Monday, October 17, 2011

Sports Shooting: From Soccer to Bull Running

The past two weekends I did some sports shooting in the Phoenix area.  On 8 October, I had the pleasure of shooting the Paradise Valley Community College women’s and men’s matches with South Mountain Community College.  I have a vested interested because I’m a professor at PVCC and know many of the players.  Then on 16 October, I went north a few miles to Cave Creek and photographed their version of the Running of the Bulls.

What equipment did I take and why?  Some of it was a guess.  I sure didn’t want to haul around a lot of useless equipment. 

For the soccer games, I decided on the 70-200mm Tamron lens with my Canon 7D put on a Manfrotto monopod.  Could I hand shoot with that lens?  Yes, it is possible, but it is a heavier lens that comes with a tripod/monopod collar.  I’m glad I took the monopod.  Not only does it give me a steadier platform, it also saved my arms from lifting that weight.  I also took the Hoodman loupe.  It’s a simple gizmo that costs about $80 but it is essential to view your photos in harsh Arizona sunlight. 

I’m glad I took that Tamron lens because the vast size of a soccer field.  You can’t physically cover the whole of a soccer field, so I appreciated the reach on the Tamron 70-200mm.  I might have also taken my wide angle lens to get a few “establishing shots” of the field and the players.  I could have also used my medium range lens, the Canon 28-135mm, for some action closer to me.  But I do hate to change lenses outside given the sometimes dusty conditions in Arizona.

On 16 October, I went to Cave Creek, just a few miles north of the PVCC campus.  It was the last day of the Running of the Bulls event.  For this shoot, I took my all purpose Tamron 18-270mm lens.  I smartly predicted an area with bulls, horses, and running people would be very very dusty and it was.  It would have been a cleaning nightmare to take a few lenses with me on that sunny, warm day as the air was filled with dust.  Because I needed to move fast, I did not take a monopod.  I also took the Hoodman loupe to review photos, and that was a smart move on that very sunny day.  What would I have done differently?  Security wouldn’t let me, but I would have liked to have stood in front of the runners and bulls as they charge toward me.  I wished I could get up higher, but again security had a few places for photographers and up high and on the running track were not options.

***  Join me this July 2012 for the photo journey of a lifetime to ICELAND ! ***

Friday, July 15, 2011

My June 2011 British Isles Adventure

The United Kingdom, or is it Great Britain?  No, my target June 2011 was a trip around the British Isles.  For you purists, that means England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Ireland.  And I’ll throw in Normandy, France and one of the Channel Islands of Guernsey.
Ports of Call June 2011

I came home after this two week trip rich with over a 1,000 photos.  Of course, the hard part was the editing and the deleting.  My Flickr account has nearly 250 photos of my adventure you can enjoy at the end of this blog.

I shot with a Canon 7D and my international travel lens, the Tamron 18-270mm.  It’s not the best or sharpest lens in my collection, but it sure makes traveling easier.  This multipurpose lens is quick to use and easier to get through airport security gates too.  In my post production, I used Adobe Lightroom for nearly 95 percent of my work.  Adobe Photoshop I use for the really hard photos. 
Omaha Beach, Normandy France

I was on a Princess ship.  It’s huge, which caused massive lines coming back to the ship after tours.  The good thing about cruising is you get to go to places you might not go to and you get a lot in a short period of time.  In two weeks, I visited ten places from Omaha Beach in Normandy up to the Orkney Islands in Scotland over to Ireland down to the Channel Islands and then into London. 

American Heroes of D-Day
The first tour was to Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.  That was pretty emotional.  It’s probably why I took a bit longer to edit the photos.  It is impossible to relay emotions that ran through me as I walked to the American Cemetery, “American soil” as our French tour guide reminded us.  As I stepped toward the huge monument to the American dead, they played the National Anthem.   I joined a group of young American musicians as we all stood ramrod straight, hand on chest, facing the American flag.  A memory not to be forgotten.  Rows and rows of crosses and Stars of David.  Rows.  And rows.  Forever young.  Forever heroes. 

From there, off we went to Edinburgh, Scotland.  Castles.  Lots of castles.  Stories about the evil English.  Ha ha.  Scots, Irish, Welsh... they all have a case against the English.   And rain... drizzle.  But I’m a desert rat from Arizona, so it’s all good.  I found a great sporting goods store in Edinburgh named Patterson’s.  I asked for my family 10% discount and they said no dice... so I asked for a PVCC discount for employees.  If you ever get to Edinburgh, you get a 10% discount!

Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, Scotland
Historian at Urquart Castle Near Loch Ness
Then it was up to Invergordon, Scotland in search of more castles and yesss!  Loch Ness!  Nessie was quiet that day.  Although there might have been a few suspicious bubbles on the lake.  It’s interesting to note how the locals have played the so called Loch Ness Monster into a real tourist draw. 
Near Glasgow, Scotland
Off we went on up to the top of Scotland to Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands.  Now this little out of the way place is actually steeped in history.  This is the home of Scapa Flow, where the German Navy scuttled its ships after World War I.  There is also the remains of a World War II Italian prisoner of war camp and the little church they built. 

Schoolboys in Belfast

Church in Kirkwall, Orkney Islands
From there it was down the west coast of Scotland to see Glasgow.  More castles!  I didn’t need any formal exercise on this trip.  I walked and climbed and took photos.  And, these adventures are always about the people.  I got back to the ship and noticed three Glasgow cops... so I watched as they were laughing and taking photos of each other.  So I walked over and said “OK, boys.. what the heck is going on here?”  One of the cops said in a very thick accent, “Oh we’re havin’ a bit of a nosey.”  Now that just made me laugh.  So it was nice chatting with those guys, talking about beer and sports. 

Corn Market, Belfast
The next stop from Glasgow was Belfast, Northern Ireland.  I’d been to Northern Ireland two years ago doing my own “nosey” as Belfast County Antrim is where my family from my father’s side came from.  On the tour of Belfast, I asked the guide where they might have hung horse thieves as my great uncle was hung as a horse thief in the late 1800’s.  Corn Market street was the place, so I tipped my cap and the tour group applauded as I found out something more about my nefarious relatives. 

Off to Dublin, in pelting rain and cold.  I saw a little park where a life-size statue of the author Oscar Wilde appears.  Then of course a visit to a local downtown pub, where I had to complain that they served their Guinness with holes in the glasses!  The bar maid made my order right again with a few new pints as she said to me, “Ah you must be Irish, you’re full of ##$%!”  How did she know?  And all was right in my visit to Dublin. 

One of the big surprises to me was how lovely Wales is.   The ship entered the Welsh harbor of Holyhead in northern Wales.  More castles of course, countryside, and the longest town name I’ve ever seen:  Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.  Now, I had a bus driver at the stop ask me how I liked the town as he ripped off the name of it.  The town name is bigger than the town. 

Girl in Guernsey
The Channel Islands... Guernsey and St. Peter Port.  This was one part of Britain occupied by Germans in World War II.  What a lovely little island!  Exploring the island on foot, I found a nice pub called the Red Onion and had fun with the owner and his friends on a lazy Sunday.  You’ll see photos toward the end of my collection with the folks from that place.  By the way, step into the street from the pub with a beer and get a 2,000 pound fine.  Kinda steep. 
Jim and Michelle in London (Hendon) Pub

Then it was on to Southampton, then a bus ride to the hotel in London.  London was college business for me as I made it to Hendon to meet Michelle Lawrence (Bickford) of Middlesex University, where we are about ready to have an articulation (transfer) agreement between PVCC/Maricopa and Middlesex in business.  Michelle is also a fellow University of Arizona graduate ('98 BA in Psychology), so while having lunch and a few beers at a pub next door called the Claddagh Ring, I gave Michelle a present from the UA alumni association.  We also talked about PVCC faculty doing a summer school there for our students in 2013 (2012 is an Olympic year) and of me going back there next year to teach a photography class with my Fulbright Senior Specialist award.  So it looks like I’ll return to the London area next year!

What’s up next?  I’m back to the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops the end of July for a class on small flash.  Then the top of September will find me in Las Vegas for Photoshop World taking more classes and having some photo adventures.  October 1 should be the date for the next NAPP international photowalk.  Follow my NAPP Facebook page at for details as they become available. 

Remember, when in doubt, just shut up and shoot!

