Lightroom

I cut my teeth on film photography. Time spent in the darkroom was enjoyable for me. It just seemed like magic as a sheet of paper was placed into a tray of developer and the image slowly appeared. I enjoyed the entire process. I even created a makeshift darkroom in my apartment where I could develop my film and therefore save some time in the darkroom at Temple University. That was then, and now we enjoy digital photography.

The darkroom has been replaced with Lightroom. For those of you who don’t know, Lightroom is an Adobe software package that allows us to catalog, edit, print, create slideshows and web galleries. Yes, it is all done in the light! No longer do we need a darkroom to process our photographs.

I was introduced to Lightroom by my good friend and colleague, Dick McCreight. At first, I wasn’t too keen on purchasing another software package. But when I saw Dick moving around so easily and quickly in Lightroom, I sat up straighter to take a closer look. Then, when Dick showed me all the powerful features of Lightroom I was sold. I decided to download the free 30-day trial and the rest is history.

I now use Lightroom after every event I photograph. Web galleries are created for my website in Lightroom and the process is quick and easy. Just like in the old darkroom, I can crop, dodge, and burn an image. I also catalog my photographs in Lightroom, keeping track of my best photos and creating a variety of collections to use for slideshows or print orders. Lightroom has become my favorite photo software!

If you haven’t tried Lightroom yet, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

Wildlife Wednesday

All the rain we’ve been having lately makes me think, “I’m glad I’m not an animal!” We are spoiled I suppose. We can wear thermal underwear, pile  jackets, and GoreTex parkas. This combination of layers not only keeps the rain off of our skin, but we stay warm at the same time! Whenever I pause to consider what the Indians and early settlers wore back in their day, I realize how hardy they had to be to survive. Yes, we are spoiled in so many ways.

Photographing wildlife requires dealing with inclement weather. If you are only going to work on sunny, clear days then you will be limiting yourself tremendously. Besides, the light for photography is actually better with an overcast sky. Yesterday I was photographing a baseball game and the sky was gray and overcast. Immediately I could see that the uniform colors were brilliant and bold in this type of light. Part of the trouble in wildlife photography is trying to separate the subject from its environment. God made these animals with built-in camouflage so they can blend into their natural habitat and be hidden from predators. I’ve written an article about the advantage of wearing camouflage when photographing wildlife. It certainly works for animals and it can work for us photographers as well. The problem is that the wildlife blends in so well with nature. Our task is to draw out the animal from its elusive background so the viewer can actually see it. Light definitely helps with this. Side light, in particular, helps to reveal texture and other details of a subject.

Pay close attention to the light because it changes not only by the time of day, but even, at times, moment by moment. This will enhance your wildlife photography immensely and help to draw your subjects out of the background. Oh, yeah, and don’t be afraid to brave the elements and photograph wildife in inclement weather.

More Baseball!

Today I photographed part of the Lehighton vs. Pleasant Valley baseball game. They were rained out yesterday and today they had to start by finishing a suspended game from two weeks ago due to rain. April showers have turned into May showers and it was cold today.

The Bears beat the Indians in the first game by a score of 12 to 3. Travis Raseley launched a grandslam over the left field fence to add four more insurance runs in the top of the 7th inning. The second game was tied 2 to 2 when I had to leave in the middle of the third inning.

Photographing a baseball game is enjoyable. I love to anticipate where the action will take place and each time the ball is put into play there are any number of things that can happen. A base runner might steal second. A hitter might hit a homerun. A pitcher might strike out the side. Captuing these moments with my camera is one of my most favorite pasttimes.

Today, when Raseley hit his grand salami, I tracked him with my camera as he approached and then rounded third base and made his way to the plate. The smile on his face told the whole story! You can view the photos here to see what I am talking about.

Picasa

Photography software abounds. Everywhere you go you can find a new piece of software to enhance photos or display them on  your website. I have been using Lightroom since last summer and I love it! Lightroom allows me to process RAW files or JPGs. I can dodge or burn a photo and even add a graduated filter. The really nice thing is the way I can organize and catalog my photos for easy retrieval the next time I want to access and work on the photographs. It is very easy to use and yet very powerful. I do use Lightroom to post photos to my website galleries, but am always looking for new creative ways to do this. Enter Picasa! I came across this software last night and so far I am impressed. I had heard of this software before but I think back then it was only available for the MAC. Last night I used it for the first time and it appears to be very nice and usuable software. I really like the templates that are available for Picasa.

What photo software are you using?

