Part 3 of 4 of The 2012 San Francisco Giants World Series Championship Parade!! Coaches, Lou Seal, the Trophy and some weird shit that did not have anything to do with the parade!!

Hey folks!! I’m back yet again to share a few more images that I took from my vantage point along Market Street during the San Francisco Giant’s World Series Championship Parade. Last time I shared with you, I got through Muelens and Wotus. So, I will start off with the next guys up in the parade route, Roberto Kelly and Tim Flannery.

Tim Flannery is one hell of a third base coach! He is always animated, intense and knows this game of baseball like only the best of them do. Whether he’s just relaying signs or waving the Panda home on a tight call, Tim is hanging right there with the players and even runs alongside them all the way home. If you are lucky enough to get close enough seats, you can even hear Flannery scream out “DOWN!! DOWN!! DOWN!!!” as he’s running alongside the players when he needs them to slide home. Although Tim played almost all of his baseball career with the San Diego Padres, we are very pleased that Bochy was able to steal him away from the Padres when he was named Manager in 2007.

In 2008, when he joined the team, Roberto Kelly told all the starting pitchers that they would have no excuse for not being as good a base runner as any of the other position players. I’m sure that raised an eyebrow or two, but our pitchers have become some of the best base runners in the entire league. Roberto played a good deal of his baseball career here in the US after getting his start in his home country of Panama. Although he never played for the Giants, we are very happy to have him over as our first base coach. Earlier this year, Roberto was hospitalized for appendicitis and missed a number of games. The fans missed him and let him know with a huge round of applause when he was announced in the lineup for his first game back.

Hats off to you, gentlemen!!

Next up on the parade route brought us Billy Hayes and Joe Lefebvre. If you are ever fortunate enough to get good seats over by the home bullpen section, you’ll get to know and see Billy Hayes in action up close and personal. You may not recognize him as an every day coach or assistant, but he’s always there behind the mask and protective gear warming up the bullpen that has become such a phenom in the last few years. Joe is a different story since he is more behind the scenes and isn’t so prominent in front of the fans as the other guys are. Does that make his role as assistant hitting coach any less? Hell no!!

As the 2012 season was shaping up leading up and through the All-Star break, the Giants were almost resting their fate solely on one doping fool that shall remain nameless. The majority of the commentators and speculators wrote us off for any significant push into the post season, let alone remain as the sole standing team at the end of a World Series sweep. Did the team and coaching staff lower their heads and call it quits? Nope!! The entire coaching staff of the 2012 San Francisco Giants collectively stood up and told the doubters and haters “FUCK YOU!!”

You guys are tops in the game!!!

Next up were some of the special assistant coaches that were instrumental during the season. Most of these guys are past players for the Giants that are still very loved and prominent in the Giants community. Not only are most of these guys doing good in the clubhouse as mentors to some of the younger guys that could use the guidance of a true and tested veteran, but they are also in the community with very worthwhile causes.

First up with J.T. Snow and Shawon Dunston. J.T. Snow, as many of you know, was one of the best first basemen that has ever worn the Giants uniform. He will eternally be known to Giants fans as the saviour to little Darren Baker, son of coach Dusty Baker, with a grab and run play at home plate as Darren was making his way over to the play to pick up the bat lying there. As he round third base, JT knew of the danger that little Darren faced and was able to scoop him up as he crossed home plate and avoided a potential collision that might have cause serious injury to the then 3-year-old bat boy. MLB changed the rules for batboys requiring a 14-year-old minimum because of that instance.

Although I’m not too sure what JT was all excited about when I snapped this image, I can almost guarantee you that it had nothing to do with me or my beast of a camera. Regardless, I found it fitting to use this image of JT simply because of how much fun he was having during the moment and the fact that he is one of the most loved Giants figures still around.

Next to JT is Shawon Dunston. During his illustrious baseball career, Shawon jumped all around the league, landing with the Giants a few times here and there, but ending his career in 2002 wearing the orange and black. Shawon has been instrumental in working with our infield players throughout his tenure and imparting his knowledge on the young guys.

I can’t believe you’re so happy to see me, JT!!!

Last up on the special assistant coaches is none other that the GREAT Will “The Thrill” Clark. Working with the Giants front office staff, Will still makes time to visit with the players and impart the knowledge about the game that he accumulated throughout a spectacular career. How much more spectacular can you get than hitting a home run off of Nolan Ryan at your first major league at bat?!?!? Will always seems very enthusiastic and appreciative for all the love that Giants fans continue to show him to this day. Will is on the forefront of a great number of charities and community service fronts with the Giants, most notably his Autism Awareness campaign.

He was very animated as his car rolled by, which made him difficult to photograph, but I managed to sneak off a few pictures. The first is just of him clapping up and acknowledging all the fans hanging from out of their building windows that lined Market St. The second image I wanted to include just cause it has a comical side to Will that fits with the persona that he is known for. I can’t imagine what had him all worked up, but I will gladly accept the credit for being such an awesome photographer that he felt he had to single me out in the crowd. 🙂 Love you too, Will!!

Will The Thrill giving love to the cheap seats!!

No!!! You are the greatest, Will!!

Next up on the parade route was none other than our fabulous Lou Seal. I was happy to hear that the person behind our beloved mascot received recognition during the 2010 season and received a WS ring. I hope they acknowledge the work that this person does yet again to add to the collection. As a photographer, I am always focused in on Lou and all his shenanigans. Anytime I can get both Lou and Pablo Sandoval in the same frame together, it is guaranteed to make for good images as they are both very playful with each other. Lou Seal is all about fun and getting the crowd into the game and keeping the kids entertained. I can’t imagine a ballgame without Lou present, so I think that the moment is very well deserved, Lou!!

Soak it all in, Lou!! Get yourself an extra few salmon for dinner on me!!

Next up on the parade route was some shit that I could have done without, but nonetheless made for some colorful images, so I shot off a few. First up was a Chinese dragon and lion in a Chinese New Year style of parade regalia with music and dancing. What this had to do with the Giants winning the World Series is beyond me, but here are a few images to share.

Then came a Carnaval parade thing that REALLY had nothing to do with the Giants in the World Series. Yes, I know that the Giants sponsor certain nights during the season for heritage nights, but keep it out of my parade, please. Anyway, here is a very attractive and relatively naked dancer for you to look at.

When the confetti started to rain down, it could only mean one thing. THE GOODS ARE ON THE WAY!! Sure enough, the next person down the route was our famed manager Bruce Bochy holding the World Series trophy up over his head for all to see. Everyone knows what an awesome coach Bruce is, so I don’t need to go into all the detail as to how he has managed to take a group of “misfits” yet again and come up with a winning team. The man lost his closer early on in the season, never got back the 2nd baseman that he thought he would have in Freddie Sanchez, had key players going in and out of the DL and had to close every game of the season by committee. And with all the calm and patience of Job from the Bible, he did it in such a fashion that never let out any signs of emotion until that final out was recorded in Detroit. Bruce, you are the man and you have brought to this city what countless other managers have tried to do and haven’t been able to: 2 FREAKIN’ WORLD SERIES TROPHIES!!!

