Sunday, June 28, 2009

Trade from Baseball Dad

I just got my cards in the mail from Baseball Dad. I was really looking forward to seeing what he had sent me, and I wasn't disappointed.

He sent me a bunch of cards that contained a lot of action. I won't show all the cards, just a few that I really liked.

Here is one of Edgar Gonzalez staring down the ball.

Here is a really cool shot of Milton Bradley from the 2008 Upper Deck series one.
These Upper Decks look really cool.

This is probably one of the best shots from the 2009 Topps series that I've seen. A really nice shot from behind home plate where you can see the batter and pitcher in the same shot. I really dig horizontal shots too.

Thanks again for the cool cards. As always I'm amazed by the genorosity of the card blogging community for helping a new guy out with card collecting.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kodachrome flea market finds

Here are a few from a collection of slides I got at a roadside flea market today. I wasn't meaning to get anything, but I had some free time and thought I would check it out. I found these awesome slides and had to take it home to scan.

Sharon Egyptian costume

This is labeled Buddy B. and Sharon.

When I got home to scan them I realized they were all shot on Kodachrome!! Nice. I didn't even think about that when I got the slides, but that is a cool side note.

Saying goodbye to KODACHROME

Kodak announces that they are cancelling the Kodachrome line after 74 years. I don't know if I have anything shot on Kodachrome that is easily accessible to me right now, but if you follow this link it has a nice write up with videos and slideshows from some of the famous photographers who have used the film. The "Afghan Girl" National Geographic cover is one of the most iconic photos shot with this film.

A Tribute to KODACHROME: A Photography Icon

It's kind of sad when they start limiting the different types of film stock. The easiest place to get film is Wal Mart or Walgreens and they only carry like one type of film for color and one for Black and White. Even a few short years ago the photo aisle at Wal Mart was full of different films for different types of uses.

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Trades from JD's Wild Cardz

The baseball card Santa showed up at my house the other day. I received a package of cards from Mike over at JD's Wild Cardz. He was very cool to send me a bunch of Mets and Turkey Reds that I wanted as well as a lot of other stuff I wasn’t counting on, but were really appreciated.

This is my first Bowman card. It’s a really nice rendition of Johan, my favorite Met. These Bowman cards are pretty cool. I like how this card is divided into thirds, with the dirt, grass and signature part of the card as the dividing lines.

He also sent me some cool Upper Deck cards from 2004. The colors are really vibrant and are reproduced well on the card.

I haven’t had a chance to buy any Upper Decks yet and I was surprised how thick they felt. This Robin Ventura card is really nice. There aren’t any huge borders that distract from the main photo and I really like that the bottom border is slightly transparent.

Here is a Matthew Kemp card. I didn’t know that he’s from Midwest City, Oklahoma. Just right up the road from me. He was nicknamed "the bison" from Atlanta Braves announcer Don Sutton during a game between the Dodgers and the Braves.
Thanks, again for the cool cards, I hope you like the ones I sent you.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Flea Markets and Hobby Shops part two:

I decided to head out this afternoon for a little card buying so I stopped at a flea market thinking that I might pick up something interesting. I knew that the chances of finding anything really old or cool wouldn't happen, but at least it was a way to kill time. I found this thing. It's a League Leaders compilation thing. It has a plain cardboard back. This is from my first era of card collecting, but I don't recall these. I got the last two the guy had. They're both duplicates except one was a little beaten up.

I bought some Elvis cards. I knew they were over-priced. I guess I should have tried to barter a little, but oh well. They're cool. I picked this “set” because of this photo. Elvis and Anita Wood on a roller coaster. Cool expressions. She's kind of hot too. Kind of sad that she doesn't look like that anymore. That's the cool thing about photographs and cards they capture a moment in time not only for the viewer, but also for the person captured in the photo.

The next few packs I bought were rife with crap-o-la. I pulled a John Kruk though. I think this was the year he was traded.

He's doing sportscasting on ESPN now, and I hear that he was a pretty good ball player.

These '90 Upper Decks are cool because they might feature a guy hanging out lounging on a Gatorade jug....

... and on the back a cool action shot of him pitching and at night too, which is cool. That's about as tight a crop on an action shot as I've seen on a baseball card. He's stuffed into that frame. Very nice.

I did get the Ramones Anthology for $4.00 though. That was a highlight.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Flea Markets and Hobby Shops part one:

My card collecting has been pretty conservative to say the least. sure their were a few dalliances with Mork and Mindy cards in the early '80's, a few Battlestar Galactica cards and of course an all out obsession with Garbage Pail Kids in the mid '80's. Since I've gotten back into card collecting I've been pretty much focusing on Topps '08 and '09 but since checking out the baseball card blogs I've noticed that there is a whole 'nother world of cards out there.

