Tampa Bay Rays Pitcher “Complete Game” James Shields for ESPN the Mag
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Spring Training and ESPN
This Spring I have been busy with multiple assignments from ESPN the Magazine shooting the Technique section for the Mag. This section is used to illustrate a very specific action(s) that different professional athletes perform in game that makes them elite in their respective sports.
ESPN has sent us to the Orioles training camp to shoot catcher Matt Wieters (*will post and update once the images run), TB Rays pitcher James Shields, and Braves base stealer Michael Bourn*.
James was awesome and knew quite a bit about photography because his wife is a photographer, which was cool because he wanted to know everything about our Hasselblad and which lenses we were using. It’s funny how many of these guys are actually into photography, you’d be surprised. He was very gracious with his time and told us some pretty cool major league stories, especially the one about the Coco Crisp fight, when Coco charged him at the mound, it’s all over the web you can find it. Once again James was super cool and thanks to everyone from the Tampa Bay Rays organization, especially Dave Haller for catching some pretty hard throws, all down to earth guys you could easily throw one back with. Also AK Clemmons the writer from ESPN is really cool, and is definitely the girl you want on your team for sports trivia night, super knowledgeable about some obscure baseball techniques.
The main purpose for our shoot has been to capture the technique of individual athletes doing very specific things. James is the man when it comes to throwing would be base stealers out at 1st. He has developed a unique style for doing it and shared some of his secrets with us. The coolest one I thought was how he measures the distance from 1st base to the edge of the infield grass apron, which he uses to tell him how far a runner is from the bag. One step to far (which is around 10’ to 12’ apparently) and he’s got them. We shot multiple angles on him doing the pitchout and together with ESPN photo editor Nick Galac, and my digital wunderkind Zachary Scheffer we created the series you see before you.
For technical details, we wanted to keep these shoots looking natural but have some pop to the players, while also being able to do super fast sequences. We used 4K HMI’s in order to match daylight and punch in enough fill so we could motor drive @10 fps to capture the action and not worry about strobes recycling fast enough. We also bumped up the ISO slightly in order to be able to shoot at faster shutter speeds as well. Several of these shoots involved us shooting TV/video elements in slow motion on the Red Epic camera at speeds up to 300 fps is another reason we opted for HMI’s. I would have loved to have had a 12k HMI or more out there, but for one guy on the mound the 4k’s proved to be plenty.
I will continue to post updates from the all the different MLB shoots as well as several other shoots including pro golf and Olympic athletes, so keep checking back. I am officially going to keep up with the blog this time.