Archive for May, 2013

Photo of the Month Hits Newstands!

Posted in Action Photography, Perfect Game Photos, Scary Moment, Sports Photography with tags , , , on May 25, 2013 by bobshank

Inside Pitch

Some of you may not know that I have another website called Perfect Game Photos. This site features my sports photography, which is a fast-growing area of my photographic interests. Six of my photos were published in our daily newspaper, The Pocono Record, this past week!

The Perfect Game Photos website is a collection of my favorite sports photographs captured at exciting moments. I believe that each game has a unique story to tell and it’s our job as sports photographers to capture the exciting action of the players and the plays as they unfold.

The name, “Perfect Game Photos,” comes from two similar and connected ideas. First, and most obvious, a pitcher in baseball can pitch a perfect game. This is a very big deal for the fans, the team, and especially, the pitcher. Similarly, as a sports photographer I try to have a perfect game behind the viewfinder every time out. What I mean by this is I try to capture the exciting moments of the plays as they unfold and I want to capture the action in clear focus to help make the play a memory for a lifetime! Second, when I played ball back in the day, I set a high goal for each game: I wanted to bat perfectly at the plate, getting a hit every time at the plate, score a run every time I got on base, and play error-free in the field. I’m not sure I ever once met this high standard, but it was a great motivator to help me play at my highest level. Now, when I am shooting a game, I want my photography to be at the highest level, too! So, these are the two reasons why my sports photography website is named Perfect Game Photos.

Each month I try to post the best photo of the month. It’s not a fancy name, but I hope it displays some of my best work and shows my ability to capture the exiting action on the field. You can see the current photo of the month to see what I am talking about.

Take a moment to check out my sports photography website. And if you get a chance, drop me a line to let me know what you think about it. I am continuing to hone my skills in capturing the action and I am beginning to gain wider exposure by working with the Pocono Record. Some day I hope to capture the perfect photo!

Advertisements

First Round District 11 Playoffs – Bangor @ Pleasant Valley

Posted in Action Photography, Bangor, Baseball, District 11 Playoffs, Pleasant Valley, Scary Moment, Sports Photography with tags , , , , , , on May 20, 2013 by bobshank
Pleasant Valley's Jordan Caffrey slides into third on the way to victory over Bangor in the first round of District 11 playoffs.

Pleasant Valley’s Jordan Caffrey slides into third on the way to victory over Bangor in the first round of District 11 playoffs.

The Pleasant Valley hosted Bangor for the first round of District 11 playoffs. It was a beautiful, sunny day–a great day to play baseball! The Bears struck first and scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning. It was a good game on many levels. PV’s starting pitcher, Dan Hrbek, pitched a one-hit game through 6 innings. Bases were loaded with no out in the top of the 4th inning on two walks and the one hit, but Hrbek pitched out of trouble with three straight strikeouts!

Pitcher, Dan Hrbek, throws to first base on a grounder back at him.

Pitcher, Dan Hrbek, throws to first base on a grounder back at him.

Bangor’s third baseman, Ryan Hydock, hit a solo home run off relief pitcher, Howie Stevens, in the bottom of the 7th. But that was the lone threat Bangor was able to mount in this playoff game. It was a pretty solid game from both sides, but PV prevailed through regulation to win 5-1.

There was a scary moment, however, in the bottom of the 5th inning. With Dan Hrbek on first base with a walk,  James Shank stepped up to the plate. Shank swung at the first pitch to protect Hrbek, who stole second base. Then the count went to 1-2. The next pitch tailed to the inside of the right-handed batter and hit the bill of Shank’s helmet, breaking it with a clean break! Shank fell to the ground after the ball bounced off the helmet, hit is cheek, and then caromed off his shoulder. These sequence of photos show the scary action…

PV Baseball 2013-05-20-538

PV Baseball 2013-05-20-539

PV Baseball 2013-05-20-540

PV Baseball 2013-05-20-541

PV Baseball 2013-05-20-542

PV Baseball 2013-05-20-543

PV Baseball 2013-05-20-545

PV Baseball 2013-05-20-548

PV Baseball 2013-05-20-552

PV Baseball 2013-05-20-554

PV Baseball 2013-05-20-555

Two More Photos Published with the Pocono Record!

