Camera: NIKON D700
Exposure Setting: Manual (Pattern Metering)
Strobe Flash: Did Not Fire
Lens Focal Length: 200 mm
White Balance: Auto
I started out shooting the first inning of this game on the roof of Parkview Field. Not by choice, really, I just couldn't make it back down to the field in time after the A-10 Warthog flyover. I did make it as far as the gate to the field on the third base side, so I found a spot just behind third base and tucked in so as to not disturb any of the fans. It's not really a great angle for infield action, but for left field it's awesome. Of course, nothing happened out there.
Once the inning ended, I headed over to the first-base dugout, which is where I usually like to start shooting. It's just comfortable for me. I spent an inning there, but it was severely back-lit, which can make for nice photos, but I didn't have any of my daily stuff yet and I always like to experiment only after I get what I need for the paper. I knew I needed a shot of the pitcher, so I went behind home plate and shot that on my way to the third-base dugout.
When I got there, a Lansing player was on second base, so I grabbed my second camera body with a 70-200 mm lens and waited for a play at third. The batter hit, the runner went to third and rounded for home. Here it comes, a play at home plate, and here I am, with the wrong lens. The field was about two stops brighter than the plate, so I just cranked my shutter closed to what felt right and shot the catcher tagging out the runner which is the above shot.
Ideally, I would have wanted to shoot this with my 300 mm lens and a 1.4x teleconverter, (which brings it to 420 mm), to really compress the frame and drop out the background, but, such is documentary photography, right? After I looked at this frame, I initially thought I was out of position and wished I was on the first-base side to get the faces and maybe the ball in the glove. Thinking about it later, I'm pretty sure the umpire would have blocked my shot, and, being back-lit, I probably wouldn't have been in focus or properly exposed.
For games where the light is one exposure on home, another in the infield and another in the outfield, I like to keep my ISO on the high side with enough play so that I can easily crank my shutter speed up and down but never go below 1/1250th on the shutter at f/4 (with the teleconverter) or f/2.8-3.5 on my aperture setting. Shooting in Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority isn't really a good idea because, before you know it, you're stuck shooting a great moment at 1/60th of a second, which is too slow. Auto ISO is a great feature, if a camera has it, but on a day like Tuesday, where the uniforms are blazing white against dark skin tones, you really want to be in control of your exposure, so manual is the way to go.
- Swikar Patel, Photojournalist