04
Jan

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Since every TV channel, website and publication has done their moments/photos of the decade I decided I should probably do the same. While I am sure I am missing numerous worthy photos (due to a few dead hard drives and my laziness to scan negatives) here are 50 of my favorite images from the last decade. Enjoy!

So the below images are in no particular order with some brief thoughts on them.

Below, at the 2008 Winter X Games in Aspen, CO with the help of my assistant Guy Rhodes, we strapped a remote camera on the back of the “sled” of freestyle snowmobile rider Chris Burandt during a morning practice session. I told him to just do superman seat grabs for the photos since I figured that would make for the best shots. Luckily he didn’t listen to me and on his first jump did a backflip, it ended up being the only cool shot from the entire five minute photo session. The photo ran as a two page spread in ESPN the Magazine.

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Nikon D200, 10.5mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

Back in 2003 after transferring to the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis,  I set out to top a photo taken by co-worker Jayme Pastoric of an aircraft inspector leaping to ensure a folding wing was locked in place. I got lucky when two aircraft inspectors from the “Diamondbacks” of VFA-102 leapt at the same time to inspect the wing of an F/A-18 Hornet sitting on the catapult preparing to launch. Typically it is just one inspector who jumps up to inspect the wing but in the below photo an inspector was training another sailor and I was in the right place at the right time. The photo ran as a two page spread in All Hands Magazine, the official magazine of the Navy.

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Nikon D1, 300mm, 200iso, f4, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

For anyone who is a fan of football if you ask them what the greatest catch in Super Bowl history is, they would respond with the catch during Super Bowl XLII in 2008 where New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree (85) made an amazing circus catch holding the ball against his helmet as New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison (37) defended in the fourth quarter at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ. I was shooting from an elevated position in one of the end zones. I remember after the game hearing everyone talking about “the catch” and had no clue what they were talking about. Since I didn’t remember any amazing catch I simply figured I missed the shot. The next morning while watching highlights on Sportscenter I saw the catch and realized that I had indeed shot it. When shooting I am concentrating so much on my job that I usually fail to realize some of the things going on, the below photo was one such example.

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Nikon D3, 600mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/800th, Manual

While I love shooting baseball I gotta admit that it’s one of the most boring sports to cover. To keep myself motivated I am always trying to look for unique angles or lighting to incorporate into my images. At Chase Field in Phoenix there are sometimes interesting light pockets that make their way across the field during late afternoon games. Below, Chicago Cubs center fielder Jacque Jones bats in the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Nikon D200, 80-200mm, 320iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

I have shot countless cars flipping over in the 20 years I have been shooting racing but I can honestly say I have only shot one car taking the checkered flag while sliding upside down across the finish line at the end of a race. That honor goes to Clint Bowyer who accomplished the feat on the last lap of the 2007 Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach, FL. The sequence ran as a two page spread in Car Craft magazine.

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Nikon D200, 80-200mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

Back when I was in the Navy stationed in Bremerton, Washington (Seattle area) I would typically spend my off weekends around the state shooting random sporting events for fun. Back in the summer of 2005 I stumbled across the Kitsap County Rodeo. After BS’ing my way into the media area I got down low in the dirt and looked for some good action shots. My favorite ended up being the below photo of a rider and his horse going to the ground during the competition.

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Nikon D2x, 80-200mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

A photography rule I typically live by is to have clean backgrounds. With all the sports I shoot many times my backgrounds are crowded grandstands. There are usually only two ways to have grandstands make good backgrounds, completely full or completely empty. Anything in between just looks like crap and makes for bad photos. But another rule of photography is there are no rules in photography. The below photo is a good example of that. During freestyle motorcycle practice for the Summer X Games in Los Angeles I noticed three spectators sitting in the empty stands, I focused on them and shot as moto-x rider Mike Mason flew through my frame doing a backflip high above them.

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Nikon D2x, 80-200mm, 200iso, f8, 1/800th, Manual

Strapped in a harness doing an aerial photo mission onboard a US Navy Seahawk helicopter in the middle of the Pacific Ocean we fell in line behind another helicopter as we made our way back to the aircraft carrier to land. As we began to make a banked turn towards the ship I noticed the other helicopter in view and quickly threw the camera up and shot the below frame. For the record the photo is uncropped. Had I not kept the entire ship in the frame it probably would have been much less cool. Gotta love dumb luck!

