ed Reed dances through the paper rose petals after one of the greatest college football teams ever assembled won the 2001 National Championship with a 37-14 win over Nebraska at the Rose Bowl.

Reed led Miami with 9 tackles.

Six members of the 2001 Hurricanes were all-americans. 38 were drafted by the NFL, and 17 of those selections were first round picks.

And one is in the NFL Hall of Fame. Ed Reed.

Reed’s backup for the Rose Bowl? Sean Taylor.

Horribly underexposed, this photo had previously been unpublished. Always one of my favorites, only recently have I been able to process it into a displayable image.

#4 Andre Johnson @ the Rose Bowl

Wide receiver Andre Johnson holds the Sears Trophy after one of the greatest college football teams ever assembled won the 2001 National Championship with a 37-14 win over Nebraska at the Rose Bowl.

Johnson led Miami with 199 years receiving and two touchdowns, earning co-MVP honors with quarterback Ken Dorsey.

Of the 38 players from this team who were drafted by the NFL, 13 made the Pro Bowl a total of 43 times. Four Miami running backs on this roster have combined for 35,505 yards rushing in the NFL (as of today, as Frank Gore is still active), which are double the total of NFL Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton, who held the career rushing record for almost two decades. 

Oh, and Payton’s son Jarrett was also on the 2001 ‘Canes roster.

#3 Juice & Surge

In 2014, the Hurricanes received a complete uniform makeover from Nike, including two alternate helmets nicknamed “Juice” and “Surge.”  The “Surge” helmet comes in Miami’s classic green and features tonal stripes to represent the ibis, the schools mascot, and also includes the iconic “U” logo across the side. The “Juice” helmet features the same design but done up in a full orange scheme.

During a short break while shooting the new uniform combinations prior to the season, I noticed the two helmets sitting on the turf, so I casually placed my iPhone 5 in the turf, angled it up and popped off a few shots.

Yes, I said iPhone 5.

After tweaking the image in the iPhone app Snapseed and tweeting out the image, it took off like wildfire. Numerous publications ran it, including the Washington Post, and I sold hundreds of downloads.

And it was shot with an iPhone 5.

#2 Vince Wilfork Will Eat You

A rematch of the regular season game between the ‘Canes and hated rival FSU took place in the 2004 Orange Bowl and was aptly named “Wide Right IV” due to more continued ineptness by a Seminoles kicker.

Despite another missed field goal, my favorite moment of the game is this image of defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, who is seemingly devouring FSU running back Leon Washington.

#1 Rix Wrecked

In a game that produced so many fantastic moments, Orien Harris stands over a seemingly defeated Chris Rix during the ‘Canes 22-14 victory over FSU in 2003.

The win was Miami’s fourth in a row over FSU and they would add two more to the streak before losing in 2005.

Every fall during rivalry week, this image makes the rounds on social media, for good reason, as this image aptly reflects the dominance the 2000-04 ‘Canes had over their most hated rival.

As for Rix, his career performances vs the Hurricanes says it all:

2001: 13-30 222 1/4 Loss

2002: 8-19 83 1/0 Loss

2003: 20-42 235 2/2 Loss

2004* 6-19 96 1/1 Loss

2004: 12-28 108 0/2 Loss

*Orange Bowl Classic

#ChallengeOnNaturePhotography

Recently I was challenged in one of those viral Facebook posts to post seven of my best nature photos. Since I can’t quite ever put down a camera, I found waterfall and landscape photography is my release from the daily grind. Besides, why not take home a prize after a rewarding hike? After looking at my archive, I chose these seven images for the challenge.

I led off with South Falls, in Silver Falls State Park near Silverton, Oregon. The park is by far my favorite state park, and is one of my favorite places on Earth. The park has ten significant waterfalls, which can be accessed by the appropriately named Trail of Ten Falls.

Founded in 1888, the small lumber town of Silver Falls City sat atop the South Falls, and as the land was cleared, a local entrepreneur sold admission to the falls area, with attractions including pushing cars over the falls and hosting a stunt with a daredevil riding over the falls in a canoe.

In 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced that the Silver Falls area would be turned into a Recreational Demonstration Area. Private land that had been logged was purchased, and workers in the Civilian Conservation Corps were employed to develop park facilities, including the historic South Falls Lodge, completed in the late 1930s. It was used as a restaurant from 1946 until the late 1950s and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Silver Falls State Park Concession Building Area in 1983. Today, it serves as the park gift shop.

In January 2008, during the 2008 supplemental legislative session, Fred Girod of the Oregon House of Representatives sought federal designation of the area as a national park via a house joint memorial to the United States Congress, but the bill died in committee.

