This past weekend was my first paid sports photography gig. I was hired to photograph two baseball games on Saturday and two more on Sunday for RBI Tournament Baseball. The games I photographed were part of a championship tournament for 14-year old boys. Some teams came from as far away as North Ft. Myers, a good two hour drive. One team I covered in three different games, the Yard Dawgs, are ranked in the top 20 teams in the nation for their age group.
Let me tell you, outdoor sports photography in Florida is hard. Even in April, the sun is very strong and can beat you down. I am still not used to the strength of the Florida sun at all having been in temperate northeast Asia the past 9 years. The baseball games were only 7 innings, but still lasted over 2 hours each. The first day I forgot my monopod at home, so I had my D300 with Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens hanging off my neck the whole afternoon and evening. I brought my monopod the second day, but used it only for half of the first game. I just did not like how it restricted my mobility.
What did I learn from being on the field with these young baseball players?
- The umpire is called "Blue" in reference to the blue uniform they wear
- The players call each other kid, and some coaches even say kid too. The word is pronounced like this, "kiiiyiiid!"
- You hear this constantly from the dugout batting, "Find your pitch and drive it, kiiiyiiid!"
- When the count is 3-0 or 3-1 the coach actually says to the pitcher, "Throw him a pitch he can hit!'
Some teams are a lot more fun than others. The Tampa Heat were the best to hangout around. They have a pitcher, #9, who had me cracking up all the time. Some teams are intimidated by their coaches, even I was! I had to approach them to setup the team photo, but felt like a kid having to go ask his dad for permission to do something. There were a lot of big comebacks in the 7th inning.
I averaged about 450 shots per game. This is the equipment I used:
- Nikon D300 on continuous high
- Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm IF f/2.8D lens, set to f/4
- ISO 200 mostly because the Florida sun is bright
- Velbon RUP-L43 monopod sparingly