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Old Mar 19, 2009, 9:09 AM   #1
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This is a picture of my son's first baseball game last Saturday. It was an on and off rainy day so there was a lot of overcast mixed with a lot of sun. I shot it from the dugout and because I am still very new to my camera I used the auto and sports mode (love how fast it shoots). I want to learn how to adjust it to get the best pictures possible so please provide any feedback that you can. I used the stock lens (lookingfor asports lens now)and the photo has not been touched except to resize. Thanks.

EOS 40D, 115mm, F/7.1, 1/2500
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Old Mar 19, 2009, 10:34 AM   #2
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Hey GatorKev,

I like this. It just looks like he is having a ball. Great timing on the capture.

For a stock lens you have to be happy with this result. I am thinking a little unsharp mask could make it even better. You should try it if you have editing software.

You definitely should start playing around with the M, AV, and TV modes and forget the auto and sports. I an not familiar with the lens but wonder could you have open the aperture more than 7.1 in the creative modes. I assume you could and that could make even better shots.

I am really new to this stuff too andhave now collected three very good lenses 50mm, 85mm(great for basketball), and 70-200 2.8L all Canon and the 70-200 is the only one that I would try to use for baseball. Of course reading on this site that 200 is not enough reach for baseball. However, if you want to stay under $600 and you can stay in the dugout the 85mm 1.8f would do pretty good job for pictures at the plate and its a great lens to have anyway. I do have a Sigma zoom that is much less expensive than the Canon and I plan to experiment with both in a few weeks when soccer starts up again.


Keep Shooting and post again,

Andy
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Old Mar 19, 2009, 11:24 AM   #3
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Feedback: Nice footwork, great hip rotation, head down, eyes on the ball. I would have prerferred to be able to look directly into the cup on the end of the bat at this point in his swing - he's dragging the head of the bat just a bit. Keep up the good work - a few more hours in the cage should help.

the Hun


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Old Mar 19, 2009, 11:32 AM   #4
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Kev,

Great start. One minor correction - the shot was shutter of 1/1250 according to the EXIF. Only important insofar as to say most people would consider 1/1250 to be a fast shutter speed but you can still see blur in bat and ball. Not that blur in some things is bad - just that people who don't shoot a lot of sports throw out the 1/500 speed as the 'standard' when in fact, 1/500 still shows a lot of blur depending on what the subject is.

OK, on to advice and tips: As the other poster suggested, get out of sports mode. The proble with the mode is twofold - 1) you are locked into ISO 400 and 2) you lose control over the aperture value. For those starting out in outdoor sports I recommend using AV mode. Set your camera to AV, set aperture to widest setting (5.6 for a kit lens), set ISO to 400. Then set Focus mode to AI-Servo and set to continuous shot (vs. single shot). You're now getting all the benefits of sports mode PLUS you keep the aperture wide AND you can move ISO up to 800 or 1600 when you need to.

On this shot, here would be my recommendations:

1. Crop the photo - remove the uninteresting deadspace from above the player and push the player to the left of the frame.

2. During that crop, straiten the photo - it's a little crooked - use vertical and horizontal cues from the background - in this case the fence post as your guide.

3. Adjust the levels a bit - pull in from the right to brighten the whites and potentially pull in from the left if necessary to create a 'tighter' histogram - this will get your colors to pop a little more.

4. Apply unsharp mask (USM) to sharpen it up.

Those 4 quick edits will make a big improvement and should give you a very nice shot.

The other thing that is VERY useful for baseball/softball is back-button focusing. Used to be custom function 4-3 I think. The idea is that the button on the back of the camera controls focus while the shutter button simply controls the shutter. This is very beneficial in baseball especially. Why? Mostly in sports you shoot in AI-Servo mode (continuous focus) because subjects move and you want the camera to be able to track them. The challenge is in keeping your focus point on your subject. When you lose the subject for a split second the camera focuses on something else instead. In baseball there are times where you know exactly what focal plane your subject will be in - like this shot. The batter, as they swing, is not going to be moving out of the focal plane. So, if you focus on them when they're in the box waiting on the pitch you no longer need the benefit of AI-Servo. BUT, if you were to change the focus mode to one shot (instead of AI-Servo) you would be unable to track the runner AFTER the hit running toward first. With the back button focus you get the best of both worlds. Aquire focus when they're waiting on the pitch, then lift your thumb - camera stops re-focusing. NOW you can recompose the shot so the batter is in the back of the frame and no matter how they shift you don't have to worryy about your focus point shifting off them or into an area of low contrast on their body. Because the swing does not take them out of the focal plane you're OK.

Similarly with a play at 2nd base from either dugout. You focus on the fielder covering the bag and take thumb off, recompose to get the base in the back of the frame and simply wate for the runner to get to the bag and hit the shutter. Sharp images WITHOUT the poor framing associated with following the fielder or the runner with your lens.
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Old Mar 19, 2009, 12:50 PM   #5
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Thanks for all the replies!! That is what I was looking for. I know that I have a long way to go and I do not want to shoot in the auto mode. I figured it would be the best place to start and get an idea at least. My son has a game this afternoon so I will see if I can manage!

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"JohnG, thanks for the great indepth info!!! Should the shutter speed be at 1/500? Also I was going to ask in another post about the focus thing. I would keep getting pictures while shooting continous that would focus on the background and not the subject. Had a good play at second but it focused on the outfield fence area!!! Oh well hopefully with your new tips I might get it a little better... Thanks again everyone and I will let you knowhow it worked.
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Old Mar 19, 2009, 12:52 PM   #6
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Also hun, Thanks for the tips on his batting... This is my son's first season of baseball (always played soccer) and his first game so it is nice to hear that he isn't that far off... Thanks again.
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Old Mar 19, 2009, 8:28 PM   #7
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The kid's a natural - hang up the soccer cleats...he's found his sport.

Keep posting pics...I'd like to see his swing after he's got a couple of games under his belt.

the Hun


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