Teamsakes

Teamsake… that’s an odd word. What is a teamsake anyway? You’ve heard of keepsakes, but what in the world is a teamsake?

I enjoy sports photography and have been photographing sports for a long time. It really doesn’t matter which sport to me, I enjoy it all. Action, movement, and competition get my creative juices flowing and I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of attempting to capture the sports action with my camera.

I was fortunate to be a baseball and football coach for over nine years. I do miss coaching, but now have utilized the skills I learned while coaching in my photography. This helps me prepare to aim my camera at the upcoming action and knowing the game I am photographing is immensely helpful.

I am the photographer for the Lehigh Valley Baseball Academy in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This entails photographing games, player & team portraits, the facility, and any other subject the owners request. The players and parents enjoy seeing the action shots and the portraits, while the coaches like the action shots because they can see the mechanics of the players. I am always trying to offer something new and interesting for the players.

Enter the teamsakes. A teamsake is a collage of nine action photographs of one team. A player can choose any nine photos he wishes. He can include photographs of himself and his teammates to build a teamsake that will help him remember his team whenever he looks at this collage.

You can view the sample teamsake below to see what I am talking about. Each teamsake is only $15 and provides a keepsake for your season. Teamsakes make great birthday and Christmas presents, too.

Teamsake Blog

Respect for Other Photographers

During the two days I attended the LPGA U.S. Women’s Open this week, I saw many photographers and videographers on the course at Saucon Valley Country Club. I readily admit that I was envious of many of them for two reasons. First, they had credentials to be on the course, and second, they were carrying some big glass!

I am a wildlife and sports photographer so I do long for big glass. Just seeing those 600mm lenses gets me salivating and coveting my colleague’s glass.

As I watched these photographers and videographers, I began to gain much more respect for each of them. They walked the course carrying all their equipment with them and it was hot. Most had a monopod to help keep them steady when taking a shot. They kept moving along, hole after hole, to quietly capture the action with their camera.

I still dream of getting bigger glass for my wildlife and sports photography, but I have more respect for what photographers go through to make photographs. They certainly have my respect!20090707_274

More LPGA US Women’s Open

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I just cannot get over how impressed I was with watching the practice rounds of the LPGA Women’s US Open this week.

The women showed amazing skill around the course and quickly warmed up the crowd by their friendliness and good humor. They were very willing to sign autographs and talk with the fans even though they are getting ready for a major event. It was so amazing how approachable and friendly they all were to us. I was definitely impressed.

Their amazing skill on the difficult course was equally impressive. Even bunker shots were made with seemingly effortless ease. Meg Mahlon hit a ball into a fairway bunker that seemed to have doom and gloom written all over it. But she calmly approached this hazard lie and with one swing landed the ball within several feet of the pin. Absolutely amazing!

These women deserve more attention. I hope you have some time this week to watch the LPGA US Women’s Open. Even better would be for you to witness this event firsthand. It is going to be an exciting and amazing weekend!

U.S. Women’s Open

A good friend of mine invited me to attend today’s practice round of the 2009 Women’s Open at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, PA. It was a wonderful opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up. We even had access to his company’s air conditioned tent, which provided cool relief throughout the day as well as refreshments.

The players were all very friendly and more than willing to sign autographs. Of course, I took my camera and took lots of photos. It was so fun to meet the women golfers and watch them practice for the upcoming tournament.

The two things I noticed were 1) the distance and accuracy of their drives and second shots. This was nothing short of impressive. Long, accurate drives were the order of the day. 2) the consistency of their swings. Consistency is a hard thing to accomplish in any sport and almost any endeavor. Are you consistent, for example, with your photography? These women golfers are extremely consistent, which I guess is why they are on the pro tour, but witnessing this consistency was incredible. And I am going to try now to be more consistent with my photography!

Action Shots

One of the absolute most exciting challenges in photography is to try to capture action shots.

I like to photograph sports, which requires fast shutter speeds and a healthy number of frames per second. FPS, frames per second, refers to how many shutter releases can be snapped in one second. While this isn’t important for landscape or portrait photography, it is critical for action photography.

My Nikon D70 featured 3 frames per second. This was okay, but earlier this year when I upgraded to the Nikon D300, one of the first things I noticed was the increased FPS. The D300 sports 6 FPS and this is noticeable. For example, when I am photographing a runner caught stealing second base, I now can count on my camera freezing the baseball before it gets to the fielders glove as the base runner is sliding into second base. It is absolutely amazing to witness and hear the speed of the D300!

Baseball action shots, in my humble opinion, should feature the baseball in the photograph whenever possible. I also like to capture the flying dirt as a player is sliding into a base or a catcher putting a tag on a player who attempts a squeeze play.

Action shots require patience and persistence. The challenge this style of photography presents is worth it and I will keep putting myself in places where I can capture the exciting action!

Team & Player Photos

Today I had the opportunity to photograph the Lehigh Valley Baseball Academy 13u baseball team. We gathered early in the morning before their first game of the day. I photographed the individual player portraits first. This is always fun for me. Some players smile just fine and make their mothers happy when the photos are delivered. Others are much more difficult and prefer not to smile at all. One of my favorite tactics is to say something that will get the teammates joking around with the player in front of the camera. This works many times and I have to be sure to always have my finger on the shutter release to capture the candid moment.

The team portrait was the next and last task of this photo op. I always try to arrange the players and coaches in a pleasing order making sure that everyone’s face is visible. The other difficulties are making sure all the players are looking at the camera and no one is blinking.

