Archive for November, 2011

Why I Like Wildlife Photography So Much

Posted in Pennsylvania Elk, Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience, Wildlife Photography with tags , , on November 21, 2011 by bobshank

I like wildlife photography. Yep, I like it a lot! I actually like just about any kind of photography and I am currently active in sports photography, some musicals and plays, and a few other assignments as well. But given the choice, I will pick wildlife photography above all the others any day of the week!


Well, let’s see. First of all the subjects are beautiful, majestic, live in an awesome environment, and don’t talk back too much! That old saying is certainly true: “A bad day of wildlife photography is better than a good day at work.” But beyond the obvious, who could complain about spending a day outdoors in the beauty of God’s creation? Nature is absolutely spellbinding to observe and be a part of as a photographer. Even when our subjects do not cooperate or even show up, there is plenty of other things to observe and photograph. Landscapes are just one example, but smaller animals, insects, spider webs and more can be great alternative subjects.

Not that long ago, someone told me that you cannot be a wildlife photographer–it just doesn’t pay enough. I liken it to how most people honestly discourage youngsters away from professional sports, saying the odds of ever making it to the pros is just too big of an obstacle. Okay, there is no doubt that the chances are slim, but some people make it, don’t they? So why can’t you be that one?

I love it when people add their two cents, challenge me, and say, “You’ll never do that!” This happened to me at an early age and I’ve spent some quality time during my life proving people wrong! Maybe this is another reason why I like wildlife photograph–it is difficult and presents incredible challenges. I say, “Bring ’em on!”

Another aspect of wildlife photography I enjoy is the classroom-learning I experience in the field. I learn far more out in the wild than I ever do from any book or seminar. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in the power of books and I have a good library of them, too; but the observations and learnings I experience on my own outings are far more powerful.

Wildlife photography has also provided me with numerous new friendships and collegial relationships–much more than I could ever have imagined! The bond we have among us is second to none. I feel more kinship with other outdoor photographers than I do competition. Not everyone feels this way I suppose, but I actually enjoy seeing other’s perspectives and photographic eye. This not only helps me learn to see things differently, but reminds me that there is plenty of space for us all. I made some very good friends over the past few years, all because of my interest in wildlife photography. This is a huge reason why I like wildlife photography.

Lastly, my longtime belief that “there is no place like the mountains” is probably the number one driving force in my enjoyment for wildlife photography. I love the mountains, and spending time trying to photograph wild animals puts me in the greatest place on earth! When I am at work in my outdoor office it doesn’t feel like work at all!

These are just a few of the reasons why I like wildlife photography so much. I enjoy the challenges as well as the people and places wildlife photography brings to my life. I am a better person because of my involvement in wildlife photography and I truly hope that at least a few of my photographs can begin to adequately show just how special and amazing wildlife photography is to me!


Bull Elk from a Different Perspective

Posted in Bull, Pennsylvania Elk, Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience, Perspective, Wildlife Photography, Winslow Hill with tags , , , , , on November 18, 2011 by bobshank

This is a Pennsylvania bull elk. He is big but this is a different perspective from how I typically photograph these majestic animals.

This perspective takes in more of the surrounding environment where this bull roams. The foreground features a field of grass, which is turning to brown in the late fall when this photograph was captured. The background shows trees with just a hint of the changing color coming to the leaves.

The bull seems to be overshadowed by these surrounding elements and yet he appears to be just coming onto this scene. His majestic antlers are reflecting some of the light and they are huge!

What do you think of this different perspective?


Broken Bull Profile

Posted in Bull, Pennsylvania Elk, Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience, Wildlife Photography, Winslow Hill with tags , , , , on November 17, 2011 by bobshank

This is a profile of a nice bull elk. I watched him for several hours one afternoon this fall. First he was feeding in a small field. Then he laid down to chew his cud. I took many photographs, went back to get my photo colleague, and returned to take more photos. It was an incredible site to say the least!

