Every week, we present a gallery of recent pictures taken by our staff photojournalists and tell the story behind one of them. This week, Inquirer staff photographer Yong Kim talks about watching a batter to ensure he gets the picture.
One of the greatest feats in the world of sports is swinging a baseball bat at 70 mph and hitting a ball that’s traveling toward you at 90 mph.
One of the greatest myths about sports photography is that all it takes is a $5,000 camera and a fast motor drive to get the shot.
But the reality is that the very fastest cameras today can shoot about 20 frames per second. You would need a camera with a shutter that fired fifty times as fast — one thousand fps — to guarantee getting the picture during the 1000th of a second that the ball passed over home plate.
There is an old adage Inquirer staff photographer Yong Kim likes: “Sometimes,” he said, “it’s better to be lucky than good.”
Kim is both lucky and good.
Photographing the Phillies, he has learned to time the batter, “by watching their hands, arms and hips.” Kim used his Canon EOS-1D X Mark II (it can shoot at 14 fps) with a 200-400mm f/4 zoom lens to cover spring training. He has the tools he needs to do his job, but “ultimately you push the shutter and it’s your timing that can capture the moment Bryce Harper hits one out.”
“I miss the ball-on-bat quite often, but I still like to get the ball in a frame. Sometimes I get skunked and get no ball in a sequence," Kim said. "It’s a very humbling sport.”
— Tom Gralish, staff photographer