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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About The Author

Scott is the President of KelbyOne, an online educational community for Photographers, Photoshop and Lightroom users. He's editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, Conference Technical Chair for the Photoshop World Conference & Expo, and the author of a string of bestselling Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography books.

52 Comments

  1. Scott,
    Love the pan, it rocks. I would bet there will be a canvas of that one in the offfice! It’s so great to have a job that you love, can’t call that work! :)

  2. Hey Scott!

    Nice shots my fav is the second to last one because I can feel the action going on in my mind.
    Chose the perfect frame for that one as well. I’m off to bed now shooting tomorrow :)


    ?DT.
    Miami, Florida | Nassau, Bahamas

  3. Hey Scott!

    Nice shots my fav is the second to last one because I can feel the action going on in my mind.
    Chose the perfect frame for that one as well. I’m off to bed now shooting tomorrow :)


    ?DT.
    Miami, Florida | Nassau, Bahamas

  4. Very nice shots, love the depth of field on the second one with both the players in perfect focus, but the background nice and blurry.

    Wondering why you used the tele-extender on the 300mm f/2.8 when you already had the 200-400 f/4? What’s the advantage in doing that? Sharper image? (I thought the tele-extender would have reduced that).

    • Hi Sam:
      I brought both so Mike and I could try out different lenses (I’ve heard the shallow DOF effect is better on the 300mm than on the 400mm. I didn’t really get the chance to do a real side-by-side but I will next game for sure).

      -Scott

  5. Hey Scott I just got the 300 2.8 VR over the 200-400 & have decided to use the 1.4 tele.

    How did you like the combo. & what camera were you shooting with. Im trying to get into Sports events to shoot & I can’t make up my mind if I should sell my D3 & get a D300 to get the extra reach from the Dx camera. Just asking what your take on this would be ? I have shot with the 200-400 & though i love it. Man do I really Love the 300Vr.

    • Jared,
      I was planning on buying the 300 2.8 but now I’m thinking save alittle more and get the 200-400 vr11. The teleconverter is going to reduce the quality some so you really can’t compare one lens to the other by using the converter to get the same telephoto. I am also interested to know which camera Scott used.

      I have a D3 a D3s and a D300 and I use all for sports. If I am shooting in the day I put my 70-200 on my d300. If I am shooting at night then there is no substitute for the D3, it has such a great high ISO low noise capability.

      A perfect answer would be get both OR you could get a D700 and D300s and have best of both worlds (D700 has same sensor).
      K

      • Hey Ken thanks for the info. It was a really hard decision between the 300VR & the 200-400. All the looking on the internet I had done pointed to the 300 being almost not effected by the 1.4 & I can’t rent the 300 local , but I can rent the 200-400 local. So that pretty much also guided the decision to the 300. I really like the 300 for indoor skating photos where the compactness is a real plus. Still it was a hard one. I would love to talk to you some more about shooting Sports.

  6. Nice shots Scott, you’re sports photos really rock.

  7. Hey Scott, some really cool shots taken here. Love the depth of field and composition on some of these photographs. My favorite ones have to be the second one from the top with the two players and the fish eye shot of the stadium, amazing!

  8. Thank you for the great post Scott. Man what a treat that must have been. I make it to Wrigley once a year and follow the Cubbies on the TV and radio the rest of the time. There is no ball park like Wrigley. I hope they never tear it down.

    Regards,
    Upde

  9. Great shots , Scott! And I know you had a great time. Yet another legendary Chicago sports venue & team for you to shoot! That 300mm was they same lens I used at the Bears game and it was great. I noticed Mr. McCaskey is holding a Nikon , did you convince him to switch? I am pretty positive he was shooting a Canon at the Bears game! Either way I’m sure he had some great shots and I know you guys had a wonderful time!

  10. Thanks for sharing the photos SK. The folks at lensprotogo are the best. Im fortunate enough to live only 20 minutes away and have rented from them a few times and plan to again once HS football rolls around. You won’t find any one nice than Paul nad his crew. If you ever make it bake to Boston, you have to pop in and say hello.

  11. The ending to your day is really what it is all about.

  12. Hi Scott,

    The first shot of Francisco running to second is easily my favorite of the bunch, though the pano is very cool too. Would your buddy Mike McCaskey be the former CEO of the Bears? I can imagine someone of his stature could pull a string or two in the Windy City.

    BTW, I’m just back from five weeks of shooting (photos) in Alaska and the Yukon. Did I miss anything? ;-)

    Trev J.

  13. I’m a born and raised Chicago native and die hard Cub fan. I always say that people really need to experience Wrigley once in their lives if for nothing more than to understand how baseball was, and how beautiful it can be in terms of simplicity. That being said, there is a lot of renovation that has to happen on the “guts” of the park. One thing however Scott….Wrigley isn’t just about Wrigley, it’s about the area that it is in. I would highly recommend that the next time you are out this way, you make certain to take a look at and shoot the sourrounding area (Wrigleyville). The bars, people, and culture are well known (although debated on the Northside vs Southside crowds) and well worth shooting. Wrigley and the Cubs aren’t the story…..it’s really the people, the area, and the culture that make Wrigley & the Cubs what they are.

  14. That’s a wonderful post of photographs. The photograph below the Stephen Green where he is hitting it straight is too good.

    I am waiting for Stephen Green to be the next Guest post.

