Basketball Portfolio Update

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I am in the midst of updating my basketball portfolio in preparation for the upcoming college basketball season. You can see my updated basketball portfolio here. I cover East Stroudsburg University sports and capturing the action on the court for the men’s and women’s games is awesome! I also shoot some high school games for The Pocono Record.

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These photos are from the past few years and I thoroughly enjoy the games from pre-game, to tip-off, to court action, to post-game. These athletes are amazing and always put an energetic game on the floor!

About a year-and-a-half ago, I attended the Summit Sports Photography Workshop in Denver, Colorado. It was an incredible event and I learned a lot. Here are some of the basketball photos I captured there.

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The Importance of Backups

Don’t do what I do… do what I say! I know, I sound like a dad here. But it’s true. I like being out at a game on location rather than behind a computer. The problem is all the photos I previously captured are sitting right there on a hard drive. The problem? Hard drives fail. Sooner or later it’s gonna happen. It happened to me last week. I prefer to be out shooting a game but my backup strategy was not sufficient.

Thankfully, I have a Drobo, which is an array of four hard drives, so when the one failed I just had to replace it with a new one. That was what I thought until I did this and another drive in the array started to show a red light, too! My first reaction was sheer panic, thinking my whole array and over 450,000 photos were now in serious risk of being lost. Holy cow!

A reset of  the Drobo was called for and resolved the quirky issue. However, it sure made me think long and hard about the quality of my backup procedures. I am still thinking about it and am making definite actions to be sure my backup protocol is as foolproof as possible. Losing photos is not something I want to experience. Yep, I am sitting behind a computer now. It is not my favorite place to be but it is important for my backup plan to be successful.

Here is what I am implementing in my backup strategy. First, as I have in the past, I upload photos from my cameras to my MacBook Pro and a SanDisk external SSD. Then, when I get back to the office, I will copy the folder of photos onto two external drives that are mirrored to one another. Then I will copy the photos to my Drobo. This will provide three backups, which is highly recommended. I then reformat the SanDisk SSD to reuse. As time moves forward and the mirrored drives become full, I will move one of them offsite in case of fire or theft.

My file naming procedure is different from most photographers I talk to who just use the year and date for their shoots. I prefer an abbreviation as a prefix and the date in this format: YYMMDD. So a football folder looks like this: FB171104 and a Women’s Soccer like this: WS171104. Then each photo is a sequenced number behind the same filename scheme. My reasoning for this is that I can locate all the folders and photos from the same sport at a quick glance. I do not remember what I did on a specific date let alone which sport was being played that day. The date is important but not the most important to me. This file naming sequence has worked for me for over a decade.

My 16TB Drobo will soon be maxed out. I am preparing for this by getting ready to purchase a 24TB G-Tech Raid. My Drobo has worked well, but it is not the fastest drive to work with in my opinion. I am pleased with its redundancy but am willing to try something new and better. The G-tech seems like the next step for me.

Are you backing up adequately? Can you find the files you need when you need them? Are they safe and secure?

High School Football Digital Images Available for Purchase

Drew Altemose (15) catches a touchdown in the first half for Pocono Mountain East against Dieruff on Friday night in Swiftwater.

Drew Altemose (15) catches a touchdown in the first half for Pocono Mountain East against Dieruff on Friday night, September 8, 2017 in Swiftwater.

There is nothing like the atmosphere on a Friday night at the local High School football field. The band plays inspiring music, the referees take the field, and the excitement builds. Fans enter the gates and take their place. The Star Spangled Banner is played and the kickoff whistle blows. It’s time for Friday night football!

Harold Camacho (32) outruns a defender for a touchdown for East Stroudsburg South against Allentown Central Catholic on Friday night in East Stroudsburg.

Harold Camacho (32) outruns a defender for a touchdown for East Stroudsburg South against Allentown Central Catholic on Friday night, September 15, 2017 in East Stroudsburg.

I have the privilege of photographing these games during the season. I believe each game unfolds to tell a unique story and it is my job to record the details of each game story. The athletes put in a lot of work, determination, and practice before the game. Then they put their best effort on the field against their opponent.

Anthony Claudio (36) gets around the end for Pleasant Valley against Allentown Central Catholic on Friday night in Brodheadsville.

Anthony Claudio (36) gets around the end for Pleasant Valley against Allentown Central Catholic on Friday night, September 1, 2017 in Brodheadsville.

Photographs tell the storyline of the game. They capture the thrilling action play by play. You’ve heard it said that a photograph is worth a thousand words. I believe a sports photograph captures the game story, shows the emotion of the players, and brings the game to the fans in a unique and captivating way. It is hard to capture it all but I try very hard. After the game, I post the newly captured photos on my website here: Recent Events

 

Harold Camacho (32) runs outside for East Stroudsburg South against Allentown Central Catholic on Friday night in East Stroudsburg.

Harold Camacho (32) runs outside for East Stroudsburg South against Allentown Central Catholic on Friday night, September 15, 2017 in East Stroudsburg.

Recently, I restructured the pricing of my sports photographs to make it easier for players, parents, and fans to buy and display the images I am capturing on Friday nights. Full resolution images are quickly delivered and allow the buyer to print a physical photograph or display the image on any electronic device. The initial price for a full resolution image is higher than a printed photograph because the buyer can print and display the image an unlimited number of times. But even though the initial cost is higher, the advantages far outweigh the difference in cost. Therefore, I am now offering digital images in individual and bundle pricing packages. You can view the pricing list here: Photo Pricing List and the next photo shows the new pricing levels.

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Sports photography is a passion I enjoy sharing. I hope you will look at the High School football galleries and find photographs that capture the excitement of Friday Night Football!

Triston Hillman (88) blocks an extra point in the first half for Pocono Mountain East against Dieruff on Friday night in Swiftwater.

Triston Hillman (88) blocks an extra point in the first half for Pocono Mountain East against Dieruff on Friday night, September 8, 2017 in Swiftwater.

Fan Reactions Caught with Nikon D5

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Last Saturday, I photographed the ESU baseball doubleheader. It was a great day for a number of reasons, which I reported in my last blog entry. I was looking through the photographs after the game and was pleasantly surprised to see some details I could not see initially.

The new Nikon D5 is an incredible camera and I continue to be amazed with the results I am getting at games. When I was cropping in on one image, to be sure I had the correct outfielder’s name, I saw the fans’ facial reactions as Left Fielder, Casey Saverio, made his acrobatic catch over the fence. Check these details out! This next photo is cropped from the original photo above.

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This is the next photo in the sequence and the details are incredible! Don’t you love those fan reactions?

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The amazing thing to me, besides the incredibly photogenic fans, is the results of such a high level of cropping in these images. The D5 has a full-frame sensor and the amount of detail it picks up is amazing! I still cannot get over how good these cropped images look!

The Nikon D5 is a winner and one I am happy to have in my sports photography arsenal!

What a Day of Baseball!

Some days when you’re behind the camera you just don’t know what you’re going to see. Today I got charged by a groundhog, witnessed incredible wind gusts, saw an acrobatic catch over the outfield fence, and photographed the East Stroudsburg Warriors’ Baseball Team sweep a doubleheader against Lock Haven!

The bullpen catcher, during the game, said, “Here he comes.” A groundhog charged his way from the outfield, down the line toward me, jumped over a piece of trash, ran along the dugout, behind home plate, and slipped under the visitor’s dugout! The rodent stole the show and gained the attention of the amused fans, players, and umpires for a few moments!

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The wind gusts stopped the game momentarily at one point so the players could regain their visibility.

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A defensive play in left field was a game-saver. Left Fielder, Casey Saverio, went back to his right, on a long-hit ball deep into the outfield. It looked like the ball was going to clear the fence and be a homerun, but Saverio leaped up and snagged the ball out of the air as he toppled over the top of the fence! It was an absolutely incredible play! And there was still more to come!

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Both games of the doubleheader were well played by the Warriors. Strong pitching, consistent defense, and aggressive bats made the difference, and resulted in the two victories.

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All-in-all, it was quite a day of baseball at ESU!

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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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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!

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.