Over the years, photography has become a great way for me to unwind. I love being out searching for a shot. Determining what lens to use, white balance, aperture, focus and the right moment to hit the shutter is like a therapy session. I attribute this methodical approach to shooting film. The tactical experience is a huge part of my enjoyment of photography whether shooting film or digital. Tonight I was in need of some unwinding. What better way to do this than to pick up my DSLR and head out to make some pictures.
Let’s start by talking about my need to unwind. What started out as just another one of my son’s baseball games turned out to be a confrontation between the umpire and the parents. During the bottom of the 1st inning, one of the parents on our side said “C’mon” after a questionable call by the officials. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary other than the fact that the parent said the name of the official. Still in my opinion, it wasn’t anything serious as I have heard the exact same thing in the past. The umpire who was not really the umpire, but an older volunteer who was there to help train the younger officials decided that he wanted that person ejected. When that person said that he was not going to leave, the umpire convened with his officials on the pitcher’s mound. He then made it clear that the game would not resume until that person was gone. At that point, the parent said he would leave and watch the game from the outfield area. Well it turns out that this was not enough, the umpire then turned to the stands and ordered that one half of the stands had to be ejected as well. Basically he wanted the most vocal of the group to be gone. This is where the overreach began.
That group he pointed out included my wife. Those who know my wife, knows she is not one to raise her voice or say anything that could be considered even borderline inappropriate. She cheers for our players and that’s it. How could an official blindly isolate a group and eject them from the game? Well let me tell you why. There is some back story. This particular umpire has had some confrontation with a certain group of our parents in the past. The person that he ejected is a member of that family. I believe the umpire had a chip on his shoulder and wanted to make an example out of them. Well as you could have imagined, the parents did not want to leave. At this point, the officials called a board member to come out to the field.
This board member explained to the coaches and parents that the umpire is going to reschedule the game if the targeted group of parents did not leave. To the board member’s credit, he tried to get the umpire to continue the game to no avail. What happened next was a first for me in baseball. The umpire actually called the police. Can you believe 3 squad cars showed up at the ball park? This particular umpire is known for being a stickler for the rules in a good way. I actually have enjoyed the games he as umpired. However, as I mentioned above, I believe he was making this game a little too personal. He always says that we are here for the kids and that we should always put them first. This is great, but how does calling the police put the kids first? If the umpire could have seen the terror in some of our players eyes, I bet he would have thought differently. I would have never dreamed that my players would be asking me if they were going to be arrested. After some deliberation with the police, it was decided that all bleachers had to be cleared. Our parents and fans as well as the parents and fans of the opposing team had to leave the park and watch the game from the outfield. It was a bit weird having empty bleachers during an actual game. To add to the stress, we were down 5 to 0. We battled back and tied the game 5 to 5 to end the first inning. We decided to bring in my son to pitch to try to shut them down. I have to say that I am very proud of my son. Even with all the distractions, he came in and did his job and we pulled out the victory 8 to 7.
What a game! I bet a lot of people grabbed a cold one after this experience. Since I don’t drink, I grabbed my camera and decided to capture some night lights. I planned to make a trip to Nashville to continue a film project I’ve been working on, but since the game took up so much time, I decided to stay a little closer to home. If you keep up with my blog posts, you know that I am not a big fan of HDR, at least not the overly process HDR pictures you come across occasionally. However, I see HDR as a tool. I believe the more tools you have as a photographer makes you a better photographer. I have found that I like using HDR for night scenes. With the contrast between the night lights and the dark of night, HDR is a great way to create the dynamic range needed to bring balance to a scene. I like to use it to bring the image back to the way I saw it with my eyes. The following pictures are of the downtown square area of Columbia, Tennessee. All shots were taken with my Olympus E520 DSLR. The number of shots to create each final image ranged from 3 to 4 frames. The frames were compiled with SNS HDR software and post processed in Lightroom. Below is my technique for each shot.
- Find the composition with camera, no tripod.
- Set up tripod and position and level camera to composition found in step 1.
- Determine aperture and focus.
- With composition locked into position, remove camera form tripod and find exposures using spot metering. Determine brightest exposure and darkest exposure and how many exposures in between.
- Re-position camera on tripod and attached remote camera release.
- Check to make sure image stabilization is off.
- Finally take my predetermined number of exposures.
The above steps is done relatively quickly. I tried to keep the longest shutter speed as low as possible. This means increasing the ISO. With my particular camera, I tried to not go over ISO 400 due to noise. Today’s digital camera’s can handle noise much better at higher ISO settings. Sometimes you just have to work with what you got. You can see the number of frames used to make each picture in the caption.
I took my last picture just after midnight. I called it a night and headed home. I was relieved of my stress and I actually stayed up another 2 hours watching a movie and processing pictures. I hope you enjoyed the images and the story. Thanks for reading!
Images Best Viewed in Lightbox Below!