My 17 Favorite Photos of 2017

It is really hard to narrow down all of the thousands of photos that I made in 2017 to just 17. The number is arbitrary because of the year. The good news is that with each year that passes I get to add another photo to my year end countdowns. This list is not a list of my best technical achievements. I would rather pick seventeen moments that I really liked from the year. Even doing that it is a hard list to put together.

17. Oh boy he is going to talk about his kids again! Of course this countdown starts with my little one. She is probably the person that is most photographed in my life. Here she has a great time trick or treating in downtown Lafayette. I love the smile and the sense of place of this photo. It is probably my favorite photo of her from last year.

16. On August 21st everyone turned their eyes to the sky. The sun would be eclipsed by the moon. With the sky looking cloudy in our area I made the quick decision to head north to where I saw clear skies. We found a country road that we could park on, and we watched the eclipse. Here my step daughter enjoys the moment. I could have set up gear and shot the actual eclipse, but this seemed more important to me at the time.

15. On our way home from Ocean City, Maryland this year my wife budgeted some time into our schedule to spend in Philadelphia near the Liberty Bell. If you know me then you know that I love American History. This is basically where American history started if you think about it. That is what I love about my wife. She knew I would love this, and she made sure that it happened.

14. The night before our Ocean City, Maryland trip I headed in the other direction to see Metallica play at Soldier Field. I love Metallica, and I had not seen them play live in quite some time. This was a great night listening to my favorite band. This photo also shows just how fluid these top 17 lists have been. This photo wasn’t even included in the Top 17 concert photos post, but it appears here. As I was making this post I realized how much I loved the colors. When viewed larger I think that it looks much better than it did in the thumbnail that I used to choose the concert posts.

13. This photo was made on the way to Indiana State. Here I saw a familiar barn that would allow me to create a starburst through. It was a no-brainer to pull off of the road to make this photo. When you can make colorful photos in the winter you do it.

12. Here is another photo made on the way to Indiana State. This was an early morning drive to cover one of the first football practices of the year. I left a little early on purpose so that I could make a sunrise photo somewhere along the way. I looked fruitlessly for a while. The mist in the air would have made for a good photo, but I couldn’t find anything interesting to put around it. Here I found a scene that looked okay, and then the deer showed up. It ran through the frame and made the photo. This is another photo that looks best larger. Click on the image to see it that way.  Continue reading “Top 17 Photos of 2017”

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My 17 Favorite Critter Photos of 2017

I really think that I had an amazing 2017 with the amount of cool critters that I was able to see and photograph. Almost off the bat I was able to capture a few photos of bald eagles grabbing fish out of the Wabash River. From there it was a fun year finding new and interesting wildlife to chase. After fruitlessly looking for a few years I was finally able to photograph a few owls as well. This was a fun year for wildlife, and here are a few of my favorites.

17. I spent a lot of my year waiting for eagles to do something. Often they would just sit in the trees doing nothing. At some point you start to get bored and you try and make an image out of that. Here the light was hitting the branches just right to make that work.

16. Usually I don’t use my iPhone when making photos of wildlife. Here in Ocean City, Maryland though I was able to do just that. While crabbing on a pier one of the crabs came right up to me. The phone was the only thing that I had available so I made the photo with it.

15. When we go to the Indy Zoo the first thing that the girls always want to do is to see the butterflies. Of course I have my camera so I go around and try and find something interesting to photograph. Here we found a female that was fending off many males. One male comes in close to the female here.

14. This year I finally made it up to see the Sandhill Cranes at the Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife Area. They were amazing to watch as they spent some time here before continuing south. Here one grouping takes off out of the marsh.

13. More fun at the zoo. While the kids watch the animals I like to have fun photographing them. I will probably not go on an African Safari in my life so I like to pretend that I am on one while I am there. It is fun to try and make photos of the animals that don’t look like they were made at the zoo.

12. I spend a lot of time in the winter waiting for bald eagles to do something. While I am waiting I am also looking for other things to photograph. Here a flock of geese came by in great formation giving me a good photo. I don’t know that I came away with a good eagle photo that day, but I did come away with a cool silhouette photo.

