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shooting baseball/softball
Bradley Wilson, Photographer
Raleigh | NC | USA | Posted: 1:38 PM on 11.17.02
->> Hey, I edit a magazine primarily targeted at high school publications advisers and their students ("Communication: Journalism Education Today") for the Journalism Education Association (

I'm writing some stuff on shooting baseball and softball and need some good tips. Where to stand, what equipment to use, etc. Your advice for budding photojournalists about shooting these sports would be invaluable. What do you look for in a good baseball/softball photo?

Be sure to include your full name and affiliation (paper, magazine, school, etc.) for proper attribution.


--Bradley Wilson
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Andrew Loehman, Student/Intern, Photographer
Austin | TX | USA | Posted: 3:06 AM on 11.18.02
->> One word: dugouts.

Throughout high school, college, and even with minor league ball here in Cedar Rapids, my favorite spot is in the dugout. Sometimes this just isn't possible, whether it's because of obstructions (fences, etc...) or because of management, but the positioning of the dugout gives you a perfect angle at all two of the three bases (excluding either 1st or 3rd, depending on which side of the field you're on), as well as providing a world of opportunity to shoot the player's interactions and reactions on the bench.

It's not a great position for shooting the outfield unless you have a 600mm lens, but it's a great all-around position to shoot from.
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Larry Placido, Photographer
San Francisco | CA | USA | Posted: 6:01 PM on 11.18.02
->> Bradley,
I move all around the stadium or field if possible. I like shooting from the stands. It's especially helpful when you want a clean background, i.e. green infield rather than a busy background. Shooting down the 3rd or 1st base line can get you some interesting shots also. It obviously works well if you're shooting long glass.

Baseball/softball is a game of patience. You can go several innings before something happens. You have to be constantly aware of what's going on... Oh and did I mention the line drives? Got to watch out for those also. Those will definately wake you up.

If you can, get out to the stadium/field beforehand and look around. Sit in the seats, see where the light falls, check where you can place remotes, etc. Get the scoop from the stadium people, be polite with them and who knows? You just might get access to an area not available previously.

A little preplanning can go a long way... And have fun.
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Darren Whitley, Photographer
Maryville | MO | USA | Posted: 8:10 PM on 11.18.02
->> I like shooting from the dugout. I photographed summer-league baseball in Kansas for several seasons and was permitted to shoot from the dugouts. You can put your lens right at field level from there. It helps make the field seem larger and longer and it's a perspective that is true to the players participating in the game.

High perspectives are helpful for differentiation, but generally I feel it isolates the players too much and doesn't offer fans a perspective that's new. They're accustomed to seeing the game from the stands, but they're not accustomed to seeing the game up close. The last time a fan experienced the game up close was probably the last time they wore a polyester shirt.

Darren Whitley
University Photographer
Northwest Missouri State University
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Stephen Lance Dennee, Photographer
Paducah | KY | USA | Posted: 1:09 AM on 11.19.02
->> I like to shoot from the hme base side of the dugout. You get good view of second and home where important action can be seen. Plus, you can get action shots of infielders making a play (charging, diving, throwing). You can't forget arguments with umpires.
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Alex Jones, Photographer, Student/Intern
Austin | TX | USA | Posted: 1:00 PM on 11.20.02
->> Here at UT, the photo/video boxes are on the field next to the on-deck circle. From there, I can get a great view of all three bases, but action at the plate isn't as good. Watch out for flying balls/bats/helmets though, since there's nothing between you and the players. And I agree with Larry -- baseball is a zen sport, and you have to be able to endure inning after inning of nothing going on, and still be ready to catch the shortstop diving for a line drive or the runner diving back on a pickoff play. Anticipation will help you here -- after shooting UT's baseball team for a season, I was somewhat able to guess what individual players would do and where I should aim my lens before the play.
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Kevin M. Cox, Student/Intern, Photo Editor
San Marcos | TX | US | Posted: 5:12 AM on 11.21.02
->> Alex isn't kidding about having to watch out at UT's Disch-Falk Field. I took a foul ball to the head a few years back while shooting there.

