Archive for May, 2009

What Do You Look for in a Photograph

Posted in Photography on May 31, 2009 by bobshank

The saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

What do you look for in a photograph? Do you look for a particular composition? Do you prefer leading lines or symetry in a photograph? What about subjects; what subjects do you prefer to see in a photo? Do you like the orientation to be portrait or landscape, or does it depend on the situation? Do  you like color or black and white prints? Digital or film?

The beautiful thing about photography is that as the photographer you can create your own style by what you include or choose not to include in a photo. You are the master of the art you are making so you can include whatever you like. So, what are you going to include?

The film or the digital sensor is like a blank sheet of paper. This is kind of similar but in an opposite way to a block of stone. The sculptor creates his or her art by chopping away what doesn’t need to be there. Conversely, the photographer starts with a blank frame of film or digital sensor and has to add to it.

Some argue that you have to see a photograph before you make it. I am not sure I completely agree with this statement all the time. Sure, we have to have a photographic eye, but sometimes working a subject can lead to compositions that I might not have seen at first. What I first look for may lead to other ideas and even additional subjects. Getting in the grove or creating momentum can certainly help us reach our goals in creating photographs that others will find pleasing to view.

Ultimately, it is what you look for and prefer to photograph that matters. You are the artist or the composer, if you will. So, what are you looking for in your next photograph?


The Photography Learning Curve

Posted in Photography, Preparation on May 30, 2009 by bobshank

Just when you think you are an accomplished photographer able to meet any demand, you suddenly find  yourself wondering what could have gone wrong with your most recent shoot. Maybe you purchased a new piece of photo equipment and it had a surprise or two up its sleeve for you! Or maybe the lighting conditions were atrocious and left you totally bewildered.

These things happen to all of us. Believe me, humility goes a long way in photography and it does a photographer good not to get over confident. Adaptability and a yearning to keep learning is the name of the game.

There are a couple tips worth mentioning to help avoid a major catastrophe. First, check your camera before you leave for a shoot. It may be stating the obvious, but be sure your batteries are charged and the memory card is formatted. Also be sure to check the menu settings to be sure they are exactly where you want them. While this is blatantly obvious, all it takes is forgetting to do this one time and you’ll be sure to never forget this again.

A second tip is practice before the big day. Practicing a technique before applying it is imperative. It is much easier to experiment on your own instead of in front of your client. Use a stuffed animal and attempt to replicate similar lighting conditions. Take your time and practice, practice, practice. Go over each and every detail. Take notes, too. This will be time well spent and will perhaps save you some bad surprises later.

One final tip is evaluate your photos as you go. In other words, take a peek at your photos now and then during the shoot. This is the beauty of digital photography. You can see if what you are doing is working or not. And if it’s not, then you can make the necessary corrections.

The photography learning curve can be steep at times. The effort to keep learning is definitely worth it. So, keep learning; curves and all!

Website Visits

Posted in Website on May 29, 2009 by bobshank

A little over a year ago I created my photography website because I had taken some photos of the PVI musical that my daughter, Lydia, was in. I just wanted to post the photos to a web gallery so the students and their parents could view them. Little could have I realized where this would go after the first year!

In April, my website received over 1,000 visitors. I was very happy with the attention my website was attracting and I was still enjoying the entire photography process. Now this month my website has attracted over 2,000 visitors! I am both excited and humbled by this. Apparently, my photos are attracting a lot of attention and I have also been receiving many positive comments about them as well.

The number one referring URL to my website is the Lehigh Valley Baseball Academy. The second is Google. And the third is Facebook. I have been trying to get my photographs out in front of people in a variety of ways and this appears to be working.

Now that my website is starting to attract more attention, I am hoping that this blog will also start to attract more attention. I have committed to regular posts on my blog and I hope this is appreciated by people like you!

I am enjoying photography very much. Sports events, wildlife, musicals, portraits, weddings, and the beauty of nature here in the Poconos are among my most favorite subjects to photograph. I hope you enjoy my website and this blog.


Print Quality

Posted in Printing on May 28, 2009 by bobshank

I still prefer prints even in this digital age we live in today. A print is a beautiful way to share or display a photograph. Oh, I know that web galleries and digital frames are the current rave, and I do use these myself at times, but an actual print is still preferred by me.

The problem used to be that prints or negatives were stashed away in shoeboxes hardly ever to be seen. Now, digital photos are hidden on hard drives rarely to see the light of day.

Printing photographs is definitely well worth the effort. You just need to make sure you are printing quality prints. Forget about using the drug store or Walmart. Find a quality photo lab, which will cost a little more but will  be well worth the cost. For one thing, the quality of the colors will be better and they will last many years longer. The old adage, “You get what you pay for,” could not be more true when it comes to printing photographs.

Give it a try. Take some of your best photographs to a quality print lab and see how they turn out. If you get quality prints I believe you will very happy with the outcome.


Posted in Networking on May 26, 2009 by bobshank

The word “network” is usually thought of in relation to computers. Computer networks have been around for years. But networking also refers to reaching out to and connecting with people. How big is your people network?

Word of mouth is one of the oldest and best forms of advertising any product. A person of his or her word is one who will be well respected. Are you a person of your word?

A people network, much like a computer network, is only as strong as its weakest link. Identifying weak links is not always an enjoyable task but it is a vitally important one. Today networking can take place in a number of ways–telephone, email, Facebook, Twitter, and so many more ways are available for us to connect with other people.

How strong is your network? Can you find any ways to make it stronger?

Anticipating Action

Posted in Baseball on May 25, 2009 by bobshank

Photographing baseball games is one of my photo passions. I coached baseball for nine years and while I do miss coaching, I find that I can still keep myself involved in the game by trying to capture the action with my camera. It is not always easy, but the challenge is invigorating!

I often pre-focus on a spot where I think the next play will take place. Obviously I do not always guess this correctly, but when I do it makes capturing the action much easier. I switched my focus button to be one on the back of my camera instead of with the shutter release. This allows me to focus on a spot, second base for example, and then I can recompose without losing focus on that spot. When a  base runner attempts to steal second, I am ready to go.

Watching the contact zone in front of home plate helps me anticipate where the action will take place. Then I can quickly move my camera to the right spot and click away!


Posted in Weddings on May 24, 2009 by bobshank

Walking through bubblesI had the privilege of photographing Pete & Jodi’s wedding yesterday. They are a neat couple with some really great friends. It was a great day even though the sky was a little gray and a few raindrops did fall. But the excitement of this couple tying the knot overcame all the shadows.

I learned a lot while photographing this wedding. First of all, the Nikon SB900 Speedlight performed beautifully as usual. I am still experimenting with this accessory and have been very happy with the results. I also enjoyed photographing some shots before the wedding as the wedding party was preparing for the ceremony. These candid and posed portraits were enjoyable to make.

Photographing the newly wedded couple as they made their way through the bubbles made for some interesting photos. Sometimes the bubbles reflected the light from my flash, which created an interesting effect. The formal portraits after the wedding were fun, too, and everyone had the opportunity to join in the fun with their own cameras to record this special day.

Congratulations Pete & Jodi!