Archive for April, 2009

Photography Networking

Posted in Networking on April 30, 2009 by bobshank

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!

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Wildlife Wednesday

Posted in Wildlife on April 29, 2009 by bobshank

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!

New Poll

Posted in Poll on April 29, 2009 by bobshank

Check out my new poll by clicking on the “Poll Page” over on the right. This current poll asks your opinion about “What is your favorite type of photography?” Check it out and cast your vote here.

Okay, WordPress It Is

Posted in Blog on April 29, 2009 by bobshank

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!

Blogging

Posted in Blog on April 28, 2009 by bobshank

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

Posted in Sports on April 26, 2009 by bobshank

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

Posted in Flash on April 22, 2009 by bobshank

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!