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Action Shots

>> Friday, December 2, 2011

For the last two years, I have been working on improving my photography of sports/action.  My dear friend M plays baseball with a local league, and, to my delight, I have somehow become the team photographer.  I shoot the games I can make it to, edit the shots, and post the photos on Picasa for the team to see and share with their friends and families.  I can't express how much fun I have doing it, largely because the guys on the team are absolutely wonderful - they are fun to spend time with, and are darn good ball players, too.  Now our friend S has started playing hockey in a local league, so I've been starting to photograph some of his games, too.

Shooting sports is vastly different from any other photography I do.  With most of my photography I am focused on artistic quality of shots, and spend a long time lining things up.  I often scrabble around on my stomach in the dirt to get just the right angle, and take several shots of the same thing using different camera settings.  

But when I am shooting sports action I've got one "shot" at each moment.  And I had better get it right. 

I have found that doing this kind of photography is really good for my camera skills.  It takes incredible concentration to follow the game and have the camera pointed in the right direction so that I capture that one great moment.  I am typically shooting through small openings in a chain link fence or between globs of dried sweat and saliva on the arena glass, too, and that complicates things.

I've learned what tricks I can use to up my shutter speed, where all the short-cut buttons are on my camera for changing settings quickly, and have gotten good at shooting quickly yet still getting steady shots.  That said, hockey moves really really fast, and there's less light in a hockey arena than you might think, so I still have a lot of learning left to do when it comes to hockey photography.

But just capturing a sports moment is not really enough.  Artistry matters in sports photos, too.  It's just a different type of art, and requires a lot of practice to be able to get it right without much time.  I have to be constantly be looking for that right moment, even when there isn't much action on the field or rink.  You never know when that poignant, funny, or classic sports moment might happen.

I've taken a lot of crappy sports shots, that's for sure.  Thank goodness for photo editing programs, because my horizon line tends to be completely drunk in most of my shots.  However, I have also gotten a couple - just a few - really good shots that I'm rather proud of.  Thought I'd share my favorites.


A Little Drooping Holiday Spirit

>> Thursday, December 1, 2011

A few years ago I started making my own holiday cards, featuring some of my art.  As with most things I do, however, once I get started on something like that, I have to outdo myself each year. 

This year, I spent some time with my lumpy Basset hound Simon and some holiday trimmings to get in the mood and get the right image to use for a painting.  Simon has a certain droopy hound quality that reminds me of the dog from The Grinch, which was sort of what I had in mind. I would have considered Phoebe for the experiment since I haven't painted her yet, but she won't sit still for a second, much less walk around the house with a set of antlers on her head.  Simon, incidentally, will wear the antlers, or a green elf hat we have, for hours until Phoebe takes them off him.  He's such a good sport. 

Two full days of painting later, and voila!  My 2011 holiday card painting.  Even after spending all that time working on it, it still cracks me up.  I love how his deadpan droopy Simon expression came through.


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