Batman: Dark Knight Rises Movie Set

Christian Bale stands in between scenes during the filming of the new Batman: Dark Knight Rises movie at the Mellon Institute building in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Oakland on July 31, 2011.

I’m no movie or comic book expert but I knew that the final film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, Dark Knight Rises, would be one of the most highly anticipated films of the year. So when I heard that the movie would be filming in my neighborhood here in Pittsburgh I thought I’d spend my weekend outside covering the cast and characters while the Pittsburgh Pirates were out of town.

With gorgeous sunny weather and blue skies, I was quite happy spending my time outside for most of the day with a fairly good crowd of folks, including Jason, a fellow wire service photographer, who all came out to witness such a large crew of people descend on the city. But my time covering it did not come without a few small problems that some photographers reading this are all too familiar with.

‘You’re not allowed to take pictures here.’

Christian Bale, playing Batman, acts in a scene with Tom Hardy, playing Bane, during the filming of the new Batman: Dark Knight Rises movie at the Mellon Institute building in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh on July 31, 2011.

Director Christopher Nolan (right) sits in a bucket crane in between scenes as fake snow falls during the filming of the new Batman: Dark Knight Rises movie at the Mellon Institute building in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Oakland on July 31, 2011.

If you think that this is another of those horror stories where a confrontation with authority goes wrong, you’d be wrong. I’ve read and heard of many problems involving photographers being threatened, gear confiscated, and some even arrested. But fortunately for me, I had nothing but a very pleasant experience in dealing with the folks on the set of the new Batman movie, aka ‘Magnus Rex’, here in Pittsburgh.

A newly married couple walk by the batmobile, or Tumbler, after their wedding at a church across the street during the filming of the new Batman: Dark Knight Rises movie near the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute building in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Oakland on July 30, 2011.

After spending two days in Oakland, I knew most of the security, staff, and police officers by name. Sure, they asked me to quit taking pictures, but they admitted that it was just a courtesy and knew that from public property that they did not lease out, that they could do nothing but ask. I kindly declined and said that I knew that I had a right to stand where I was and to take photographs. They all agreed and said that they were only asked by their bosses to confront me. I kindly introduced myself and they went back to patrolling elsewhere.

Actor Tom Hardy, who plays the villian Bane, acts in a scene on the set of 'The Dark Knight Rises' filming near the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute Building in the neighborhood of Oakland on July 30, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Christian Bale, playing Batman, acts in a scene with Tom Hardy, playing Bane, during the filming of the new Batman: Dark Knight Rises movie at the Mellon Institute building in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh on July 31, 2011.

Marion Cotillard, playing Miranda Tate, acts in a scene during filming of 'Batman: Dark Knight Rises' at the Mellon Institute building in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 31, 2011.

I honestly think that my experience growing up as a kid who loved to skateboard, helped me in working with everyone on set. I used to get into a lot of trouble from the local police while skateboarding with my crew of friends around downtown as a teenager and I learned that if you’re honest with them, that it’s reciprocated. Introduce yourself, be professional, don’t raise your voice, and things will get resolved peacefully.

My respect and good relationship with Officer Bill, security guard Harvey, and location manager Joe helped keep the peace on both sides and made for a good experience in covering something completely new for me.

45,000 hits on my Photoshelter archive and many published images later, I’d say my weekend was a pretty big success.

Complacency Is Suicide

Earlier this summer I was asked by my assignment editor to cover most all of the 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates home games at PNC Park. Growing up going to baseball games at Three Rivers Stadium with my Pap, I couldn’t be happier to cover the team I grew up watching.

Now, granted, this is not the same 1992 team that included Barry Bonds, Doug Drabek, and Andy Van Slyke. But after Sid Bream of the Atlanta Braves slid safely across home plate in Game 7 of the NLCS and 19 losing seasons later for the Bucs, it’s exciting to watch the development of all of these young players like Andrew McCtuchen, Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez, and Pittsburgh’s own Neil Walker.

But in covering 70-80 baseball games a year, it’s easy to get too comfortable in how you shoot a game. Some photographers could easily look to make the same set of pictures, from the same spot, with the same lens and composition. This can almost be career suicide for someone like myself who is young freelancer and still learning many things.

However, there are many good things about covering the same team for as many games as I do. I think most importantly is knowing the routines and rituals of all of the players. This allows me to better predict certain moments and from which angles those moment would look best from. Like they say, luck favors the prepared! I’m also able to make pictures of different moments and have multiple chances at shooting the best version of that moment.

