Archive for August, 2011

More Hurricane Irene Photos – Stroudsburg, PA 2011

Posted in Hurricane Irene, Pennsylvania, Stroudsburg on August 30, 2011 by bobshank

I was blown away! No, not by Hurricane Irene, but by the number of visits to my blog yesterday. Over 1,000 people visited my blog to see the photos I captured during Hurricane Irene’s visit through northeast Pennsylvania. It was certainly not the worst storm in our state’s history, but the schools in Monroe County were closed the last two days and many people are still without power. This Hurricane caused some definite destruction.

So I went back through my photographs from yesterday and decided to post a few more today. These photographs are from the same areas I mentioned yesterday–all in the town of Stroudsburg. The effects of a hurricane are far-reaching and lasting in many ways.


Hurricane Irene – Stroudsburg, PA 2011

Posted in Hurricane Irene, Pennsylvania, Stroudsburg on August 29, 2011 by bobshank

Hurricane Irene tore up the east coast this weekend. While it was not nearly as violent a storm as was predicted, it did cause some damage. Power was out much of the day for many in Stroudsburg and the region caused by downed trees, and moderate flooding was prevalent throughout the area. I got my real first taste of photographing the damage caused by a hurricane and it was thrilling to record the action with my camera. The reaction of the people was fascinating and capturing the damage caused by this storm was by far the most thrilling. The wind blew hard at times, nearly taking my baseball cap with it! Rain occasionally fell, but the brunt of the storm had passed by the time I was out with my camera.

I took a lot of photographs of Hurricane Irene, but here are a few of my favorites. As you browse through this collection of photos you will first see the McMichaels Creek violently overflowing and whipping under the Broad Street Bridge. Then you will see a tree that fell right onto a house on Clermont Street in South Stroudsburg. The next series of photographs are from a downed tree on Park Avenue, which took power lines and a utility pole with it, shattering the pole like a toothpick. Finally, you will see a few of the road closures in Cherry Valley.


Posted in 500px, Action Photography, Portfolio, Sports Photography, Website on August 28, 2011 by bobshank

I heard some photographers talking about and raving over 500px.

This unique website is incredible! Many people post tons of photographs on websites, Flickr, SmugMug, etc. The result is much like the overload we all experience with the internet. Posting so many photos is much better than hiding them away in an old shoebox and it is great for those wanting to have photos of an event or game. The problem is so many photos are posted that we do not see the best of the best. I do this myself. After a baseball or football game, I eagerly post many photographs of that event. I know players like to see themselves in action, so I try to post as many photos as possible attempting to include as many players and as much action as possible. Obviously not all of these photos are top grade. I do try to highlight my favorite shot of the month on my Perfect Game Photos website–posting my favorite photograph of the month.

500px is a website of top quality photographs from all over the world. Check it out at You will see incredible photos here and even some that will take your breath away! Photographers post only their best, top quality photos here because the high level of standards with this collection. Forcing oneself to limit posting only the very best photos is a good exercise and helps advance the level of any photographer.

I strongly encourage you to check out this website. 500px is a site to behold! Along the way, check out my photographs. You can let me know what you think of each one by hitting the “Like” or “Dislike” button and/or leaving a comment. You can see my page on 500px here: and you can see my portfolio there at this address:

Check out to see what I am talking about. This is one incredible site!






Just Updated My Sports Photography Portfolio

Posted in Action Photography, Adobe Lightroom, Portfolio, Sports Photography on August 27, 2011 by bobshank

Is your portfolio up to date?

Mine was not. I shoot a lot of different sporting events: baseball, football, golf and even some soccer. I am confident in my ability and the work flow is easy since I use Lightroom. It does take time to sift through anywhere from 600 to over 1,000 photos after  a shoot and I am learning how to be efficient in this process. Lightroom does make it much more manageable!

