Top Ten Basketball Photos of 2014

My Favorite Basketball Photos of 2014

Like most of these top ten lists this may not be my best ten photos, but they are the ones that I like for one reason or another. Narrowing down an entire years worth of photos into a ten picture post is not an easy thing to do. When it involves both men’s and women’s athletics it makes it even harder to do. I think that I have shot my last basketball game of the year. Unless something comes up last minute I have a little time off for the holidays. With that in mind basketball is my last sport that I will feature individually on this blog. After Christmas I will start my countdown of my other photos that I like so that I can take a little time off of blogging as well. About a week of scheduled posts lets me get away for a while, and then come back refreshed and ready to post. I am behind on my book and gear reviews so I will have to get some of those going in the new year. I have some great books that I just need to sit down and write about. That is all in the future. For now here are my ten favorite basketball images of the season.

10. The first photo on the countdown comes from my first road trip with Purdue. I have seen them play in the past on the road, but this was the first time that I did it in an official capacity. I had the Canon 17-40mm f/4 lens that I rented from with me so I set up a remote camera with it. I had the entire baseline to myself so I chose a location that I normally don’t get to shoot from. At Mackey we can’t sit on the enplane because of the scoreboard. So for the second half of the game in Champaign I did just that. It was a unique angle that was made even cooler with this low angle.

9. This is not an action shot, but one that I loved from the year. This year I am sharing studio space with a few other photographers. I have really started to love the lighting aspect of photography, and I had my nephew in for a session one night. We tried a few standard ideas, and then shifted to some more advanced techniques. This shot was in between. I loved the blown out look of the background, and how he popped off of it. In the coming year I have some ideas that I want to try so I am sure that they will end up on this blog.

8. Coming in at number eight is this photo of the Chattanooga men’s team at Hinkle Fieldhouse. I shot two games in two nights for Chattanooga in this historic field house. It really is a beautiful old stadium. The new lighting that was installed really is dramatic, and at times can make it appear as if you were shooting with a black background.

7. Coming in at #7 on the countdown is this shot of the opening tip between Notre Dame and Chattanooga at Purcell Pavilion. At one time I was a season ticket holder at Notre Dame for the women’s team so it was pretty cool to shoot a game there. I was on assignment for Chattanooga so I went a little high for the opening tip to make this photo with the clover on the court. I like to give a little place in my photos when a team travels a long distance to play a game. This photo is one that tells a lot, and my detail shots later can build off of this. Continue reading

West Lafayette 67 – Attica 49

West Side Wins Their Second Home Game in a Row

Last night I was back at West Lafayette High School to see the Red Devils play. At one point early on West Side was down around nine, but used a little pressure to take the lead by the half. From there the route was on, and the JV squad was able to enter the game. Shooting for the second night in a row I tried to vary my position a little. I have the entire baseline to myself which is nice, but that can lead to picking one spot and staying there. Last night I tried to put a little bit of the gym in the background of my shots. These shots are meant to chronicle the short time that these kids are in high school so why not put something in them to bring back memories of the gym?

My Final Basketball Game of the Year

With West Side taking a break this was probably my last basketball game to cover of the year. This has a been a great year for me as far as basketball is concerned. I was able to cover the Big Ten Tournament for the Purdue women’s team as well as the NCAA Tournament for two teams. I was also able to see the new talent that the Purdue men’s team has brought in. As it looks right now my next game will probably be January 9th when West Side begins play again at Tipton.

Bonus Photos

I don’t know what I will do with myself with this little hiatus from shooting. With all of the images that I made last year I have some backup work to do for sure. Here is a link to my website with some final images from this year.

West Lafayette 51 – Benton Central 46

West Side Defeats Benton Central

Last night I went back to the gym at West Lafayette High School to cover the varsity game against Benton Central. It was another good game where it went down to the final minute to be decided. There were some familiar faces on both sides of the ball, but I focused on West Side last night. I set up near the hoop, and the team made the position count as they drove right at me multiple times. When you are that far in you have to battle the referees, but when you get the shot it is worth it. Since most of the time I am not really shooting for anything it is worth the risk.

