Rugby: Jacksonville Axemen vs Rhode Island

Rugby is a fun sport to shoot. The Jacksonville Axemen took on the Rhode Island Rebellion for a spot in the finals competition.  I set out to shoot tight shots of the action to see the dirt, grimaces, and pain on the faces of the players.

GQ20130810-0046I shot the game with a Canon Mark 5D Mark 3 body and a Canon 400mm, f2.8 IS lens.  The sun was setting on the home side so I positioned myself facing the sinking sun.  This gave a nice rim light on the players for separation.

GQ20130810-0019The trick here is to expose for the player and let the background exposure fall where it may.  That’s why you will see most of the backgrounds a lighter exposure than the exposure on the player.

GQ20130810-0111 GQ20130810-0050A tackle “football” game with no pads or helmets is brutal and you can see it in the faces of the players.

GQ20130810-0057GQ20130810-0117 GQ20130810-0068Jacksonville completely out maned Rhode Island with superior size and speed.  The Axemen were able to break a few long runs in the process.

GQ20130810-0090 GQ20130810-0130 GQ20130810-0145Notice how large the ball is. Kicking can be erratic as best.

GQ20130810-0134 GQ20130810-0119 GQ20130810-0032 GQ20130810-0102I’m far from understanding all the nuances of this game but it is fun for a sports photographer to shoot.  I think I accomplished my goal of shooting tight shots of the up close action.  Hope you enjoy.  Gray

Jacksonville Storm Clouds

Like most other cities around the southeast Jacksonville has been in a tropical rain pattern with rain and storms almost daily.  Today I was checking the local radar and saw that a storm was approaching from the west and getting close to the St. John’s river moving northeast.  There is a boat landing about a mile from my home on the east side of the river that gives some nice views to the west over the water and with the Jacksonville skyline barely visible to the north.

GQ20130720-0018 I arrived just in time to catch the storm front moving to the northeast.  This photo is looking southeast as the storm approaches.

GQ20130720-0014Here a few images looking back north toward the city.  The front looked like it stretched out parallel to the river.

GQ20130720-0045 GQ20130720-0026The front came through at mid afternoon which is not a great time for photography but at least the clouds showed a little character.  When these storms approach the river at sunset there are some dynamic colors.  Today, just a cold blue and gray.  Hope you enjoy.  Gray

Historic Springfield Main Street Car Cruise

I haven’t been a car enthusiast since my high school days.  I happened on this event last summer when my good friend and photographer Woody Huband told me about a car cruise on Main Street in the historic Springfield community.  The Cruise is held the 4th Saturday of each month and depending on weather there’s no telling the variety of vintage cars you might see.

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Last summer when I photographed the Cruise I didn’t know what to expect but gained some knowledge so I could hopefully capture some different images this year. The Main Street strip is probably a 1/2 mile four lane street with a median.  Cars cruise up one side and down the other.  The cars also park in the empty lots so the spectators can view them up close.  This year when I went on a Saturday, June 22, it was the first year anniversary of the cruise.  Spectators tailgate along the strip, there is usually a live band playing, and the restaurants are open.

GQ20130622-0099All of the cars are not vintage as seen above.  But, you will see everything from Model T’s to Jeeps, Vans, hot rods, etc.  Some cars even display elaborate sound systems.


GQ20130622-0183 GQ20130622-0096 GQ20130622-0094This year I wanted to do something different with the night time photos. Woody and I figured that if we could set up multiple flashes we might be able to make the cars stand out a little better in the dark.

GQ20130622-0161 GQ20130622-0155 GQ20130622-0173After the sun set ( not much of a sun since it rained all day) I set up a flash on the ground across the street so it would backlight the cars.  To help fill in the front of the car I set up another flash on the curb slightly in front.  I used a Pocket Wizard TT1 transmitter with a AC3 Controller to trigger both flashes that had Pocket Wizard TT5 receivers.  I set both flashes on manual at about 1/2 power which helped save battery power.  I was able to control the output of each flash from the AC3 Controller on my camera.  My camera was a Canon 5D Mark 3 which was a perfect fit as it got completely dark and I had to ramp up the ISO to 3200.  At 3200 iso there was very little noise.

GQ20130622-0180 GQ20130622-0127 GQ20130622-0122If you’re in the area on the 4th Saturday of the month you might want to travel over to the Springfield district on Main Street around 6pm.  Bring a lounge chair, cooler and walking shoes because you will want to walk around and get a close up look.  The owners are very gracious in letting you look at their pride and joys up close.

GQ20130622-0200I never was a car enthusiast, but a night out at the Springfield Cruise will leave you drooling for more.

Hope you enjoyed the photos.


