Blogging

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about my blog. I believe that blogging is not only a great way to keep in touch and share information, but it is also an invaluable tool. I am not sure how effective my blog has been so far, so I’ve been doing some research. I am relatively new to the world of blogging so I’ve spent some time checking out some other blogs. I’ve dabbled in WordPress and you can see what I started doing here. Compare that layout and style with what you see here and let me know which one you like better.

The WordPress option would actually be easier to use, but I believe it also has some drawbacks. I am curious what others think. What features do you like to see in a blog? What information is helpful for you to read?

Just the other day I heard a photographer/blogger say that if you are blogging, you should blog every day. Okay, I am going to take that advice and see what happens. I figure even this old dog can learn at least some new tricks, so I am game to give it a try. Tomorrow is Wednesday, so I will be featuring a new weekly blog entry I am going to call Wildlife Wednesday. I enjoy photographing wildlife and will share some wildlife photo tips each Wednesday.

What do you think about blogging? What are you looking to read in photography blogs?

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!”

Let There be Light

I finally purchased a flash unit for my camera–a Nikon SB-900 Speedlight to be specific. I had been relying mostly on my pop-up flash or natural light ever since I switched to digital photography back in 2003. I do prefer natural light for most subjects, but harsh shadows and low-lit places always caused problems for me. Now, the SB-900 will allow me to use more focused fill light and even provide off-camera lighting as a remote unit that will be triggered by the pop-up flash. It is one sweet flash! Light is key for good photographs. In fact, light is essential for photography, which is literally translated as “writing or painting with light.” If there is no light, there is no photograph. But now I have a new flash that will help me bring light to the party!

Spring e-newsletter Posted

I just posted the spring 2009 edition of my e-newsletter. It is filled with many of my recent photography outings and other photo-related content. Check it out and please let me know what you think of it. Lately, I am amazed at how many people know something about photography. It is an ever-increasing trend for people to be carrying iphones, point and shoot cameras, and PDAs; many of which double as cameras. They are lightweight and easy to use. What kind of camera do you have? Do you keep it with you? Are you prepared for when that special moment appears before you eyes?

Pocono Mountain East vs. Pleasant Valley

Today I photographed another high school baseball game. Pleasant Valley hosted Pocono Mountain East on a beautiful sunny day. Xavier Hammond pitched a very good game for the Bears and was able to go all the way. He kept opposing batters off balance with his offspeed pitches and Pleasant Valley went on to win by a score of 7 – 2. I posted some photos of the game on my photo gallery and you can click on this link to see them. http://www.bobshankphotography.com/Photography%20PVBears.htm

Look through these action photos and let me know what you think of them.

-Bob

Freedom vs. Pleasant Valley Baseball

Today I photographed the baseball game held at Pleasant Valley High School. The Bears hosted Freedom at 11 o’clock in the morning. The Bears jumped to an early lead in the 2nd inning and played well throughout the game. Strong hitting, effective pitching, and successful base-stealing all contributed to a solid game by Pleasant Valley. They won the game 7-1. You can see some of the photos I posted from this game here: http://www.bobshankphotography.com/Photography%20PVBears.htm

Over 1,000 Unique Visits to my website this month!

You have probably noticed some new changes to my website. I added a script to present a rolling slildeshow of photos on my main page and also repeated this action on the LVBA 13U Team page. I figured it was a neat feature to have a variety of photos displayed like a slideshow as people were viewing my website. It is also a good way for people to see the kinds of photos I have been taking recently. I also added a box that flashes interesting comments and features of interest on my website. The white-bordered box displays these announcements and allows visitors to my site to be aware of new features or things to check out while viewing my pages. In addition, I have added 3 photo-related articles from some of my photography experiences. The articles are entitled, “Wildlife Fashion,” “Get Rid of that Photo Vest,” and “How I Shoot the Elk of Pennsylvania.” I believe we can all learn from one another and it seemed logical for me to share this information in the article format. I will be periodically adding new photo articles, so keep checking back to read them. If you have a chance to email me, I would love to know what you think of these new features on my website. I have to admit that I am having a lot of fun designing my website and trying to make it more appealing and user friendly. Sharing my love of photography is a passion that I cannot seem to ignore. The time spent outdoors with my camera is my most favorite thing to do in my free time, but sharing my photos with others is a close second, and my website allows me to accomplish this quite easily. I’ve been tracking the number of visitors coming to my site and I am amazed at the attention it is getting. In January of this year, 998 unique visitors made their way to my website. I was anxious to see when that number would break over 1,000. Well, it is time to celebrate because in the month of March it happened. Not only did the number of unique visitors break the 1,000 mark but it easily surpassed it with a total of 1,291! Amazing! Thank you for visiting my website! I hope you enjoy the photographs and other information I am presenting. Let me know what else you would like to see or read about from the exciting world of photography. Have a great day! -Bob

Baseball is About Set to Begin

Our son, James, plays travel baseball for the Lehigh Valley Baseball Academy. He is currently on the 13U team and they held a scrimmage last Saturday. You can view the photos I took at the scrimmage here. I enjoy the challenge of trying to capture the baseball action on the ballfield. Baseball is a great game and I find it extremely rewarding when I am able to freeze an action-moment with my Nikon D300. By the way, this new camera of mine is working tremendously well! I particularly like its 6 frames-per-second feature to capture moments like an attempted steal or the batter’s swing. It is amazing how much of the action this camera is able to capture. The first official tournament is scheduled for this coming weekend and I will be there on the firstbase side behind my camera. The boys have been working hard in practice and their skills will soon be tested in the first official tournament of the season. Do you like baseball as much as I do?

Elk County Wildlife

We just returned from our photo excursion in Elk County. James and I enjoyed 2 days in the beautiful mountains surrounding Benezette where the Pennsylvania elk roam freely. They provide plenty of photographic opportunities, but along the way other wildlife species attract our attention.

Today, as I was searching for elk, I came upon a porcupine. These creatures get a bad rap in my opinion. This little guy was cute! He put on a little show for me and then got a little scared when I got too close. Then he climbed up a tree. It was interesting to watch him move along in what seemed like slow motion. James met me and was able to observe this little guy for a while, too. Porcupines are not nearly as large as elk but they are every bit as fascinating. You just never know what you might come across out on the mountain!

I was posted a gallery of photos taken on this photo excursion. You can check them out here. Take a look as these wildlife photos and let me know what you think of them.

Tomorrow’s Photo Trip

Early tomorrow morning, my son, James, and I will be heading off on another photography excursion. We are excited about this trip for two primary reasons. First, we always enjoy going to the beautiful mountains of Elk County and trying our hand at photographing the elk. The challenge is a welcome one for both of us because the beauty we see is always something to behold! Secondly, this is the time of year that the elk drop their antlers. Some years ago we found a spike antler, but we have not yet found any of the big boy’s antlers. We will be hiking many miles in our search and will hopefully come back with some good photos and perhaps even a shed antler. At the very least, we will come back with some incredible memories. There is no place like the mountians!