Book Review: Sports Photography by Bill Frakes


Sports Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Bill Frakes

I picked up this book at the same time that I picked up Peter Read Miller’s On Sports Photography. I knew that both photographers were really at the top of the sports photographer pyramid. Both were staffers for Sports Illustrated, and at the time that was the highest peak you could achieve. What better pair to learn sports photography from? For some reason I have really gone to the Peter Read Miller book more.  That is no knock on the knowledge of Bill Frakes, but maybe it is more to the design of the book. This book is part of a series of how to photography books that cover many subjects. I think the format is what throws me off here.

The Photography of Bill Frakes

One thing that is not up for discussion is the body of work that Bill Frakes has. He is where he is for a reason. He is one of the biggest names in sports photography, and you can see why just thumbing through this book. Bill might be best known for his work around the horses. I have never really had any inclination to shoot horse racing. After looking at his work though it really inspires you to go out and give it a try. As you read through the book you think to yourself just how lucky you are to be taking tips from a photographer such as Bill. Do yourself a favor and Google Bill Frakes and take a look at his images. He has some iconic shots that helped him climb to the top of his profession.

To Buy the Book or Not?

I think that I bought this book at a bad time. The book by Peter Read Miller is one of my favorites. Bill covers more sports than Peter does though in his book. I think the format really is why I prefer Peter’s book. Of course something like that is subjective just like photography is. If you are just starting out, or even a seasoned pro this book has insights for you. I would recommend buying the book if you fit either of those categories. You can buy the book on Amazon here, or anywhere that you normally purchase your books. Down the road I look forward to reading Bill’s book The Nebraska Project as well. When I get a chance to see it I will post a review here for you as well.

City Hall in LaPorte, Indiana

Hanging Out at the LaPorte City Hall Again

As a kid I spent a lot of time at the LaPorte City Hall. My mother worked there, and I loved being around. As a young kid the mayor is kind of like the President, and I was amazed that I knew a few of them. I used to look at the photos of all of the past mayors and wonder what my photo would look like on that wall. Of course I don’t live in LaPorte anymore so my dream of becoming mayor is gone for now. It was still pretty cool to stand in front of the building once again.

Finding Some Cool Locations in the Snow

Sunday morning I knew that I wanted to make some photos around town as the sun came up on the snowy scenes. I knew that the Door Prairie barn would be on my list. The city hall building was second on that list as well. I loved how the light was kissing off of the clock in front of the building.

Top 15 Lacrosse Photos of 2015

My 15 Favorite Lacrosse Photos of 2015

At this time last year I had no clue that I would have a post like this one ready to go. Shooting a sport like Lacrosse was not even on my radar last year. I had looked up a schedule, but with no knowledge of the sport I had no idea what it was about. This past spring I decided to head out to watch a Purdue club game and shoot it. I was surprised by how much fun I had at the game so I went back a few weeks later to shoot another game. At the time I thought that I had a good start to shooting lacrosse, and that would be the end of my year. Then I found out that I would shoot for Towson for their NCAA Tournament game against Notre Dame. With only a couple of games under my belt I was a bit nervous before the game, but once the clock started I didn’t even think about that anymore. Towson really gave Notre Dame a great game to the point I thought they might actually pull off the upset at one point. They came up just short on the day, but they did give me a chance to make some great photos of them. I cannot wait until next season to get back out and try a few more things now that I have some experience under my belt. For now though you can look through my favorite fifteen shots from this past year.

15. This season ended with the NCAA Tournament at Notre Dame. I was given all access to the team which I took advantage of. If you are a photographer you love to get in where the public cannot see. You can really give the fans a view that they cannot see at home. I wanted to show the Towson coach in his element before the game. Here he gives his pregame speech to the team before they took the field.

14. When I first shot the Purdue lacrosse team I gave them a little space. By the time I shot them the second time I went to the game with the intent of really covering it. I was with the team up until the start of the game. I always liked this photo of the team huddle.

