21
Apr

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As a photographer who works between 50-60 hours a week one thing that gets tough is taking the extra time to try unique shots. Sure sometimes it can produce something wonderful that makes it worth the extra time and effort but more often than not it doesn’t work as planned and leaves you pissed off for taking all the extra time instead of just doing the normal thing everyone else does. But in these economic times with photographers being laid off and freelance budgets drying up it is imperative to be different from the norm to survive as a photographer. Continue reading to see how hard work can sometimes pay off!

If you read this blog semi often you already know I really like to toy around with remote cameras. Sometimes they are set up in spots where setting them up only takes 5 minutes of effort right before a game but other times it can require pre approved permission and setting up hours prior to the events.

Here is an example of a remote that took several hours of effort.

My buddy Jon Willey, who is the Arizona Diamondbacks team photographer got permission for us to mount remote cameras in a catwalk directly over home plate looking 180 feet straight down. It required getting to the stadium three hours before the game (I usually show up 3 minutes before the game) to be escorted up by a stadium engineer.

If you are scared of heights than you probably wouldn’t like setting up this remote because you are on a small catwalk  18 stories above the field, with wind blowing and birds flying below you. Here is a view of the catwalk.

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After walking like a pansy leaning to the right I was out to the center of the catwalk directly over home plate. A few minutes of setting up the clamp, securing the camera with safety cables and setting the exposure and I was good to go.

Since it was a day game with nice light instead of using a D3 I went with a D300 which had the crop factor which worked perfectly with the 80-200mm lens I would be shooting with. Here is the set up.

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Here is the uncropped view that the camera would have.

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Nikon D300, 70-200mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/1250th

At first glance you might think it a bit too loose of a shot but I would much rather have to crop in a bit on a frame than chop of an arm or leg on a great play because I was too tight on home.

After everything was all set up I got the hell down from the catwalk and once back on solid ground I quickly set up my second remote camera.

This camera was set up in the photo well I normally shoot from. Since this was a rare day game with the roof open I wanted to be able to roam around the stadium and mess with the cool light and shadows the open roof would provide.

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With both of my remotes all set up and ready to go I had about 2.5 hours to kill. After getting bored surfing the internet and walking around I fired off a few shots of the Dodgers during batting practice.

Manny Ramirez puts on his helmet prior to hitting some batting practice.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/1000th

Back in the tunnel leading to the Dodgers dugout I found infielder Rafael Furcal throwing around a medicine ball.

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Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 1600iso, f3.2, 1/60th

About an hour before the game I got word from the team photographer that an engineer was willing to escort a few of us to the catwalks to walk around and shoot a few innings of the game. Count me in!

So for the second time of the day I made the long hike up the grandstands to the catwalks. This time lugging two cameras with me. Once up there I knocked out some wide angle shots of the stadium since it was a view few photographers have had the chance to shoot.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 250iso, f5.6, 1/1000th

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 250iso, f5.6, 1/1000th

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 250iso, f5.6, 1/1250th

I wish I would have known I was going to be shooting from the catwalks because I would have brought the 600mm with me to the stadium, instead it sat uselessly in my garage back at the house.

I was still able to get some decent stuff with the 400mm so I shot as much as I could while up there.

Below Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Randy Wolf pitches in the first inning.

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Nikon D3, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/2000th

The below three images illustrates the exact same shot from three different angles as Arizona Diamondbacks batter Chris Young lays down a sacrifice bunt in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field.

Handheld:

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Nikon D3, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/2000th

Field Remote:

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Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/1250th

Roof Remote:

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Nikon D300, 70-200mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/1250th

One cool thing about shooting from the catwalks is a boring dime a dozen play (such as a first base pick off attempt) can look somewhat interesting. Below Los Angeles Dodgers base runner Juan Pierre dives back to first base on a pick off attempt by Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Chad Tracy .

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Nikon D3, 400mm, 400iso, f5, 1/2500th

On the next play he stole second base ahead of the throw to Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew.

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Nikon D3, 400mm, 400iso, f5, 1/2500th

The capacity crowd really seemed to be loving the exciting game.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 250iso, f5.6, 1/80th

After hearing me bitch about not having a long enough lens fellow photographer Jon Soo Hoo was nice enough to let me borrow his 2x teleconvertor for a bit.

Below Los Angeles Dodgers batter Russell Martin breaks a bat in the third inning.