PCHcal052512-180

Garrapata State Park, located near Carmel_by-The-Sea, California, has 2 miles of beachfront, with coastal hiking and a 50-foot climb to a view of the Pacific Ocean. California sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters frequent the coastal waters while gray whales pass close by during their yearly migration.

Garrapata’s bold, vertical headlands and offshore sea stacks are a combination of granitic rock, marine sandstone, shale, volcanic rock and chert. Their proximity to several fault lines makes them susceptible to seismic movement.

The area hosted the Ohlone and Rumsien tribes in the past. In the early 20th century it was the Ezequiel Soberanes Rancho, a cattle and sheep ranch. The ranch was later sold to the Doud family, who had a cattle ranch on the property. Features within Garrapata State Park still bear the names of these families.

DSC_0049_50_51_52_tonemapped

This infrared shot is of the spruce-lined Upper Hoh Road, leading to the Hoh Rainforest within Olympic National Park near Forks, Washington.

The Hoh River valley was formed thousands of years ago by glaciers. Between the park boundary and the Pacific Ocean, much of the forest has been logged within the last century, although many pockets of forest remain.

19 miles inland from US 101 you’ll find the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center.

The Hoh Rainforest is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the United States, resulting in a lush, green canopy of both coniferous and deciduous species. Mosses and ferns that blanket the surfaces add another dimension to the enchantment of the rainforest.

Moisture-laden air from the Pacific brings an average of 140 inches of annual rainfall to the Hoh Valley, in addition to condensed mist that contributes another 30 inches annually.

The Hoh Rain Forest is located in the stretch of the Pacific Northwest rainforest which once spanned the Pacific coast from southeastern Alaska to the central coast of California. The Hoh is one of the park’s most popular destinations.

Burney Falls, McArthur-Burney State Park, California

Inside of McArthur-Burney State Park, near Burney, California, is the park’s centerpiece, the 129-foot Burney Falls.

The park’s landscape was created by volcanic activity as well as erosion from weather and streams. This volcanic region is surrounded by mountain peaks and is covered by black volcanic rock, or basalt. Created over a million years ago, the layered, porous basalt retains rainwater and snow melt, which forms a large underground reservoir. Additional water comes from springs, joining to create a mist-filled basin. Burney Creek originates from the park’s underground springs and flows to Lake Britton, getting larger along the way to the majestic falls.

Within the park, the water emerges as springs at and above Burney Falls, where it flows at 100 million gallons every day.

Burney Falls was named after pioneer settler Samuel Burney who lived in the area in the 1850s. The McArthurs were pioneer settlers who arrived in the late 1800s. Descendants were responsible for saving the waterfall and nearby land from development. They bought the property and gave it to the state as a gift in the 1920s.

Joshua Tree National Park

This shot is of sunrise on Park Boulevard in Joshua Tree National Park.

The name Joshua tree was given by a group of Mormon settlers who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. This monocotyledonous tree is native to southwestern North America in the states of California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, where it is confined mostly to the Mojave Desert between 1,300-foot and 5,900-foot elevation. The tree thrives in the open grasslands of Queen Valley and Lost Horse Valley in Joshua Tree National Park. A dense Joshua tree forest also exists in Mojave National Preserve, and west of Death Valley National Park, where U2’s iconic Joshua Tree once lived.

In the late 1800s cattlemen came to the desert. They built dams to create water tanks. They were followed by miners who tunneled the earth in search of gold. They are gone now, but they left behind the Lost Horse and Desert Queen mines and the Keys Ranch. In the 1930s homesteaders came seeking free land and the chance to start new lives.

Declared a National Park in 1994 when Congress passed the California Desert Protection Act, it had previously been a National Monument since 1936.

A large part of the park, some 429,690 acres, is a designated wilderness area. Straddling the San Bernardino County/Riverside County border, the park includes parts of two deserts, each an ecosystem whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation: the higher Mojave Desert and lower Colorado Desert. The Little San Bernardino Mountains run through the southwest edge of the park.

Fallasburg Bridge

Fallasburg Bridge is a 100 foot span Brown truss covered bridge, erected in 1871 near Lowell, Michigan. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is one of only three Michigan covered bridges open to vehicle traffic.