So as easy as it would be to just make the same pictures night after night from the same location in the stadium, I’m always pushing and separating my work from all of the other images that night by improving on the details and by shooting slightly different than anyone else. One thing that I was told from the beginning by one of the best sports photographers and someone who has mentored me for years, Al Bello, was to not worry so much about missing a moment when going out and shooting a different picture from a different angle. In what I’ve noticed, that’s where a lot of portfolio pieces come from.

As cliche as this saying is in the photo community, don’t be afraid to try something different. Go where everyone else isn’t – you might be surprised what you get!

This month, my next step is to move around a little more above the playing field. Here are some of my personal favorite images from thus far in the season. And oh yeah, the Bucs most recent time spent in 1st Place in the NL Central division, was the first time doing so since 1992. Playoffs?

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WordPress: ‘Complacency Is Suicide’ – Images by Jared Wickerham

Brand New: Petersen Sports Complex

University of Pittsburgh Panthers right fielder, Yvette Bravo #24, goes up to catch a ball on the warning track during the softball game against Louisville on First Pitch events day at the Petersen Sports Complex in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on April 9, 2011. The Panthers lost 10-3. (Copyright Jared Wickerham/wickphotography.com)

University of Pittsburgh shortshop, Derik Wilson #27, throws to first base during the baseball game against Villanova on First Pitch events day at the Petersen Sports Complex in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on April 9, 2011. (Copyright Jared Wickerham/wickphotography.com)

University of Pittsburgh Panthers soccer players Justin Boehm #5 and #6 go up for a header during the men's intrasquad soccer game on First Pitch events day at the Petersen Sports Complex in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on April 9, 2011. (Copyright Jared Wickerham/wickphotography.com)

University of Pittsburgh Panthers outfielder, Reba Tutt #22, leads her teammates in pregame rituals before the softball game against Louisville on First Pitch events day at the Petersen Sports Complex in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on April 9, 2011. The Panthers lost 10-3. (Copyright Jared Wickerham/wickphotography.com)

Holly Stevens #1 of the University of Pittsburgh Panthers celebrates with teammate Keli Gaynor #8 in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run during the softball game against Louisville on First Pitch events day at the Petersen Sports Complex in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on April 9, 2011. The Panthers lost 10-3. (Copyright Jared Wickerham/wickphotography.com)

First off, a huge thank you must go out to my good friend, Pete Madia (http://www.petemadia.com/) for asking me to help cover a long day of shooting at the brand new Petersen Sports Complex in Oakland.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to shoot many games covering three sports in a 6-hour period – baseball, softball, and men’s and women’s soccer. The Petersen Sports Complex was open and free to the public for any and all events going on that day in order to introduce the new facilities. And they’re quite nice! Crispy clean backgrounds, gorgeous light, and friendly coaches and staff – what more could you ask for?!

I’ve included some of my favorites in tonight’s post. Enjoy!

Take 2: Opening Day – Pittsburgh Pirates vs Colorado Rockies

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 07: Fans arrive at PNC Park prior to the Opening Day game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Colorada Rockies on April 7, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 07: General view of PNC Park during the Opening Day ceremonies before the game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Colorado Rockies on April 7, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 07: Former Pittsburgh Pirates manager Chuck Tanner is remembered by former World Series players during Opening Day ceremonies prior to the game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Colorado Rockies on April 7, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Tanner passed away earlier this year and the Pirates will wear a #7 patch in rememberance. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

 

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 07: Manager Clint Hurdle #13 of the Pittsburgh Pirates watches the opening ceremonies during the Opening Day game against the Colorada Rockies on April 7, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH – APRIL 07: Jose Lopez #22 of the Colorado Rockies turns the double play on Steve Pearce #51 of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the Opening Day game on April 7, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 07: Carlos Gonzalez #5 of the Colorado Rockies makes a diving catch during the Opening Day game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 7, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 07: A fan is apprehended after running onto the field during the Opening Day game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Colorado Rockies on April 7, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 07: Pedro Alvarez #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates fields a ground ball down the third base line against the Colorado Rockies during the Opening Day game on April 7, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 07: Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates makes a catch in the outfield during the Opening Day game against the Colorado Rockies on April 7, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 07: Pedro Alvarez #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates watches the game from the dugout against the Colorado Rockies during the Opening Day game on April 7, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 07: Paul Maholm #28 of the Pittsburgh Pirates is relieved by manager Clint Hurdle #13 during the Opening Day game against the Colorado Rockies on April 7, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 07: Troy Tulowitzki #2 celebrates with teammate Felipe Paulino #55 of the Colorado Rockies after their win against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the Opening Day game on April 7, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Finally an WARM Opening Day! And what a great gesture by the Pittsburgh Pirates to honor the late Chuck Tanner, former Pirates manager who led the “family” to a World Series championship in 1979, who passed away on February 11th, 2011 at the age of 82. Although I never was able to personally meet Chuck, he always brought a lot of joy into any room he walked into while working as an adviser for the Pirates.

