Archive for June, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

Posted in Busy, Photography, Weddings on June 28, 2010 by bobshank

I like to keep busy photographically speaking. There is nothing more exciting than to be out with my camera trying to make exciting photographs!

This past weekend I was privileged to photograph a wedding. It was an all-day event comprising the pre-ceremony, ceremony, portraits, outdoor, and reception. I took well over 1,000 photographs as I tried to document the day for the couple.

Tomorrow I hope to have a few photos from this wedding to share here on my blog. In the meantime, I have to keep editing these photographs and create an order for another customer. Life is busy, busy, busy, and I wouldn’t want it any other way!


How Do You Store Batteries?

Posted in Batteries, Photography, Speedlight on June 25, 2010 by bobshank

Many of us photographers like using rechargeable batteries. I remembering doing a post here on my blog a while ago where I bragged about the 15-Minute AA Energizer Charger. It works great and I highly recommend it. But I have a problem. I have the Nikon MB-D10 Vertical Grip which stores 8 AA batteries and the Nikon SB-900 Speedlight which holds 4 AA batteries. So to have enough backup batteries I need a total of 24 batteries. That’s a lot of batteries!

Now 12 of these batteries, half of the total number, are housed in each accessory. But that still means I need to store 12 charged batteries for when the ones in use get low.

What is the best way to store batteries until they are ready to use? Just put a rubber band around sets of four? Put them in your pocket until it’s time to make the switch? Make your assistant hold them since they need to earn their money anyhow?

How do you store your batteries?

A New Sports Photography Website

Posted in Action Photography, Baseball, iPod, Nikon, Photography, Sports Photography on June 24, 2010 by bobshank

I just created a new website exclusively for my sports photography. You can view it here.

My opportunities and experience in sports photography have taken me to places I never dreamed. It is a blast to face the challenge of “recording” the game with my camera. I always say that every game tells a story and we photographers have the privilege and honor of capturing the game’s story with our camera. I am a huge sports fan and always have been my entire life. I guess I came by it innocently enough. You see, my dad played Semi-Pro Football back in the days when this level of play was the stepping stone to the pros. I’ve been watching football games probably since I was inside my mother’s womb! I still enjoy seeing a game in Philadelphia or wherever some 45 years later! I also played sports most of my life and still enjoy playing as opportunities present themselves.

I also coached sports for over nine years. I may be getting back into coach a little bit in the near future, but my years of coaching experience have paid off huge dividends when I am behind the camera. For example, when I am photographing a baseball game and a runner gets on first base, I can often predict where the action might next take place depending on the number of outs, the count on the batter, the score of the game, who is pitching, and who is at the plate. Certainly there are many variables here but my coaching experience surely helps me anticipate where I should point my camera.

My interest in sports photography began slowly some years ago when I was attending one of the baseball instructional clinics that my son was attending. Like many dads, I had my camcorder with me. But I also have training in communication with a Journalism degree from Temple University, so I took my interest to a higher level. It just so happened that I had recently received an iPod as a gift. My new goal was to use the camcorder to record the instruction and then edit it to put on my iPod. My reasoning was that players and parents could use the instruction throughout the year even after the clinic was over. I thought this might of interest to the coaches as well. That project didn’t turn out completely as I hoped, but it definitely laid the groundwork for what was about to happen in the coming months. God is so good to us if we just pay attention and follow!

Some months went by and then my son made it onto a tournament baseball team. The Lehigh Valley Baseball Academy was starting to grow and add more teams and they hired me as their sports photographer. Around the same time I also started photographing the Pleasant Valley Baseball team. These opportunities helped me gain some experience and try some new things out.

Check out my new website, look at the photos, and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your feedback. And if you know of anyone looking for a sports photographer for their team or event, please pass my website and contact information along to them.



50mm f/1.4 Nikon Lens Just Arrived!

Posted in Lenses, Nikon, Photography on June 23, 2010 by bobshank

I only had to wait two days for my new Nikon Lens to arrive from B&H Photo. I love ordering from them!