The Shot That You Missed

Ask most photographers how they did after an event, and most of them will tell you that they did terrible. You can make a lot of good shots in a row, but it is always that shots that you miss that haunt you. Last night I had one worse than usual. One poor decision led to me missing a great shot altogether. My nephew is the reason that I shoot the games. He checked into the contest, but was on the other side of the court. I went to my wide angle to get the inbounds play which was right in front of me. I made an okay picture of the inbounds play, but if you look through the parted players there is my nephew #4 wide open. One quick pass after the inbound while I was switching cameras, and he nails a three pointer. I did not have the camera up yet, and right away I knew that I blew it. Normally while he is in the game I cover him like paparazzi. Of course the one time that I don’t it comes back to haunt me. The good news is that the season is young, and I will have an opportunity to redeem myself tomorrow.

Bonus Photos

I have put up another gallery from the game on my website here. I captured a few nice images even if I will only remember the ones that I missed.

The Purdue Gingerbread House

Seeing the Purdue Gingerbread House Before it is Eaten

Every year we head to the Purdue Memorial Union to see the beautiful Christmas tree as well as the gingerbread house. It is fun to see the kids playing in it having a great time. It is even more fun to see all of the kids sneak to the back to get a piece for themselves. One look at the back of the house and you know that some kids will not need any dessert that night. I made a few photos of the kids, but then I focused here on the gingerbread house. I found a spot that had not been eaten too much to give a small amount of detail of the house. It really is a cool tradition that Purdue has here, and I look forward to seeing it as the years go on.

Top Ten Volleyball Photos of 2014

My Ten Favorite Volleyball Images of 2014

This was the year where I really found volleyball. I had shot the sport before, but for some reason I really found my groove photographing it, and that led to some fun times. I shot for many different schools this year. It was fun to see my photos being used all the way into the NCAA Tournament. While that is nice the best was a photo sent to me by a parent of his daughters senior day frame at LSU that had her jersey as well as my photos in it. That is what I try and do every time out. I want to make photos that will last. While I don’t think that I am the best volleyball photographer out there, I do think that I started to really understand the sport which led to me getting to the right spot at the right time. I can’t wait to see what next year will bring for me. Here are my favorite ten (with a couple extra) volleyball images of the year.

Purdue Volleball coach Dave Shondell serves breakfast to the fans before the morning matches of the Mortar Board Premier

10. This one gets two images. Dave Shondell is a great volleyball coach, but he also may be one of the biggest supporters of the other sports on campus. The first photo is of Dave leading the Ross Ade Stadium fans in ‘Shout’ before the fourth quarter of a game. It may have just been the best intro to the song that I have seen so far. It was part promoter and part WWE, but it was all good. The second shot is of Coach Shondell serving up breakfast before an early morning match very early in the season. I think that it is the little things that endear you to a team and a coach. Dave seems to get that very much. I never had the opportunity to shoot for his team this season. I seemed to always be there for the opponent. I would very much like to shoot for him someday.

9. For some reason I really like this image of Notre Dame volleyball player Sydney Kuhn. The black background at Mackey led to an interesting image during a match. The Boilers play one match in Mackey every season, but after I walk out of the great atmosphere and shooting locations I always ask myself why they don’t play more in there.

8. When I am not shooting the one game a year in Mackey Arena I shoot most of my volleyball in Holloway Gymnasium. I have a few different locations that I like to shoot from, but this one up high gives me some very nice photos. I wish that I was up about eight more feet, but when the players get above the net they really look high from this vantage point.

7. Very late in the season I was able to photography one last volleyball match at Notre Dame. I had shot three matches for them earlier in the season so it was nice to shoot a home match for them. I tried some of my normal angles in Purcell Pavilion, but then I moved to the side once I had my safe shots. For some reason I like the way that this image looks. The grace in the middle of all of the chaos appeals to me.