So, now let’s talk about the bobo that decided to put Bruce in a Rolls Royce convertible and how horrible of a decision that was. If you haven’t noticed from my images or the parade footage that was aired in the days following, Lexus shelled out almost all the cars featured with the coaches and players in order to showcase their new 2012 Lexus IS C convertible coupe. There were a number of vintage cars early on in the parade throughout the staff, ownership and supporting roles and their families. But, the creme de la creme of the ball players, coaches and the like was saved for Lexus. As many of you notice, the figures were seated above and behind the rear passenger seating area where they were essentially sitting on where the retractable roof hides in the chassis. Someone decided to give Bochy something special, but must not have taken into consideration the fact that on a Rolls, the top doesn’t tuck down into the chassis, but rests on the body of the car. This made it impossible for Bruce and his wife to sit where he could prominently be seen, which looks ridiculous. Why would you stick the most important man on the team in a car that he has to sit in the back seat and prop the trophy waaaay over his head just to be seen?? Not only that, but why wouldn’t someone bother to check that the gas tank was full before the start of the parade route?? Luckily, I was early on in the route, so I didn’t have to see Bruce getting pushed along by staff after his Rolls run out of gas….Stupid!!!

Hold it high, Captain!!!!

I will leave everyone today on that note. Tomorrow I will be sharing the images from the starting lineup. I trust everyone had a delicious and safe Thanksgiving Day Holiday. So, what was I thankful for, you ask??? How about having the best team in all of baseball for two out of the last three years!!

Watching the Fog Come and Go at Point Bonita Lighthouse

A few weekends ago, I got the chance to head out to Point Bonita Lighthouse in the Marin Headlands and take the camera along. Well, it wasn’t like I was going to go without it, cause that would just be plain silly.

I had been to Gasser’s the afternoon before and was able to make it before the cutoff for the 40% off deal. I ended up taking the Canon 28-70 f/2.8 L lens along with the Canon 200mm f/2.8 L telephoto lens. Where else could you have these two badass lenses for the entire weekend for about $40? Nowhere else but Gasser’s, folks!! Just don’t all of you go at once and ruin my awesome lens selection for when I show up, ok?!?!?!

The 28-70 is an awesome lens that has been discontinued after it was replaced by the updated 24-70 that gave it an extra 4 mm of wide-angle capability. Is 4mm that big a deal for landscape? You betcha!! But, being that I can live with taking a few extra steps back, as long as I’m not falling off a cliff in doing so, I can live with the 28-70 for a weekend. Let me tell you right now, falling off a cliff would not be pleasant…

I had been interested in the 200mm f/2.8 for some time now, but it was either usually out or I had another agenda that wouldn’t have worked well for that lens. There’s few instances where I would say that having a 200mm telephoto fixed lens would work well. In the case where you were at a ballgame with a little distance from the action, 200mm might just be perfect. So, what would you reach for first? That’s right!! A Canon 70-200 f/2.8 zoom lens, which is a classic for short telephoto sports work, especially night photography. So, where does the 200mm prime fit? Delicious question!! The 200mm fixed telephoto is right at the end of the range of the 70-200 while still giving you a large aperture of f/2.8 along with giving you a slightly sharper image by being a fixed prime. While the 70-200 has to be one of the sharpest zoom lenses in all of Canon’s lineup, it just can’t beat the image quality of a fixed lens.

So, that was my rental arsenal, but even better than that, I decided to walk over by the retail side of Gasser’s store and took a peek at the used Pentax M42 screw thread lenses. Among the bunch, I noticed a Yashica 28mm f/2.8 fixed lens that looked to be in super sweet condition. Why would I want that for my Canon EOS system? Well, I’ve been messing around with manual focus lenses and have found the old Pentax M42 screw thread lenses to be a great source of good quality lenses to satisfy my manual focus needs with my autofocus camera. With a little adapter plate that acts as a thread to EOS adapter along with correctly spacing the lens away from the sensor for correct infinity focus, all the M42 lenses work great.

Along that Pentax system didn’t see a good number of decent zoom lenses, the number of fixed prime lenses that were manufactured for that system is rather extensive. And for $39, it was a steal!!!

So, I arrived to Point Bonita Lighthouse with a packed arsenal of just about every focal range I could want. I had my Tokina 100-300mm f/4.0 for the long stuff, the Canon 200mm f/2.8, the Canon 28-70mm f/2.8 and the Yashica 28mm f/2.8. Damn, the bag was heavy!!

Point Bonita Lighthouse recently opened back up to public access in May after an almost two-year hiatus while the suspension bridge to the lighthouse was rebuilt. As the story goes, the lighthouse was originally place on the large cliff side that stands behind the area where the lighthouse currently sits today. Unfortunately, a few ships saw their end due to the lighthouse being too high up and the light not being able to penetrate through the thick Marin County fog. It was then moved to its current location where it is more visible to passerby ships. When it was originally moved, there was a walkable path to the lighthouse that eroded over time, leaving the lighthouse on an isolated patch of earth. It was then decided to create a suspension bridge that would connect the two masses that had not eroded, and this bridge stood proud for many decades. But with the weather as temperamental in that area, the bridge was deemed unsafe for passage a few years back.

Parks and Recreation closed the pathway to the Lighthouse while the bridge was recreated. The replica that we see today is reminiscent of the originally designed suspension bridge with all the modern-day security features that we would expect from a Parks and Recreation facility that sees a good amount of traffic each weekend.

So, what do you need to know when visiting the Point Bonita Lighthouse? First tip is to wear layers!! When we arrived shortly after 1PM, the fog was thick and moist. It was cold and windy, so a heavy coat and some time of head-gear to keep you warm was almost a necessity if you planned on being out there for any length of time. By the time we had decided to leave almost an hour and half later, the fog had receded and the heavy coat was no longer necessary. The second tip is to wear comfortable shoes. The parking lot suggested for the lighthouse is almost a half mile away from the actual doorway that leads you to the lighthouse. The walkway isn’t dangerous for the most part, but I wouldn’t wear any shoes that don’t offer good grip or are comfortable enough to walk in for an extended period of time. And finally, plan your trip ahead of time since the lighthouse is only open on Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 12PM to 3PM. Yuuuup!!! You heard right!! It’s only open for a three-hour period on those three days of the week. Any other time or day of the week, it would be a waste of your time to make it out there since the doorway that they close before the tunnel that gives access to the lighthouse will not allow for ANY time of vista from that angle.

Ok, enough for tonight. Have a great night, folks!!


Architecture Tour Along The Chicago Riverfront is A MUST DO!!!

