Archive for Photography

New Blog Layout

Posted in Blog, Bob Shank, Photography, WordPress with tags , , , on October 4, 2013 by bobshank

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 2.55.57 PM

My photography blog moved to:

http://bobshankphotography.com/blog/

Check out my new blog post by clicking on the link or screenshot above! Then update your bookmark.

Thanks!

 

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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!

Pcuts

Posted in Musical, Pcuts, Pleasant Valley High School, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown with tags , , , , on March 24, 2013 by bobshank

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A “Director’s Cut” of a movie is the Director’s own preferred edit. “Dances With Wolves,” one of my all-time favorite movies, has a Director’s Cut. So this got me to thinking–since I am a still photographer why not create my own version of the “Director’s Cut” from my photo galleries?

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My creative thinking was based on two reasons. First, on any photo shoot, I have my personal favorite shots that I prefer for one reason or another. It might be the lighting, the composition, the expression on a face, or any other reason why I just like some of my photographs. Second, I create very large photo galleries after a photo shoot. For example, at the recent Pleasant Valley High School musical, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown!” I produced over 9,000 photos! Even once the photos are edited and the bad ones removed, this results in some extremely large galleries. So my second reason was to offer more manageable photo galleries for visitors on my website to view.

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I am calling these preferred photographs from a photo shoot “Pcuts.” They represent this photographer’s personal favorites for one reason or another.

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I just posted my newest Pcuts of the first performance of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown!” on my website. If you care to view these Pcuts (my personal favorites), you can view them here. The photographs you see here are just a few of the Pcuts from Friday’s performance.

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Photo of the Month Posted

Posted in Action Photography, Photo of the Month, Sports Photography with tags , , , on November 10, 2012 by bobshank

I posted the most recent Photo of the Month on my Perfect Game Photos website.

This monthly feature shows a sports photograph that I like with a story behind it. I simply show a photo and then add some text to help tell the story why this particular photograph made the cut. It is a feature I enjoy including on my sports site and I find it encourages me to keep trying for better photographs month after month.

You can see more of my sports portfolio here.

 

A Better Way to Create PayPal Galleries with Lightroom

Posted in Adobe Lightroom, PayPal, Photo Products, Photography, Web Galleries with tags , , , , on October 28, 2012 by bobshank

Over the past few years I’ve posted photo galleries to my website from Lightroom that allows viewers to purchase photographs from me directly. The order is placed online using PayPal from a photo gallery on my website. Once I receive the order, I submit the order to my printer and complete the order. I posted a blog entry on this procedure back in August of 2010. This worked well for me and actually helped increase my print sales. The process was pretty easy once the code was inserted.

However, one problem was that the location of my copyright watermark was locked into the very lower-left portion of the print. I felt that some people were simply saving my images to their computer and easily editing or cropping out my watermark. Ideally, I wanted my watermark to be in the middle of the print at about 50% opacity. I am not a code expert, so this was not easy for me to figure out. So I kept using what worked even with the limitations. You can view one of these old galleries here.

Fortunately, I was doing a search on the internet one day and discovered a new and better way to post a Lightroom Gallery to my website compete with PayPal options. The bonus was that it allowed me to put my watermark exactly where I desired, all within the Lightroom output settings! It was an excellent option, so I read and re-read the article and decided to give it a try. I am extremely satisfied with the results and I use this feature for all the photo galleries I post now. It’s sweet!

The web link I found in my search is: http://www.imat.co.uk/ligtroom_paypal.html and includes the code required to make this process work. Thanks John Burton for sharing this productive and efficient way to utilize PayPal with Lightroom Galleries!

This process does involve one additional step but it’s a free signup! It involves using Mal’s ecommerce, which creates the cart when a visitor to your gallery wants to purchase a photo. When you go to this website you have to join by creating a new account. Then you need to set up your cart. But all this is a one-time process. After you do it once, it’s done. And it works beautifully!

In Lightroom you need to add some instructional code in the Web Module in the Caption box. It is only entered here instead of in each photograph’s meta data, so it is much more efficient than my older method. This code is found at the bottom of the link I mentioned above from John Burton’s website. This is where you include your products for sale and their prices. You can see one of my newer galleries utilizing this feature here.

