cubs

What a perfect day! I just got back last night, I’m still grinning about the wonderful day I had shooting the Cubbies. Even though I was in/out the same day (flying up from Tampa for the game), it was totally worth it.

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Wrigley Field is truly a Magical Place
I had never been to Wrigley field before (one of the last classic iconic ballparks in America), and as much as I love Boston’s Fenway Park, I think Wrigley truly takes the cake. It’s everything from the hand-updated scoreboard, to the ivy in the outfield, to the way the park blends in, lives, and breathes with the surrounding neighborhood. I can’t imagine a better place to take in a game.

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(Above: An 8-frame pano taken from the 2nd deck, right behind home plate—click on it for a larger view)

Cubs Fans Rule!
The Cubbies are having a really tough year, but despite that, Cubs fans packed every seat and cheered their Cubs on as if they were just 1 game back (even when they were behind by 8 runs). I was really impressed with how the fans carried themselves. Very classy.

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Steve Green Rules!
Mike and I spent the day with Cubs Team Photographer Stephen Green (shown above), and he was an incredibly gracious host, and knew every nook and cranny of Wrigley, and how to get there fast. He’s a long time sports shooting pro, and he knew all the angles, all the best spots, and he made the day a lot of fun for us both. Everybody we met from the Cubs organization was just as gracious.

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Surprise of the Day
The Cubs were playing the Cincinnati Reds and I’m in tight on one of the Red’s while he’s at bat, and when I zoom out a bit I notice the name on the back of his shirt. Cairo. It was my friend Miguel Cairo (I did a location portrait shoot with Miguel back when he was with the New York Yankees. Here a link to that post from 2007).

Between innings I switched over to the photo pit near the Cincinnati bench, and I yelled over to Miguel. He saw me and came out of the dugout onto the field to give me a hug (I’m glad the folks from the Cubs organization didn’t see that one). I don’t know who was more surprised to see the other—-me or Miguel (he was with the Phillies last year).

I shot his next At Bat from the Reds bench view and sent him the photo you see above. One thing I particularly like about this photo is that you can see his eye looking down the line of his bat, right above his arm. I have two more frames taken a split second after this one with all three of them looking to the sky following the ball, and they all have a clearer view of his face, but they don’t have the drama that this one does seeing just that one eye. Anyway, it was my favorite of the three.

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My first real Chicago Style dog
OK, I had two (with all the fixin’s). I know, I know, somehow they’re better if you have them at Wrigley Field, but man, they were off the hook! It challenged my love of New York’s “Dirty Water” Sabrett hot dogs you buy on the street.

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(Above: I thought I’d try a fish-eye shot or two. Taken with a 10.5mm lens).

The Weather Man was Half Right
As I sat on the plane in the morning, I checked the Chicago weather. It showed a 0% chance of rain. When I actually landed in Chicago 2+ hours later, it was already raining. Luckily, the rain cleared (after a short 10 minute rain delay), and it was a beautiful day (well, it was if you’re coming from steaming hot, humid Florida).

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(Above: Another fisheye shot, but with the circular distortion fixed using Lightroom 3s built-in Lens Correction).

Getting Some Long Glass
I wanted to try out a different lens, so I rented a Nikon 300mm f/2.8 with a 1.4 tele-extender from LensProToGo.com (I love those guys—-highly recommended),  so it effectively became a 420mm f/4 lens. I also shot with a 200-400mm f/4; a 24-70mm f/2.8 (out wide at 24mm most of the time), or a 10.5mm fisheye. So I was either tight or really wide all day. For all the tight shots, I shot wide-open all day long at f/4 or f/2.8. For the few HDR shots and fisheye shots I took, I went to f/8 or f/11 to keep everything in focus. I included a few shots from the day here. Nothing great, but I still had a ball.

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(Above: That’s my buddy, photographer Mike McCaskey in a shot taken right after the game).

Seeing the Ivy up Close
After the game, Steve took Mike (above) and I out to see the famous outfield ivy up close, and to stroll around the park just hanging out and swapping stories. It was a perfect day.

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Even perfect days have to end
After the game, my buddy Mike and I headed to Carlucci’s Italian Restaurant in Rosemont for a great dinner, and then it was back to O’Hare for the flight home (I landed around midnight). Again, totally worth it. Luckily, my son waited up for me, and we stayed up late laughing and listening to some new tunes on his iPod until way too late. And I thought the day couldn’t get any better. :)  Thanks Mike, and Steve, for treating me to a day I won’t soon forget.

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