… more than just a game.

We think of school and extra curricular activities as being all about the kids and the lessons they learn.  Not always…  We recently witnessed a true lesson for all from a group of high school kids who are the epitome of class.

StateBBcollagedesat_2Earning a trip to the state tournament was not an easy task as they come from a section filled with tough competition. Nail biting, last-minute wins, illness requiring surgery thus ending the season of a player, all added up to a season filled with drama.   On top of that, a season dedicated to a memory…

http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2014/03/12/after-63-years-and-a-tragedy-canby-boys-make-it-to-state/

Their first round game of the 2014 Minnesota State A Tournament was not meant to be easy and they knew it.  The opposing team had averaged 92 points per game this season and were an offensive powerhouse.  The moments seemed like hours as the plays unfolded and they found themselves down by 17.   They had become known as the “Come Back Kids” so the spectators were not surprised when they erased their opponents lead and inched ahead.  The scoreboard adjusted back and forth until time ran out.  Tied game.

One overtime….

Two overtimes…

Three overtimes…

Cheers of elation and anguish mixed amongst the fans as we watched these young men play their hearts out with tremendous sportsmanship. Nervous tension filled the air as the players and coaches accepted their fate.  They win as a team and lose as a team.  The sad thing about first round tournament play is that one of the teams has to lose and that means you are done for this year.  If you are a senior, it’s the end of the road for you.

http://www.startribune.com/sports/blogs/250244231.html

The Tribune link above missed the real story here.  Dignity and the true meaning of sportsmanship was demonstrated as the coach walked with his team over to the  stands and the exhausted, disappointed and emotionally drained team gave their fans and community a standing ovation before going back to the locker room.  They sure did us proud.  The players on the bench also deserve a standing “O” for making the players on the court what they are today.  The second string players have the thankless job of showing up at practice, ready to go full throttle to make the team a stronger unit.

It has been a life lesson to all of the family, friends and fans of this team: Life is fickle and you never know what’s in the cards at any point in your life.  Work hard, never give up, it’s not over ’til it’s over, perseverance, patience and faith that it will be O.K.  Hats off to the parents, coaches and teachers for instilling these values so that they could be demonstrated out on the court.

Upon reflection of the season, my husband turned to me and said, “If this is a glimpse of who will be running our world… it’s going to be O.K.”  I think he’s right.

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Swoosh… the sweetest sound.

End of February brings March Madness as high school basketball tournament games ultimately determine the state champion.  It truly screams, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”  Every team loses, at some point, except for one.

A loss ceases the opportunity for advancement and thus ends the season for some and an era for others.  Juniors on down have next year to look forward to and work towards.

Seniors, on the other hand… well, this is the end of the road for most of you.  I have a tender spot in my heart for those hard working seniors that would love  these moments in life to just keep on going.  It’s tough to be done…

As a spectator, the excitement of a close game is nerve wracking, at best, but always adds a deeper layer of empathy, encouragement and community pride.  You love ’em when they’re up and you love ’em when they’re down.  This is the beauty of a small town high school…

Click on collages for a larger viewing window

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Album templateCanon 5D Mark 2 ~ 70-200 L lens ~ Collage in Photoshop/Albums DS

Muscles…

As a photographer, it is necessary to analyze what is really going on below the surface and utilize lighting that communicates this mood, feeling or message.

These well-toned muscles are the result of many hours spent sweating and grunting in the humid, odorous high school weight room.  Flat lighting would not do the subject justice since it would minimize the lines and curves of the muscle sets. Give credit where credit is due by adding a back light to accentuate the hard, strong look and portray a more dramatic image.

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Canon 5D Mark 2, Canon 24-70 L lens, Alien Bee lights with umbrella bounced left of camera and through a softbox from behind subject and to the right of frame. Converted to black and white with bronze god Kubota Action added.