Each month I post a “Photo of the Month” on my sports photography website: I typically choose my favorite photo of each month and either tell a short story on how I captured that photo or share a few thoughts pertaining to what is in the photograph. I was blessed to be a student at Temple University in the communications. We had to take the obligatory basic photography class and my life was never the same! My final project for the class was to shadow a newspaper photographer in my hometown for a day, culminating in the shooting of a high school baseball game. I could see that my final grade was definitely assisted by the photographs I was able to capture at that game for this final assignment. To this day, I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of photographing a sporting event. I believe as each game is played it tells a unique story. My job as a photographer is to tell this story with the photographs I capture with my camera. What is the plot of this particular game? What is the turning point or climax of this game? How are the players reacting? Photographs still tell these stories better than hundred of words!

Even with all the modern tools of digital photography and Lighroom, I am not good at keeping my portfolio up to date. So last night I decided it was time to update my sports photography portfolio. Motivation for this came to me because I want to use the updated portfolio as a reference point for a hopeful upcoming assignment. It was definitely time to gather my best work and put them on display. The portfolio will hopefully display my photographic skills, ability, and experience in sports photography.

One dilemma I confronted was just how I wanted to display my portfolio. Lightroom allows easy output to web galleries, but I wanted the photos to appear in a large format without having to click on a thumbnail. I also wasn’t pleased with the slow screen rate with some flash plug-ins. So I decided to create CSS HTML code to present my portfolio photos all in a row. I figured this display would be easy to navigate and get my photographs more easily in front of the eyes who wanted to see my best work.

A quick search on the internet helped me put wings to my dream. I found some CSS code that looked like it might work and with a few editorial alterations I knew I was in business. The power of the internet continues to amaze me! I spent most of the night last night tweaking the layout to display my portfolio after going through and assembling my sports portfolio. I still am not completely happy with the result due to the slow screen rate as photos are first loaded but it will work at least for now. How do you prefer to display your portfolio? What works best for you?

I will admit to the difficulty I encountered in narrowing down my number of photographs. There were some I was personally attached to for some reason, but I eventually realized some of these did not fit the high standards to be included in the portfolio. This editorial challenge forced me to critique each photograph in painstaking detail. It was a good exercise and I believe it will even help me on my upcoming photo shoots. We can learn a lot by going back over past work!

My updated sports photography portfolio can be viewed here.

And here are a few of the photos that made the cut.



More Pennsylvania Elk

Posted in Aperture, Backgrounds, Cow, Fast Lenses, James Shank, Lenses, My son, Pennsylvania Elk, Wildlife Photography on August 25, 2011 by bobshank

Yesterday I shared the story of how my son, James, and I encounter a cow elk and were able to photograph it close up.

Today I am posting three more photos of this cow. Yesterday’s photos included much of the vegetation that the cow was actually eating. These photos today try to focus on the cow and highlight her without much distraction. Wildlife photography is difficult for many reasons: long, fast glass is needed and it’s expensive, animals are difficult to find and often don’t stay still very long, the best times for wildlife photography is at sunrise and sunset when light is low, and it is often hard to separate the subject from its camouflaged background. This last difficulty is my subject today.

How does the wildlife photographer separate the wild subject from its background? What tools in our camera can we use to assist in this endeavor?

Wide open f-stops are probably one of my most favorite tools to help accomplish this goal. Shooting wide open blurs the background and allows the viewer’s eye to focus completely on the subject. Large f-stops like f/2.8 are extremely helpful. Yes, they are expensive, but I find them irreplaceable in my wildlife photography. Another tool is the placement of the subject. We all know that backgrounds can literally ruin a photograph. So working with a clean background is very helpful. Setting the subject against a clear blue sky is golden! Or how about using the contrast of goldenrod or queen anne’s lace in a field to place your subject? Of course we do not literally place our subjects, but paying attention to the background can make a subject stand out loud and proud!

What tools do you use to separate your wildlife subjects from their habitat?