I headed out to Vintage Stock tonight to see what a hobby/re-packed toy store would have for card selection. I really wanted to branch out and see if I could find something interesting to buy. I wasn't disappointed. I kind of wished I would have picked up a few things they had, but I'm really glad I got the stuff that I did. The Yankee Stadium card with the Ali fight ticket insert thingy was pretty nice looking. They had a cool Brooklyn Dodger card, but I wanted to buy some new packs. I didn't want to just buy a couple of cards, when I could possibly get a decent amount of good stuff. Also, I had gotten burned by buying older stuff earlier in the day and I didn't want to repeat taking a chance on overpaying for just one card.

I decided to pick up a pack of Upper Deck's 2008 Masterpieces Football, 2006 Topps Updates and Highlights pack and a pack of 2008 Allen and Ginter.

The first pack I opened was the Topps Updates and Highlights pack. I'm guessing that these update cards are filled with post-season highlights and All-Stars and Dynamic Duos and all that kind of stuff more than just base cards.

I was happy to find a few Mets cards. This is cool. This is a gold parallel card, my first.

Anyway the cartoons on the back of the card are nice. It reminds me of some of the old cards I used to collect.

I really like the color scheme on the border that relate to the team's color. I think the cards look really slick.

The second pack was really nice too. My first Upper Deck since I started collecting again. 2008 Masterpiece football. BINGO!!! This is great.

I now know what I'm going to ask A.D. to sign if/when I see him. I was going to have him sign my press pass from the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, but I think this would be easier to carry around and display. The pose might seem a little awkward to most, but for someone like me who has been following (obsessing?)over Adrian's career it's actually when he starts to switch gears after receiving a handoff. Sometimes he "bunches up" before he changes direction after crossing the line of scrimmage. I noticed that this card was the only one in the pack that had the artist's signature on the bottom. I don't know if that is just a coincidence and the other cards had the signature cropped out or if I just got an even cooler card. As always, if anyone knows for sure feel free to educate me about these cards.

I pulled a Ben Roethlisberger card too. His sister plays basketball at OU. This is a nice card.

This Scott Norwood card is interesting, but a little depressing. I know what it's like to lose a game by one point (the aforementioned 2007 Fiesta Bowl.) So I'm not sure why U.D. decided to give this scenario the “Masterpiece” treatment. I guess if you're a Giants fan it makes sense.

I got a few more that are cool, and I like the printing on the canvas material. I think that might be a good series to collect, even though I've never finished a set.

Speaking of sets I bought a 2008 of Allen and Ginter. Awesome. Wonderful. Exciting. Austere*.

I got this cool Ichiro mini card with the fabric and stuff. This is also a first for me, a card encased in some sort of plastic with fabric embedded in it. Nice. Everytime I see Ichiro I always think back to this Taiwanese girl I used to know that loved Ichiro. She was sort of a sports fan, but it was mostly because she had a crush on him.

The cool thing about these cards are that you can immediately tell who they are. The Ichiro is a mini-card, but it's obvious that it's him even with the batting helmet.

I don't think the scans that I've seen of these cards really do it justice. All of them are exceptional cards and judging by the previews of the 2009 set I'm definitely going to try and complete that set.

I really hate to keep harping on this, but that 2007 Fiesta Bowl was a real kick in the balls. I mean this was A.D.'s last game as a Sooner and my first and only (so far) bowl game. I was really hoping it would turn out better. When Adrian took the hand off on first down to score in the first overtime I was sure it would be the game.
Here is a shot from that game.

That is during the second quarter I believe.
I didn't notice until recently that the horizon line wasn't straight and it took looking and dissecting baseball cards to make me realize that I needed to fix the shot.

Still a little bitter about that loss, but that's why I'd like to have him sign my press pass for the game rather than a card, but that Masterpiece card is a really nice card.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cool Action Shots!

One of the main rules about sports photography is that you would like to have two players that are involved in the play in the same frame if the ball is also shown that is even better. I haven't gotten around to showing any cool action shots yet. So here goes:

This isn't really an "action shot" now that I think about it. I just like the body language and expression on LaRoche's face. He looks to be getting an earful from the catcher. Hey at least it shows two players and it's during a game, just one of those moments in between action. But I like it nonetheless.

