Shooting Baseball is A Lot Like Fishing
Over the course of this spring and summer, by quick count, I have photographed about 80 different baseball games.
Everything from house league Mosquito (9-10 year olds) right on up through high school, our summer collegiate team - the Victoria HarbourCats - and just last week, at the MLB level, covering the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays series in Seattle.
Fortunately, I like fishing, and with the work I do with Independent Sports News (being a web media outlet), we rarely have to worry about hard print deadlines and can stay for the full length of most games, allowing for more time to catch that big fish, and capture a key image or series of images from a particular game.
While sometimes it can be obvious, I find that because I have played and coached the game, and am a connoisseur of baseball's finer points, there are times when I can anticipate what is going to happen and set myself up for a better angle and photo.
Plays at second are also big on a baseball photographer's hit list, especially when a shortstop or second baseman attempts to turn a double play in the face of a sliding runner. Ideally you want to capture this from the first base side, with the defensive player leaping over the sliding runner and at the same time releasing the ball toward first. Of course, given how infrequently double plays happen (well at least at the level of games I have been covering) and when they do, the fact that sometimes you are on the third base side, capturing such an iconic image can be difficult.
Ironically as well, in both of the above photos, the players are the same players, just switched on offense and defense!
In lieu of the big plays, one often has to resort to other ways to capture images that make the game interesting for the readers and viewers of the images. One way I like to do this is by using close-up shots of, for example, pitchers as they deliver the ball to the plate. With the right lighting and background, these can be very powerful images, especially if that pitcher ends up throwing a good game.
Another good sight line I like is from behind the plate. Either a close up that really captures the exertion on a pitcher's face, or in the case of the first photo below, the stress on his arm, or in the case of the second photo below, shooting a bit wider to give the viewer more context for the game and situation.
Outfielders are another challenge for baseball photographers and often get ignored, unless you are using a fairly long telephoto lens and are specifically shooting them. Fortunately, there are times when turning to shoot an outfielder works out OK, especially if you are using a newer camera with sufficient megapixels on the sensor to allow close cropping of the image in post-processing. The images below are such examples and can be nice catches if you get them!
Keywords: Christian J. Stewart, ISN, MLB, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays, Victoria HarbourCats, WCL, baseball, methods, photography, tricks, west coast league
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