Recent Trip to Elk County, PA

Posted in Cow, D70, Elk County, Elk Viewing Etiquette, Nikon, Pennsylvania Elk, Wildlife Photography, Winslow Hill on August 24, 2011 by bobshank

Last week my son, James, and I ventured to our favorite spot–Elk County, Pennsylvania. Oh, I know this doesn’t have the romantic sound like Yellowstone, Big Sur, or The Everglades have, but it is the home of a herd of elk here in Pennsylvania and we have a little camp that we like to frequent up on Winslow Hill. We thoroughly enjoy viewing, observing, and photographing the wildlife–especially the elk! I’ve been going to Elk County, PA for over 20 years now and we just cannot seem to get enough! Fortunately for me, James shares this passion with me!

So last week we spent three days there and we had a blast!

On one of our “elk runs,” where we drive to the spots which seem to hold elk, James spotted a cow right alongside the road. I could not see it at first because the guard rail blocked my view. I stopped so James could snap a few quick photos while no other vehicles were coming down the road and I scanned the road ahead for a place to pull off. Stopping on the main thoroughfares and blocking traffic is a nuisance, in bad taste, drives the locals absolutely nuts, and is illegal. Still, some elk observers get so excited about seeing the elk that they simply forget some of the basic rules of elk-viewing etiquette. I quickly found a place to safely pull completely off the road and then we walked back toward the cow with our cameras. James was out ahead of me and once he got closer to the cow I immediately saw that she was accepting of his presence. She was busy eating grass and only looked up once to see who was there and then just went back to eating. We spent approximately 20 minutes photographing this cow elk and she never once showed any sign of alarm or fear of us. We photographed to our heart’s content and she made a most excellent model!

Eventually another car came by and parked safely on the opposite side of the road to get a closer view and capture a few photographs, too. Again, the cow took a glance at her new neighbors and simply went back to feeding in the grass. Photographers and clicking cameras were simply no big deal to her! As the sun continued to get lower in the August sky, she slowly fed away from us. We captured some nice, close photos and were blessed to spend quality time with such a beautiful mammal. Her summer coat shone brightly in the early evening light and all was well in her world and in ours. Nature and wildlife are incredible!

Can you begin to see why James and I enjoy Elk County, Pennsylvania so much? Here are two photos I captured that evening with my old, backup camera the Nikon D70. The old boy still works and captures some half-way decent images. I cannot think of any better way to spend a summer evening!

No Photos but Wow, What an Evening in the Field!

Posted in Camera, Elk County, James Shank, Mountains, Nikon, Pennsylvania Elk, Preparation, Wildlife Photography on August 20, 2011 by bobshank

My son, James, and I recently purchased a portable blind at Cabelas. The main reason for the purchase is so I can photograph the birds here in my backyard. I inadvertently left the blind up in the mountains on a previous trip, so we decided to put it to use this past Wednesday evening. We practiced setting it up and packing it up while we ate supper around the campfire. It is not a fancy blind but it seats two comfortably. So off we went to give it a try. We assembled the blind and weren’t in it very long when James said, “There’s some elk.” Sure enough, there were four cows over on a distant field and then we spotted a bigger herd of elk just to the right of these first four. There were 40 elk in all! We also had deer come to within 50 yards of our blind. It was a very productive field test and we had a great father/son evening on the mountain!

We did see some elk this week. The highlight was Thursday morning when we saw an 8×8 bull–the biggest bull we’ve seen so far this year. Unlike our previous trip, we did manage to see more bulls, for which we were thankful. Their velvet is coming off and the bulls look uncomfortable with strings of velvet hanging all over their antlers and down in their eyes!

I will post some photos of our trip this coming week, but I think I jinxed myself. My most recent blog entry was about preparation. Well, I guess I jinxed myself because I got to camp with James on Monday around midnight only to realize I forgot my D300! I’ll bet Moose Peterson never did this! Thankfully, I did have my backup body–my old D70 and James let me borrow one of his lenses. I will post some of my photos in upcoming blog posts, but James definitely got much better photos than I did this trip! I guess I was just so excited for this trip that I overlooked grabbing and packing my camera bag into my truck. I even had it on my packing list! I can think of several words to describe what an idiot I am, but none of them are printable!

Now I really can’t wait to get back to the mountains of Elk County!!!