Once back home, I then upload the photos to my computer and then get busy preparing the photographs for the final output. Families typically order packages so I have to edit, crop, and assemble the appropriate package for each player. One of my favorite final outputs is the memory mate, which features a player photo and a team photo in an attractive border.

Take a look at the team and player photos and let me know what you think of them?

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Player Portraits

I had the privilege of photographing the Lehigh Valley Baseball Academy’s 15U Team today. Bright & early at 8:30 am were on the field to do the team and player portraits. The guys did a great job cooperating for the team portraits and then had some fun using a bat in a variety of poses for their player portraits. Some put the bat across the back of their neck and rested their wrists over top each end of the bat. Others held the bat and posed in a batting stance. It was fun to see the creativity the players had with one bat when they stepped in front of the camera.

At 3:00 pm I attended their second game of the day to photograph some action shots. The game was full of action, too. We kept dodging rain drops and eventually the rain suspended the game, but not before I had the chance to capture some great action photos. The sky was obviously overcast, which provide great light for photographs. It is amazing to me how the bright colors appear so vividly on days like this. The player uniforms were stunning and brightened up an otherwise dreary day.

Go Stars!

Sports Photography

I have been a huge sports fan for nearly all my life. I guess I didn’t have much of a choice. My dad played football in high school for a team that won the championship in his junior year and then he went on to play semi-pro football. This high interest in sports was in my genes from the beginning and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I coached baseball and football for the past nine years, which I truly enjoyed. I learned a lot about the great game of baseball and tried passing my insights and love of the game to the players I coached. I also coached the middle school football team, which was a thrill for me.

Busy schedules and a desire to no longer be my son’s baseball coach, figuring it was time he learned from someone else besides dear old dad, led me to stop coaching. It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life and one I still have regrets about at times. But I found a way to keep myself involved in the world of sports by using my camera to try to capture the plays on the field. My coaching experiences allow me to anticipate where the action will most likely be taking place so I can be ready to capture the special moment. My favorite sports photographs can be viewed here. I hope you enjoy viewing these sports photos. Do you think I am successful at capturing the special moments on the field? Do my photos tell a story?

Baseball is our national pastime. Some may think it is a boring sport, but I do not agree. The action takes place in spurts but this is true in any sport. Baseball is the only game where the defense is in control of the “clock.” The pitcher holds the baseball in his hands, grips it in his glove, and waits for the sign from his catcher. Meanwhile, the infielders are getting ready to implement their prep step so they will be prepared for the exact moment the ball is put into play by the batter. In just this short amount of time, I can think of a variety of photographs that could be fun to capture: the pitcher taking the signs, the catcher giving the signs, an infielder blowing a bubble with his chewing gum as he gets ready, the third base coach giving the hitter his signs, or the umpire pointing to the pitcher to indicate now is the time to play ball!

The purpose of a photograph is to tell a story. Who is winning the game? Is the pitcher in a bind? Did the base runner successfully steal second base? Did the batter hit a 3-run dinger? What was the call of the umpire? Is the manger cool, calm, and collect; or is he pacing up and down the dugout or chirping at the umpire?

You see, baseball is a great sport to photograph. I also am learning that the background in a photo is crucial. Chain link fences, parking lots, and power lines can all distract greatly from an action photo. There are a few options that we have at our disposal as photographers who want to eliminate these distracting backgrounds from our photographs. First, we can utilize a shallow depth of field where just the main subject is in focus. Using a large aperture (low numbered f-stop) we can cause the background to be blurred in the photo. This works very well with backgrounds that are of the same color. Another option is to zoom in on the subject, thereby eliminating most of the extraneous and distracting backgrounds. Obviously a large and powerful lens is needed to make this possible. Many photographers simply do not get close enough to their subjects. They think they have to get each and every detail in the frame. You can, however, create some extremely interesting and amazing shots by zooming in even more than you think is normal. And the more you zoom in, the more you eliminate the possibility of a background ruining your photograph. The other option is to consider the background even before setting up to photograph a play. Is there a fence back there? Are parked cars in the background? Can you remove that house out in right field by moving down the line twenty feet?

I thoroughly enjoy sports photography. It keeps me involved in the games I enjoy and the challenge of attempting to capture the plays and emotions on the field is a thrill for me! I plan to keep learning how to be a better sports photographer and have several goals that I would like to accomplish before I am too old to click the shutter of my camera. I can’t wait for the next time I hear the umpire yell, “Play ball!”

Wrestling Photographs

This past Saturday our nephew, Shane Rosenberry, was in a wresting tournament at Whitehall. It was my first attempt at shooting the sport of wrestling with my camera. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and learned a few things along the way! One obvious lesson was that the lighting in a gymnasium is not the best for photography. Even with my fast 70-200mm lens with an f-stop of 2.8 I had to bump up my ISO to 400. I was able to capture a few decent photos and you can check them out by clicking here. I continue to learn more and more about the fascinating art of photography!

Our upcoming PA Elk Photography Experience will be taking place the first full weekend in February. I am looking forward to this trip and I am sure we will have a great time! This past week, over the New Year holiday, we saw a lot of elk. The cows were herded up in large groups and stayed in the same area for two days before moving to a new location. We didn’t see all that many bulls, but we did manage to see 7 nice bulls. I will hopefully post a few photos from this trip in the next day or so.