Category Archives: Photography

Making Time Stand Still at 80+ Miles Per Hour

The light and camera it takes to freeze the action

Last time, we looked at how to snap a picture with the ball over home plate, which turned out to be much easier than the numbers would suggest. Now though, we have a tougher challenge: making that ball stop moving. Let’s take a look at the picture we started with at original size.

The ball is in the right place, but it’s in a bit more of the right place than it should be. What went wrong? Well, from our calculations last time, we know that the ball is moving at around 1400 inches per second. The shutter speed in this photo was 1/1600s, so that tells us that the ball moved approximately .88 inches in the time that the shutter was open. A baseball is about 3 inches in diameter, so it had enough time to move almost one-third of that distance. That just won’t do. What would we get for different shutter speeds?

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Getting An Eye on the Ball

What it takes to capture action over the plate

Whenever I go somewhere or see something interesting, I like to try to capture the experience in photographs. I’ve done this all over the world at major events, famous landmarks, tourist attractions, and natural landscapes. Every experience poses its own unique challenges and baseball is no different. With limited access and equipment to work with though, there are only a few good opportunities for capturing on-field action. Luckily, one of them is where most of the action happens: home plate.

Eyes, ball. Ball, eyes.

Here’s one of dozens of pictures I’ve taken at minor league games over the last two years showing the ball directly over the plate. For the most part, these are calibration shots for me, indicating that I’m set to capture the action when it happens. When you think about it, just about everything that happens at the plate will be during the time when the ball is (or should be) in the vicinity of the plate. Hits, swinging strikeouts, HBPs, etc. are all at their most interesting in this very narrow window. Just how narrow is it? As the numbers will show, it’s too small for brute force or random chance to result in success.

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