Pt. 4 of 4 for the San Francisco Giants World Series Championship Parade on Market St.

Hello everyone. I’m back with the last of the postings to share all the images I took while standing on Market St during the San Francisco Giants World Series Championship Parade. I know I’ve kept you waiting for the good stuff, but as a young lady once told me back in college, “you can’t give up the goods too quickly; you have to make them wait!!” Clearly she wasn’t thinking that I would use her modus operandi to my photography, but the concept works. Without further ado…

The first of the starting players that made it down the street was one of my favorite relievers, Jeremy Affeldt. Although within the family, we have nicknamed Affeldt, Afflac, we think it helps his mojo and gets the job done when we root “Go Afflac!!!” I’m sure after so many times of calling him that at home and at the ballpark, I’d have to think long and hard if I ever met the man in person to make sure not to call him by anything else other than his real name. Jeremy, besides being a dominant left hand in the bullpen, has made a name for himself by coming in during game clenching situations in relief of a struggling starter and has held his ground long enough to get the rest of the bullpen in on the action. He was the unsung hero in 2010 during the start with Philadelphia that Jonathan Sanchez blew up on and came in to right that ship to a strategic win. Again, in 2012, Jeremy came in with the skipper needed him and conjured up all the mojo he needed with all that babble he does on the mound and got the job done.

You didn't smile for your self portrait, Jeremy!!

You didn’t smile for your self portrait, Jeremy!!

Next up on the parade route was phenom, Joaquin Arias. I hope Joaquin stays with the ballclub for a long time. He is agile as a third baseman and has a deadly bat. Throughout the post season, it was almost expected that once Pablo was done with his last at bat for the game, you could expect for Bochy to sub Arias in for third base. He will probably be best known for the ridiculous throw to first to secure the last out of Matt Cain’s perfect game earlier this year. If you haven’t gotten to see the slow motion footage, you need to check out what he did. He fielded the ball off-balance and was leaning backwards when he made the throw to first. There was plenty on the ball to make it way ahead of the baserunner and the rest is history.

You go boy!!!

You go boy!!!

Following Arias was Brandon Belt. A few months ago, when Belt’s bat was struggling, I heard a rumor through the usual suspects that was saying that Brandon was not adjusting to the changes the batting coaches were suggesting and that he had no intention to change, which made his stay with the ball club short-lived. I didn’t pay one bit of attention to all that crap, cause I knew it was just that. Brandon has a keen sense of the strike zone like few players on our ball club have today. When Brandon wasn’t walking on a four ball at bat, he was connecting on something good. Yeah, he had the same bad luck that all our players had at one point or another during the season, but he made the adjustments that the haters said he wouldn’t and proved to the whole town that he belongs at first base and no one is taking his spot. The Little Giraffe is here to stay, folks, and he is ONLY GETTING STARTED!!!

The Little Giraffe with those big ole' size 15 shoes!!

The Little Giraffe with those big ole’ size 15 shoes!!

During the game, the Giants GCast blurbs are always finding funny ways to get the fans to know the players better. Among the most hilarious this season was when the question was posed about the upcoming Madison Bumgarner bobble head and what would it say if it was a talking bobble head. The Giants have had a few bobbleheads that have a sound chip in them, such as the Bobby Thompson and Tony Bennett bobbleheads. The best answer was given by none other than Barry Zito when saying that Mad Bum is always talking about his cows and how they are “healthy.” Now, this isn’t just a run of the mill “healthy.” You have to use your imagination and all the southern drawl you can muster to give it a good go at the Mad Bum “healthy”. Well, very much like his cattle, Mad Bum came back out in 2012 and gave us a “HEALTHY” year. I can only imagine what this kid will be doing in a few years when he fully matures as a pitcher in the big leagues.

Looking "healthy" Mad Bum!!!

Looking “healthy” Mad Bum!!!

God damn it, do I love Gregor Blanco!! When we had Andres Torres out in center field for the 2010 season, I could not imagine anyone else being able to track down balls the way Andres did. With the same speed and agility, Gregor has quickly become a mainstay in our outfield along with Pence and Pagan. He will forever be immortalized in the amazing sliding catch to save Matt Cain’s perfect game late in the game. I still can’t believe he made that catch!! Even though his bat gets cold every so often, I still can’t think of wishing Bochy would sit this guy down and give someone else an opportunity. The defense that Blanco brings to the outfield is enough to have his name in the lineup card each and every game.

The Great White Shark!!!

The Great White Shark!!!

For as awesome a pitcher as Matt Cain is, with all his accolades and achievements leading up to this year during his tenure with the Giants, the minute you put his beautiful daughter in the picture, Matty has to take the back seat. When the Cain family came down near where I was standing, she was doing the fist pump and having the time of her life. She is adorable and I’m sure I speak on behalf of the entire Giants fan base when I say that we love the Cain family and are very fortunate to have them in our town. Oh, and Matty can throw the ball pretty good too…

Mr. First Ever San Francisco Giants Perfect Game Pitcher!!!

Mr. First Ever San Francisco Giants Perfect Game Pitcher!!!

How do you follow an act like Cain’s? Well, put in the Bay Area kid that grew up to see his dreams come true, and oh yeah, make sure that he is one of the best fielding short stops playing the game today!! A few months back, the SF Chronicle ran a story about Brandon Crawford and how he grew up a Giants fan. When the Giants nearly became the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, there was the fear that the very last game to ever be playing in Candlestick Park as eminent. Many Giants fans went to that game to be a part of history and witness the next chapter in Giants history. Guess who else was there and just old enough to be playing tee-ball? Brandon Crawford!!! The paper ran the story of how it all happened from there for Brandon and didn’t fail to come up with a cute little Crawford looking at the camera. Now, I wonder if that photographer thought to him/herself, “Let me take this kids picture, cause he might be a Giant one day!!”

Way to make your hometown proud!! You done good, kid!!

Way to make your hometown proud!! You done good, kid!!

The confetti continued to rain down on everyone with new shots of orange and black strips of paper being shot up in the air every few minutes. I’m sure it was nothing like Times Square during the New Years celebration, but I’d like to think that it was just shy of being that awesome. I was able to snap off a few images of the confetti raining down, along with capturing the craziness of all the windows that lined Market Street with all the fans hanging out of them. For next year’s World Series celebration, I will book a room at one of the hotels down there with a view facing Market Street to get a different perspective. Yeah, that’s right, you heard it here first. Repeat, baby!!!

