Sports Photography

I have been a huge sports fan for nearly all my life. I guess I didn’t have much of a choice. My dad played football in high school for a team that won the championship in his junior year and then he went on to play semi-pro football. This high interest in sports was in my genes from the beginning and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I coached baseball and football for the past nine years, which I truly enjoyed. I learned a lot about the great game of baseball and tried passing my insights and love of the game to the players I coached. I also coached the middle school football team, which was a thrill for me.

Busy schedules and a desire to no longer be my son’s baseball coach, figuring it was time he learned from someone else besides dear old dad, led me to stop coaching. It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life and one I still have regrets about at times. But I found a way to keep myself involved in the world of sports by using my camera to try to capture the plays on the field. My coaching experiences allow me to anticipate where the action will most likely be taking place so I can be ready to capture the special moment. My favorite sports photographs can be viewed here. I hope you enjoy viewing these sports photos. Do you think I am successful at capturing the special moments on the field? Do my photos tell a story?

Baseball is our national pastime. Some may think it is a boring sport, but I do not agree. The action takes place in spurts but this is true in any sport. Baseball is the only game where the defense is in control of the “clock.” The pitcher holds the baseball in his hands, grips it in his glove, and waits for the sign from his catcher. Meanwhile, the infielders are getting ready to implement their prep step so they will be prepared for the exact moment the ball is put into play by the batter. In just this short amount of time, I can think of a variety of photographs that could be fun to capture: the pitcher taking the signs, the catcher giving the signs, an infielder blowing a bubble with his chewing gum as he gets ready, the third base coach giving the hitter his signs, or the umpire pointing to the pitcher to indicate now is the time to play ball!

The purpose of a photograph is to tell a story. Who is winning the game? Is the pitcher in a bind? Did the base runner successfully steal second base? Did the batter hit a 3-run dinger? What was the call of the umpire? Is the manger cool, calm, and collect; or is he pacing up and down the dugout or chirping at the umpire?

You see, baseball is a great sport to photograph. I also am learning that the background in a photo is crucial. Chain link fences, parking lots, and power lines can all distract greatly from an action photo. There are a few options that we have at our disposal as photographers who want to eliminate these distracting backgrounds from our photographs. First, we can utilize a shallow depth of field where just the main subject is in focus. Using a large aperture (low numbered f-stop) we can cause the background to be blurred in the photo. This works very well with backgrounds that are of the same color. Another option is to zoom in on the subject, thereby eliminating most of the extraneous and distracting backgrounds. Obviously a large and powerful lens is needed to make this possible. Many photographers simply do not get close enough to their subjects. They think they have to get each and every detail in the frame. You can, however, create some extremely interesting and amazing shots by zooming in even more than you think is normal. And the more you zoom in, the more you eliminate the possibility of a background ruining your photograph. The other option is to consider the background even before setting up to photograph a play. Is there a fence back there? Are parked cars in the background? Can you remove that house out in right field by moving down the line twenty feet?

I thoroughly enjoy sports photography. It keeps me involved in the games I enjoy and the challenge of attempting to capture the plays and emotions on the field is a thrill for me! I plan to keep learning how to be a better sports photographer and have several goals that I would like to accomplish before I am too old to click the shutter of my camera. I can’t wait for the next time I hear the umpire yell, “Play ball!”


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