Around 1840 the first of several wooden bridges was placed across the Flat River, but all fell victim to high water and massive spring ice jams. Bridge builder Jared N. Bresee of Ada was given a contract in 1871 to build the present structure. Completed at a cost of $1500, the bridge has lattice work trusses made of white pine timbers. As with all covered bridges, the roof and siding protect the timbers from rot. The original wooden abutments were replaced by lower concrete structures in 1905. Additional repairs in 1905 and 1945 have kept the Fallasburg Bridge safe for traffic for more than 125 years.

Punch Bowl Falls, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon

I close with Punch Bowl Falls, along the Eagle Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area near Hood River, Oregon.

Although the falls is only 35 feet tall and 10 feet wide, it is one of the most photographed falls in the country, appearing on countless calendars, books, and even the back of the Styx II album cover in the 1970’s. As Eagle Creek cuts through a narrow channel and shoots powerfully into a large bowl that resembles a punchbowl, this waterfall was entirely responsible for the waterfall classification type of punchbowl.

The falls can be reached about two miles along the epic Eagle Creek Trail, a 14 mile one way trek to Wathum Lake that was constructed in 1915 with pick-axes and shovels into towering basalt walls and cliffs. Several waterfalls adorn the trail, including the unique Tunnel Falls, where the Eagle Creek Trail passes through a tunnel carved behind the falls.

#challengeonnaturephotography

MORE WITH MIRRORLESS: Using The Sony E Mount System

In my previous blog post, I discussed how I incorporate the tiny Nikon 1 system into my equipment bag. However, this tiny system wasn’t an option to replace my bulky DSLRs on my side gig: shooting stills and videos of waterfalls.

After searching for a lighter option than my full-frame Nikons for the hiking trails, I decided to go with the Sony E-Mount System.

SEA102414-092_3_4_fused

My first gig with the system was on a waterfall trip to the Pacific Northwest last fall. I paired two a6000 bodies with a Sony E 10-18mm f4 and a Sony Zeiss E 16-70mm f4. A body paired with the 10-18mm f4 weighs a fraction over 20 ounces, lightening my pack by a considerable amount. As any serious hiker knows, pack weight is one of the most important issues with any distance hiking.

Combined with a Sony ECM-XYST1M Stereo Microphone and a Sony RM-VPR1 Remote Control, the system proved to be a capable alternative to my regular DSLR system.

Once I returned to South Florida, I started to ponder how I could incorporate this investment into my sports workflow. Pairing the a6000 and the 10-18mm f4 with a monopod, ball head and a Flash Zebra extended-length remote led to the image below.

Miami Hurricanes Fans
2014 Miami Hurricanes Football vs Florida State

Extending the monopod allowed me to get the camera up to and above the fan’s level. While this was a nice image, it was hardly justification to keep this system around for sports. Fortunately, that 11fps burst rate had kept calling me for experimentation, so I had purchased a Sony E 70-200mm f4 and headed for that week’s Dolphins game:

The above three images were made with an a6000 and the 70-200. The a6000 has an articulating screen so the camera was on the ground for these shots. For game action, I usually love to be as low to the ground as I can get, which is not easy for a 6’ 2” man. This combo made it a breeze. The combination is quick and responsive, allowing me to capture the defining moment in these images.

Adrienne Motley
2015 Miami Hurricanes Women’s Basketball vs Notre Dame

Once basketball season arrived, I paired the two a6000 bodies and the two aforementioned short zooms with small tripods and the RM-VPR1 wired remotes and placed one next to each of my knees on the end of the basketball floor. The shot above is from a Sony a6000 placed to my right, and the shot below is from a Sony a6000 placed to my left.

JCR010315-046

Third party manufacturers are making lenses compatible with Sony’s E mount. I’ve recently purchased a Samyang 8mm F2.8 UMC Fisheye II and a Lensbaby 5.8mm f/3.5 Circular Fisheye. Each sell for about $300 and add an alternative view to my toolkit.

Like with my Nikon 1 System blog, I don’t delve into specifications much as I prefer to discuss how these alternative mirrors systems fit into my toolkit and workflow. There are plenty of sites and blogs out there that get into technical specs and comparisons.

After a season of experimentation with the E-mount system, I’m sold. My three-body, five-lens kit fits neatly into a Nanuk 930 case. I regularly use the a6000/70-200 combo to shoot select sports (softball, tennis, and rowing) as the quality rivals my Nikon DSLR and the cost of operation (depreciation) is much less. The a6000 currently sells for 1/10th the price of a Nikon D4s. The third party fisheye lenses cost much less than their name brand equivalent, so I don’t have a ton of money tied up into lenses that I only use on occasion.

While this system isn’t going to replace my Nikons, it serves as a nice compliment to them, allowing me additional looks and angles to my traditional coverage during assignments, and will take a significant number of shutter actuations away from them.

