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Old Mar 31, 2011, 4:22 PM   #1
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Default College baseball, my first experience, with photos.

I've been looking for athletics that I could go and photograph for awhile now. Earlier this week I decided to check the athletics schedule for a local college here in town. They just so happened to have a home baseball game on Wednesday (yesterday), and it was slated to be one of the warmest days of the year so far; 60! So i took my Pentax K-r and my sigma 70-200 f2.8 with me, along with my monopod. I knew I'd be limited with the 200mm max reach, and I'm thinking for purchasing either the 1.4x or 2x teleconverter.

I have never been to a live baseball game before (or at least since I was 4.) let alone gone to one with photography in mind. So, I get to the field 30 minutes before game time so I would have time to case out the joint and find a few good places to set up. I also had an opportunity to quickly "practice" some shots during their warm-ups to get the exposure etc. all set. It was sunny outside with the sun behind the area between home plate and 1st. I decided the best place for me to be was right next to the dugout between home and 1st so the sun was at my back.

That's when i saw another photographer (cannon shooter with a 300mm f2.8) and monopod who had set up shop just to the right of the dugout near the 1st plate coach. Throughout the game, we chatted it up talking about action photography, and every so often asking each other "did you get that shot?" when a diving play, or slide into home occurred...

Needless to say, I had a blast. There was maybe a crowd of 50 people who showed up, and 3 or 4 people had come by asking me who I was affiliated with, and to let them know if i got any good shots. Everyone seemed really nice and approachable.

It wasn't until later that night when I went online to see the recap (I had left early) when I saw photos taken from the game...
http://www.westfieldstateowls.com/ne...330114238.aspx
I put two and two together realizing the other photographer there was a sports shooter paid by the college who did all their sports.
Here are his photos from yesterday's game:
http://www.mortssports.net/Westfield...35195099_2rCbm

and he's a member of sports shooter:
http://www.sportsshooter.com/members.html?id=5250

Anywho.... these are some of my shots from yesterday, I kept about 80 shots all together. Please let me know what you think, critiques are welcome.

1.


2.


3.


4.


5.


6.


7.


Here they are on my flickr account:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ewheele...7626276643795/
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Old Mar 31, 2011, 4:25 PM   #2
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I am definitely going to go to more games now as I see them on the schedule. Tom (the other photographer there) said he enjoyed shooting softball better because of the smaller field bigger ball, and slower action. I'll probably see him around.

I really love action photography but feel a bit under equipped with my 70-200. I'm not sure of the teleconverter is the way to go though because of the loss of light. Does anyone have any feelings about that?
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Old Mar 31, 2011, 4:29 PM   #3
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These turned out very nice and very sharp. I like the last on ethe best. Good Job!

Oh, just saw your follow up. I think the 70-200 is workigmn good inthe infield but if you want outfield shots it will be short. But if it a daytime game like this one was I say go ahead and experiment with the TC.
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Last edited by griffina6; Mar 31, 2011 at 4:31 PM.
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Old Mar 31, 2011, 6:03 PM   #4
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I think i'm gonna stick with day games for sure. Night games scare me a bit. If i put a 1.4x converter on my 70-200 it turns into a 98-280? is that enough reach? Or should i opt for the 2x converter making it a 140-400? The price difference is only about $60.

But how much does it darken the images? If it would normally be a f2.8, what would it be with a 1.4x? 2x?

Thanks!
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Old Apr 1, 2011, 3:42 AM   #5
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I am using Canon but have been very happy with my 1.4x on the 70-200 which loses one stop from f/2.8 to f/4.

I have never tried 2x. I didn't want to buy it because I had read so many posts about how it has a lot more negative impact on image quality.

Even with the 1.4 you are going to be limited to how well you can get the outfielders. You will need to move further out, maybe at or just past the bases to shoot the center and near fielders. But if you are like me you will find plenty of times when the 1.4 comes in handy.
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Old Apr 1, 2011, 6:51 AM   #6
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I wouldn't bother with a 2x TC. The results aren't good. Sigma 70-200s are a bit hit/miss. Mark1616 and I both used them in the past - my copy took a TC well but his doesn't. Sadly, his 120-300 2.8 takes a tc well and mine does not (well sad for me, good for him). If you're on the field, a 1.4 will give you the reach for many infield shots- you'll just suffer at the longer shots. Still not enough for outfield shots unless you're shooting from down behind 1st and shoot the right fielder (or vice versa on opposite field).

As to these shots, they turned out pretty well. Results are sharp. The tough thing is getting practice setting/changing exposures. For me, the most important thing is to get faces exposed properly. When there's bright sun like there was in these that is a challenge because of the hats/helmets.