Turning a double play, perhaps? The expression and the full extension on shortstop Hardy is awesome.

This is my favorite so far. I like that Ray Durham is looking to home plate (out of frame) and the catcher is looking up at an incoming ball. I say awesome and cool too much, so I don't know what to label this. So I'll just let it speak for itself.

Unfortunate Topps Logo part one

I got this out of another pack the other and really like it. "What a cool action shot, I wonder why it's framed like that? Normally a framing like this would mean that they included the ball too.Hmmm."

Going through the stack a few days later I noticed that in fact the ball was there, just obscured by the Topps logo. Kind of sad. But still a cool shot of Aaron Harang. I just wish in cases like that they could switch the logo around.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cool Stuff

I've whined and complained enough about what I'd like to change on some of the cards that I've seen so I thought on this post I'd just post up some shots that I think are really awesome. (I only have a few cards, so the list isn't extensive.) Here is one I liked immediately when I pulled it from the pack.

This is good horizontal shot. I like that he's completely off of the ground and in front of an out of focus scoreboard. A really cool night shot. I think it looks pretty good on a black background. I wonder if their is an alternate version of this with a black border?

This is a cool card from Topps 2008. It's one of the Year in Review series featuring a specific play. This one has Fred Lewis from the Giants. I like the off-kilterness of the photo and the fake newspaper headline and zip-a-tone background. It's nifty!

Here is a shot of Roy Oswalt. I like it, but part of me wonders if it would have been better as a vertical. Oh well, the photographer captured a good expression on his face and their is little if no motion blur.

This is a cool shot of Andruw Jones from the Dodgers. I like it because the background looks sort of retro and faded. It even has an American flag in the background. Cool.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More Photoshop fun

The problem with always critiquing other people's photo and post processing skills is that I had better be as good or better than the people that I'm critiquing, right? Well, I sort of suck at photoshop, but that doesn't stop me from trying. Here is an example or two of some shots that I tried to improve by moving them around and resizing them.

The first example is of the Mets outfielder Moises Alou from the Topps 2008 Series One set. One of the reasons why I want to edit this card is that the legs are cropped at the ankles, which isn't a good place to crop any figure. Also I think bats should be treated with the same respect as a person's limbs. In this card the bat also looks cropped in the wrong place.

The batter is centered, but is burdened with the Topps Tab directly above Alou's head. By resizing a little and removing the Tab the composition seems to "breathe" more.

By shifting the foreground figure over to the left makes it look more pleasing to me, but some might feel that their is too much dead space so adding the Topps Tab to the right side makes the whole card look better. Or at least it looks a lot better to me.

Anyone out there thinks they look like total crap? Or really cool? Let me know if I'm on the right track or hopelessly misguided.

Chuck Jones Topps 2008 edit

Here is another one that I really like from the set I just bought. It is of Chuck Jones from the Atlanta Braves. I like the background blur or Bokeh. It's really nice and colorful coming from a afternoon day game shot. I just can't get past the tab in the middle that messes up the cropping.

Here is the original shot.

This is what happens when you try and take a vertical and turn in into a horizontal shot. I left the tab in to show how the subject is being pushed down and swallowed into the background rather than being separated from the background. It seems awkwardly framed.

In this version I have taken out the tab and just left it as a pure horizontal shot. Which I think looks really cool especially with the Popeye expression on his face. If anybody out there is reading let me know what you think. Am I a complete hack, or am I onto something?

2008 Topps

I just bought a package of series one Topps at Wal Mart tonight. At first I wasn't really that keen on the team logos on the card, but it sort of grew on me. I still don't like the little Topps Tab in the middle of each card. I think it clutters up the framing of the shots so that they are awkwardly aligned in the card. One such example is of a shot of Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz. It's a really cool shot of a catcher with his mask off reacting to a play. I can tell that it's a game shot because of the batter on to his left. The obvious problem to me, is that their is so much dead space on the left side of the frame.

I tried playing with it in photoshop to try and get a better crop of it. I don't know if it works or not, but I think it definitely brings more focus to the catcher and batters' expressions.

You can probably tell that a few things are missing besides the Topps logo. I kind of messed up the autograph and there's no trophy.

Adding the All-Star trophy seems to clutter up the image too much for me though.