2015 Miami Hurricanes Men's Tennis vs Florida Atlantic
2015 Miami Hurricanes Men’s Tennis vs Florida Atlantic

UPDATE: After a year of experimentation, I sold off my Sony gear and ventured into Fuji territory. In the end, I didn’t like the lenses, with the exception of the 70-200 f4. Shortly after I made the move, Sony offered its first OSS f2.8 lenses, which are competitive with Nikon and Canon pro lenses.

The Iron Arrow Chief Portraits

Iron Arrow Honor Society, founded in 1926 in conjunction with the University’s opening, is the Highest Honor Attained at the University of Miami. Based on Seminole Indian tradition, Iron Arrow recognizes those individuals in the University of Miami community who exemplify the five qualities of Iron Arrow: Love of Alma Mater, Character, Leadership, Scholarship, and Humility.

The members of Iron Arrow assemble twice a year to select those to be tapped for membership into the Tribe.

After today’s tappings, I had the pleasure of photographing eight former chiefs of the Tribe along with the current chief.

Hi, Felicia!

Angela Means-Kaaya

Bye Hi, Felicia!

Last night in Atlanta, this Georgia Tech fan had no idea he was getting the ultimate photobomb until we told him to turn around. When he did he saw Angela Means-Kaaya, the mother of ‘Canes QB Brad Kaaya and the actress who played Felisha (the actual spelling) in the movie “Friday” back in 1995.

In the movie, Means-Kaaya’s character Felicia would come and ask Craig (one of the main characters) for random things like if she can borrow his car, or use his iron. One day she asked him for some money and he says “Bye, Felisha,” and after she refuses to leave he says it again with emphasis. The phrase has become a popular meme on the internet and a part of modern-day pop culture.

MORE WITH MIRRORLESS: Nikon 1

Shot with a Nikon1 J3

It’s amusing when I pull out a Nikon1 J3 and stick it on my 300 f2.8…the sneers, the laughs, the “what the hell is that” remarks….but the things these little camera bodies can do…

The Nikon 1 system is a interchangeable lens mount system developed by Nikon for its Nikon CX format mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras. The Nikon 1 series was first introduced in 2011.

Initial reaction after the debut of the system was widespread disappointment. The new cameras were quickly dismissed as glorified point and shoot cameras with a clunky interface.

However, the quirky cameras’ lightning quick autofocus, high frame per second rate, and silent shutter have emerged as assets.

When released, I initially agreed with most of the reviews, but a clearance sale caused me to take the plunge and purchase a J1 with a kit lens for $199. At the time I thought it would make an excellent time lapse device with its built in intervalometer.

However, when the camera arrived, the camera’s intervalometer wouldn’t shoot when set to shoot frames faster than one every five seconds. Turns out Nikon limited the camera’s ability to do so in the firmware, for reasons unknown. Also, there is no external connectivity with the J series, so there is no possibility of attaching an external intervalometer.

Then my thoughts turned to Nikon’s FT-1 adapter, which allows Nikon’s mainstream F-mount lenses to be attached to the CX sensor based Nikon 1 bodies. After purchasing a FT-1, I found that the ability to continuously focus on a moving subject had been disabled in the firmware.

I finally hit a home run with the tiny J1 after having it converted to infrared. Businesses including Life Pixel and Digital Silver Imaging will convert DSLR cameras to infrared for around $300-$400. After converting a J1, I had a camera, lens AND an infrared conversion for about the same price.

University of Miami Campus in Infrared

After thinking the Nikon 1 was just going to be an infrared gimmick in my toolbox, Nikon released a firmware update to the FT-1 adapter, allowing for continuous focus. The system once again could be considered for use as an extreme focal length device.

Due to the 2.7x crop factor, a Nikon 1 body mounted on a Nikon 300mm 2.8 lens via the FT-1 adapter with 1.4x converter and lens hood attached creates an effective 1134mm f4 setup, albeit an odd looking one.

Nikon 1 J3, 300mm f2.8, and a 1.4x extender for an effective focal length of 1134mm at f4, creating, as I call it, an “extreme focal device.”

After purchasing a Nikon 1 J3 body to replace the converted to infrared J1, I put the above combination to the test last weekend during the Arkansas State @ Miami football game and the Brown @ Florida Atlantic women’s soccer match.