13. At the time I did not realize it, but Matt Hoy’s mom was sitting right next to me when I made this image. Matt was a very intense player, and I said as much to the woman next to me. She told me that was her son. I make a point not to talk badly about players while on the field, and this is a good example of why you shouldn’t do that among many other reasons.

12. You have a small window to get the ball in the frame just outside of the stick. The ball is really moving so you have to be very precise with your timing. While shooting my first games I was very happy to get the ball just off of the stick. Here it is much easier when the player is passing the ball. Catching the ball is another story all together. Continue reading

A Kiss of Sunshine

Some Great Light For My Favorite Barn

I have been back in my hometown of LaPorte, Indiana for some family business on and off for the past week or so. I have not really had the chance to get out and see the town though until this morning. The light was great, and with the fresh snow I knew that I had to get out and make some photos. I made my way across town with the end goal of getting to the Door Prairie Barn. This old barn is one of my favorite subjects, and I was glad to be here right when the golden morning light was hitting it.

An Added Bonus

I was getting ready to pull out of the small little parking lot when I noticed a deer walking towards the barn. I parked my car again, and got out with my camera ready. I waited for the deer to walk into the light to make my picture. Sometimes you get lucky, and an extra element comes along that makes your photo a little more interesting. This morning was that day.

Looking Up In Chicago

One Last Photo

While in Chicago this past August we were headed into a show when I noticed this scene. Of course my camera came out, and made a couple of photos. As I have said many times on this blog I wonder how those close to me put up with my need to stop and make a photo. I was initially drawn to the Willis Tower in the reflection, but then liked the Chase Bank building as well in the reflection. I would spend my night in the Chase Bank building watching ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”, but before I went in I decided to make an interesting photo of it.

Be Back Soon

In case you haven’t really noticed I have not had much original content on here lately. It has been a really busy week filled with things that have taken my attention away from photography a little bit. Tonight though I will be back at it photographing a roller derby bout in Hammond, Indiana. I will get slowly back into the routine, and by the first of the year I will have some interesting news to share with you. A little hint is that next summer will be a very interesting one for me.

Aurora HDR Pro by Macphun and Trey Ratcliff

A New Way To Process Your HDR Photos

Yesterday a product dropped that I was very curious to try out. While on a photowalk with Trey Ratcliff in August he mentioned a couple of times that he had a new HDR software coming out. That was interesting to me as since 2011 I have known him for his HDR work, and he has really sung the praises of Photomatix. When you have his notoriety for HDR though I think that you have a punch list of things that you want to see in the software that starts the process. Knowing just how many photos he processes I knew that this would have to be something amazing if he was on board. I decided to process a photo that I made during the photowalk with the new software. I made a couple of adjustments in Lightroom after the fact, but for the most part this came straight out of the program. I really like the glow feature that adds a little extra to the photo. I am just starting to use the product so I will let you know a little more about it as I use it more. So far though I can see myself using Aurora HDR more than I have been using Photomatix lately.

Four Years of HDR Processing

As I wrote the above paragraph I started thinking about how I first started making HDR photographs. In November of 2011 I was about one month in to my photo a day project. I was looking for a way to make my photos pop a bit more. I saw some of Trey’s work, and was instantly inspired. I watched his free videos on HDR processing followed by his paid videos. I then went on a tear using HDR processing on everything including dogs and pizza. I have since found a happy medium where I feel comfortable with what needs to be processed and why it does. My name is David and I have not used HDR processing on a dog in over three years. With a new software to try out though I may try and put myself in some tough situations so that I can really test this product out.

A Jury Duty Update

If you read yesterdays’ post then you know that a week of traveling was punctuated so to speak with a summons for jury duty. It was a long week, but I knew that I wanted to serve so I went to court. I was selected for the jury, and of course enjoyed the experience. The jury summons is not always a bad thing.

Frozen Hedges

Stopping For a Photo Before You Are Even in the Park

When we went to Disney World this past summer my family had to stop a few times so that I could make a photo. Here we stopped before we even made it into the park so that I could make this photo. What you don’t see are the individual photos of the kids in front of the hedges here imitating the poses. We eventually made it into the park, and had a good time. Of course that was after a small photo shoot out in front before.

