The Andy Aupperlee Explosion 5000

Go Cubs, Go!

by on Apr.26, 2009, under Chicago, Places, Sport

Alfonso Soriano breaks a batAlfonso Soriano breaks a bat at Wrigley Field. April 18, 2009.
Nikon D300. Nikon 18-200mm VR lens @ 200mm.
Shutter Priority. 1/1000 second @ f/5.6. ISO 1600.

Historic rivalry. That’s how sports writers often describe the tradition of competition between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs. Baseball inspired booze-fueled block party is how I refer to any game at Wrigley Field. I lived on Chicago’s north side for two years, and during that period I stumbled among the masses at Clark and Addison more than a few times. Last weekend I returned to the Windy City and was able to catch the marquis event that only happens 9 or 10 times a year: Cubs/Card at Wrigley.

An old friend, Scott Zaleski, found amazing seats for the game. We sat only a few rows behind first base and had a great view of all the action on the field. The seats were so good that the only real advantage press photographers had on me were their $9,000 400mm f/2.8 lenses. That said, I think my Nikon D300 with $785 Nikon 18-200mm VR lens and killer vantage point gave me the opportunity for some great shots.

The photo above is of Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano breaking a bat. I took this shot later in the game when there was a mix of natural and artificial light. To stop as much action as possible, I set the camera to shutter priority mode and dialed in 1/1000th of a second. Since the light was fading, the camera compensated for this quick shutter speed by choosing ISO 1600 and selecting the widest available aperture, f/5.6, on my fully extended Nikon 18-200mm VR lens.

Scott & Chris at Murphy's BleachersScott and Chris pre-gaming at Murphy’s Bleachers.
Sheffield and Waveland. Chicago, IL.

After grabbing a few Old Styles at Murphy’s Bleachers; the gang was ready for some Cubs baseball. In addition to Scott; I attended the game with a fellow Loyola alum, Ross, and also Chris, an old friend from Grand Rapids.

Chris, Ross & Scott at WrigleyChris, Ross & Scott at Wrigley.

The Cubs put Ryan Dempster on the mound to start the game. He pitched decently well and although he didn’t pick up the win, he kept the Cubs close.

Dempster on the moundNikon D300. Nikon 18-200mm VR lens @ 200mm.
Manual. 1/1600 second @ f/8. ISO 1100.

I shot most of the game in manual. I dialed in f/8 as it is reasonably sharp at 200mm (on the 18-200mm VR, the maximum aperture setting at that focal length is f/5.6). To freeze the action, I selected a shutter speed of 1/1600th of a second. With aperture and shutter speed fixed, I let the camera auto choose ISO to get the best exposure using Nikon’s matrix meter.

Ryan Theriot at batRyan Theriot at bat.
Nikon D300. Nikon 18-200mm VR @ 200mm.
Manual. 1/1600 second @ f/8. ISO 1250.

Chicago TrilogyChicago loves beer.

Pujols fouls one offAlbert Pujols fouls off a pitch.
Nikon D300. Nikon 18-200mm VR @ 200mm.
Manual. 1/1600 second @ f/8. ISO 1600.

Get someCubs first base coach gets to first base?

Molina slides inMolina slides in.
Nikon D300. Nikon 18-200mm VR @ 200mm.
Manual. 1/1600 second @ f/6.3. ISO 1400.

Lou PinellaLou Piniella, Manager of the Chicago Cubs.

Cardinals RelieverCardinals Reliever.
Nikon D300. Nikon 18-200mm VR @ 200mm.
Manual. 1/1600 second @ f/8. ISO 1400.

Jay Cutler singsJay Cutler sings take me out to the ball game during the 7th inning stretch.

Go Cubs, Go!“Go Cubs, Go!”

Derek Lee at the plateDerek Lee takes a cut.
Nikon D300. Nikon 18-200mm VR @ 200mm.
Manual. 1/1000 second @ f/5.6. ISO 1600.

As the game wore on we started losing natural light. I still wanted to get decently fast shutter speeds, so I switched to shutter priority and dialed in 1/1000th of a second.

Cubs Win!

After several lead changes, the game was tied at the end of the ninth inning. Aramis Ramirez homered in the bottom of the 11th to secure a walk-off victory for the hometown Cubs. Wrigley erupted and sang a boisterous rendition of “Go Cubs, Go!” as the delighted fans spilled onto the streets and into the local bars.

Check out these pictures and several more in the slideshow below. Click here for a full screen version or visit the set the on Flickr.

Update: Portions of this post are now featured in the Chicago Sun-Times blog Sports Pros(e), Photography Class: When cameras meet Confines.

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