With the extreme focal length, fast responsive auto focus and rapid continuous frame rate of 15 fps the Nikon 1 J3 is rather adept at covering sports action.  At such a extreme focal distance, the biggest challenge was trying to follow a subject during play by using the rear screen as there are no viewfinders on the J series bodies. The slightest movement of the rig can cause you to lose track of the subject rather easily. A V series body with an optical viewfinder may help alleviate that challenge. This little system even came in handy while shooting my Dynamic Waterfalls project this past June. After hiking to Blue Hen Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park early one morning I pulled my full frame Nikon body and 16-35mm f4 from the backpack to find the lens completely fogged over. After waiting 20 minutes the fog hadn’t receded. My J1 however, with much less optic real estate, was clear as can be. Did I mention it shoots video too?

Blue Hen Falls, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio. Nikon 1 J1 + 10mm f2.8.

In the end, the Nikon 1 series is an asset to my camera bag as a sports shooter, giving me extreme reach in daylight sporting events to get tight shots of coaches, action on the other end of the field, tight goalkeeper shots in soccer, and tighter shots of throwers during track meets. Sure, I could switch to Canon and pick up their legendary 1200mm f5.6 behemoth, but this setup is slightly cheaper. As a landscape shooter, I now have an infrared option that is small, inexpensive, and easy to pack alongside my regular setup. As a tourist, I have a small system that is as easy to whip out of my daypack as an iPhone, with better optics. I just may get along with this system after all.

Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Phillip Dorsett celebrates with assistant coach Brennan Carroll after scoring a touchdown. Shot from approximately 80 yards away with a Nikon 1 J3, 300mm f2.8, and a 1.4x extender for an effective focal length of 1134mm at f4.

The Source of the “Surge & Juice” Photo May Surprise You

2014 Miami Hurricanes Football – “Surge & Juice” Helmets

Most ‘Canes fans by now have seen the “Surge & Juice” photo I shot during the “New Uniform Shoot” last July. Most of you don’t know the story behind how I shot it.

During a short break between players, I looked down at my feet to see the new orange (Juice) and green (Surge) helmets juxtaposed just right on the brand new Field Turf practice field surface.

Without giving it much thought, I pulled out my iPhone, opened the “Pro HDR” photo app, stuck the phone horizontally in the turf and shot a few frames. I processed one of the frames with the “Snapseed” app and posted it online, hoping for a few eyeballs.

Yes, I said “iPhone.”

I’ve used that phrase a lot since that July day when asked about the image came about. The image quickly caught fire on the internet, appearing on several national blogs, in countless tweets and threads on Facebook. It even has nearly 3000 views on Caneshooter.com!

The Gators Victory Through Our Eyes

Football capped an exciting September by defeating USF 49-21 to move to 4-0 on the season. The month included the big win over the Gators and we documented the game with our latest time-lapse film, which can be seen in higher resolution on our YouTube channel with our other short films and time-lapse footage.

We also produced a commemorative print of the event from a still image pulled from the time-lapse. You can order a print here.

We collected so much material from the Florida and Savannah State games we split them into separate galleries. We also started to post the “best of” gallery from each game as the massive amount of material we needed to edit kept us from posting the games for a few days. All of the galleries from the 2013 football season can be accessed here.

Ron Fraser 1933-2013

Former Hurricanes baseball coach Ron Fraser passed away today after a long illness.

Much has been written about what an outstanding coach and promoter of college baseball Ron Fraser was. Off the field, Fraser was an even better person. One of the many random acts of kindness by Fraser I witnessed over the years was the one that happened after Fraser coached his last game in a 8-1 loss to Cal State Fullerton in a semi-final game at the 1992 College World Series. Under pressure from CBS to play a championship game the next day, on time, the game was played in a nearly constant downpour. An emotional Fraser (below) used the press conference to rail against the NCAA for playing the game in such poor conditions.

The following is what I wrote for UM’s Ibis Yearbook back then:

OMAHA, Neb. – The day from hell.

Upon arriving at NCAA media headquarters to pick up my press credential for the College World Series, the secretary handed me a seat cushion and a poncho.

Noticing the bright and sunny weather conditions outside, she deadpanned about our planned use of the rain gear at the game later that evening.

Little did we know she was a meteorologist. In the third inning that night, the skies opened up and our ponchos came out.

One good moment, though, came following the No. 1 Hurricanes’ dismal 8-1 loss to Cal State Fullerton in the semi-finals of the CWS.

As retiring coach Ron Fraser, after the final game of his 30-year career, left the stadium, he was met by a young boy waiting for an autograph in the pouring rain. Instead of his signature, “The Wizard of College Baseball” removed his hat and gave it to the young fan.

Over the years I came to know “The Wizard,” he did absolutely nothing to change my mind. This great university has lost a legend.