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Nikon D2h, 300mm, 200iso, f10, 1/2000th, Manual

While living in Seattle I was fortunate enough to shoot the entire 2005 Seattle Seahawks season. In that year they made it all the way to the Superbowl so it was fun to shoot them kicking ass every weekend. After clinching home field advantage through the playoffs, superstar running back (and league MVP that year) Shaun Alexander celebrated with the fans by running around the entire stadium high fiving the fans. After running with him shooting at eye level of him greeting the fans I hustled several yards in front of him and crotched down at the base of the grandstands and shot straight up as he ran past above me. I liked the photo a lot but the next year I loved it when it won first place in the feature category of the Pro Football Hall of Fame photo contest.

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Nikon D2x, 12-24mm, 400iso, f5, 1/160th, Manual

Back in 2005 I shot a boat race in Red Bluff, California. During a circle boat race I was lucky enough to be in a perfect spot to shoot as boat racing stud Tony Scarlatta flew from his boat as he flipped in turn one on the first lap of the race. Other than the high speed bath Scarlata would emerge unharmed. The one thing that pisses me off about this photo is it never got published anywhere, I will never understand that.

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Back in 2007 I went to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where I covered the Pan American Games (think mini Olympics). While there I shot a considerable amount of Gymnastics. While it wasn’t a fun sport to shoot, I quickly learned that like any sport if you can find interesting backgrounds you can make anything look cool. While shooting the mens floor exercise I went to the top of the arena and shot wide to include the nice lines of the adjacent vault runway as Alexander Rodriguez Colon (PUR) was completely upside down in the corner of my frame. Simple shot made cool by nice lines.

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Nikon D200, 80-200mm, 1250iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Back in 2006 in Charlotte I was covering Bill Elliott for a client. My job was to shoot as many different angles as I could of Elliott. Ok easy enough right? WRONG. On the first of the three day shoot Elliott got mad at me for “getting in his face” shooting him and stood less than a foot from my face yelling at me. (I have photographic proof!) After that I became gun shy and didn’t wanna get too close to him. It ended up working out for me as I shot him with a long lens from several feet back. The late afternoon sun was shining into his car illuminated his eye. I exposed for the highlights and the result was the below photo. You can just see the hatred in his eye as he stares me down. After that shot I got the hell outta there!

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Nikon D200, 400mm, 200iso, f6.3, 1/320th, Aperture Priority

At the 2007 Summer X Games in LA, my star assistant Guy Rhodes and I decided to try a different approach to shooting atop the half pipe. We put my camera on a 12 foot pole and Guy held it high overhead while I fired it via pocket wizards. The shadow and the skateboarder at the bottom looking up really shows you how high in the air skateboarding superstar Shaun White was, below.

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Nikon D200, 10.5-17mm, 100iso, f4, 1/1000th, Manual

In 2005, I shot from the top end of Pacific Raceways in Kent, WA during a nostalgia drag race. During top fuel qualifying long time racer Jack Harris suffered an engine explosion right at the finish line. While the fire was small by top fuel standards the blue car/parachutes coupled with the nice orange flames and clean background made for a money making shot.

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During my last venture out to sea aboard the carrier before my honorable discharge, I wanted to produce some cool shots I hadn’t done before (since I probably will never get the chance again). One of the big rules on the flight deck at night is under no circumstance can you ever shoot with a flash which makes it difficult to get cool images in the nearly pitch black conditions during night time flight operations. To combat that I took a camera and tripod to the flight deck to mess around with some long exposure images. The below image was the result of a nearly 30 second exposure where I used the moon light to light the F/A-18 Super Hornet as it sat chained to the deck. The purple light streak is a colored flashlight of a crew member as he walked through my shot.

