Category Archives: high school

Safe!

All eyes are on the pitch, which looks a little high.

All eyes are on the pitch, which looks a little high.

Just like with high school baseball, I found myself last Friday with a chance for photographic softball redemption. Our battling Bulldogs were in the first round of the playoffs and needed to win two back-to-back home games after dropping the first one the previous night at the opponent’s home field.

This bunt will lead to speedy Maya being on first base with an infield hit.

This bunt will lead to speedy Maya being on first base with an infield hit.

Because there was a chance of a doubleheader, the first contest started at 5 p.m. Yes, when it actually was light out, and I could use that lovely, wonderful ISO 200. I wasn’t totally disappointed in my previous night-game photos; however, I hoped my quality would improve. Plus I wanted to make sure I captured good shots of our numerous left-handed hitters (like Maya above).

Alyssia slides into third base. Note that the ball is in the fielder’s glove.

Alyssia slides into third base. Note that the yellow softball is in the fielder’s glove.

When you’re behind the fence trying to keep everything in focus through a small hole, you never know what action might be in front of you. You’ve got to be prepared for anything and everything. In this game, which we won 9-5 to force the tiebreaker, there were plenty of slides.

The tag is applied.

The tag is applied.

This is why burst mode was invented. Just got to hold down the shutter button and let the Nikon D610 click away.

Safe!

Safe!

It helps to get the umpire’s call in the photo—it’s the perfect ending to a short photo story.

Callie bears down on the plate as the catcher awaits the throw.

Callie bears down on the plate as the catcher awaits the throw.

Snapping away on the right side of the plate allowed me to get a couple decent action shots. But I was really glad that I had moved to the third-base fence when this sliding series took place.

The tag has yet to be applied.

Looks like she reached it.

With the catcher blocking the plate, our baserunner had to slip in under her to score before the tag.

Score it!

Score it!

Once again, the ump lets us know the final result.

It’s always fun to document a victory for our team. Even better? Getting to watch our girls notch a nail-biting 3-2 win to advance to the next round. Good luck, Bulldogs!

Advertisements

Loud Shooting

It’s easy to capture the pitcher-batter interaction.

It’s easy to capture the pitcher-batter interaction.

You would think that after all the trouble I had shooting a high school baseball night game a few weeks ago that I would shy away from repeating that futility again.

And you would be wrong.

Being the glutton for photographic punishment that I am, I once again grabbed my monopod and Nikon equipment and headed out to snap pics of our high school’s last regular-season softball game at our home field. The only other time I shot the team was three years ago at an away game (blessedly during the day).

The ball is ready to be hit.

The ball is ready to be hit.

Seeing the field as a photographer (I’ve watched games there as a fan) was a very unpleasant experience. Even though the nearby baseball field has lots of room along the fences, it looks like this one was shoehorned into a smaller space. Obviously, the designers didn’t consider my needs as a photographer. How rude!

The only decent, safe place to shoot? Behind home plate. That made for few faces, unfortunately, but potentially good action . . . when the fence wasn’t stealing my focal point or I couldn’t manually focus fast enough.

Bat on the ball!

Bat on the ball!

As the game progressed and darkness moved in, I continued to increase my ISO to keep my shutter speed high enough to capture the action. Eventually I reached 5000! I’m glad the Nikon D610’s sensor can handle that with just a little noise.

Safe!

Safe!

The worst part about shooting behind the plate? Being next to the extremely loud speaker that either spewed out music or announcements.

Note to self: Next time wear earplugs!

Batter Up!

Logan is ready to pull the trigger.

Logan is ready to pull the trigger in one of my few decent shots from a week ago. (Believe it or not, this is ISO 4000 with no noise reduction applied.)

You know how people say that something is just like riding a bicycle, meaning that you never forget how to do it? Photography doesn’t always fit nicely and neatly in that category.

Last Friday night I got the chance to shoot our high school’s varsity baseball team in what quickly seemed to be an exercise in futility. It had been three long years since I looked through my beloved Nikon 70-200mm lens at running, hitting, and catching, and I felt about as rusty as the Tin Man before Dorothy and the Scarecrow rescued him.

I’m not sure what the photographic equivalent of an oil can is (I still chuckle at the Scarecrow saying, “Oil can what?”), but it’s probably experience.

As well as a second chance.

Trevor connects for a hit.

Trevor connects for a hit.

Fortunately for me, the guys played again the next day at our rival high school, which is close by. More importantly? It was a day game. Give it up for ISO 200!

I took what I learned not to do the previous evening and improved in my quest to document the action. Thank goodness!

I mostly concentrated on taking good batting pics. When it comes to shooting baseball, photographers want to capture the batter and the ball. It’s easier than trying to snap fielding photos, because you always know where the ball is going—to home plate. Then it’s a matter of luck, timing, and perseverance to nail the perfect shot.

Ryan is ready.

Ryan is ready.

Fortunately, I managed to snap the shutter perfectly twice with Ryan, both times during the same at bat.

This was my favorite shot!

This was my favorite shot. And he did hit the ball!

It made me think that there may be hope for me yet . . . as long as I don’t wait several years again to take baseball photos!

Tenacious Defense

The receiver catches the pass despite Travis’ efforts.

The receiver catches the pass despite (the faceless) Travis’ defensive efforts.

One thing I love about high school football is how dedicated the players are. Especially the undersized guys.