Jim Patterson

Enjoy my British Isles adventure slideshow by clicking HERE!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

At the David Allan Coe Concert in Cave Creek, Arizona, 7 May 2011

Saturday 7 May 2011 saw my crew and me visit Harold’s Corral in Cave Creek, Arizona to attend a David Allan Coe concert.  Sure I came to enjoy the music and take photographs, but I also came to be with good friends, feed my face (oh my the filet mignon and lobsters were GREAT!), and listen to some great country music. 

Bottom line:  Harold’s is a fun place with great food and a wonderful place to do concerts.  We’ll be back.

For photographers, I brought my Canon 7D and the Canon 28-135mm lens.  The lighting was concert lighting.  Some was interesting; some was quite a challenge.  Glad I shot in raw because as soon as I imported the photos into Adobe Lightroom, I converted the white balance to tungsten.  I was shooting pretty high ISO of 1600, but the Canon 7D can certainly handle it.  In years past, an ISO that high would be very very grainy.  What would I do differently if I shoot again in that venue?  Bring an off camera flash!  I have both the Canon 580ex and 430ex to allow for lower ISO and sharper images. 

We were delighted with David Allan Coe’s warmup band called Young Country.  Ted and the guys were as nice as can be.  They like beer, so they can’t be all bad!  They were actually quite good.  Visit their website at  I also found their Facebook page at If they come to a venue near you, go.  You won’t be disappointed. 

The headliner, of course, was David Allan Coe.  According to Wikipedia, 72-year-old David Allan Coe is an American outlaw country music singer who achieved popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. He has written and performed over 280 original songs throughout his career. As a singer, his biggest hits were "Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile," "The Ride," " You Never Even Called Me by My Name," "She Used to Love Me a Lot," and "Long Haired Redneck." His best-known compositions are the #1 successes "Would You Lay With Me (in a Field of Stone)," which was covered by Tanya Tucker; and “Take This Job and Shove It," which was later covered by Johnny Paycheck that was later a hit movie (both Coe and Paycheck had minor parts in the film).

Happy Shooting,

Jim Patterson

Photos of the concert from my photos on Flickr:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tucson and Tumacacori Historical Visit April 2011

I accompanied my colleague Dr. David Rubi’s Paradise Valley Community College Spanish 245 class again for his Southern Arizona field trip of historical places... and some great Mexican food.  Why me?  I spent many many years in Tucson, first as a student at the University of Arizona, and as a resident of Tucson, working at the UA as first a reporter then instructor in the then Radio and TV Department, still later as an education specialist with the U.S. Army at nearby Fort Huachuca.  So my Southern Arizona roots are deep.

For many of our student at PVCC, located on the north side of Phoenix, Tucson seems far away, even though it is only two hours south by car.  This is a chance to show them some of the architecture, history, and culture of Tucson, a much older city than Phoenix. 

All along the way, students were exposed to the old downtown/barrio architecture.  We visited the La Casa Cordova and art museum area, the Presidio museum, La Pilita and the interesting shrine to a murdered sinner El Tiradito.

We then travelled south of Tucson to the Mission at Tumacacori then on the way back to Tucson we visited the world famous “White Dove of the Desert,” the Mission San Xavier del Bac.

Saturday morning we went to the Ted DeGrazia Gallery of the Sun art studio, located on the north side of Tucson off of Swan Road.  We then finished our trip with a visit to the Pascua Yaqui Ceremonial Grounds.

The photos you see here were shot this time with my trusty little Canon SD950.  You know my main camera of choice is the Canon 7D, but this was a trip I decided to travel light and take the little guy along.  The photos aren’t too bad for a 12mexapixal “point and shoot” that only takes jpg’s.  I edited with Lightroom. 

Happy Shooting!

Jim Patterson

More photos from my Flickr page!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Finals of the Cave Creek Rodeo on 10 April 2011

Located minutes north of Phoenix, Cave Creek hosts a professional rodeo in April as part of its “Fiesta Days” celebration.  I had the pleasure of photographing this years finals on Sunday 10 April 2011.  I used both my new Tamron 200-500mm lens (maybe TOO MUCH reach for this rodeo since I was so close to the action) and the Canon 28-135mm lens, which worked very well!

The rodeo website says it was started to honor its long time “Rodeo Boss” Wayne Wilson.  Wayne believed every child in our community deserved an opportunity to become successful and have a better life than his parents.  To further his wishes, the Desert Foothills Community Association began the Wayne Wilson Children’s Charity Rodeo & Carnival with a goal of support our community and its youth’s needs.  Other charities supported include the Desert Hills Food bank, Ride Rank for a Cure (Cancer), Cowboys for Kids, Starlight Foundation, Queen Creek Junior Rodeo, Arizona Wrangler Junior High School Rodeo and several local area elementary schools and after school programs.