It's raining orange and black

It’s raining orange and black

Giants fans coming out of the woodwork!!!

Giants fans coming out of the woodwork!!!

Next up on the parade route was The Freak, Tim Lincecum. Timmy had an off-year. He admits that and Giants fans are quite forgiving to their own, as long as they own up to it. Hint, hint, Melky…

Anyway, some people say that if Tim had been on it all year, we would have locked up the postseason weeks before we did. So what??? 2012 could have gone no other way than the way it did and we ended up as the last man standing. Yes, it was cause for concern to see our number one starter struggling this year, but without it, Matty may never had gotten the recognition from the entire league as the number one starter that he is in his own right. If you really think about it, we have a starting rotation that is made up of 5 pitchers that could all be the number one starter for their ballclub.

Timmy came into games out of the bullpen and shut down the opposition. We couldn’t have asked for a more dominant pitching staff for this postseason. For next season, I think someone should give Timmy back his weed so we can get back to business as usual dominating those Dodgers, wouldn’t you say???

You aren't see through, fat ass!!!

You aren’t see through, fat ass!!!

Even the nose bleeds get love from The Freak!!

Even the nose bleeds get love from The Freak!!

Next up was George Kontas. When we let go of Ramon Ramirez, my heart was broken. We needed another good right hander to help Sergio Romo in the bullpen, and Ramon got the job done with a sneaky release point that just got the batter all out of whack. In comes George with a really bad picture for the big screen and I panicked. I am so glad that I was wrong about George and he shut them down as good, if not better than Ramon. This kid looks like he throws bullets with very good accuracy. I would sure hate to be facing him…

George, you didn't look over here!!!

George, you didn’t look over here!!!

Next up was Aubrey Huff. Aubrey was such a great story in the 2010 World Series winning year, and I am very happy that he was still around this year to see us do it again. Although not nearly as pivotal as a player in 2012 as he was in 2010, Aubrey was plagued with a few injuries that led way for Brandon Belt to take over first base duties. Some of those injuries were self-inflicted, like when he hurt himself when he jumped over the dugout fence in celebration, but I am sure he was invaluable to the younger players to impart his wisdom as a veteran player. Along with Pat Burrell, I am very happy to see Aubrey walk away from the Giants with not one, but TWO World Series Championship rings. Aubrey, Aubrey, Aubrey!!! HUFF, HUFF, HUFF!!!

Huffy and the fam!!

Huffy and the fam!!

Javi Lopez was the missing link to our already fabulous bullpen when he was signed on a few years back. I have never been a fan of the submarine or low arm release pitchers since the ball essentially has to already be coming in an upward motion towards the batter, which makes it easier to elevate, yet Javi came on and just left everyone wondering “what the fuck was that?!?!?” Just as instrumental a bullpen player in 2010 as 2012, he came out and got the job done. He had a fair number of saves to add to the books for this year, but he continue to prove himself as the all around bullpen pitcher that is ready to come up and get an out or two. He has been very vocal about being left in for more than just the left-handed hitters, and you gotta love a ballplayer that isn’t looking to make excuses.

Love ya, Javi!!!

Love ya, Javi!!!

Jean Machi was a later comer to this season. He didn’t see a whole lot of play time, but he got the job done when he was called in. I look forward to seeing more of him in 2013…

Machi

Machi

Jose Mijares was up next, and it was clear to see that his wife was all about Giants spirit with her bright orange leggings. Mijares did a great job for us this year and rounded out the BIG BOY CLUB, along with Sandoval and Machi. As long as you continue to throw those rockets, my man, I won’t harp on anything else.

Mijares

Mijares

What can you say about Angel Pagan?? The man gives 150% every minute of every game whether he is playing it or not. If you had the chance to follow him around during this offseason, I’m sure that you’d see a man giving 150% of his time in preparation to come back out and kick some more ass for the 2013 season. Now, all we have to do is FREAKIN’ SIGN HIS ASS!!! There is no way in hell Giants fans would forgive Sabean for letting either Pagan or Pence walk away after their performances in 2012, so JUST SIGN THEM ALREADY!!!

Pagan and his little girl

Pagan and his little girl

Hi, Angel!!

Hi, Angel!!

A perfect example of how forgiving Giants fans can be in the relationship that we have with Guillermo Mota. 2012 was a bad year for the Giants when it came to PED suspensions. Early on in the year, it was discovered that Guillermo took some cough medication in his home town that tested him positive only to later have the Cabrera scandal. Forget the fact that no one believed the cough syrup story. Forget the fact that it was his SECOND offense and had to serve a 100 game suspension. Forget the fact that his last name is slang for “weed” with all the hispanic community. Forget the fact that he was a FREAKIN DODGER!! Giants fans had it in their hearts to put that all behind them and welcome him back with his badass throwing right arm to have another go at postseason greatness. And you know why Guillermo didn’t disappoint? Cause his cough syrup story wasn’t coupled with the fabrication of a bogus website… Sheeeesh.

Please stay away from the cough syrup, Guillermo...

Please stay away from the cough syrup, Guillermo…

Up next was Francisco Peguero. Just like Buddy the Elf in Will Ferrell’s hit movie “Elf” says when he meets Francisco in the book publishing house, “Francisco, that’s fun to say!!” It’s probably not much fun when you are the opposing team and he manages to steal a bag on your ass or ends up on scoring from first on a single to the outfield. This kid has wheels and they move quick!! With a very crowded outfield filled with all-stars, it’s difficult to think about where Francisco may end up in the permanent roster next year, but we can only hope that he sticks around to stick it to a few more ball clubs while still wearing the orange and black.

Francisco is VERY fun to say!!

Francisco is VERY fun to say!!

When I first heard that we had signed Hunter Pence, I was so excited I could have sworn I got a woody!! This kid is all that AND a bag of chips. Even when he was with the losing Houston Astros in 2010, he was clearly making a name for himself. Although the Phillies signed him and we got in the way of 2010, he was still very loved in Philadelphia when he signed him right before the trade deadline. Did that stop Philly from handing out the already scheduled Pence bobble head? Nope, they did it anyway!!

Anyway, this kid is tops, folks. Along the parade route, almost every single player was clearly humbled and appreciative of the love that the fans were showing. But, none more so than Hunter Pence. During an earlier posting a few months back of a game the Giants had in Houston that I was fortunate enough to attend, he was one of the few players that was making eye contact with the fans around the batting circle and even waved at me when I hollered over that he was the man. I really enjoyed photographing him in the parade, even though it was for only a moment.

What began as a tease of Pablo Sandoval for making a heart shape with his two hands, it later became as much a battle cry for Pence as his dugout sermons right before the games. Maybe we won the whole thing simply because of his pep talks. Maybe we won it because of that crazy three hit ball that broke his bat and caused the Tiger shortstop to misread the play. Maybe we just won cause we are awesome for having signed Hunter Pence. I don’t care why we won, but PLEASE SIGN THIS GUY NOW, SABEAN!!!

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How do you call more attention to yourself? Well, you could always be a hispanic of Mexican descent and with all the sensitivity with all the laws that Arizona passed allowing officers to profile and stop anyone they suspect of not being a legal resident you could always wear a t-shirt that reads “I just look illegal.” Sergio Romo has stepped up big for Giants fans this year. Although he was not clearly named the closer for this year and Bochy chose to do it by committee, it was clear that Santiago Casilla needed help. Perhaps he was all burnt out. Perhaps the other ball clubs got smart to his pitches and locations. Whatever the case, Sergio came up big with his tailing slider and fastball that has serious movement to get the job done.

Did he cause a ton of controversy with his t-shirt? But he wouldn’t have had it any other way…

Don't we all, my friend?!?!?

Don’t we all, my friend?!?!?

Hector Sanchez was up next. Hector showed some serious sack when he was named as Timmy’s catcher in the middle of the season. Any I am sure that he had plenty of bruises throughout the season as his badge of courage. In a back up catcher, we were missing another Posey. In players like Stewart and Whiteside, we had solid defense, but their bats must have been made out of swiss cheese. Here comes Hector and he brought something to the plate when he had his bat in his hands. Yeah, he will continue to mature as a catcher and make better hand placement decisions, along with better blocking technique, but this kid has a lot of potential. There is no doubt in my mind that he is staying put as our backup catcher for quite some time.

Mr. Backup!!!

Mr. Backup!!!

Brian, Brian, Brian!!! I love you dude, but telling everyone that you want to be signed by the Dodgers in the event that the Giants don’t re-sign you is not the way to go. Yes, I understand that it’s just a publicity stunt to get all the Giants fans worked up and up Sabean’s ass to get the job done, but I’m sure they are just trying to get you a little cheaper. Having this be your second tommy-john surgery isn’t the most reassuring position to be in, but I would pay you the big bucks just to see what crawls out of that beard while you’re on the mound and freak everyone out. Love the fanny pack!!!

The Beard!!!

The Beard!!!

Next up was Ryan Vogelsong and family. What a great story, guy!! To be signed with the Giants so many years ago only to come full circle and show the world that it was all worth the wait is simply amazing. If no one has taken cue from your story to find a way to make this the next “The Natural”, I’ll gladly produce the blockbuster for you. Thankfully, Robert Redford won’t be able to play you since you don’t have a walker…

Vogel-STRONG!!!

Vogel-STRONG!!!

Marco was having such a damn good time, I didn’t even stand a chance of getting a good pic of him. But, here’s my best attempt based on what was happening when he swung by my neck of the woods. Man, what can you say about this guy except for WOW!! Clutch hit after clutch hit!! He showed up and did the job. I thought there was no way that anyone was going to fill Freddy Sanchez’s shoes. They tried with Jeff Keppinger, again with Fontenot and even brought in Ryan Theriot. Now, Theriot is the man, don’t get me wrong, but what Scutaro did at second base and with the bat in his hand was nothing short of miraculous.

As everyone had nearly written off yet another player that had been around for a while without ever reaching greatness, the Giants were able to once again show that it’s not over until the fat lady sings. Do you hear that??? That’s damn right!! That bitch won’t be singing for a while, Marco!!!

What a phenom!!

What a phenom!!

Zeets!! I love you, man!! I have to admit that I was on the hater squad for quite a bit when you first signed on. About two years into it, I stopped hating but just felt really bad cause you weren’t getting the run support that other starters were getting. I mean, they were batting better for Sanchez!! Freakin’ Sanchez!!! So, when last year was a break away performance, I thought “HERE WE GO!!!” I choose to accredit your success to the fact that you lived in Pacifica last year and would frequent the Red House for breakfast. Yes, we got real excited whenever you walked in, but we enjoyed your company without ever leading on to the notion that we knew who you were and never came up to make a spectacle out of a calm and peaceful breakfast or cup of coffee.

This year was nothing short of magic for you. I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear the stadium chanting “BARRY, BARRY, BARRY!!!” You deserve every praise and every accolade that you are now receiving. You deserve to have every hater that ever was come out and admit that they were wrong. You deserve not only your remaining time on your contract, but to be resigned for however many additional years your arm may have.

Wow!! That's a big Canon between your legs, Barry!!!

Wow!! That’s a big Canon between your legs, Barry!!!

Next up was Buster Posey. Now you know the big guns are coming once Posey hits the parade!! Let’s see…the Giants won it all in 2010. Then 2011 comes around and that jackass who no one even remembers anymore hit you on that collision at home plate and took you out for the season. Then we win it again in 2012 when you are all better!! Coincidence??? Nope, it’s the Posey Factor. there is a reason that we didn’t go all the way last year, but we can be comforted in knowing that it at least held on to by another National League team instead of the Rangers.

The NEW franchise!!!

The NEW franchise!!!

Of course the last player of the parade had to be Pablo!! Mr. MVP was looking mighty good alongside his new squeeze!! And, yes, his date was very cute as well!!

Pablo did what most of the analysts and commentators that show the Giants absolutely no love said that couldn’t be done. Not only did he have a stellar year under less than stellar weight conditions, but he managed to elevate himself to another level only reached by Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols. Man, that is some steep company to keep. But you know what?? Pablo deserves every bit of it. This kid continues to go places and is forever tied to this ball club, not only because he’s the Panda and it would be a marketing nightmare to see him go, but he brings life and energy to this ball club with each hit and defensive play he makes. I have seen him in action up close when I’ve been lucky enough to land kick ass seats, and let me tell you that he is intense and playing “baseball ready” every second of that game.

Love you, Panda!!

Love you, Panda!!

