Last Sunday (12/31) marked the end of the Buccaneers football season. They went 5 and 11 but finished with a bang by scoring a touchdown in the last 15 seconds to defeat the New Orleans Saints 31-24! I was lucky enough to attend courtesy of my son, Mike.
Pre-game Stadium Panorama (iPhone
The start of the game was really nice. There were fireworks and an Air Force flyover, and the group that sang the National Anthem was extremely good.
Pre-game F-15 formation flyover
They introduced the pilots from the four planes later in the game.
Air Force F-15 Pilots from the pre-game flyover
We had a wonderful view of the action from Mike’s seats on the second level towards the North end zone.
Winston handing off to Barber
Bucs score (just barely)!
The Buccaneers pirate ship lets loose with a broadside!
National Football League rules allows cameras if the longest dimension is 12 inched or less, but they’re very strict about bags. So I brought my Olympus EM-1 Mark II with a 75-300mm lens on a sling strap, with a spare battery in my pocket. Since Micro 4/3 has a 2x crop factor, this gave me an effective focal length of 600mm – pretty good in such a small package!
I used the camera in Olympus Pro Capture mode which let me select frames with peak action – ideal for this kind of photo-op. Although the camera can shoot at 60 frames per second (!) I limited it to 10. This cut down on the number I had to review and I think it was more than enough.
The game started at 4:30, and light quickly became a problem. I shot wide open and had to balance ISO and shutter speed. The 75-300mm is a fine lens, but it’s a dim f/6.7 at the long end. I was getting about 1/500th second at ISO 1600. I got some usable frames with this though I really wanted an even faster shutter speed. As the sun set I kept raising the ISO and eventually ran out of light at ISO 6400 when my shutter speed dropped below 1/400. I usually don’t use such a high ISO setting, but I think the camera did well with it this time.
The city looked pretty at sunset from the second deck.
Stadium Sunset (iPhone, 3 frame panorama)
It was great going to the game with Mike and we enjoyed seeing the Bucs win.
Many thanks to all of you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
I visited Osceola Stadium last Friday with Tom and Vince to watch the Houston Astros play the St. Louis Cardinals in a spring training baseball game.
Houston won 3 – 2. Jose Altuve played well, going 2-for-3 and scoring two of Houston’s three runs. If you like baseball and are anywhere near Florida in the spring time, it’s a great opportunity to see and photograph many spring training baseball photo ops.
Houston’s Jose Altuve (#27) is safe as he slides into 2nd base against St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter (#13)
Spring training in Florida starts in late February and lasts through March. Fifteen major league teams play in the “Grapefruit League” at 14 locations over a wide area of the state. Here’s a link to the list of teams and stadiums on Wikipedia. This should stay up to date as venues change in the future.
Info for Photographers
Sports photography is a lot of fun. Results depend on your photography equipment and skills, but also on your knowledge of the game. The better you understand the game, the more you can anticipate where the action will be. If you’re not a baseball expert, it helps to go with a friend who is.
You won’t get professional quality photos from the stands because 1) You’ll be in the stands, not on the field. and 2) They won’t let you bring large lenses into the stadium. But you can get some nice images. Here are some hints to help.
Houstons’s Brandon Barnes (#2) connects
At spring training games, you can often get good seats near the action for a more reasonable price than during the regular season. We sat close to the field near 1st base and had great views of the batter and base runners.
You should always keep both eyes open when photographing. This is even more important in baseball. Foul balls often come into the stands and if you see it, you’ll be better able to catch it (or duck). With practice, you can also keep your camera aimed through the viewfinder, and at the same time watch what’s going on with your other eye. This will let you anticipate the action so you can press the shutter at the right time. Make sure your camera is in continuos high speed mode, start shooting before you think you need to and keep the shutter pressed until you’re sure the action is over. Be careful about reviewing your photos on the back of your camera – you could miss a great play, or you could get hit by a foul ball!
Shutter speed and frame rate: A baseball ball moves at 90-100 mph when pitched and may be even faster when hit. This can mean up to 14 or 15 feet of travel between frames even if you can shoot at 10 frames per second. If you’re zoomed in tight on the action, you may not ever see the ball in the frame. Keep your frame rate as high as possible and zoom out a bit – then crop some in post. Similarly, you’ll need a shutter speed faster than 1/1000 sec. to get a somewhat sharp image of the ball, since it can travel a couple of inches in that time. Up your ISO to get the speed you need – faster is better. I shot between 400 and 800 ISO on a bright, sunny day.
Lenses: They’ll look at your camera equipment when you enter and generally only allow smaller lenses. They don’t want you scooping the pro photographers down on the field. So you’ll have to leave your 300mm f/2.8 at home. This is a good place to use a micro 4/3 camera if you have one along with a 300mm zoom lens. You won’t be able to throw the background out of focus like the pros do, but the setup will give you enough reach. If you’re using a DSLR, you can usually get in with a 70-300mm zoom.
Best time to visit: Late February through March.
Baseball has long periods of not much happening interspersed with seconds of intense activity. Anticipate and be ready. You might get more keepers if you pick the kind of shot you want next, based on what’s going on in the game. Pre-focus on the spot where you think the action is going to happen and wait for it. For instance, I concentrated on batters until I got a couple of photos I liked, then I shifted to base running to catch some action there, and so on.
This is Florida – the sun can be very intense even in the spring, so bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. Enjoy yourself and the game.
Houston’s Justin Maxwell (#44) snags a fly ball
If you like baseball, Florida in the springtime is the place to be. Even if you’re not that big a baseball fan, photographing a game can be challenging and fun.
You can click the photos above to see larger versions on Flickr. There’s a link to more photos in the table below.
The Orlando Magic lost a tough game to the Atlanta Hawks last night by two points in overtime. The Hawks always seem to have our number even though they were missing some starters for this game. It also didn’t help that the Magic were a bit slow and sloppy in the first 3 quarters.
Dwight Howard dunks in traffic
We had very nice seats, which made for a good photo-op. I used a Micro 4/3 camera and had plenty of reach with a 40 – 150mm (80 – 300mm equivalent) lens. I did suffer a bit from the small aperture. I had to set the ISO as high as 1600 to stop action at around 1/500 sec and f/5.6. The Amway arena seems to have a pretty consistent lighting – I set the white balance to tungsten for these.
Jameer Nelson shoots a 3 over Jeff Teague
It was a nice night and Lynn and I had a good time, even though our team lost.
The Magic Dancers dance
You can see the other photos I made last night in this set on Flickr. And I have two other sets from previous games here and here.