ESU Lacrosse Wins Over Fighting Raiders

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The Warriors started out comfortably ahead of the Raiders, but it became a battle. The contest started off with ESU scoring four straight uncontested goals. It looked like it might be a landslide, but Shippensburg took a strategic timeout and weathered the storm bravely. The battle was on!

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I still find capturing a scoring shot in Lacrosse to be difficult. Busy backgrounds and competing players blocking a clear view are among just two of the challenges. This goal (above photo) was scored by Cassidy McKenna in the second half.

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Shippensburg kept the pressure on and would not go away. The Warriors knew they were in a fight and they did not back down. The score was closer but they never lost the lead. Nicely timed goals made sure they kept the upper hand in this well-contested game.

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It was a beautiful day for a Lacroose game at Whitenight Field in East Stroudsburg. Fans from each team were cheering and encouraging the players from start to the very finish of this game. The Raiders would not go away and showed tenacious play time after time.

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The final score was ESU 14 – SU 12. It was a well-played game on both sides and bids well for these teams going into the homestretch of the season. On a day when Alyssa Oxenford was remembered for her battle with Leukemia, it was fitting for these teams to fight each other to the bitter end.

Big Day for ESU Baseball

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ESU hosted Kutztown on Monday afternoon for a doubleheader on a beautiful day. The weather was just right for baseball and the ESU players were just right for this matchup. Solid pitching and consistent at-bats were the plan of the day. Coaches just love it when a plan comes together!

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The Warriors scored 10 runs in the first game off two homeruns. RBIs resulted from getting men on base, moving them into scoring position, and then letting the bats at the plate do the work. With ducks on the pond, it looked almost easy.

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Baserunning is not as easy as it appears. Pickoff attempts, stealing bases, and line drives can wreak havoc for a runner on the basepaths. But ESU won these battles, too.

 

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An early collision at first base had some holding their breath for a moment or two. Fortunately, the play did not result in any serious injury. Play resumed with the runner on first base looking to get into scoring position.

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The second game seemed just as easy for ESU even though they scored half as many runs. Consistent hitting continued and the runs kept coming.

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Speed from the batter’s box to first base was also apparent in both of these games. Runners beat out a bang-bang play several times.

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ESU definitely had Kutztown in its sights. Most definitely!

Stingy Defense

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East Stroudsburg University faced West Chester University in a double-header softball game Monday afternoon. West Chester is on a roll this season, but ESU played tough and was definitely stingy on defense. Each game was close: 3-1 and 3-2. Plays at the plate, like this one above, kept the games close and within reach.

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Gritty defense and a willingness to get dirty are key components of a strong defensive effort. They say that defense wins games. Not always, but it sure does help!

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Allowing only 6 runs in 14 innings against West Chester was a huge effort for this scrappy team. Solid defense kept them in the game and only one hit away from turning the tide the other way. This may have been Opening Day for Major League Baseball, but these women put an equally exciting game on the field today!

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Bull in the River

This past weekend was a great one in the mountains! I was with my son, James, and we took our daily elk runs in the truck to locate and photograph the Pennsylvania Elk. Friday evening we saw a group of cows and then noticed a 4×5 bull standing in the river!

I grabbed my camera and tripod and made my way to a good vantage point and the fun began. Unbeknownst to me, James was capturing some video footage with his cell phone. The bull put on a quite a display for us.

There is nothing quite like a Friday night when you see and photograph a bull in the river!

Boring but Very Important Work!

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The big snowstorm hit the northeast this Tuesday and I was able to spend some valuable time at my desktop computer. This is something I haven’t done in a while. You see, I use my laptop for much of my work at sporting events. I have the routine down pat. I can quickly go through over a thousand photos, find the best ones to send to my editor, and then get them off to him. I use a color label scheme in Photo Mechanic and it works very well for me.

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The problem is two months later when my editor wants a photo of a specific player. It doesn’t matter which game, just a usable image of this player. Well, there is no time to poke around through all my images to find that small selection of photos of this player to send to my editor. Panic can set in pretty quickly and no one wants to make an editor wait. Thankfully, captions and keywords are the answer!