This series of photos highlights an epic battle between the taller receiver and the smaller defensive back. I snapped them during the boys’ former high school’s homecoming game last Saturday, a fine 39-41 victory over our rival.

As you can see in the top pic, our scrappy defender, Travis K., can’t quite stop the receiver from catching the ball despite his perfect position.

Don’t let go!

Don’t let go!

As the receiver turned and tried to head up field, Travis was bound and determined to stop him.

Juggling act

Juggling act

Travis’ hands on the football caused it to pop out of the receiver’s arms.

Incomplete!

What goes up, must come down.

The result? An incomplete pass! And that helps win football games!!

Picturing Who I Miss

Can you guess what this is?

Can you guess what my younger son sketched?

Of course, I miss my two collegiate sons a lot. Our house is quiet and lonely (albeit a lot neater). That was expected.

But what I didn’t anticipate was how much I miss the boys’ friends. Especially after the fun summer we had competing in trivia with all of them. When you spend every Friday night with a lot of them, you get used to having them around.

And then they all go off to college and leave you. So sad!

My older son concentrates.

My older son concentrates.

But before the summer fun ended, my sons, my “third son,” Chase, and Josh found themselves in our tiny game room playing a lively, raucous edition of Pictionary on the Wii U. They had so much fun trying to guess what word was being drawn.

Josh engineers his drawing.

Josh engineers his drawing.

Most of the time, one of the three contestants figured out what was being sketched in time. But Josh stumped everyone during one of his turns. He tried to help the other guys by saying that it was something that I liked.

Sorry, Josh, but we have no idea!

Sorry, Josh, but we have no idea what this is!

Thinking that maybe that was a filmstrip on the bottom and a film canister above it, everyone guessed photography or film. Josh kept drawing, but no one got it in the allotted time.

Can you figure out what Josh’s word was?

It was burrito! He knows how much I love Chipotle (not that I’ve ever had a burrito there; I always opt for a veggie bowl). That “filmstrip” is the ingredient area.

Oh, how we laughed and laughed after that! It was so darned funny!!

Now when I pass by the game room, I look inside and feel sadness at its emptiness, my sons having split up the game systems between them. But when I close my eyes and think back to that August Pictionary experience, I can’t help but smile.

And hope that my older son brings the Wii U home at Thanksgiving!

Sidebar: The top drawing is of a remote, by the way. Anyone guess correctly?

The Photographer’s Psyche

What in the world?!?

What in the world?!?

It’s nice finally being a popular gal in high school . . . even if it is 42 years late. And even if it is a different school.

Of course, I realize that my likability status rises only when I’m toting Nikon equipment. But, hey, I’ll take what I can get!

When I sat down on the hard, wooden bleachers in my sons’ former high school gym last Friday night to shoot volleyball, I saw smiles on friends’ faces and cameras being put down. Then I started snapping away and chimping to check my results.

See the above photo? Those grins would’ve disappeared quickly if anyone else would’ve looked at my Nikon D700’s LCD. Yep, I did capture the ball, but where’s the action? What kind of pathetic excuse for a sports photographer am I?

Carly can dig it.

Carly can dig it.

At first I inwardly groaned and considered a quick exit. But then I remembered why I was at the gym that I had successfully avoided for two years (opting to only shoot the varsity at the better-lit Wheeler Fieldhouse): I wanted to capture good memories for Carly, who is a freshman.

Hannah-Grace spikes.

Hannah-Grace spikes.

As well as a couple other girls who I’ve watched grow up over the years.

Dani K slams the ball over the net.

Dani K slams the ball over the net.

Hard to believe that they’re in high school! Plus they’re so talented!!

The solution to my poor-shooting woes was obvious: I also needed to get my game face on and do a better job.

After the thrilling win, I put my camera down and just watched the junior varsity match, because I didn’t know any of the girls on the team.

Paige passes.

Paige passes.

But then it was time for the varsity to take center stage. I’ve been shooting our high school volleyball for about six years, and we’ve always had good teams.

Erica serves.

Erica serves.

We also have a great fan base that fills the gym and inspires the girls to aspire higher.

An in-your-face block by Erin, Madison, and Erica

Love this in-your-face block!

Which is a good message for action photographers with fragile psyches, too!

Friday Night Lights Begin A Day Early

Quarterback Seun hands off to Vic.

Quarterback Seun hands off to running back Vic.

Even though it’s not quite September, high school football season started last night in Texas.

My sons’ former school began its campaign towards another district title and playoff berth against a smaller yet talented nondistrict rival. Although my kids have graduated, I still support our mighty, mighty Bulldogs . . . both with my cheers and my Nikon equipment.

Cheering after a touchdown

Cheering after a touchdown

There was a spirited crowd for the opener. Expectations are high for another great season.

The school band and Angels dance team always are entertaining.

The school band and Angels dance team always are entertaining.

Of course, the band and Angels started out strong with new uniforms and a terrific routine. In the past, they’ve often been the best part of the action . . . especially during an awful, two-year stretch when the football team won very few games.

A great goal-line stand, thanks to Michael (21) and Vic (23).

A great goal-line stand, thanks to Michael (21) and William (22)

But despite many highlights on offense and defense, our opponents took advantage of two interceptions run back for touchdowns and an amazing running game. Our Bulldogs finished up on the short end of a 38-21 score.

Fortunately, this game doesn’t count in the standings. I’m looking forward to lots of district wins, and, hopefully, lots of better photos of outstanding plays in the weeks to come.

Goooooo, Bulldogs!