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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Take me out to the ballgame

This time to Japan I got a chance to go to a game of the local professional baseball team - the Sapporo Nippon Ham Fighters. The Fighters had won their division the previous year and were considered one of the strongest teams around - until this season started!

They haven't had too good a year so far and this makes photography a bit of a game of cat and mouse. Why's that? Because everybody is fired up and cheering like crazy at the start of the game, but if the other team is scoring too many runs then fan morale, and photographic opportunities for happy supporters, tend to take a nose dive!

Being inside meant I had to put up my old ISO to 800 or so, which with my 70-200 f2.8 gave me a shutter speed of about 1/100 to 1/250th of a second.To avoid too much noise in your pictures the trick is to expose your histogram as far to the right as possible. That way your picture might be too bright for what you want but when you darken it down in post-processing your picture will look less noisy than if you try to brighten up a too dark picture.

I'll post some shots over the next few days to show you the range of stuff you can shoot from a sitting position in the stands. I find the trick for sporting events that you're not too familiar with is to go with die-hard fans. One of my wife's friends from her kindergarten days fit that maniac bill and I found myself surrounded by people who knew every player, every stat, and every other baseball loonie in the crowd. Meaning I often got the heads-up on things that were going to happen before they did.

I took this image of the crowd on the other side of the stadium with a telephoto lens. When I want to make a place look really crowded, or a crowd look really big, I always reach for the telephoto and try to get as far away from my subject as possible. I do this because the farther you get away the longer a lens you need to focus on people, and the longer the lens the more compression you get thus increasing that impression of a huge crowd. The trick with this image was to wait until the home side was batting, then everybody stands up and starts waving their big, pink, inflatable hands. The other trick is to shoot it early in the game because towards the end, if your team is losing, nobody stands up any more. In fact a lot of people go home meaning you miss the chance for big crowd shots.

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