Friday Night Lights | A Season With the L-Cats |


Fall is in the air and it’s football season!

Last week Lake Mills took on a much bigger and stronger team in the Menomonie Mustangs. Lake Mills was leading 10-7 at the half but the Mustangs came on strong in the second half and used their much deeper bench to pound the L-Cats. The final was 34-10.

Head coach Dan Ferkovich, though, was pleased with his team’s effort.

This was the first game of the behind-the-scenes football project called: “A Season With the L-Cats”.

I first did a project like this in 2014 and 2015 when we lived in California, documenting the Tesoro Titans with the goal of producing a book and video about the season.

It was a project that I have wanted to do for years, ever since Buzz Bissinger’s book “Friday Night Lights” came out. He lived in West Texas and documented the lives of the a team from the Odessa-Midland area, the Permion Panthers. That book led to a movie and then later a series on NBC by the same name.

When the book came out, I was living and working in Arizona and every season I had an idea to do this, but never made it happen.

Until 2014.

That year I had just made the switch to Sony and I wanted to do a project that was a) close to home b) a project that would take some time c) be granted access and d) produce a photo book and a video.

By a stroke of good fortune, my daughter Kate played on an AYSO Extra soccer team with the daughter of the the Tesoro head football coach. Matt and I became friends and I one day at a soccer game, I casually threw out the idea of documenting the season behind the scenes. To my surprise, he was intrigued by the idea and we met a few days later to discuss it further and it was a go.

That season and the season that followed were learning curves for me with both the Sony system for stills and for video. I couldn’t think of a better way to really get some time in the cockpit, as it were, learning to fly these new cameras.

And now that we’ve moved to Lake Mills I wanted to do the same thing for the local L-Cats. And so far the season has been great with great access and great action. As I did in that first season, I will be doing a photo book and I will be doing a video.

This time, the tools have changed — and massively.

In 2014, the cameras I used were the a6000 (still available and the best selling Sony mirrorless camera in history) and an a7 (the original full frame (24 x 36 mm sensor size) mirrorless camera. The lenses were the 35 f2.8 FE Zeiss, the 55 1.8 FE Zeiss, the 70-200 f4 G OSS and a 10-18 f4 E lens for the wides.

The next season brought on even more upgrades to the system, adding the a7RII, the 85 1.8 Zeiss Batis, the 35 1.4 FE Zeiss though the a6000 and the 70-200f4 G OSS were still my main camera and glass for action.

Now, though, the game as changed even more on the camera tech. The 400 2.8 GMaster lens, the 70-200 f2.8 GMaster , the 24mm f1.4 GMaster and the 50mm f1.4 FE Zeiss are my new “go to” lenses and the Sony a9 with all it’s 20 frames per second and focus tracking awesomeness and the a7RIII with it’s high megapixel count and back up capabilities (though it will be replaced soon with the a7RIV with Eye AF tracking both video AND stills).

This year I am working on more video as well and I’m adopting a more disciplined approach to the video using ND filtration from Sirui in front of the lenseswhenever possible (as well as a Sirui video monopod).

It has some challenges going from stills to video but using the Custom Settings on both the a7RIII and the a9, I am able to switch between 24P, 60P and 120P and then back to manual settings for stills. It’s forcing me to slow down, be deliberate and think about if the situation calls for stills or video and then leaving adequate time to make the necessary changes.

For audio, I’m using the XLR-K2M which is a shotgun microphone set up that attaches to the camera via the hotshot, or the Multi Interface Shoe of the Sony system (quite ingenious). I’m also using a Tascam DR-10L to record coach Dan Ferkovich during the game.

With the push of a button, I can literally go into APS-C/Super 35mm framing which helps with the 24 1.4 especially when I want a bit tighter crop to emulate my beloved 35mm framing. The 24 and the 50 all have mechanical aperture rings which can be de-clicked to make them transition from one aperture to the next seamlessly — a must for video.

I’m pleased to showcase these still images from Game One last Thursday (as I get ready for Game Two a bit later tonight).

Is This The World's Best Inexpensive Portable Lighting Modifier?

In this video I will be talking about the advantages of the Cheetahstand QBox 24 portable softbox which works well for location wedding and portrait photographers.

This light modifier is 24" Square and has a double layer of diffusion and comes with a honeycomb grid as well as a circular mask to attach to the front of the box. This modifier works with speedlights such as the Sony HVL-F60RM or the Godox V1 and the Godox AD200 and Godox AD200 Pro super speedlight.

