Spring Training in the Continuous Mode

Finally, the work week ended and I was able to grab the Nikon and do some shooting.  Actually, the work week ended a little early, as I telecommuted this morning, and then took a half-day of PTO to attend a spring training baseball game.  Andy and I went to see the White Sox and the Dodgers at the new spring training facility known as Camelback Ranch in Phoenix/Glendale.

My goal for the day was to try out the “continuous” or burst mode on the Nikon.  We had pretty good seats on the right field line in the fifth row, so I had a decent sight line from home plate to first base.  I was using my 75-200mm zoom lens, which wasn’t as great as my 300mm, but the 300mm doesn’t autofocus, so I stuck with a little less zoom.

My goal was to capture the “big play”–the exact moment when the bat connected with the ball, or the split second that the runner beat the throw at first base.  It was tricky to try and anticipate the plays so that I would have my camera at least pointed in the right direction.  For shots of the batter, I learned to start shooting about the time that he raised the bat slightly behind his head to start his swing.  For the plays at first base, I learned that it was better to remain focused on the first baseman rather than the batter…after all, the batter would be running toward first base if he connected with the ball.

I never got the exact shot that I wanted but I came close a time or two.  This one was just a split second too early:

I took quite a few more shots similar to this one, and will upload some of them to Flickr.  But I also enjoyed getting shots of the fans in the stands.  The great thing about baseball games is that it’s such a slow pace you can spend time looking around without missing anything on the field.  I caught this image of a young kid standing at one of the upper decks watching the game, glove in hand, and I could just imagine what was going through his head as he imagined himself on the field some day:

Some of the best images came after the game as the crowd started to disperse.  As we were leaving the stadium, I caught this shot of several players leaving the facility.  There just happened to be an emergency vehicle at the end of the tunnel…fitting I suppose since these guys lost 8-3:

Continuous, or burst, mode produced a lot of images and took up a lot of hard drive space, and a lot of the images were just so-so, and those will be discarded.  But it was a good opportunity to learn the little nuances of how the Nikon captures action shots…I found that the delay from the time I pressed the button to when the shutter clicked was much less than I had anticipated, so next time I’ll try to be just a split second more patient before I hit that button.

All in all, we had a great time at the game, and I’m looking forward to going through the rest of the photos (secret: the photos of the fans are infinitely more interesting than the ones of the players!).

Oh, and my new strap arrived in the mail today.  I’ve already got it attached to my camera, and it works exactly as I wanted.  From now on, I don’t have to worry about having the strap blowing around in the wind while the camera sits on the tripod.

I haven’t made a final decision regarding where I’ll shot tomorrow.  I’ll wait to see what the weather looks like as far as cloud cover goes.  There’s supposed to be rain moving in on Sunday, so I want to get some good camera-time tomorrow before it hits.