What a day of hustling though. With all of the pregame ceremonies the Pirates had, I somehow managed to make a couple pictures from field level, and run (because the elevator was slow) all the way to the upper deck (something tells me there will come a year when the elevator is my only option) to shoot an overall of PNC Park.

All in all I was pretty happy with my take from the day. It’s a good feeling when you can walk away knowing that you didn’t miss any key moments and that all detail shots were covered as well. I even received a very kind email from a photojournalist from the NYC area on my images.

And to top it all off, the Pirates are .500, Cleveland has won 8 straight, and the Red Sox have the worst record in baseball. What a crazy start to the season!

Over-Heated in Cleveland

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I’ve only ever covered a couple Cleveland Cavaliers NBA games this year but both times they’ve been far from the favored team to win yet both times, they’ve won – which is pretty rare considering they’ve only won 15 games all year. When Carmelo, recently traded from the Denver Nuggets to the New York Knicks, played the Cavs, his new Knicks team lost 115-109.

Now enter one of the biggest moves in sports history: LeBron to Miami. In James’ second trip back to Cleveland since leaving via free agency, it was quite obvious that it was still a distraction being there. How could it not have been? Despite James’ laughing with courtside ticket holders and the Cavaliers staff, people were sending plenty of gestures and words his way the entire night. People paid a pretty penny for seats close to the court where they were sure of being within earshot of LeBron. In the end, the Heat, including a healthy Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, lost to last place Cavaliers, 102-90.

HELP: Knocking The Dust Off

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As most of you can see, this thing of mine hasn’t been updated very often. I’d say I do a pretty good job of keeping up-to-date on things: news, technology, etc. But blogs are something I know absolutely nothing about. Sure, I can put a couple photos and some thoughts together and post it. But things like changing the appearance of my blog or even formatting my blog to fit my photographs correctly are things I am utterly and completely lost on. I’m not one for excuses, but I’d say that not having this knowledge has deterred me from posting on a regular basis. So, to my blogging photographer friends, any help with setting up a clean, easy to use blog would be much appreciated! In return for your help, I will post some pictures. Deal?

In other news, baseball season has started! Many friends covering sports always tell me how much they can’t stand covering baseball. I’ve always been someone who tends to over think everything and I think for that reason, I enjoy shooting baseball. It may not be action at all times like hockey or football but when it does happen, you need to be mentally ready. Knowing specific player skills, tendencies, and rituals will also help you make the best images.

Just like the baseball players I cover, it takes a few games to get back into the routine, while at the same time making sure to not become complacent – always pushing yourself to make new images and keep things fresh.

While I attempt (once more) to get into both a blogging routine, as well as my baseball one, I encourage you all to help me grow as a blogger, photographer, and a person, and appreciate all comments and criticism.

I leave you with images of mine from the (very chilly) Cleveland Indians Opening Day game against the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox won in an offensive 15-10 match.

Thanks for your time!

–Jared

Covering Professional v High School Sports

I have a lot of up and coming photographers ask me how to get access to professional sporting events. The first thing out of my mouth is: “You’ll get better images shooting little league, high school, and local college games than you will at a sideline-crowded, pro level game.”

Yet, they seem to ignore this statement, as they continue to ask about covering their favorite pro teams.

Photo editors would much rather look at a portfolio of stellar high school sports images, than a bunch of “average”, stock-looking images from a professional football game. Just because you have a photo of the President of the United States, or the star quarterback of a pro football team, doesn’t mean it deserves to be in your portfolio. I know this because I was guilty of this in high school and when I first started college – but I quickly learned this was not the way to go about putting a portfolio together.

Maybe the light at the high school stadium isn’t the greatest but the moments you can come across, don’t often appear in it’s professional form.

Why am I telling you this? Well last night was a testament to this when I was covering a local high school girls soccer game. Another example was of a high school football game I covered a couple weeks back. These jubilation moments only happen during the playoffs or at a Super Bowl on the professional level. But at a high school where kids aren’t playing for a paycheck, this is the kind of genuine emotion you can achieve in your images:

 

Hayley Skovira #23 of Southmoreland High School is embraced by teammate Jessica Skovira #21 after she scored a goal in the first half against Mt Pleasant High School at Southmoreland High School in Alverton on October 7, 2010. Jared Wickerham Tribune Review

 

 

Jabrill Peppers #18 and the rest of the Don Bosco football team celebrate after their win against St Ignatius during the game at Harding Stadium in Steubenville, OH on September 25, 2010. Jared Wickerham