Monday, June 10, 2013

Double Duty - Shooting For Both Teams During The NCAA Baseball Super Regional

My "dogpile" shot as featured on the IU website
The end of the college baseball season means the end of my sports photography season as well. Beginning in the fall with college football, sports photography takes up a lot of my weekends, and often times some of my weekday evenings, from late August through early June. It's been a memorable year in many ways, but now it's time to hang up the long lenses for a couple of months and have some fun with other aspects of photography.

IU Coach is doused after his ESPN post-game interview
This past weekend was a doozy. As I posted on this blog, I was hired by Indiana University to serve as their team photographer during the NCAA Super Regional baseball series against Florida State so I knew I would be spending Saturday, Sunday and maybe Monday (if a Game 3 was necessary) at Dick Howser stadium during the hottest part of the day - noon start on Saturday, 1:00 pm game time on Sunday. When I arrived at the stadium on Saturday,  my photo obligations expanded dramatically - I was now going to be shooting for both teams as FSU decided to add both of the games to my assignments so I could max out my season's Purchase Order.

This was a first for me as I usually only have one team to shoot for and can concentrate on nailing down the action for one set of uniforms. Shooting for both teams meant having to decide which team to concentrate on for a given play, i.e locking in on a batter at the plate to catch the ball coming of his bat instead of the other team's infielders who might have to dive to snatch a ground ball. Trying to memorialize as many of the highlight plays for a given team is much more difficult when you're attention is necessarily diverted.

Hoosier 1st baseman collides with the right fielder while fielding a fly ball in shallow right
So I did the best I could. Sometimes I felt like my head was going to spin off my neck as I was constantly whirring it around from one part of the field to the other to make sure I wasn't missing something.

Here are some more of my favorite shots from the second game of the series.

On Sunday, the weather forecast included a strong likelihood of rain so I opted to go "light" in terms of gear. I had hoped to use my new 600mm f4 all weekend but it is a monster to lug around when you have to run for cover and I wanted to be quick and nimble in the event rain began to come down. Aside from the cumbersome nature of such a heavy lens, I knew that if I had the 600mm as my long lens, I would also have to have a second camera body with me at all times equipped with a shorter focal length (the 70-200mm f2.8) to cover the near stuff that the 600mm couldn't because of its length. That meant two cameras to grab while making a dash for the dugout. My 200-400mm f4 is way lighter, and because of its wide ranging focal length, using it meant being able to pretty much cover all aspects of the game with just one camera body. So, I left the Biggest Dog at home. I did, however, take my 400mm f2.8 just in case a rain delay caused the game to go into the evening hours. I prefer to shoot at f2.8 under the lights and since it was no big deal to bring the Big Dog and just leave it in the car for need-be use, I took it just in case.

IU's pitcher adjusting his fingers to throw the split finger fastball, caught with the 600mm 
The 600mm was the bomb, though. I used it Saturday and it was a dream to use. The AF-S autofocus was lightning fast and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it balanced on the monopod. I was able to swing it from side to side, up and down, no problem. And boy, could I get tight with great sharpness. Not having to crop much, if at all, during post processing made for better quality images.

Here is a sampling of my images from Saturday's game

With the games in the record books, I now have to go through all the images I shot and process those worthy of being cleaned up. IU is expecting a disc with anywhere from 50-75 game images and the same goes for FSU. Once that's over, I can settle back, reflect on my sports year, and dive into all the things that have taken a back seat to sports for 10 months.

I will miss it, though.

No comments: