Fall Baseball – College Style

Coppin v. Navy

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.

Coppin v. Navy

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

Coppin v. Navy

Coppin v. NavyI love fall baseball!



Bulls in Late Fall

The colors are not nearly as brilliant as they were a month ago, but capturing a bull in the late fall in its natural setting is still worth capturing. Some photographers limit their outings to the fall rut when the elk activity is at its peak. This is understandable, but there is not a bad time throughout the entire year that is not worth the effort to be out photographing the Pennsylvania elk.

This is true for any photo subject. The best way to get better is to be out photographing your favorite subjects as much as possible. Cal Ripken, Jr. says this: “Perfect practice makes practice.” His theory reflects that it is not just practice, but perfect practice that helps us get better. This is true in baseball as well as in wildlife photography. One problem is that we can tend to crawl up beside a warm, comfy wood stove as the days get shorter. This is a mistake for any serious photographer, especially wildlife photographers. The sun sets differently in the late fall and winter sky than it does in the summer, which creates a different sunset to capture with our cameras. As a matter of fact, I was standing out in a misty rain with my long johns on during this particular photo shoot.

The late fall sees the elk habits change, too. Sure, a few bulls are still anxious to breed a cow, but now things are slowing down and the elk are thinking more about putting on weight to endure the upcoming winter. They gain weight by eating, so the photographer has to be patient, waiting for an elk to look up from eating. Patience is a virtue and this is no more true anywhere than with wildlife photography!

So, put on some warm clothes, grab your camera gear, and venture out into the wild this late fall season. When you come back into the warmth of your home or cabin, you will be glad you braved the elements to photograph wildlife. After all, to be a good wildlife photographer we have to spend more time in their habitat throughout the whole year!

Pleasant Valley vs. Notre Dame – Fall Baseball

Two good teams faced each other on October 8th in a baseball showdown. The fans were treated to a true fall spectacle as the teams battled it out in fall-like weather. The above photo shows the second baseman, Adam Raseley, throwing a runner out at first. He cleanly fielded the ground ball and made the throw to first to record the out.

Here, pitcher, Chris Burke, waits for the signs from the catcher with eager anticipation! He’s ready to get into his windup but he needs the sign first. You can see the 4-seam grip in his hand as he awaits the sign for the proper pitch. Then, if needed, a slight turn of the baseball gets him ready to deliver the pitch.

Connor Cardenas gets safely back into first base as the late tag is applied. Connor extended his lead on the next pitch and stole second base with ease!

This swing by James Shank produced a double that went to the fence.

Howie Stevens’ swing produced the game-winning RBI, to lift the Pleasant Valley Bears to a 1-0 victory in a closely contested and very competitive ballgame!

To see all the photographs of this game, click here.

Pleasant Valley vs. Stroudsburg Baseball

The first day of the high school fall baseball tournament featured Pleasant Valley vs. Stroudsburg.

The game started out with a bang as Stroudsburg crossed five players over home plate to go up 5-0. There was no looking back as the Mounties kept their edge throughout the entire game. Strong pitching and lots of hitting were both featured by the home team.

I always find it exciting to photograph these baseball games. The action is not always easy to predict but the challenge of telling the story of the game with my camera is thoroughly enjoyable.

You can view photographs captured at this game here.

My Wildlife Portfolio

The elk rut is on and the feeling of fall is in the air!

I will soon be heading to the mountains to photograph the majestic elk of Pennsylvania and I can’t wait! This is definitely my most favorite time of year! So, in an effort to remain patient while still getting excited about being out in the wild with my camera, I decided to update my wildlife portfolio. I also submitted a few of my photographs to a couple of magazines. I wanted to make sure my portfolio was up to date for them as well.

I always debate with myself on the best way to present photographs in an online portfolio. I like the images to be seen right away, but not everyone can use the flash technology of some galleries. Thumbnails can be clicked and enlarged, but they don’t have the pop of seeing an image in a larger size. The other problem is the time it sometimes takes to load a group of images. I also like to be able to use the right arrow on my keypad to move through a series of photos, but sometimes this option is not available. As you can see, finding a way to best present a portfolio consists of many options!

I am sharing two links to two different versions of my wildlife portfolio here. If you have the time, please check them out, compare them, and see which one you think is better. Then let me know. I am looking for input here because I’m not really sure which is the best way to present my portfolio online. Thanks!

Wildlife Portfolio version 1

Wildlife Portfolio version 2

Baseball: Pleasant Valley vs. Liberty

Fall baseball is in full swing and on Wednesday PV played Liberty in an exciting game.