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Nikon D200, 10.5, 1600iso, f2.8, 25 second exposure, Manual

In June of 2008 I was in Las Vegas to cover wrestling during the US Olympic Team Trials at the Thomas and Mack Center. Shooting at floor level led to terrible backgrounds so I hiked to the top of the arena to take advantage of the yellow mats the wrestlers competed on. It ended up being a good choice as I shot the below photo of T.C. Dantzler (red) as he was put in a headlock by Cheney Haight in their first of two fights in the greco roman 74kg class. While Dantzler looked to be in a precarious position, he would come back and win the fight thus securing him a spot in the Beijing Olympics.

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Nikon D3, 600mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/800th, Manual

Sometimes hanging out just off the field can reward you with interesting photos. Below, Larry Fitzgerald walks alone through the tunnel to the field. I love how symmetrical the photo is with the lines all leading right to Fitzgerald, below. One day when he makes the hall of fame this photo will become even cooler.

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Nikon D300, 14-24mm, 1000iso, f5, 1/80th, Manual

In 2004 when I was stationed in San Diego I would drive home to Phoenix nearly every weekend. On one trip home as I was driving along Interstate 8 I noticed smoke a few miles off the highway from a big wild fire. Since I love shooting everything I can I got off the highway and drove towards the smoke. I saw a police blockade so I grabbed two cameras from the backseat and placed them on my lap and BS’ed my way into the fire area. After parking on the side of the road I grabbed my gear and began hiking through the desert towards the fire. Along the way I was quickly stopped in my tracks when I walked through a bush and found myself three feet away from a pissed off rattlesnake. I wish I would have taken a photo of the large snake all coiled up shaking his rattle but forgive me for being a scared pansy fearing death! After being face to face with the snake he slithered away letting be stand there a few seconds shaking before getting back to hiking to the fire. The below photo was my favorite from the day with a congo line of firefighters making their way up a smoldering mountain to the front lines of the fire.

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Nikon D2h, 17-35mm, 200iso, f4, 1/1000th, Manual

Just last year at a race in Las Vegas I found a great shooting position where sun light lit the edge of the cars producing a great rim light effect that if exposed properly would produce a completely black background with bright light glimmering on the sides of the cars. The only way to make it better was to have a couple superstars in the shot. Below 4 time champion Jeff Gordon leads 4 time champion Jimmie Johnson.

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Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 100iso, f5.6, 1/1250th, Manual

At the 2008 Winter X Games I was on assignment for ESPN the Magazine where my only objective was to shoot a double truck worthy photo. The previous few years I had done crazy onboard cameras that yielded awesome photos so this year was gonna be tough to come up with something cool. While shooting a skiing event on the side of a mountain I noticed snowboarders periodically taking a jump on an adjacent course to my position. I had a few minutes before the next race on my course so I turned to the snowboard course and shot as Scotty Lago flew threw the air over a big jump, below. I remember after he flew by thinking I had seen something odd but I figured it was just in my head. Only after viewing the image on the back of the camera did I confirm that I had indeed just shot a snowboarder flying through the air as his pants were falling down. I remember turning to my buddy Guy Rhodes and proclaiming, “I got the double truck shot!” Sure enough its the photo the magazine ended up running the next week.

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Nikon D3, 400mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/2000th, Manual

Shooting all the major sporting events such as NFL, MLB and NBA is fun and seems to impress people but my favorite thing in the world to shoot is drag boat racing. While you will never see boat racing covered by the major media I can assure you that it is an amazing sport. Like most other motor sports some of the wildest moments are when things go wrong, and when they go wrong at 200mph it can produce the most insane looking images you can capture. Below, in 2008 during qualifying for the World Finals on Firebird Lake in Chandler, AZ, top fuel hydro driver James Ray suffered a high speed accident at the finish line, below. Ray suffered injuries but has since recovered. The photo ran in publications all around the world including as a two page spread in Sports Illustrated.

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Nikon D3, 600mm, 320iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

When shooting sports its pretty common to show up as late as possible and essentially half ass the shoot. I am the first to admit that I do that quite often, however there are times where taking the extra time and effort to put in 100% can be quite rewarding. In 2009 while shooting a fair amount of Diamondbacks baseball I decided I really wanted to get a unique angle so with the help of Diamondbacks team photographer Jon Willey I was gained access to mount a camera on the roof of the stadium looking straight down on home plate. Below is the result of the time and effort. Home plate umpire Jim Reynolds looks on as Arizona Diamondbacks base runner Stephen Drew is tagged out by St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina in the ninth inning at Chase Field. It ended up running as a two page spread in ESPN the Magazine.

