My favourite pics from 2014

Here a selection of pictures I liked during a fun year of photographing Dundee football club.

Jim McAlister celebrates after scoring Dundee's second goal  - Raith Rovers v Dundee,  SPFL Championship at Starks Park

Jim McAlister celebrates after scoring Dundee’s second goal in the last minute of the match at Raith Roverson January 2nd

Christian Nade signs for Dundee in January 2014 - the big guy wasn't at Dens long but what an impact he had on the race for the Championship - this pic was used by The Scotsman to accompany an article by the best football writer in Scotland, Alan Patullo

Christian Nade signs for Dundee in January 2014 – the big guy wasn’t at Dens long but what an impact he had on the race for the Championship – this pic was used by The Scotsman to accompany an article by the best football writer in Scotland, Alan Patullo

Paul Hartley photographed after being introduced to the media on his appointment as manager of Dundee - lit by the lights for SKY TV cameras

Paul Hartley photographed after being introduced to the media on his appointment as manager of Dundee – lit by the lights for SKY TV cameras

Fans celebrate with striker Peter MacDonald after the "miracle of Recreation Park" - Second last game of the season and Dundee trailed Hamilton Accies at the top of the table - until Dumbarton did the Dark Blues a favour by beating the league leaders - Dundee's 3-0 win in the Alloa sunshine put them back on top and needing a win in their final match to snatch the title.

Fans celebrate with striker Peter MacDonald after the “miracle of Recreation Park” – Second last game of the season and Dundee trailed Hamilton Accies at the top of the table – until Dumbarton did the Dark Blues a favour by beating the league leaders – Dundee’s 3-0 win in the Alloa sunshine put them back on top and needing a win in their final match to snatch the title.

Final whistle after Dundee had beaten Dumbarton 2-1 to seal the title - Jim McAlister and Nicky Riley hug, while in the background Kyle Benedictus and Declan Gallagher mirror their reaction - an absolutely magic moment.

Final whistle after Dundee had beaten Dumbarton 2-1 to seal the title – Jim McAlister and Nicky Riley hug, while in the background Kyle Benedictus and Declan Gallagher mirror their reaction – an absolutely magic moment.

Fans celebrate on the pitch after Dundee had won the title - I climbed into the stand to get high enough to shoot pics of the crowd on the pitch - pushing my way past loads of people going in the opposite direction to celebrate.

Fans celebrate on the pitch after Dundee had won the title – I climbed into the stand to get high enough to shoot pics of the crowd on the pitch – pushing my way past loads of people going in the opposite direction to celebrate.

The night after the championship win and Kyle Letheren picks up Dundee's player of the year award, little more than 24 hours after he'd made the save of his life to secure the title - maybe my favourite photograph of the year.

The night after the championship win and Kyle Letheren picks up Dundee’s player of the year award, little more than 24 hours after he’d made the save of his life to secure the title – maybe my favourite photograph of the year.

The Guv' and the boss - Dundee captain Gavin Rae ends his career with a league title - and I was privileged to be on the city chambers balcony with him in front of thousands of fans as  he paraded the trophy.

The Guv’ and the boss – Dundee captain Gavin Rae ends his career with a league title – and I was privileged to be on the city chambers balcony with him in front of thousands of fans as he paraded the trophy.

And here's some of the crowd in the city square - I was actually booked by the paper to shoot Dundee United fans from the same position the following Sunday if their team won the Scottish Cup - I got that day off.

And here’s some of the crowd in the city square – I was actually booked by the paper to shoot Dundee United fans from the same position the following Sunday if their team won the Scottish Cup – I got that day off.

Dundee  United's Scott Fraser (left) and Dundee's Craig Wighton - Dundee v Dundee United, SPFL Development League at Gayfield, Arbroath - I love the light at Gayfield in the early evening at the start and end of the season

Dundee United’s Scott Fraser (left) and Dundee’s Craig Wighton – Dundee v Dundee United, SPFL Development League at Gayfield, Arbroath – I love the light at Gayfield in the early evening at the start and end of the season

A wee man gets behind his team as Dundee draw with Celtic at Dens - everything that's good about football is in this pic.

