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

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

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.