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Nikon D3, 400mm with 2x teleconvertor, 500iso, f6.3, 1/1250th

Below Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez chases down a fourth inning fly ball.

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Nikon D3, 400mm with 2x teleconvertor, 400iso, f6.3, 1/1250th

After being very patient the engineer finally told us it was time to head down from the catwalks so back to solid ground we went. Instead of going back into the photo well I stayed at concourse level to try and look for some cool shots.

I really didn’t find much other than an interestingly lit shot of Manny Ramirez in the outfield.

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Nikon D3, 400mm with 2x teleconvertor, 500iso, f6.3, 1/1600th

I headed down to field level to transmit some images and shoot some stock of the players in the sunlight since it was so rare for me.

Below Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Randy Wolf pitches in the sixth inning.

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Nikon D3, 400mm, 500iso, f5, 1/4000th

Below Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Young bats in the seventh inning.

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Nikon D3, 400mm, 500iso, f5, 1/4000th

The below shot of Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Conor Jackson batting is from the same inning but from the remote camera on the other side of the field. It really shows the difference in light and backgrounds that positioning can make.

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Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 500iso, f5, 1/1250th

Now even cooler is the view from roof remote of the same shot. With a nice crop and rotation of the image it really makes for a unique image where its made by the shadows.

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Nikon D300, 70-200mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/1250th

From the roof remote in the last few innings of the game the shadows coming across made for potentially cool images if a play happened at home. Of course it didn’t. But here are a few shots showing how fast the shadows crossed the field and how it affected the photos.

3:36PM

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Nikon D300, 70-200mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/1250th

3:39pm

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Nikon D300, 70-200mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/1250th

3:41PM

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Nikon D300, 70-200mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/1250th

A few minutes after that shot the remote was rendered useless since it was too dark. Luckily it wouldn’t matter in this boring game.

In the top of the ninth inning I once again climbed to the top of the stadium to wait for the engineer to take us to our cameras. While up there I messed with a cool shadow line across the field as Dodgers first baseman James Loney played defense.

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Nikon D3, 400mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/4000th

Below Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Jonathan Broxton is congratulated by catcher Russell Martin after defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Nikon D3, 400mm, 400iso, f2.8, 1/800th

Manny Ramirez celebrates with teammates after defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Nikon D3, 400mm, 400iso, f2.8, 1/1600th

After shooting the celebration I went on the catwalk and brought down my camera and transmitted images before sitting in traffic for about an hour on a slow drive home.

Two days later I was back at the ballpark for attempt two of Roof Remote!

I wasn’t too sure how the shots would look for a night game since it wouldn’t have the cool shadows plus it would be at high ISO’s. With that in mind I went with a D3 instead of the D300. Obviously the D3 looked much better at higher ISO but the one “problem” is that a D3 is a full frame camera which means a 200mm lens wouldn’t be close up enough for what I needed. To overcome the distance factor I instead went with a 300mm lens which would give me the same reach as the 200mm on the D300 crop factor.

After setting up roof cam it was down to the field to set up my field remote in the same place as the previous game.

After setting up the two remotes my plan for the rest of the game was to shoot from the press box and be lazy and eat ice cream. But for starters I needed to shoot St. Louis Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter who was playing after being injured for awhile. I always try and shoot good clean shots of all the pitchers, especially the good ones because there are numerous stadiums where you can’t get good access for head on shots of them pitching.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1250th

After shooting that it was up to the press box for a nice lazy evening of shooting. Below is the view from my cushy seat in the second inning.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1250th

Below Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew dives for a ground ball in the third inning.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1250th

In the fourth inning while warming up before pitching Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter called a trainer out to the mound after feeling pain and he ended up being taken from the game, pretty big news since he is one of the NL’s top pitchers.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1250th

It was a pretty boring game so lets skip to the eighth inning where Arizona Diamondbacks batter Justin Upton got hit by a pitch. Nothing amazing but here is the same shot from all three of my cameras.

Handheld:

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1600th

Field Remote:

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Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Roof Remote:

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Nikon D3, 300mm, 2500iso, f4, 1/1250th

Below, in the eighth inning, my remote shoot as Arizona Diamondbacks batter Conor Jackson hit a three run home run to get the Dbacks back in the game.

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Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

After rounding the bases Jackson (center) was congratulated by Augie Ojeda and Justin Upton.