6. I like huddle photos. If you have followed me at all you have probably noticed that. I like all three of these huddle shots for different reasons. When I am shooting for the other team I always like to shoot the huddle with the logo of the home team somewhere in the shot. Sometimes though I will move to capture a moment. The first photo was a very cool moment that I like right away. The second shot I liked because I had the Purdue P at center court along with the Notre Dame player with the number one showing. The final huddle photo was one of the few Purdue photos that I made this past season. I had just shot three matches in one day, and I was getting ready to pack up my gear to go home and edit. It was then that Purdue came out to start the match. If you have not been in Holloway when they take the court it really is something. The combination of the song and the crowd can be electric. I stayed long enough to make this image.

5. I like to go up high to get the play at the net, but I also like to hang out on the side to get some of the sets. It is a part of the match that happens almost every time the ball is being sent over, but it can be a cool photo. Here is one that I liked from early in the season. It was my first match of the season, and I was happy to make this shot. Later in the year I found that I loved the photos much more because the stands were packed. One of those shots will be coming up shortly.

4. This is the same type of moment that I captured at Notre Dame for the Irish that appeared earlier in the countdown, but this time at a different angle. The mammoth spike can look great when captured correctly. The tip though almost always looks good. This was one photo that I liked early on in the season.

3. Here is a shot that I made while editing some photos at the media table. I had a great seat so I pulled out the wide angle lens to have some fun. I waiting until the serve came to Purdue, and the player came to just the right spot. I like the lines and the warped nature of the photo.

2. This is what I was talking about earlier when I talked about how the setting shots look much better with full stands in the background. Even with the fans slightly out of focus it provides a cool background. I usually make sure that I have the shot, and then keep getting tighter and tighter to make a more dynamic image.

1. I have had a few photos that really make the rounds. This past season I had a few from the various spots that I shot. This celebration shot of Ohio State might be close to the top of that list. It was used all over, and almost did not happen. The Buckeyes lost the first two sets, and they were not very excited doing it. I remember thinking that they needed to have at least one good set so that I had some emotion to capture. They ended up taking the match to five sets, and they gave me some great emotion to work with. While it is great to get the action during the match, it is a moment like this that I live for. It is why I keep coming back. I hope that I can see more of this next season.


Quick Tip: Canon 7D Mark II Rate Button

Using the Rate Button To Your Advantage

When I am shooting a sport for a school I need to be fast when I am picking my selects at the half or after the game. One way that I make this process faster is to rate the photos in camera. Both my 7D Mark II and my 5D Mark III have a button on the back of the camera that allows you to rate the photo. Almost every sport has a time when you can go through your images to pick the photos that are the best. This is by no means a final edit, but it lets you pick the best of the best and give them a rating. Now that you have done that when you import your photos you can then adjust the sort method to only show you these keepers. This little tip saves me a lot of time when I am putting together a photo gallery right after a game. You will eat up your battery more using this method, but I can carry extra batteries. I can’t stop time after the game.

Customizing The Rate Button on Your Camera

On the Canon 7D Mark II you can customize what rating you give your photos. On the 5D Mark III I used to hit the button three times to give it a three star rating which was the highest that it would go. On the 7D II I started off doing the same thing. The 7D II will allow you to rate photos up to five stars. One last tip that will save you some time. You can go into the settings on your camera to the setup 3 screen to change how the rating button works. You can select which ratings that it will place on the photos. Since I only use the ratings to basically mark the photos I disable all but the five star rating. Now instead of having to hit the rate button five times to rate the photo, I just have to hit it once. That little extra tip saves me a lot of time that is precious during a timeout or another stoppage in play.

The Purdue Memorial Union Christmas Tree

Going to the Union at Christmas Time

Every year we go to the Purdue Memorial Union at least once to see the large Christmas tree. It is a fun family trip to see a truly impressive tree. Of course the large gingerbread house is a draw as well. I usually make a handheld photo of the tree because trying to set up a tripod with two kids running around is impossible. With the high ISO capabilities of the new cameras getting a hand held shot is good enough for my purposes. The photos are here to document our time at the union. I spent most of the time making photos of the kids, but I did stop to make this photo of the tree. I may go to the union during the day when there is a wider variation of light to try a couple of long exposures with the tripod before the season is over. This is a beautiful tree, and I think that I could do something with it. I did take my time to make some images of the gingerbread house though as parts of it start to disappear over time. Luckily the frame is made of plywood or the entire thing may be gone by the time that Christmas comes around.