Bald Eagles Of the Apocalypse

11. When I made this photo I called it “The Bald Eagles of the Apocalypse” With the sun lighting up the clouds behind the eagles that is what came into my mind for some reason. This is another example of me waiting for the eagles to do something. It sounds boring, but at times it can be fun coming up with shots while I am waiting. This is one of my favorites from those times.  Continue reading “Top 17 Critter Photos of 2017”

Indiana State Comes Back Late For the Win

The second game of my Saturday doubleheader was the Indiana State game against Indianapolis. Early on in the game it seemed like Indy could not miss. They hit everything that they took from behind the arc. That may be exaggerating, but it really seems like how it was. At one point near the middle of the second half they even appeared to be started to pull away. Coach Lansing must have had some good words for his troops in the huddle because they came out storming to take the lead back and eventually win the game. Once again Barnes and Scott were the leading scorers, but many Sycamores contributed to the win. Keys I felt was big early in the game. He kept it close with some great plays. He is having a season like Barnes did last year so far. You can see the promise already. I can’t wait to see a mature Keys and Barnes playing together. I think we will be in for some fun when that happens.

Honoring Coach Klueh

Before the game former Sycamore player and coach Duane Klueh was honored. He presented the game ball while his list of accomplishments were read. Coach Lansing then gave him some time in the locker room for a pre game speech. Indiana State only has two men in the rafters, and it was fun to finally meet one of them. I like this shot of two great basketball minds in the locker room prior to the game.

Going Long

Just like during the women’s game that I talked about yesterday I used my 300mm lens to get some downcourt action. It gives my gallery a different look that is much needed at some point. You can continue to make the same basketball pictures all year or change some things up. Your seating is always going to be the same for the most part. Changing up your gear forces you into making different pictures.

Into the Locker Room

I don’t go into the locker room very often. I feel that it could be a distraction. On special occasions though I find myself in there. I wanted to see Coach Kleuh talk to the team. While I waited though I made this picture of Coach Lansing addressing his team. I love the way the light was working for me here. This ended up being one of my favorite photos from the day.

The Week In Photos

Last week was a fun week. I had some great sports shoots, some fun shoots outside of that as well as the Christmas holiday photos that come this time of the year. This weeks edition of the week in photos took a little longer to put together, but it was worth it. Here is my weekly Exposure page of my favorite images.

Indiana State’s Second Half Rally Not Enough Against the Chippewas

Yesterday I shot a men’s and women’s doubleheader at Indiana State. The first game of the day saw the women take on Central Michigan. When I was editing my photos during the halftime break I was not sure what to expect in the second half. The Sycamores were down 18 after a quarter of play that was not so great. What I didn’t expect was the fourth quarter surge that saw the lead cut to six. That rally and great second half was where I made many of my favorite pictures on the day. It was fun to see this team excited, and the bench jumping out of their seats. Without arguably their best player they put on a great show yesterday.

Going Wide…

I normally do not make many wide photos at the Hulman Center. The stands in the background are a big reason why. My main camera for the second half of the game though was my Canon 1DX with my 24-70mm lens on it. I liked having that ability to zoom out quickly to get a shot like this. The Hulman Center will be changing soon, and may not look like this anymore. When it does I can go back to some of these photos to see what it used to look like.

…And Going Tight

In the first half I had my 300mm lens on my Canon 5D Mark IV. At Illinois I tried the 7D Mark II on the 300mm and found it to be a little tight. Here I could still capture the action down the court while still getting some ball handling to near mid court. I don’t think that I made any portfolio pieces this way, but in both games I made photos of players that were only in the game for a short time that I would not have had photos of this way. It is a good way to give your final gallery a change of pace.

Sycamore Sam and Patience

During a timeout yesterday Sycamore Sam was dancing to the Wabash Cannonball. I saw the band as a good background and waiting nearly the entire song for Sam and the band to line up. Here right as the song ended I got what I wanted. Before that I made a couple of so-so pictures, but this was the one I was really waiting for. Sometimes a little patience pays off.

Back At Assembly Hall (The State Farm Center)

Three years ago I shot a game at Assembly Hall in Champaign for Purdue. The stadium was in the middle of the big overhaul at the time. Since that shoot the renovations have been completed, and they have had time to get the bugs out so to speak. I was impressed with the look of the stadium, and the light was amazing as well. You have to love a light that falls off dramatically just off of the court. You can get some very interesting pictures that way.

Oh Say I Just Saw…

Last night I made what is probably my favorite National Anthem picture of all time. Lately I have been a little leery of doing too much during the Anthem as it has been in the news a lot. I have been careful not to take a knee while photographing if possible for that reason. I am not representing myself at the game, but rather the team that I am shooting for. When it is Indiana State I even have their colors on so I think extra hard about what I am doing. I was just going to be happy and shoot this from slightly behind and at an angle. That is until I saw this light on the players. I knew that something good was happening so I slowly moved to right behind the team. For a photo like this a lot is going right. You have the coach right in the middle with his players. You have the great light coming down along with the awesome light on the roof. The flag is lit up as well. There was a lot of things right here for me. All I had to do was get over there to photograph it. This was one time where briefly taking a knee during the anthem is well worth it.

