NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Regional – Allentown, PA

Yesterday I had the opportunity to photograph the NCAA Men’s Hockey Regional in Allentown, PA at the PPL Center. I had photographed the Phantoms a few times in their home arena here but that was several years ago. But at least I remembered some of the good locations from which to shoot. I enjoy photographing ice hockey because of the challenge. The speed of the game alone makes it difficult to get usable images.

IH2203252 0147


Many years ago, I played ice hockey recreationally and was a goalie. In my favorite wildest dreams I imagined myself being something like Jim Craig who was on the USA Olympic Ice Hockey Team in 1980 when they won unexpectedly against the USSR. Unlike Craig, I didn’t play in front of large, cheering crowds. Rather, I played on a quiet farm pond with a bunch of my friends and neighbors. Just the same, I just loved stopping pucks from making it into the goal!

IH220325 2634

IH220325 2071

When I was a little kid, my dad took my brother and me to the Hershey Bears games. Dad got the affordable tickets and we sometimes had to settle for standing room only. But dad always said it didn’t matter how far away from the ice you were, if you could get a corner position you could see the whole rink. We almost always sat in one of the corners. To this day, I like photographing from a corner, too. I can see up the entire side board, see all of center ice, be in position to photograph the action at the goal, and also get a great view of the action behind the goal line. Thanks, dad!

IH2203252 0991

Like  in all the sports I photograph, I believe my job is to capture the action and tell the game story of the athletes playing the game. Emotions, skills, passions, and sometimes even scuffles show when the competition gets fierce. I am competitive myself. I hate losing. For me the challenge is the sport I am photographing. It is a loss if I do not get one usable image for an editor or media outlet. It might not be a huge win to get just one such usable photograph, but if I can manage to shoot a nice collection of usable photos that tell the game story, my editors are happy and so am I.

IH2203252 0710

I enjoy sports photography for a variety of reasons. First, I love sports. My dad loved sports and got my brother and me involved from an early age. To this day we both have a strong passion for sports–Dave is a 110% PSU sports fan. He even has a special Penn State Room, which clearly and brilliantly shows his passion for Penn State Sports. And he is knowledgable about it too; knowing the athletes and coaches by name and following their successes both on and off the field! Secondly, the athletes are just amazing. I covered East Stroudsburg University sports for eight years and following their teams with my camera provided one opportunity after another to see these amazing athletes in action. Just today I went back through some of the comments on my posted photos in Instagram, many of the comments were written by the athletes. Their show of appreciation for my photos was simply amazing to me. Last, but not least, I enjoy the creative side of sports photography. Yes, my job is to make usable photographs that can be chosen by editors to use in media outlets. This typically requires a face or two in the shot, and the puck or ball in the image, among other things. Many times my favorite photo from a game I shoot would never make an editor very happy or prompt him or her to use that photograph in any way. Creativity is an ambiguous thing. What seemingly works for one, may not be judged to work at all for another. You’ve got to keep your eyes open even after the play or the goal is scored. Keep shooting and keep creating. To me, this is what sports photography is all about!

IH2203252 0600


Anytime we are outdoors on a photo shoot the weather can change. At the very least, we need to be prepared for this change by being sure to have extra clothing. I like to say, “prepare for the worst and hope for the best!”

I actually enjoy the weather changes we experience in the outdoors. I used to sit with my dad on our front porch watching the lightning hit the power line towers in the field across from our house. I guess my fascination with weather changes does come from my dad.

The other great thing about these weather changes is they make great photographic subjects!

Most photographers like good weather, especially when we are out in the elements. We also know, however, how a cloudy day can create better lighting situations on a mid-day scene. One good rule of thumb for wildlife and nature photographers is to stay out when the weather changes. Caution is certainly to be advised in extreme weather, but when the clouds do come they can create some interesting photographs.

The next time you are out and the weather begins to change, consider sticking with it to capture the weather changes with your camera.

A Tribute to My Dad – A Man Who Truly Loved the Mountains!

I was away on vacation; up in the mountains, in fact, when I received word that my dad died.

I immediately packed up a few essentials and traveled the three-hour trip to be with my mom, brother, and the rest of our family. That three-hour drive was therapeutic for me as I recollected past memories spent in the mountains with my dad. After all, it was my dad who showed me a true love for the mountains. This love for the mountains was passed down to me and then down to my son as well. Here is how I express it: “There is no place like the mountains.” Dad taught me this and spent a lot of time teaching me the mountain ways. I will forever be grateful! He would often take his crossbows and go to the mountains. I recently found this site about crossbows and it had some amazing reviews.

Dad also enjoyed viewing the Pennsylvania elk. He found several antler sheds over the years. His proudest find was a matched set of 6x6s when he followed that bull for three days to get the matched antler. He always said, “I ate, drank, and slept with that bull for three days!” He also fed the elk at times when it used to be legal to do so. Later, as his life slowed down, he had a hard time understanding why it was illegal to feed the elk. I suppose it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but my dad really wasn’t all that old by today’s standards as he just turned 70 this past April.

Dad first saw the Pennsylvania elk in 1988 when he accompanied Perk Nye up to Benezette, PA. They were both in the vehicle when they first spotted their first elk and Perk yelled, “Caribou! Caribou!” because he was so excited that he misspoke their true identity. It wasn’t long afterward that Perk bought property on the Gilbert Farm. Then in 1990, on a tip from my dad, I purchased three properties on the old Winslow Farm, then known as the Busy-Bee Subdivision and now known as the Blue Sky Subdivision.

Dad spent many days and nights up on the elk range. He spent time there with my mom, Judy; his oldest brother, Lloyd; his younger brother, Dale; his youngest son, Dave; his grandchildren, Michael, James, and Lydia; and me. We shared many special times up in those mountains and created some mighty special memories! Dad taught me a lot of mountain and life lessons, but most of all he taught me to love the land, the mountains, and God’s Creation. It was these important lessons that prompted me to start photographing the elk much more seriously about four years ago. Dad always enjoyed seeing the photographs we produced because he loved the elk and enjoyed seeing them in all their glory.

Two weeks before his death, dad was up on the mountains with my brother,  his wife, and my mom. They had a great time together and dad enjoyed that weekend in the mountains seeing the elk. As everyone else was loading up the vehicle on Sunday to return home, dad was standing at the window in our camp crying. My mom asked him what was the matter. He said, “This will be the last time I will be in the mountains.”

He was correct. Perhaps he knew his time was growing short but none of us in the family knew it was going to be this quick. In the end, dad got his wish as he passed on to eternity in his sleep. He used to always say, “If I have the choice, I’d die in my sleep.” Dad passed peacefully which was his wish. Our family was surprised and a little shocked by his sudden passing, but we are comforted to know the faith dad taught us so well. We are only sad for our loss. We are very happy for dad’s new residence in heaven, where I imagine he is discovering some new and incredible mountains! He is probably making new mountain discoveries with Perk, my grandparents, and all those who have a love for the mountains.

I will certainly miss my dad; especially those special times we shared in the mountains during bear season, deer season, and on many other occasions throughout the years.

I will keep going to the mountains to cherish the memories my dad gave to me and I will keep photographing the Pennsylvania elk to the best of my ability to pass on the love of the elk that my dad passed down to me. The circle of life will keep on going–albeit with a few sad moments knowing my dad won’t be sharing these special times with me physically, but certain that one day we will roam the mountains of heaven together. I can’t wait for the lessons my dad will teach me then!