There are some tricks to capturing a sporting event, and it gets really iffy in nighttime, artificial lighting situations.
You have to balance your camera’s sensor limitations against the need to freeze the action. Remember, the smaller the sensor the noisier the image at higher ISO settings. This night I was using a Panasonic FZ1000 with a 1″ sensor because I needed the longer telephoto reach over my 1.5″ Canon G1 X, but that meant I was going to be limited to around ISO 800. That in turn meant I was not going to be able to freeze the action. Most of the shots you see here were taken at 1/80th of a second. You have to make choices, and I chose image sharpness over freezing the action.
My location also placed a severe limitation on me. I was behind the safety netting, and auto-focus tends to focus on the nearest object. So this night I found the players and field were softened at telephoto distances, but that the netting was distractingly sharp. This is the time you simply must switch to manual focus if your camera has that capability. Fortunately, the FZ1000 does.
In action photography it’s easy to guess when to press the shutter release if you’re panned back to see the entire scene.
But what if you’re zoomed in on the batter and can’t see when the pitcher is releasing the ball? In this case you have get creative using both eyes. Glue one eye to the viewfinder or LCD screen (viewfinder is better when manually focusing, obviously) while keeping the other eye open and watching the pitcher. This is also a skill you want to acquire in firearms shooting, so it has other applications. Do the both-eyes-open thing and you can get this kind of perfectly timed shot (the ball is the white streak to the upper left and the bat is mildly blurred at the start of the swing):
Here’s another example from Wednesday’s post using this technique:
Now for some favorite shots from this enchanting evening courtesy of our wonderful neighbors Randi and Jim Brewer: