Thursday, July 26, 2007

Baseball: Bowie Baysox vs Erie Seawolves

After covering the Nationals game I high-tailed it out to Bowie to shoot the opening pitch of the Bowie Baysox against the Erie Seawolves.

Jason Campbell, the quarterback from the Washington Redskins, threw out the opening pitch and Jake from the Bowie Blade asked if I could stop by and get a few photos. I didn't commit to Jake's request because I didn't know when the Nats game would let out and I didn't know how long it would take to get from the New Carrollton metro stop out to Prince George's Stadium in Bowie.

During the ride to the stadium I recorded the amount of time required to get from New Carrollton to the media room. This was a bit inflated because I bumped around in an suboptimal way when heading to the stadium, but it was a safe way to determine what my drop-dead leave time had to be in order to get back to New Carrollton and be in my car heading out to Bowie.

I made it out to Bowie with plenty of time and went to the main office to ask if Jake had requested my credential. The lady behind the desk checked the list and reported that I wasn't on it. I asked if I could just take a few shots of Jason Campbell for the Bowie Blade and she called for the general manager (Ryan) to come over and help us.

Ryan and Jake have a good working relationship, and I met Ryan and spoke with him for a bit during the Iverson classic. Ryan recognized me and even remembered my first name. I told him that Jake had asked me to come out to cover the first pitch but that he hadn't put in a credential request for me. Ryan said it wasn't a problem and said he would make me up a credential immediately.

Interestingly enough, Ryan was the gentleman I spoke with back in May when I called the Baysox and asked if I could be a volunteer photographer for them. Back then Ryan didn't express much interest at all, but now 2 short months later he recognizes me, my first name, and is writing up a credential for me. Funny how things change...

Ryan handed me my pass and I put it around my neck and headed down to the field to prepare for the shoot. While I was down on the field unpacking my gear I glanced down at the credential and noticed the details Ryan had added. On the credential it says: "Game: SEASON". I earned my first season credential!

With a smile on my face and the sun setting over 1st base I prepared for the shoot thinking about what additional games I could now attend and cover without going through the timely process of requesting a credential. It's nice having this door opened to me, and I'd like to take advantage of the opportunity over the next few months.

The sun was getting pretty low in the sky by the time Jason arrived on the field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. I used aperture priority mode and my 70-200/2.8 lens and "sun" as the WB setting and ISO 400. I tried a few flash test shots but for some reason they were extremely washed out. I'm not sure why that happened and I have to investigate it some more.

The shots of Jason on the field came out pretty well. However, there were a bunch of people clowning around in costumes of animals prancing around behind Jason. Unfortunately they were moving around too! If they were standing still I could adjust my position and capture a shot of Jason with an out-of-focus background. But with multiple idiots running around in the background it was difficult to time the shots correctly. Fortunately I got a few for the Blade.

I also took some pictures of Jason up in the stands signing autographs at a table. There was a long line of fans standing in line waiting to have their jersey signed by the Quarterback. The Chief was sitting next to Jason as well, and I managed to get a few pictures of the two. Unfortunately, the staff at the Baysox positioned the two in a pretty bad position from a lighting standpoint. They were sitting at a table that had the stadium in the background, but they had no foreground lighting. 75% of the lighting was backlighting from the sky.

The backlight was insufficient to illuminate their face, and shots with a flash completely whited out the background. The only shots I was able to get of the two were from the side, where the lighting was at least somewhat decent. I still used my flash on ISO320 and in aperture priority mode, and that seemed to work somewhat well.

I stuck around and decided to shoot a few innings while there was still some light. At this point I was starved, tired, a bit sunburned, and had a bit of a headache from being outside all day in the sun shooting without sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat, or a bite to eat. It was around 7:30pm and everyone in the stands was enjoying funnel cake, french fries, cold beers, hot dogs, and other fan fare and I was absolutely starving and dying of thirst. The Nationals didn't offer any food or drink for the photographers, and I only had time to grab a quick coke on the way out from the stadium to the metro. I chugged it in the time it took me to go from the stadium to the metro.

I ended up leaving after the 4th and come home to review my pictures. The light was getting low and I figured I had enough activity for a single day.


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