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Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Below, my roof remote shot as St. Louis Cardinals batter Rick Ankiel broke a bat in the eighth inning.

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Nikon D3, 300mm, 2500iso, f4, 1/1250th

With a day game the next morning I had decided to leave my camera mounted to the roof overnight, I would just need to grab the flash card and battery from the camera before I left so the engineer told me to meet him at the top of the stadium to be escorted to my camera in the top of the ninth inning. So I left my hand held camera in the press box, took the pocket wizard off the top of it and headed to the roof.

Once the engineer unlocked the entrance to the catwalk I was walking high above the field to the camera, it was now the bottom of the ninth and the Diamondbacks were losing. I took the flash card out of the camera, took the battery out and turned off the pocketwizard and we began walking away from the camera when I realized there was a base runner on second base and no outs. I begged the engineer to let me put the card and battery back in the camera and wait a few minutes to see if maybe there would still be a chance for a play at the plate.

Thankfully the engineer was cool and wasn’t in a hurry so I was back in business.

The Diamondbacks advanced a runner to third base and now I was getting excited for a potential play. With the pocketwizard in my left hand read to go I grabbed my Canon G10 point and shoot camera from my pocket and with my right hand shot a wide shot of the stadium.

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Canon G10, 400iso, f5, 1/80th

Finally I had my moment of glory as a batter hit the ball in the infield and Diamondbacks runner Stephen Drew headed home where he slid into the tag by St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina for the out.

Here is a cropped version of my favorite shot from the play.

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Nikon D3, 300mm, 2500iso, f4, 1/1000th

Here is an uncropped version that includes the umpire and is still a cool shot.

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Nikon D3, 300mm, 2500iso, f4, 1/1000th

The game ended up going into extra innings, finally in the bottom of the tenth Arizona Diamondbacks batter (22) Eric Byrnes hit the game winning hit.

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Nikon D3, 300mm, 2500iso, f4, 1/1000th

Arizona Diamondbacks players (6) Stephen Drew and (10) Justin Upton celebrate the game winning hit by Eric Byrnes (not pictured) in the tenth inning.

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Nikon D3, 300mm, 2500iso, f4, 1/1000th

Then the players all ran to celebrate with Byrnes. Horray!

I quickly loosened the magic arm and pointed the camera at the celebration and shot a few photos.

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Nikon D3, 300mm, 2500iso, f4, 1/640th

I quickly took the card and battery out of the camera and headed down to the press room to transmit some images and get the hell out of there since I had to be back the next morning at 10am.

I went down to the field to grab my field remote with hopes I had gotten a nice shot of the play at the plate but when I had pushed the pocketwizard from the catwalk I evidently had the antenna facing the wrong direction and it didn’t fire. I was certainly a little upset but its hard to complain when the more important camera angle worked flawlessly.

The next day would be a roof open game so the light would be great. While on the catwalk getting the camera all set up I noticed a lot of clouds in the sky so I put the camera on aperture priority mode so that it would auto adjust for the changing light conditions. Also it was pretty windy so there was a very real potential of them closing the roof before the game so I cranked the ISO up to 1000 to ensure I would still be able to shoot even if they closed the roof (making it much darker).

For my second remote camera I went with a centerfield remote with a 600mm on a Nikon D300 body. Here is the set up.

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The day marked the 62nd anniversary of Jackie Robinson becoming the first african american baseball player. In his honor all players on both teams wore his number 42 on their jerseys. Its a cool tribute to Robinson but horribly confusing when you are trying to ID and caption photos where everyone has the same number!

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/3200th

As with the previous evenings game, for the first inning I shot behind the plate to get a clean angle of the pitchers. Below Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Jon Garland throws prior to the start of the game.

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Nikon D3, 400mm, 500iso, f4.5, 1/1250th

Here is a shot from my centerfield remote which shows where I shot the above shot from.

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Nikon D300, 600mm, 800iso, f4, 1/2500th

St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols is easily one of the biggest stars in the game so I made it a point to try and get a few nice photos of him for my archive.

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Nikon D3, 400mm, 500iso, f4.5, 1/1600th

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 500iso, f3.5, 1/500th

In the third inning I got a play at the plate as St. Louis Cardinals base runner Chris Duncan slides safely into home ahead of the tag from Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder.

