While most of my friends on the east coast are still busy digging out of the snow in early March I have the pleasure of being able to drive to several stadiums around the Phoenix area to shoot the boys of summer as they prepare for the upcoming season with Cactus League spring training. Continue on to see a few of my favorite images from this year.

I have been insanely busy with working/traveling as of late so excuse the briefness of this post.

Below is an example of not paying attention to your camera settings when you are set up for overcast and the sun suddenly comes out while shooting Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Hideki Matsui against the San Diego Padres at Tempe Diablo Stadium.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 800iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

Unlike the regular season where games are played in large spacious and nicer fields with clean backgrounds (usually) spring training games are much smaller fields with much more cluttered backgrounds. However if you shoot at a wide aperture you can sometimes make them not look so horrible.

Below, San Diego Padres pitcher Chris Young throws in the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f3.5, 1/2000th, Manual

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Reggie Willits (right) kisses his bat in the dugout against the San Diego Padres at Tempe Diablo Stadium, below.


Nikon D700, 400mm with 1.4 convertor (550mm), 640iso, f4.5, 1/1000th, Manual

Normally umpires in my shots are typically a bad thing but it worked out well in the below photo as San Diego Padres catcher Yorvit Torrealba catches a foul pop as home plate umpire Ted Barrett falls to the ground in the third inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f4, 1/1000th, Manual

If you come to my blog even semi often you may have noticed I have a thing for shooting reflection shots. You normally can’t do that with baseball as there is very rarely water anywhere that it would work but after a heavy morning rain there was a large puddle on the foul warning track near the bullpen so by literally laying in the mud I was able to get a decent effect as San Diego Padres pitcher Radhames Liz warmed up in the bullpen against the Los Angeles Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium. The shot would have been great without the Miller advertisement, the yellow foul pole and the blanket on the grass. Actually I guess with all those things in the photo it isn’t very good at all!


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Below, I went wide to show off the gorgeous Arizona spring day in an overall view of Tempe Diablo Stadium during the game between the Los Angeles Angels against the San Diego Padres.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/800th, Manual

Since spring training games aren’t important to cover the same way a regular game is covered (shooting entire game getting all the standard game action pics) it allows me to mess around and try and get artsy shots.

By standing directly behind home plate at Peoria Stadium I was able to mess around with some layering type shots as  Seattle Mariners pitcher Cliff Lee pitched against the Texas Rangers. I won’t lie, that photo took several images to get one I liked.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/2500th, Manual

Below I moved a few feet to the right to shoot a more conventional version.


Nikon D700, 400mm with 1.4 convertor (550mm), 250iso, f4, 1/1600th, Manual

Below, Seattle Mariners shortstop (2) Jack Wilson turns a double play as he forces out Texas Rangers baserunner (19) Chris Davis in the second inning during a spring training game at Surprise Stadium.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

Living in Arizona and shooting mostly Diamondbacks games all season I usually only get to shoot National League teams so with spring training I always enjoy shooting as many American League teams as possible to help fill out my baseball archive for down the road.

A big reason I try and cover a Mariners game or two every year is to get more shots of Ichiro Suzuki who will be a first ballot hall of famer when he retires. At a game in Peoria I shot the below photo of Ichiro in the on deck circle before an at bat. While I am angry for cutting his hand off the shimmering sunlight off his bat makes me like the photo anyways.


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

Some pitchers have great body motions after they throw a pitch, a good example is Texas Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson, below.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f3.2, 1/2500th, Manual

And whats a spring training photo blog without a shot of my good buddy (haha) Ken Griffey Jr. I had a client who requested close up pics of him smiling but unless you are one of his good friends (or have some blackmail photos of him) he will not be smiling if you stick a camera near his face!


Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Below, Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki is congratulated by teammates after scoring a run in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Peoria Stadium.


Nikon D700, 400mm with 1.4 convertor (550mm), 1000iso, f4, 1/640th, Manual

Below is an example of being at the wrong angle for what could have been a great photo as Kansas City Royals baserunner Brayan Pena (27) slides safely into home as Seattle Mariners catcher Josh Bard falls on his back in the second inning at Peoria Stadium.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 200iso, f3.2, 1/1250th, Manual

Every once in awhile I will hear about a prospect who the media tout as a “can’t miss future star.” Whenever I hear about those type players I always make it a point to do everything I can to get some images of them. This year everyone has been talking about Cuban defect Aroldis Chapman who is a fireball throwing pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds. After finding out when he would be pitching I headed out to Glendale to knock out a few shots of him in action. At spring training when a pitcher is warming up between innings us photographers are allowed on the field on the dirt behind the catcher to shoot head on photos of the pitcher warming up. After shooting one pitch from that angle Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez noticed me back there and motioned for me to move. I figured he was just being a jerk but seriously two pitches after I moved from the spot Chapman threw a wild pitch that flew right through the area that I had just been shooting. The crowd all let out a loud OOOOH and the catcher turned around and smiled at me and gave me an “I told you so” look. I made it a point to smile back and yell “Thank you!”

Below, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers at The Ballpark at Camelback Ranch.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 640iso, f6.3, 1/2500th, Manual

Most spring training games take place with 1pm starts but every once in awhile they had 6pm start games which makes for much cooler light to work with.

Below, I had great light on San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner as he warmed up prior to the game against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 800iso, f5.6, 1/6400th, Manual

I really like the below photo of San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval as he jokes around with teammates in the dugout prior to the game.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

As I mentioned earlier in this post there are times where there’s nothing you can do to eliminate a cluttered background so sometimes you just need to accept it and work with it.

Below, San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws during the game against the Rangers with a building in the background lit up by the setting sun. Sure it could have looked better without the building but with a big lens and a decently wide aperture it blurs it just enough that it isn’t too terrible.


Nikon D700, 400mm, 2000iso, f4, 1/2000th, Manual

After the sun had set the cool factor of shooting a late starting game quickly went away. I was bored so I decided to stick around another few innings.

Below, Texas Rangers star player Josh Hamilton gets hit in the wrist by a pitch. Hamilton would leave the game.


Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Another future star player I have been hearing about is San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey. Below I shot him walking off the field at the end of an inning.


Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

That wraps up a rather concise blog (for me) Stay tuned for some March Madness action coming soon!

Here are some web clips:

Posted in Baseball, MLB, Sports   | 6 Comments

6 responses to “Random images from Spring Training”

  1. Thank you for taking the time to update your blog! I check every couple days and love seeing a new post…especially baseball. I love your photogrpahy and seeing your camera settings and ideas of what you were looking to acheive with each photo has given me so much inspiration and knowledge to draw from. Thanks again, and keep up the great work! Your photos are always amazing!

  2. Dustin says:

    Funny think about Ken Griffey Jr – for some reason he was all smiles when he visited Colorado this year, and was the only player – superstar or otherwise – that seriously let me shoot close-up smile after close-up smile. I was a little weirded out honestly, but made for some nice tight shots. Most players are really camera-conscious and try not to give you much to work with.

    GREAT post Mark. I’d say your making the most of your access and the spring quirks. I’ll get down there one of these years.

  3. Kevin says:

    Definitely some absolutely awesome shots here. Especially like the Willits and Sandoval snaps. Stellar work man…

  4. […] Continue reading and see more photos on Mark’s blog. […]

  5. I love the Cliff Lee photo. Must have been really hard to get that right with the depth of field being so weird.

  6. […] Continue reading and see more photos on Mark’s blog. […]

Leave a Reply

Check out my Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to "like" the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!