A wee man gets behind his team as Dundee draw with Celtic at Dens – everything that’s good about football is in this pic.

Thomas Konrad heads home Dundee's winner -  St Johnstone v Dundee, SPFL Premiership at McDiarmid Park - I've not used a remote behind the goal often enough in the last year, but his goal worked out nicely for me.

Thomas Konrad heads home Dundee’s winner – St Johnstone v Dundee, SPFL Premiership at McDiarmid Park – I’ve not used a remote behind the goal often enough in the last year, but his goal worked out nicely for me.

The day Dundee went viral - sadly it was mainly the video rather than my pics of this - but this pic was used big in the Daily Mail - Dundee's Jim McAlister grabs Gary Harkins in imitation of internet meme #rkoouttanowhere (named after wrestler Randy Orton) after the midfielder had scored against Motherwell at Fir Park  - Motherwell v Dundee, SPFL Premiership at Fir Park

The day Dundee went viral – sadly it was mainly the video rather than my pics of this – but this pic was used big in the Daily Mail – Dundee’s Jim McAlister grabs Gary Harkins in imitation of internet meme #rkoouttanowhere (named after wrestler Randy Orton) after the midfielder had scored against Motherwell at Fir Park – Motherwell v Dundee, SPFL Premiership at Fir Park

Last minute winner in the cup - can't beat it, especially when the players block every other photographer during the celebration  - David Clarkson celebrates after firing Dundee into the 5th round -  Dundee v Aberdeen, William Hill Scottish FA Cup 4th round at Dens Park

Last minute winner in the cup – can’t beat it, especially when the players block every other photographer during the celebration – David Clarkson celebrates after firing Dundee into the 5th round – Dundee v Aberdeen, William Hill Scottish FA Cup 4th round at Dens Park

Last game of the year and with the South Enclosure shut to fans due to a burst pipe Dundee mascot Deewok cuts a lonely figure - Dundee v St Mirren, SPFL Premiership at  Dens Park

Last game of the year and with the South Enclosure shut to fans due to a burst pipe Dundee mascot Deewok cuts a lonely figure – Dundee v St Mirren, SPFL Premiership at
Dens Park

That’s my look back at the year – not necassarily the key moments, nor the most technically perfect pictures I took this year, but they’re my favourites.

Happy New Year – It all starts again tomorrow.

What’s the story?

No matter what you’re photographing the secret is to find the story, even if your subject is something as simple as football. It’s not just getting clean pics of guys challenging for the ball and making sure you get the goals (you’ll miss some unless you are getting frames from other photographers – yes that’s how some of the big names never miss a goal) and celebrations.

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Last weekend I shot Dundee’s win at Motherwell in the SPFL Premiership, a pretty much run of the mill game and not one that most people would think had much of a story, but there were several.

From Dundee’s perspective (and that’s my angle, I shoot Dundee attack every week and my audience is largely their fans) there was the return to the squad of captain Kevin Thomson, who was on the bench – so I had to make sure I got pics of him, as he wasn’t starting I made sure I got a pic of him pre-match. He got on the pitch in the second half and I got action shots and a photo of him applauding the support at the end, first story done – and a couple of them made the paper.

Motherwell v Dundee

The next story was the return to Motherwell of David Clarkson, the Dundee striker spent ten years at Fir Park and is a local hero in that part of Lanarkshire, not just for his exploits in their colours but also because he was the nephew of Phil O’Donnell who died while playing alongside David on the Fir Park pitch back in 2007. The only player to have worn O’Donnell’s number 10 jersey since that is Clarkson – but the mascot at the top of this post had a replica of Phil’s shirt. I’m not 100% sure but I think this was David’s first return to Motherwell to play for another team – so task number two was to get action pics of Clarkson.