And that does it folks!! After that only came the trucks and trucks that had to clean up all the confetti that magically had rained down on everyone just moments before. Everyone started heading down to City Hall where the parade would end, but I packed up my gear and headed down towards the Ferry Building to get a bite to eat and get away from the crowds. By far, this was a much more enjoyable experience compared to 2010’s parade when we decided that it would be a good idea to camp out at City Hall. Yes, we still have a dipshit that was completely oblivious to the fact that there were people packed all around and lit a doobie. But, fortunately, there were plenty of people around voicing their displeasure to ensure that he put it out quickly.

Take care for now and wish me a good trip down to Mexico with a customer. I’ll be back on Friday to share some more new images I have been working up. Toodles!!!

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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!!

The 2012 San Francisco Giants World Series Championship Parade on Market Street Was Nothing Short of Magical!!!… Pt.1 of 4

I’ve been a Giants fan a relatively short amount of time compared to most baseball fans that grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Whether you grew up in the city, on the Marin side or even down in the San Mateo Peninsula, chances are that your team from birth was the Giants. If you grew up in the East Bay, chances are you grew up an A’s fan, and there is nothing wrong with that folks!! I very much rooted for the A’s in their postseason run and would have loved to see another Bay Bridge Series hoping that this time it would end differently than it did in 1989. Unfortunately, the A’s season came to an end and they will have another shot at it come 2013. But the Giants, MY GIANTS, took it to the house yet again in an even more fantastic fashion than they did in 2010.

With a completely different roster as they did in 2010, the only constant in the groove as it was in 2010 was that every game was another player’s time to shine. When you have a team FULL of the game’s best, it’s only a matter of time before MLB Jesus looks down upon you and says “It’s your turn to shine, my son!!” There was nothing warm and fuzzy about the way the Giants made it to the big dance, but the team reminded everyone as each elimination game went on, “We will not go silently into the night!!” The 2010 season was the magic of making it to the World Series with a haphazard group of misfits that somehow managed to pull it through. The 2012 season was determined to go into the post season early on, and they Giants were amongst the first to reach their playoff berth. The fact that we pushed each series to the elimination point and never gave up is the story to take away from this 2012 season. But yet another reminder that Giants “TORTURE” is forever!!!

As I may have mentioned in a previous posting, I was born and raised in Miami, FL. As offspring of a Cuban household where even my dad was a feared left-handed pitcher in the high school leagues in Havana, having been born and raised in Miami meant that I was a Yankees fan. WTF, you say?!?!?!?! Very true!! I learnt early on in my childhood that not a whole lot made sense as far as what the Cuban community believed and the reasons behind it, but I can tell you that I would grow up expected to root for the Yankees and vote Republican. I did neither, folks!!

Just a few years ago I had the opportunity to visit some family in Havana over a long weekend. I was surprised that one of my little cousins that was big into baseball was very knowledgable of all the key players currently playing and of days past. Not only him, but a number of his friends were really into the Yankees as well. I think it astonished them more to hear that I didn’t really care for the Yankees in comparison with my shock of them being so up to date with the happenings of the ballclub.

The Florida Marlins, as they were called then, debuted when I was almost getting done with high school and girls had priority of my attention span during that time. I played baseball when I got the chance and was usually on the street playing stickball twice a week, but there really wasn’t a team that I was following. After doing a few years of college at the University of Miami, I moved up to Baltimore to finish up my Bachelors there. I was there in town as Cal Ripken was going for the record of most games played consecutively and could feel the electricity all around Camden Yards whenever it was game time. Still, I refrained and just watched from the outside.

In Baltimore I met my wife, and when it was obvious that we would be moving to San Francisco after the birth of our son, I never thought that the Giants would be a part of the equation. I came out and fell in love with the town. That was in 2000. In 2002, the Giants went to the World Series with the California Angels of Anaheim. The Giants lost, but as the family was huddled around the TV squirming with every bad play and ugly swing off Francisco Rodriguez’s off speed pitches, I was still an outsider looking in. It would take another few years for me to get fully vested and be able to call myself a real Giants fan through and through. By 2007, we were averaging about a dozen games a season. We haven’t looked back and made it to almost two dozen games this year. When not in attendance at beautiful AT&T Park, you can find us glued to either a TV or a radio listening to the play by-play.

It was a given that we would be in attendance for the 2010 Parade to celebrate with the rest of the city, but we opted the route of heading over to Civic Center and camp out in front of City Hall where the parade was slotted to end. It was awesome, but it was a mess. We had taken our 10-year-old out of school that day and headed down to a crazy mob of pot smokers where it was impossible to get away from it. I don’t have a problem with people’s habits and am certainly not one to tell anyone else how to live their lives. But when I can’t seem to get away from it and I’m afraid that my kid is going to get a contact high, I get pissed. So, when it was time to go down to the 2012 Parade, I was skeptical about how it would all unfold.

Luckily, an uncle had headed down first thing in the morning and had landed a great spot on Market St with only one person between himself and the barricades. We headed down to meet him and took the camera along for the ride. Lucky for me, I had a rather short man in front of me, so I was able to shoot over his head almost the entire parade without being a nuisance to anyone. Some of these images are great. My camera gear tends to get me noticed, and this occasion was no exception. In certain images, I managed to even lock lens-to-eye contact with a few players and coaches, which was great. I’ve got to get myself some media credentials…

As the parade started coming down Market Street, the first to appear was the Mounted Officers from the San Francisco Police Department. I loved how all the horses were sporting their baseball caps under their head-gear and even had spray on “SF” decals on their hind legs. Here they are in formation.

The Horses

Horse said “wazzzuuuppp”, Camera said “wazzzzuuup” back…

We are a very fortunate fan base to have the best TV and radio announcers in the entire sport. On the TV side, we have Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper who work their magic every day. These guys are funny!! They compliment each other in every way and are a joy to listen to. On the radio side, we have the highly awarded John Miller and the new kid on the block, Dave Fleming. John loves giving the listener all the detail of everything that is happening along with colorful historical commentary and makes it a joy to listen to him. Dave will forever be tied to Giants history with his cracked voice call of Edgar Renteria’s home run in game 5 in Texas.

In this image I was able to capture Dave Fleming and Duane Kuiper as they were on my side of the double-decker bus. Although we didn’t get to see John and Mike, I’ll throw a shout out to them as well. Shout!!!

Dave and Kuip!! As an announcer, Kuip ‘hits it high…hits it deep…IT’S OUTTA HERE!!!!”