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Nikon D3, 300mm, 2500iso, f4, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

Below, in Quest Field sunlight hitting smoke from pre game pyrotechnics bathes the field with nice rays of light during the game between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. I like the photo because it has an old time look to it.

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Nikon D2h, 12-24mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Manual

Earlier in 2009 I shot an off road truck race in Lake Elsinore, CA. I set up a few remotes during the weekend. One remote I set up near the bottom of a jump with the goal to get a truck flipping end over end in the spot. It didn’t happen so when I retrieved the remote I wasn’t expecting anything good on the camera, I was surprised to have the below photo with rocks and dirt flying from a truck that had landed sideways with two trucks flying through the air in the background. Happy accidents (not children) are always a pleasure!

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Nikon D200, 12-24mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/1250th, Manual

Back in 2004 during my overseas deployment on the aircraft carrier we crossed the equator. In what is a long standing tradition, the ship held a ceremony known as “Wog Day.” Essentially several hours of the day was spent by the equator crossing veterans hazing the first timers with various actions. While it was nowhere near as bad as it used to be (or so I’m told) it was still a pain in the ass to go through. After the exhausting ordeal the first thing I did was grab my camera and go up on deck to shoot other sailors going through the same harassment I had just finished. It produced some amazing photos. After posting them on my Sportsshooter page is when all the fun began. On a day off I received a frantic call from my superior officer demanding I remove the images ASAP. A few days later when I returned to the ship I was investigated and almost severely punished for releasing unauthorized images that showed the Navy in a bad light. They actually told me my images were as damaging as the Abu Ghraib prison torture photos. Yet a few months later when the ships cruise book (similar to a high school yearbook) was released it contained several of my photos from the ceremony. Hmmm. Below is one of my favorite images showing sailors laying on the rough flight deck as water containing fluorescent ink being dumped on them. Fun!

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Nikon D2h, 12-24mm, 200iso, f8, 1/1000th, Manual

During the first day of competition in the 2008 Beijing Olympics I shot fencing for the first time. It was an interesting sport to shoot, however after about five minutes of shooting it got very boring. With several matches to go I decided to shoot some super slow shutter speed photos to try and produce something interesting. After about 200 completely garbage shots I got the below photo of Sofiya Velikaya (RUS), right, as she battled Sada Jacobson (USA) during the womens fencing individual sabre semi final at the Fencing Hall in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. What really made the photo cool in my opinion is everything is blurred except the face of Velikaya on the right.

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Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 100iso, f10, 1/5th, Manual

At the 2006 Summer X Games in LA I went down low to try and incorporate the sun in my shot with a Moto-x rider flying through my shot. It was an easy shot to get once I got lined up. What I wasn’t expecting though was the perfectly placed helicopter flying in the background as rider Mike Mason did a backflip through the frame. It would have been a cool shot regardless but having the helicopter in the shot only made a cool shot that much cooler to me.

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Nikon D2x, 17-35mm, 100iso, f6.3, 1/1000th, Manual

After missing over six months following knee surgery, Tiger Woods made his return in Tucson, AZ in the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. On the practice day prior to the actual competition I woke up at 4am to get out to the course nice and early to shoot Tigers practice round. It ended up being totally worth it when I shot the below frame of him hitting out of a sand trap. I am by no means an expert on golf photography, I have only shot 7 days of golf in my entire life, but the shot is awesome due to the super low light going directly in his face, the perfectly clean background (a lake) and the flying sand and his eyes seemingly looking directly at me. The only way to have done the shot better would have been to set it up in a controlled environment. (even then I am not sure it could have looked much better)

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Nikon D3, 600mm, 1000iso, f6.3, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

During the 2008 Insight Bowl in Tempe, AZ I went atop the roof of Sun Devil Stadium to take advantage of the nice shadows on the field from the setting sun on the players. Below, Kansas Jayhawks quarterback Todd Reesing is trailed by his shadow as he throws a pass in the first quarter. By being up high not only was I able to get his shadow, I was also able to eliminate the sparsely filled grandstands.