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Do you faithfully enter keywords and captions into your images? I confess that this is boring but very important work. Down the road it will pay off beautifully. Here is another scenario. I sell wildlife postcards at the Elk Country Visitor Center. So I decide to find some new photos that I haven’t yet used to make new postcards. Thankfully, I created a keyword combination: “Potential Postcard.” Now all I have to do is go to my Smart Collection in Lightroom, which contains all these potential postcards, pick the ones I like, and send them out to be printed. Previously, I did not use these keywords and locating new postcards was a pain. Now I can do it quickly and efficiently.

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Inputting keywords and captions is boring work. I admit it. In fact, I avoided it way too frequently. I remember something my dad used to say when he retired: “Why do today what you can put off ’til tomorrow?” Well, that might work in retirement, but not for keywording and captioning. Do it soon or pay dearly later.

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I recently read John Shaw’s e-Book, “Organizing and Locating Your Images Using Adobe Lightroom” where he describes using a hierarchical keyword scheme. It works like this. Suppose I want to add a keyword word for the location of an image. It was shot in a specific school during a basketball game, which is in a town and a state, too. I could enter the appropriate state, town, school, and gymnasium names individually or I could use a hierarchical scheme like this: LOCATION: State > Town > School > Gymnasium. Then, after setting up the hierarchical system, I could simply add the specific Gymnasium keyword to the image and automatically the School, Town, and State are added as well. Beautiful! It’s simple, once set up, and very quick!

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I am all about speed. I have to be in order to meet deadlines, which sometimes happen even during a game in progress! But boring work done soon after a game can repay itself over and over. I do not like boring or repetitive work, but with my sports and wildlife photography I know the critical importance of this so called boring work. I am learning to be more efficient, but I am also learning the importance of keywording and captioning. Are you? By the way, these images are ones I found when setting up my hierarchical keyword scheme. I forgot I even had some of these photographs so I thought I would give them a little exposure.

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Exciting Game to Photograph & Pocono Mountain West Wins!

I was asked to photograph the Pocono Mountain West PIAA Class 6A Tournament Game against Lower Merion. It was an opportunity I very much looked forward to because this time of year is always exciting in terms of basketball. Add to this a thrilling game and you are in for one incredible evening! The game started at 5:30pm and, of course, started with the tip off.

The teams came in evenly matched and everything was set for the thriller. The game started methodically, as each team began by testing the other and exchanging basket for basket at first. Then, Lower Merion scored and went ahead a little. It was still a back and forth game.

Then Lower Merion scored two 3-point shots in a row. They were on a roll and they appeared to know it. Pocono Mountain West did not appear to blink. They took the momentum shift in stride and went to the locker room at half-time down by six points. While the fans might not have sensed it at the time, the players seemed to exude a “we got this” attitude. Confidence is key in a big game and the second half would certainly dictate the outcome of this tournament game.

It did not take Pocono Mountain West long to erase the six-point deficit as the second half began. There was some more exchanges like two heavyweight boxers going toe-to-toe, but West was clearly gaining momentum and confidence in the game.

 

Watching this team work together on defense was one of the keys to the turnaround in the second half. Patience and persistence was paying off slowly but surely. Lower Merion was slowing the pace all game long. At fist, this seemed to frustrate the Panthers. The second half was a different story. They challenged the ball-handlers, forced some turnovers, and kept the opposing offense out of the paint. It was a strategy that worked to perfection.

The final score was 71-57 and showed how Pocono West not only weathered the storm but played confidently throughout the game and capped it with a strong finish. What a game and what a night for this talented basketball team! Congratulations, Pocono Mountain West!

New Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience Just Listed

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We just announced a new Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience, which will be held on October 2-5, 2017. This guided photo trip will take you to the amazing Pennsylvania Elk for a photographic experience you will not soon forget!

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Along the way, you will be around some neat and interesting people who, like you, share a passion for wildlife and outdoor photography. We present three different photography seminars, including how to set up your camera and photograph the PA Elk, and an in-depth look at how to use Adobe Lightroom for your photography. The final seminar is about wildlife photography ethics, the PA Elk Herd, and we also have you share your best five shots from the trip so we can learn from each other!

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You will have the opportunity to be out on six photo shoots to photograph the majestic elk during the fall rut when their activity is at an all-time high. The photographic possibilities are only limited by your imagination!

