Home Run Baseball Photography Tips
with Andrew Malek
Strike one! Strike two! Strike three!
Baseball! America's Pastime, and a sport growing in popularity throughout the world, where the Boys of Summer slug it out. A baseball game is the perfect way to spend a lazy summer afternoon, plus it provides opportunities to take photos that last a lifetime.
While many claim the sport of baseball is a slow-paced affair, when action does occur, it can happen very swiftly, almost too fast for an unskilled photographer to shoot the photos they desire. Baseballs fly quickly when hit or thrown, and timing the action for when to take a digital photograph requires split-second reflexes. Thus, before you plan on taking photos at a baseball game, you may wish to read the following advice:
1) Check the Regulations: First, make sure you are allowed to bring your digital camera to the baseball game. Some ballparks have no restrictions, others on the zoom length, some on using flash, and some may not allow you into the baseball game at all with your camera!
See Malek Tip: Call Sporting Venues Ahead
See Malek Tip: Is Flash Photography Allowed?
2) Optimum Camera Settings: Change your camera settings to take the quickest photographs possible while still providing plenty of light for the photograph. You'll need to read your camera's manual on how to change these settings; for example, consider saving photos as JPG instead of RAW to take photos faster.
Just remember that the quicker the shutter speed, the less light enters the camera to take the picture. Thus, you'll need to compromise picture speed and the amount of light to take great photos. That is why baseball games work well with photography - many games are played on sunny days or in well-lit domes or stadiums that allow you to take crisp, high-action photos.
See Malek Tip: Fast Shutter Speed is Crucial
See Malek Tip: Shoot in JPG, not RAW or TIFF
3) Know the Rules: Before going to a big league ballpark, make sure you know the rules and nuances of the game. Practice taking photos at a minor-league, college, or high school baseball game. The stakes aren't quite as high if you miss a shot, and taking your camera to a game will give you more insight into when action occurs and when players just stand around.
See Malek Tip: Know the Game or Event
4) Extra Batteries: Have extra batteries and digital camera memory handy and practice switching both out quickly before the game! A three and a half hour game can put a tremendous strain on even the most power-miserly camera, and more often than not you will have to switch out power or memory in the middle of an inning.
See Malek Tip: Bring Plenty of Batteries
5) Don't worry if you miss a shot! Unless you have tons of digital camera memory, you may not be able to continuously shoot photograph after photograph. If you miss a key pitch, the swing of a bat, or a forced out, don't get angry! More often than not, new opportunities will arise for great photographs.
6) Study the lineup first. Know who are the key players and those who barely know how to swing a bat. Likewise, learn who has loose hands in the outfield and who is likely to win a Gold Glove. Focus your attention on the stars as they most likely will make the best photographs, but don't be so drawn to celebrity that you miss a role player making a crucial steal or diving catch that wins the game for their team!
7) Check the Dugout: When the opening lineup starts, look at the dugout. If you're rooting for the home team, the beginning of the game is a great time to get player photographs as they are running out onto the field. If not, take photographs during the middle of the inning. If you don't get the perfect photo, delete bad photographs during lull times and try later during the game.
8) Anticipate the Action: To take a picture of a swinging batter that will last a lifetime, remember, Preparation is the key.
First, before the game, know how to operate your digital camera. Practice focusing the camera and quickly deleting unused photos - sometimes you can delete an unwanted photo before it is completely saved to the camera's memory. Read your digital camera's manual and understand its settings. In the blink of an eye you may need to adjust your aperture, shutter speed, contrast, or brightness in anticipation of a great photo moment. Fumbling through unfamiliar menus wastes valuable time while the perfect photo opportunity comes and goes.
Before the pitch, focus your viewfinder on the batter's box and try not to cut out any of the batter's body. Zoom in as appropriate, but remember the more you zoom in, the slower the potential shutter speed needed to take a clear photo.
Anticipate shutter lag. Lock your focus before the pitch; this usually is done by pressing the shutter button down half-way.
Time it... time it... then as soon as the ball is about to hit the bat, press down fully on the shutter button.
Cancel/Save: If the pitch is a strike or the swing is not one to be remembered, cancel the save so your picture is not written to memory. This way, you can save room for other photos.
See Malek Tip: Anticipate Shutter Lag
9) Look around for photo opportunities not directly related to the action. Take a photograph of the grounds crew cleaning the bases and raking the dirt between innings. Get a few shots of the crowd. Take a picture of the scoreboard. Look at the surrounding area. If you want to remember the full experience of a baseball game years from now, you should take advantage of one of the best features of a digital camera - the ability to take lots and lots of photographs - and shoot photographs showcasing the FULL baseball experience.
See Malek Tip: Look for the Unexpected
See Malek Tip: Don't Forget the Fans
10) Take a break during the game! You came to the baseball game to enjoy the spectacle, not just to take pictures, right? Designate a few innings as photo-free time where you just sit back, munch on a hot dog, drink a soda, and soak in the environment.
Remember to study your digital camera manual first and practice, practice, practice! Follow these ten tips and you'll be on your way to taking "home run" baseball photographs in no time.
Copyright 2005 Andrew Malek.
Andrew Malek is the owner of the MalekTips computer and technology help site at http://malektips.com/. Want more great tips on buying and using digital cameras? Visit http://malektips.com/camera/ for more free digital photography advice.
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