More Good Light

Illinois is the rare place that gives the opponent a cool intro as well. Normally the away team is introduced in boring light, and then when it is the home teams turn the light show begins. I kept waiting for the lights to turn on here, but they never did. Once again I had a lot going in my favor at the start of this game.

Going Wide Remotely

During the game I had my Canon 5D Mark IV next to me with my 17-40mm lens on it getting a wide shot as I was using my 70-200mm lens to get in tight. I had the remote a little ways away from me trying to make sure that I would not get blocked on both cameras by a ref. I like the wide angle as it lets you into the three point play a bit. Sitting out wide like I was that is really your only shot. It does add something different to the gallery as well as give you an overall scene setter.

I Am Stubborn…Until I Am Not

I really have resisted using Photo Mechanic in my workflow. I just want to stay in one program to do everything. The problem with that is the fact that Lightroom is so slow. In the past week I have really worked on ways to improve my speed on the sidelines after talking with the team at Purdue. They have a lightning fast method of getting images out. Once I realized that I just have to lock my photos instead of star them in camera to make things faster it was a no brainer. For this game I decided to try the new method out. I have tested it at home, but how would it work during a game? I switched all of my cameras over to use the rate button as a lock button. Any image that I wanted to see later I would then lock during the game. I imported only the locked photos into Photo Mechanic (Lightroom will not let you do this for some reason). From there I used the hot keys to send the files to Lightroom where I had my Sycamore preset applied to them. From there it was a quick cull and export. This was so fast that I am kicking myself that I have not tried this sooner. In a sport like basketball it saves a lot of time. In a sport like baseball where you can have ten plus pitch at bats it will be a life saver. I will probably have more on this after my doubleheader Saturday.

Man I Love This Job!

I had a lot of fun last night. Hopefully that comes through in my photos. I think that I am that annoying guy that has way too much fun photographing a game. I am not cheering on the sidelines, but I really am inside. I keep thinking how lucky I am to do this, and how much more I need to do it. I just love photography. I could shoot every day and not get tired of it. On this trip I stopped and made photos on both ends of the trip just on the way to the job. The curse never is lifted. Thankfully I have a great family that puts up with my craziness. If I am not shooting something then I am watching a photography video, or reading something photography related. I jokingly always call it the curse, but in a way it acts that way. I will tell you what though. This beats making soup cans for a living.

Back At The LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course

Cross country is a sport that I rarely get to photograph. When you look at what these athletes do it is quite amazing. They push their bodies to the extreme limits to get across the line as fast as they can. Watching them come across the finish line it is amazing to see the exertion they have put in. Lately it seems like I only photograph NCAA events which is fine with me. You get to see the best at what they do going head to head. Here in the Great Lakes Regional it was the best in the Midwest all vying for spots at the Nationals in Louisville next weekend.

Travelling Light

You really have to run across these course so I brought a light kit with me. I had my Canon 7D Mark II with the light 300mm f/4 on one side, and my 24-105mm f/4 on my Canon 5D Mark IV on the other side. I had a 17-40mm lens on my belt in case I needed it, but I really did not bring that out. Not having the bulky old 400mm lens on the monopod really came into play as I was running from vantage point to vantage point.

The Tree Of Shoes

I found this cool tree near the team area on the course, and I knew that it would make for a good photo. I don’t know the story behind the tree, but it looks like a place to deposit your old shoes that you don’t need anymore. I tried to find a good composition to show some of those shoes close up. This one was my favorite.  I chose this angle because of the leg that was thrown up into the tree as well.

The Start To A Busy Weekend

This was an early wake up call for me. It was a fun morning photographing everything around the meet, and it was totally worth it. After the event was over I uploaded my photos and hopped in a car headed to Bloomington to cover the Indiana State team against the Hoosiers. That was a fun game that I will talk about that more tomorrow.

Indiana State Falls to Ball State in the First Match of Day Two in the Indiana Invitational

Saturday morning I was back at it early photographing Indiana State again as they took on Ball State in the Indiana Invitational. Indiana State was very competitive in all three sets, but they could not get a set win. They had some great moments including a great series of serves in the second set. In the end they fell in three sets.

Indiana State Falls to Indiana To Close Out the Indiana Invitational

Saturday night Indiana State faced a tough Indiana squad. With my background I get to see a lot of Big Ten teams play, and they are the conference to beat every year. Facing a Big Ten squad is a great way to show your team what a tough competitor really is. Indiana State played well against IU forcing some late tension which is always good. They fell in three sets, but they were fun to watch while doing it.

