McCovey Cove Outside of AT&T Park

Back in 2013 I was lucky enough to finally get to visit AT&T Park. It was on my list of parks that I have to visit. At the end of May I was finally able to get out to San Francisco to see what I had been missing. Due to a poor airline experience I only had a few waking hours in town. I spent some of the time touring around my hotel, hopped in a cab to see the Giants play, and then hit the bed so that I could get up early to watch the sun rise over the Golden Gate Bridge. I only had a few hours in San Francisco, but it is one of the trips that I remember the most. It was pretty cool. Part of what made it cool was seeing the Giants stadium. It is very well done, and in a great place. Here across the channel from the stadium is a statue of Giants hall of famer Willie McCovey. I have posted a shot of him before from a different angle, but this one was an angle that I really liked as well. For some reason it has taken me over four years to post the shot. It finally makes the blog though.

A Powerful Combination

This photo as well as yesterday’s photo were both made with my Canon 60D and my Canon 24-70mm lens. The Canon 60D was the start of this whole venture into photography for real. I got it in September of 2011, and I have not looked back since. Because of that camera this blog was started, as well as everything that has come since then. I have made some of my most ‘famous’ images with it. In fact this weekend I just sold another wall size image made with the 60D. It is funny how I am always worried about sensor size and megapixels now, but that 60D did the trick with less than I have now. I need to keep that in mind at times. The 24-70mm lens was at the time very new to me. I had just picked it up from a photographer friend who helped me out a lot early on. It was my main lens at the time. I made a lot of images with those two lenses. The 24-70 was my second ‘L’ series lens, but the gateway to getting many more in a short period of time. My 24-105mm lens has pretty much kicked the 24-70mm out of the bag. I love the extra reach I get with it as well as the reduction in weight. When basketball season comes around again though I need to get the 24-70 back out.

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Spending a Morning in San Francisco

In 2013 I made a much needed trip to San Francisco at the end of May. It was a crazy month for me so a morning being creative around the Golden Gate Bridge was just what I needed. As I was exploring my surroundings before the sun came up I noticed this great scene in front of me. The moon setting over the bay was a perfect way to start the day. This was a photo that I never really knew what to do with. I liked it, but something was just missing from it. Back then I pushed the clarity slider on everything no matter what it was. It really did not work much for this photo so it never saw the light of day. It was only about four years later that I realized that going the other way with the clarity slider was what I needed to do here. That made it just a little more like a painting which is what I thought that I was looking at on the scene that day.

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

A photo like this one is a great example of why you need to get out of your comfort zone. I tend to edit my photos very much the same way. This past year I have started experimenting a bit. That does not always make for a great photo, but it does give me new ways to express myself. By getting out of my comfort zone here I was able to create something that I really like.

A Golden Morning at the Golden Gate Bridge

Still to this day one of the best morning shoots I have ever been on was my morning at the Golden Gate Bridge. Part of that reason is that on the West Coast you can look like a hero getting up super early when it is really like 8:00 in the morning your time. My mornings in Ocean City feel like they are early in the morning. This one did not. Another reason is the amazing views I had that morning. This view of the city of San Francisco with the Golden Gate bridge in the foreground is fantastic. I could just sit and watch this all day in person. At the time I was just happy to be using my Canon 60D with my brand new Canon 24-70mm lens. It just could not get much better than that morning.

Growing As A Photographer

When I made this image I was in my heavy HDR phase. No shadows or haze in my photos. At the time I loved it, but as most photographers do you grow and find a style that is yours. What makes the photo above is the fact that shadow and haze play a part in it. In a two dimensional medium the haze helps convert the depth of the photo. I like to visit new places and see new things, but occasionally I want to go back and visit old photos again. This is one I would love to revisit.

Pitchers and Catchers Report Today

I am a huge White Sox fan, and excited to see that spring training is starting today. It will most likely be a while before I shoot any baseball,  but it is nice to know that someone is. This is the first year in a long time when I don’t know what I will be doing during baseball season. I have some games on the schedule, but for the most part I am on my own to start the year. Looking back at some of my Major League stuff I realized that I did not attend a Major League game last year. Many things got in the way of that, but with a schedule in June that looks a little better right now I need to make a few Sox games. As the winter moves on I find myself watching more and more old baseball or the MLB Network just to get a fix until the season starts. Until the season does start though I will just have to go through my older photos for a while.

Tim Lincecum Pitches Under the Full Moon

It is at this time of year that I really want baseball to come back as soon as possible. I like the winter and making photos in the snow. I like that I get to photograph bald eagles in the winter. I also really like photographing baseball on a warm summer night. In the photo above it is not quite summer yet, but it was a beautiful night to watch a baseball game. I only had a few hours to spend in San Francisco thanks to a problem with our flight out there. I had my ticket to the game purchased already, and the pitcher that I would have liked to photograph was on the mound. Tim Lincecum has a great motion that looks amazing from a few angles. Everything was working in my favor. With no clouds the sunset was a bust, but a full moon rising over the stadium made up for that. As the moon came up I was in the upper deck making some blue hour photos of the stadium. I came back down to my seat just in time for the moon to rise up over the action down there. It was a night when everything seemed to be working in my favor. I had a blast photographing at AT&T Park. I would really like to do it again sometime.