5D Mark III and Rugby

Rugby is a brutal sport.  I decided to go out and shoot our local Rugby League, the Jacksonville Axemen.  This was a self project as I wanted to experiment a little with my Canon 5D Mark 3 camera.  The 5D3 was linked up to a Canon 400mm L, IS, 2.8 lens.  The combination proved to be very effective.  I think what I was really looking for was to see if I wanted to add the Canon 1DX to my equipment for my sports work.  The 1DX is a 5D3 on steroids but with a cost of near $7k and that is money on steroids.  This is not my first outing with this combination as I shot the Jaguars and FSU last year with it.  The Rugby photos have some huge crops, more than I might normally do, but I needed to see how the files would hold up.  Here are some images from the match:

GQ20130615-0052I haven’t shot Rugby since the mid 80’s but I figured if I can shoot American football and soccer this shouldn’t be too difficult.  This comes under the category of ice hockey for me, I just don’t understand all the rules.

GQ20130615-0221What I did figure out was that when a player is tackled the defensive player tries to hold the runner down on the ground as long as he can and by any means he can until his defensive players get back in position.  A finger to the eyes/face seems routine as seen in above photo.

GQ20130615-0338These guys aren’t small either.  That’s a big dude in the above photo and there are three defensive players trying to take him down.

GQ20130615-0539 GQ20130615-0108I had a lot of photos with the runners and closed eyes.  I guess that is to protect the eyes since there are no helmets or facemasks.

GQ20130615-0427Most every play is a running play except when they punt.  They get 6 downs but a punt before the 6th down is like a pass.  If the punt goes forward and out-of-bounds the offensive team get to move up to where it went out, but if it gets intercepted before the punt goes out-of-bounds then that is a turnover.  I could be wrong but that is the way I figured it.  Every running play starts usually with a lateral or series of laterals to running backs.  No whistles stop the play when a player goes down so the action is constant.

Like I mentioned earlier these photos have some pretty heavy crops and from what I can tell the file holds up pretty well.  I just need to get a 1DX in my hands for comparison.

I plan to study the rules a little more before the next outing so I do a better job of anticipating the action. Hope you enjoy the photos of a sport I really know nothing about.

You can view the full gallery at

Gray Quetti

Jacksonville Engagement Session – Christina and Ron

I had the pleasure of photographing the engagement session for Christina and Ron last Saturday in the Riverside District of Jacksonville.  It was a cool morning but we got an early start so we could get a few photos of the couple drinking coffee and watching the sunrise over the St. John’s River.  Mission accomplished.


After the sunrise and coffee we worked our way up the boardwalk stopping in several locations for photos. We had gorgeous light which made for some nice photos.  The couple loved the pictures and are eager for their friends and family to see them.  A special thanks goes to my assistant Veronika who battled the wind all day while holding a reflector.  Great job Veronika.

I hope you enjoy viewing the photos as much as I did taking them.  Good luck to Christina and Ron for many years of happiness.






Beach Portraits: Johnson Family

Johnson Beach-Blogstomp_0002.jpg

I had a fun time at Jacksonville Beach shooting beach portraits for the Johnson Family who flew in from California, Texas and Pennsylvania to visit their parents.  We were able to get everybody together for a family photo at Jacksonville Beach on a cool, windy day.

For a group of 12 the shoot went very smoothly and orderly.  The families really enjoyed the prints and I’m sure they will offer some great memories.  Thanks Johnson family!!

Please contact me for family for corporate photography.

Fog Bow-Guana Lake

Back in January my friend, Woody Huband and myself ventured out in his motorized canoe to shoot some scenery in the Guana River and Guana Lake area between Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine. We witnessed a site that I have never seen in my life and probably never will again.  A Fog Bow.   We didn’t get to launch at Woody’s regular landing because it was the first day of duck hunting season in the area so the area was restricted to casual boaters.  We traveled further south to the Guana Dam and launched into Guana Lake and headed back north toward the duck hunters.  Image

The above sign meant that we weren’t supposed to go past this point because of the duck hunters but it was a little foggy and the sign is on the east side of the lake and we were traveling up the west side; therefore, we never saw it until the return trip.  I guess we should have known by all the shotgun shells in the water and shotguns going off all over the place. Oh, well!

GQ20120112-0112-2 The weather was gorgeous with blue skies and light fog.  The scenery along the bank was awesome. As we motored north we ran into light patches of fog that were centralized and gathering in one area. We continued in and out of the fog while snapping some photos of the beautiful scenery along the banks.  Very quickly the fog started to get thicker and very white.  With the sun behind us the fog had a mystic glow about it.  It was a very soft white color and it actually looked like it was trying to form.

You can see the fog in the below photo trying to form off of the point.  The fog was drifting toward the western shore line (below) but as it got to the shore it would back off and drift back out in to open water.  Woody and I were just taking all this in because it was giving us some nice photos.  As the fog concentrated more in the open water it started forming into a rainbow like appearance.  Here’s a photo where it was just starting to form.


