Every year I promise myself I am going to go nuts with baseball, do multiple remotes at every game all season and produce some great images but something always happens. I get lazy! Well heres a look at my best baseball photos of 2009 before motivation departed and laziness set in.

It all begins in spring training every year as teams converge onto the Arizona desert to kick things off.

With the Los Angeles Dodgers moving their Spring Training home to Arizona after many many years in Florida it was kind of a big deal so I had to make the hour drive out to Glendale to shoot the day the team reported to their new home, below.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 320iso, f7.1, 1/500th, Aperture Priority

Below, Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers appear to walk through the desert as they head to the field to stretch during a team practice at The Ballpark at Camelback Ranch.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

The big story of Sprint Training for me would be Manny Ramirez. Going into the season he still had not signed a contract. A few weeks into the spring he finally resigned with the Dodgers so I once again found myself making the drive out there to shoot lots of photos of him.

As most of you know a few weeks into the season he would test positive for steroids. I think the below photo worked great to accompany those stories.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 400iso, f4, 1/800th, Manual

While Spring Training doesn’t grant all access to the photographers we can definitely get away with pushing the envelope a bit in regards to standing in spots we normally wouldn’t attempt.

For the below shot of Oakland Athletics pitcher Dallas Braden throwing in the bullpen, I strapped a wide angle lens on my camera and laid on the pitchers mound beneath him and shot up as he threw.


Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

While on the topic of laying on the ground, I once again found myself on the ground beneath Manny Ramirez as he signed autographs for numerous fans. Shooting that same moment standing up (which I did) was horrible compared to how it looked by taking some initiative. Moral of the story….Don’t be a lazy photographer!


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 1250iso, f6.3, 1/1600th, Manual

Shooting boring headshots of players is typically viewed as boring but even a boring photo can come out interesting if you put some effort into it.

For the below photo of Los Angeles Angels infielder Sean Rodriguez in the dugout I exposed for the reflection in his sun glasses and it produced a nearly all black frame with just the reflection in his glasses and the highlights of his face visible. I loved this photo.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 800iso, f5, 1/2500th, Manual

I have always been a big proponent of using foreground clutter as a way to frame my subject in an image. The below frame is a great example as the base runner and first base coach provide framing as Los Angeles Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick floats in the air after throwing to first base to complete a double play after forcing out Los Angeles Dodgers base runner Andre Ethier during the game at Tempe Diablo Stadium .


Nikon D700, 400mm, 800iso, f4, 1/6400th, Manual

A few weeks later I found myself on a flight to Texas to shoot a college baseball player who is being regarded as the next MLB super star.

San Diego State Aztecs pitcher Stephen Strasburg.

The guy has a fast ball that approaches 104mph.

Below, Strasburg’s face looks like a scary leprechaun as he warms up in the bullpen prior to the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Lupton Baseball Stadium.


Nikon D3, 400mm, 640iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

I wanted to come up with something cool from the shoot so I tried to do a triple exposure as Strasburg pitched in the game, below is how it came out.


Nikon D3, 400mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/8000th, Manual, Triple Exposure

Back to the pros where Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds was becoming quite the defense star.

Below, Reynolds dives to catch a foul ball.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Chase Field in Phoenix is a retractable roof stadium, however the roof is usually closed due to outside temperature.  Even with the roof closed we sometimes get some really cool light shafts that can provide amazing light if you are lucky enough to be in the right spot for it.

Light illuminated the face of Dodgers infielder Orlando Hudson (below) as he waits in the on deck circle.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/3200th, Manual

Thanks to Diamondbacks team photographer Jon Willey, I had several chances this season to go up to the roof of the stadium and shoot photos along with set up some unique remote cameras.

Below is a wide angle view of Chase Field on a rare day game with the roof open.


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

Even the most routine plays (such as a pick off attempt) look interesting when you are shooting nearly straight down on it.

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.


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

Using the nice sunlight is great but combining that with the dark shadow backgrounds is even cooler and can get you moody looking shots that you just rarely will get to see at most ballparks.

Below, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez stands just on the edge of the dark shadows as he throws a ball.


Nikon D3, 400mm with 2x convertor (800mm), 500iso, f6.3, 1/1600th, Manual

On to one of my coolest remote camera positions of the year…….roof cam!

The below photo of Diamondbacks batter Conor Jackson would have been just a cool angle of a boring moment had it not been for the great shadows in the late innings of a day game with the roof open.


Nikon D300, 80-200mm, 400iso, f7.1, 1/1250th, Manual

Same story for the below photo of Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman James Loney. By framing him in the edge of the shot I was able to utilize the patterns of the infield along with the shadows creeping across the field to take a boring shot of a guy standing and turn it into a graphic looking photo.