Ok, folks, I’ve been promising it for a few days now, so I finally did it. I went through the almost 400 images I shot while on the architecture tour along the Chicago riverfront and picked the best of the best to share with you. There were so many great shots, but after a while of looking at shot after shot of buildings, it was getting quite difficult to pick and choose. I think the ones I have are good, but by no means should you assume that this is the only thing you see on the ride. So, before I go into the shots themselves, let me tell you a little about the tour.

The architecture tour along the Chicago rivers is given by about three or four different tour companies that have all set up shop at Chicago’s Navy Pier. There’s a Navy Pier in every major town. In Miami it’s called Bayside. Here in San Francisco it’s called Pier 39. In Baltimore, it was the Inner Harbor. It’s a tourist trap place with plenty to ooh and ahh yourself with while making a great ploy for your to shell out a bunch of money. But, I will give Navy Pier it’s props simply because it houses the companies that give the architecture tour.

Not all of the companies follow the same route, and I couldn’t even tell you the name of the one that I took, but you want to ask for the one that goes all the way down to the Montgomery Ward building. If you ask the question and the attendant eager to take your money doesn’t know if they do, you probably aren’t at the right one.  Because the tour takes place along the river, go away from the boardwalk along Navy Pier and walk towards a the Bob Newhart sculpture. Once there, you’ll see a little kiosk right along the river, that’s the one you want.

I have taken a fair number of water and land tours. There have been the really lame (like the duck tour in just about every city I’ve taken it) and there have been the really awesome ones. This tour was the 2nd best tour I have EVER been on!!! I am not exaggerating on this one. Which one was the best, you ask? The nighttime graveyard tour in Boston takes the cake by a mile. That’s a bus driven tour guide through Boston’s oldest and most famous graveyards along with a few stops of the grim and gruesome that has happened during that town’s history. All this, while being entertained by the tour guides, who are in ghoulish disguise and playing the part of deceased Bostonians recanting tales from their time. That was BADASS!!

Back to the Architecture Tour….

There are several rivers in the Chicago area that come to all meet in the heart of the city. The tour takes place through all three rivers and takes up all of about an hour and a half. It’s a flat ferry style craft with plenty of wooden park benches to give each and every seat the same great view. The tour was given by a very knowledgeable and excited tour guide. He must have talked the whole hour and a half, and at times, almost sounded like an auctioneer with how fast he was going. I caught everything he was saying, so don’t worry about not being able to follow along. If English isn’t your first language, I would say that you would probably catch less than half of what was being said, but you would still get the beautiful vistas all the same. So, don’t fret.

Aside from being a comfortable experience, the boat was equipped with bathrooms and a full service bar in the back. They did have some snacks as well, but I wouldn’t expect them to have much more than candy bars and potato chips. My suggestion would be to eat before or after the tour. Unless you’re like my father-in-law, who thought at one time that a square meal consisted of ice cream and a Pepsi, you wouldn’t be able to get any better on board the vessel. Navy Pier has plenty of eateries to temp your cravings for that day…

The vessel has room for about 150, I would say. There was maybe 50 people on board, so I had room to spread out. Being that I brought with me the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 that I had rented from, I also decided to take out my Tokina 100-300mm f/4.0 and set it alongside me just in case I wanted to change lenses at a moment’s notice. It turned out to be not that bad, since I quickly figured out that we’d be seeing the same views coming back. So, I left the Tamron on the camera until we got to the turning point, then switched over to the Tokina for a different viewpoint for the remainder of the ride.

The tour guide not only gives you the history on how Chicago was settled, but all the marvels and feats that were accomplished in order to keep from polluting Lake Michigan at the expense of St. Louis. My particular tour guide was very well versed with the great Chicago architects and the visions they had for each of their buildings that we saw during the tour. Ever major building in the Chicago skyline touches the river front, except for my favorite John Hancock. Knowing this, I scheduled a separate trip to see the Hancock building for the next day, which I shared with you last week.

Please be sure to tip your tour guide if you feel that they did a great job. You don’t want to be on the tour right after the stingy folks got off and the tour guide is pissy…

The William Bourn Estate at Filoli Gardens in Woodside

Hello, everyone. I’m back from a two night escapade!! I got caught up working on a few things in the garage the night before last, but unfortunately, I can only say for last night is that I was tired and headed off to bed instead of typing out a new posting. I love sharing posts with you guys, but sometimes you just need some sleep. I had all intentions to post something new, since I worked up all the images that I wanted to share with you. But instead of just dropping the photos without really writing about them, I decided to sleep on it and post them today.

I know I said that I would post some of the images taken on the architecture tour in Chicago, but there are just too damn many photos. I probably took as many photos on that boat tour as I do when I go to a Giants game with the camera. So, I am hoping to have some time this weekend to go through them and post the last of my images from my Chicago trip. Stay tuned!!

Today’s posting takes us back to Filoli Gardens in Woodside, CA. I shared with you some macro images that I took of some honeybees that I found doing their thing. I do plan on sharing many images from each one of the gardens, but I think I will start with the residence on the property that was built by William Bourn just after moving away from San Francisco after the great earthquake of 1906. Many well-to-do that lost their homes after the earthquake or fire that consumed the rest of the city afterwards packed up what they had left and moved south into the Peninsula. Thanks to this decision, we have today many beautiful mansions from that period ranging anywhere from Burlingame south through San Jose.

When William Bourn moved south, he set his eyes on Woodside and purchased nearly 700 acres on which to build his estate. The Bourn’s lived the property until their passing in the 1930’s. The property was purchased by the Roth family, who owned it until the mid-1970’s. It was at their passing that the property was donated and is now in the stewardship of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

My favorite part of the entire visit was the Bourn Estate. Although we are only allowed to view the lower level of the estate, which is about 15 rooms, the entire main structure has 43 rooms. Although I am certain that the estate was decorated in a more modern style when the property was donated, the decor has been restored to its original state under the Bourns.

All of the flower arrangements on display through the home have been put together with the estate’s own gardens. The everyday homey touches have been left undisturbed so as to give the impression that the family may return home at any moment now. Although there are quite a few roped off room and the furniture is set up so as not to entice a comfortable sit down with your party, the estate does not give off a museum vibe, even though it is. Many of the objects on display in the home are probably one of a kinds or priceless, but they are under the careful supervision of many volunteers that keep the place running.

I toured the estate mainly with the Canon 24-105mm IS f/4.0 L lens, although there are a few images taken with my Tokina 100-300mm. The Image Stabilization on the lens was very helpful in photographing a number of rooms, as the lighting was rather poor. The rooms with the warm wood paneling, although extremely beautiful, do not lend a hand to refract outside light around the room for better viewing. Obviously, to the human eye, there was enough light. But to a camera, the lighting sucked; therefore, the IS was able to give (or forgive) a little due to my handheld movements.

My favorite room by far was the library. Everything from the wood paneling to the choice of the books on display left me in awe. That’s what I want my library to look like as soon as this blog goes viral worldwide. People will more than likely start throwing money my way, so I’ll have to purchase a huge mansion of my own with a library. Obviously, I’d have to replicate this fabulous library, while still adding my own touches of badass-ery!! Hey, if I’m gonna dream, why not dream big, right???

When I was walking the rooms with my camera in my hand, I was always being critical towards what the purpose of the image would be. Sure, its real simple to walk in and snap away, but that just ends you up with a series of images that are dull and lack interest since it’s just a room. In all of these images I made sure to find an object that I was in love with before composing the image.

For example, the first image of the porch light was taken just before walking into the home. I took about four images, all of different angles. Why? Well, cause my camera only has a 2.5 inch display on the back which doesn’t always help in viewing the image just shot correctly. So, I hope for the best and cross my fingers as I download the images. So, why did I choose this one? I am a sucker for shallow depth of field. In non-camera geek terms, this means that I am telling the camera that I want a small focal point and have the image blurred in front and behind the focus point that I have chosen. Because the focal point of the image is the underside of the fixture and the point is towards the bottom half of the image, there is not much to be out of focus underneath it. But, if you notice the upper half of the image, the fixture becomes more and more out of focus as it goes up. The architectural touches to the underside of the porch are even more out of focus since it’s further away than the light fixture.

I do this again on the image with the red rose vase and the horse statue in the back. I actually took this image with the focal point being the vase and again with the focal point being the horse statue. Why did I choose the vase? Simple. Our brains work in a way that we view images in a certain pattern even though we may not be conscious of doing so. All landscape images are viewed left to right and all portrait images are viewed top to bottom.

We read left to right, so as your eye goes over the image, you first notice the roses being in focus and later scan to the right to notice the horse statue out of focus. At the moment I took the images, I automatically assumed that I would prefer the horse statue being in focus, but I was wrong. Once I got home and looked at the two, I could feel that the horse being in focus threw the image off. If I had shot this image with a wider depth of field so that both the vase and the horse were in focus, this rule would still hold true. The only difference would be that your eyes would just settle on the object that YOU found more interesting. If you were a horse lover, it might have been the horse. If you were a flower lover, you might look at the roses.

Anyway, that’s my take on it. I loved the experience, and I will be returning to Filoli soon enough. Enjoy!!!

Watching the White Sox vs Blue Jays From Badass Seats at U.S. Cellular Park 6/6/12

While out in Chicago, I suggested to a customer that I would have to be meeting with anyway, that we have our meeting during a baseball game. With him being a Cubs fan, we obviously tried to set something up at Wrigley. Unfortunately, the Cubbies were away all week-long, but luckily the White Sox were in town and would be playing the Toronto Blue Jays. Since neither of us are vested in either team, there would be no heartfelt rooting and we would actually be able to talk shop from time to time. This buddy of mine, and I do mean that and don’t consider all our customers friends, came through in a huge way when it came to the seats we had.

I can’t remember the actual section or row number, but we were in prime foul territory on the field level where you wouldn’t want to take your eye off the game for fear of losing your head. I was six rows up from the visiting dugout and have never been this close to home plate at ANY stadium. With my Tokina, I felt like I was down on the field, I was so close to the action.

It was a given that I’d bring the camera, and my buddy knew that. Although I did photograph a bit of the game, I wasn’t about to be an asshole and ignore him completely. So, I didn’t come back with as many pictures as I would have had it been a game I attended alone. Not to fret, everyone, I think I still managed to snap off a few good frames while still holding court with my buddy and his boss that came along.

The only person of interest on my part was playing for the Blue Jays. The San Francisco Giants had Rajai Davis on our team about three years ago. He was a good hitter with demon-like speed, but for one reason or another, we let him go. He ended up going across the bay to the Oakland A’s for a season or two before my losing track of him. Now I know where he went, eh!!

The game was played well, and the Blue Jays would leave victorious. The one story I will share briefly was of the fan that almost lost his head with a foul ball two sections over from us. He must have timed his decision to get up for a refreshment just right cause as the ball flew off the batter’s bat and went straight for his head, it only managed to ricochet off the top of his head. It was unbelievable how fast it got there and how much deflection was actually seen from his head on. The funny part of the story was that all he heard was the whizzing by his head and was touching the top of his head and looking straight up as if a bird had just shit on his head!!! I shit you not!!

He stood there for a few seconds wiping the top of his head and looking for the shit stain on his palm and looking up at the sky while everyone around him in the stadium was checking on him to make sure he was ok. He was totally clueless to the foul ball that almost landed him in the hospital…

He went up to the concession aisle and came back double fisting some beers.

The Championship Game That Wouldn’t Be Had and The Kickass Cookout/Potluck That Did

The two topics that I won’t discuss here on my blog are religion and politics. There’s plenty of other venues for that kind of stuff, and I just can’t find a place for it in a photo blog. But, with that said, I’m sure we can all agree that there wouldn’t be politics without drama and bullshit surrounding it. If not, there would be a whole lot of paparazzi type photographers that follow the hot politicians around left without a job. PNLL is no exception. The championship game that was scheduled to take place today did not happen. However, the awesome cookout and potluck that was scheduled for after the game did.

Whereas I thought that I would just share a couple of my favorite pics from the cookout without any clear direction other than to share them, it occurred to me to share a few pointers that I employ to get the candid and up close shots that I love to come home with, in case there are others that are interested out there. I came packing with my Canon 1D Mark II N and my Tokina 100-300mm f/4.0 lens, but don’t for one second think that if you don’t have a fancyass setup like mine, you couldn’t possibly take these same images. The best news is that you can!!

Whether you have a all-in-one ultra zoom camera like the 30X to 35X zoom cameras that Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony and a couple of others have on the market now, or you have an interchangeable lens system with a DSLR, there a just a few things that you have to keep in mind when taking these images.

1. Be sure to give your subject some distance. Most subjects, whether they like to be photographed or not, are aware if you are standing close to them when the camera is pointed at them. The best advice I can give you is to get comfortable with the long end of the zoom and get as far away from your subject as possible to avoid detection. You can get some great candid shots when they don’t expect to be photographed, as I have done below.

2. Place your camera in the burst mode setting, if available. Candid shots happen once and that’s all folks. How do you capture them? Well, if your camera has a burst mode function that shoots a series of photos in a short duration of time, setting the camera to that function will allow you to capture the precise moment you are looking for. Some of the ultra-zooms have a burst function that will give you up to 10 fps for 10 images prior to having to buffer and delay taking additional photos. Just be aware of what the limitations are in your particular camera model in regard to the burst mode so that you don’t end up with a bunch of images just before the ones you really wanted to take. Buffering is bad!!! If you don’t have that function on your camera, be ready to shoot as many photos as your camera setup will allow.

