1st base

Meridian Fastpitch Softball: Building a Cohesive Team

Over the past few months I’ve covered prep sports at Meridian High School in Laurel north of Bellingham, Wash. Overall it’s fun and yet challenging.

But I must apologize to the Lady Trojans softball team for not making it to enough games. Unfortunately, due to circumstances like rain, schedule conflicts, and more rain, I missed out on covering the Lady Trojans softball games. The games were postponed or scheduled when I had other plans.

For the Cure:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Meridian Lady Trojans wore pink to support the fight against breast cancer as they hosted the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

As a result, I missed all but their last two home games. It would have been nice to be able to attend more and give them better photographic coverage.

Photographing fastpitch softball is like baseball: you have to be on our toes, be mobile to move to different spots, and pay attention to the game.

Watching The Runner:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian High School girls fastpitch softball hosts visiting Ferdale High School at Meridian HS in Laurel, Wash., on Friday afternoon May 2, 2014. The visiting Golden Eagles defeated the Trojans 13-0.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Meridian pitcher keeps an eye on the Ferndale runner during the 4th inning on Friday afternoon May 2, 2014. The visiting Golden Eagles defeated the Trojans 13-0.

This is the first year for the new head coach Jordan Chambers. Being as it’s the coach’s first year, so it’s a building year. New teams tend to take a few seasons to work the bugs out. But I believe with a little extra hard work, the team can become contenders.

As the games tend to be high scoring, you have to concentrate more on the game when runners are on base. They tend to defy logic and run full tilt to home when given a chance. So paying attention is extremely important.

Great Form:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – A Meridian player smacks on into center field as the Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

Two major challenges I had to overcome: lack of rosters and a 7 foot high silver fence around the field.

As I don’t like not having names for people in photos as I think it looks like sloppy and lazy journalism. Having a roster would be nice so I can at least identify the girls. Who doesn’t like their photo in the paper and not their name?

Sliding In:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – A Meridian runner begins her slide into home plate in the 6th inning as the Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

Over the past few years, Meridian invested in improvements to the field. One of them is a new galvanized fence. Unfortunately, the fence is still shiny silver and very difficult to shoot through. It is 7 feet high so photographing over it is nearly impossible.

To get around it somewhat, I step into the dugout and shoot through the open door. Gotta try to get clean photos. For the photos I do end up shooting through the fence, I just burn the flare down in Lightroom or Photoshop. Just enough to get rid of the spot and add contrast.

Taking Aim:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Meridian pitcher taking aim at a Sehome player as the Lady Trojans host the Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

I think next year I’m going to bring a ladder and hook it to the top of the fence so I can shoot over it. I’ve had to do something similar when I was in college at Western Kentucky University. My friend Daniel Wallace (he now works at the St. Petersburg Times) and I put a picnic table against the fence so we can stand on it. We were shooting the game for the College Heights Herald and the Bowling Green Daily News.

We got the same photo, but since the Herald published that night and the Daily News was an afternoon paper, his was published first. As a result, the editor at the BGDN saw it and pulled mine. We had nearly the same photo. Here it is: Western 2nd Baseman Jumping.

Ready For Action:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Meridian 2nd baseman prepares for a hit as the Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

One of the things I do when covering sports, I just don’t wait for action. I find compositions for players as they wait, seek subtle moments, and keep focused on the game. Again, you never know when the play happens that changes the game.

Intense:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The short stop for the Meridian Lady Trojans prepares for a hit as they host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

Another Serious One:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The short stop for the Meridian Lady Trojans prepares for a hit as they host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

For the above two photos, I can’t decide which one I like better. In the top she has an intense look on her face, in the other she is ready to pounce.

Which one do you like better and why?

Concentration:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian High School girls fastpitch softball hosts visiting Ferdale High School at Meridian HS in Laurel, Wash., on Friday afternoon May 2, 2014. The visiting Golden Eagles defeated the Trojans 13-0.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Ferndale pitcher goes against Meridian fastpitch softball action as the Lady Trojans host the Golden Eagles at Meridian HS in Laurel, Wash., on Friday afternoon May 2, 2014. The visiting Golden Eagles defeated the Trojans 13-0.

I see a lot of potential for Meridian as they begin to coalesce into a well-rounded team.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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From the Dugout: Meridian High School Baseball Hosts Burlington-Edison and Lynden Christian

Meridian High School baseball hosted Burlington-Edison  on Monday afternoon April 28th and then on Wednesday April 30th hosted  Lynden Christian. Although the Trojans played well, they lost both games 4-1 and 5-4.

Back to First – 

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojans host the Lynden Christian Lyncs in high school baseball on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – A Lynden Christian Lyncs runner jumps back to first base to avoid a tag during the 5th inning against Meridian in high school baseball on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

Tough losses as they have the passion to play in their hearts which shows on the field. Senior David Anderson (2), and sophomore Devyn Holmes (3) consistently throw well. It just seems the opposing  teams find their pitches quick.

Recently I was asked what my camera and gear is when shooting sports. I use my Nikon D300s as my main body, a 17-35 f/2.8 and 80-200 f.2.8 Nikon lenses as my main glass. The telephoto is obvious why: to bring in the action.