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We only have 1 more opening available for 2017 but we will be doing this again next year. Click here for more information.

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Photos that Almost Made My Portfolio

My last blog post was about how to create a sports photography portfolio. I suggested that about 20 photos is a good number of photos in a portfolio. Well, today, I am going to share a few photos that almost made it into my portfolio but did not. I will explain the details of why each one did not make the cut.

This was a tough one for me to not include in my portfolio because I love the action of this photograph. The players are airborne, the hair reveals the motion, the ball can be seen, and the composition is tight. The problem is we do not see any faces in this photo. If the ballcarrier’s face was visible, that might have been enough for it to make the cut. Another problem is the tackler’s body is cut in half, which is not a good way to compose a sports photo.

This photograph definitely shows peak action. You can even see the receiver’s eyes as he is looking for the upcoming hit and he is high in the air catching the ball. I also like the definition of the calf muscles showing on the cornerback. The biggest problem with this photograph is that it is crooked–just look at the goalpost. Trying to straighten it in Lightroom would cut off some of the legs of the cornerback and hide the muscles. I could have isolated just the receiver but decided that this photo just wasn’t going to make it into my portfolio.

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This photograph was also hard for me to eliminate from my sports portfolio. It shows action, is sharply focused, and captures the baseball as it is leaving the batter’s bat. It also shows the face of the batter in some beautiful sunlight late in the day. The problem is the background–that chainlink fence and steel pole. I know some fields have this kind of fence all over the place and I find it hard to capture better backgrounds at many of the games I shoot, but a clean background is necessary to better isolate the player in a photo. I still go back and forth on this particular photo because of the magic light, but the background seems to be the breaker for me.

As you can see from these three photos, there are some photos that are the almost good enough but not quite. We have to be our own worst critics if we are going to get better and improve our portfolios. Narrowing down to 20 photos is not easy. Think about what an editor would say about your photograph. Why should it make the cut? Why shouldn’t it? Making such decisions are not always easy but they certainly are necessary.

Building a Sports Portfolio

Howie Stevens' bunted ball leaves a cloud of dust  against Stroudsburg.

Howie Stevens’ bunted ball leaves a cloud of dust against Stroudsburg.

Building a sports photography portfolio is much like building a portfolio in most styles of photography. The first step is to make stunning images that will cause a viewer of the photo to stop for a moment when they see the photograph. I am often asked about my preferred use of the verb “making” a photo instead of “taking” a photo. I was influenced by teachers and mentors who taught me that we create photographs through the use of composition and exposure. Even as a photojournalist, the eye with which we see news can and often does influence us to press the camera shutter at a precise moment and help express a meaningful moment. Why include one subject in a photograph over another? What is it that captures our eye in that scene? Instead of taking photographs, I much prefer to say we capture or make photographs. After all, we are visual artists, at least to some degree.

After acquiring a healthy number of sports photos, how do we decide which photos make it into our portfolio? This, again, is more art than science. However, a few basic guidelines might be helpful to us. First and foremost, the image must be sharply focused. A soft image is one that is not tack sharp and has no business being in our portfolio. A few exceptions might be capturing a critical moment of peak action or a panning shot where we intentionally blur part of the photo. I also believe a worthy image in our portfolio should show some action in some way. The photo below does not show a lot of action but the towel at the quarterback’s waist does help.



How many photos should be in our portfolio? I struggle with this a little bit mostly because I sometimes find it hard to decide on one photo over another. Twenty photos is what I’ve heard is a good number and I try to be around that number for my portfolio. The rule of thumb is to only show our very best work in the field of photography we are hoping to pursue. Too many photographs can be a problem and even cause boredom. Editors should be able to get a good sense of our photographic abilities by seeing twenty of our top photographs.

Another important consideration is how to share and show our portfolio. Years ago the expected standard was enlarged photos on a matte board in a portfolio folder. This can still be one way to share our portfolio, but electronic mediums have become the norm nowadays. Showing a portfolio on our website or tablet is a very good way to share a portfolio with others.

I will share one final thought on this topic today: we cannot rest on our laurels. In other words, we can never think that our portfolio is finalized. Rather, we need to be out there shooting the next photos in our portfolio in order to get better!

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