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!

Coughlin v. Pocono Mountain East Photo Gallery in the Pocono Record

Coughlin v. Pocono Mountain EastPocono Mountain East hosted Coughlin in high school football action on Friday night. It was a beautiful night for football and it was Homecoming for the Cardinals!

This photo was published online by the Pocono Record on Saturday. Today a photo gallery of several of my photos appeared online, too. I like these online photo galleries because they really give the viewer a broader sense of the action on the field. There are just so many plays that make up a game story and it is really tough to capture everything in one or two photographs.

You can check out my gallery here.

 

One Friday Night Shoot Produces Five Published Photographs!

Stroudsburg v. Pocono Mountain East

Stroudsburg v. Pocono Mountain East

Stroudsburg v. Pocono Mountain East

Stroudsburg v. Pocono Mountain East

Stroudsburg v. Pocono Mountain EastFriday night I photographed the football game in Swiftwater, PA featuring Stroudsburg vs. Pocono Mountain East. It was a typical night for high school football and I was in my favorite place — right by the action with my camera!

I am getting better and progressing in my photographic skills in trying to capture the action at these Friday night games, but in no way was I prepared for what was about to happen after this game!

I went about my business as usual, trying to capture the action and tell the game story with my camera. I knew I had some decent shots, and maybe even a pretty good one, by halftime. I  transmitted several photos to my editor, then went home to create a photo gallery and sent that in, too. Typically, one photo runs in the newspaper the following day.

Well, later that night I saw two of my photos were published. The next morning I realized a third one was published in the next day’s paper. One more was published on Monday, and a fifth photo was published in Tuesday’s paper!

So how did five photographs from one Friday night football game get published? Well, the first two were of a touchdown with the running back dragging would-be tacklers into the endzone. These were pretty good shots telling the essence of the game with a touchdown being scored; not a bad start. The third photo was a group shot of five athletes being inducted into the Pocono Mountain East Hall of Fame, which was celebrated at halftime. Knowing this was going to happen, paying attention enough to capture some group shots, and capturing all five names helped to get this photo published. The fourth photo surprised me when I saw it in the newspaper, but it was in the “Fifth Quarter Notes,” a wrap-up of the weekend football action, so that made sense. It was actually one of my favorites because it showed a defensive back intercepting a pass in front of a receiver, both of whom were in the air at the time with the ball just being caught. Finally, the fifth photo from Friday night’s game was printed in today’s newspaper in a feature written about Stroudsburg’s running back, Gerald Douglas. I knew this was possibly going to happen because the writer asked if I captured any good photos of Douglas at the game. Fortunately, I did capture a few decent photos and one fit the bill for this article today.

You never know what might happen. I photographed Friday night’s game just like many other ones before, but this time five of my photos were deemed worthy for print in the Pocono Record! I was surprised by this but obviously pleased. Now I have an additional goal on my photo list: get six or more photos published from one shoot!

In the meantime, I will continue honing my photo skills and try to perfect my craft. The moment I rest on my laurels or feel satisfied with my results will be the day I fail. Nope; I have to keep getting better and I have to keep moving closer to meeting my many photographic goals. Each game provides plenty of opportunities to capture the exciting action and tell the game story! I am already looking forward to the next game!

 

Friday Night Football: Allen v. Pocono Mountain West

Allen v. Pocono Mountain West

This photograph was deemed worthy for publication in Saturday’s edition of the Pocono Record.

A few of my photographs from Friday night’s high school football game featuring Allen v. Pocono Mountain West appeared online today. You can see the short photo gallery here.

There isn’t quite anything like the atmosphere of Friday night in the fall. Get to a game and feel the excitement!

Photo of the Month

Pleasant Valley v. Lehighton

September’s Photo of the Month was likely to be a football photograph. For one thing, this is the time of year for football. After all, is there any better season than fall, and is there any better season than football season? I think not! We are definitely in the midst of football season!

It is incredible to me, but I still find myself getting butterflies on Friday nights before the games. I certainly did when I played high school football back in the early ’80s, but even now, as I am preparing to photograph a game, I find myself pacing back and forth a little bit and fighting off those nervous butterflies that fly around inside my stomach. Will I capture the moment at the exact right time with my camera? Will the photo be in focus? Will the referee run between my camera and the play? Yep, butterflies are still there flying all around in my stomach. There isn’t a feeling in the world to match it!

Some of my goals for a good, quality football photograph include: 1) the face should be showing in the frame and hopefully the eyes will be visible, 2) the ball should appear in the frame, 3) a special moment or peak action should be captured. This photograph accomplishes all three of these goals. It was a special moment in time captured by a camera so it can be recorded for all time. This to me, is the goal of good, quality photography. It is a worthy pursuit and it keeps me coming back time after time to the field to try to capture another special moment.

The next day, this photo ran six columns wide in the sports section of the Pocono Record.

You can view this new Photo of the Month and previous ones here.