Had I been a fan of any other ball club prior to moving to San Francisco and becoming one of the Giants faithful, perhaps I would have found it odd to have a female announcer at the ballpark. Lucky for me, I wasn’t. Renel Brooks-Moon IS the voice of the San Francisco Giants. She brings the level of excitement that the fans feel at each and every home game. I feel sorry for all the other ball parks out there when I visit and listen to the morose sounding announcers calling the next batter to the plate.

Renel, I am sure that I speak for the entire GIANTS NATION when I say  “WE LOVE YOU!!!”

Do the FIST PUMP!!

On the Comcast end of the ballpark coverage, you can usually spot Amy Gutierrez walking around the ballpark getting all sorts of screams and shots by all the fans. Definitely a favorite with the ball players alike, Amy is in the dugout trying not to get Romo-bombed during interviews.

AMY!!!

For fear of going on and on, I will cut the post here tonight and come back tomorrow with some more images of ownership, coaches and past players that are still very prominent in the Giants community. Look forward to continue sharing this awesome event with everyone, especially if you were unable to attend. Good night all!!

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.

Memorial Day With The San Francisco Giants

Is there a better way to spend your Memorial Day Holiday than at AT&T Park with the San Francisco Giants? I think not, mon frere!! Not only is San Francisco usually the host of one of our armed forces branches, but we get to show them our appreciation for the duties they perform every day and pay a salute to those soldiers that have paid the ultimate price for the freedom that we all enjoy here in this great country of ours. Take all that and wrap it up with a nice ballgame against a divisional rival and you have the recipe for THE ONLY way you should spend your Memorial Day Holiday!! The only thing missing to make this more American is to get the freakin’ apple pie out!! We should have stopped at McDonald’s on the way to the park…

Anyway, we went to the ballgame today and had a great show. The Giants struck fast and hard, and Zito threw an awesome game. We held the lead the entire game and got him another W!!

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I picked up a Canon 300mm f/2.8 L along with a Canon 2X extender from Adolph Gasser on Friday and was able to use their fabulous 40% discount program to rent it for the weekend. The only plans for the lens combo was today’s game, but at such an attractive price, it was totally worth it. Today we sat in section 302 row 6, which is a far down the first base line as you can go in the view reserve. We did have seats in row 6, which were good, but had a group of clueless people down in the few rows below us that couldn’t have found their seat if their lives depended on it. It was brutal, and folks started to heckle.

It’s simple!! The sections go in numerical order, just like the rows and the seats. Have your ticket out and know where you should be before you start walking up the section and possible inconvenience someone trying to watch the game that actually gives a shit!! There are ushers at every section, so ask someone if you don’t have a clue, but don’t just sit in plain view inspecting your seat number on the ticket like you were trying to decipher a new language. What jackasses!!

Today’s seats weren’t ideal for photographing the game, but I did alright thanks to an extremely bright day. The 2X extender is brutal on the lens, since it effectively causes it to lose 2 f-stops, so I was shooting with a max aperture of f/5.6 instead of f/2.8. What does this mean? Well, it means that I took a gutsy lens, which is the 300mm f/2.8, and grabbed it by the balls to make it scream, which in this analogy is the 2X extender. Extenders are great for getting closer to the action, but the drawback of the loss of image quality and the loss of light usually does not favor the combo. In this case, it did alright, but I would much rather have been sitting on the lower levels to photograph the game from a straight ahead view instead of a birds-eye view.

Although the Canon 300mm f/2.8 L that I was shooting with is not the top of the line model that is currently out, it performed very well. It is still L series glass and commands great respect for how it performs. This particular model does not have IS, or Image Stabilization, but at the shutter speeds that I was shooting, I was almost stopping time and the IS would not have helped one bit. Other than draw on my battery a little, I would have had no use for it. So, for this particular shoot, the older 300mm works just fine. It is still a beast and will require good and strong arms to carry it around for any extended period of time. The newer model that features the IS isn’t any lighter either. After renting it a few times, I’ve gotten used to it, so I can hand hold it throughout the entire game, but that is with setting it down on my lap in between the action. I would think twice if I had  to hand carry this thing around all day. I’d probably opt for a monopod…

I shot at ISO 400 to ISO 640 throughout the day, as the clouds came and went. This allowed me to shoot with a minimum shutter speed of 1/2500th of a second, and all the way up to 1/4000th of a second on some of the bright shots. The post processing was kept down to a minimum with slight cropping of all images along with a little sharpness and contrast added in Photoshop. Enjoy!!

Canon 5D Mk II for Nighttime Sports?!?!? YUUUUUPP!!!

Every so often I’ll get a crazy-ass idea that usually starts off with a “what if…” in my head and ends up being a big mistake. Big mistakes are usually associated with wasting time and/or money for me. You would think that I would learn, and in all earnest, I tell myself each and every time that I will listen to conventional thought and not buck the system. Then what do I do the very next day??? You guessed it, folks, I get right back on the horse of crazyassness and come up with a new idea. An idea so smart, my head would explode if I even began to know what I was talking about. Not only did I just quote Peter Griffin from Family Guy, but I made up the best word ever!!! Crazyassness!!! Go and tell all your friends…

So what was my crazy-ass thought, you ask? That’s a great looking question!! I was standing at the counter of my favorite camera equipment rental store realizing that I had left my camera body at home knowing that I was going to a game and would have to look at possibly renting a body AND a lens. I guessed if I had to get a body, I’d at least try out something new that I had heard or read about to test its effectiveness for nighttime sports shooting. Of course the full-framed Canon 5D Mark II that only shoots 3.9 fps would be at the very bottom of the list, right? No way, folks!! That’s called bucking the system and as my boy Sergio Romo of the San Francisco Giants says, “That’s what’s up!!” I rented the Canon 5D Mark II with a Canon 300mm f/4.0 and a Canon 2X extender. This lens and extender combo is the same that I featured in yesterday’s post, since this was the previous evening. So, everyone already knows how enamored I am with the lens, and I will keep all the commentary on this post relative to the Canon 5D Mark II.

This model camera body has been a best seller for Canon (if you can afford the $2,000 + price tag) and a more economical option when compared to the 1DS full frame series. The 5D Mk II features a small, crop sensor style body while packing a HUGE full sensor frame capable of capturing 21 MP images in stunning color and clarity. The 5D recently received another update and Canon released the Mk III, which has helped the pricing of the Mk II come off a little to just about the $2,000.00 mark. It has also been a favorite of film makers of all type for its high quality recording capabilities. I had never shot with the 5D Mark II prior to this, so I really have nowhere to establish a comparison, but nevertheless, I was completely floored at how responsive it was to my needs.

