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Bending Bat

Discussion in 'Sports Photography' started by audu67, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. audu67


    Jan 14, 2008
    Decatur, Alabama
    Just noticed this shot from last weekend. Did I capture an optical illusion or do aluminum bats bend this much with a 10 year-old swinging? Almost looks like a noodle.

  2. GBRandy


    Feb 28, 2006
    Green Bay, WI
    Nope...they all do that...including the wood ones. Nice catch
  3. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Cool catch!
  4. joepilot


    Mar 21, 2007
    Richmond Va.
    Hope you give that kid that shot , he would love it!
  5. You will see the same thing with a golf club, right before impact. Good timing on your capture.
  6. Tom Young

    Tom Young

    Aug 10, 2007
    Don't tell the power slugger this, but I think what you're seeing here is mainly due to distortion caused by the focal plane shutter in your camera. The distortion is exacerbated in this shot due to the extent that the bat is covering a large part of the frame across the vertical dimension, while swinging from left to right across the horizontal.

    At higher shutter speeds, the shutter is forming a very narrow slit that scans the sensor plane from top to bottom. The image recorded on the sensor is "upside down" relative to what you see in the viewfinder since unlike the viewfinder image which has been "corrected" by the mirror housing, the light forming the image is passed directly to the sensor after having been reversed by the lens. As a result, while the shutter is travelling downwards across the sensor, the bottom of the image is being exposed first.

    As a result of all this, the tip of the bat will have been captured just slightly before it's handle. By the time the shutter's slit reached the handle of the bat, it's tip had already moved well forward of it's original position, giving the impression that the bat was bending forwards.

    This is the same kind of thing we often see in photos of prop airplanes that give the impression that the rotating propeller blades are bending towards the front of the airplane. One way to test this would be to try capturing a similar photo with the camera upside down. The bat should be seen to be bending in the opposite direction.
  7. GBRandy


    Feb 28, 2006
    Green Bay, WI
    Neat theory...but not really. What you are seeing is the reflex of the bat after contact. It deflects backwards on contact and forwards after the ball departs.... Kinda cool....and why wooden bats shatter... and why aluminum ones have been accused of too much power...they never break...just flex like this for more power.
  8. Holmes


    Oct 28, 2006
    Wyoming, USA
    Spot on. We used to study film strips (dating myself here), back in my days at university to evaluate bat length and individual bat performance. Not sure we actually accomplished anything but we sure felt high tech!

    Nice capture for true.
  9. Tom Young

    Tom Young

    Aug 10, 2007
    Yes Randy, I think you're right. There most likely is some bat flex going on here. This really has peaked my curiosity though as to how much of the apparent bending that we see in photos of this kind is really bat flex, and how much might be being exaggerated by shutter distortion.

    So, in a fit of true geekyness, I've taken a quick look around and from what I can see, that is an Easton Stealth CNT LST-9 composite handled "flex bat". Since it is designed to flex, it's hard to imagine that it's not doing it's job but since the photo was taken with a shutter type that is prone to this type of distortion I'll probably be up all night vainly trying to sort this problem out.
    I guess one test might be to take a series of photos in the dark using only flash against an open shutter. Now I just have to find someone that A., is willing to have hardballs pitched at them in total darkness and B., can actually hit them! :smile:
  10. audu67


    Jan 14, 2008
    Decatur, Alabama
    Tom, Randy,

    Looks like we've got some serious thought going on this one. I appreciate your ideas.
  11. Crazy theories, nonetheless, great photo :) 

    J/W, what lens did you capture this photo with?
  12. Great capture I have never gotten one of these yet
  13. audu67


    Jan 14, 2008
    Decatur, Alabama

    I was using the 80-200 with the 2X TC.
  14. JESTER


    Dec 4, 2007
    I captured one with the bat going the other way. At first I thought it was a malfunction with the bat. I looked at the bat later at it was normal. The players and parents were amazed at the photo. I get lots of good comments about it.
  15. wingspar


    Mar 16, 2008
    And, on a rare occasion, aluminum bats do break. This one broke during a HS Softball game.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Captured recently. Loose front element in lens prevented sharp photo.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  16. hmmm, if it's distortion caused by the shutter, you should be able to get the same distortion without the ball.

    If you can't get the distortion from the swinging bat alone then you have the answer.
  17. Yes bats bend, and to Randy's point also why wooden bats (and metal bats occasionally) do break. Check this week's Challenge #26 for my entry, and the black painted maple bat of KC 3rd baseman Ross Gload's bat flexing forward after contact with the ball, and the ball still showing a dent too. If you look closely at the first one you will see the metal bat of the UMn batter with a very slight bend backwards still at contact with the ball.

    This is mostly why bats in the past 15-20 years are breaking more often, they're made with thinner handles to get the CG out nearer the "trademark" for better contact, and a slight whip action too. That and why Maple is now the material of choice over Ash, you can get a harder bat at the same weight as Ash, but Maple must also be dried a bit more, so that adds to more black maple bats shattering too.

    Ah technology and advances in science! :smile:
  18. Gary Mayo

    Gary Mayo Guest

    I am no physics expert, but no 70 pound child half afraid of the swing is bending a bat to the degree shown in that photograph. The truth is still out there, as they say. IMHO.

    Great Thread!
  19. niknd501


    May 13, 2006
    Cool capture man.

    These are so cool .. I don't think I have any of these. :frown:

    Good stuff !
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