PV went up on top early and kept adding to their lead. Late in the game, however, Liberty put on an attack that produced enough runs to make it a one-run ballgame. PV tacked on one insurance run late in the game to seal the deal.

I did miss some nice shots again at this game. My 70-200mm lens, even with the 1.4x teleconverter, just doesn’t have enough reach to get the outfielders. Once in a while I can capture them making a catch, but they are quite small in the viewfinder, which makes the auto-focusing difficult and spotty.

One of my primary goals in shooting any sport is to get the ball in the frame. This is easier with a fast camera that can burst 7 frames per second, but it also helps to be able to time the shot properly. I can tell now, for example, when a hitter is going to swing at the pitch. I pay attention to every detail of the batter’s stance and approach to each pitch. If he is going to swing, I see the muscles twitch into action and I know to be ready.

This is a bit more difficult for defensive plays on the field. Getting the ball in these shots takes some forethought and a little luck at times. My nine years of coaching baseball surely helps me anticipate where the next play might take place. This is a huge help in getting the ball in the frame of these defensive plays.

I also like action shots. These shots consist of players running around the bases or reacting to a play. Who says baseball is boring? I don’t buy that argument for a second!

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Pleasant Valley vs. Stroudsburg

Today’s baseball game between PV and Stroudsburg was an exciting, back and forth game that went into extra innings!

Both teams battled back and forth all afternoon putting hits together and advancing base runners to score runs. 2-0, 3-5, 5-5, 7-5, 7-7, back and forth it went. You gotta love a game that features both hitting and scoring. The game went into the eighth inning and was decided by an RBI single in the bottom half of the inning as Stroudsburg pulled out the victory. What a game!

I could also see the light conditions changing as the game progressed. The fall season has days getting shorter and this brings the golden hour into the tail end of these games. As the sun begins to make its way down toward the horizon, the light becomes stunning.

Here are just some of the photos I was able to capture at this exciting game.

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Photography is literally defined as “writing (“graphy”) with light (“photo”).

So as photographers we need to do everything we can to understand light. Without understanding this basic component of our craft we will be severely limited. This is so important and yet overlooked by so many. It is easy to get all cranked up over a new camera body or lens, but without the right kind of light our photographs will be substandard.

Light has several qualities that we need to pay attention to and learn about. Light has color, direction, and quality.

The color of light is something we know a little about when we start thinking about the proper white balance in our camera settings. As a test, turn your camera’s white balance to flourescent and take a photo. Now turn the white balance to incandescent and take another photo. Depending on the existing light, you  will see different colors of light in these two photographs. Light can be, for example, blue, green, orange, yellow, and many other colors. The color of light tends to evoke certain emotions and feelings-blue is cool, orange is warm, etc. Paying attention to the color of light is the first step in understanding light better.

Light also has direction. From where is the light coming? Is it side-lit, back-lit, or front-lit? This component of light is also critical to understand and learn about. Front lighting is perhaps the least attractive directional light. Side-lighting creates deep shadows, revealing depth and character in a subject. Back-lighting can create silhouettes as well as interesting halos.

Quality of light is the most difficult component to describe, but when you see great qualities of light you will certainly know it. Quality can range from horrible to average to sensational and even breath-taking. “The golden hour” is one description but it can happen almost anytime and a photographer should always be vigilant and ready for this superior quality of light to appear.

The following photograph is not sensational or even an above average photo. However, the color, direction, and quality of light make it interesting; at least in my humble opinion. When the light is right the photograph will be right!

The PA Elk Rut is On!

This weekend in Elk County proved to me that the PA elk rut has begun. We heard a lot of bugling, saw some bulls getting into a frenzy, and saw the aftermath of a fight for dominance. Yes, the rut has begun! I think it is only really starting and in my opinion will be in full swing sometime this week. I saw several bulls chasing cows, one intently, but I did not witness any mounts or breeding.

The traffic up on Winslow Hill was unbelievable to me. Admittedly, it has been quite some time since I was on the elk range on a Saturday, but the number of cars and traffic jams was surprising to me.

The elk did not seem to mind in the least though. They went about their business as usual. We saw some decent sized harems being managed by some nice bulls. And we saw bulls every time we went out. In fact, some bulls were nice. We saw two bulls that were at least a 7×7 or 8×7. Even the lesser bulls seemed to have nice mass to their antlers. The cows seemed healthy but not yet ready to mate. We also saw a few calves that are growing up quickly.

Here are four photographs from our one-day trip this weekend.