Posted in Baseball, Mountain Valley Conference, Newspaper, Pocono Mountain East, Pocono Record, Published, Sports Photography, Stroudsburg with tags , , , , , , on May 18, 2013 by bobshank
MVC Championship 2013-1213

Pocono Mountain East players celebrate victory over Stroudsburg 7-4 in the MVC Championship.

This photograph appeared on the front page of the sports section in the Pocono Record on Friday, May 17th. My photo took up half the page!

Pocono Mountain East won the game against Stroudsburg 7-4. It was the very first MVC Championship title for East. I was given the opportunity to cover the story with my camera and arrived at the field early to check in and get into position. I first had to coordinate with the sports writer to get the lineups for both sides. Having the names and numbers is imperative for writing accurate captions, which is an entire art in itself. Fortunately, one of my textbooks from Temple University covers this in-depth and offers great suggestions and examples for learning how to write better captions. I also had great training when I was a student there but I am still learning, too.

The game was an exciting one. Every time Stroudsburg seemed to gain momentum, Pocono Mountain East took it away with a timely out, and in one inning, an inning-ending double play! Things got really exciting in the bottom of the last inning. Stroudsburg scored one run but couldn’t string together the hits and rbi’s needed to take the lead. At the end of the game, with the final out secure, the players from East started their victory celebration. Fortunately, I had my camera ready and captured many shots, two of which appeared in the Pocono Record, our local newspaper, on Friday.

MVC Championship 2013-656

Pocono Mountain East pitcher, Austin Kollar, delivers a pitch in his save to secure the victory over Stroudsburg.

I am getting hooked on sports photography! I’ve enjoyed it for many years and think my repertoire is growing enough to allow me to capture the critical moments in these games. I’ve said a while ago that I wanted to take my photography to the next level. This week I think I did!

Here is a photograph of my photo as it appeared in the newspaper:

IMG_0295

Pocono Record featuring my photograph on the top half of the front page in the sports section.

You can see the actual article here.

My First Photograph Published in the Pocono Record

Posted in Newspaper, Passion, Pocono Record, Published, Sports Photography with tags , , , on May 16, 2013 by bobshank

PV Baseball 2013-05-14-1174

I have a strong passion and interest in sports photography. When I was finishing up my first photography class at Temple University, my final project was on sports photography. I did okay in the class, but my photographs for this project helped my final grade immensely! I shadowed a photographer at a weekly newspaper for a day and one of the assignments was to photograph a Donegal High School baseball game. I remember that event and the excitement of trying to capture the action on the field. I was hooked!

Now, many years later, I can think of few things I’d rather do in my spare time than photograph a sporting event. I like sports to begin with and I believe every game has a unique story that unfolds as the players put their game on the field. Our job as sports photographers is to record the unique storyline of the game and capture the exciting action of the players!

Over the past five years I’ve enjoyed photographing the baseball games for Pleasant Valley High School. I photograph as many games as possible each season and then show a presentation of my best photos for their end-of-year banquet. I also create collages for the seniors each year as a special remembrance of their final season. Previously, I was the photographer for the Lehigh Valley Baseball Academy in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Recently, I signed on with the Pocono Record to be one of their freelance photographers. I just had my first photograph published with them today! You can see my photograph here:

http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130515/SPORTS/305150331/-1/SPORTS

I am very excited to share my photography passion in this way. I am at the games already and can provide some special coverage of the games with my camera. I hope to grow in my photographic abilities as I share my game-day art with others!

These Old Photos Bring Back Some Strong Memories!

Posted in Fire, Passion, Photography, Photojournalism, Pittsburgh, Temple University, Textbook with tags , , , , , , on May 12, 2013 by bobshank

I went to college at Temple University and graduated with a degree in Journalism. This education has helped me literally every week of my professional life. I went off to graduate school the same year I graduated from Temple.  One night, while I was in my dorm room in Pittsburgh and thinking about the required papers and class load of school, I heard some sirens. It wasn’t the usual, city siren passing by from an ambulance or single fire truck. No, this was a full-blown 5-alarm fire and I could see the flames from my dorm room window! So, I grabbed my camera and ran the seven city blocks to photograph the fire and firefighters who were working feverishly to put it out.

Pittsburgh Fire 1987-002 Matte

My mind raced back in time to my first photography class at Temple University. Our professor instructed us to always have our camera with us. On this night, I was very happy to have my camera with me. I started taking a few shots as I got closer to the fire. It was a cold December night and it was dark.