I like shooting from the dugout also, or just outside of it (away from the plate). I think softball is much more dangerous though (at least here), because of the smaller field size. Not near as much time to get out of the way when a foul comes your way!
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Jonathan Tauber, Student/Intern
Winston-Salem | NC | USA | Posted: 1:47 AM on 12.01.03
->> While all the previous are true for college and pro, I think Andrew really only outlined the truth to high school baseball/softball. There is no media boxes! Even the schools with tons of money and a grand baseball program don't care about the media. SO...the photograper must come out to the field prior to the season. Scout out possible spots for certain plays. Whats great about baseball/softball is that there is a predictability about the locale of the action. Thus, a photographer somewhat knowledgable about baseball and its strategy will be able to place themselves in the right place for the right spot. My most important advice to any high school sports photographer is to get inside the atheletics department. Make friends with coaches, trainers, even the field maintenance men. These acquaintaces can get you sitting on the bench which Andrew says, and I agree is the best place for a shot. Why? Because it is unabstructed and generally has a wide spectrum of shots-i.e. all of the infield and depending on your lens a part if not all of the outfield. Finally, I must advise the photographer to be mindful of the time of the game. It is important to sit down before the season starts and choose games based on the time of the game first and the location second. Don't let a day game be avoided if it is across town and you have means of getting there. Ya...thats my two cents. Bradley, thanks a bunch for the conference. Good seeing you. I thoroughly enjoyed it. If my spelling is a little off, I apologize. Just got back from thanksgiving & trying to catch up.
PS-FEB 4th Wake @ NC state. You there? If you can get me a press pass, I'll come.
Jonathan Tauber
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Brian Light, Photographer
Pennsville | NJ | USA | Posted: 7:09 AM on 12.01.03
->> Generally shooting from the high school level from the dugout isn't a great option for me. Most HS dugouts around here have wire or fencing to protect the players from errant balls.

What I like about this level is the ability to move around and have pictures from all areas of the field showing all the different perspectives. You can get this at the college level too but many college fields don't have a lot of good photo locations. Locally to me U of Delaware really only has one spot to take photos and the is third base side just past the dugout. Fencing pretty much takes the rest of the locations away there.

I also like shooting at Penn State. There are excellent locations all around the field.

As far as college, the NCAA has a rule (Rule 1 Section 15 c) stating the only Players, coaches, managers, physicians, trainers, scroekeepers and bat persons shall occupy a dugout. I have seen this enforced to where photographers haven't been allowed in them.

I'm scheduled in to do a series in March at U of Miami and look forward to it.
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Jim Davidson, Photographer
Columbus | OH | USA | Posted: 7:45 AM on 12.01.03
->> Some people have mentioned fences. What many people don't realize is that you can usually shoot -through- a chain-link fence with a long wide-aperture lense. Just crank the ISO up F2.8 and press the end of the lens against the fence. The fence should just dissapear. This was taken through a chain-link fence:
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Brian Light, Photographer
Pennsville | NJ | USA | Posted: 10:14 AM on 12.01.03
->> Jim... I would mostly agree but not 100% and it is more of a hassle then not shooting through a fence. All things being equal I would rather not shoot through one.
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Conor O'Healy, Photographer
Beaverton | OR | USA | Posted: 12:33 PM on 12.01.03
->> Bradley,

I think everyone covered positions quite nicely so I will concentrate on other aspects.

When I learned to shoot baseball from a wire photographer, he was still shooting all film, and had to process and send during the game, usually by the 3rd or 4th inning. So he had to get shots in the bag quickly to cover all his bases. He taught me that it was always important to have a photo of both of the starting pitchers, since they can be the key to winning the game. He also made a point to teach me to score a game so that I could caption photos accuratly. Most importantly though, he taught me the game, so that I would know where the action would take place and could anticipate it.

When I was interning for him, shooting MLB games, I would go home after the game, and stay up late watching the game as it was re-aired late at night, and I would compare my notes and my negatives with what I was seeing. That really helped me learn the game.

Other bits of advice

- Look for feature shots of the field and of the players. A newspaper or magazine may need some shots for a story they are doing on the field, or on a player that has been drafted.

- Whenever possible, get head shots and file shots of ALL the players and coaches and umpires. This may sound morbid, but if one of them does something newsworthy, your photo can become very important. There is a High School softball player that ran away with her coach here a couple months ago, and the TV news programs are always showing a photo of her and her coach, and it is always the same photo. I am not sure if it was a family photo or a news photographer's shot, but if it was a news photographer's he/she probably made a good amount of money on that one shot.

-Get to know the coaches. They can help you get access to the players to get feature shots and photo stories on the players.

Hope this helps.

Conor R. O'Healy
PGE Park Photographer
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Thread Title: shooting baseball/softball
Thread Started By: Bradley Wilson
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