I’m a long time veteran of the Tucson Rodeo held every year in February.  That’s a pretty big time rodeo.  The Cave Creek Rodeo is smaller, but still professional rodeo.  AND, for a photographer, you can get pretty darn close to the action and only pay ten bucks at the door!  I must say, for a community organization, this was a professionally RUN rodeo too. 

I plan on taking a class there next year to photograph the action.  If you want to know more about the rodeo, go to 

Happy Shooting!
Jim Patterson

Photographs of the Cave Creek Rodeo:

Shooting the Relay for Life at Paradise Valley Community College

The American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life” event on 8 April 2011 provided a nice charitable event to cover for a Paradise Valley Community College continuing education class I taught on evening event photography.  Eight shooters joined me on that Friday night, capturing the dusk and night scenes around the PVCC track, where the Relay for Life has been held over the last few years.  The photos will be donated to the North Valley Relay for Life.  Photographers shooting for a good cause!

As it got darker, we needed to rely more on a tripod.  I used a Canon 7D with a Canon 28-135mm lens for most of these shots.  A few of my shots I used the Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens.  Some of the shots of the candles were actually hand held.  I had a great student question: "How do you stop people blur in the evening?"  Answer:  Make them stop.  Sometimes the blur can be called "art" remember!   

According to the Cancer Society, the international relay began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Washington, ran and walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Since then, the relay has grown from a single man’s passion to fight cancer into the world’s largest movement to end the disease. Each year, more than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities in the United States, along with additional communities in 20 other countries, gather to take part in this global phenomenon and raise much-needed funds and awareness to save lives from cancer.

The local PVCC Relay had 43 teams, 479 participants, and raised (so far) over $41 thousand dollars for cancer research. 

If you or a team wants to get involved in next years Relay for Life, click here

Happy Shooting!
Jim Patterson

Flickr Slideshow from the Relay for Life:

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sights from the National Auto Sports Association Arizona Region

I visited the infield at Firebird Raceway south of Phoenix on 6 March 2011 and was able to capture some of the cars and people of NASAAZ that day.  NASA is a club level motorsport association.  The cars are driven by people you know; just regular folks.  Having been to NASCAR races at Phoenix International Raceway, one nice thing for me was it wasn’t so LOUD!  I had my earplugs with me but didn’t need them.  WHEW!

And if you want to get involved, you can train as a driver, for instance.  You can get more information at
Here are the photos at my Flickr site 
Check out the music video below!


Jim Patterson

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fiesta de los Vaqueros - Tucson Rodeo 19 February 2011

Wind and dust and a bit of rain were the backdrop of the first day of Tucson’s La Fiesta de los Vaqueros 86th Annual Rodeo.  Having spent so many years in Tucson and having attended the rodeo in the past, it was really a coming home for me in so many ways.  I’ve been through rain and snow and hot hot sun and temperatures at previous rodeos.  I wish I could have worn my cowboy hat, but I knew it would blow off, darn it.

Western Photographer David Stoecklein spoke and shared his background and that was great hearing from him.  Here is his site with his beautiful photos:

The wind and rain presented some real challenges in photographing the event.  I was at the north end of the arena, which is located south of I-10 down 6th Avenue.  Always AFTER an event I think of things I should have done differently.  I wish I had brought my monopod, although that wasn’t crucial.  I wish WISH I had brought my Tamron 100- 300mm lens instead of the all purpose Tamron 18-270mm.  The latter lens was fine, as you can see from the photos, but I wanted a bit more reach.  I didn’t get any keepers from the bull riding because they put up temporary fencing and I couldn’t shoot over the fence.  I wish I had gone up higher in the stands for that, but then I would have needed a lens with more reach.  I also sadly did not get any mutton busters, the young 4 and 5 year old kids who ride the very docile sheep.  Sometimes it just doesn’t happen for you on a shoot. 

What did go right?  Well, I think I got some great bronco riding and steer wrestling shots.  There are a few great photos I got of a Native American cowboy steer wrestler... I didn’t get his name, but what a face! 

I hope you enjoy!

Jim Patterson