Music Man Photos

I continue to learn more and more about the wonderful world of photography and technology. I thoroughly enjoyed photographing The Music Man, Jr. put on by our daughter’s Intermediate school here in Pleasant Valley. I will be having a memory book made for the students and parents to purchase as a keepsake. I wanted to have a sample of this on my website and I heard about a feature that intrigued me. It is a slide show that replicates the turning of pages as you view a book online. I did a little research and came up with an idea that looked like it might work well. You can check it out yourself here: http://www.bobshankphotography.com/musicman.htm

The tools that we have at our fingertips these days are simply amazing!

The Music Man

Tonight I photographed the Pleasant Valley Intermediate school’s musical — The Music Man. The students did an excellent job and obviously put a lot of hard work into this musical. It came off tonight without a flaw. Everyone did so well and the crowd was greatly impressed!

I attended the dress rehearsal this past Wednesday to get a lay of the land and take a few photographs during the rehearsal. I was impressed then and tonight was even better!

The lighting is tough because of the stage lights being more like spot lights rather than flood lights, but I did manage to capture many good photos. The close-ups with highlights in the eyes are my favorites. I will be posting the photos to my website tomorrow so be sure to check them out. Later this month I will be attending the Cast Party to share my photos with all the actors. If you have some time tomorrow night at 7:30pm or Sunday afternoon at 2:00pm come out to Pleasant Valley Intermediate school to see the musical!

Photography Networking

Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and other online networking communities are beginning to get a strong following. There’s something pretty cool about being able to connect with people who share common interests as well as those we haven’t seen in years. I am often amazed how technology makes it easier to connect with people. I remember when email was just starting. Some people said it was just a fad that would soon fade away. Others thought it was ridiculous to think that people would even try to communicate so often without face-to-face contact. And now most of the modern world takes email for granted.

Networking has become easier and more effective with all the technology we have at hand these days. Cell phones, computers, PDAs, email and more allow us to connect with people literally around the world. At first this can seem a little overwhelming or even intimidating. But the more we use the technology and see the advantages they offer the more we realize their value. We can reach out and connect with others through the use of this new technology.

Networking is about more than just computers and technology. Connections, human connections, are important, too, and have been since the beginning of time. So who do you connect with? What circles and groups do you associate with?

One of the things I enjoy about photography is the connections with others. Think about it. Fellow photographers, subjects, associates, and colleagues come into our lives because of a common interest. The way we see the world is unique and yet we have so many common connections and good relationships thanks to photography. I hope you agree that networking is truly a wonderful gift for all of us!

Wildlife Wednesday

Wildlife is one of my favorite subjects to photograph for a variety of reasons. First of all, I get to enjoy the beautiful and amazing outdoors where clocks and time-lines don’t exist. Secondly, I always experience something different and unique in the great outdoors. I may be focusing on photographing an elk, but then another creature comes along to attract my attention. Wildlife photography provides something new every day, which I always appreciate.

I grew up in the country in the midst of farmland. I enjoyed fishing from an early age when my dad or my uncle would take me to the creek or lake. I also hunted and trapped, which taught me a lot about animals and their habitat. I studied the tracks they left behind and the trails they made. These signs tell a story and reveal the animal’s eating and sleeping habits. I learned the difference between a raccoon track and a muskrat track and even noticed how the muskrat’s tail would leave drag marks in the mud along the creek bank.

When I go out to photograph wildlife these days, I still look for these signs. Being observant and noticing the little details can help me find the animal I hope to photograph. Sometimes the quest to find wildlife takes a long time, while other times I get onto wildlife quite quickly. I never know exactly what to expect out in the wild and this is a big part of why I thoroughly enjoy wildlife photography. What about you? Why do you enjoy wildlife photography?

I have been fortunate to be able to combine my love of wildlife with my love of photography. I lead photo trips that my good friend and fellow photographer, Dick McCreight, and I have entitled, the “Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience.” They are a 3-day photo trip where we take photographers on daily excursions to photograph the elk and offer three photo workshops as well. We cover things like basic camera set-up for wildlife photography, how to use Adobe Lightroom, and share detailed and fascinating information on the PA elk herd. These photo trips take place in Elk County, Pennsylvania where I am fortunate enough to have a cabin right in the middle of the elk range. You can find more about the photo experiences here.

Wildlife and photography is a perfect match in my book!

Okay, WordPress It Is

The consensus is in and the majority of viewers like the WordPress blog format better. So I have decided to switch over entirely to WordPress for my blogging software. I also spent the time categorizing each entry so you can find topics of interest easier. The WordPress format will also allow viewers to easily add a comment, which I hope more of you will do. Give me your feedback, disagree with my thoughts, and let me know what you are thinking. I do hope you like this blog format!