My 21 Favorite Photos From The 2021 Lafayette Aviators Season
It seems like not that long ago that 2020 was here, and I had no baseball to photograph. That was hard. I was so ready to get going and the season was stopped the day before mine was to begin. This year I really wanted to get out and photograph as much baseball as I could. The local summer ball team is always a great time. In 2019 we had a tremendous time as a family at the games. We seemed to get to know all of the members of the flight crew and loved hanging out in the picnic area. This year the Aviators were in a new stadium. With that new stadium came a bigger dugout and the ability to make photos from it. Being a little closer to the players let me get to know some of the team a little more. With that in mind this was the most fun that I have had making photos of the Aviators. Below are 21 of my favorite photos from this past season. Well who am I kidding? The number is a little higher, but I will have 21 segments.
21. I made the top photo on opening night. I wanted to show a player coming out for introductions with the new stadium in the background. What I did not count on was the large amount of smoke coming from the flares the parachuting team had put just off the infield. It gave the photo a little haze that I liked. The photo just above this text was made just before the second to last game of the season. The sky was amazing and I was able to make a photo that I really liked.
20. One of the early games of the season I went up to the party deck to make some images as it was empty. I knew that I would eventually want different angles, and this was one for sure. When the Aviators make a big play they give some airplane wings back to the dugout.
19. This is another early season photo that shows how exciting this team was to watch. You have players just running around the bases. I love these type of photos where you can see the other baserunners. It tells you pretty quickly that this had to be a good inning.
18. Plays at second can be hard to capture. There are so many things that can get into your way at the last second. Here you have a future Purdue Boilermaker sliding into second base with a current Aviator applying the tag. The championship series was a fun one, and it really came down to these close plays in the end.
17. With it being the first season inside of Loeb Stadium I tried to show off some different angles of it over the course of the year. Baseball stadiums like this can be hard to capture at sunset. The angle you would most like to have a lot of the time would require you to be on the field. Here are a couple of angles from off the field that I liked this past year though.
16. It is always fun to make a photo of a fielder making the play. Sometimes you can sit on a player with a good hunch for a while, and it doesn’t pan out. Here I made the image right away which feels even better. That great feeling combined with a cool image get it on this countdown.
15. This season Jayson Newman did it all. He was a threat to go deep every time that he came to the plate. He was a force at the plate. He was also a good closer that could shut the door on the opponent. One thing that I didn’t know about Jayson was how much of a threat he was on the bases. Here he slides into second base safely on a steal attempt. He would also immediately steal third. If he had stolen home the fans inside of Loeb would have lost their minds. Late in the game I was panning and luckily grabbed a frame of Jayson sliding that I liked.
14. Here are a couple of plays at second base from the opening round of the playoffs for the Aviators. I love a close play. Baseball is such a great sport that makes sure that close plays are happening all of the time. Being down low in the Aviator dugout gave me a good vantage point to make a couple of interesting photos.
13. Here Nolan Lebamoff watches the play during blue hour. Nolan pitched a gem in the opening round of the championship series on the road. It was a great performance for sure. Valpo has a good arm heading their way.
12. Early in the season I found a good vantage point when the light was good. You can have the best sky in the world, but you need a little action as well. Here Trevor Johnson laces a hit which was a common occurrence this year.
11. The interactions with the fans help make summer ball what it is. The way the dugout is set up at Loeb makes that a little easier. Here you can see the adoring look in the eyes of the young fans as they listen to pitcher Jackson Dannelley.
10. For three straight nights centerfielder Allbry Major gave me three great slides at third base. The top photo was made on the first night. He put a little swim move on the third baseman to get in ahead of the tag. That combined with the late day light made for an image that I really liked. On the second night he came in feet first and made a nice move to avoid the tag yet again. On the third night he came in full Pete Rose style at full speed. Three nights, three very different slides based on the situation. When you have ballplayers on the team they make the photos easy.
9. This was a season saving play. A ball that went by the catcher had the potential to score the game winning run in the championship series. Jayson Newman who had already been the offensive star of the game was on the mound pitching. His quick thinking got him to the plate in a place where he could catch the ball and still block the plate. The play kept the game alive, and was a great moment.
8. Before the games the team would sign balls for the fans. These were always fun little moments where you could focus on the details. I did this purposely as it makes the photos a little timeless until the team changes jersey designs.
7. The first season at Loeb Stadium was a fun one. It started off with a great first high school game, and then saw the magical Aviators season. I tried to show it off a few different ways. I loved this little scene at the park.
6. This was another early season photo that I really liked. The team was caught up in the action at the plate as the sky was just lighting up.
5. Blue hour at Loeb Stadium is a special time. You have the orange lights on the stadium that play very well with the blue sky. I would pull back a bit during this time so that I could show the whole scene. This was my favorite of those photos.
4. Part of the fun of photographing the team this season was watching and listening to Jorge Oleaga. Here I tried to make a different photo of him. When the batters stepped out of the box I had my chance.
3. I had a great time playing around with the late day light. Below you can see how it helped when the players were front lit, and here you can see how great it made the photos when the sun was behind the players. While the photo may not make it on a poster or end up printed it is a very fun photo to make that really breaks up the gallery.
2. There were some cool plays at third base this season, but this one really stands out to me. The last light of the day really helped illuminate the pellets kicked up as Mike Snyder slide head first into third. It was just a cool action photo that worked out very well.
1. I picked this as my favorite photo of the season for a couple of reasons. The first is that it was a fun moment. A slam made sure that the Aviators would advance to the Prospect League finals. I went out of the dugout with the team and loved how Jayson Newman was hyped and so was the crowd. It was a little moment that was amazing to be in the stadium for. These are the little things that make photographing the Aviators so much fun.
If you know me or have followed this blog then you know that August 25th is a baseball holiday for me. A long time ago I saw my first major league game on this date and met my favorite player pregame. It was fun looking back at this amazing season for the Lafayette Aviators on that day. After having no baseball at all last year this year felt like one where the baseball Gods were making things up to me. This fun team having an amazing season was so much fun to be a very small part of. I can’t wait until the boys come back next summer.
These lists are so subjective. They are photos that mean something to me from the season. There are probably better photos, and the order could be completed different if I went through them again. A list like this though is a fun way to relive a great season. What was your favorite photo on the list?