Friday, March 23, 2007

Off the beaten path

Baseball is one of those sports where you either have lost of exciting action inning to inning to photograph or you struggle to come back with one good shot from the game.

There are things that we do when covering games to protect ourselves and make sure we have something to put in the paper. We photograph the pitcher; a batter or two maybe wait for a base runner to get onboard.

The easiest way to get action at a baseball game is to wait for a runner to get on first base, prefocus on second and then hope for a play there, either a steal attempt or someone turning the double play.

Truthfully that is pretty easy to shoot. It doesn’t take a whole lot of timing or effort to hold down the motor drive and at 8-frames-a-second you are bound to get something nice. I do it all the time and I like some of the results but more often than not it is just another play at second base.

If you want something different, something extra from the game you are going to have to work for it. I like to think of it as working of the regular base path. I will pick a player, in this case the third baseman and then follow him. I keep a good focus on him, pitch to pitch and wait for the action to come him.

Shooting like this requires a couple of things. First you have to commit to getting that shot. You are going to miss a lot of other things happening around you as you focus on just one player but that is part of the price for going for this shot.

Second you have to concentrate on getting just that one player. It’s easy to get distracted, talking to other photographers, dreaming about that next cup of coffee, but you have to stay focused on the task at hand and be ready for when the ball comes in to play toward your player.

And third it takes a lot of patience. It may be a half an inning, it may be almost the whole game before you get the chance for that one great play. But when it happens, the wait is worth it. The reward is a nice diving action sequence that easily surpasses any play at the bag.

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