So, here we are again. It's the Friday before a weekend where I feel like I should be creating a blog entry, but I didn't really feel inspired by anything in particular. So I decided just now to create a new series called Behind the Photo. First of all, if I'm going to be honest, I didn't just think of this.... I thought of it yesterday, but that's not important. So now when I'm inspired to do a blog post and don't have anything in particular I feel like writing about, I'm going to pick a photo or two that I really like, or has some special meaning, and I'm going talk about what went into creating that image. It may be once a month, or it may be once a week, but I'll try and keep these coming, because cause I know when I was learning photography, I wanted to get every bit of info from other photographers. I wanted to know why they made the choices they did and what went into creating their images. This will be my attempt at helping readers get into my head. Good luck in there.
So this entry's photo choice was a no-brainer as far as I'm concerned. Anybody who knows me knows I'm a really big Giants fan. I love those guys and last night was one of the most fun, exciting games I've ever seen. In the last inning the Giants won with a walk-off homer by the most unlikely of heroes, clinching the National League Championship and sending them off to Kansas City to face the Royals in the World Series. Since I'm still thinking about that game and the excitement is still coursing through my veins, I wanted to talk about one of my shots of the Giants from the game I went to in Milwaukee in August. Since Angel Pagan is out for the season and will miss the World Series, I thought I would choose one of the photos I have of him from that game.
So this is the photo. Angel Pagan taking his swing at the plate in the first inning of the game against the Brewers. In fact, this was actually the first batter of the game. There is a roof over this stadium and I didn't know how that would affect the light as the game went on, so I tried taking a lot of pictures right away, before they closed the roof and the light changed. First thing to notice is that this picture was taking with my Panasonic micro four thirds camera and not my Canon 5D. I was traveling with only a carry-on and frankly, i didn't know if they'd let me take a big camera into the game, so I thought it was safer to just bring this. It doesn't take as good of pictures, and it's much slower to shoot and to focus, but it's better than nothing and I couldn't risk my Canon 5D being not allowed into the stadium.
This photo was taken at 1/640 sec at f/5.6, ISO 1600 and I used a 45-200 lens at 78mm. Anything jump out at you? Yeah, me too. Why the heck would I use ISO 1600 for a shot outside? Well, good question, I'm glad you asked. You'll notice my aperture was wide open for the lens at 5.6. That was going to get me the most shallow depth of field and would let in the most light. For this shot I was mostly concerned about shutter speed, because I didn't want to bat to just be a blur as he swung. So, even though it was outside, we were in the shade and it really wasn't that light in the stadium. That ISO was required to get the shutter speed fast enough to freeze the bat. In fact, if you notice, the bat isn't tack sharp. I was trying to get a bit of movement, but I wanted a clear shot of the bat and not a bat-blur, which is a term I just made up.
Another suggestion when you're taking sports photos... take lots of pictures. It's hard to predict where the players are going to be, how fast they'll be moving, how long they'll be standing there, etc. So to remove as many variables as possible, take a lot of photos. You can always toss out the ones you don't want when you're done.
The above image is a perfect example of why you should take a lot of photos when you're shooting sporting events. This shot was literally taken 10 seconds before the above image. In this image, Pagan didn't swing at the ball and the catcher took longer to get into position so the photo is much less dramatic. Now, it's also cropped differently, but you can see that the image itself is totally different and doesn't have the movement or the emotion of the photo above it.
This image didn't take a lot of post processing and everything I did do was done in Lightroom. You can see the untouched photo below. The first thing I did, which is the first thing I always do is take down the highlights and open the shadows a bit. There wasn't many shadows to open, so I didn't do much with that slider. After doing that I bumped up the vibrance a bit and then it was almost all dodging and burning. After the dodging (lightening) and burning (darkening) and a little bit of noise reduction, I added a vignette to the whole image and that was about it. Voila, we're done!
So take lots of photos, decide what you want your photo to look like and make camera choices that will deliver those result and... most importantly... GO GIANTS!!!! Next week is gonna be exciting regardless of what happens, but at the end of the season, no matter what happens, I'll have a bunch of great photos of the Giants losing to the Brewers in Milwaukee. ;-)