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-   -   Pointers?? Motion freezing (baseball) (

Timinator Mar 19, 2008 3:27 PM

Can anyone offer up some pointers on settings or procedures to "freeze motion" in sports photography?

Namely, here I'd like to be able to freeze the bat in mid-swing. Wondering why I can freeze my celing fan on high, a surfer or skateboarder at high speed, but not a little leaguers moderate bat speed.

Currently shooting ball games with Nikon D300, 70-300 VRII lens.

Generally have mid to good lighting, not using tripod.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated!


JohnG Mar 19, 2008 3:54 PM

Well the short answer is - bat speed is a whole lot greater than ceiling fan speed. You need a surprising amount of shutter speed to freeze a bat - even from a little kid. The exif has been stripped from your image so I dont know what shutter speed was used. But it obviously needs to be faster. Think around 1/2000 but maybe even 1/4000.

Having said that, I would contend a swinging bat looks better with some motion blur (you just want the player's motion to be frozen). It would look odd completely frozen. It's also a reason I dont have a really good answer for you on a specific shutter speed to go for because it's not a motion I try to freeze.

With a 5.6 lens you'll need high ISO values to get those shutter speeds - 800 or 1600 if lighting isn't wonderful.

Not sure if you're seeking other advice so I'll hold off on any other comments until you clarify.

BobTheNailer Mar 20, 2008 9:22 AM


With everything else frozen in that photo, I like the little blur of the bat. Nice shot.


Timinator Mar 20, 2008 1:15 PM

Thanks John, Bob!

I do also like the look of the blur on bat swings, hard soccer kicks, etc..more or less just wondering"how" or "if" I could play with settings on the setup I have to further still the action.

boBBrennan Apr 1, 2008 1:48 PM

.....I agree with John, it is almost impossible to 'freeze' the bat motion in the average photo of even the youngest players.

Your photo is very good IMO and the bat blur adds to the impact of the overall shot.

I shoot a lot of high school baseball as a passion for the sport and photography opportunity to follow my grandson, the 'blur' adds a lot to baseball photography, especially when it comes to the bat and the ball photos.

To add to John's statement regarding shutter/ISO these three shots meet those criteria and I present them only as examples to the discussion.

1. ISO 100 f/3.5 @ 1/2000s

2. ISO 100 f/4.0 @ 1/2500s

3. ISO 800 f/5.6 @ 1/4000s

BTW, each of the balls hit with these swings went a long way.

While below the capture shows a frozen bat swing and foul ball, done at much slower shutter speed this shot is decieving in that the batter had nearly stopped his follow through on this swing. The ball shows stillness but that too is due to a 'change up' pitch and a slowing bat speed, thus minimizing the contact speed. This file is from a ripping of about 7 or more files at 5fps.

4. ISO 100 f/4.0 @ 1/1250s

Keep shooting baseball and keep the bat blurred, I think it looks better.

Olumpus E-3 w/50-200 ZD

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