Friday, May 18, 2007

Baseball: Maryland vs North Carolina

It's been a long week. And I've been looking forward to the weekend.

Tonight the Terps squared off against ACC foe North Carolina in the start of a 3 game series that concludes Saturday afternoon at Shipley field in College Park. It was a bit cold for this game, but there was ample sun for the first half of the game. Not a single cloud in the sky. Later in the night it seemed to get darker than usual at Shipley. My meter was indicating 1600ISO, f2.8, and 1/180th second would be appropriate.

I tried my best to avoid exclusively shooting the pitcher. When I arrived at Shipley I took a bunch of shots of the pitcher (just in case), but then moved to other positions to try to cover the various batters stealing bases and the infield defense. I was very successful. Out of 170 or so shots I had 25 "keepers", and many of them are action shots. Less than 10 of those "keepers" are shots of the pitchers. I'm pretty proud for getting these shots - they're pretty difficult and you have to anticipate.

I've been doing a lot of reading this week on I'm kind of disappointed because the forums don't focus on skills and comparing notes. They're all talking about the "ethics" of shooting. And quite honestly I don't understand what the big deal is - it seems like they're talking about candidly capturing a moment vs asking people to pose for pictures. I don't quite understand how that applies to sports photography, but then again I'm not a member of Sports Shooter.

I'm also disappointed about their membership process. You have to be sponsored in order to join. That makes sense because they want to keep the barrier to entry high enough to keep the quality level of the community high. But, at the same time, they make it very difficult for non-members to become members unless you already personally know a member. They recommend you read the forums and personally respond to people's posts. That's all well and good but it doesn't seem to scale well. I think a better approach would be for them to have a non-members forum where you can register a post. Then you can present your post history to a "senior member" when you ask for sponsorship. You then have a better story to tell "This is me, these are my posts, and I'd like to be a member." Anyhow, that's my 2 cents.

Last night I read an interesting article on about how autofocus works. It was interesting to learn about active vs passive autofocus systems. I remember all my P+S cameras and their infrared emitters - they used to throw a red mesh over my subjects when I shot them. And with my D200 I noticed there isn't any IR interface on the front. It's pretty cool when something like that clicks and you understand it.

I also looked read some articles about white balance, and I understand the "coffee filter" method. I decided to give it a shot tonight. I took a few shots with the pre-set "stadium lights" white balance, and then I made my own white balance. I stole a coffee filter from work, and tonight when it was sufficiently dark I placed the filter over the lens and then pointed my camera at the light. In doing so I noticed it was pretty dark when I looked through the viewfinder. None-the-less I set the white balance and took a few sample shots. Interestingly, when I compared my custom-white-balance shots with the pre-set white-balance shots they were remarkably similar! I'm very impressed with the pre-set value - it looked a lot better than my custom setting!

Another strange lighting event happened tonight. I mentioned it earlier in my post... I shot the entire game in Manual mode and made extensive use of the meter indicator. Strangely enough, the meter pushed me down to around 1/180th second on ISO 1600 with my f2.8 lens. I seem to remember that in previous shoots my meter allowed me to go to 1/360th second. One thing I noticed is that the moon is completely covered. I can't imagine that the moon provides that much light in comparison with the stadium lighting. But, on the other hand, when there's a full moon I can walk around at night and see my shadow. So maybe the moon did play a role in tonight's shoot. I'll have to ask a few photographers. I'll probably get laughed at but what do I care.Lastly I'm very excited about my recent progress with getting some events to shoot this summer. After my fiasco with the Baysox I decided to call the Bowie Blade (a local newspaper) and ask if they need volunteers. I got in contact with the sports editor and he offered me a volunteer shoot this weekend. I'll be covering the Southern Maryland Youth Lacrosse Tournament in Bowie MD this weekend. It's a pretty long event - all day Saturday and half of Sunday. As a result I've charged all of my NiMH batteries and I've bought a few replacement AA replacements. I also pulled out my 75W DC power inverter I use in my car, and I've charged my EN-EL3E batteries. I don't want to run out of power!

I've also formatted all of my CF cards, and I've tested my CF reader on my MacBook Pro. With all the games going on tomorrow I want to be able to offload after each game in order to keep things separate. Otherwise I'll have no idea what shots went with what game. And, the editor at the Blade asked me to keep track of that information. I'm really hoping I do a good job and he gives me more assignments!

I'm also going to cover a few soccer games on Saturday night. As I've mentioned in previous posts I've contacted several local teams and asked them directly if they need a volunteer photographer. Very few have responded, except for the Northern Virginia Royals and Majestics. I'm going to try to cover their games tomorrow evening. Unfortunately it's down in Woodbridge and that's pretty far away for me. But for now I'm hungry and so I'm going to attend. Hopefully it will be a good shoot.

Then on Sunday I'm covering some more youth lacrosse games, followed by my nephew's birthday. I've learned a lot about depth of field since the last time I shot my nephew. Hopefully I'll do a better job this time and slow down my glass to f2.8 (rather than f1.8). Maybe I'll even use the flash.

Lastly, on Monday I'm going to try to cover the Bowie Baysox game. The marketing guy (Ron) at the Baysox offered me a press pass, and I'm going to take him up on the offer. At this point I don't expect that I'll shoot for them. But maybe I'll end up covering them for the Bowie Blade. We'll see... At any rate, I'm very excited about working with the Bowie Blade. I hope I do a good job!


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