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Nikon D3, 600mm, 1000iso, f4, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

At a NASCAR race in the Poconos of Long Pond, PA I noticed an oddly placed stop sign just on the outside of the track. It is there for when the wall is opened for crossing in and out of the track. With the sign plus a nice tree filled background I had to find a way to incorporate it in a shot. By getting down low and shooting with a slow shutter speed I produced the below frame of Nascar Nextel Cup Series driver Mark Martin and Brian Vickers as the streaked past the sign which makes for an interesting contrast.

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Nikon D200, 80-200mm, 100iso, f7.1, 1/180th, Aperture Priority

Without a doubt my most published photo from my five years in the Navy is the below shot of the carrier cruising at 11pm off the coast of Alaska. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was on the flight deck shooting flight operations when an officer came to me and said the captain was requesting my presence in an office. Uh oh, usually that is the kiss of death. Luckily for me when I got in there I was told they needed a photographer ASAP to go up in a helicopter to shoot some aerials of the ship with the snowcapped mountains in the background. Not caring that I wasn’t qualified to fly, I quickly said yes! A few minutes later I was in a Seahawk helicopter and away I went. I got numerous awesome photos during the 15 minute flight that you can see here but the below photo was the money shot of the day.

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Nikon D2h, 17-35mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/125th, Manual

At the conclusion of the 2008 Super Bowl while the world was watching the New York Giants celebrating their improbable victory over the undefeated New England Patriots I was frantically looking for any reaction shots of Patriots players leaving the field. I was shooting from an elevated position so there were very few good shots to be had with the hundreds of people on the field ruining all my shots. Much to my surprise I ended up spotting Patriots linebacker Junior Seau walking dejectedly off the field as confetti for the Giants fell on him. The below photo would be used as a full page photo in the Sporting News to lead a story about losers. Seriously!

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Nikon D3, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 3200iso, f5.6, 1/500th, Manual

From losers we move on to winners, this time on the other side of the world in Beijing. The big story of the 2008 Summer Olympics was Michael Phelps and his march to immortality. My main assignment at the Olympics was covering all the gymnastic events so I didn’t get to cover much swimming. On one day I was given the option to cover a morning of swimming. Luckily for me the one day I got to cover it was the day where Phelps and teammates came from behind to win the gold in the Mens 4x100m freestyle relay final. All of Phelps other seven golds had him in the pool at the finish so it was tough to get a good celebration shot but for this one event he swam the middle leg of the race so for the celebration at the end he was standing poolside which gave a great view of Phelps as he want crazy in celebration. I hate the yellow pole behind him but with how crowded the pool deck was with judges, security and TV people, I am fine with the shot.

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Nikon D3, 600mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/1000th, Manual

In 2006 at the Holiday Classic, a small go kart race in Glendale, AZ I was in the right place at the right time when racer Ryan Amigliore backed into the turn four wall and was thrown from the kart into a chain link catch fence. I was actually late on the crash so I will always wonder how much better earlier shots in the crash could have been. Oh well, I will take this and be happy.

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Nikon D200, 400mm, 320iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

In 2008 as a lead up to me being the gymnastics photographer for the Olympics I was sent to San Jose, CA to cover the Pacific Rim Championships. I got several shots from the weekend I really liked but none as much as the below photo. At first glance when I looked at it on my computer screen I passed over it because it was a bit too abstract for me but after looking at it for a few moments I really liked everything going on in the photo. I just love the competitor on the right seemingly falling straight down from the rings. He is actually in the middle of doing a flip and landing on his feet.

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Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

On top of the half pipe at the 2006 Summer X Games I was looking for something different from the norm so I threw an SB-800 flash onto my camera along with a fisheye lens. Shooting stop action with the flash yielded several average looking photos. Not happy with the results I put the flash into rear curtain mode (flash fires at end of shot instead of beginning) and slowed the shutter speed down to get some blur in the shot. I held the camera upside down and as skateboarder Andy MacDonald flew threw the air I shot a photo as I twisted the camera from upside down to right side up producing the below frame.

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Nikon D200, 17-35mm, 500iso, f14, 1/20th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

In 2009 I was cage side to cover my first UFC fight. Before the night I had never even seen UFC on TV so it was a trial by fire as I had to quickly learn how to shoot the sport. I have to say that is without a doubt the toughest sport I have ever shot in my life. What makes it so tough is its next to impossible to use auto focus when shooting through the cage as the camera goes haywire trying to lock on focus. My favorite shot from the night ended up being the below photo where fighter BJ Penn takes a punch to the nose from Georges St-Pierre during the main bout of UFC 94 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

In 2002 I got my first professional digital camera, a Nikon D1. While by todays standards it very well may be the worst digital camera in history but back then it was the best camera out there. About a week after buying the camera I took it to a boat race in Augusta, GA where it quickly paid for itself when drag boat racer Charlie Wilkey crashed big time and was thrown like a rag doll through the air. Other than a few cuts and bruises Wilkey was fine. The photo ended up being my first ever ESPN the Magazine two page spread.

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Nikon D1, 300mm, 200iso, f11, 1/500th, Shutter Priority

In 2007 at a NASCAR race in Fontana, CA that started in the day and ended at night I was in turn two on the outside of the track taking advantage of the awesome light on the cars. While most drivers had on dark visors there were a few who had already switched to their clear visors for the night time portion of the race. I remember noticing that you could clearly see the face of driver Dale Earnhardt Jr as he passed so I shot him the next few laps as he raced past my position at over 180mph. I was ecstatic to get the below shot of Dale Jr as he checked his review mirror. The photo ran as a two page spread in NASCAR Scene magazine.

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Nikon D2x, 400mm, 400iso, f4, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

In 2003 I had a day off and went down to the Miramar Air Show near San Diego to shoot some photos. While I was a Navy photographer at the time I didn’t have a credential for the event so once again it was a matter of talking my way into the photo areas. Following a performance by the Blue Angels I laid down on the taxi way they were coming down and shot the below photo with the plane captains standing at parade rest as they awaited their aircraft to arrive to park. I shot the photo a few stops under exposed to produce the below silhouette that would run as a two page spread in All Hands magazine.

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Nikon D1x, 300mm, 200iso, f8, 1/1600th, Manual

In 2006 I shot what I still consider the greatest football game I have ever seen, the National Championship game at the Rose Bowl between the USC Trojans and the Texas Longhorns. After running in the winning touchdown for the come from behind win, quarterback Vince Young climbed atop a table and began celebrating in a shower of confetti.

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Nikon D2x, 12-24mm, 500iso, f7.1, 1/100th, Manual with SB-80 Flash

In 2008 I found myself in quite the precarious position as I was in a cherry picker about 20 feet directly above the finish line of a drag strip with cars racing below at over 260mph. It was an amazing angle to shoot from but I would be lying if I said it didn’t scare the living hell out of me. During nostalgia top fuel qualifying for the March Meet drag racer Mike McLennan suffered one of the biggest fires I have ever seen from that type of car. The massive fire combined with the incredibly unique angle gave me what will be a hard drag racing photo for me (or anyone else) to ever top. It ran as a two page spread in Car Craft magazine.

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Nikon D3, 600mm, 400iso, f8, 1/1600th, Manual

At the 2007 Pan Am Games in Brazil I shot bicycle racing for the first time as riders raced on the high banks of the Velodromo in Rio de Janeiro. It was an interesting sport to shoot but the one thing I will always remember is the climb up some rickety 20 foot ladder with all my gear to some shaky scaffold which was marked as a “photo area.” Luckily the ladder didn’t break and I found a nice angle to do the below fisheye with a slow shutter speed to produce a blur of riders racing around the track.

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Nikon D200, 10.5-17mm, 100iso, f7.1, 1/20th, Manual

Midway up the icy edge of the super pipe at the 2006 Winter X Games in Aspen, CO I set up to shoot the mens snowboarding competition. With a gorgeous sunset behind the course it was a no brainer to throw on a wide angle to incorporate the sunset in my shot. In the below photo I got very lucky and caught another photographers strobe firing which lit the flying snow behind the boarder making a nice frame for me.