To go into a little more detail of the rigors I was trying to place on this combination, let me tell you about my decision-making process. Since the body was in stock, I was tempted to rent it as soon as I was offered it. I resisted, but quickly came up with this experiment to convince myself of testing it out. I had heard that the 5D Mk II had superior high ISO capabilities, with it being rated at ISO 6400 before going into the menu to unlock the higher ISO settings that would take it into the stratosphere of noise-dom. After the decision of the body was made, then I had to decide on the lens combo. My gals working the counter offered both a 300mm f/2.8 or a f/4.0, and the price difference was negligible. I would go for the f/2.8, right? Wrong again, my friend!! After thinking through what my experiment would be testing, I asked for the 300mm f/4.0 and was given a look of “man, you are crazy!!!” Then I asked for the 2X extender knowing that it would take the lens to an effective aperture rating of f/8.0. Then I was given the “you are certifiable” look. Yuuup, I totally agree.

I quickly unpacked the gear when I got to my seat, which by the way, wasn’t spectacular at all, unlike the seat I had the following day that was featured in yesterday’s posting. I believe we were sitting in Section 311 row 2 in the third deck reserve, but still within the limits of the infield down the first base line. At first inspection, the 5D Mk II seemed almost like a toy camera when compared to my 1D Mk II n. Being a small crop sensor style body, there is a lot of plastic parts and the body lacks any type of weather sealing apparent unlike my 1D that is a magnesium alloy case with all sorts of bells and whistles that makes it weigh 300 lbs. (I’m exaggerating here just a bit)

Regardless of the weight, the camera performed well and that’s all I cared about. I did note to always handle the camera and lens combo by the lens and not hold the entire weight of the setup on the body of the camera and place unnecessary strain on the lens mount. Another thing to note is that only the 1D series is capable of retaining auto-focus capabilities at a maximum aperture of f/8.0, so I would be SOL shooting without auto-focus for the evening when using the extender. But, again, this was another condition I accepted in the challenge to try to put the 5D Mk II to the test of failing miserably with nighttime sports at high ISO.

To make a long story short, the camera did a great job and I would definitely recommend it to someone considering a full frame to also take occasional sports shots. Did I come home with a large number of images? Nope, the camera only shoots 3.9 fps, so you would have to shoot a REAL long time compared to a body that shoots 8.5 fps or greater. Did I at least have a good number of usable images? Hell no!! So, why would I recommend it? Simply because every obstacle that I placed in front of the 5D Mk II was set up purposefully for it to fail, yet it didn’t. The images aren’t great, but I have included a few below to show you what it came out with. These images were put through Photoshop CS5 to auto-correct the Tone, Contrast and Color. Beyond that, a little noise reduction and sharpening was performed with the Nik Software add-ons (which I absolutely LOVE). However, no extensive work was done on any of these and only auto-functions were used to allow the program logarithms to do their thing.

If you consider that I purposefully picked up a Canon 300 f/4.0, then placed a 2X extender to make it an effective maximum aperture of f/8.0, then bumped the ISO all the way up to between ISO 5000 and ISO 6400 for the entire evening while shooting at no less than 1/1000th of a second, you’d agree that the results are completely acceptable for those limitations set by me. If I actually wanted usable images, I would have found myself a seat a LOT closer to the field, would have rented the 300mm f/2.8 with a 1.4X extender to have a maximum aperture of f/4.0 and would have gone to town regardless of the 3.9 fps that the 5D  Mk II will give you. I must say that compared to my 1D Mk II that shoots at 8.5 fps, this camera definitely left me wanting more in the speed arena.

Keeping in mind that regardless of all the technological advances that today’s camera equipment gives us, there was a point in time when all the sports photographer had in their arsenal was being lucky enough to be at the right place, at the right time, and had the know how to wait for the precise moment to capture the action as it was happening knowing that they wouldn’t get a second shot to set up another shot until days after it was all over, we should feel priviledged we even have the option to shoot at almost 4 fps in continous burst mode. So, with the 5D Mk II, I got 3.9 fps, big whoop… You can make it work if that’s all you have and still come up with good action shots.

If your main focus in your photographic endeavors is to shoot sports, I would NOT recommend for you to sink $2000 in the 5D Mk II. There are plenty of other options in that price range, both new and pre-owned, that would satisfy your need for speed. However, if you are needing of a full frame camera (such as a portrait or landscape photographer would), and occasionally would like to take your awesome 5D Mk II to the ballpark, I’m telling you that you’re good!!

Thanks for coming by and I’ll be talking to you again tomorrow. Have a great night everyone!!!

Giants Day Game + Bad-ass Lens + Awesome Seat = Sweep?!?!?

Obviously, I can’t have new material for you every night, although I will do my best to try. Well, don’t fret, my friends. The answer to nights like tonight is simply for me to go through some of my recent work prior to staring up this blog and share from the “archives.” Tonight’s featured archive comes to us from last Thursday’s San Francisco Giants day game against the newly renamed Miami Marlins. These are the same Marlins that came into San Francisco on a serious losing streak, yet we managed to make them look good. Although all three games were very sad, I can say that there was a huge positive that came out of the Thursday day game. AWESOME PHOTOS!!!

I was able to use a half day vacation at work to leave early enough to make it to the ballpark well before first pitch to stuff a hot link down my throat and focus on the action with the camera during the game. Not only was I lucky enough to pull this vacation request off at the last-minute, but I was also excited that I had rented one of my favorite lenses to date from my new favorite camera equipment rental house the evening before and intended to keep it through the end of the game. I’ll save my review of the rental equipment options for a later post, so stay tuned, my friends!!!

What is this favorite lens, you ask? The Canon 300mm f/4.0 L prime lens. Yeah, that’s what’s up!! This prime lens is one of Canon’s gems that not many people know about. This lens is tack sharp, relatively lightweight for hand-holdability all day long and with a crazy fast auto focus motor for instantaneous focus on the action. The latest model also has image stabilization on it with a built-in hood, but I was using a prior model that didn’t have the image stabilization. Did I care? Nah, it’s a waste for sports photography if you are trying to freeze action.