To best use the AD200 Pro you need the Pro-S bracket which also works with speedlights. You may purchase this modifier from cheetahstand in the USA by going here:

The Pro S bracket is available at:

If you would like to use two AD200s or two AD200 Pros combined to create a 400 w/s strobe you may use the Godox AD-B2 from B & H

Five Steps to Having an Awesome Portrait Session

For some people, they simply LOVE the idea of having a portrait session whether it’s a family session, a senior portrait session or a business branding session.

For some, though, they’d rather drive spikes through their eyes WHILE getting a root canal.

I get that.

I’m not too thrilled with getting in FRONT of the camera (that’s why am mostly BEHIND the camera!). Though I am getting better at it.

Still though, it’s important to do it because I want to be seen in photographs FOR my kids and family and WITH my kids and wife so that they have photographs of us AS a family.

“It’s an annual thing and I’m always Glad to have done it (but I feel your pain!)”

So how to make it as painLESS as possible? (Gees! That’s not right! — Of course I don’t merely want it to be painless, I want it to be fun and something you’ll look forward to again and again!

Here are my five tips to help make your session amazing (or at least enjoyable!)

  1. NO STRESS. Try not to stress about everything being perfect. Let’s face it, life is Imperfect and I kind of like that. When I worked as a photojournalist and would be sent on an assignment, there was often the ideal or perfect photo to shoot. That was often what a photo editor, back in the office, might visualize before the shot. Of course, it would often NOT be perfect and yet for almost all of it, it would almost always be better. Funny how that worked. So after that happened a few times, I realized it was going to perfectly imperfect and that was, well, kind of … perfect. Have fun, smile, laugh and try to relax. It shows in the photos — unless that’s what you want to show?? And just think, in ten years you’ll look back on that photo and think “Damn…I looked pretty good! Why was I so stressed about the way I looked then?????"

  2. VISION. How do you want to look on the wall? And I’m not talking about the wall of the post office. Just kidding, I’m talking about the walls on your home. Big or small, how you look will be on there for a while and you had better love it or it won’t work. Do you want to be serious or fun? Where do you want to do the session? Studio? Home? A special location? All are valid and all work. Do you have any special place IN your home that you think is crying out for a portrait. Let me know. Let’s try to find that. It’s not about what’s biggest it’s about what is appropriate for the specific photo in the specific place and that’s what I can help you with.

  3. OUTFITS. Clothing - yeah or nay? Seriously, clothing causes so much stress for so many people and it really should not. When you think about the feeling you want the photo to have, do you want it relaxed (blue jeans, comfy shirts, flowy dresses?) or more formal (suits, tux and gowns?). I’ve shot them all and trust me they all look great. Even clothing that looks like Ray Charles picked out the wardrobe will often surprisingly work. We had our own family shoot that had me in light blue, Nicki in Navy, Kate in a light blue print, Sparky in a blue striped shirt and Nicki’s Mom in another shade of blue and I think it all worked great. Think of working within a family of colors and try to wear solids but it often works without them. Just being real and authentic for YOU and YOUR FAMILY makes it all the more special. Trust me in twenty years we won’t be looking at the clothes (unless of course they REALLY went out of fashion). Instead it’s all about faces, emotions and expression and closeness. And how much Mom and Dad have aged since the kids were born!

  4. LIGHT. It’s all about the light when the session is outdoors. Think about the timing…basically it’s Really early (like we’re talking dawn) or Late (we’re talking an hour before sunset and after (assuming it’s a nice day). I get it, sometimes, especially during summer when kids are really little, they simply won’t make it to sunset. In that case try to juggle nap time so that they can go longer. My goal is to put people in the best light of the day (as close as we can get to it). It was easier in California since there were like 300 days of sun a year but oh well…there’s drama in the variety of weather patterns in Wisconsin and I’m finding it surprisingly refreshing. And beautiful.

  5. PHOTOS ARE “THERE". Trust me, I’m a professional. You’d be surprised at how many great photographs we are going to create from a session — even one as short as an hour or even third minutes! My motto is that wherever people gather there is the potential for great photographs — especially when you’ve been photographing as much as I have over the last 36 years (yes, I said it — I’ve been working longer than the age of many of my clients!)

    So there you have it, my five tips for having a super amazing awesome stupendous and fantastic and fabulous portrait session.

When was the last time you had fun at a portrait session? What??? You didn’t? Let’s fix that. Call us at 920.728.6185 or Contact us below.

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Happy June 1st!


It's June 1st! Summer is upon us and it's graduation time and Father's Day is coming up.

Speaking of Father's Day, be sure to check back on Monday as I will be showcasing my Father's Day Portrait Promotion Video that features FOUR Lake Mills Dads, including Cliff Hagedorn with his newborn daughter Kynlee. Who are the other three?? You'll have to stay tuned to see!

Have a great weekend!