MLB – Chasing the light, the heart of darkness and trying to improve my baseball photography

Photographing Major League Baseball in Phoenix can be a bit of a challenge, you only get a few “hat trick” games per season. What I mean by “hat trick” is a day game, with the roof of our stadium open and the home team in their red uniforms. More often than not our games start at 6:40 PM and the roof is closed which can put you at 2000 and up for ISO, and that doesn’t always make the best images.

I don’t want this to sound like I’m complaining, just that capturing good clean images that photo buyers are looking for can be a bit of a challenge. I try to face those challenges head-on, but at times I am not up to the task. Every game and every team has a different personality to it and you try to do the best you can with the given conditions.

Here is a look at a few of my favorite images so far this season, and some of my epic fail shots as well. I’ll leave it up to you to determine which shots are winners and which shots are headed for the fail bin.

MLB: APR 27 Phillies at Diamondbacks

I liked this shot of Arizona Diamondbacks Justin Upton (10) at the plate because it was one of those rare “hat trick” games. I think I should have given this shot a little bit more head-room and the lighting is somewhat harsh, but overall I liked it because you get to see his eyes and the entire bat at the end of his follow-through.

To see more great baseball images, click the more link below.

MLB: APR 15 Giants at Diamondbacks

On some of the night games the white-balance is all over the map, with shadows, cycling lights, and changes in the amount and quality of light being different at a variety of different parts of the field, this becomes one of those “heart of darkness” games. I did like this shot of San Francisco Giants Pat Burrell throwing his bat after striking out.

MLB: APR 12 Cardinals at Diamondbacks

As I stood on the field during batting practice I noticed one of the Cincinnati Reds players picking through the basket of balls and examining them to determine which ones to use. I walked over to him as he sorted through the collection of balls and said, “OK, I gotta ask – how do you tell which are the good ones and which ones are the bad ones?” His response, “by the way they feel in my hand.” I’m not sure exactly what that meant, so I just ended up taking a photograph of the “basket O’ balls.”

MLB: APR 27 Phillies at Diamondbacks

Some shots are just faces and don’t include any action at all, sometimes I just get a feel for the expression or the character of the player from the shot like this one of Philadelphia Phillies Shane Victorino (8) in the dugout.

MLB: APR 27 Phillies at Diamondbacks

When I saw a few of the Phillies players lined up in the back of the dugout I started grabbing frames and I really liked this one because of the reflection in the glasses of Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy “Doc” Halladay (34) as he watches the game from the dugout.

MLB: APR 27 Phillies at Diamondbacks

I just missed the timing on this shot of Philadelphia Phillies Ben Francisco (10) as he is hit by a pitch. For this shot to be used as a two-page spread in a magazine I would have timed it right to get the ball just as it hits his body, THAT would have been the shot to get. Oh well, I keep trying to improve.

MLB: APR 27 Phillies at Diamondbacks

This shot of Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Joe Saunders (34) on the mound is not really all that special, I just liked the lighting.

MLB: APR 15 Giants at Diamondbacks

Here is a nice shot of San Francisco Giants Buster Posey at the plate as he demonstrates the proper tongue-out technique for addressing the pitcher.

MLB: APR 15 Giants at Diamondbacks

I just can’t seem to get the “stealing second base” shots right, either I get the umpire blocking my shot or I cut off his head. Of the sequence of shots of this play I liked this one best because, both the base runner and the second baseman are looking at the umpire as if to say “am I safe, or am I out?” It turns out he was safe and you can see the headless umpire’s call in the previous frame. Doesn’t seem to matter how you slice it, this is a fail because I cut off the umpires head, my timing wasn’t right on this one either, but without the umpires head it doesn’t really matter.

MLB: APR 12 Cardinals at Diamondbacks

Even though this was a taken during the day with the roof open I was still struggling with the red uniforms, color-casts and white balance on this shot of St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa.

MLB: MAY 22 Twins at Diamondbacks

After I submitted this shot I noticed the photographer from the newspaper (whom I admire and respect as a photographer) had posted the exact same shot so I guess my skills are improving. I know I don’t want to take the same shots as everyone else, but I want to hone my skills at knowing when and where to look for my shots, so from that standpoint I would consider it a good “foundation” skill to have.

MLB: APR 12 Cardinals at Diamondbacks

All the fans in the stands were screaming for St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols to sign their stuff during batting practice so I thought it would be important for me to get a nice portrait of him.

MLB: APR 27 Phillies at Diamondbacks

I really wish this shot of Arizona Diamondbacks Miguel Montero (26) at the plate would have included a little bit more of his face, but sometimes you get what you get.

MLB: APR 27 Phillies at Diamondbacks

Another shot of Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy “Doc” Halladay (34) in the dugout, this time he is looking at me and the reflection in his glasses isn’t as good, but you see more of his face so I don’t know which one is better.

MLB: APR 27 Phillies at Diamondbacks

This shot of Arizona Diamondbacks Melvin Mora (4) would have been much better if you could see his eyes, but I don’t know if you can get ball-on-bat and eyes in the same frame? I’ll keep dealing with the lighting situation at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix Arizona and trying to improve my baseball shooting but I thought you might enjoy a look at a few of my images from the season so far.

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