We’re just in from a busy two weeks in Alaska, first week photographing bears and puffins (amazing trip, check out the trip report) and second week shooting for Alaska tourism. A fun part of our tourism assignment is the diversity of the photography…still life food shots, wildlife, aerials, interiors…and even traditional sports. This year we photographed a college league baseball game with the Mat Su Miners. What was great about this shoot is we had full access without the normal permits and passes to be allowed to photograph in certain areas of the game.
I occasionally get questions asking about photographing high school sports, and I imagine many photographers are shooting their kids at local games this holiday week. One thing to think about is tapping into all your camera’s abilities to capture the exact moment of action.
Cree and I were shooting Z8 and Z9 cameras with 100-400mm and 400mm F2.8 lenses. But what really made a difference was frame rate, eye tracking and pre-release capture. Nikon’s Z8/9 will shoot at 60fps at 19MP in jpeg. If you want to capture the ball hitting the bat, you need at least 60FPS to get the right moment. Don’t let jpeg files psych you out. The files are huge, and if your exposure is correct, you will have poster worthy images coming right out of your camera. I see too many photographers say they won’t shoot in jpeg because the files aren’t good enough…hmmm, for who? I work with many stock agencies who only want jpeg files, and I have seem my jpegs on mouse pads to billboards. True, you have more latitude to process and correct RAW files without negative effects, but I wouldn’t worry too much about shooting in jpeg. I’ve published and printed countless jpeg images, they look great.
Cameras with pre-release capture can also help you record the action. I just used pre-release capture, aimed at the batter, and if he hit the ball I pressed the shutter. Pre-release capture enabled me to go back one second in the series so I never missed the ball hitting the bat, much nicer than just holding the shutter down for every pitch.
With the Z8/9 you can also shoot at 120 FPS at 11MP. This is a smaller file size for sure, but still very usable. And with the incredible resizing software today, you could easily make these files into very large prints. Try for yourself…take a photo at the local softball game and print it. You might be surprised at just how good it looks!