There’s nothing as all-American as baseball or so they say. Last night I had the opportunity to shoot at the Lake Travis High School baseball game with Pete Talke. I jumped on this because in a few weeks I’ll be filling in for him as the “official” photog for one game. One can always use a bit of practice for these things.
Photographing baseball looks easy until you try it. I learned several things based on my experimentation last night and from shooting a little bit at Austin Aztex soccer games. First, finding the “correct” exposure can be tricky. Most of the shots are high dynamic range situations — think blazing sunlight off bleached white pants contrasted with deep shadows on the backside of a red and black shirt. There is also the sun-lit scoreboard in the outfield contrasted with the early evening shadows which are beginning to cross the infield. Since bracketing exposures for action images wasn’t really an option, it came down to a judgment call — picking an exposure which balanced some blown-out highlights with getting enough detail. I found that I was generally able to get away with aperture priority mode and the camera did a decent job with the shutter speed (which was well within the range I wanted to keep it). Occasionally I used manual mode if the lighting was such that the camera couldn’t get it right.
Another tricky area is focusing. I found that pre-focusing in manual focus mode worked better for capturing the batter in the batter’s box. When using auto focus there were some shots which inadvertently focused on the opposite dugout. I also missed a very cool action sequence where a runner nearly got picked off at first when he took a generous lead. I was shooting from the first base side and captured a sequence where the runner was diving back to first as the first baseman attempted the tag — great shots with clouds of dust everywhere. However, my focus happened to latch onto the outfield fence in the background. Bummer. Next time I’ll pre-focus there as well.
I had a great time, especially since I wasn’t under pressure to produce and could just experiment. The shot above was taken during warm-ups. I liked the combination of action and the American flag in the background. Many frames were taken of this scene because I was attempting to all at once capture (1) the throwing motion, (2) the ball in the air, (3) the players not being in (very) awkward positions, (4) the flag blowing in the wind. Unfortunately I didn’t get exactly what I wanted in any frames (I wanted the player earlier in the throwing motion and the ball lower in the frame). The final choice of a frame was a compromise and the main factor was that the flag showed best in this one while the other elements were “OK”. I added more skew to the angle because I found it more interesting. I wanted to crop slightly differently but decided not to so I could retain the “345” marker in the left side of the frame.
As for processing the image, I decided to experiment there as well. First, I flipped the flags to blow to the right rather than the left (artistic liberty right?). Then I added two textures (inspired by Pete’s images), masked in different contrast layers in areas of the frame, and did a little dodging and burning on the ball itself to get the look I wanted. Hope you like it too.
Texture info…arbitrarily picked the first two I saw which were at all interesting. These are used under creative commons from “pareeerica” on flickr.
(HDR from 3 handheld exposures)
In my old age I’ve come to love classical music over anything else. If I *had* to pick, I’d say that Vivaldi’s cello concertos are my favorite in the genre. Another favorite piece is Handel’s Organ Concerto #13.
I think pipe organs are pretty cool and I love to here them in person. A few years back we attended a wedding in a huge San Antonio church and the beautiful organ was used for preludes as guests arrived. Quite enjoyable…
My wife and I were fortunate enough to listen to an organ recital at Saint-Sulpice Church in Paris (organ is pictured above). There are regular Sunday afternoon recitals which are typically performed by an American organist named Daniel Roth. There is another organist who occasionally plays and we never did find out who was playing that day. The organ is approximately 150 years old and is nearly the same now as when it was first installed (an electric blower being the most significant addition).
The church itself is quite amazing. The current building was mostly constructed in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. However, even the today the church is technically not finished as one tower was replaced in the late 18th century but its planned twin was never built (an old mismatching tower remains). Saint-Sulpice is comparable in size to Notre Dame Cathedral (barely smaller) and we found it just as interesting inside. The image below gives a view of one small portion of the interior.