If you look closely at the top of this photograph you will see that this bull’s left antler is broken. It was broken most likely in a fight with another bull, and probably taking him out of contention with other competing bulls for the fall rut. Interestingly, he was accompanied by two cows earlier in the day but they wandered off in the middle of the afternoon. A bull with a broken antler is no match for a dominant bull and he knows it well.

Fights between bulls rarely are fights to the death, but broken antlers and punctures from antler tips are somewhat common. These bulls fight when they must and they fight hard. Capturing such a bull-fight is difficult with a camera for a variety of reasons. The aftermath of these fights are easier to photograph; like this broken bull profile.

Midday Light

Posted in Light, Midday, Pennsylvania Elk, Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience, Wildlife Photography, Winslow Hill with tags , , , , , on November 14, 2011 by bobshank

Many photographers pack up their cameras and photo equipment when the sun gets high in the sky. This is understandable because the midday sunlight is often too harsh for good, quality photographs. However, some days provide excellent light even at midday.

This fall I was in the mountains of Elk County, Pennsylvania during a rainy week. It rained every day I was there! One afternoon I decided to take a walk. It was midday but it was cloudy. On my walk the clouds separated somewhat and the sunlight came pouring through. The light was absolutely beautiful!

Pay attention to the quality of light even at midday. Once in a while it will be okay to shoot photographs even when the sun is high in the sky.

Unique Perspective

Posted in Bull, Pennsylvania Elk, Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience, Perspective, Wildlife Photography, Winslow Hill with tags , , , , , on November 11, 2011 by bobshank

I came across this bull elk after quite a hike. I heard some bulls bugling and did locate two of the three I heard, but it was far too thick with trees to capture any decent photographs. Somewhat rejected, I returned to a field I visited earlier in the afternoon. I was surprised to find two cows and this bull out in the field!

Elk can sometimes be predictable while other times they are completely unpredictable!

I was below this bull and set up my tripod carefully, hoping not to alarm or scare this guy. He just kept looking at me and studying every move. I was slow and deliberate and was able to capture this photograph and quite a few more. Eventually, he slowly stood up, reassessed his surroundings, and moseyed up the hill into the woods. Amazing! These mammals are absolutely amazing!


The Media Got Exactly What It Wanted: Coach Joe Paterno Fired

Posted in ESPN, Journalism, Media with tags , , on November 10, 2011 by bobshank

I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Temple University. I decided to be a communicator and have been for the past 21 years. Make no doubt about it, a journalist and a communicator are very different! A journalist’s job is to report the news. A communicator’s job is different. What is the job of ESPN or Fox Sports? Is their primary goal reporting the sporting news or communicating, interpreting, and influencing it? A trusted journalist can quickly become distrusted when this line is crossed.

War of the Worlds was a book written by H.G. Wells. An adapted version of the story was broadcast on CBS radio in 1938. There were no commercials and as the story unfolded about Martians taking over, panic began to set in. Anxiety levels increased and pure panic was the result. The public reaction was hysteria and anger; sound familiar? Even Adolf Hitler cited the panic when he referred to the “evidence of the decadence and corrupt condition of democracy.”

The lesson learned in 1938 during Halloween was don’t fabricate a story and air it on the radio as news. Stick to reporting! I wonder if we need to relearn this lesson in 2011?

One could argue that even our modern day presidential elections are decided primarily on the basis of the actions of the media. What is reported and what it not reported? Why? The power of the media is well-known and sometimes abused. This power must be kept in check. Who is even allowed to question the media?

Recently Franco Harris took a different view on the firing of Coach Paterno from ESPN and the mainstream media. I heard one radio broadcaster completely lambast Franco Harris, basically calling him an idiot, just because he offered a different opinion. The mainstream mediaheads also cannot understand the reaction in State College among the students. Why? Because it is so foreign to their way of thinking/reporting? Who is right? Can anyone question the media and survive? Who in their right mind would ever want to run for president or head coach and have to face the media firestorm?

The media went after Coach Paterno and he was fired. Now the media is going after McQuery. Will they be satisfied then or will someone else be the next target? Is this truly the job of the media? What happened to basic reporting the facts? Of course, now ESPN would have us believe that poker is a sport. And then they have the audacity to criticize an athlete like Pete Rose who gambled on a sporting event? ESPN’s job should be to report the news, not create news. I guess they morphed into entertainment and sensationalism the same way the mainstream media did, too. Fair and balanced media is a lost art. Will it ever be rediscovered?

There’s an old song with these lyrics: “Momma said there’d be day’s like this, there’d be days like this, my momma said.”

I don’t think momma ever imagined the media in our country would become so powerful, so absolutely power-hungry, and so much different from what a journalist is supposed to do: report the news.

No, momma could never have dreamed there’d be days like this. And our country is all the worse for it, too. People blame our changing culture, the modern times, or point fingers at conservative or liberal leaders. Maybe we should blame media. We are going down a very dangerous path of not merely reporting the news but creating news, and it needs to stop!


The Importance of Perspective?

Posted in Football, Penn State University, Perspective with tags , , on November 10, 2011 by bobshank

This photograph provides some perspective. It shows where on the diamond this play is taking place: home plate. There is no doubt where this is happening and it clearly provides information to the view about exactly what is happening: the catcher is tagging out a base runner at the plate. Perspective helps in many ways.

Without perspective I cannot tell a lot about where a photograph is taken. In life, without some perspective, I could jump to wrong conclusions or make assumptions that in the end prove to be incorrect. Perspective keeps me grounded and provides an anchor of sorts to keep me from sailing into choppy and dangerously uncharted waters. Yes, I definitely want to have more than a little perspective! Don’t you?

In light of the news coming out of Penn State University, I think many reporters, talk show hosts, and sports fans have lost a little perspective. Do not misinterpret me here. I know how heinous and despicable these allegations are and they are absolutely awful. No doubt about it. If my child was violated in this way I would be beyond angry.

The question in my mind comes down to what exactly did Joe Paterno know? If he knew all the details and only passed word about it up the chain of command, then he should be held accountable morally. Time will reveal the truth. So far we do know, that as far as Pennsylvania authorities reported, they are not charging Paterno of any crime. The moral question is a different matter. What should have Paterno done? Remember, this was ten years ago, too. What would have you done? Are you convinced you would have acted this way? Do you ever look the other way? What if the violator was a close friend? What if he was in a position of authority over you? Would this ever make a difference?

At least a little perspective is always needed. Matt Millen was quoted as saying, “The last time I checked we live in America where we are innocent until proven guilty.” Not only are many talk show hosts, reporters, and sports pundits already crucifying Sandusky, but they are making Joe Paterno sounding as bad or worse! Is this the right perspective?

Perspective teaches us that there is a bigger picture than many of us realize most of the time. As a visual example, look at this photograph.

What is this? Okay, yeah, it’s an animal’s eye. What kind of eye? Whose eye? When we focus too closely on something or too long on something, we lose perspective. Lose perspective and we can’t see all the details clearly and we certainly cannot see the big picture.

Tonight, the Board of Trustees made the decision to fire both Coach Paterno and the president of the university. Did they listen to the media frenzy before making their decision? According to them, they did not. I wonder about this, but I can see this decision being based on good business sense for the university. Certainly responsibility and accountability need to be placed in the appropriate places. There is no doubt about this. However, what do we know? Do we have all the facts? Do we have enough facts? The Board of Trustees did not give a specific reason for the firing of Coach Paterno. I find this interesting even though I can understand their difficult position and their ultimate decisions.

Sandusky will be held accountable by a court of law. Coach Paterno appears to be held accountable to popular opinion and the Board of Trusteees.

This is a sad week in the world of sports. Sad for the victims who suffered these awful acts. Sad for those who their parents, too. Sad for a football team that had nothing to do with these allegations. Sad for students who look up to coaches and adults. Sad for a coach who left an indelible legacy and devoted his life to coaching college football. Yes, it’s a sad week for many, many reason.

What is your perspective?