Making a Hard Sport To Photograph Even Harder

As I walked into the gym on the first day of the invitational I noticed some renderings of a remodel that will happen here. That is a good thing because they lights really ratchet up the difficulty level as you photograph. The arena is fairly dark, and to top that off it has the old sodium vapor lights that give off three distinct colors. This is a gym that you need to use strobes in to control the light. I am actually shocked that the Indiana photographers are not using strobes. You can capture the moment of the match, and just catch the wrong cycle of the light. You can sort of save the photo, but it never really looks right. It is a challenge, but that is what makes photography fun.

The Emotion of Volleyball

Volleyball is a fun sport to cover for the emotion. This time of year football is the king on most college campuses. When they emote though they are hidden behind a helmet, and you are usually many yards away. Volleyball on the other hand is a sport where you can get fairly close, and the emotion can come right through. This year I don’t have very much volleyball on the schedule. That is too bad. It is a fun sport to cover with a lot of emotion to capture.

The Week In Photos

This was a fun week for me. It started out with some eclipse chasing with the girls, and ended with a full weekend of sports. A few headshots with the roller derby team made it a good one for my weekly post of my favorite photos. You can view my favorite photos from last week here. This coming week is filled with a lot of football. I can’t wait to see how these posts start to come together over the next couple of weeks.

My Favorite 17 Softball Photos of 2017

Over the last few years I have really come to love photographing softball. The sport is fast, and it keeps you on your toes. There are obvious similarities to baseball which I love to photograph, but it really is much different to photograph. I always say that I need to get out and photograph the sport more, but that doesn’t always happen for me. I always come away with photos I really like from softball games.

17. The countdown starts off with a moment. That is why I do this. After a tough week for the Indiana State softball team they needed to have a fun game. A late game comeback against a very good Northern Iowa team was just that. Early in the comeback I loved this great moment after a run was scored. I love the look here as it really shows just how much fun sports can be.

16. I love hanging out on the field prior to the game. You can get little moments that you don’t have access to get during the game. Here the Purdue softball team is very loose just before a game early in the season. I love the way that the team plays loose. You can see some of that here. It is just a moment that I was happy to capture.

15. As I said in the opening there are ways that softball varies from baseball as far as photography goes. One way is that the behind the batter angle does not always work with every pitcher. Some motions though works very well. Here is one of those times. I love putting elements both in front and behind the pitcher out of focus.

14. This photo is here for a couple of reasons. It is not the best, most technically sound photo that I made all year. It was one with the interim Indiana State coach in it though. She did not like a call on the field, and was letting the umpire know about it. Her senior shortstop walking away covering her face as she laughed is what made the photo. Shortly after this photo was made the rains came and the game was called. The team was around me as I was sending the photos out, and they loved this one. That interaction seared the photo into my mind, and is the reason it is on the countdown.

13. With senior day rained out Indiana State did something very cool. They moved the senior ceremony indoors so that the seniors could get a proper send off. This year was a tough one for the team, and the staff did not want the seniors to get short changed. They were able to have the full senior day experience as the skies continued to pour down rain outside. The emotion was still there as you can see above. I say it a lot, but this is why I do this. To be able to capture these moments forever is an amazing thing.  Continue reading “Top 17 Softball Photos of 2017”

Indiana State Softball Senior Day

I am a bit behind on the blog, but Friday morning I drove down to Indiana State to see the softball team take on Southern Illinois on senior day. The entire weekend was a bit up in the air due to a crazy weather system in the midwest. The senior day ceremonies were moved from Sunday to Friday, and a doubleheader was planned. Before game one the weather was still good so I had some fun making some photos of the team prior to the game. Senior day is a day full of emotion so it is nice to be able to capture some of that in my photos.

Indiana State Wins on Senior Day

Indiana State at first did not look like they were going to win their game against Southern Illinois. Southern took the early lead, but just like my prior game shooting the Sycamores they came storming back. I did not see this team prior to the coaching change, but the record sure looks different since the change. This team really will fight you, and that is all that you can ask. I would love to see them make a charge and get into the MVC Tournament. It really is not too far away, and I would like another chance to photograph this team.

A Great Delivery

Indiana State really has a good pitcher in Della Gher. She is a true freshman, but she already has the saves record for Indiana State. She was one player that I was excited to photograph, and once I did I was even more excited. She has a pitching motion that I have not really seen yet. The way she rears back to throw the ball looks great on camera. I really look forward to trying to capture this from a few angles in the future. She has started off well at Indiana State, and there is no reason to think that she won’t have a  great career there. Continue reading “Indiana State Softball Senior Day”