For some sports, shooting at shutter speeds of 1/500th of a second will usually be enough to freeze the action and get those awesome images that appear frozen in time. With baseball, ball coming at the batter at 90+ mph and swings of the bat to try to catch up with that happen much quicker. For a daytime game like this, I would usually shoot somewhere around 1/2000th to 1/4000th of a second. That is quick enough to freeze a hummingbird in its tracks!! Unfortunately, the day was a little overcast with light showers that hit right before first pitch and loomed almost the entire game. In this instance, I was shooting around 1/1250th of a second, but you’ll probably notice that in some of the photos there is a bit of motion blur from the movement. This isn’t bad at all. It all depends what kind of effect you are going for. If you intent is to stop motion completely, then the images suck with motion in them. If you intend for the motion to be there (or just want to pretend it was intentional to make yourself look better) then it can go to enhance the image with the implied motion. After all, baseball is all about motion, and quick motion at that.

Why 1/1250th of a second? Well, this was as fast as I could get the shutter speed while still retaining the camera in no higher ISO than 400 ISO to keep the images as free of noise as possible and the limitation of the “speed” of the lens I had on, which is the Canon 300mm f/4.0 L. This combination of setting produced good images (to my taste, at least), so I stuck with it. I did have a 2X extender with me to add a little additional focal range, and used it in some of the pictures shown below. What is a 2X extender, you ask? What a delicious looking question!! Please read on…

An extender is just what the name implies. It is an additional piece of glass placed between the camera body and the lens that essentially magnifies the focal length of the lens placed in front of it by a set amount. There are extenders that can be placed in FRONT of the lens attached to the camera, but those are crap. Since, I don’t like talking about crap, I’ll spare everyone the details. So, there are a few extender options made nowadays and by quite a few manufacturers. Typically, the lens manufacturer that makes the lens and the extender has taken the trouble to ensure optimal quality when using their equipment in unison. When mixing and matching brands, you can get very different results than what may have been intended. Extenders do what they say they do, but at a price. Depending on what kind of magnification you are working with, is the price you must pay. If you are using a 1.4X extender, you give up 1 f/stop with your lens combo. With a 2X extender, you give up 2 f/stops. If you used a 3X extender, you would essentially give up 3 f/stops. You would be crazy to use a 3X extender though. Just pay more money for a better seat, jackass!!

In the camera world, there are accepted f/stops that are the norm for rating apertures (speed) on a lens. If you are working with a f/2.8 max aperture lens and lose 1 f/stop, you essentially have a f/4.0 lens mounted on your camera. If you were working with that same f/2.8 lens with a 2X extender, you would lose 2 f/stops, so you would have effectively a f/5.6 lens. That sucks big time!! Even though you may have a bitchin’ lens in front of the extender, at 2X you essentially make that lens crap. And trust me, your images will show it. So, why did you use the 2X extender on the Canon 300mm f/4.0 that effectively made it a f/8.0 lens you ask? CAUSE I’M A JACKASS!!! A jackass that is constantly trying to push the image quality envelope in an effort to be able to inform others out there thinking about the same crazy crap I am so that they don’t make the same mistakes that I do. Learn, people!!!

What was my saving grace then? Well, for starters, it was a day game. Overcast conditions or not, natural diffused sunlight tops stadium lighting with night games any time. And if you remember what I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, diffused light proves to be awesome for not having to deal with hard shadows. Secondly, I was sitting in a totally awesome seat that I probably would not have been able to afford if I hadn’t gone alone and only needed one ticket. The added plus that I wasn’t expecting was to have the owner of the seat I was in sitting next to me. Not only was he a top-notch Giants fan, but he turned out to be a great seatmate and one that I would be grateful to sit next to anytime. Cliff, it was a pleasure meeting you and thank you again for the opportunity to sit in your seat. We’ll keep in touch, I’m sure.

Finally, I had the luxury of having a super sharp lens in the 300mm to start, so that as I slapped the extender on and off throughout the game, I knew that even if I had crap images in the ones that I used the extender with, I would still have very usable images that I could crop down with the fixed 300mm. And just as I thought, I was right. I did include a few of the images I took using the extender, but I must say that I had to do a LOT more post-processing in sharpening and contrast work to get them usable. Would I print any of them? Probably not! The images cropped from the straight 300mm lens proved to require very little post processing, which is awesome. A little cropping and we’re in business folks!!!

Although I could never achieve images from the seats that the pros get in the media pits, these seats that surround the infield in the first five rows will net you the best angles in the joint. If you wanted a slightly overhead view of the players, then club level seats in the same infield sections would be the ticket for you. I was seated in section 125 row 2 for these images listed below. Obviously, I’m talking about seats that either have been reserved for charter members that were season ticket holders from the Candlestick days and are only put up for sale on Stubhub for a profit. So, these are expensive tickets if you are used to sitting in the third deck reserve sections. But, this was a great “treat” that netted a few great images.

Speaking of images, I came home with over 1,400 images. Yuuuup!! Do the pros take that many pictures? Hell no!!! They usually show up with a mission in mind of who or what they are photographing that day. They probably go home with a few hundred shots, but I have enough capacity on my main memory card to hold about 1,400 RAW images, so guess what I’m gonna do?? Get my money’s worth and load up the memory card!!! When I originally went through them ALL to select the ones I wanted to share here, I probably had about 4 dozen images that I really liked. But, keep in mind that most of them were repetitive shooting of the same motions. For example, when Vogie was pitching, I got approximately 10 shots while shooting 8.5 frames per second of him pitching from the set position to the follow through on the kicking leg. Of those, I repeatedly got three images in his pitching sequence that looked real good. The other seven really didn’t have an “umph” to make them worth while. Every pitcher is different, and I happened to luck out with Vogie this time around. Batters are no different. If you consider that we go through the lineup three to four times in a game (depending on whether we are sucking or not), I usually come home with a least three at-bats for each position player. Of those at-bats, we might have a one pitch pop-up that totally sucks or a twelve pitch at bat that ends up in a strikeout with everything in between. The best part about photographing the batter is that it doesn’t take very much to make them all look like the just hit home runs!! If only that were true for the Giants…

Also, I don’t only shoot just the action happening during the game. I always have my eyes peeled for commotion in the dugout, interaction between players on the field, what Lou Seal (the mascot) is doing and even how the crowd in the stands is doing. I’ve taken some great shots at the ballpark that had nothing to do with the players. Some of my favorites are of Lou Seal and a few of the vendors that make the experience of going to a ballgame at AT&T an awesome one.

So, here I leave you with a collection of some of my favorite shots from this awfully played game I attended last Thursday, May 3rd, 2012, against the Miami Marlins. I even included two pics of the Marlins players to appease any potential Marlin fans that may read my blog. Thanks for reading my blog and I look forward to many posts to come…

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!!

GO GIANTS!!

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and Fort Point

Tonight’s Giants game was a sad state of affairs. To go back a bit, the Giants and Dodgers rivalry dates all the way back to the late 19th century in the team’s New York days. To date, this rivalry tops all the other rivalries, including the Yankees-Red Sox and Cardinals-Cubs. So, any time these teams meet up in the regular season, its intense and played hard. Then there was tonight’s game…

In an effort to stay positive, I’ll briefly comment on the GOOD of tonight’s game. Zito had a good start and I still think that this will be his year. He had good command of various pitches and his curveball was as filthy as ever. Joaquin Arias went 3 for 3 and scored the Giants only RBI. That’s about it, Giants fans!! Could we have won tonight’s game? Sure, but unfortunately the rules of baseball wouldn’t allow for Joaquin Arias to pinch hit for EACH AND EVERY POSITION IN THE LINEUP. Our bats were more than silent, they were asleep. We proved that we lack the ability to make adjustments, so teams will continue to exploit our deficiencies. That’s the BAD.

Here’s the UGLY! The Giants led the league with 33 errors in the few weeks that baseball has been playing. Watching tonight’s game was as gut wrenching as my son’s little league games with all the busy bodies making error after error. After I couldn’t watch any more and stepped away, I turned the radio on to hear how incredulous the announcer was at everything that was happening and continued to happen through the top of the 9th. I don’t know folks, but it can only go up from here, right???? Hello?? (crickets….)

Anyway, I got to thinking today what I want to get out of this blog. Better yet, what topics do I want to discuss and what target audience am I going after. As delicious as constantly ranting about the Giants sounds, I think that would get a little old and I wouldn’t get many followers other than those that agree with my rants or would like to add their point of view.

So, let’s work back to the reason I chose the title of this blog and get back to camera and photo “stuff”. What I would love is to be able to combine all of my loves into one blog that I could get a broad audience following and have the conversations go wherever…and back. Obviously, focused  on photography (pun intended). So what are these loves, you ask? Well, I love the Giants, so we’ll talk about the Giants and I’ll share my ballpark photographs as I post new material. I love San Francisco and the Bay Area!! This is the best city ON THE PLANET!! Activities to enjoy and photograph abound. So, we’ll talk about the City and I’ll share my favorite spots with you. Do we stop there? NOPE. So let’s not only talk about the photography and points to consider when you are visiting these sites and others like them, but discuss different techniques that work for me for getting the shots I enjoy taking.

I’d welcome your comments as well, since I think this would be a great forum for thoughts to be shared and questions to be answered. Listen, I don’t have the answers to everything, but someone out there does. Let’s ask the questions that get people thinking and excited about photography. The digital world we find ourselves in today is the most exciting time in photography, other than the invention of the camera. The thought of being able to instantaneously inspect, evaluate and determine if another shot is required all as the action is happening is priceless. I wasn’t even into photography when digital cameras were non-existent and I still am grateful for this.

Another thing I always loved was a show called “Bay Area Backroads.” It aired on the weekends up until a few years ago and was hosted by Doug McConnell. It was basically about him uncovering all the little nooks and crannies of the Bay Area that most people overlook and exposed their beauty. I loved watching that show and thinking to myself that I wanted to head out to those spots. So, can I be your Doug McConnell? Probably not, since I am still learning the Bay Area one day at a time, but I will certainly show you the spots that I love and will constantly check on new spots to photograph and possibly get someone out of their couches and out the door to the beautiful outdoors of the Bay Area. If there is a spot that is one of your favorites and would like to see my photographic interpretation, please feel free to send me the details and I’ll get right on it!!

So what about Fort Point? I happened to stumble across Fort Point this weekend while my son was at a classmate’s birthday party celebration at Crissy Field in the Presidio. I had probably noticed the structure once or twice while in the Golden Gate Bridge area, but just probably didn’t realize what it really was. Now that I had the time to check it out up close and personal, I am sooo glad I did and want to tell everyone else about it.

The spot where Fort Point now sits has been the site of some form of defense for the San Francisco coastline dating back to the Spanish era of possession of this land. As it changed hands from Spain to Mexico to the US, the site has seen a few different structures all meant for the same purpose. The structure that we now see that sits underneath the Golden Gate Bridge was erected just shortly before the Civil War. From what I was able to read during my short time through the Fort, it was fortified for the Civil War to defend against a possible Confederate attack of the Bay Area that never came. After the Civil War, the structure took on several other purposes, such as a bunker, barracks and training facilities. Eventually, the structure stood silent and has since been named a historic site.

Although it has it’s museum-like theme with staged rooms to give a feel to what a Civil War era soldier would have lived with, the Fort operates in a very open manner without structured tour guides or pre-recorded tour via headphones. I did notice a few volunteers dressed in Civil War attire that were interacting with the little ones along with occasional volunteers that were walking around to assist patrons. They have a small bookstore/gift shop with many cool posters and books that relate to the Fort and Bay Bridge above.

I would say that this place merits a good part of the afternoon to be able to take it all in. There’s plenty to read about on the walls and plenty to keep the kids entertained for a few hours with all the gun powder rooms, canons and stuff that goes “boom”. On the way out, please be sure to drop a few bucks in the donation bucket.

Below are a few of my favorite photos taken this last Saturday. As you can probably already tell, I look for the interesting view points in my photography. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wide-angle touristy shots, cause I took plenty of those too. But, in an artistic endeavour, I will focus on this type of view-point. All of the indoor shots were taken at high ISO without the use of a tripod or image stabilization. Finding a way to “act” as a tripod to take some of these proved to be interesting, but you do what you have to do to get the shot. One good way that I have found to mimic a tripod when one isn’t around is to find a wall to lean against. If you lean on the wall so that it supports your weight, you can usually find added stability to press the camera up to your face and create sufficient stability to take a shot under low light conditions. Obviously, the higher the ISO your camera can go and the faster your lens is all goes to help the situation. If you happen to have high ISO, image stabilization and a fast lens, you might even be able to take shots like these while moving…HARDLY!!

Enjoy!!!