Back in 2013

Life was so much simpler in 2013 as far as photography goes for me. I only had the one camera. The Canon 60D. Had I gone on this trip this year I would have agonized over what camera to take. I probably would have found a way to take two. In 2013 the choice was easy. I only had the 60D so that is what I took. As far as lenses go that was an easy choice too. I had the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 with a 1.4x extender that I could put on it. I had a Tamron 10-20mm lens that I would use for my wide angle photos. I had also just picked up the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens from my friend Andy who now lives in the bay area. At the time I really wanted the Canon 24-105mm f/4 for trips. On my crop frame body I don’t know how good that 24-105 would have been. I of course own it now, and it is a great travel lens. You get a wide range in one lens. It is fun going through these older photos because you can put yourself back in that time. Everything was new and fresh. I was really doing it! The good news is that I still get that feeling today. I love what I do, and it amazes me all of the time that people pay me to do it.

A Great Meeting

Five years ago today I was walking into the Lafayette Brewing Company, and I saw a woman walking in as well. I held the door for her to go inside, and things have never been the same since. That woman would become my wife, and the best thing that ever happened to me. Since that time they have really changed the look of the Brew Pub. A lot has changed in these past five years, but I still hold the door for her every time that we go there. Sometimes I even use the cheesy line I did that night again. Not every meal can change your life, but this one did.

Lori’s Diner

When I visited San Francisco in 2013 I did not have much time to walk around. I stayed close to the hotel because I had to leave soon to get to a game. I did find this diner with my wife’s name on it, and as a bonus the name was even spelled right! At the time I was very into HDR photography so I didn’t think much of the photo. It was nice for me personally, but I didn’t know what to do with it. With a little time on my side I found a way to display this photo in a way that I was comfortable showing it to the world.

 

I Left My San Francisco Heart Pictures on the Hard Drive

When I was in San Francisco a few years ago I was all about HDR. Everything had to be that no contrast crazy HDR look. At the time these heart pictures from around Union Square did not fit that mold. As I was going back through some of those files though I found that I really liked the photos. The low sun really made for a unique photo here. It is amazing just how far I have come as a photographer in that short period of time. This would have been a throw away at the time, and now it is a photo that I like enough to publish on here.

The Canon 24-70 f/2.8

This is a lens that at the time was a game changer for me.  I bought the lens from my friend Andy who now lives in the Bay Area. At the time I was still using my kit 18-135mm lens that at 135mm was a f/5.6 aperture. The 24-70 allowed me to shoot in the darker arenas that I would encounter over the course of the next few years. After using the 24-105 I started to shy away from the 24-70 to gain the extra 35mm. Looking through some of my older pictures I think that I need to get the 24-70 back out.

Ten Tips To Make Better Photos at Your Next Major League Baseball Game

With the Major League teams getting ready to break camp and head north this might be a good time to look at how to make good images from your seat at a Major League game. So far this year I have made a couple of posts on how to photograph baseball better. I have posted 10 Tips For Making Better High School Baseball Photos, and 10 Tips For Better Baseball Photos. Those posts assume that you have some sort of access to the stadium though. Only a small amount of people have access to a Major League Stadium. The rest of us just have to make do with what we can from our seats. I have made pictures from my seat at Major League games for years now. I thought that I would put together a few tips on how to make images from your seat that will impress. This list is not exclusively for Major League Baseball, but any level that you do not have photo access to. Here are ten tips for making better photos from your MLB seat.

10. Choose your equipment wisely. When you are shooting from your seat you can’t use your 400mm lens even if you have one. You have to choose your equipment wisely to gain the most reach while intruding on your fellow fans the least. I like to use my 70-200mm lens on a crop frame body here. I also will throw on a 1.4x extender to gain a little extra. This is not the ideal scenario, but it really is what you can get into the stadium. Some stadiums have a policy on the length of the lens that you can take in. It is usually around six inches. The 70-200mm lens will not meet this requirement obviously. This is something that you need to research ahead of time. In this case I have a 75-300mm lens that was the second lens that I purchased a long time ago. I rarely use the lens now, but at times it can come in handy.

9. Shoot what is in front of you. With the equipment you can take into a Major League Stadium you typically will not have coverage of much of the field. You have to photograph what is in front of you. Baseball is a sport where you have time to anticipate the action. You can use that time to figure out where you think the action will be. Know the sport, and what you would like to photograph. When you buy your seat keep that in mind. If you want photographs of the right fielder then your seat should be in right field. Shooting across a baseball diamond will result in images that do not look as good.

