Category Archives: Nikon 70-200mm lens

Another Milestone Achieved

Why we’re in the Alamodome

Why we’re in the Alamodome

Something about “Pomp and Circumstance” makes me cry. Could be because of what it signifies.

You might think that after watching two emotional high school graduations that my eyes wouldn’t tear up when hearing that standard ceremonial march. But you would be very wrong.

Jake shows off his class ring Green Lantern style.

Jake shows off his class ring in Green Lantern style.

Of course, this time there was much more at stake, because it was Jake’s commencement ceremony from the University of Texas at San Antonio. After four years that seemed to be over in a minute and a half, my older son was set to graduate last Saturday afternoon in the immense Alamodome.

As I waited with the Mister and C.J. for about two hours (which did not fly by) before the start of the festivities, I reminisced about how far my beloved chubby, blue-eyed baby had come. I thought about when we got his acceptance letter from UTSA, orientation, and that painful moment when we moved him into his dorm. Talk about your emotional rides!

Jake seems to enjoy talking to a college official.

Jake seems to enjoy talking to a college official.

Even within a sea of graduates (Jake’s College of Business seniors joined those from the College of Architecture, which included his former roommate Ben, and the College of Public Policy), my eyes were focused only on my son. Watching him walk across the stage to accept his faux diploma (he has to wait a month or so for the real thing) was a moment of immense emotion for me. I couldn’t be prouder of Jake!

The smoke from indoor fireworks and streamers rain down on the graduates.

The smoke from indoor fireworks and streamers rain down on the graduates.

Plus our family added its third alma mater (after my University of Illinois and the Mister’s University of Houston). Go, Roadrunners!! We appreciate and value Jake’s college education.

We’re glad C.J. has long arms!

We’re glad C.J. has long arms!

Once Jake finally found us outside and we snapped a few photos, it was time to move on . . . literally in many ways (well, after we had spent about 20 minutes trying to get out of the parking lot). After dinner at Pei Wei, we put all of the graduate’s possessions in our cars and made the three-hour trek back to Sugar Land where we finally ended our long day’s journey into night and then into day again (we started at 9 a.m. Saturday and returned at 12:15 a.m. Sunday). Everyone was exhausted.

Definitely!

Definitely!

Now Jake gets to relax for a couple weeks before he becomes a working man. How will he handle the transition from school to the real world? All he has to do is remember the fortune he got!

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!

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!

Leapin’ Lizards (er, Dogs)!

Yes, Solar IS upside down!

Yes, Solar IS upside down!

It may not be a dog-eat-dog world, but it’s definitely been a dogsdogs-dogs week on this blog.

When I returned to the Paws in the Park event in Pearland last Sunday, I was in for a treat: I got to enjoy (and, of course, shoot) the Ashley Whippet Invitational’s freestyle competition, which I had never seen before.

Solar leaps over Andrew.

Solar leaps over Andrew.

Freestyle involves the handlers and dogs performing judged, short routines choreographed to music. The pups jump over their human pals . . .

Psych balances on Pennie.

Psych balances on Pennie.

. . . on them . . .

Kirby is a springboard for Torch.

Kirby is a springboard for Torch.

. . . and off them!

Top dog!

Top dog!

It results in lots of energy and what looks like fun for both canines and their companions. It definitely was a blast to watch!

Psych eyes the disc while on Pennie.

Psych eyes the disc while on Pennie.

Naturally, there was plenty of disc tossing and catching.

Got it!

Got it!

Wide receivers and tight ends ain’t got nothing on these critters!

Solar zooms past Andrew.

Solar zooms past Andrew.

Of course, the performances also involved abundant high-flying action.

Torch flies through the air with the greatest of ease.

Torch flies through the air with the greatest of ease.

It’s easy to see that this is a sport that can grow by leaps and bounds.

Each contest ended with the dog in the handler’s arms. A fitting conclusion!

Each contest usually ends with the dog in the handler’s arms. A fitting conclusion!

Especially leaps!

One-Word Wednesday

What goes up . . . .

What goes up . . . .

Gravity!

. . . must come . . .

. . . must come . . .

. . . down! (Last Saturday’s DockDogs competition in Pearland)

. . . down! (at last Saturday’s DockDogs competition in Pearland)

A High-Flying Good Time

I posed with Rob and his special disc.

Posing with Rob and his special disc last Saturday.

Last year I blogged about having a photo in the “Guinness Book of World Records,” my mini claim to fame.

Know where the pic also is?

Very cool!

Very cool!

On this disc! Rob McLeod, Davy Whippet’s talented thrower, had the frisbee made to commemorate the world record (check out Davy’s “pawtograph!”). Last Saturday Rob e-mailed me that he would be in nearby Pearland that day and the next competing in a Quadruped, which features long-distance throw-and-catch events (there also were timed contests and freestyle). He wanted to get together so he could give me this gift.

I was so honored!

Naturally, I toted along my Nikon D610 and Nikon 70-200mm lens in anticipation of some good action photo ops.

Open wide!

Open wide!

There were plenty!

Bones, Rob’s other pup, lays out for the catch.

Bones, Rob’s other pup, is on his way back to the ground.

As with all good sports shots, the key is timing. However, there were several unknowns to consider:

Got it!

Got it!

Where are the disc and the dog going? Will the throw be good? Will the catch be made?

Got a bead on the disc

The disc is within reach.

All of which made it hard to keep the canine and frisbee in focus. What a challenge!

Caught!

Caught!

Fortunately, I had enough keepers to make it a worthwhile, fun shooting experience.

Davy makes the catch look easy.

Davy makes the catch look easy.

Plus I got to see Davy again. He’s an amazing athlete—so fast and so good at catching the disc. It helps that he and Rob are really in sync.

I’ll always remember this high-flying team whenever I look at my frisbee. Thanks again, Rob!