Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Baseball: Maryland vs West Virginia

Today was another great day for a baseball game. Not a single cloud in the sky and the temperature was a nice 70 degrees out. This evening's game was free and it started at 6pm (an hour earlier than most games). With the sun going down later and the game starting earlier there was a lot of light to play around with tonight. During post production I was surprised to find that many of my shots were overexposed!

The Terps ended up winning 6-3 tonight, but West Virginia gave the Terps a run for their money in the top of the 9th inning.

There were a good number of fans in attendance, but not as many as Sunday. As a result my movement around the stands was unencumbered. For the most part I stayed along the 3rd baseline or behind the plate until the sun was down very low. In the past I'd sit just to the left of the Maryland dugout and shoot somewhat into the sun. Even with a lens hood my shots were still washed out. I've learned to not even try that angle anymore until the sun is plenty low!

I also noticed that most of my baseball shots are of the pitcher. In Softball the infield is so much closer and there's so much more action in the infield I can easily shoot. With baseball the infield is much larger and it's very difficult to get some good shots at 200mm. The 2x teleconverter helps but it slows the glass down to f5.6, meaning I can only use it when there is plenty of sun. And even in lots of sun it can be difficult.

I made an honest effort tonight to shoot more of the infielders, and I came up short. I only captured 3 steals and in all of them entire the empire got in the way or the batter stealing base slid in with their face down. I managed to stop the action by increasing the ISO to 1600, but I didn't get their faces. As such I'm not including those shots on this blog. My fundamental rule is: you have to shoot face.

The exposure meter (the <--|-->) helped tremendously. I also read some articles today about not letting the scene fool the metering in your camera. The author recommended using Aperture priority mode to let the camera meter and produce a recommended shutter speed, and then move to Manual mode to lock the shutter and aperture in place. This worked exceptionally well, and with the exposure meter as a backup I was able to adjust the shutter speed so that most of my shots were properly exposed. Well, to be more accurate ... none were underexposed. If anything I was overexposed in several of them!

I also tinkered around with the pre-set white balance for a bit. When I get some time I'm going to read up on the CS behind white balance so that I understand it better. There's a huge difference in my shots when I change the white balance, and I'd like to figure out how to configure that setting based on the scene I'm shooting. I read an article about the "coffee filter" method. Not sure I quite understand what that means, but I'm sure I'll learn...

I've been thinking more and more about putting together my own flash based gallery. I've seen a few flash galleries and the look so great. I'll still use gallery as my dumping grounds for all my photographs, but I'm liking the idea of putting my "best of" pictures into some sort of polished flash presentation. I think that the transitions between shots can really make things look nice.
I've also been giving some more thought to making a waterproof cover for my camera out of an old wetsuit. With Julie's sewing experience and my engineering background I think we can come up with something that I can use to protect my body and lens during some drizzle. It's definitely a project I'll work on this summer.

Lastly I'm looking around for some more sports venues in which I can shoot. The Maryland season is drawing to a close as the students prepare for finals, and that means my subjects are disappearing for a few months. I sent a message to the Bowie Baysox and volunteered my time. I haven't heard back from them and if I don't hear from them tomorrow I'm going to write again. I also sent my name into the Baltimore Press Box. I don't expect to hear from them tho. There might be some smaller events that I could get into (horse rodeo, cycling events, etc) but I'm not sure where to look. Hopefully it'll come to me.

I'm also feeling the burn of not having a short-range lens. I'd like to use my tripod to do some night time shots of our house in NC but the shortest lens I have is 50mm. On a DSLR that's effectively a 75mm lens. I'd really like the AF-S 17-35mm f2.8 VR lens, but it's pretty pricey. I'm going to keep an eye out on Adorama and on Craigslist for some used ones. Hopefully I can find one in the $800 - $900 range.


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