Is the image perfect? No. I am never totally satisfied with an image and always analyze to see what I could have done to improve it. I’d maybe add two back lights from each side and one front flash a little to one side. Or, add a little fill with a large reflector to bring a little definition to the torso. Hmmm…

…for the love of the game

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. ~Helen Keller

Looking for some action? Try attending a sporting event at your local high school. Here you will see the sport in its purest form; no huge salaries (in fact, no player salaries), endorsement contracts or plush player buses transporting them to games. A good old school bus will do just fine, thank you.

You cannot be a fair weather fan at the high school level These fans, which include parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors (pretty much anyone that knows a player on a first name basis) are the most loyal fans a team could ask for and hang with the players through the ups and downs of a season.  The fan base remains constant no matter what the win/loss record shows and the teams provide plenty of subject matter for conversations at local coffee shops and businesses.

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A community has such an influential role on local school activities, whether that be athletics, music, theater, arts, or other organizations. Providing support through attendance, following  the school news in the local media and supporting fund-raising projects, helps these programs exist to provide opportunities for our youth.

Overemphasis on the performance results of any high school activity, including sports, can have a negative effect, but learning discipline, hard work, teamwork, and social skills WILL have a positive impact on your life as an adult.

Click on the link below for an interesting article in the Huffington Post regarding the value of sports in the schools:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kai-sato/high-school-sports_b_3997391.html

Photo info:  Canon 5d Mark 2, Canon 70-200 L lens, 6400 ISO, 1/500 shutter, 2.8 aperture, custom white balance

Collage info:  10 x 20, Photoshop 5.0, Albums DS base template with mask edges, flames from Shutterstock. Lancer text layer utilizes a photo I took of a basketball to give the textured look.

It’s Photo Friday ~ Let’s catch some action!

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Canon A2E / flash on camera / 2001?

~Quote by Dan Frisby

If you have kids involved with sports, you have probably found yourself photographically challenged from time to time. Gyms are so varied as far as lighting and white balance issues. Cameras have improved through the years which helps the outcome considerably. When I started taking basketball action shots I used a 35mm SLR with an on camera flash and 400 speed film. My first digital camera was a Canon G5 point and shoot that was extremely noisy above 400 ISO. Now I’m able to shoot a Canon 5D Mark 2 at a high ISO with tolerable noise, shoot raw and make adjustments in Lightroom.

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Canon G5 / flash on camera / 2005

Do the inferior images of previous years bother me? Absolutely not! The main thing is I have an image that caught a moment in time. Life is not perfect and it’s O.K. if your images are not of Sports Illustrated caliber. My journey was a learning process and still continues.

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Canon 5D Mark 2 / ISO 6400 / 2.8 @ 1/500

We all like to improve our photography skills so how can we increase our chances of catching a good action shot?

1. Prepare to use a high ISO. I often use 3200 to 6400 depending on the light in the gym. I try to use available light and avoid flash since I have had better results and on camera flash can be distracting during a game.
2. Use a fast shutter speed. 1/1000 is good but I found I would often need to go with 1/500 to have enough light even at high ISO’s and that yielded adequate results.
3. Experiment with angles. The best shots are often not from a seat in the stands. Try taking the pics from different ends and corners while staying out of the way of referrees and players. Try high and low angles.
4. A long lens helps. I use a Canon L, 70-200 IS lens. 300-400 would be great but I don’t own one.
5. Don’t spend too much time “chimping” (Checking your shots.) You will miss some good action shots if you are constantly looking at your images in the camera. I would do some practice shots to tweak my settings during warm ups and use time outs to check what I had and make adjustments, if necessary.
6. Try to take some of the images with your team’s fans in the background. You may want to zero in on the crowd and catch some fun shots.
7. Try using Al servo focus with continuous action to track moving subject. I would often use one shot focus with the center focus frame selected but, if the action is rapidly moving toward you,  Al Servo focus is useful option. Check your manual to see how to access it on your camera.

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These moments are fleeting and will be gone before you know it. Parents, enjoy these days and capture lots of memories to cherish for a lifetime.bb-6172
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