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Baseball Photos/Canon 70-200 L f2.8 IS

Rene Hebda , Jul 13, 2011; 04:48 p.m.

I am using the Canon 70-200 f2.8 for the first time to shoot baseball photos. I will be shooting in the bright Florida sun and will be battling some fences. I would appreciate any feedback on how to get the best shots (F-stop?, settings, etc) Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks!

Responses

Richard Snow , Jul 13, 2011; 05:34 p.m.

What type of fences are you going to be running into? Standard Chain Link? Backstop netting? Tight knit chain link?

Also, what level of baseball? PeeWee? Little League? Triple-A? Majors?

How far from the action will you be?

All of these will make a difference. If you've never shot baseball before, you'll be surprised how far away the outfielders are from the plate! 200mm from behind the home plate backstop isn't nearly long enough for a Triple-A or major league game.

A few more details will go a long way towards getting help.

RS

Rene Hebda , Jul 13, 2011; 06:32 p.m.

Richard,
It is for 10 year old little league. I have shot baseball before using just my 70-300 f5.6 lens. I am hoping with this new lens to get clearer, sharper photos. I move around a lot; behind the backstop to get pitcher, catcher and batters to first base and third base line for the fielding shots. Any input?

Richard Snow , Jul 13, 2011; 06:53 p.m.

Here's a few suggestions:

Wider apertures create shallower depth of field which blurs out fences and netting. It also allows for faster shutter speeds to stop motion, but you may already be able to do so with the bright Florida sun.

You will also have to remember that you do not have the reach of the 70-300mm...200mm is a much wider field of view than 300mm.

If you can shoot over the fences, (along the base lines) do it.

Baseball is a fairly static game with the most action at the pitcher, catcher, and batter. Generally ultra-fast AF is not needed for little league, but it can help when the ball is in play.

I'm not sure which camera body you are using, but continuous high speed shutter release (5-7 FPS) is usually necessary for catching the ball leaving the pitcher's hand or the batter hitting the ball. Making sure the camera is in focus is also important so Focus priority when shooting in continuous release is helpful, but it slows your FPS.

SEE HERE for a shot taken behind the backstop at Triple-A, Portland, Maine during one of Jacoby Ellsbury's rehab stints last year. If you'd like the EXIF data I can send it over to you. I shoot Nikon so not all of the settings will make sense, but most will.

RS

Randall Farhy , Jul 13, 2011; 07:20 p.m.

Rene, shoot at F2.8 or F4, with your lens hood locked on the chain link fence. You won't see any effect from the fence if the lens is centered on the opening and you'll be very surprised at how much movement this will allow. As richard notes, high frame rates help. The Idea is to anticipate the play and use a 2-4 frame burst to capture it. It takes practice. When behind the plate, you can work the Pitcher, First base, second base (steal plays)and third base quite easily. read the situation and anticipate where the action will unfold. If you're on the third base line, home plate becomes accesible, just be aware of the third base coach position as a play unfolds. I like to prefocus on the plate and wait for the play when it looks like one is coming home. HTH.

Tate Jackson , Jul 14, 2011; 12:13 a.m.

I just finished shooting my son's 9 year old little league team's season. All of the feedback you have gotten is spot on. The only thing I can add is ask the umpire if you can stand inside the fence along the base line. I was allowed to shoot 17 out of 18 games inside the fence. Also, don't be afraid to move beyond the first or third basemen. I have managed to get some pretty cool shots of close plays because I was standing along the baseline fence in the outfield shooting back towards the bases.
Be careful and look out for over thrown and foul balls. I got hit in the ankle, the ear and had a lens broken because I wasn't watching for the ball.
Good luck and have fun. Shooting "munchkin" baseball is a lot of fun.

Craig Shearman , Jul 14, 2011; 03:17 p.m.

You can shoot through a fence with the lens wide open as described above, but you're much better inside the fence. Just talk to the coaches and/or umpires. About 30 years ago I shot local high school baseball and adult softball for local papers quite a bit. Used a Mamiya 2 1/4 TLR, so fast frame rates and fast AF were not a factor -- you prefocused on whichever plate was going to have the action and you anticipated the peak of action to shoot at the right time. The most dependable action shot (after the pitching pitching and a hitter swinging) was at first base. These players were good enough that the runner and ball usually got to First close enough to both be in the same picture wether the runner was safe or out. When I shot my son's little league more recently, the kids at that age just aren't as fast and I rarely got a good first base shot because the kid was either safe several seconds ahead of the ball getting there or the the ball got there 10 seconds before the runner. In little league you need to shoot a lot more "safety" shots like the hitter swinging, pitcher pitching, infielders and outfielders in position with their gloves out and eyes watching for the ball.

Phil Falson , Jul 14, 2011; 09:11 p.m.

Hello Rene,
All the previous advice is very good.Are you shooting for personal use or for team, league etc. if personal your access will be limited. If for team,league etc., you may be granted dougout/field access. I shoot Youth sports part time and I am generally granted total access. . 10 yo baseball can be very slow and lack action. Pre-game warm up is great for getting some infield shots of players at each position,then try to shoot each batter, you should be threw the batting order by the 2nd or 3rd inning. after that focus for plays at the bases etc. Between innings dugout player coach interaction shots etc. Shoot the pitchers warm up throws from directly behind the backstop. Catchers then throw down to 2nd. My general settings are ISO 1000 f/4 and a shutter speed 1/1000+ I will use slower shutter speeds at time to show motion, continuos focus ,center spot focus point. 5fps. you can view my photos @ www.paf3photography.com if you have any question feel free to contact me.
Phil

William W , Jul 16, 2011; 01:47 a.m.

There is a switch which limits the AF compass of the lens.
This function might be new to you.
For Baseball and shooting as you describe, it will likely best serve you if you set the switch to: “2.5 - ∞”

WW

paulie smith , Jul 18, 2011; 03:47 p.m.

You should be able to do just fine with the lens you have no matter what body you use. Coming from shooting sports for news work in the film days and having to work with newspapers that had little budget for upscale bodies I have shot with older Nikon manual cameras and no motor drive.
It can be done, and done well. Look at older sports photo work. Some of it excellent in spite of no 8 frames per second. Learn to time your shutter release and when you do use a 2-4 shot burst you will be a bit better off as you will be starting ahead of the game.
Try some lower angles, shooting eye level or a bit below so you are looking into the kids faces and not down on them. Try isolating them against a constrasting background if possible. Field access, as mentioned is a real plus. With this age group you should be able to manage it. Nice to shoot kids games and not stuck in a photo well in Dodge Stadium - you can move around.
What will help most(my opinion only) is to be very critical in judging the images after you shoot. Not in camera but on the computer screen, enlarged and under close examination. Just before or just after the action? Learn to read the players signals as to when they are going to swing the bat. Watch the pitchers release point so you know when to shoot. Don't forget follow up shots in a burst to catch after the peak action euphoria, disappointment and reaction. Those are often better than the action shot everyone gets.
Good luck, good shooting and have fun.
Just remember the #1 rule in shooting baseball. Both Eyes Open. Always watch the ball. People get killed at baseball games every year. One moment chimping and you may take a line foul to the skull. Baseball is one of the most dangerous sports to shoot. Partly because it looks so easy and partly because of the split second timing between getting hit and missed by an errant ball. Players get hit and hurt... and they are ready and prepared for the action. Concentrate on the view through the lens and you will never see the ball that fractures your eye socket or drives he viewfinder into your eye. Always be award of where the ball is.

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