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Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

On Thanksgiving in 2006 I found myself in downtown Detroit to shoot an NFL game between the Miami Dolphins against the Detroit Lions. While the matchup was nothing special the trip ended up being well worth the effort when after a halftime show with pyrotechnics left smoke on the field. Normally that is a very bad thing as it messes with the clarity of your photos but this time sunlight shining into Ford Field through the large windows produced rays of light shining onto the field. I spent most of the third quarter trying to get some good action in the foreground of my photo. Sadly the best action I was able to get in the shot was of Miami Dolphins punter Donnie Jones punting the ball away. While it wasn’t the greatest action in the world it still ended up being good enough to get me my first two page spread in Sports Illustrated. I still remember exactly where I was when I received the text from my friend Tyler Barrick giving me the good news.

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Nikon D2x, 80-200mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

In February of 2009 during an off day while in town for NASCAR at Daytona a friend of mine offered to take me for a flight around Orlando in his airplane. I got the crazy idea to mount my brand new D700 on the tail of his aircraft. I figured he would instantly shoot the idea down but much to my surprise he said OK. After spending a few hours making a safe rig to securely mount the camera to the plane off we went. Even though the camera was tightly mounted to the aircraft we took it pretty easy during the flight flying at slow speeds the entire time. My favorite photo from the flight was the below shot as we made a bank turn over downtown Orlando. A few weeks after the flight I was contacted from an FAA investigator after another photographer had filed a complaint about the flight. Luckily for the pilot the investigation was dropped with no punishment taking place.

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Nikon D700, 10.5-17mm, 200iso, f6.3, 1/125th, Aperture Priority

From flying planes we go to flying cars. In 2006 I made my first trip to the NASCAR mecca, Talladega. During a Busch Series race all hell broke loose when driver Tony Stewart spun out in front of me and physics took over as air got under his car and he did a backflip in the tri-oval. The below photo was my favorite of the sequence because its so odd to see a car completely inverted with zero damage to the car. Stewart was unharmed in the accident and would race the next day. The sequence of the crash would run as a double truck in Car Craft magazine.

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Nikon D2x, 400mm, 320iso, f6.3, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

In 2003 while shooting night time flight operations on the flight deck of the USS John C. Stennis I took my camera on a tripod to the flight deck to see what I could come up with. When a plane would be on the catapult ready to take off the plane would go to full power and sit there for several seconds before the shooter in the bubble (below) would push the launch button. In the below photo as an F/18 Hornet sat on the catapult ready for launch it started to pop out bright orange flames from the exhaust. The bright flames plus the purpleish color cast from lights on the tower of the carrier produced a colorful photo.

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Nikon D2h, 17-35mm, 200iso, f2.8, 6 second, Manual

At the 2006 Summer X Games I wanted to do something crazy to make an interesting photo. My idea was to clamp a remote camera on the handlebars of a freestyle Moto-X rider as he performed some trucks. With the help of my good friend Guy Rhodes we convinced rider Mike Mason to allow us to mount the remote camera on his bike during practice for the competition. The first minute on the course with the remote setup the super clamp snapped in half, luckily my friend Mike Isler who was hanging out with us had an extra one so we quickly changed out clamps and tried it again. While I got several cool photos the favorite one ended up being the below photo as Mason did a superman seat grab over a jump. The photo would end up running as a two page spread in ESPN the Magazine.

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Nikon D200, 10.5mm, 500iso, f8, 1/750th, Aperture Priority

We end my favorite photos of the decade with what still ranks as one of my wildest crash shots in my 20 years of shooting. While covering a drag boat race on Mission Bay in San Diego I caught top alcohol hydro driver Greg Gilday crashing big time in the final round of the event. After catching air and flipping over backwards the boat shattered into thousands of pieces as he hit the water at 200mph. With boat crashes the water spray from a crash usually covers up most of the parts and pieces during the accident but in this case I was lucky and could see the hull of the boat breaking apart as well as the engine and the safety capsule containing the driver. In the crash the capsule lid wasn’t closed so it instant ripped off and on the ride side of the frame you can see Gildays arm and leg flying from the capsule. Gilday would suffer several injuries such as a broken leg, arm and neck  but would be back to normal after a long recuperation. The photo ran as a two page spread in ESPN the Magazine.