From my point of view this story looked like it would be the main one of the day, as Clarkson scored so early in the game that my first frame of the match with my 70-200 lens was his goal – result – didn’t make the paper though, they used an agency shot from the other end.

Motherwell v Dundee

It was interesting and refreshing to hear respectful applause from the Motherwell fans after David had scored – applause for an opposition goal isn’t something that happens very often.

Thomson’s return from injury and Clarkson’s return to Motherwell were the stories that I knew about before arriving at the ground but the next couple were totally unexpected.

Dundee keeper Kyle Letheren got injured in the warm up which meant that summer signing Scott Bain made his league debut and that young right back Andy Black would be the designated substitute goalie.

Motherwell v Dundee

Motherwell v Dundee

My pics of Bain made the paper but young Andy didn’t, but it means they have a picture of him on file for when he makes the squad in the future.

The last story from my angle was even more unexpected, a couple of the Dundee players, Gary Harkins and Jim McAlister had noticed the craze of adding images of WWE wrestler Randy Orton to clips of people falling over in tribute to his #RKOouttanowhere move and the commentators’ reaction to it before posting them on Vine – and the two players decided to bring it to life when Harkins scored.

Motherwell v Dundee

I’d seen a couple of the vines but not made the connection until I posted a pic of one of the images on the back of my camera on twitter at half time and got loads of responses from people who spotted what it was.

Dundee posted a clip of the celebration on their official YouTube channel and on their newly created Vine account and it simply went viral – as I write they have received 1,184,200 hits on YouTube and around 2.5 million loops on Vine, helped by Orton mentioning them in a tweet and reposting of the video on loads of major websites.

The paper I primarily shoot for didn’t cover the story at all but the Daily Mail did and they used one of my pics of the celebration on Monday.

There’s alway a story, sometimes lots of them –  If I was just covering the game I’m not sure I’d have realised what they were. I shoot them for my audience, if I’d been primarily covering Motherwell the stories would have been different.

What’s today’s story?

no instagram required

no istagram required

Waiting for the sunset at Mallory Square, Key West, USA

Not updated this blog in a long time, but here’s a pic from the holiday I’ve just returned from in the Florida Keys. As I took it I was eavesdropping on a conversation between a girl who was explaining how awesome Instagram was making her pics to her friend – Had a little chuckle to myself, this really was the last place in the world that adding a filter was going to improve a picture.

Three that got away

St Mirren goalkeeper Craig Samson is beaten by Iain Davidson’s header – but the Dundee midfielder was offside

Three games into the new football season and I’ve still to get my first Dundee goal to shoot – here’s three that came close on Saturday as the Dark Blues lost to St Mirren.

Read more of this post

Lit portrait

Lit portraits

Dundee new boy Davide Grassi
I’ve been shooting Dundee’s new signings over the summer and have been doing some of the shots with off camera flash – here’s one of Italian defender David Grassi, sky was cloudy and boring so dropped the ambient a fair bit to add some drama to this pic.
Technical stuff: Canon 1dmkii with 17-40L lens at 17mm and f14 – 1/250th second exposure – Canon 430ex six feet right of camera triggered by ETTL with on camera 550ex (fired away from subject to trigger 430)

Love the Dundee derby

Dundee fans

The last few months have seen Scottish football in meltdown as Rangers imploded financially but on Saturday I saw a bright light of hope for my local teams. Read more of this post

Lovely light

Lovely lightFootball is back and I’m shooting Dundee’s pre-season friendlies, which so far has involved a couple of quick trips to the North of England. It’s been pretty much pouring all week in Scotland, but both trips down South have brought beautiful weather and lovely little grounds, at Lancaster City and Kendal Town, to shoot in. Early in last night’s game at Kendal there were light pockets all over the ground and I liked the light in this picture of Dundee captain Stephen O’Donnell. It was good too to see former Dundee player Robbie Raeside watching his old club on the road.

Stephen O’Donnell fires in a free kick

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