The UPS driver delivered my package late this afternoon and I immediately opened the outer box to find the familiar Nikon lens box. This lens is small and compact and I couldn’t wait to try it out. I’ve been reading David Ziser’s book, “Captured By the Light” where he talks about using this lens in detail at weddings. Inspired by his book and knowing that I have a wedding to shoot this coming Saturday, I attached the 50mm lens to my Nikon D70. I plan on using this older camera as my second camera at the wedding so I figured it made sense to try my new lens on this body first.

Well, let me tell you, I was not disappointed! This little baby is sharp and has an attractive bokeh even at f/2.0. My fast lenses had been my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 and my Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8. I was eager to try this f/1.4 lens so I started walking about the house and making some photos. Here are a few that I took for you to see. I really like this lens, but what do you think?

I Just Love Sports Photography, Especially Baseball!

Posted in Action Photography, Baseball, Camera, Nikon, Sports Photography on June 22, 2010 by bobshank

Baseball, baseball, and more baseball! I love it! I am spending a lot of time photographing baseball these days and I could not be happier! The thrill of trying to capture the action as we make photographs at sporting events is not only an awesome challenge but it’s a whole lot of fun, too!

In the past month I photographed a high school District Championship, a State Playoff game, and a weekend tournament where my son’s team took first place!

All of this provides me with plenty of opportunities to learn how to be a better sports photographer. Most times I feel like I am getting better, but sometimes the growth is minimal or even nonexistent. There is a certain degree of luck that goes into this style of photography. I feel fortunate to have coached baseball for 11 years and I am a student of the game, so this definitely helps.  But all that I know cannot prevent an umpire from stepping between the action and my camera! I also find myself envying those photographers who have the 400, 500, and even 600mm lenses. I think to myself, “Boy if I could have one of those lenses, my number of keepers would go up drastically! The grass always appears greener on the other side of the fence, doesn’t it? Some day I do hope to purchase one of those powerful zoom lenses, but in the meantime I will just keep honing my photography skills and try to get better and better at this craft. Besides, I can think of nothing I would rather do in my spare time!

The other week I was very pleased to secure a media pass for the District 11 Championship that was played at the Iron Pigs stadium in Allentown. This pass allowed me the privilege of photographing from the photo wells beside the dugouts, which was a dream of mine for a long time. The icing on the cake was when the Pleasant Valley Bears defeated Parkland 5-0 in that game. I photographed Pleasant Valley throughout the year and got to know the team quite well. I witnessed their strong offense at the plate, their aggressive base running skills, and their stellar defense. There were several games where the opponent wasn’t even close. It was obvious that PV had a good team and they made a great run at the end to win the Mountain Valley Conference and then the District 11 Championship. And they did it in an impressive manner!

It was hard not to cheer too loud from behind the camera. I understand that my photographic privileges allow me access to the very edge of the playing field. I also spend time very close to the opponent’s dugout. I do not want to discredit this special photographic privilege , so I try to keep my mouth shut. This was not an easy year to do that! These boys can play baseball and watching their coaches manage the game and the boys was a pure pleasure! They had an incredible year and I was honored to be there behind my camera to tell the story photographically.

I did learn a few things and re-learned a few more that I had forgotten. Here, in no particular order, are a few of them.

First, the background to a photograph can be completely distracting. At Pleasant Valley’s field, the view from the first base side and the home dugout looks directly toward the school bus terminal. Yep, yellow buses are everywhere! Talk about a distracting background! It is terrible. I actually limit my time on this side of the field for this reason, but I do like the first base side for some shots at first base, attempted steals, and, of course, the home dugout to capture the player’s facial expressions and banter that sometimes occurs.

Second, I really strive to show the action by capturing the baseball in the frame of my photo. This is not an easy task. My Nikon D300 does a great job to help me in this endeavor, and the MB-D10 Vertical Grip increases my shots per second to 8. The distance from the pitcher’s mound to the batter is 60 feet 6 inches. An 85 mph fastball gets there in a hurry! So even with my camera capturing 8 frames per second, I still need some good timing and a little luck, but when the baseball is clearly in the frame, I love the action it portrays!

