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Friday, December 1, 2006

Home Field Training

Mentally prepare yourself to think like a pro adventure photographer

Let's go a little further with photographing a little league baseball game. We've already decided some of the photos we'd like to shoot. To photograph the game, you'll need a long lens; a 70-300mm or 70-400mm lens would work best. Just as in deciding the gear you choose on any adventure, you first determine the average distance from where your shooting position will be relative to the subject you're shooting. In a baseball game, the rules of the game restrict you from getting very close to the players. For this reason, you'll require a telephoto lens.

If you're shooting at a skateboard park, however, you can stand very close to the edge of the skateboard ramps and can therefore use an extremely wide lens, such as a full-frame fisheye, which captures a 180-degree field of view. With this lens in mind and your knowledge of how the sport is played, you now can determine your strategy in deciding where you'll position yourself to take photos.

Remember as you plan this out, you're essentially making the same decisions as you would if you were deciding strategy for shooting a rafting trip or a climbing expedition. You're anticipating the best place to position yourself to capture action. In determining your position, you should also consider the position of the sun to your subject. Frontlit or sidelit subjects will be better lighted than backlit subjects. If you do find yourself shooting into the sun with a large telephoto, be sure the lens has a lens hood; this helps to reduce lens flare on your photos.

When I shoot a game like baseball, besides the action at home plate, the pitcher's mound and first base, I'll also keep an eye on outfielders catching pop fly balls. I may move my position so I can shoot team players in the dugout watching the game and then move my position again so I can get a shot of a batter swinging at a pitched ball.

What determines the shots I make is based on the story I want to tell. Do I want to focus on just one player or do I want to shoot a bigger story, like a winning team with a star pitcher? If the playing field is immaculate, I might want to use a wider lens and capture the players on the playing field. If the game is tied in late innings, I might focus my lens on the stands to see if I can capture any tension in the crowd or focus on the coaches or players in the dugout.

This and other exercises teach you to determine in advance the cameras you might need as well as the strategy you'll employ to shoot your photos. With a little practice on your home turf, you mentally prepare yourself to think like a pro sports and adventure photographer.



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