My First Magazine Cover


Making the Cover of Montessori Life Magazine

A couple of months ago I found out that an image that I made last year was chosen to be on the cover of Montessori Life magazine. This was one of those things that was a lucky event on many levels. The first is that I really was not supposed to be there when I made this photo. I had dropped off my step daughter, and I was scheduled to shoot a Valentine’s Day celebration about an hour later. The kids were having so much fun sledding that I just stayed and made photos of that as well. Putting in just a little bit of extra time really paid off as one of those photos was picked for the cover. I don’t know how much credit I can take for the cover. The kids are just so photogenic that you can point your camera in a direction and make a good photo. I think that I was just lucky that the right student came in front of me at the right time. The young man on the cover was one of my favorite to photograph last year, and now he has a very cool keepsake to have.

I really do not shoot events for organizations that would allow me to make a cover of a magazine. I have now been on many collegiate websites, but they do not publish a magazine that I would be on. With that being said this was a huge honor for me. I don’t know how many magazine covers I will have when this is all said and done, but I have one to my credit now. It is pretty cool to hold the magazine in your hand knowing that your art is featured on it. This is a quarterly magazine, and one of my photos was used on the inside of the third quarter edition. Over the next couple of years I hope that I can make some more photos that would be worthy of being on the cover.

Top Ten Softball Photos of 2014

My Top Ten Favorite Softball Photos of 2014

I did not shoot much softball this past year. I basically shot the season ending series for Purdue against Minnesota, and one of the fall games this year. That is a shame because I really enjoy softball. It was one of those years where it seemed as if every baseball home game coincided with a softball game. Softball is a fast, fun sport to cover. It is much like volleyball where every pitch can have emotional moments as the teams will give some sort of yell. I did not cover much softball this season, but I had a great time when I did. I don’t know how much softball I will cover in the coming year. Hopefully it is more than I did this past season. There is a softball diamond just down the road from my house. I have no real excuse for not shooting more this season.

10. This may be my favorite fielding photo of the season. Softball is much different than baseball when it comes to approaching getting this kind of a shot. When I shoot a baseball game I rely on the coaches to see where they think the ball is going to go. In softball that does not happen as much. The ball gets there much quicker too so you have to react to what the player that you are sitting on does at the crack of the bat. Of course while you are doing all of this you are not watching the batter so the ball may be coming right at you.

9. I put this photo into the countdown because of what it took to get it. Next season the Purdue softball team will play in a new stadium. That may be a good thing because to get this angle in the old stadium I had to squeeze into a spot in between the bleachers and the Purdue dugout. There is barely enough room to hold the camera up to get the shot. In the new stadium I assume that I will have no trouble getting to this new spot as it should be seating. The location did give me a great shot of the first baseman making the play.

8. Purdue was an interesting team to shoot. Their top two pitchers threw with opposite hands. Sometimes I would want to move across the diamond quickly after a pitching change. When I couldn’t get to where I wanted to be I would have to stop to make the photo that I could. This was from the little niche on the first base side of the stadium. It was not quite as tough to get into as the one that I talked about above. I had a few more inches of room which made all the difference here. For some reason this is the part of Lilly Fecho’s motion that I liked the best.  Continue reading

Portraits at Harrison High School

Having Some Fun Pinch Hitting For Another Photographer

Yesterday I went to Harrison High School to photograph a couple of the Raider Girls basketball players with Janet of THG Photography who is one of the photographers that I share studio space with at Second Level Studios. An injury provided the need for me to step in to finish up a photo shoot for her. We had a lot of fun with the action shots, and then set up for a quick portrait before we left. I really like the nature of these photos. They were very intimate, and really showed off the girls. The best shots of course were the photos in between the posed shots where the girls are having fun. The important thing is to have good models, and I really lucked out here. They were both great with a lot of good ideas. That is what you look for. I hope to do a lot more work like this in the near future.