Archive for March, 2012

Fun with Collages

Posted in Collage, Musical, Oklahoma, Pleasant Valley with tags , , , on March 28, 2012 by bobshank

Yes, I confess; I am really having fun creating photo collages these days!

A combination of events contributed to this. One contributing factor is the photo shoots I’ve been fortunate to photograph this week. Pleasant Valley High School’s performance of Oklahoma and the baseball games are just two quick examples. Then, my brother, shared some tips on how to better create photo collages.

All this is helping the creative side of my photography interests and I have to say I am thoroughly enjoying this new-found challenge!

What do you think of this photo collage?

Adding Multiple Keywords in Adobe Lightroom

Posted in Baseball, Editing Photos, Keyword, Sports Photography with tags , , , on March 27, 2012 by bobshank

 

Do you ever have the need to add multiple keywords to the same photos? I do. For example, after a high school baseball game I want to enter the players jersey number and their full name to their photographs. I find it better to do it now because at the end of the season I make collages for the seniors. All I  have to do then is search for the player name and jersey number and I am good to go!

Through some trial and error, I found a great way to enter these specific keywords to all the photos after a game. This might not make much sense to those of you who don’t use Lightroom, but I am guessing that similar procedures can be used with most software applications.

Here is how I enter multiple keywords after a photo shoot.

Step #1
I apply universal keywords when importing the photos for the first time into Lightroom. “Team name”, “Opponent”, “Away” or “Home”, and “Baseball” are all keywords that get entered into photograph as it is being imported.

Step #2
I create a collection of the keepers from the game. This prevents me from having to enter keywords into photos that I will never use. Time is precious, so saving time is essential!

Step #3
I created a filter that checks each photo for the keywords I am about to enter. This filter is pretty big because it looks for each jersey number and player name on the entire team. I initially created this filter to check to see if any photos from a game were left keywordless. But now I found another great feature by using this filter. I apply the filter just before I add keywords, so when I add keywords to a photo it “disappears” from the screen because it no longer matches that filter. So, as I add keywords, only those without the appropriate keywords are left on my screen. This is pretty slick in my opinion and helps me tremendously!

Step #4
I use the Painter Tool in the Grid view to add my keywords. I click on the Painter Tool and then enter the player’s jersey number, then a comma, and then the player’s name. Then I go through the grid of photos and paint on the photo that matches these keywords. As I do, they “disappear” because they no longer match the filter I selected.

Step #5
I skip over photos with multiple players in them because more than one jersey number and player name will be applied to these photos. I use the Painter Tool again if there are a good number of photos with the same two players in them, or I simply add the appropriate keywords to the remaining photos one-by-one.

When I’m all done, there are not photos left on the screen because they’ve been filtered out and I know that each photograph has been keyworded to my specifications.

It works wonderfully for me!

Capturing the Event Photographically

Posted in Collage, Lydia, Musical, Oklahoma, Pleasant Valley with tags , , , on March 26, 2012 by bobshank

Our daughter, Lydia, performed in Oklahoma at Pleasant Valley High School this weekend. The musical was fantastic and extremely well done!

Photographing theater is a definite challenge but one that I do enjoy. I attempt to capture the facial expressions and the passion of the actors. The lighting presents one of the biggest challenges both because of the lack of light and the requirement to shoot without flash. But I am learning to work with the light available in the different venues. An f-stop of f/2.8 does help, so my preferred lens is the 70-200mm. This provides enough reach to create images of the actors that are full frame or thereabouts.

Now capturing the action with my camera is only part of the equation. What do I do with these photographs? Well, lately, I’ve been honing my skills in Photoshop to create collages. These custom collages try to capture the story and emotion of the musical. The collage here is my first attempt to capture Oklahoma from Friday’s performance.

What do you think of this collage? Does it tell a story? Does it capture the action of the musical?

More Backyard Birds

Posted in Backyard, Bird Photography, Blind, Focus, House Finch, Mourning Dove, Tufted Titmouse with tags , , , , on March 22, 2012 by bobshank

I spent a couple hours in my backyard blind again today. The birds were cooperative and I am slowly learning how to capture better bird photos. It’s not easy because birds are quick! I am more accustomed to photographing elk, which move a lot more slowly!

Today I learned an important lesson: don’t set up the camera too close to the birds. The problem wasn’t being too close that I scared the birds, after all, I was in a blind. The problem was that I was inside the minimum focusing distance of my zoom lens! I re-situated my blind this morning to get better angles on my perches, but I actually set up too close to the action. After some frustrating results early in the evening, I moved the blind back about six feet and then photographs became much more clear!

I continue to learn and am intrigued with the challenge of bird photography. I hope to be back out in my blind again tomorrow!

