Last Second Blocked Shot
As I have mentioned in previous posts, when photographing sporting events, I especially like to isolate individual athletes to present action portraits. However, I also enjoy capturing moments that display the athletes’ abilities but also include the emotional reactions of people in the crowd.
While I photographed last night’s game with Valparaiso University against a highly touted St. Louis team, I caught this image of a Valpo player blocking a St. Louis shot with only 1.0 second left on the game clock and the score tied. The athleticism of the play is remarkable, but I also appreciate the expressions of the fans in the stands at this dramatic spot in the evening.
In photos like this one, I feel satisfied that I am able to exhibit the energy and skill of the players combined with the emotion and exuberance of the fans.
After an Early Morning Snowstorm
I enjoy landscape scenery on mornings after an overnight or early morning snowfall, especially when the setting includes various interesting elements, such as smooth snowy surfaces, bare branches of twisting trees, a slant of sunlight, textured cloud formations against a blue sky, a partly frozen body of water, and an old barn, all of which appear in the accompanying photograph.
Cabin Seen Through Snowy Scenery
When the first accumulation of snow arrived last week, a few places displayed last leaves still clinging to branches. Consequently, taking photographs through the final glimpse of foliage served well to frame some of the scenes, such as the one in the accompanying image, which shows late autumn trees and an empty cabin beyond a waterway with snow-covered banks.
As I have mentioned in the past, much of my photography in autumn and winter focuses upon capturing scenes in collegiate athletics at Valparaiso University. Also, as I have suggested with a previous post, in my sports photography I often enjoy isolating athletes during games in a way that presents an action portrait, as seen in this example.
Indeed, when processing the image, I sometimes try to exaggerate the isolation in order to create an atmosphere that complements a sense of drama and seemingly places the figure in a spotlight.
If interested, a sample of recent sports photographs I have taken can be viewed at my Valpo Sports Photography web site, which currently displays nearly 800 pictures sorted into sets.
Partly Frozen Pond
I walked a trail beside the pond at Sunset Hill Farm a few days ago, and the surface was partly frozen. In addition, the coloring of the water seemed even deeper surrounded by snow. Moreover, morning light peeking through broken cloud cover created lines of shadows, and the brightening sunshine reflected on the pond while also illuminating somewhat the orange and yellow trees surrounding it.
Creek at Beginning of December
I visited Coffee Creek, which I hadn’t seen in a while, and the stark scenery seemed so different from those lush summer days I had walked the trail. In addition, the normally low level of the water and mellow flow of the creek have been replaced by a quicker current of snow melting after an accumulation of recent lake-effect snowfall.
Triple Overtime Tip Off
Friday evening I photographed the Valparaiso University basketball game against Mercer University. The night was filled with drama and exciting play, but the game became especially memorable as the final outcome, which unfortunately resulted in a Valpo loss, took a rare three overtimes to achieve.
Indeed, the last time fans observed a triple overtime at Valparaiso occurred in 1995 when current head coach Bryce Drew was just a freshman player on the team. Sadly, due to Thanksgiving vacation the student section, seen in the photo above, remained empty and many of the team’s most fervent fans missed an opportunity to witness this notable event.
Bare Branches and Red Berries
A few waves of lake-effect snow crossed the region Wednesday morning, so I decided to hike a couple of trails at a nearby land preserve that extends over 150 acres and that I frequently visit. I hoped to witness the initial glimpses of wintry scenery.
When I arrived I noticed no other cars in the parking area, which is usually fairly full, and I realized I had the whole place to myself. Of course, the snow had just ended and the temperatures were still in the twenties, so the empty lot was not too unexpected. Nevertheless, I welcomed the lack of other hikers and appreciated the untraveled snow-covered paths.
As I walked the trails I observed most of the trees and underbrush, recently full of fall foliage, were now bare except for clusters of red berries that stood out in contrast with their stark and colorless backdrop, as can be seen in the accompanying photograph.
At the end of every game, win or lose, the Valparaiso University basketball team gathers at center court in thanksgiving for all blessings they have received. The ritual is followed by all the players and coaches, a group consisting of members from various faiths, and frequently they are joined by the opposing team, which is always invited to participate. When photographing the games, I always take a picture of this moment, which seems symbolic of unity and a reminder of aspects in life more important than a game.
In fact, after winning the league championship game last season, while jubilant fans were still celebrating on the court, the team retreated to their locker room for a private gathering, and amid the cheers and congratulations, the coach briefly led his team into a circle for a moment of thanksgiving before they returned to the court for further festiveness. Another photographer and I happened to be in the locker room snapping pictures of the activities. We engaged in the prayer with the players, an event I will remember fondly as much as any other that evening.
Indeed, as I recall that time, I also remember the many blessings for which I was thankful, those great gifts I have been given, especially my son Alex, my wife Pam, both of our families, and the everyday comforts we are lucky to enjoy but too often take for granted. For all of these, I give thanks again today.