I really like the look of this option for posting photo galleries to the web. And it makes it easy for visitors to order products from my website directly. The great thing is this web gallery is easily repeatable for any new photo gallery I want to post to my website. It is really effortless once it was all set up. The setup process didn’t take very long either. Give this method a try. You will like the way it looks and you will be easily able to sell more of your photo products!

Being Efficient When You are Busy, Busy, Busy!

Posted in Editing Photos, Efficiency, Keyword, Photography, Workflow with tags , , , , on April 28, 2012 by bobshank

Just the other day I asked Siri, “Why am I so busy?” She quickly responded, “I don’t know. Frankly, I was wondering that myself!”

I am currently in the middle of a lot of photo shoots. Four days in a row with five photo shoots altogether! I’m not complaining; not in the least. I’m just busy, but good busy. During these stretches I sometimes find it hard to keep up with shooting, uploading the photos to my computer, editing them, creating galleries, charging batters, cleaning lenses, connecting with potential photo clients, and everything else. Busy, busy, busy!

Streamlining routine tasks is essential in busy times. I like to use the Energizer rechargeable NIMH batteries in the quick charger because they are charged in about 15 minutes or less! This saves a lot of time from the days when I had to charge batteries overnight. Now I can charge all 14 batteries while I am uploading photos from my compact flash cards to my Drobo.

Staying on top of these tasks is critical especially when photo shoots are so close together. Forget to empty a card and there will be no room for more photos during the next photo shoot that day. This is definitely not a time to be forgetful or fly by the seat of your pants! Good habits, predictable patterns, and a logical strategy all help to stay on top of everything in busy times.

Keywording is best done right away. Why wait to do it later when it might be forgotten? Some keywords can be entered automatically as we import them. Other more specific keywords have to be entered manually. Doing this right away makes it easier to remember the details of this shoot rather than relying on a spotty memory later on down the week or month. Stay on top of key wording and the rewards will be more than obvious down the road.

Editing photos is another key area in which to aim for efficiency. This, for me, includes locating the keepers, confirming or changing the proper white balance, and making any necessary minor edits to the photograph if needed or desired. The absolute best way to be efficient here is to get everything right in the camera. With some photo editors this is required, so it is a great goal to aim for from the beginning. It saves time, too.

What ways are you finding to be efficient in your photography?

Photo Tip Tuesday – Camera Repairs

Posted in Camera, Perfect Image, Photography, Repair with tags , , , on April 3, 2012 by bobshank

 

Last week my Nikon D300 camera body went down. The shutter release would flip the mirror out of the way but it wouldn’t always drop back into its proper position. To say it was frustrating is the understatement of the day! I tried shooing one baseball game but it was a disaster and I spent more time trying to figure out what was going on than shooting the game. Total bummer!

I took the camera body to my local camera shop and they said it would have to be sent into Nikon, which would take 4-6 weeks minimum. Since this is pretty much an every-day camera, I did not like this option. Fortunately, my brother who is in the photography business, too, recommended a camera repair shop. He said he had good experiences with them and their turnaround on repairs was quick. This seemed to be just what I was looking for!

I quick email to Perfect Image and they sent back a repair quote almost immediately. Nice. I took the camera to Perfect Image last Friday, which for me was a two-hour drive. Perfect Image is in Lancaster and they do ship, but I wanted my camera back quickly and didn’t want to wait for shipping. Wes, at Perfect Image, told me knew exactly what the problem was with my camera body and that he would get the repair done within the week. Nice again!

Well, in the early afternoon on Monday my cell phone rang. I saw the 717 area code and thought, “No way.” But sure enough, it was Wes and he said my repair was completed. I paused and then said, “Wait! Is today April 1st?” thinking this might be an April Fool’s joke! Wes assured me that no, it was April 2nd and that the repair was indeed completed. Unbelievable!

I drove down today to pick up my camera body and then visited my mom who lives nearby.

If you ever need any camera or lens repairs, do yourself a favor and consider Perfect Image. They are fast and very friendly. I highly recommend them and will be taking all my repair work to them in the future. And tell them you heard about them from my blog. I won’t get any kickbacks, but it is nice to know where their referrals are coming from. Check out their website and get free repair estimates at: http://www.perfectimagerepair.com/

Think about it: 4-6 weeks minimum verses a little over 24 business hours. There’s no comparison in my opinion!  And that’s today’s photo tip.