Jury Duty

As this posts I will be at the Tippecanoe County Courthouse reporting for jury duty. This has been an interesting week with trips back and forth to the hospital in South Bend. Last night we cut our trip up north short so that I could get back for this jury duty. I have always said that I wouldn’t mind serving for jury duty, but of course it comes during the worst week possible.

Photographing a Wedding

The Pride and Pressure of a Wedding Day

This past weekend I was honored to photograph another wedding. It is a very special day for everyone involved so I do not take it lightly that the couple chose me to document the day. I always put pressure on myself to make a great photo no matter what I am shooting, but I put even more pressure on myself when it is a wedding. I always say that you have to be great on the wedding day. You cannot be off your game because you don’t get a second chance to make the photo. It is hard work, but when you see the results of your work it is worthwhile.

Stay Late

Some of my favorite photos of the day came after most photographers would have left the wedding. I have been to a few weddings where you see the photographers basically punch a clock in and out. Build the entire day into your pricing. At the end of the summer I attended a wedding in Indy where I saw many photos that were not made because the photographers were long gone. Once the cake is cut and the toasts are over it is time to leave for them. I like the idea of documenting the entire day. That means a lot of hours, but in the end you have a great body of work from the day.

Be In Multiple Places at Once

If you read this blog then you know that I am primarily a sports photographer. In sports photography we use remote cameras to put ourselves in a position that we cannot physically be in. A wedding day can provide a similar challenge. I could not be in a position to photograph the unity ceremony at the wedding. I made a decision to place a camera in some plants to get the shot that I couldn’t make. Of course you don’t have the flexibility that you would shooting the photo yourself, but with a little planning you can make the picture. I was off on the side while the photo above was made. I had my remote trigger in hand, and I was able to be in two places at once. The remote camera has many possibilities on the wedding day. Next year I have a weeding booked where an overhead remote will not only be possible, but necessary.

Making a Display of Your Pizza

A Great View of the Process

While in Ocean City, Maryland last year I tried to make a few different pictures than I had in previous years. I wanted to get a closer look at life on the boardwalk. While you walk up and down the famous boardwalk you see many french fry, ice cream, and pizza shops. Each one tries to entice you in using different strategies. Here they put the pizza makers right in the front window so you can see them doing their job. It did not work for us as we kept walking by, but I did manage to make a photo of the event.

Looking Ahead

Yesterday I had some time to think about things as I spent a lot of time in a waiting room. I spent some time editing, and some time going through some photos. I realized that it might be time to get off of the brakes. I have been dragging the brakes so to speak for a little while now on a couple of opportunities thinking that the phone may ring with one that I really want. As I sat thinking yesterday I realized that my thinking the phone will ring was nothing more than wishful thinking. Instead of waiting for what might be it is time to move to what can be. I have resisted working for the wires for a while now as I think that they come in and take pictures. I really want to work with the teams to make pictures. Maybe I can find a way to make pictures for the wire services without feeling that I am taking them.

Sunrise in Ocean City

When You See Something Beautiful, Turn Around

It sounds crazy, but one thing that I always tell photographers just starting out is that even though something amazing is happening in front of you, something even greater may be happening behind you. Here on the beach in Ocean City, Maryland the show was still in front of me, but I like this shot down the beach too. I like to try and go against the grain a little. When everyone is pointing their cameras in one direction I like to try and find something else to photograph. If you are ever with a large group during a sunrise or sunset you will notice that they usually are all making a very similar photo. Turn your camera around at times to make something a little different.

A Long Day

Today has already been a long day for me. I think that I picked this photo of a place that I love to kind of offset that a little. As I write this my father is about mid way through a quadruple bypass surgery. I am no stranger to the surgery waiting rooms of a hospital, but no matter how many times you are in one the wait is never easy. Sometimes you need to escape to a place like Ocean City, Maryland for a little while if only in your head. Looking back through my photos allowed me to do just that.