I have a pretty good feeling why the original shot is framed the way it is. I think that in the original shot their was a lot of space on the top, bottom and the left of frame. I'm pretty sure that the way he/she shot it was that the right edge of the frame cut off the batter, but they liked the shot so much they wanted to include it in the set. I think it's a really awesome shot, but I don't like the cropping in the final version. The only problem with my amateur version is that I think it might be too square and not really horizontal or vertical enough for an actual card. It still shows what can come out of some creative cropping though.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I went out baseball card shopping tonight for the first time in like oh I don’t know 24 years. Anyway I recently got into looking into getting some cards after reading a few cool blogs like Night Owl Cards
I’ve been doing a lot of sports photography lately and I realized that baseball cards would be a cool way to promote myself instead of using stupid business cards. So I went out to Hastings to see what kind of cards I could get on a budget to test the waters. I ended up buying the last 2009 Topps series one box with the Babe on the cover.
I was pretty excited to open the set. I didn’t know what to expect, but seeing a huge piece of Styrofoam in the box didn’t give me much confidence going in.

I’m more geared towards photography so that’s what I’m mainly interested in looking at when I went to get these cards. I have a tendency to look for things like colors, design motifs and the actual photos in the card. So with that in mind, I found that most of the cards were pretty forget full, some were awesome and some were really lame. Starting to feel like 1985 all over again. Alright, let’s start with the worst one:

It’s hard to even notice the cool stuff in this photo because it’s painfully obvious that the crowd behind Matt Stairs is horribly photoshoped in from a day game while the foreground shot of Matt looks to be from a night game. The reason why I say this is because of the greenish color on both his and the catcher’s skin and the shadows on Stairs face look like they were from stadium lighting. Also the crowd looks to be about the same size as the hitter. The cool thing about this photo is the fact that the ball and bat are clearly in frame, sharp and in focus. And hopefully from the caption it’s from the actual hit that they describe in the caption.

This one is a cool in game type of shot. He’s not really doing anything, but the he’s really sharp and in focus and it’s got a cool sort of background blur or Bokeh. I still don’t understand what was so objectionable in the reflection of his glasses that they had to make him look the fly. I guess whatever they did worked, because it brought attention (at least to me) a shot of a guy just standing there.

At first glance this shot seems pretty cool and I guess it in some ways, the guy is off his feet, full extension and he’s got the ball in the glove, but… we can’t see his face. Kind of sucks, but oh well.

This shot of the Orioles Jay Payton is a better example of a cool sports photo. It’s got his face, cool background and the ball nearing the glove all in the same shot. (His sunglasses also look normal)

Everybody knows randy Johnson by now. Even my friend Chris who hates everything sports related would have no trouble recognizing this guy. I was a happy to see him in my set o’cards, and it’s a pretty cool shot but…..I think it might be a little fake, maybe someone out there can confirm for me, but I think the he’s cut out and inserted in front of a different background. The fakeness surrounding his pitching hand, forearm is understandable because there was probably a lot of motion blur in the arm. They were probably trying to sharpen that up and even the ball is blurry, but it’s not even really a ball shape.

I think someone went a little crazy trying to cut out the ball and make it look more in focus/sharper. Also the area surrounding his hair is a little fake looking. It’s really hard sometime to cutout someone’s hair and it looks pretty obvious to me. I seems like there is a white outline around his hair strings. Or whatever you want to call them, maybe Little Hair Units?

This is a typical cool sports shot to me. I don’t understand why more night shots aren’t included in sets. (what the Hell do I know, I just started collecting again, right? Maybe they’re all over the place.) Anyway this Joe Blanton card is cool in that it’s another pitcher action shot just like the Randy Johnson one, except it looks to be pretty much un-molested. He’s got a cool expression on his face (a little less awkward than the Big Unit), but never the less the ball is in the frame. For me motion blur is excusable in this shot especially considering that it’s a night shot. I hate to sound like a photo professor, because I know that it would be hard for me to shoot the same thing any better than the dude (or dudette) that shot this photo. It’s hard to get an acceptable shutter speed to stop motion in night games.

The best card was the one that I was afraid would be the worst. It’s a Legends Chrome Refractor of Nolan Ryan from his days as an Astro. It’s got a cool retro Astro logo in the middle and it looks snazzy. I don’t think the scan of it does it justice though, and I think it would be a little nice without so much white at the bottom of the card, but really it looks cool. I can see now why people get addicted to collecting.

Oh. And I forgot. How could I not include a Mickey Mantle card? I’m not much of a Yankee’s fan. I don’t hate them either really, but this one is cool because on the back it mention’s Jim Thorpe and Oklahoma and for a guy from Oklahoma that makes me a little proud.

Oh yeah, and after looking at all these cards I’m almost sure that the Devil Rays, Marlins and Blue Jays are the same team.