April 4, 2011

Capturing the Coolness of Baseball Action.

Good morning everyone.  With baseball season in full swing, I thought today I would share my thoughts and techniques on photographing baseball action.

Here are some rules I follow:

1.  Shoot "ass to the grass".  Can't remember where I read this, but it's true.  To get great baseball shots, you need to be low.  This gives batters a more majestic look and allows you to get great field shots.

2.  Continuous high speed on action, but not on batters.  The goal is to get "ball in frame" on batters with the holy grail being "ball on bat".  Trust me, you get a higher percentage of ball in frame and ball on bat keepers if you just time your shots.  Key here is to NOT pray and spray with batting shots....shoot for getting ball in frame and your ball on bat percentage will increase....if possible keep one eye in the viewfinder and the other on the pitcher..as pitcher winds up inhale...then as pitcher pitches, exhale and watch closely the body language of the batter...timing will come naturally over time...

3.  Shoot with f/2.8 or better glass.  99% of the time I shoot at f/2.8 and adjust ISO to get maximum shutter speed.  The creamy background you get on the shots allows for the subject to "pop" out and create separation in the image.  You can also get some cool foreground blurring on some pitching shots.

4.  For pitchers, I use both continuous and single shot.  In single shot, I'm trying to get specific pitcher movement.  Three of my favorites are mid throw, release, and just after delivery with throwing arm crossing the body and rear foot at the apex.  Here's two examples of the latter, from both side and front:

Shooting Locations

When I shoot baseball I have 6 angles I shoot from.  Depending on the game, I sometimes have access inside the fence sidelines, and sometimes not.  If you are shooting behind the fence, and the fence is chain link, then not to worry.  Take your lens hood off, put your lens as close to a hole in the chain link you feel comrotable with and then shoot through the chain link...If you are shooting with a long focal length like 100-200, then the angle of view will narrow down to where you won't even see the chain link...and at worst a slight vignette that will ultimately crop out when you post process your pics...

1.  Next to third base and slightly behind it.  From here I shoot left handed batters and cross field 1st base action.

2.  Next to first base and slightly behind.  From here I shoot right handed batters, cross field third base action, and 2nd base action.

3a and 3b.  Behind the fence shots through the chain link holes and off center of the umpire/catacher/batter.  3a is great for shooting left handed pitchers against left handed batters.  3b is great for shooting right handed pitchers against right handed batters, which is a majority of the time.  If you want to get umpire and catcher in foreground, then shoot landscape, otherwise I shoot vertical on these.  Use continuous high speed and single shot depending on whether I want to get a sequence on the pitcher or a specific movement.

4.  Perpendicular to the pitching mound.  From here I shoot profile shots of left handed pitchers, cross field 2nd baseman action.

5.  Perpendicular to the pitching mound.  From here I shoot profile shots of right handed pitchers, short stop action and 2nd baseman action.

I hope this was informative and would love to hear what your tips and tricks are or if you found this usefull...so go ahead..post a comment and let us know!

Here's a gallery of what I consider my top 5 baseball pics.  If you have your own favorites, share them with us!



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