The Heisman Pose – Pleasant Valley High School Style

Pleasant Valley v. Lehighton

The classic pose of the Heisman Trophy is renowned among athletes and fans. It is an easily recognizable pose, which many tend to emulate in their own style. Quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers are known to strike the pose both for a photographer but also on game day out on the field in the heat of battle.

Such was the case this past Friday night on the high school field at Lehighton. Pleasant Valley traveled to face the Lehighton Indians, and both teams were 2-1 coming into the matchup. Austyn Borre gained 132 yards. ¬†Brandon Leap carried for some yardage gains, too, and in this photo he is shielding himself from Lehighton’s Tyler Cann. Leap is running to the right and displaying that classic Heisman Trophy pose!

This photo and one of Borre appears in the Pocono Record today, Sept. 21, 2013. You can check it out here.

Got game? Brandon Leap and Austyn Borre did Friday night under the lights in Lehighton!

 

Friday Night Football’s Aerobatic Action

Lehighton v. Pocono Mountain East

This Friday night’s football game, featuring Lehighton at Pocono Mountain East, included some aerial attacks down field from the quarterbacks. Some amazing acrobatic action ensued!

Many fans enjoy and prefer the passing game. It’s exciting to see a quarterback drop back behind the line of scrimmage and toss a throw to a sprinting receiving. It’s even more awesome when the receiver makes an acrobatic catch! This night had it all: throws, incomplete passes, receptions, and interceptions. What is not to like about all this?

Capturing this in-the-air action with a camera is not always easy. I am sure I’ve missed plenty more than I got with my lens! However, I do believe I am getting more consistent, which is imperative when working as a freelance stringer for the local newspaper; in my case, the Pocono Record. It is crucial to get some action shots that might be deemed worthy of print by the editor. Football players jumping high into the air to catch a ball is one of the money shots. Get the ball in the shot as the players are in the air and you’ve got a chance. Oh wait, did you remember to get good focus? What about the composition of the photograph? Is your exposure right? These are hard enough to manage on a sunny day; now try to accomplish them at night under high school stadium lights! (I just have to get a new camera!!! In my case, I am dreaming about, hoping for, and trying to save my pennies for a Nikon D4! This camera is newer than mine and boasts some incredible high ISO shooting for these low-light conditions. Anyone willing to offer me a loan?)

I am passionate about sports photography and I live for this challenge to capture the action in the air!

My next game is tomorrow night and I can’t wait to have a crack at it again!

Capturing the Essence of a Game

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The Pocono Record published another gallery of my photos, this time from Friday night’s football game in Lehighton. You can view the photo gallery here. My assignment is first and foremost to get quality photographs that tell the story of the game for the following morning’s newspaper. Deadline for submission is 9:15pm, which means the game is often still going on and the final outcome may be undetermined as yet. Therefore, I need to provide photos from each team in action so the winning photo can be representative of the game and reflect the actual winner.

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Secondarily, I provide a gallery of photos for the newspaper to display on their website. The goal here is always to capture photographs, which capture the essence of the game and the atmosphere we experience in-person at a Friday night high school football game. The options are plentiful, but some thought, creativity, and camera skills are required to pull this off. It is one thing to experience the exciting atmosphere of a football game, but it is quite another to communicate it through photos to help the viewer get a taste of the action.

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I like to say it this way: Each game tells a unique story, which deserves to be told photographically. My job is to capture the action with my camera to tell this story and freeze the special moments to make them into lasting memories for a lifetime.

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New Sports Photography Slideshow

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I have a photo website dedicated exclusively to sports photography. It is called Perfect Game Photos and you can view the site here: http://www.perfectgamephotos.com/

One of the new features I added to this sports photography website is a slideshow of my published photos. Initially, I created the slideshow in Adobe InDesign and then exported it as a Flash slideshow. This worked well but had some serious limits. For example, those of you who use a tablet or smart phone were probably not able to view this slideshow.

So, since it was another stormy day in the Poconos on Labor Day, I labored just a little in front of my laptop to create a new version of this slideshow. I wanted to use Javascript so the slideshow can be viewed on just about any device. After some prep and planning, I started working out the script. It did take some time, but I ended up with just about what I was hoping to produce. You can view the end result here: http://www.perfectgamephotos.com/Slideshow.html

This slideshow features my sports photographs that were published in the Pocono Record. I am still amazed that more and more of my work is being found worthy of publication, which was a long-time dream of mine. I continue to learn all the time! I hope the trend continues but I realize that I must keep my personal expectations high. I must also keep working hard.

Sports photography is demanding at times and capturing the winning shot is not always easy. Lousy lighting at Friday night football games and nasty backgrounds at other sporting events are just two of the dilemmas that present problems for sports shooters. Keeping alert and always being ready is absolutely necessary. Nothing beats good preparation and knowing the game. Combining these skills and being the recipient of some good luck isn’t a bad combination either!

I hope to keep adding to my published portfolio. Sports photography is my passion and capturing the exciting action on the field to make lasting memories is my goal. I hope my photographs tell a sports story. More important, I hope they evoke emotion!