Showing the Action in Sports Photography

I really like the challenge of capturing the action of a game with my camera. I always say that each game has a unique story to tell as it unfolds and it is our job to capture that action as sports photographers. It isn’t always easy and there are plenty of things that can go wrong, but there is something mighty special that happens when it all comes together!

Athletes try to put their best game on the field, so shouldn’t we sports photographers attempt to do the same thing, too? Paying attention to every play is a start, but I also think it is a mindset as well. I can tell when my mind starts to wander or when I am not quite in the right mindset during a game. I have to readjust my thinking and sometimes my attitude. The very next play could be the big one!

Capturing the action on the field is all about being ready, good planning and timing, and even a little luck along the way. It is definitely a challenge to tell the game’s story with our photography, but I enjoy and embrace this challenge wholeheartedly as a sports photographer.

Do you think these photographs show the action of the game? Do they tell the game story adequately? What do you think about these photos?

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Never Give Up! (The story behind my most recently published baseball photograph)

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Today I had another sports photograph published in the Pocono Record, but the story behind this photograph is not about me.

http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140506/SPORTS/405060334

Dan Heckman, the batter in the photo, is an outfielder for the Pleasant Valley Bears. He hasn’t gotten much playing time this season, but Monday afternoon he did and he shined big time! Heckman hit a single in the last inning, producing 2 RBIs on the solid line drive. Earlier he hit a sacrifice fly for another RBI.

So here is a player who hasn’t seen much field time, but he did not give up! He is a team player and had the chance today to be out on the field. He definitely made it count!

Heckman’s lesson to all of us: never give up. Keep your head up, contribute to the team whenever and however you can, and be patient: your chance will come, and when it does, make the most of it. Heckman did!

Pleasant Valley Hosts East Stroudsburg South

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Pleasant Valley hosted the Cavaliers of East Stroudsburg South on a bright and warm afternoon. The sky was blue and the temperature was baseball ready!

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The Cavaliers jumped out to an early lead in the first inning. They then put some solid defense on the field for the first few innings. It looked for all intensive purposes like it was going to be a one-sided game.

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But the Bears never gave up. They battled back to bring the score to 10-5 in the fourth.

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In the end, South defeated PV by a score of 10-7, but it was an exciting game to the last out!

To see more photos of the game, click here:
http://bobshankphotography.com/Gallery%20Photos/BB%202014-04-02/

Pleasant Valley Wins Their Home Opener

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Travis Van Houten took the mound for Pleasant Valley in their home opener as they hosted East Stroudsburg North on a beautiful April Fool’s Day in Brodheadsville. The game started evenly after an inning as each team’s defense did the job. Van Houten pitched efficiently and recorded six outs without much trouble.

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Then PV put together some hits. Here in the photo above, pinch runner Jerry Peechatka, stole second base. PV went up 2-0 and never looked back. Van Houten worked out of some possible trouble several times and the PV defense assisted nicely.

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The portable home run fence was not up yet and a couple of long bombs might have cleared that fence if it was in place. But PV kept the pressure on, worked out of trouble, and looked solid in their home opener.

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Thomas Aruta had two hits to help the team work to a 5-0 advantage, which would be the final score. PV baseball is now in full swing and the team is looking good! Tomorrow they host East Stroudsburg South.

You can view more photos from today’s game here:
http://bobshankphotography.com/Gallery%20Photos/BB%202014-04-01/

Baseball Opener!

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Baseball season is under way! The Pleasant Valley Bears traveled to Bethlehem to take on Freedom in the season opener. It was very windy, reminding us we are still in the ides of March, but it was a great day for baseball!

The Bears struck first and the game see-sawed back and forth inning after inning. This was the very first day PV was on the diamond because the winter weather still has a grip on their field in Brodheadsville.

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The game showed much promise for the team and competing with a Lehigh Valley team on the first game of the season is always a great way to start! The new, young players stepped up to the plate, Brendan Kearns hit a home run over the right field wall, and the players worked together to score 4 runs on three hits. Good, patient at-bats helped in the nip-n-tuck game.

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Yep, baseball season is now underway, and PV showed it will be an exciting season to be sure!

 

Non-action Sports Images Help Tell the Story Too!

Coppin v. NavySports photography is made up of more than just action shots. We all try to capture the peak action shots for sure, but there are also other significant photos which help to tell the game story. The above photo, for example, shows the relaxed and maybe even fun-loving nature of a batter on deck.

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This shot was captured between the games of a doubleheader as the player is finding ways to patiently wait for the second game to begin.

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The back of a player waiting on deck with just a slight profile of his face probably will not be published, but it still helps to tell the story of the game.

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Coaches talking to players before an inning is another potentially captivating image. You can see the intense listening from some of the players and the urgency in the coach’s face. The old quote is: “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” Don’t just aim for the action shots, capture a wider perspective of each game story!

 

 

 

More Fall Baseball

Coppin v. NavyThis is football season and I’ve been shooting a lot of high school football lately. But on Saturday when I was picking up my son, James, from the Naval Academy, we attended the Coppin v. Navy baseball game. I always enjoy trying to capture the action at a game and I had my camera, so why not?

The first game was very close–just a one run game. Navy held on to record the win.