3. Don’t be afraid to get in close with your zoom.  Although body shots are great, sometimes you get more of a portrait look if you zoom in on the subject’s torso or head. You don’t want to get in too close that it’s creepy, but you’ll have to play with this in order to gain comfort in how to employ this. In these particular shots, I shot all over the place, from 100mm to about 250mm. At all times, I was almost ten to twenty feet away from my subject.

4. If shooting a group of people, don’t focus on one subject too long. If you are photographing a group of kids (as I was in this example), I always try to keep in mind not to focus too much attention on one kid in particular, even if it’s your own. Kids are funny when they interact with each other and are constantly saying things to make each other laugh. Groups of kids messing around with each other will always yield great photos of them having a great time.

5. People laughing or smiling make great images. Although there is a time and place for serious portraits, family gatherings aren’t one of them. It’s actually a pretty creepy to see family gathering photos with a lot of serious people. So, try to point the camera at the folks having great conversation and laughing it up. If everyone had a great time, you’ll look back at the images years down the road and remember the great time that was had.

6. Speeches or presentations make for great shots as well. Don’t forget to include your host or hosts in the photo session, especially if there is some type of recognition being given. A trophy, diploma or simply a pat in the back can be a great memento to record for both the person giving the praise and the person receiving it. Everyone loves a pat on the back!!

7. When photographing outdoors, always be aware of the location of the sun. Any camera when shooting directly into sunlight will give you an image full of contrast that is sometimes difficult to work with, if visible at all. Some fancier lenses employ hoods of various lengths to combat the additional glare that can be cause by any light source from the side or back. However, no lens hood can help if you are pointing the lens in the direction of that light source. I decided to include one image of said rule below simply because I liked the effect it gave. I did add a little saturation to bring out the yellow in the sunlight during dusk, but I liked the image. So, my advice on this point is not to never point the lens towards the light source, but to be aware of where the light source is coming from.

8. Always be moving!! Staying in one particular spot to photograph a whole session like a freaking sniper is weird. All of your images will come back with the same vantage point and will not add variety. If you are at an event that prevents you from moving around, that’s one thing. But a family gathering or cookout gives ample space to wander around, so use it.

9. Never shy away from a willing participant. Every so often, you’ll come across a subject that is completely open to having their picture taken, so take it!! Sometimes you can coax a smile out of them. Sometimes they give you a funny pose to work with. Don’t pass up the opportunity.

10. When you have a subject that is camera-shy, you can sometimes get great candid shots as they run. The great part about subjects that are camera-shy, is that the majority of them will shy away or run laughing to avoid being photographed. It’s during these moments that great candid shots can be had, so be ready.

That’s about it for now, but I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of other things. I’ll be sure to come back to this posting and update the information as I remember other pointers to pass along.

To all my fellow PNLL Rockies players, coaches and family members, we had a heck of a season. This was a great team and we had a ton of fun!! Thanks for everything!!

Different Focal Ranges at The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park

Today I’d like to share with everyone some images that I took back on May 26th when I headed out with the family to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. If you recall in one of my earlier posts, I had rented a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L series wide-angle lens from Adolph Gasser in anticipation of the Golden Gate Bridge 75th anniversary celebration. The Tea Garden was one of those spots that we had been wanting to go visit for quite some time, but just hadn’t found the time, so we made time to make it happen. I also mentioned that I would be giving a more in-depth review of the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L lens, but in addition to that, I thought I would also discuss the differences in focal ranges and how most photographers will eventually become more familiar or comfortable with certain focal ranges which eventually help develop their vision. Let me explain further…

As I’ve mentioned plenty of times, I own a Tokina ATX 100-300mm f/4.0 that I absolutely love. This lens is tack sharp and provides the right amount of zoom for most telephoto shots. Obviously, at the lower end of 100mm, that is far from being considered something of a wide-angle, so there are instances where this lens would not be the optimal lens to take along. Not only that to take into consideration, but at almost 3 lbs, the Tokina is quite a load to bear all day long if not being used. Either way, I would be sure to come back with a sore back or neck when taking the Tokina along for the ride.

Almost completely the opposite, the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L is all about wide-angle. At the high-end of 35mm, I suppose you could consider this a portrait focal range when you consider the 1.3X crop sensor that my camera has. But, this lens really shines as a wide-angle beast. I found the lens to be very sharp and super fast at autofocusing. In fact, it was significantly faster at autofocus than my Tokina. This is one of the perks that Canon gives you for the excessive price tag that L series lenses usually sport. If not, I can only imagine how pissed off Canon consumers would be.

I didn’t feel that there was any vignetting effect in any of the photos that I brought home with the Canon. This was somewhat of a problem with the Tokina wide-angle that I rented for my NYC trip. I was able to contend with it in post processing, but not having to deal with it with the Canon allows me to appreciate the rental all the more. Also, the Canon felt substantial and heavy, which tells me that there’s a lot of glass in there. All in all, I would have to say that the Canon wins hands down against the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 in image quality, sharpness in the corners and autofocus speed. But, at almost three times the price, I would probably opt for the Tokina until someone starts paying me to take photos. That’s just the guerilla photographer in me lashing out against the Canon price tags.

In getting back to the point I was trying to make about focal ranges, it’s only natural that when trying out a new focal range with a different lens that the photographer may feel a little uneasy and feel that the images being recorded aren’t representative of their vision. And having experienced this before, it was all the more reason that I wanted to head out to the Tea Garden to test out the Canon. But, my trusty Tokina was coming along for the ride.

The following images were all taken in one sitting at the Japanese Tea Garden in the span of about 2 hours or so. It was almost noon, so there was no difference in lighting from the midday sun throughout the session. What I noticed when I got home was that I felt that the Canon had performed admirably, but I hadn’t. I kept finding myself not knowing what to focus on in the image I wanted to record. And when I did find what I wanted, I was disappointed in how short the lens was even fully zoomed out to 35mm. The images came out just fine, but in knowing what I want to see in my photographs, I can tell that I was uncomfortable. Could this be simply because it’s not my lens and I wasn’t used to it? Or could it be that my vision in my photography is more of a up-close and personal style of photography to show the detail in things? I think it’s a little of both.

A weekend is very little time to try to get comfortable with a lens. And I don’t mean getting comfortable in the aspect of how the mechanical functionality of the lens works. That’s just silly; a lens is a lens. Where I am going with this is understanding the limitations of the focal range that the particular lens you are working with can give you and using that information to compose the image that you crave. Case in point; had I been comfortable enough with this lens to understand what the output would be along with prior knowledge to where the fireworks display at the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge would be located, I would have pushed my way through to Fort Point to capture the fireworks coming off of the bridge tower for awesome shots. But, in this case, I didn’t know where the fireworks display would be had and I wasn’t comfortable enough with the focal range to understand where would be my optimal spot to stand on.

