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What makes digital photography such an interesting hobby is that more people will want to see and appreciate your pictures if they include action. Many of those action-photo opportunities are to be found in sports, including the great American game of baseball. This three-part PhotographyTalk.com article presents many of the tips you should know before you take your camera to the old ballpark. Part 1 explains the professional photographer’s perspective, which is important to your understanding, while Part 2started to outline the six rules of baseball photography. Part 3 completes those rules.
Make sure the ball is visible in your photos.
Although including the ball in sports photos is a fundamental rule of the pros, there are occasions when you can create a great image without the ball. It’s unlikely you’ll take a picture with the ball on the bat or just leaving the bat, since it moves so fast, but you do want to include it when a player makes a terrific fielding play, during a close play at a base or an outfielder catching a pop fly. You especially when to include the ball if there is an error and the ball bounces off a player or is popped from a defender’s glove when a player slides into him.
Shoot at a faster ISO setting.
Since you are unlikely to have an expensive professional-grade telephoto lens to help you stop action, especially in the shadows, set your camera’s ISO to at least 400. You can also shoot at 800 and even 1,000 to 3,200. Although this often caused grainy images in the past, the science of digital photography has virtually eliminated this problem. Faster ISO settings can cause noise in a digital image, so it will take a bit of trial-and-error to find the best combination of ISO setting and shutter speed to stop action.
Tell the story with faces.
Baseball, like many sports, is filled with exciting and “broken-hearted” moments that cause players to react positively and negatively. The best sports photographers are always looking to capture the triumph and tragedy of the game in the faces of the players. Whether a player vehemently disagrees with the umpire about a called third strike or the manager runs onto the field to confront an umpire, and is then ejected from the game, these and many other moments are just as telling in the faces of the participants as the game action itself. Be ready for that walk-off home run or hit that wins the game in the bottom of the ninth inning for the home team. The entire team is waiting for the game-winning player to trot around the bases to home.
You can also tell the story of a baseball game in the faces of the fans. In fact, that could be a digital photography challenge for you: Attend a game and try to tell the entire game in facial reactions, inning by inning.
Anticipate the action.
One of the primary skills of an accomplished professional sports photographer is the ability to know in advance when and where a great action shot will occur. Of course, you must know the game of baseball well to pick those places and moments. When a player, who is known for stealing, has reached first base, then you want to be on the first-base side of the field to catch the action of the pitcher throwing to the first baseman to keep the runner close. With runners at second and third, the action is likely to happen at the plate if the batter makes a hit. When you’ve selected a potential location for action, you want the area already framed in your viewfinder and your camera focused and the correct exposure set before anything happens.
Be ready for surprises.
By developing anticipation skills, not only will you be ready to capture the shot you’ve imagined, but also any additional, unexpected action. Of course, if you’re using a digital camera with auto-focus and auto-exposure features, then all you have to do is frame the picture you think is coming. As every athlete and fan knows: anything can happen and often does, even at the highest levels of professional sports. The great sports photographers know this too, which is why their photos appear in magazines, on TV and the Internet, etc.
Digital photography of baseball action can be rewarding, but it takes some practice and patience and following the tips and techniques in this PhotographyTalk.com article.