Pittsburgh Fire 1987-003 Matte

The flames were already completely out of hand and engulfing the row house. Firefighters were laying down hoses and keeping steady streams of gallons of water flowing onto the structure. Fortunately, no one was inside the home that night. I kept taking photographs as I changed angles every now and then to get different perspectives.

Pittsburgh Fire 1987-004 Matte

I did not mind the cold air one bit. Besides, the flames from this fire were heating up the whole block! So I persistently and patiently photographed the flames behind the firetrucks, which were parked in the middle of the street. I never saw such a large fire in my lifetime. This was big!

Pittsburgh Fire 1987-005 Matte

Not every shot worked and since this was back in the slide-film days, I wasn’t sure I actually was getting anything usable. My training and education from Temple, however, prepared me better than I could have imagined. The thrill of being the only photographer on location was exhilarating for me. Then, my eyes noticed something special. I saw a firefighter on top of a fire truck aiming a water cannon toward the fire. This alone was nothing unusual, but he was situated just beyond a beautifully backlit  instrument panel. Here is the photograph I captured:

Pittsburgh Fire 1987-007 Matte

I think it works pretty well to show the tireless work of these firefighters and the equipment they use to fight the fires. I did not realize the power of this image until I had the film developed and opened the box of slides. As I looked carefully at each slide, this one just popped out at me. It was my favorite one of the entire shoot.

The next day I went back to photograph the charred remains of the row house, as you can see here in this photograph.

Pittsburgh Fire 1987-009 Matte

The damage was devastating but at least no lives were lost. I got to bed much later that cold, December night and it was well worth it! I captured the consuming flames, the lights of the firetrucks, the efforts of the firefighters, and even the aftermath of this incredible fire.

I actually pretty much forgot this event until earlier this week when I dusted off my Photojournalism textbook for another photo project I am working on now. The textbook is entitled, “Photojournalism: The Professionals’ Approach,” by Kenneth Kobre. I started re-reading this textbook and came across an early chapter in the book about how to photograph fires. Incredibly, it was like these words were in my head and my actions that night. It was textbook! (Please pardon the pun.) Today, as I was scanning these slide images into my computer, I relived that night again after reading that specific chapter in my old textbook. I somehow took the words to heart and did just about everything mentioned in this section of the book.

That was the good news. Unfortunately, there was some rather sad news, as well. I did not even try to market my photos to the local newspaper that day. I suppose I was too busy with my classes in graduate school, but it certainly was an opportunity missed!

Lessons learned include:
1. Always have my camera with me
2. Learn to use existing light
3. Rely on my education; it was very good
4. Do not undervalue my photos or keep them to myself
5. Keep learning the craft & keep shooting!
6. Be a photojournalist!

I am a freelance photographer who is like wine–I am getting better with age! I now have many years of sports and wildlife photography under my belt, which I continue to enjoy. I also am branching out in new ways to some of the approaches I learned while attending Temple University. I am blessed. I see an event and I desperately desire to communicate that event in a visual way! I cannot wait for the next event to unfold!

PV in Another Extra-Inning Battle with Stroudsburg

Posted in Baseball, Pleasant Valley, Sports Photography, Stroudsburg on May 10, 2013 by bobshank
Shortstop, Danny Hrbek, turns an unassisted double play in the early innings of this rematch.

Shortstop, Danny Hrbek, turns an unassisted double play in the early innings of this rematch.

Pleasant Valley hosted Stroudsburg in a rematch of an earlier season game that went eight innings. This important game played up to the hype and went nine innings! It was another nip and tuck game for both sides and showed just how evenly matched these teams really are on the diamond. The game started an hour earlier due to impending rain that was predicted to be on the way. The weather storms held off, but the thunder of bats driving balls deep kept the fans on the edge of their seats throughout this thrilling game.

Dylan Pasnak pitched a masterful game against Strodusburg tonight. He was locating pitches, and started out ahead in the counts. It was arguably the best game he put on the mound all season!

Dylan Pasnak pitched a masterful game against Stroudsburg tonight. He was locating pitches, and started out ahead in the counts. It was arguably the best game he put on the mound all season!

Dylan Pasnak pitched a masterful game. He gave up two, first inning runs on three hits. After the game he said the mound was not in great shape at the beginning of the game and it was throwing his stride off a little bit. He fought through it and got stronger as the game progressed. His fastball seemed to actually get faster with each passing inning! His pitches resulted in a lot of ground balls. Some hits went deep into the outfield, but the outfielders did an excellent job tracking them down, including one incredible diving catch by center fielder Troy Van Houten in the top of the fifth inning!