In the series of photos that I am sharing with you tonight, the first 10 images were all taken with the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L series lens. I found it interesting that the ones that appealed to me were all of up close images. Even with the lens zoomed out to 35mm, I was still having to stand fairly close to the objects that I was photographing. The final images were all taken with my Tokina 100-300mm f/4.0. As you can see, they are all full of intimate detail of the objects being photographed. You would think that I would totally be into macro photography, but surprisingly I haven’t had very much interest. There’s something about being able to stand further away and zooming in to capture detail that appeals to my photographic vision.

The time spent at the Japanese Tea Garden was well worth the effort. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and haven’t been to the Tea Garden yet, you are missing out on an afternoon worth of serenity and wonder as you walk through the garden. There is an admission fee of $7 for adults and $5 for kids, but it was totally worth the money. I believe there is a discount if you are a San Francisco resident with valid ID.  The Tea House is a small tea shop that serves teas and cookies that is open during operating hours of the garden. The Garden also features a large souvenir and gift shop. Be sure to walk all around and enjoy the various Buddha statues, concrete lanterns, gently trimmed shrubs, stone pathways and be sure to bring a bag of peanuts for some of the most friendly squirrels you’ll find anywhere, if that’s your cup of tea. There are plenty of open areas, but I believe that picnics are a no-no at the Tea Garden. There is, however, a large drum bridge that can be scaled for the brave of heart, but be sure to be patient with the inconsiderate tourists that are oblivious to the fact that they aren’t the only ones in the garden. There is a large koi pond where you can make a wish and toss a penny. If you toss a quarter, your wish will come true twenty-fifth-fold…

Since you usually save the best for last, I wanted to give my son credit for the last image. He has also been bitten by the photo bug and got a hold of my very first point and shoot Canon to test out. Clearly, he has interest and is deserving of a better camera to work with, so he should have something better in no time. I especially liked his image because of the creativity employed in taking this image. What appears to be a field of yellow brush is actually a manicured potted plant that he decided to shoot over. The effect was spectacular, so I wanted to be sure to give credit where credit was deserved. Well played, buddy…

As always, I’d appreciate your comments and questions. Thanks for looking and have a great night.

Drive to Little League: $4, Bag of Bubble Gum: $3, End of Season Party: $25, Having Your Memory Card Crap Out On You: PRICELESS!!!

The Pacifica NLL Rockies had their last official game of the season today against the Tigers. After mounting a late game rally, the Tigers put up a fight and almost tied the game in the top of the 6th. Fortunately, the Rockies were able to keep the lead and secure the win. Both teams played their asses off, and although someone had to come away with the L, the opposing team should be proud of their efforts today.

The head coach of the opposing team was an assistant coach for a team my son was on two years ago, and I have great respect for the man. Besides being a great coach, he put up with my kid in what was probably the worst season filled with fits and tantrums on the field. Throughout all that, the coach remained steadfast in his instruction even though he probably would have wanted to whack my kid on the head. At that time, I would have gladly held him down while he did it too!!!

Fast forward two years, and he’s now the head coach of one of the other Pacifica National Little League teams. I don’t believe that his team has had much success this year, but his team staying in today’s game is proof enough that there is good baseball being played on his club!! I approached him before the game and asked if he was ok with my tucking myself off to one of the sidelines in order to photograph the game up close. He agreed, and so did our head coach. SCORE!!! Someone is always too worried about getting sued nowadays, so I rarely get the opportunity to be on the field on the game side of the fence.

Although I’ve discussed techniques for shooting through a chain link fence and adjusting the image in post processing to regain the clarity lost through the fence, there is nothing like not having to worry about any of that crap cause you have a direct line of sight to the action. Obviously, my new concern with being on the field is a line drive with my name on it whacking me across the head, or worse, right into my lens!! Luckily, I had my wits about me today and the kids really didn’t feel like tagging me with a foul. Thanks, guys!!

Although I would expect to have a great number of really great images when I got home today, there always has to be something going on to screw me up. It’s Murphy’s Law, I tell you. Halfway through the game, I started to get an error message on my camera and the images being recorded weren’t popping up on the LCD on the back, as they usually do once they’ve recorded. In between innings, I managed to Google the error code to find that it was a memory card error. I recently had to replace my main memory card with a real expensive SanDisk one, cause my previous one had just crapped out. That was earlier this week, so you can imagine that I immediately got pissed.

First, I’m thinking that I purchased a faulty memory card. But, that usually wouldn’t be the case since probability has it that I wouldn’t be able to pick out the one in several million that actually do come defective from the factory. So, I then start thinking that it’s the camera. Then I start panicking, cause I haven’t had this camera body for long and I had almost convinced myself that it was already crapping out. I put it out of my head hoping that the backup memory card would capture what I was photographing.

Once you get to this level of Canon camera’s, the body offers you two memory card options, a CF card and an SD card. The CF card can hold up to 32 GB, which is HUGE!!! The SD card can usually hold up to 16GB, but it depends on what your budget will let you afford. The camera also offers you different formats in which to record the images. For professional level results, the way to go with images is to record them in RAW format. This is the unprocessed image that the camera sensor records without having the camera apply any type of processing. This file can then be opened up in a number of post processing photo editors for a greater ability to manipulate the image. Most point and shoot cameras only take JPEG images, which are images taken by the camera sensor and then put through the factory post processing and appears on the LCD screen as the captured image. My Canon allows me to take two images at once and will separate them between the two memory cards. So, the CF card records the RAW image that I’m taking while the SD card records the JPEG image that also show up on my LCD screen. With this backup system, I was sure that I’d get one or the other, if not both.

So, I had to deal with the camera stopping on me every time that I took a series of high-speed shots to display the error message. I figured that if I depressed the shutter button, it would bump the error message off the menu screen and go back to allowing me to photograph. Well, it appears that the CF card did not record any of the images after I started to get the error message. Fortunately, the SD card did capture the remaining images. The down side is that it only captured the first photo in each series that I took and not the entire lot. So, if in a pitching sequence, I shot a total of 8 images, I was only able to capture the first and the rest were never recorded. I was completely bummed…

I still managed to get a good number of good images, but I would have rather come home with many more. What’s the lesson to be learned here? Don’t rely on just one memory card, folks. So, what am I going to do to make sure that I don’t have this happen again? As soon as I can afford another CF memory card, I’ll purchase another one to keep in my camera bag. If this ever happens again, I’ll quickly swap out the cards and keep shooting.

I was able to locate on several other photo blogs that others have had this same problem. Most of them mentioned that this might be caused by formatting the memory card using the PC instead of the on-camera formatting allowed. It just so happens that last night I chose to format the memory card with my PC instead of the camera, so I’m hoping that this was the case. Tomorrow, I’ll be doing some experimenting to make sure that this was the case. If the problem persists, I may have to take the camera in to the shop for evaluation and that’s never cheap…

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the images. Since there are quite a number of them, I will try putting them on here as a slide show. If I find that this format doesn’t work, I’ll edit the entry and include the separate images in a gallery. Good night, all!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Solar Eclipse On The Fly and Hector Sanchez Is A Badass!!