First Attempt at Backyard Bird Photography

Posted in Backyard, Bird Photography, Black-Capped Chickadee, Cardinal, Poconos, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , on March 21, 2012 by bobshank

My kids think I’m nuts. I have white pvc pipe wired to the hand railing on our back deck with stick perches stuck through holes in the plastic. Not the most attractive accessories for humans, I suppose, but the birds in our backyard love them!

I tried my first serious attempt of photographing the backyard birds on our property. These photos will probably get as much support as the perches on my deck, but they show the meager beginnings of what might be possible. Equipped with camera and lens mounted to my tripod and all inside a camo blind, I sat and photographed birds and a squirrel for over 1 1/2 hours. It was a blast!

I learned a few important lessons on this first outing and I will definitely make some readjustments before my next backyard shoot, but I have to say that I was thrilled to be able to have so much action just a few short steps out my back door! I photographed at least 8 different species of birds plus the squirrel. I saw more birds who just didn’t quite cooperative or were a little camera-shy. Over all, it was a great experience and I am sure to be back there again very soon!

I am fortunate to live in the Poconos of northeast Pennsylvania, so the wildlife is abundant where I live. I live on a road named “Yellowstone” which isn’t bad either! All-in-all, I am very happy to be able to engage in wildlife photography right in my backyard. I tend to think most people can actually do this no matter where they live. A bird feeder and some perches are all it takes. Give it a try yourself!

Photo Tip Tuesday – Shoot Wide Open

Posted in Depth of Field, f-stop, Focus, Photo Tips, Sports Photography, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , on March 20, 2012 by bobshank

We can be creative with our photographs by paying attention to what we want the viewer to focus on in our photo. The goal is to use clear focus on the subject but not the competing surroundings or the background. How can we do this?

Shooting with a larger aperture, small numbered f-stop, say like f/2.8, will blur out the background nicely and keep proper focus on the subject. This is the best way I’ve found to do this and is what I use almost all the time in sports and wildlife photography.

Think about it… you’re shooting an animal that naturally blends into its habitat. This is, after all, what keeps it safe from predators–camouflage. Take a photo of a bunny and you will immediately see just how much it blends into its environment. This does not make for easy photography. By opening up our apertures, we are letting more light hit the digital sensor in our camera. But it also decreases the depth of field that is in focus in the photograph. Several factors contribute to this formula such as distance from the subject, but the effect results in a blurred background. This helps to keep the viewer’s eye focused on the main subject, which of course is our goal.

The next time you’re out on a photo shoot, take a photograph of a subject with your f-stop set at something like f/16, then switch the f-stop to f/2.8 or your lowest setting. Then compare the two photos. Do you see the difference?

Remember, shoot wide open to blur the background and keep the focus on your main subject.

Sports Photography – Sometimes It Just Clicks!

Posted in Action Photography, Baseball, Peak Action, Pleasant Valley, Sports Photography with tags , , , , , on March 19, 2012 by bobshank

I enjoy sports photography. I like sports, I played sports, I coached sports, and now I photograph sports.

Sometimes, every once in a while, things just click in sports photography. Yes, need to know the game we are shooting, try to anticipate where the action will be next, obtain the absolute best shooting position–you know, the whole nine yards. Even then, when all seems to be going just right, a photo can be out of focus, or an umpire or coach steps right in the way of the action. I know because I’ve experienced this more times than I can count.

But then, every once in a great while, things just click in sports photography!

The above photo was captured at the Pleasant Valley vs. Northwestern Lehigh high school baseball scrimmage. The weather was gorgeous and it was a perfect day for baseball. Spring has about sprung, and the new baseball season is nearly under way officially. How could a sports photographer complain on a day like this?

One of my goals in sports photography is to try my best to get the baseball in the frame of the photograph whenever possible. This helps to show the action even in a still photo. It’s even better when the player’s eyes are focused on the ball and the ball is in complete focus in the frame. Of course, this just doesn’t happen all the time, but it is a worthy goal in my humble sports photo opinion.

On this particular swing, I knew the batter broke his bat. Everyone could hear it and one fan even said so to me. Yep, the bat was broken, but I did not realize I capture “the moment” until I was editing the shoot on my computer back in my office. Then, as soon as my eyes saw this photo, I knew I had captured “the moment.”

Let’s first talk about what’s wrong with this photo. First of all, it contains that dreaded baseball background–the chain-link fence. I hate these backgrounds. It looks more like a dog fence than something that ought to be in a photograph. Who let the dogs out anyhow? Secondly, the baseball is not in focus, not even close. Third, the catcher’s arm is cut off and appears to be floating in the air all by itself. Yuck!

But even with all that, I like this photograph. The player is in focus and the ball leaving the broken bat tells the story well and almost exudes action! As a matter of fact, when I look at this photo I swear I can almost hear the crack of the bat hitting that baseball!

Now the next photograph wouldn’t mean much without seeing the one right before it. But now this last photo helps to tell the story of this at-bat. And you thought you carried a big stick!