Third, I love trying to show the base running action. This is a detail lost by some teams and even coaches. I remember a coaching seminar I attended many years ago that was led by the head baseball coach at the University of Kentucky. His entire talk was about the importance of getting on base, getting over to the next base, and then getting home. It was an impressive session and I learned a lot of fascinating details I never ever thought of before. They say that baseball is a game of inches. Well this is true for sure, but baseball is also about paying attention to details. And the team that does this consistently is definitely going to be more successful. There is no doubt about it. Immediately after that coaching seminar, I went up to that coach and thanked him for such an impressive presentation. We got to talking and I mentioned how I was trying to coach our team on the little things that make a big difference. He then offered to send me his PowerPoint (TM) presentation by email. A few days later the coach kept his word and I was able to learn even more to help me coach our team on the finer points of base running. Well, several years later and this is still paying off for me! Whenever Pleasant Valley had a base runner, I tried to anticipate where the action would next take place. I did not always get it right, but by having some basic understanding of the details of base running and trying to always be ready helped me get some nice photos of a runner stealing a base or a catcher throwing a runner out at the bag. Man, I just love those shots!

Fourth, try to get the player’s or coach’s face in the photo. This not always easy especially if you are photographing a right-handed batter from the third base side of the field. But faces in the frame make for a much more lively photograph. I imagine this is even much more difficult when filming football games since players wear helmets, but even at baseball games it can be a challenge. Also, facial expressions can depict the demeanor of a player and even the general sense of how the game is going. Oh, yeah, and don’t forget to photograph the losing pitcher with his head in his hands. That tells a story, too. I do have a guiding principle I always try to adhere to: never embarrass a player or a coach. Baseball is probably the most difficult game to play in all of sport. A very good player is going to fail 7 times out 10 at the plate. He will be hitting .300 at that rate. So, I try to never publish a photograph that shows a terrible swing or a batter who missed the ball as it goes into the catcher’s glove. I also try not to depict an error in the field when a player bumbles a grounder. Now there are times when a coach can learn a lot from a player’s failure, especially with photographs that break down a hitter’s swing or a pitcher’s delivery to the plate. And my son is a catcher so I do try to focus on all catchers during a game and this will include some strikes that get by a swinging batter’s bat. But I never purposely try to demean or embarrass a player with my photographs.

Fifth, I recognize that I have a whole lot to learn. Even with being around the game of baseball much of my life, I still learn all the time. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard the PV coaches say something I never heard of or even thought of before. I even learn from opposing coaches as well. Baseball is a fascinating game and I recognize that I have much more to learn before I can truly capture the game perfectly. And I just love the game and the challenge of trying to tell the story of the game with my camera!

New Nikon Lens Ordered

Posted in Equipment, Lenses, Nikon, Portraits, Weddings on June 21, 2010 by bobshank

I just ordered a new Nikon lens; it is the 50mm f/1.4 and I cannot wait to receive it!

I have heard a lot of good things about this lens. The best feature of this lens is the ability to make photographs in available light. The fast f/1.4 aperture allows available light to create an image where no other lens will work. I cannot wait to try this lens out! I plan on using it for some wedding applications, portraits, and stock subjects. The reviews tout the usefulness as well as the versatility of this lens.

I know from firsthand experience that Nikon makes great glass. I never have to worry if my equipment is good enough. Nikon flat out makes excellent glass and I won’t buy anything else. I realize there are plenty of other lens manufacturers out there, but I am a devoted Nikon fan and will not apologize for this. Nikon is my preferred choice. I know that Canon and Olympus make excellent products, too, but I will stick with Nikon because I believe no one can beat their product line for what I am doing in my photography.

I expect to receive delivery of my new 50mm f/1.4 mm lens fairly soon and I am getting impatient already!

Only a Little More than a Month Away

Posted in Photo Walk, Photographers on June 17, 2010 by bobshank

Can you guess what is about a month away, will be in nearly every part of the world, and allow photographers an opportunity to spend some quality time together?

That’s right, Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk. Wow, you’re good! This year’s walk is being held on July 24th and I will be leading the Photo Walk in our area again this year. We will meet at Dansbury Park in East Stroudsburg just before 6pm. You can find out more information and sign up here.

I hope you will be able to join us on this year’s Photo Walk, but if you live too far away check out the available Photo Walks in your area. It will be an enjoyable evening for us to spend with fellow photographers. What could be better than a nice summer evening taking photos with your camera and walking alongside others who share you photographic passions?

It’s going to be loads of fun!