Warming Up –

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian High School baseball hosts Burlington-Edison on Monday afternoon April 28. 2014. The visiting Tigers defeated the Trojans 5-1 with 4 runs scored in the 6th inning.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Meridian High School sophomore Devyn Holmes warms up before the 5th inning as the Trojans host Burlington-Edison on Monday afternoon April 28. 2014. The visiting Tigers defeated the Trojans 5-1 with 4 runs scored in the 6th inning.

The wide-angle is for more creative shots like those from the dugout or during practice and warm-up. But what I look for in the game are those subtle moments that can make or break the play and help define the game.

To get those, I can’t be relegated to one spot. Usually that is at the first base line just inside the fence. You can change between innings, but you can’t move. So to solve it, I just shoot from the outside over the fence.

This allows me to shoot behind home plate to get photos of the pitcher in action, to a position near Third base, then move back to the First base line. The freedom of movement and short fences make it a bit better than being stuck in one spot 2 feet closer.

On The Bat –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojans host the Lynden Christian Lyncs in high school baseball on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Meridian High School senior David Anderson makes contact during the 3rd inning as the Trojans host the Lynden Christian Lyncs in high school baseball on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

Of course, I must mention the fencing at Meridian is just at 42 inches. So peering over is no big deal. The only issue I have is the black netting behind home plate. I shoot through it but I am careful to keep the lens centered at one of the holes.

This is obvious in some of the shots as you look at the pattern in the specular highlights you can see the lines created by the netting. No big deal.

Barely Makes It –

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian High School baseball hosts Burlington-Edison on Monday afternoon April 28. 2014. The visiting Tigers defeated the Trojans 5-1 with 4 runs scored in the 6th inning.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Meridian High School sophomore Brady Moore reaches for the ball as a Burlington-Edison player slides into third base on Monday afternoon April 28. 2014. The visiting Tigers defeated the Trojans 5-1 with 4 runs scored in the 6th inning.

I usually place my self in a position where I think the next big play will be. But I continue to watch the game and adjust. Improvise, adapt, overcome.

For example: If there is a runner on first with no outs, I keep focused on Second base and anticipate the run and slide. If there are two outs, then I focus on 3rd BUT keep an eye on Second.

High Fives –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojans host the Lynden Christian Lyncs in high school baseball on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Meridian senior Jamison Hodge (17) gets high fives from teammates after scoring Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

While in college, I interned at the Ogden Standard-Examiner in Utah for six months. My editor August Miller taught me this simple philosophy when on an assignment: Start with Wide, Medium, and Tight shots. Get the basics out-of-the-way, and then stretch yourself.

Simply, watch your compositions as you shoot an overall, move in a little more, and then some nice close shots. While doing this, pay attention to various compositions you can exploit and get creative. it let you explore with your camera.

Learning the Timing –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojans host the Lynden Christian Lyncs in high school baseball on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Meridian High School sophomore Dakota Jones (12) practices as his team-mate bats during the 6th inning against Lynden Christian on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

Too many photographer I know just stand around and wait for something to happen. When you do that, you end up missing fun compositions and capturing great moments. Not just in sports, but in everyday life events.

The “Wide, Medium, Tight” doesn’t always mean shooting an over all with a wide-angle, or a tight shot with a telephoto. It means using the best tool to say what you feel.

Celebrate Good Times –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojans host the Lynden Christian Lyncs in high school baseball on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Lynden Christian Lync’s bench celebrate their victory against the Meridian Trojans in high school baseball on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

Let’s take a crowded street during a festival. You can get above the crowd and shoot with a wide-angle. But this will also increase the distances between the close up subjects. However, a telephoto from the same perspective will compress the individuals to a single mass, therefore enhancing the feel of the crowd.

The same can be said of “Tight.” You can move i close to a subject and use a wide-angle lens to tighten the composition of your subject. Understanding the effects of focal length, distance to subject, and aperture are a key step in helping you improve your photography.

Lyncs Pitcher –

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojans host the Lynden Christian Lyncs in high school baseball on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Lynden pitches against Meridian during the 3rd inning during high school baseball on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

 

Safe or Out?

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojans host the Lynden Christian Lyncs in high school baseball on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Meridian High School senior Davis Philips makes the play at home as a Lynden Christian runner begins his slide into home plate on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

 

One tip I can give you while shooting sports like baseball: Pay close attention to the game every minute. Anything can happen in the blink of an eye. From a runner stealing base to an errant hit that comes your way.

Close Call Sequence-

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojans host the Lynden Christian Lyncs in high school baseball on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – A Lynden Christian Lyncs second baseman bobbles the ball while Meridian High School senior Kyle Linderman (12) runs in during high school baseball on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

 

Diving In:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojans host the Lynden Christian Lyncs in high school baseball on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Lyncs second baseman attempts to recover the ball while Linderman (12) runs in during high school baseball on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

 

Obscured by Dust:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojans host the Lynden Christian Lyncs in high school baseball on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Lynden Christian Lyncs second baseman continues to bobble the ball as Linderman (12) slides in

.

Showing the Ball:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojans host the Lynden Christian Lyncs in high school baseball on Wednesday afternoon April 30, 2014, in Laurel, Wash. The visiting Lyncs won 5-4 in a tight game.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Lyncs second baseman shows the ball to the umpires while Linderman (12) kneels on the base. The umps called Linderman out.

 

Personally during the play and after editing the images, I think Linderman was safe. But there is no crying, nor replay, in baseball.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on various Social Networks:

Follow Me on Google+

Pablo Conrad Photography

“Like” my Page on Facebook

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