While I was writing my post yesterday, the solar eclipse was about to take place and I found myself completely unprepared. Not only had I forgotten that it was going to take place, but I was also unprepared with battery options. The Canon 1D Mark II N takes these HUGE proprietary batteries that are rechargeable using a massive charger that looks like it should be recharging a car battery and not a camera battery. When I purchased the camera, it came with the original Canon battery and charger. Knowing that I would need a few backups, I went ahead and jumped on eBay and found some relatively inexpensive aftermarket batteries. When I still had my 40D, I had great luck with aftermarket batteries and they never failed me. These particular aftermarket batteries for the 1D Mark II N are CRAP!! Not only do they hold a minimal charge when just charged, but they won’t hold a charge for more than a few days when storing them in your bag. They are total crap and now I have to find myself some Canon branded ones to keep in my bag. Oh well…

So, here is the eclipse about to happen, and the aftermarket battery that was fully charged yesterday in my camera was dead. Not only that, but the charger that had my Canon branded battery and the other aftermarket had been unplugged from the wall. When this happens, the charger drains the fully charged batteries into submission. I had a tiny amount of power on the Canon branded battery and I would have to make due. Why go through the angst all over again on the blog? Well, I’m hoping that I can convey the lesson to be learned, which is ALWAYS KEEP A CHARGED BATTERY HANDY. You never know when the perfect photo opportunity may come up.


So, I run outside with my weak-ass battery in the camera with my trusty Tokina 100-300mm (it’s the only lens I own, so I really didn’t have a choice) to photograph the eclipse. But, wait!! You can’t look up at the eclipse!! You can really screw up your retina by looking directly into the sun!! So, I’m standing outside my door with my camera in hand asking myself “WTF AM I GONNA DO?!?!?” Well, I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again. Photography is all about improvisation, so you always have to be willing to try new and uncomfortable things to get the image you want or any image at all in certain circumstances. Well, maybe I didn’t say it yesterday, but I’m saying it now. So, when I say tomorrow that I said it yesterday, you’ll know that I was for real.

That’s when it hit me like the Hector Sanchez home run in the top of the 14th a few minutes ago to win the game 4-3 against the Brewers in Milwaukee. I had taken a welding course at the local community college a few years back that required that I purchase eye protection that I was certain would be sufficient for staring right into the sun. I tracked the welding goggles down and made sure to install the gold coated lens for TIG welding, which is almost as intense as direct sunlight. I ran back outside and tested it out to be relieved that it would be enough protection. But, what the hell was I going to do in protecting my eyes if the camera’s sensor would be susceptible to the intense light and probably wouldn’t register more than a bright white image???? A little more improvisation, and I was able to fashion the welding goggle in front of the lens while I was viewing very carefully from behind the camera with one eye and the second closed.

Did it work? I would say yes. You might say that it looks like crap. But, that’s the great part of photography. Would I have rather had a better thought out plan along with a fully charged battery with a tripod setup? Sure, but again, this is a lesson in improvisation to make the best out of the situation. I’d always opt for a pre-set configuration with well thought out plans for a photo session, but sometimes life hands you lemons. I take the lemons, throw them away and pour myself a glass of root beer!!! You heard it here, folks!!

On top of having this beautiful celestial event, Pacifica was fortunate enough to have our typical blanket of thick fog that was rolling in and out throughout the entire show. It helped out a lot, since at times it appeared that the fog was enough to be able to look directly into the sun while having an effect of softening the potent light. Of course, I wasn’t looking directly at it, but it was tame enough that I could have. Oh, and before I forget, I had to manually focus on these, since the lens was having trouble autofocusing due to the additional element I was holding in front of it. I just went with it and so should you!!

In the photos below, I employed the technique stated above where I placed the welding goggles in front of the Tokina lens and framed the image while looking through the viewfinder. I tried out a few camera settings before firing away, while keeping in mind that I had barely enough charge to snap off a hundred images. These images were taken between ISO 400-800 and shot between 1/20th and 1/100th of a second at apertures of f/4.0. Two of the images show a gold aura around the eclipsed sun in its various stages and is very evident in the rolling fog. This was not an effect added in Photoshop, but the result of looking through the gold-plated lens. The green tinged photo was when I opted to photograph the sun through a gas welding lens that I also had handy. As you can see, the sun is way more intense and there is a bit of detail missing when compared to the others. Gas welding doesn’t happen at the temperature range that TIG welding happens, which is why a lighter shade of protection is required.

Post processing of these images in Photoshop only included a little contrast adjustment to correct the welding goggle lens flare that was filtering in from the sides that didn’t completely cover the front of the Tokina lens hood. Also, a bit of structure adjustment was performed in Photoshop to bring out the texture of the rolling fog and add to the dramatic image. I hope you enjoy these, and I welcome your commentary as always.

Tomorrow we’ll return to my New York City trip photos and I think I’ll share my Brooklyn Bridge images, but I’m sure you’ll agree that this small departure from the NYC photos was worth while…

A Jagged Little Pill To Swallow for the Dodgers

The Giants managed to pull tonight’s game in LA by the skin of their teeth thanks to a 2 run homer from Brett Pill. Posey did a great job of being aggressive with Kershaw to land a base hit that put him on to make the home run count all the more. Tonight was a great pitching matchup that featured the Dodger’s 1st starter, Clayton Kershaw, and the Giants 5th starter, Ryan Vogelsong. Kershaw had the sights set on him early on, as just about every Giant that was with us last year remembers the 5-0 record Kershaw had with the Giants in 2011. Ryan continues to pitch like a mule and reminds Giants management that he worth every penny of the 2-year 8 million dollar contract they awarded him this year. Vogie showed up the Dodgers and kept them to the 1 run deep into the game. Our bullpen came in and shut the rest of the game down.

What worries me is that we had no other significant threat of scoring for the remainder of the game after the home run in the 2nd inning. The Giants are known for low scoring and extreme pitching for their wins, but this is a formula that quickly tires out the starting rotation and hands the ball over to the bullpen. With the announcement of one of our better relievers, Guillermo Mota, being out for a 100 game suspension due to a banned substance, the Giants will have to focus more on the offensive game if they want to keep their bullpen rested. But, a win is a win. So, we’ll take it and be happy that we stand a chance of taking the series tomorrow if Lincecum has a good day.

