Dugout


Dugout

f/5, 1/100, ISO-800, 200mm

Last spring I arranged with a lovely lady I work part time with to take senior pictures of her son. It was actually the very first job that I proposed doing for pay, though it was several months before I was actually able to take the pictures for various reasons, and I did several jobs prior to this one.

But this was one of the more “heart in my throat” jobs. Senior portraits are a big deal, and I really had no idea if I was up to the task (to a certain extent I still don’t).

One of the settings that they definitely wanted captured was memories of his time as a baseball player. I thought about this a lot, because it wasn’t really a no-brainer to me how to approach this subject. A baseball diamond is a great big field with very little to distinguish it in an interesting way. There are a few lines in the infield, but in the off-season there wasn’t even chalk.

But in the back of my mind I began to visualize an idea in the dugout, with baseball jerseys hanging behind him like loved memories. I wanted to create the suggestion that they were present but not really physical. How to get them there was the big question.

In the end I pounded some nails into the roof frame, and had this thought that I would use black thread to hang them from so I could arrange them at just the right height. I also attached thread to the back of the jersey’s to the wall in back in order to control the direction they faced.

The plan sounded all well and good, but here’s a tip: don’t use regular cotton thread, use a nylon instead. Cotton is far too fragile. Just when I thought I had things arranged correctly, the thread broke and I had to start all over, but this time manage it with loose threads that got tangled everywhere. Then I found I’d pounded the nails in at the wrong places so the jersey back isn’t as visible as it should be.

And to make matters worse, it was raining. Pretty hard too. You can see indications of it in the picture above – diagonal streaks of lighter shades. Yes, the day I chose for my very first senior photo shoot was raining from sunup to sundown. That’s my luck.

Originally, I didn’t think any of the pictures that I’d taken were of any value at all. The rain had caused the focus to mess up on just about all of them, and the colors were washed out. It just didn’t look anything like the picture I had in my head. Just when I was about to abandon them all and try to come up with a new arrangement for a baseball-themed picture, I decided to try one that was reasonably in focus as a black and white.

I could see immediately that it had potential. It would never be perfect, but stripping away the color immediately created the mood I was looking for evoking fond memories of a childhood activity. Unable to produce the precise focus I’d intended, I decided to try to work with the fuzziness and added some grain to the picture, then began adjust sharpness and blurriness after that. Finally a gradient to hide the hangers holding the jerseys up, and a hint of vignetting, and I actually ended up with a picture I’m proud of.

I’m going to assume the young man likes it as well. It showed up as his Facebook profile picture within a day :)

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