As we motored closer to the formation we noticed that the fog was actually forming into a rainbow like shape.  We backed off to view it and the following photo is when the Fog Bow just suddenly formed out of nowhere.


We were a little stunned as neither of us had ever seen anything like it.  A perfect arch just like the big colorful rainbows.  In the above photo it is still forming a little.  The below photo shows it as it is fully formed and concentrated.


It was a beautiful site and I took loads of photos to document it.  When I got home I immediately did a Google search for the term “fog shaped like a rainbow” and got plenty of hits and that is exactly the name; Fog Bow or White Rainbow. Wikipedia had a nice explanation:

“A fog bow is a similar phenomenon to a rainbow, however, as its name suggests, it appears as a bow in fog rather than rain. Because of the very small size of water droplets that cause fog—smaller than 0.05 millimeters (0.0020 in)—the fog bow has only very weak colors, with a red outer edge and bluish inner edge.[1]

In many cases when the droplets are very small, fog bows appear white, and are therefore sometimes called white rainbows. This lack of color is a feature of a fog bow which distinguishes it from a glory, which has multiple pale colored rings caused by diffraction. When the droplets forming it are almost all of the same size the fog bow can have multiple inner rings, or supernumeraries, that are more strongly colored than the main bow. According to NASA:”

The fogbow’s lack of colors is caused by the smaller water drops … so small that the wavelength of light becomes important. Diffraction smears out colors that would be created by larger rainbow water drops …[2]

The Fog Bow was beautiful and to add a little human element I included Woody in a few.  I think Woody is going to hang this on his wall at home.  As we turned back the Fog Bow was still formed so I took a few photos of Woody framed by the phenomenon.


Woody Huband, my photo guide for the day


Woody Huband

As we traveled back to the landing I caught a pretty view of the calm waters and rising sun.


This three-hour trip was nothing like Gilligan’s three-hour trip but sometimes you have to be in the right place at the right time.  That we were.  If we had launched farther north where the duck hunters were we would not have seen it since we would have looked back into the sun.  A lot more of the scenery and Fog Bow are on my website:  HERE

I hope you enjoyed the photo and science lesson today.  I welcome your comments.  Thanks,     Gray


Baseball Portraits: Spruce Creek Baseball-MaxPreps Preseason #1

UPDATE:  February 26, 2013 – Unfortunately, Spruce Creek dropped a game in the first week of the season and has moved out of the top 25.  I’m sure they will rebound with the long season and strong pitching staff.


I’ve shot high school sports (mostly football) for MaxPreps, a CBS Company, for the last 6-7 years.  MaxPreps is the “go to” internet authority on high school sports across the nation.  They supply statistics, rosters, schedules, professional photographs and video for all high schools. Parents and athletes can purchase professional photographs from games.

MaxPreps releases a top 10 national preseason ranking for each sport.  This year they knew Spruce Creek High School from Port Orange, Florida would be in the top ten and they assigned me to do a portrait shoot of the team.  MaxPreps did not tell me or the team where they would be ranked when we did the shoot but we had a good idea they would be ranked highly based on the returning players from last year.  The countdown began with MP naming a new team each day starting with #10 and counting to #1.  Spruce Creek ended up preseason ranked #1 in the nation.  It was a privilege to shoot portraits of the #1 team.


L-R, Zach Spivey, Jordan Brown, Coach Goodrich, Kyle Marsh, Austin Hays
Backrow-George Hutchinson, Chris Hopkins

Coach Goodrich was very accommodating by having his team out on the field on a Saturday afternoon. The session lasted about 1 1/2 hours and his daughter provided assistance with the lights and equipment.


Head Coach Johnny Goodrich

Lighting & Equipment: Here are the lighting details for those interested.  We started in 4pm sun which was setting down the left field side.  The sun provided a nice side light but created a need for some extra flash power to fill in the shadows and help separate the players from the background.  I used a Canon 580 EXII in a Lasolite EZ Box on the right side to fill the shadows.  I wanted to provide a kicker light opposite the bright sun to give a little rim to make the player separate from the background so I used a bare Canon 580EX on a stand and that seemed to work ok except the shadows caused by the baseball caps weren’t getting filled in enough for my liking.  That’s where the assistant jumped in and held a silver reflector to bounce some more light up and under the caps.  I used the same set up throughout regardless of their postion on the field.  At times I used a third bare speed light to help compliment the softbox.  You could say I had a 5 light set up with 3 speed lights, the sun and a reflector.  It sounds like overkill but it worked.

I shot the session with a Canon 5D Mark 3 and 24-70mm, 2.8 lens.  I used Pocket Wizard TT5’s on each light with a TT1 and AC3 Zone Controller on the camera.  I shot mostly in manual mode with the lights and adjusting them from camera with the Zone Controller.  The Pocket Wizard Flex System is really great to work with.

A huge thanks again to Coach Goodrich and the #1 ranked Spruce Creek Baseball Team for their hospitality.