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

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…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 all about the energy

The energy of the mind is the essence of life. ~ Aristotle

I love life.  Life is up… life is down…  Images can reflect that emotion with a little planning.

Moyer-7598popdmvhpshcr2Long beautiful hair lends itself to the movement of the image above as does the fun, playful personality of the subject.  I focus on the subject, subject turns to the back, swings hair forward and just feel the fun.  I played with the cropping until I decided that this was the most pleasing angle.  Focus is tricky and the shutter was as fast as my flash sync would allow – 1/200. If using a darker background I back light the hair to show separation and depth. 5.6 ~ 1/200 ~ Canon 5d mark 2 ~ 70-200 L lens

VanD-6796wwdmvhpshcrBack light from the sun gives extra “spark” to the image as does the athletic pose of a volleyball player.  2.8 ~ 1/1000  ~ Canon 5d mark2 ~ 70-200 L lens

It’s Photo Friday ~ Seniors…the art and the card

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Lately it seems like most of the hours of my days have been spent designing high school graduation announcements/cards for my class of 2013. I know they aren’t my kids but I have spent some quality time getting to know them through their sessions and I try to follow their sports and academic accomplishments. The graduation card is the grand finale of this process. I don’t know if I just get the best seniors around or if this class of 2013 is one to be proud of. I’d like to think it’s both.

I confess to be somewhat attention deficit in how I conduct my life ( I blame it on my years teaching kindergarten ~ if you can’t lick ’em, join ’em!) but this does not seem to be a detriment during the card design process. Or, is it? I try to make each card unique and approach it as though it is a work of art. I know this is not a good business practice as far as making the most money. I should offer a handful of designs and take it or leave it, or else charge five times more than I do. I’ve been a parent with bills and now I’m on the other side trying to make a living with this photography gig. I struggle with this balance and hopefully will find a happy medium at some point. I have a feeling that I’m not the only photographer struggling with this balance of making a living versus creating art.

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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