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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ESU definitely had Kutztown in its sights. Most definitely!
In softball and baseball, there is nothing as exciting as a play at the plate! A run is at stake and the defense will do whatever is necessary to stop that score. The catcher, of course, is the one in harm’s way!
These images are of the most recent play at the plate I captured on Saturday, April 30th at Penn State University. Michigan was the visiting team and ranked #2 in the nation at the time. This play was the typical bang-bang kind of play that happened quickly. I was situated in the photo well beside the visiting team’s dugout down the third base side of the field. I was very aware of the situation and the locations of the base runners. I knew a play at the plate could happen but would it? Well, it did and I captured these photographs of the exciting action. You can see for yourself the result of the play by looking at the photos–especially the umpire in this last photo.
I have been fortunate to capture several of these exciting plays at the plate with my camera over the years. I recall one of Lafayette’s games against Navy in a baseball game. There were several others at Pleasant Valley and other local high school games in our area. But the one that I remember most fondly was one that happened with a Lehigh Valley Baseball Academy team. My son had just decided that year to make the switch to playing catcher. I was still not thrilled about his decision–after all, they don’t call the catcher’s equipment “tools of ignorance” for nothing! Well, I traveled to an LVBA game and watched my son behind the plate and in the very first inning there was a play at the plate. I knew I captured the play with my camera, but it was not until later when I saw the determined expression on his face that I knew I captured something special. I also realized then and there that James made the correct decision to be a catcher! There is nothing quite as exciting as a play at the plate. And if we sports photographers capture it correctly, quite a story it does tell!
Well, today I had the opportunity to put my new Nikon D5 through a real test. I photographed the Millersville v. ESU baseball game for the university today. The sky was partly so I did have to keep adjust some of the camera settings and I am still learning the new camera, too.
Overall, I am extremely happy with the results. The frames per second speed is phenomenal. I still prefer to time many of the shots, but having the rapid fire ability is helpful to capture the ball in the frame a little more consistently.
I still have a ton to learn about the settings on this camera. The learning curve will be a little slower than I’d like at first. The focus settings, for example, are extensive with a variety of options. I need to narrow down what will work best when tracking a player through a play on the field. Overall, I couldn’t be more pleased with the functionality and performance of this new D5. So far, it is even passing my exponentially high expectations!
Sports photography is my passion. There is nothing more challenging, and thrilling, than trying to capture the action on the field. Today, I had the opportunity to photograph the 9/10-year-old All Stars between Pocono Mountain East and West End.
I really enjoy this age for baseball. The players are serious about the game and yet still want to learn the finer points of the game. They are plain down teachable! The games are fun to watch, too. Parents sit on the edge of their seat or pace back and forth like an expectant father in a maternity waiting room!
No, these Little League All-Star games are not for the faint of heart! And my job is to capture the action on the field with my camera. It is a challenge I embrace and enjoy thoroughly! Today I carried three cameras at times because a lot was happening and a lot was expected of the sports photographer.
Shooting sports is not only my passion, but I am learning it is one of my real talents in photography. I am not trying to brag; I am just learning more about myself and I am learning that of all the types of photography out there, sports photography is what I do the best. I believe my nine years of coaching Little League and three years of coaching Middle School football have a lot to do with this, too.
Serving as a freelance stringer for the Pocono Record and the Easton Express-Times teaches me a lot, too! I don’t get it right on each and every shot, but I am getting more consistent at getting it right at every game. The task of a sports photographer is to capture the action of the players and tell the game’s story in our photographs. Knowing the game is essential and learning each player’s tendencies is crucial. For example, when you are looking down the barrel of your zoom lens through your viewfinder, can you predict when the batter will swing his bat? If not, you will most likely waste a lot of shots, and worse, you might miss some key moments. Learn to pay attention to minute details like the slight twitch of an arm muscle. This might be all you need to know to make the best next great sports photograph!
Last night at the Legion Baseball game, I tried a new angle from which to photograph. I’ve been doing some experimenting with shooting the pitcher from behind the backstop and shooting through the chainlink fence. It is not my favorite spot by any means, but I am getting some interesting and different perspectives from this location.
The pitcher, Dylan Pasnak, was striking out a lot of hitters so there wasn’t much fielding action with the infielders. One inning I decided to go behind the backstop and take some photos of Pasnak throwing strikes. I did, but then I tried this angle with the batter swinging at the ball and missing. My goal was to get the ball in the photo before it got to the catcher’s mitt. It took some trial and error to time the shot, but I got pretty close with this one. I’d prefer the ball to be a bit more away from the catcher’s mitt, but at least I did capture the moment. I also like the third baseman in the background to provide some depth to the image.
I am liking this perspective. Do you?
Pleasant Valley struck first. It was the third inning and Matt Pierce reached first on a single. Then he reached second base on a wild pitch. Brendan Kearns came to the plate and laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt, which moved Pierce to third. Then, on another wild pitch, Pierce scored the first run of the game!
Chris Burke pitched a masterful game for PV. He only gave up four intentional walks, all to Mike Nikorak, the MVC Most Valuable Player. The Bears defense was solid behind Burke and he kept recording outs in a very efficiently pitched game.
Stroudsburg kept trying to apply pressure, but they kept hitting ground balls or flies to the outfielders. They had a few base runners but could not bring more than one around to score.
In the bottom of the fourth inning a hard ground ball was hit to PV’s shortstop, Travis Van Houten. He fielded the ball cleanly, threw to Adam Raseley at second base, who then pivoted and threw to Ariel Mejia at first base for a beautiful double play!
The Bears tacked on two more runs in the top of the seventh inning. The last of these insurance runs came when the #4 batter, James Shank, executed a great bunt in a well-coached two-out squeeze play. There wasn’t even a play at the plate!
Congratulations to the Pleasant Valley Bears Baseball team in their MVC Playoff victory over Stroudsburg 4-1! It was a great game!
Sports Photography Portfolios by Bob Shank
I just finished updating my photography portfolios. Periodically, I go through my portfolios to add some of my better photographs to share my work with others. I believe my sports photographs are getting better over time and I hope you agree!
One of my frustrations is finding a good way to present my photo portfolio so the viewer does not have to wait long to view the photos. I appreciate any feedback you can provide on this matter because I want to be able to get my photos out quickly and efficiently.
The link at the top of this post will direct you to my newest portfolios: published photographs, baseball, football, and golf.
There are some upcoming sporting events I will be photographing and I am always looking to broaden my horizons and get better at the craft. I now have well over 60 photographs published and my sports portfolio is growing!
I really like the challenge of capturing the action of a game with my camera. I always say that each game has a unique story to tell as it unfolds and it is our job to capture that action as sports photographers. It isn’t always easy and there are plenty of things that can go wrong, but there is something mighty special that happens when it all comes together!
Athletes try to put their best game on the field, so shouldn’t we sports photographers attempt to do the same thing, too? Paying attention to every play is a start, but I also think it is a mindset as well. I can tell when my mind starts to wander or when I am not quite in the right mindset during a game. I have to readjust my thinking and sometimes my attitude. The very next play could be the big one!
Capturing the action on the field is all about being ready, good planning and timing, and even a little luck along the way. It is definitely a challenge to tell the game’s story with our photography, but I enjoy and embrace this challenge wholeheartedly as a sports photographer.
Do you think these photographs show the action of the game? Do they tell the game story adequately? What do you think about these photos?
Today I had another sports photograph published in the Pocono Record, but the story behind this photograph is not about me.
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!