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Nikon D1x, 300mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/3000th, Aperture Priority

That concludes my favorite photos of the decade 2000-2009. Stay tuned for my best photos of 2010-2019!!


 
Posted in Baseball, Boat Racing, Drag Racing, Football, Golf, Military, NASCAR, Off Road Racing, Olympics, Racing, Sports   | 22 Comments

22 responses to “50 of my favorite photos of the Decade”

  1. dustin says:

    Mehh, maybe next decade will work out better for you.

  2. Dave B says:

    Stunning set of images, well done.

  3. Erik Perel says:

    I got that Clint Bowyer pic, too. I think I was standing right next to you. Unlike yours, though, in mine the 07 is in focus! haha! You kicked my ass in everything else, though. Nice group of photos

  4. Rob says:

    Unbelievable stuff Mark….. That Quest Field shot with the smoke is awesome, timeless and has that ageless feel to it. The Pocono STOP sign with the Cup cars zooming by is ironic but my personal fav is the Dale Jr shot of course. Sure wouldn’t mind seeing the shots not published of Elliot chewing you out… LOL

  5. Joshua says:

    You shoot a lot of different stuff. nice collection.

  6. you are fantastic….The Best Sports Photographer!

  7. Pille says:

    Just one word – wow.

  8. Daniel says:

    You truly are an amazing photographer.
    Very nice pictures.
    /Daniel

  9. Balint says:

    Hi Mark,

    I remember, I started to follow your blog when you posted the Mike Mason shoot and even though the American sports are irrelevant for me, I do enjoy each and every blogspot you share, all the little details. So thank you, please keep them coming 🙂

  10. Mark,
    Simply breathtaking work!
    All 50 captures be viewed for an indefinite amount of time, however my three favorites are as follows:
    1. most historical: David Tyree catch
    2. most ingenuous: Diamondbacks roof shot
    3. favorite overall: Drag boat crash
    As always, thanks Mark for making your work public via your blog, as your work amazes me and is an incedible learninhg tool.
    Thank You
    Michael

  11. Frederic says:

    Thanks for sharing your best shots of the Decade.

  12. Mark,
    Brilliant captures, You cold spend an indefinite amount of time viewing each image!
    My favorites are as follows:
    1. most historical: David Tyree Super Bowl catch
    2. most ingenuous: Diamondbacks roof cam play at home plate
    3. favorite overall: Drag Boat crash!
    As always, thanks Mark for making your hard work, tips and metadata viewable via your blog. A tremendous source of inspiration and knowledge.
    Thank you
    Michael Stein

  13. Mark,
    Brilliant captures, You could spend an indefinite amount of time viewing each image!
    My favorites are as follows:
    1. most historical: David Tyree Super Bowl catch
    2. most ingenuous: Diamondbacks roof cam play at home plate
    3. favorite overall: Drag Boat crash!
    As always, thanks Mark for making your hard work, tips and metadata viewable via your blog. A tremendous source of inspiration and knowledge.
    Thank you
    Michael Stein

  14. Jason says:

    Awesome, as always. What a huge year you’ve had – loving your work.
    J

  15. Ted says:

    Mark,
    Awesome photography, you really should look into publishing your photos in a book and hosting a workshop. I believe you’ll be successful at both. Happy New Year!

  16. Jason Gynn says:

    Top stuff, onto bigger and better things in the years to come!

  17. Awesome shots! That Quest Field shot is by far my favourite of the list.

    Thanks for the inspiration up to now and I can’t wait to see more!

  18. Hi Mark,

    Your work is stunning and what I term as the “gold standard”.

    Frank

  19. Justin Tooley says:

    How long are we gonna have to wait for the best of 2010-2019 edition?

  20. Greg Martin says:

    Thank you so much for sharing these amazing images and the stories that go with them. Your work is very inspiring!

  21. Rebecca Hagemann says:

    Your photos are awesome. Good to see a Navy photographer success story.

  22. jack says:

    fantasic work……..cant wait to see more

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