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I enjoy shooting at Bishop Stadium in Annapolis, MD. I can go to the top of the stands and get nice, clear backgrounds, like the one above. Backgrounds are critical to a good, quality photograph. A background can make or break a photo. Chain link fences, parked cars, trashcans, and empty stands are all troublesome backgrounds. Yuck!

Shooting a baseball game in the midst of football season was a a good change-up for me. Sorry for the pun, but it was fun! I hope you enjoy these photos from Saturday’s baseball game. More will probably be coming sometime soon. The second game wasn’t as close but it was still a lot of fun to see the athletes in action!

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Fall Baseball – College Style

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Today I picked up our son, James Shank, from the Naval Academy as he was attending Candidate’s Weekend. Pickup time was 10:45am. We then ate an early lunch at Dry Dock and decided to attend the fall baseball game between Coppin and Navy.

Fall baseball for me was a new concept back when I was coaching Little League baseball. I always thought baseball was a game played in the spring and summer, not the fall. I’m glad I was wrong!

James moved from Little League to the Lehigh Valley Baseball Academy. We met another player named Jay Maletz who now plays at Coppin! So, we attended today’s game to catch the game and watch Maletz in action.

We were not disappointed! In the second game, Maletz had the sole RBI for his team and played a strong first base! This is Maletz’s hit in the second game of the doubleheader.

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Here is is making an incredible scoop to record the out.

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Coppin v. NavyI love fall baseball!

 

 

My New Portfolios

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Sports photography is my passion! There is just nothing more exciting, challenging, thrilling, and, yes, sometimes frustrating, than photographing a sporting event. Football season is now in full swing and I am learning more and more about how to photograph the game to capture the story-telling action. I love it!

I am slowly but surely adding better quality photos to my website, so I decided it was time to create and build new sports portfolios. One of my hopes was to create a slideshow-style portfolio featuring my photographs so viewers, editors, and potential clients can easily view my work. I also wanted the portfolios to be simple, yet attractive.

My newly updated sports portfolios can be viewed here: http://bobshankphotography.com/Baseball%20Portfolio.html

I think I achieved what I was hoping for in this redesign. Take a few moments to view my photo portfolios. Let me know what you think of the new design. Does it work well to show and highlight my sports photography abilities?

PV in Another Extra-Inning Battle with Stroudsburg

Shortstop, Danny Hrbek, turns an unassisted double play in the early innings of this rematch.

Shortstop, Danny Hrbek, turns an unassisted double play in the early innings of this rematch.

Pleasant Valley hosted Stroudsburg in a rematch of an earlier season game that went eight innings. This important game played up to the hype and went nine innings! It was another nip and tuck game for both sides and showed just how evenly matched these teams really are on the diamond. The game started an hour earlier due to impending rain that was predicted to be on the way. The weather storms held off, but the thunder of bats driving balls deep kept the fans on the edge of their seats throughout this thrilling game.

Dylan Pasnak pitched a masterful game against Strodusburg tonight. He was locating pitches, and started out ahead in the counts. It was arguably the best game he put on the mound all season!

Dylan Pasnak pitched a masterful game against Stroudsburg tonight. He was locating pitches, and started out ahead in the counts. It was arguably the best game he put on the mound all season!

Dylan Pasnak pitched a masterful game. He gave up two, first inning runs on three hits. After the game he said the mound was not in great shape at the beginning of the game and it was throwing his stride off a little bit. He fought through it and got stronger as the game progressed. His fastball seemed to actually get faster with each passing inning! His pitches resulted in a lot of ground balls. Some hits went deep into the outfield, but the outfielders did an excellent job tracking them down, including one incredible diving catch by center fielder Troy Van Houten in the top of the fifth inning!

Ariel Mejia slides into second base on a successful steal attempt.

Ariel Mejia slides into second base on a successful steal attempt.

There were times when PV was aggressive on the base paths. Ariel Mejia stole second base, and on another play, Dan Hrbek stole third base and Adam Raseley followed behind to steal second base on a beautiful double steal! This is something PV will have to do more of in the Semi-Final game against Pocono Mountain East in their bid to get to the MVC Championship Game again this year. They are on track and sitting well going into next week’s MVC Championship Games.

Second baseman, Austin Yoffredo, records the putout by throwing to first base.

Second baseman, Austin Yoffredo, records the put out by throwing to first base.

There were a large number of ground outs in this game. Joey Deperno, the Stroudsburg starting pitcher, did well on the mound. He commanded most of his pitches and pitched deep into the game, only being taken out in the 8th inning after he threw 117 pitches. Dylan Pasnak was able to pitch deep into the game, too, thanks to the ground outs, which kept his pitch count just over 100 as well, topping out at 107 pitches thrown. It was a close game between these two teams and even position by position.

Catcher, James Shank, is ready to receive the pitch, but the Stroudsburg hitter has other plans!

Catcher, James Shank, is ready to receive the pitch, but the Stroudsburg hitter has other plans!

This game went into extra innings, knotted up 3 to 3. It took nine innings to determine the outcome when Stroudsburg crossed a runner over the plate on an error. That’s how close this game was and how evenly matched these teams are on the field. In the two regular-season games, they were each decided by one run in extra innings! The regular season is winding down as PV faces Whitehall tomorrow. Then the MVC Finals will be played next week.

Go Bears!