  15. Hey Scott,
    Love the images and the story too. The part where you connected with Miguel Cairo reminded me of Arlington, Tx when you saw me sitting on the front row and you jumped off the stage to say hi. Your skill with people is very contageous. I mean I am outgoing and all, but you have what it takes my friend. Can’t wait to meet up with you again in Vegas.
    See ya buddy,
    Mike

  16. I also really like that first shot! And the shot of Cairo. It has so much detail in the uniforms and his left arm…a very powerful swing. This makes me want to go to a game at Wrigley! Closest nostalgic sports venue we have in Birmingham is Rickwood Field, which is America’s OLDEST active ballpark. Our minor league Barons still play a game or two there each year in oldstyle uniforms, the vintage advertising is painted on the outfield walls, scoring numbers are put up by hand…it’s classic! Babe Ruth and many other of baseball’s famous players have played there.
    http://blog.al.com/birmingham-news-sports/2010/06/post_17.html
    http://www.rickwood.com/

  17. I also really like that first shot! And the shot of Cairo. It has so much detail in the uniforms and his left arm…a very powerful swing. This makes me want to go to a game at Wrigley! Closest nostalgic sports venue we have in Birmingham is Rickwood Field, which is America’s OLDEST active ballpark. Our minor league Barons still play a game or two there each year in oldstyle uniforms, the vintage advertising is painted on the outfield walls, scoring numbers are put up by hand…it’s classic! Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and many other of baseball’s famous players have played there.

  18. Hi Scott, if it were possible this would be typed in ENVY green!!!, what a great day and experience that must have been, I love the pano, a really amazing view, your blog a must do daily read, thanks, david………

  19. Hey Scott!

    Great Post!
    You’re right Wrigley Field is a magical place.
    I was a “Bleacher Bum” for a few Summers in Chicago!
    …and there’s nothing better than a true Chicago Dog!
    See ya’ in a few at PSW Vegas!

    XO

    Dave

  20. Wow, what a great day. Sounds like you had a blast. I took my one (and only) trip to Wrigley about 13 or 14 years ago, when my wife’s uncle treated us to a game while we were visiting that neck of the woods. Unfortunately, I didn’t know (or care) much about photography back then…

    Thanks for sharing a bit of your experience.

  21. Great Shots Scott! And what a great place to shoot a game at! You seem to have shot a lot of different sports, baseball, football, basketball,…. Any others? Which is your favorite sport to shoot and why? Which is your favorite sport to watch? (I am guessing football is the answer to the last question).

  22. I can’t wait to try FX 18-200 Nikon lens!

  23. Nice set of pictures, Scott. Very entertaining to view and informative to read about.

    It’s interesting how the pano and the fisheye pictures look almost identical (except the aspect ratio, of course). If you cropped the fisheye pic, it could pass as the pano.

    Also, when you correct the lens distortion of the fisheye it looks like… a regular wide-angle shot. Why did you do that?

    • Hi Barry:
      I just thought it looked better corrected, but it all depends on the photo. With some shots I like the rounded fish look, and for some I like them corrected. The great thing is—the correction is automated—just one click—so I can see both versions and then just choose which one looks better for that particular shot. :)

      S.

  24. That is a quick turnaround. But we love shooting sports, especially if you’re shooting a team you care about. It’s a long, sometimes frustrating process but so worth it. And I wish we could shoot at Wrigley or Fenway.

  25. Great pics Scott! Thanks for sharing. Chicago-style dogs over NY dirty water dogs any day!

  26. Hey Scott,
    I commented earlier and don’t see it now. Did I say something wrong to get it pulled?
    If I did I apologize. I would hopefully never say anything to offend you or your readers.

    I really loved your post especially the part with Miguel Cairo, and the interaction with your son when you got home.
    See ya in 3 weeks,
    Mike

  27. Nice shoots, really!…. and very helpful info.
    Selective Nick’s tonal contrast in post?
    Cheers from Italy.

  28. Sc0tt-

    These are superb photos–I loved them.

    Ever thought of publishing a book (or two!) of just your “photo recipes” as a follow-on to your digital photography series? You could do a section (or an entire book!) on sports and other events, as well as weddings, etc. You’d get to show some high-quality shots and share some of your wonderful adventures, too.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing the great photos and producing such a consistently high-quality blog

  29. Testing 1 2 3. Anyone know why my comments are not posting…uggh.

  30. Agree with trevor, the slide into second is my fav hands down. Super sharp, love that the ball isn’t quite there yet. great stuff.

  31. Did anyone use a monopod?

    ;)

    Great shots…

  32. Looks like you had a great time! Great shots too! Did you convert Mr. McCaskey over to Nikon? I seem to remember him shooting a Canon with us at the Bears game!

  33. Great shots! And i am sure you had a great time shooting with Mr. McCaskey. Did you convert him over to Nikon? I seem to remember him shooting Canon with us at the Bears game. What a glorious day it looks like you two had!

  34. Hi Scott. That is some of your best work that I have seen. I am truly jealous over here.

  35. Excellent shots, Scott. Thanks for posting them. The second base slide is my favorite!

    –John

  36. Scott: This has nothing to do with your great pix of baseball. I just received your CS5 book and got the LR3 book a week ago. With the CS5 book I skipped all the ACR chapters and the mini bridge section since I use LR for all that. It occurred to me, have you considered a book, or video or Kelby Training class on what your real workflow is .. that is starting in LR and then using CS5 as needed? For example, do you sharpen in CS or LR? How about print sharpening? Just an idea. Keep up the good work!

  37. the slide at second is really exceptional Scott – hope it ends up in one of your books :)

  38. Scott:

    I agree you do have some great images from the game. You’re becoming quite the good sports shooter. As an aside, I know the McCaskey family well, especially Mike’s mother Virginia. I also knew Mike’s father, Ed, pretty well too. Mike looks a lot like his father. It would be hard to find a nicer, down to earth, more humble family than the McCaskey family. How did you become friends with Mike?

    Jim

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