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Swikar Patel - The Journal Gazette
TinCaps' catcher Autin Hedges (right) tags out Lansing's Gustavo Pierre at home plate in the third inning Tuesday night at Parkview Field.

Finding the Right Location, And Exposure Setting

Camera: NIKON D700

Shutter: 1/3200

Aperture: f/2.8

Exposure Setting: Manual (Pattern Metering)

ISO: 320

Strobe Flash: Did Not Fire

Lens Focal Length: 200 mm

White Balance: Auto

Shooter's Comments:

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

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