Ariel Mejia slides into second base on a successful steal attempt.

Ariel Mejia slides into second base on a successful steal attempt.

There were times when PV was aggressive on the base paths. Ariel Mejia stole second base, and on another play, Dan Hrbek stole third base and Adam Raseley followed behind to steal second base on a beautiful double steal! This is something PV will have to do more of in the Semi-Final game against Pocono Mountain East in their bid to get to the MVC Championship Game again this year. They are on track and sitting well going into next week’s MVC Championship Games.

Second baseman, Austin Yoffredo, records the putout by throwing to first base.

Second baseman, Austin Yoffredo, records the put out by throwing to first base.

There were a large number of ground outs in this game. Joey Deperno, the Stroudsburg starting pitcher, did well on the mound. He commanded most of his pitches and pitched deep into the game, only being taken out in the 8th inning after he threw 117 pitches. Dylan Pasnak was able to pitch deep into the game, too, thanks to the ground outs, which kept his pitch count just over 100 as well, topping out at 107 pitches thrown. It was a close game between these two teams and even position by position.

Catcher, James Shank, is ready to receive the pitch, but the Stroudsburg hitter has other plans!

Catcher, James Shank, is ready to receive the pitch, but the Stroudsburg hitter has other plans!

This game went into extra innings, knotted up 3 to 3. It took nine innings to determine the outcome when Stroudsburg crossed a runner over the plate on an error. That’s how close this game was and how evenly matched these teams are on the field. In the two regular-season games, they were each decided by one run in extra innings! The regular season is winding down as PV faces Whitehall tomorrow. Then the MVC Finals will be played next week.

Go Bears!

PV Wins a Big Game in the Bottom of the 7th!

Posted in Baseball, Lehighton, Pleasant Valley High School, Sports Photography with tags , , , , on May 4, 2013 by bobshank
Shortstop, Dan Hrbek, charges a slow roller to make an excellent play in the field as PV went on to win 3-2 in seven innings

Shortstop, Dan Hrbek, charges a slow roller to make an excellent play in the field as PV went on to win 3-2 in seven innings

It wasn’t easy and it was just what the doctor ordered after a tough loss in their last game. PV went up 1-0 on an RBI single by catcher, James Shank. But the fightin’ Indians came back heartily to go up 2-1 in the middle innings.

First baseman, Jordan Caffrey, flips to pitcher, Howie Stevens to record the out.

First baseman, Jordan Caffrey, flips to pitcher, Howie Stevens to record the out.

Howie Stevens pitched a great game, pitching out of trouble in several innings to keep the game close. Without his effort, this game would most likely have ended up much differently. As it was, he pitched 6 strong innings by mixing an effective curve ball in with his fastball to keep hitters off balance just about every time it was needed.

Pitcher, Dan Hrbek, flips to first baseman, Howie Stevens, to record an out in the 7th inning. Hrbek threw hard and recoded outs on all three batters he faced.

Pitcher, Dan Hrbek, flips to first baseman, Howie Stevens, to record an out in the 7th inning. Hrbek threw hard and recorded outs on all three batters he faced.

Dan Hrbek came in to pitch the 7th inning with the game hanging in the balance, tied up 2-2. He threw hard stuff and recorded 2 Ks. His fastball was arguably as fast as its been all season. He was hitting his spots and throwing hard, which resulted in 3 up and 3 down in the top of the 7th inning. Then it was time for the PV Bears to have last dibs!

James Shank went 3-4. He lead off the 7th inning with a double down the 3rd base line.

James Shank went 3-4. He led off the bottom of the 7th inning with a double down the 3rd base line.

The bottom of the last inning was started off by a line drive double down the 3rd base line by James Shank. He rolled into the second, representing the potential winning run if PV could get him across the plate. Howie Stevens earned a walk and Troy Van Houten also earned a base on balls to load the bases with one out. Nick Domenici hit a fly ball to right field, but Shank did not tag up at third base, so the bases remained loaded with two outs. That brought up third baseman, Austin Yoffredo, who hit a wickedly spinning ball down the first base line. Somehow it snuck through the legs of the Lehighton first baseman. Shank crossed home plate and the Bears snagged the much needed victory!

James Shank celebrates the PV victory after crossing home plate.

James Shank celebrates the PV victory after crossing home plate.