It was a nice looking play that should have made for 3 completely different angles from my handheld camera and two remotes.

Handheld Camera:

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Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 500iso, f4, 1/2500th

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Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 500iso, f4, 1/2500th

Outfield Remote:

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Nikon D300, 600mm, 800iso, f4, 1/4000th

Roof Remote:

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Nikon D3, 300mm, 1000iso, f5.6, 1/6400th

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Nikon D3, 300mm, 1000iso, f5.6, 1/6400th

The handheld would have been a killer angle if it wasn’t for the giant umpire ass blocking the play! Ugh.

It was a pretty boring game so there isn’t too much more to show. Below is a shot from my centerfield remote as Stephen Drew bats.

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Nikon D300, 600mm, 800iso, f4, 1/8000th

Late in the game I thought I was going to have another play at the plate, instead the ball was never thrown to home so all I got was a St. Louis Cardinals runner sliding with no tag.  Laaaame.

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Nikon D3, 300mm, 1000iso, f5.6, 1/6400th

The last photo from the game that I somewhat liked was the below shot as Diamondbacks batter Jackie Robinson, I mean Mark Reynolds is brushed back by an inside pitch.

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Nikon D3, 300mm, 1000iso, f5.6, 1/6400th

I plan to continue trying to come up with some more cool roof remote shots in the future so stay tuned!

A few hours after posting this blog I got a nice present in the mail. The new issue of ESPN the Magazine with my remote shot as a two page spread. See taking some extra effort once in awhile can pay off!

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Posted in Baseball, Diamondbacks, Me, MLB, Pocket Wizard, Remote Camera, Sports   | 20 Comments

20 Responses to “18 Stories above home plate Roof Cam makes its Debut”

  1. Brett says:

    That is a pretty awesome idea of putting a remote up in the cat-walks. It’s pretty rare to be able to get that kind of an angle in a baseball stadium. Nice work. Did any of them make it to press. You usually put images of the ones that did. That’s too bad if they didn’t.

    Keep up the creative work.

    Brett

  2. Tony says:

    Great post! Love the angles and the commentary.

  3. brendan says:

    Mark – some great shots mate. How many shots would you fire off in the day on any one camera?

  4. Bruno Pires says:

    Hi Mark:

    Great remote stuff, always pushing your limits!
    On the first day, on those great shadow shots, how is the roof cam metering set up?

    Congrats and keep up your great work!

    Regards,
    Bruno Pires

  5. Brian says:

    sweet pics as usual Mark! I love reading the insight that goes into each setup and shot. I learn a lot each week!

    Bri

  6. Your pics amaze me everytime I see a new one, (your thinking out of the box) someday I hope to have your skills.

    Later,

    Chuck Clark

  7. Alex Wong says:

    heck yeah double truck!

  8. Rich Piling would be proud of you. Nice stuff.

  9. Steve says:

    WOW!
    This article is just amazing! Thanks a lot! Got a real inside view of your working here.
    Nice pictures to, no – make it damn nice pictures!

    Greets from Steve, Norway.

  10. James Magdaleno says:

    always inspiring stuff man.

  11. dom says:

    Great as always . Any Chance of doing a bit of a post on how you set your Remotes up focusing and exposure wise?

  12. Byron says:

    Sweet stuff, like usual!

  13. Great shots and congrats on the ESPN photo!

  14. Duncan says:

    Mark,
    Love your work. Thanks for sharing your setups to the shoot. Looking forward to meeting you.

    Thanks,
    Duncan

  15. [...] Sports photographer Mark J. Rebilas (pictured below), tells in exhaustive detail how he made a Zoom photo (also shown below) that is running in the current issue of ESPN the Magazine. Interesting read here! [...]

  16. Dirk says:

    Congrats on the publication! Nice series, as always :)

  17. Joey says:

    Cool remote stuff !!

    Ever loose one when a bracket fails?

  18. Ted says:

    Great set Mark, your photography is awesome. Thank you for taking a the time to share your “behind the scene” style and sharing your knowledge.

  19. Brilliant. Lead never follow.

  20. Vic says:

    Mark,
    You are truly an inspiration to a 63 year old who has had his love of photography rekindled by artists such as yourself. I am so appreciative that you offer someone like myself the opportunity to see the process by which you create and the rewards of your efforts.

    Don’t ever underestimate your creative talent.

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