This image from the White Sox 2005 World Series celebration brings back fond memories.

Twenty. Twenty has a nice ring to it, some substance. Beginning Wednesday night in St. Louis, I will be covering my 20th World Series. And appropriately, it will be back where it all started for me, Busch Stadium (albeit a new ballpark with the same name) in St. Louis.

The 1987 World Series, my first. Twins at Cardinals. Equipment consisted of a Nikon F3 and 400 f 3.5 lens shooting Fujichrome 400 pushed to 1600. Yikes.

A lot has changed personally and professionally for me over these twenty World Series.

Back in 1987 I was shooting Nikon film cameras, utilizing manual focus lenses.  My telephoto lens of choice in 87′ was a 400mm f3.5.  If memory serves me correctly, the 400 f2.8’s were recently introduced, and for this photographer, out of my price range.  So I made the f3.5 work.  That half stop was tough to give up, at least in those days.

Using a Nikon D3 and Nikkor 500 f4 @ 4000 ISO worked out nicely when Nick Swisher did a headstand after running into Chico Ruiz during the 2009 World Series.

My current camera? A Nikon D3s digital camera body (after a journey to Canon that thudded to a halt after experiencing countless focusing issues, another story for another day), coupled to either a 200-4000 f4 zoom or a 500 f4 telephoto.  Slower lenses, yet better quality, incredible high ISO resolution and auto-focus! What’s not to like about these upgrades?

1987 at night meant using ISO 400 Fuji slide film pushed 2 stops.  Ouch. Grain? Oh, I think so.  Shadow detail?  Hardly.  Any other choice?  Tri-X.  Today, I’m cranking up the ISO on my trusty Nikon D3s to 4000 and beyond, and the images are seemingly as sharp and crisp as anything shot around 400 ISO back in the day.

The shadow detail while using Fujichrome 400 pushed two stops was not exactly clean.

Shooting film also meant 36 exposures on a roll.  That’s right.  36 frames, then rewind, remove film canister, then spool up and load a fresh roll.  That  rewind/loading process in itself became an art form.  You could never swap out a roll fast enough.  Now we bitch about hitting the buffer.  Come on, let’s get back to reality.  If we shot in the same style as we did back in the days of film (lay off the shutter, it’s NOT a machine gun), we should never hit the buffer.  What a luxury the buffer is.

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA - OCTOBER 23: Pitcher Mitch Williams of the Philadelphia Phillies walks off the field as Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays jumps for joy in the background after Carter hit a World Series winning walk off home run in Game Six of the 1993 World Series at the Skydome on October 23,1993 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Blue Jays won the game 8-6, winning the Series 4-2.  (Photo by Ron Vesely) (Ron Vesely)
I still can't believe how we as photographers had to be so in tune with the fact that there were only 36 shots on a roll. I remember my approach to situations such as this, Joe Carter's 1993 World Series ending walk0ff home run off of Mitch Williams. I removed each roll after 10 frames were spent, so I wouldn't be caught without enough frames should something special happen. Indeed, something special did happen, and I was prepared.

And manual focus. Oh I know there are those who probably also think us photo sages also walked up hill to and from the ballpark without the luxury of a Think Tank roller bag (by the way, thank you Think Tank for making life better for photographers everywhere), but believe it or not, the manual focus aspect of shooting sports made it the ultimate challenge.  There were more that a few moments when the photo demon’s got into my head and whispered “don’t blow focus, Ron”.  Trust me, I am quite aware that at this point in my career, I’m still in the business thanks to auto focus technology!

Well, enough about 1987.  I’m digging the technology that is available today, and plan on giving my gear a workout over the coming week and a half covering this year’s Fall Classic for Major League Baseball Photos.

Follow me on my World Series journey beginning later this week.  For me, baseball ain’t over till it’s over.  Game on!



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1 Comment

  1. I can’t wait to see the photos you get from this year’s World Series. It’s always fun to read about what goes on behind the scenes to get the photos you do at such a high profile event. Thanks for sharing all that you do.

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