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

I shot the below photo of the infield from the roof with my little Canon G10. I had been escorted up to the roof by a team engineer to retrieve a remote camera at the end of the game…….


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

…….just as I was ready to leave the roof I realized the Diamondbacks had a chance to score so I begged the engineer to let me go back and turn the camera back on.

Thank god he was bored and didn’t care because a few moments later I got the shot I had envisioned from roof remote as Arizona Diamondbacks base runner Stephen Drew slid into home where he was tagged out by St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina in the ninth inning at Chase Field.


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


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

The next day I would get another play at the plate  but it wasn’t as good as the previous one.

Below, St. Louis Cardinals base runner Chris Duncan slides safely into home ahead of the tag from Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder.


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

If you want all the details of the roof remote camera and its placement click here to read the full blog.

Ok fast forward into the summer months. With the cool temperatures of spring long gone so were the chances of the roof being open during a day game.

Its ok though because now the early afternoon games would give the opportunity to get some of those unique light pockets I had previously mentioned.

Below, Washington Nationals pitcher Julian Tavarez is bathed in sunlight as he pitches in the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks.


Nikon D700, 600mm, 3200iso, f5.6, 1/5000th, Manual

While eating the free ice cream the team provides to members of the media I shot the below photo as Arizona Diamondbacks base runner Chris Snyder slides safely into home ahead of the tag from Washington Nationals catcher Wil Nieves in the sixth inning at Chase Field.


Nikon D700, 600mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/800th, Manual

Below, Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder runs to second base.


Nikon D700, 600mm, 3200iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Manual

You don’t always have to have great action or cool light to get an interesting photo.

Cincinnati Reds first base coach Billy Hatcher blows a bubble during the game against the Diamondbacks, below.


Nikon D3, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

The best shot from baseball typically come from plays at the plate.

The below shot isn’t the greatest play at the plate but it at least gave me something.

Arizona Diamondbacks base runner Justin Upton slides safely into home ahead of the tag by Cincinnati Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

The other play that usually makes for a cool photo is a play at second base.

Below, Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Felipe Lopez dives for a throw as Cincinnati Reds base runner Jay Bruce steals second base at Chase Field.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

After Manny Ramirez was suspended 50 games for steroids his first appearance back would be in a minor league game for the Dodgers farm team in New Mexico, also known as the Albuquerque Isotopes.

As soon as I heard that he would be playing there I quickly booked a flight there to cover the media circus that would be sure to ensue.

Below, a happy Manny Ramirez heads out on field past the largest crowd in Isotopes history.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f11, 1/250th, Manual

The next two images are examples of the nice light you can get by using an off camera flash. If you only take one thing away from my blogs it should be this…… shooting with your flash on camera = LAZY!


Nikon D700, 12-24mm, 400iso, f13, 1/250th, Manual


Nikon D700, 12-24mm, 400iso, f13, 1/250th, Manual

Back home in Phoenix I once again toyed around some more with the light pockets at Chase Field.

In the bullpen I shot the below photo of Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels as he throws prior to the game.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/2500th, Manual

I am pretty sure the bullpen is off limits to photographers but the amazing light was calling to me so I quickly made my way just inside the bullpen to shoot the below photo before security gave me the boot.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/2500th, Manual

Below, Mark Reynolds continues his season of giving us great defensive photos as he dives to catch an errant throw from home in an attempt to pick off Philadelphia Phillies baserunner Shane Victorino.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Arizona Diamondbacks base runner Trent Oeltjen (below) lays out as he slides safely into third base with a triple late in the season.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

With how slow boring baseball can be I always find myself looking around the stadium for interesting things to look for. I noticed a little kid practicing his batting swings at the top row of the stadium near a window. By underexposing the shot by several stops I was able to attain an all black background to really make the photo pop.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 2500iso, f16, 1/1250th, Manual

We close out my 2009 baseball season with the below photo of Diamondbacks rookie first baseman Brandon Allen as he is illuminated by the sun coming through a window as he throws the ball back to the pitcher following a pickoff attempt.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 800iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

To be honest I really had hoped for a better year of baseball photos but I had some pretty good tearsheets this season (including a Sports Illustrated cover) so I guess I really can’t complain.

Posted in Baseball, Diamondbacks, MLB, NCAA, Sports, Texas   | 3 Comments

3 responses to “Best of 2009: Best Baseball Photos”

  1. David says:

    Mark… you gotta know someone at Oakley… the dugout image is way cool!

  2. Great pictures. My favorites are the reflection in the sunglasses and the three overlapping images of the pitcher.

  3. Is there seriously a team called the Albuquerque Isotopes? Hahaha that’s terrible. Great pics tho.

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