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Why is softball pitching so convoluted?

Discussion in 'Sports Photography' started by Harry Lavo, Jun 4, 2007.

  1. Most sports, and most baseball is graceful. Yet whenever I watch a softball game I am struck by how convoluted the wind up and delivery of most pitchers are. Here are examples of a high-schooler shot not too long ago. Graceful these deliveries are not.

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    Only the last delivery has any grace whatsoever. Anybody know what led to this evolution of the "pitching art"? Is it just the laws of physics? It doesn't seem to matter whether it is Chicopee High or the College World Series...the deliveries are just downright weird.
  2. I shot some softball this year, and all I can say is that the girls can bring it! The mound is closer, too...so taking pictures behind the fence I always asked myself, "Could I hit that?". Sadly, probably not.

    One of these days I'll get one of the girls to thow a few to me because I am interested in how they throw it so straight.

    Ever see a high FPS shot of a big time place kicker doing kick-offs? They get crazy twisted, too.
  3. Harry,

    As one who played softball in Jr High, I can tell you that it's NOT easy to throw heat on an UNDERHAND pitch. Try it some time. :tongue:

    What lens did you use for these? Are they cropped, or were you able to get in close?
  4. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Harry, your images were shot at 1/1250th second, you might benefit by bumping up your ISO to increase your shutter speeds. Eliminating motion blur will help these images become more multi-dimensional. This image was shot at 1/4000th second.....

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  5. Doug


    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    I should have went and shot the master this year, University of TN is playing in the national championship, and this girl for UT is quite the pitcher, Monica Abbott. Look her up. :) 

  6. Thanks, Frank, I'll give it a try. Been wondering how you get such "pop" (other than that 300/2.8)!! :biggrin:
  7. I saw parts of two of their games on TV these past two weeks. Good team!
  8. Hey, look, I had all I could do to master Little League! I'll take your word for it. :wink:

    I used a 70-300 Sigma APO f4.0-5.6 for the shots, but was close enough to keep it throttled back and then do some cropping. The shots were taken between 120mm and 200mm, rather than at 300mm. Having now had a chance to get more familiar with the lens I probably would have extended on out (the lense actually stays sharp to 300mm, although under some conditions CA can become noticeable out in the nether reaches).

    Here's a shot that was taken at 300mm with only minor cropping. As you can see, I actually got in a little too tight, which is why I often play it a bit safe when it comes to focal length.


    I just took delivery of a Nikon 80-200 two-ring ED and have ordered a Kenko 1.4x converter. New England College League night baseball starts next week and I am thrilled that I won't be lens-limited this year.
  9. Yeah, I'm sure I am being unfair. But you don't have to watch him kick off 110 times in a game!:rolleyes: 
  10. Harry,

    I wish you all the best with new lens and new season! You must be really enjoying it, don't you?
  11. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Hi Harry,

    The image of the pitcher that I placed in this thread was taken with a 70-200mm lens. I sure wish that I could check your camera defaults, something is a bit odd with some of the images that you post as they appear very flat and one dimensional. I had assumed that you were cropping significantly and that the files were degrading.
  12. GBRandy


    Feb 28, 2006
    Green Bay, WI
    I agree with Frank. Your timing on the shots is exceptional. the PP work leaves them a little...well...flat. My last past on softball was using a 70-200....(posted below so you don't have to wade through 21 shots to see it again)

    What were your settings on these shots?

  13. Hi again Frank -

    I really appreciate your frankness. Ales has suggested in my last thread that I was doing too much post-processing and he may be right. I've outlined my workflow to him in response...would much appreciate if you could take a look at it and suggest improvements. I'm working from a .psd version derived from the NEF, rather than the NEF itself when it comes to sourcing the JPEG file for pbase. I've got to admit my pp workflow is not very educated, and may be the source of the problem. Also, the Sigma lens I used up until the last lacrosse post, while adequate for general shooting, lacks contrast compared to the Nikon I just acquired...that may be part of it. Perhaps not.

    Any help you can give would be appreciated. And I wasn't being snide about the lens...I really, really dig the quality of your shots and simply felt that the lens might play a part. Now I know you can get the same results regardless.
  14. The shots were all taken at 1/1250 @ f4.5, 180mm, ISO200. They were cropped somewhat but not too terribly excessively. I think the explanation must like in the post processing. Based on yesterday's lacrosse shots, their seems to be a consensus that I overexposed. I do find Adobe Raw increases my exposure by 2/3 EV automatically and I often have to reduce brightness to compensate. Yet I checked the camera and it was EV neutral.

    Ales suggested I was doing too much post processing, and he may be right. I've been correct NEF files, saving in .dng, and then opening in the Adobe Elements editor and doing an "auto contrast" and "auto sharpen", cropping (if needed) and then saving as a .psd file to serve as the basis for a JPEG copy for internet posting.

    I'd really appreciate knowing your approach...do you process/sharpen only in NEF? Do you then jpeg directly from there? Photography I know something about from the past...this whole pp thing is something I am still learning. And I admit I have a long way to go.
  15. GBRandy


    Feb 28, 2006
    Green Bay, WI
    Yea the Post Processing thing is a far cry from the old darkroom. I still keep a jar of fixer around and open it up just for the aroma now and then :) 

    The first thing you need to consider is calibrating your monitor. At the very least, get the grey scale right....got to the bottom of this review on the D40X and adjust your monitor to show the gradation. Link: D40X Review

    I quit using "Auto Adjustment" anything. Set the settings so it looks good....and leave it at that.

    I do everything in RAW, but process in Aperture for everything. I throw it to Photoshop for serious adjustment (Like a frame or cloning work). Aperture is not cheap nor is it as intuiotive as I liked intially, but does do a nice job and I have grown to love it.

    It sounds to me like you would benefit from a copy of Nikon Capture NX....perhaps you could give the 30 day trail a whirl if you have not already....it is designed specifically for your camera and the files it creates.


    The post processing journey is a long one and full of options...you just need to try things until you find a process "flow" that works for you.

    Hope I helped, feel free to ask more questions...we are all here to learn.

    Or at least most of it. Two culprits.

    One was the automatic 2/3 EV boost in Adobe Elements. Took that to zero and boosted brightness as needed.

    The second was how Contrast and Sharpening are done. I took them to much higher levels while still in the RAW file, and eliminated any use of "auto" in the .psd file, then saved. Simply put, all adjustments in RAW and more even lighting and stronger contrast and sharpening by eye.

    I've posted a representative old and new file from the lacrosse series on pbase with this link, so you can look at them side by side and also in original size if you so desire. I think this does the trick. Let me know what you think...and thanks to all of you for your help.

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