My son’s little league team had a game this evening and I was able to get the camera out of the house to take a few shots. With sunset happening after 8pm as of late, the games are lit well enough to not require me to shoot in high ISO for extremely noisy images. So, I made it there as quickly as possible and got to see most of the game. Shooting sports is unlike any other type of shooting, as it requires awareness and knowledge of the game being played and an almost uncanny ability to predict where plays will happen since everything happens in the blink of an eye. Although there is no such thing as a sports photography set-up when it comes to equipment, there are a few factors in equipment choice that will increase the likelihood that you will end of with favorable images. Of course, the first thing you have to consider is how “fast” the lens is. Since all lens are measured in an aperture reading, sports photography favors “fast” lenses like a f/2.8 aperture or larger. This becomes especially important when the light of the sun is not sufficient and stadium lighting comes into play. With faster lens comes a higher price tag, so trying to get into sport photography almost becomes the ability to balance your budget with your expectations. Fast lenses are also lenses of high quality. No manufacturer makes a crappy telephoto lens with an aperture rating of f/2.8. Some are better than others, but I would always reach for the lesser quality f/2.8 than a sharper f/4.0 with better image quality. Eventually, there will not be enough light to cause even the best f/4.0 to be inadequate. Trust me, I know…

After your lens choice, there is the camera capability. For sports photography, the faster the frames per second (fps) that the body is capable of capturing, the likelier you are to capture the exciting action shots that you see in the magazines and websites. I am a Canon shooter, so I am pretty familiar with all the camera body offerings in the past and present Canon lineup, and there quite a few gems for every budget. This isn’t to knock on Nikon users, cause I just don’t believe that the clear difference in what each manufacturer specialized in is still the case. They both make fabulous equipment, but I started out with a Canon and feel a brand loyalty to Canon to stick with them through the thick and thin. I am currently shooting with a 1D Mark II n that shoots 8.5 fps. This is a set up for me from the Canon 40D I had just a year ago that shot 6 fps. Believe me that 2.5 fps makes a world of difference. I would still say the same if I were to upgrade to a 1D Mark III that shoots 10 fps or even the 1DX that shoots up to 14 fps. What do you get with all that, a machine gun camera that mows all the action down to almost be able to watch a movie on your LCD when scrolling through the JPEGS quickly. It’s pretty sick, let me tell you.

Do you need or use all those frames? Absolutely not!! But, when you have sports action going on, the ability to record many frames per second allows you to inspect the images for that “perfect” shot that makes it to the press. The rest of the images can go unused. So, I started out in my DSLR adventure with a Canon 40D and loved the camera. I sold it when I upgraded to the 1D Mark II n, but I sometimes wish I had held on to it. It was a budget decision and at the time I couldn’t justify the need to hang on to two camera bodies, but eventually I will want a back-up body and would definitely consider buying another 40D. Another body that would make a great back-up or even main body is the Canon 7D. That monster can shoot 8 fps and record high quality images.

Besides the frames per second, the other two factors (among many) that I would consider when thinking of a “sports friendly” camera would be the ability to record high ISO and whether the camera has a crop or full frame sensor. The high ISO capability while still retaining good image quality is crucial for those events under the stadium lighting. For example, my 1D Mark II n shoots up to ISO 3200, but anything over ISO 800 requires a LOT of post processing. Anything over ISO 1600 is completely useless and I put the camera away. What is this ISO thing? Well, simplified, it’s the cameras sensitivity to light very similar to the light sensitivity of film when you used to buy 400 speed or 800 speed film. The higher the number, the more sensitive the camera is to the light coming through the aperture on your lens. My 1D sucks for low light conditions if I’m not using a f/2.8 lens. But, if I had a Canon 7D that shoots acceptable images up to ISO 3200, I could afford to use the lenses that aren’t as bright as f/2.8 and still come out with decent stuff. This isn’t the answer, cause it’s never that easy, but it helps. There is a reason why all the guys in the media pits are shooting with Canon 1D Mark IVs or 1 DX and shooting with 400mm f/2.8 lenses.

The last point I mentioned was whether the camera was a crop sensor or full frame camera. What this means is that full frame cameras have a sensor to the size equivalent of a 35mm camera. It’s pretty big and pretty awesome. The crop sensor cameras usually have either a 1.3X or 1.6X crop. All this means is that is contains a smaller sensor in the camera that if you took the same photograph along with a full frame and printed the images, the crop sensor camera would appear to give you a cropping effect of 1.3X or 1.6X. There really is no effective telephoto property here, but just a smaller sensor being able to record less of the image coming through the lens aperture. Because of this cropping effect, the camera gives you added reach with your lenses. If you are photographing anything from a seat in an audience, you are going to want as much reach as possible.

So that’s the camera lesson for today. By no means did I go into extreme detail, although I can since I have given all these points much thought in my decision-making process, but I wanted to give a glance over to start with. If anyone needs additional information, please let me know and I would be glad to go into your question in detail.

In these photos that I am sharing today taken at my son’s little league game tonight, I tried to cover a few points that I use when shooting baseball. To start, the evening light is hard. What is hard light? Hard light is any light that generates a shadow. Soft light, in turn, is light that is diffused to the point that it does NOT create a shadow. When shooting anything, you want to have the light source (in this instance, the sun) to your back. When that is not possible, you want it at either side of you. You never want to shoot into the light source, as your lens will have a LOT of trouble interpreting what your eyes do so well of adjusting to.

Also, I tried to give different perspectives of the game, since shooting the same position all the time would only render hundreds and hundreds of the same image over the course of a season. Different perspectives allow you the opportunity to “see” things differently in your prints and may add or detract from what the image is telling the viewer. I shot these from the visitors side, the home field side and even from the scorekeeper’s booth behind the backstop. All of these were shot through a fence, which is something that all sports photographers have to learn to do at one point or another. As you can see, most of the distortion from the chain link fence can be removed in post processing as long as you remember the cardinal rule of shooting through fences; you have to shoot dead on. If you are trying to shoot through a chain link fence at an angle, the space between the links diminishes to the point that it blocks out the light trying to get through. What you then have is a blurry image and your auto focus will tend to search for something that is not there. When shot directly through the chain link fence, not only do you have the certainty that you aren’t going to be taking a foul tip to the head, but you’ll end up with an image that with a little contrast work in post processing should be acceptable for most venues.

Lastly, I forgot to mention my lens setup for these. The one lens I own is a Tokina 100-300mm f/4.0 that I absolutely LOVE!! I did a lot of research in trying to find a 300mm prime lens in the f/4.0 aperture rating, but came across some rave reviews about this lens on various forums and blogs. So, I decided to give it a shot. I figured that with it being a zoom lens I would have bad spots on the lens, but other than a little vignetting on the two extremes, I can say that this lens is a monster. Compared to the fixed 300mm f/4.0 from Canon, the Canon still has a slight edge, but the Tokina gives me the range of 100-300mm that Canon cannot in that aperture setting. The autofocus is a little slow, but I have yet to have it impede a shot I wanted to take. If I missed a shot, it was probably user error and not equipment performance.

I’m sure I will talk plenty about the Tokina 100-300mm f/4.0 in the days and months to come and everyone will be able to see the lens in action. I love my Tokina!! Have a great night everyone!!