Keep practicing and get the "cool, I got a sharp image with good sharpness" over with so you get used to producing that. That way, it is no longer the sole criteria for keeping a shot. Then it becomes a matter of "is it interesting".

For example - shot 1: you got the timing so the ball is right over the plate (and hey timing pitches is tricky so good job) but ultimately there's nothing going on in the shot. It's not compelling from an action standpoint. And it's not going to be of interest to any of the subjects because no one is doing anything interesting. That's what I mean by practice until you get over the excitement of freezing the ball or getting a sharp image. Same thing with shot 4 (between the two sides there may be 200 pitches thrown so 200 times the ball comes over the plate - you want there to be something compelling that makes this 1 out of 200 interesting). Otherwise, select a subject - if the batter, take the sportrait shots of him at the plate - in ready stance, or bat on ball ) If it's the catcher then zoom in on him (or her).


For the pitcher shots, try shots from head-on if you can (either thru the fence or behind the plate during warm-ups between innings). And get shots during the wind-up:


I do agree with the other shooter - softball CAN be a lot easier to shoot for the reasons he stated and especially with shorter lens. But the problem there is fastpitch is still a pitcher dominated sport. So sometimes you can have some pretty boring games. Glad you're getting out and shooting some sports and enjoying yourself. Keep at it, you're off to a very fine start.
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Old Apr 1, 2011, 2:50 PM   #7
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Thanks for the replies! Andy, I think I'm gonna go with the 1.4x and use it on my 70-200. John, hopefully my lens will accept it ok... I'd love to get more reach.

I was laid off from my job 2 weeks ago, so I have tons of time to enjoy activities i wouldn't normally have time for. I have always wanted to try action photography and now seemed like a great opportunity! So this spring/summer, i will hopefully be able to get out to games more often than usual and hone my skills a bit.

I appreciate the input about the lack of "interesting-ness". I totally understand that. As soon as i get over the "yay! it's in focus!" factor, i will concentrate more on getting the face is view, and maybe even catching a few bat-on-ball or diving plays! much more exciting!

Update: I just sent in my camera body to pentax so they can fix the FF issue. So i'll have to wait around 2 weeks or so... better to do it now when it's still in the 40s and 50s outside now though... brrrr.

Thanks!
-Eric
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Old Apr 1, 2011, 3:01 PM   #8
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1 final question for whoever.. What is your/the technique for plays in the infield (other than the pitcher/batter/catcher)? Do you prefocus on a certain posiiton player hoping a play will happen? Or do you wait till the play happens and then hope you can rotate and focus fast enough to the action? I am really struggling with this one.

Thanks!

here are a few more photos:
1b.


2b.


3b.


4b.


5b.


6b.
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Old Apr 1, 2011, 4:21 PM   #9
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2b is a nice strong sportrait shot of the catcher.
5b is a classic example of wrong angle for the type of shot - both players backs. You need to capture that shot from the third base line. That's part of the learning process - shot selection.

As to your question - it's TOUGH to capture some infield plays in baseball because they happen FAST. When you're in the stands at a major league game it's easy - when you're on the field and the arc you have to rotate is large it's problematic. Part of it is deciding ahead of time - do you want to shoot the batter or the fielders. If fielders your 'safe' picks are 2nd baseman or shortstop Focus on them, keep the camera pointed at them, framed a bit loose but turn your head to watch the play develop. On a hit return view to camera, acquire and track the player - don't track the ball. That's easier than try to look through the lens at the batter and then swivel to a fielder. Even then, you'll find you miss more field action than you catch. Obviously you'll have better reaction time cross-field. So if you're on 1st base side it's a shorter arc to shortstop from the plate so turning your head back to the lens and tracking is a bit easier.

Now, other things are situational - bunt situations you can track the 1st/3rd baseman if you're opposite their position. If a runner is on first, there's a good chance for a play on 2nd. That's where back-button focusing comes into play. pre-focus on the bag (or fielder if the fielder comes over to the bag on a previous play) and release the focus button. Then you just wait for the play to happen, and you don't have to worry about acquiring focus you let the runner/defender come to the frame and they'll be in focus. Those are some basics. Part of sports shooting is understanding the sport and predicting where the action is most likely to happen. That's the biggest thing - you really can't watch like a fan. You have to make some predictions and live/die with them and realize you're going to miss some shots. You'll find that if you like a game as a fan, shooting the game can be a challenge you won't get to enjoy it like you're used to.
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Old Apr 1, 2011, 4:30 PM   #10
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thanks a lot.
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