Low Light Venues and Slow Lenses

I haven’t blogged about the last few wrestling shows that I’ve shot, mainly because I’m posting them on Facebook and Twitter and don’t want to be too redundant with the photos.  To add a little interest I’ll write about the photography side and my lens choices. I’ve never been much of a wide angle shooter so I haven’t invested in a good wide angle lens but with wrestling you are so close you have to go wide.  I shot the April Funky Munky show with my Tamron 19-35 f3.5-4.5.  It would be categorized as a “slow” lens because of it’s 3.5-4.5 maximum aperture.  One of the downsides of a slow lens is that it doesn’t allow a lot of light in which makes the camera work harder to focus.  The Latin American club in Sterling has decent light so although I did have some trouble with focus I was happy with the number of good shots I got.  Here are two of my favorites below.

Funky Munky

Bucky Collins and Christian Rose


Funky Munky

Tyler Priegel and Judd the Janitor

In May, I went to Donahue, IA for Mississippi Valley Wrestling.  The venue was much darker and the slow lens was a bigger problem.  I did the best I could but missed a lot of good shots because of the focus problems.  Overall I wasn’t happy with my performance.  Here are a couple from that night below.


Markus Crane and Jason Pemberton


Knight Wagner and Moondog Bernard

The following night it was back to Funky Munky but this time they were in Kewanee and the light was poor.  I shot the first match with my 19-35 but then decided I didn’t want to fight the focus any more and switched to my 50mm f1.8.  Having a maximum aperture of 1.8 allows enough light in so the camera can focus.  The downside is that it’s a straight 50mm which is often too tight for the close quarters.  Despite missing shots because I couldn’t zoom out, I was much happier with the overall result.  When the tight shots work, I really like them.  Here are a couple examples below.

Funky Munky

Dan the Man and Aaron Xavier

Funky Munky

Tyler Priegel and Judd the Janitor

My solution is to finally purchase some good wide angle glass and get a 24-70 f2.8.  I’ll be able to focus in low light and zoom out when needed.

Mega Thunder Man


Here’s another Throwback Thursday for you.

Towards the end of the 93-94 basketball season, I contacted the Quad City Thunder about shooting a game.  The Thunder were part of the Continental Basketball Association and played home games in The Mark of the Quad Cities.  The CBA is now defunct and the Mark has been renamed the iWireless Center.

At the first game I photographed I shot this five photo sequence of “Mega Thunder Man”.  The PR Director was so pleased with it that I was invited to shoot the remainder of the season and spent the following three seasons as the team photographer.


Which version do you like best?


#1 Out of camera color photo


#2 Color photo with Photoshop edit


#3 Original in black and white


#4 Photoshop edit in black and white


Ashford Softball

I have photographed a couple Ashford University softball games as part of my effort to re-build my sports photography portfolio.  This weekend they played right here in Morrison as part of their Spring Jamboree.  It was a nine team tournament and all proceeds raised went to the Iowa Care for Yourself Breast Cancer Early Detection Program.  Ashford wore special pink uniforms and all teams participated in a ceremonial balloon release in honor of those who have succumbed to breast cancer.


Ashford University Balloon release

Tournament teams release balloons in honor of those who have succumbed to breast cancer.

Siera Spahui, Ashford

Ashford first baseman Siera Spahui with a high fly ball.

Katelyn Hair, Ashford

Judson senior Shannon Nevins steals second in front of Ashford’s Katelyn Hair.

Ashford-6 (more…)

Independant Wrestling

Marek Brave

The wrestling bug has really bitten me.  Since photographing Funky Munky three weeks ago I have discovered that there are independent wrestling promotions all over.  I contacted SCW (Scott County Wrestling) and was able to photograph their event on Saturday night.  The thing I like most about these shows is that it’s all about the matches.  There is very little talking, unlike the current WWE where it seems all they do is talk.  The matches are high quality too, this isn’t just some kids messing around in the back yard.  I never would have believed you could see someone jump off the top rope through a table in small town Walcott, Iowa. (see the first photo).  To top it all off, after Shane Hollister beat Matt Cage for the heavyweight title he called his girlfriend to the ring and proposed.  If you like wrestling at all, I highly recommend getting out to support indy wrestling.








Throwback Thursday



I see the Throwback Thursday posts on Facebook and Twitter and thought I would try one of my own.  This was my first ever photo published in a national magazine.  It appeared in the June 1993 issue of Open Wheel magazine.  It hit the newsstands in May while I was still in college at Western Illinois.  At the time I didn’t know that much about sprint car racing but my friend Shawn Sullivan was there to teach me everything I needed to know.  It amazes me to think about how much different this process was compared to digital photography of today.  I took this photo on black and white film which I developed and printed myself in smelly chemicals.  I then snail-mailed 8×10 prints off to the magazine where they were stored until one fit their needs.  Now you can have a photo on the internet within seconds of taking it.

Let me know what you think of Throwback Thursday.  Should I do more of them?

Funky Munky Wrestling


Mason Beck gets the win over “American Voodoo” Mojo McQueen

Last night I photographed Funky Munky Wrestling at the Latin American Social Club in Sterling, IL.  It was my first time shooting pro wrestling and I found it quite difficult.  In most sports I know where to position myself for certain types of action.  Basketball players are going to head toward the basket, batters in baseball have an actual box outlined in the dirt where they are going to stand and football players move in a general direction toward the goal but wrestling is totally unpredictable.  I constantly felt like I was in the wrong position but as soon as I would move, the action would change and I would wish I was back where I started.  On the occasions when I was in the right spot the images were great.  I’m looking forward to doing this again.



Mojo McQueen uses a voodoo doll on Mason Beck


Judd the Janitor takes Tyler Priegel for a ride.


Bucky Collins interacts with the fans before his match.

Augustana Brochure

augie eagle-1

I sold an eagle photo to Augustana College for use in a sixteen page booklet promoting the school.  They knew they wanted to include a bald eagle and did a simple Google search and found my photos.  It’s pretty cool when photo buyers come to you!  What makes the story even more interesting is that my youngest brother, Kurt used to work at Augustana in the graphic design department.  When his former co-workers found my photos they put two and two together and realized we were brothers.  It’s a small world after all.

And speaking of Kurt, you should check out the work he did on Augie’s logo during his time there.  If you haven’t seen my eagle photos I have several on Behance.

Basketball Tournament

Photographing the bald eagles this winter really made me realize how much I love photographing action.  I’m not that great at setting up a shot and controlling every aspect of the photo like you would do with a still life or even a portrait.   I like being in a place where there is action and reacting to it.  I’ve gotten away from that sort of thing over the past few years and it’s time to get back to it.

A friend of mine from Sterling mentioned that he was coaching a team in a tournament here in Morrison so I went over to check it out.