Sunday, February 26, 2012

Carefree Arizona's Native American Fine Art, Craft & Entertainment Festival

This was a lovely day in Carefree, Arizona... Sunday 19 February 2012.  The draw for me was the Native American hoop dancing!  And what dancers we saw today.  I was lucky enough to have a front row seat, but there were challenges.

The people were GREAT.  The two shows I saw were fascinating.  You can learn more about the dancers here.

I used my Canon 7D and one lens:  the Canon 28-135mm, which gave me sufficient reach and speed for action that pretty much stayed in front of me.

As I teach and have been taught, ALWAYS look at the total photo composition.  Look not only at your subject, but your background!  On a few of the images, I had a #$%$ lousy yellow yield sign visible.  Now, many ask me how often I used Photoshop.  Not often, but when I do it is to "fix" little problems like that.  What I did on one of the shots was to add a bit of blur to the background in Photoshop, then return back to Lightroom, which I use about 95 percent of the time.

Lightroom or Photoshop?  No.  Lightroom is a MUST have used WITH Photoshop!  In fact, many pros tell me they use Lightroom and Photoshop Elements.

You can view more of my images at my Flickr site.

Happy Shooting,

Jim Patterson

La Fiesta de los Vaqueros! Tucson Rodeo Action from 18 February 2012

Opening day for the "Festival of the Cowboy" in Tucson was Saturday 18 February 2012.  I sat in the Canon section at east far end of the huge rodeo arena.  This is big time professional rodeo, and the Tucson rodeo is one of the best and oldest around.  Having spent so many years living in Tucson, this is coming home to me in a lot of ways.

The action is not that fast.  Well, compared with NASCAR!  Today I came with two lenses I would use with my Canon 7D:  the Tamron 70-200mm, which ended up being my workhorse lens; and the Tamron 200-500mm for a bit more reach when the action started out on the far side of the arena.

I used aperture priority, low f/stop (wide open aperture) for the most part, and shutter speed of 1/500th and above to freeze the action.  I also used "back button" focusing on my Canon 7D.

My biggest enemy today?  DUST of course!  Now, compared to last years' rodeo, the dust problem was far less of a problem, but it still WAS a problem.  Last year, a strong wind (with sand) blew directly in my face the whole time, making changing lenses impossible.  This year, I just changed lenses by bending down away from the arena field.  No dust spots!

You can see all of my shots of the 2012 Tucson Rodeo at my Flickr page at

Happy Shooting,

Jim Patterson

Paparazzi at the Ballpark!

I had many of my Photoshop students join me Thursday 23 February 2012 for what I called "Paparazzi at the Ballpark."  In this case, it was to photograph our own Paradise Valley Community College Pumas as they hosted the Thompson River College team from Kamloops, British Columbia.

I gave my students the option to learn about Photoshop editing their own photos.  I find that works a lot better than merely editing the photos of another from the textbook examples.  

Although the day was not as wildly popular as I had hoped, we did have a chance at taking photos in the field with all of its challenges.  Special thanks to PVCC Coach Solis and Athletic Director Silcox for giving us on-the-field access before the game.  During the game, we were confronted with a huge problem of shooting through the chain link fence!  That little challenge rendered many of my photos useless, but I had some work arounds.

I shot using a Canon 7D.  On this day, I brought three lenses:  the Canon 28-135mm for on field close ups, the Tamron 70-200mm, and the Tamron 200-500mm.  

Frustrated with trying to shoot through the fence, I saw a berm that could take me over the eight foot high outfield fence, so I walked out to right field and mounted my Canon 7D and Tamron 200-500mm on my Manfrotto monopod.  I was able to get some good shots unobstructed by a #$%$ fence!  The challenge here is camera shake at the longest focal lengths, so I set my shutter speed to around 1/1000 of a second.  

In a perfect world, I'd have loved to be in a cherry picker high above the action!

I set up a group page on Flickr for my students to post photos of this day.  It is located at

Happy Shooting,

Jim Patterson