8. Get to the Game Early. One way that you can make better pictures of your favorite athletes is to get to the game early. This is something that I like to do when I am getting paid, and it carries over to when I am at the action for fun as well. The athletes will be warming up, or taking batting practice, and will be closer to you this way. If they sign autographs they can be even closer to you giving you a dynamic shot. Here getting to the game early allowed me to make this photo of Carlos Sanchez signing autographs for the fans.

7. Shoot the Stadium Details. Each stadium has details that make it special. The little things around the park can really help you tell the story of your trip to the ballpark. In Chicago we have the statues and the scoreboard at U.S. Cellular Field and Wrigley Field. The ivy at Wrigley can make for a good photo. From the little things such as the aisle numbers on the seats to the large things like the ballpark itself. Establishing place is a great way to help propel your photo story.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Crop. As we have talked about earlier you will not be as close to the action as you need to be with the equipment you can take into the park. For most genres of photography cropping is something that you do because you were too lazy to get to where you needed to be. In sports photography it is a necessity. Cropping allows you to get closer to the action allowing the viewer to see a clearer image of what is going on.

5. Include the crowd. You are part of the crowd, but sometimes they can help tell the story of the game. If you are sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley Field the action will mostly be away from you. You will have a couple of chances for outfield plays, but the fans might be a better subject for your photo story. The fans can help convey the emotion of the situation better than anything else in your image. Use the closest thing to you to your advantage.

4. Choose your seat carefully. Sometimes you are given tickets to a game, and you cannot choose your seat. Other times you are the one buying the tickets so you can pick exactly where you want to be. Use that power to find the best position to make the photos that you have in mind. There are many services out there like SeatData that let you see the view from your exact seat. That helps a lot in deciding where you will make your images from. The pros will have assigned positions in the photo wells. You on the other hand will have the ability to choose what background your images will have. If your goal is a shot of a right handed pitcher, then a seat on the third base side of the field may be for you. The opposite holds true for a left handed pitcher. Sometimes you have to make compromises for players in the field. You can sit closer to them fielding, but you may be on the wrong side to capture them batting.

3. Get to know the usher in your section. During a 2012 trip to San Francisco I got to the park early as I usually do. I had a seat that I picked with the sole purpose of making images of Tim Lincecum the famed pitcher of the team. I wanted some shots from behind the plate, but that is not an easy place to get to. Talking to the usher I was able to create a scenario where I could do just that. I had one batter to make the images that I needed. Last season at Wrigley I wanted to make a photo of Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs. I made a similar arrangement where I was able to photograph Kyle from a good position for one at bat. It does not always work, but it does not hurt to ask.

2. Don’t forget to shoot wide. Often when you are concentrating on making great images of your favorite players you forget to shoot wide. You want to give your photos from the game a sense of place so pulling back to see more of the crowd, or just a wide shot of the stadium is a great way to do that. Some of my favorite photos from a late season Cubs game last year where the wide ones like the one above that show more of the action.

1. Have Fun! This is the most important tip while you are at the game. You are at a Major League Baseball game after all. Enjoy the experience. Your pictures will look much better if you are having fun making them. You will never be able to make the photos that the pros do from your seats. Trying to do that will drive you crazy. If you realize that you can make certain photos from your seat very well then you will have more fun, and enjoy the game more. You have more than likely paid good money to attend the game. You might as well have fun while you are there.

 

Photographing the Details of AT&T Park

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to spend a day in San Francisco to cross a couple of items off of the photography bucket list. One of them was to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge. The other was to visit AT&T Park. The park is not that old, but already a lot of history has been made in it. Before the game started I made a photo of this giant Coca-Cola bottle with the giant mitt. That photo has already been featured on this blog here. Once the light faded completely I made another photo of the scene with the fans all around. They along with the colors make this photo. The fan with the San Francisco Giant version of the Mickey Mouse ears really makes me stop to look at this photo. Last year was the first time in a long time that I did not visit a new baseball stadium during the year. I don’t have any plans yet, but with a freed up spring that will probably change.

Waiting Out the Weather

The last couple of days has been kind of torture for me. After being sick over the weekend the cold has kind of prevented me from getting out as of writing this. With a small child with me during the day I don’t want to risk something happening to her just to make a photo. I can think that this weekend I will be out and about though making some images.

Willie McCovey and His Cove

Most players who have had the career that Willie McCovey has had would be known simply by their first name in their city. Unfortunately for Mr. McCovey he followed a man named Willie Mays who may have been the best that ever was. For most he will always be the second Willie in San Francisco, but he is very important in his own right. I had some fun with some different ideas with his statue outside of AT&T Park. The sky was not very good, but I used that to my advantage. By overexposing a little I tried to give the appearance of a  white background. I like the finished result, and it is something unique to my trip out west in 2013.

Enjoying the Last Ounce of Baseball This Season

I have really enjoyed watching the World Series the past few days. I am super excited that it will go to a game seven. That means one more night of baseball until we have to sit through a winter. I like both of these clubs, but I really had no rooting interest in either the Giants or the Royals other than the Royals are in the American League Central. I had great experiences at both parks, and I would love to visit both again.