Batter up!!

Lately I’ve experimented with several film photographic disciplines, in the hopes of capturing something new, something different, something competition-season-worthy.  I have to break out of my current emotional malaise, and maybe a good old fashioned photo shoot will help me sort my tired self out.  I wanted to capture some more baseball players in action with my slitscan camera; and wanted also to try my experimental films like Revolog Tesla and LomoChrome Purple.

So all I need to do is find some baseball games to shoot.  Let me call the New York Yankees, surely they can give me a media pass – well, after they laughed for a good five minutes, they hung up the phone.  Ditto for the Boston Red Sox.  Ditto for the New York Mets.

Next option.  I could go over to Joe Bruno Stadium and photograph the ValleyCats in action – yeah, if I want to wait until July.  Sorry, folks, I’m not that patient.

Next option.  I can go back to Bleecker Stadium and photograph some Albany Twilight League games and – urgh, the Twilight League won’t start for another couple of months.

Next option.  How about some Albany Dutchmen collegiate games – oh crud, same thing.  No Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League contests for at least another couple of months.  This is my curse for living in upstate New York when the springtime arrives around late April.

Next option.  Hamilton College has a varsity baseball team, and it might actually be worth a trip to the alma mater for a little shutterbug action.  And look at the schedule – Hamilton’s got a double-header on Saturday against Tufts.  Say it with me, folks.  Hamilton’s playing against the all-time “safety school.”  So I called the SID, Jim Taylor, and made arrangements for attending the game.  “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said, “That double-header was cancelled, because of all the storms and snowfall and bad weather, our field isn’t ready for play.”

That sound you just heard was me banging my forehead against the wall.  I may continue banging against the wall until either the wall crumbles or I start seeing red stains on the wallpaper.

I could drive to Syracuse or Rochester or Pawtucket for an International League game… or… I could drive to Binghamton for an Eastern League game, or…

You know what?  Binghamton’s not that far, they’re the AA affiliate of the Mets, they’re playing the Akron RubberDucks (no, I don’t know if there’s a team in the Eastern League called the Pigpens or the Smokey Bears), and there’s a game Saturday afternoon at NYSEG Stadium in Broome County.  Some e-mail correspondence with the director of media relations, and all was set.  So long as I don’t violate Minor League Baseball’s policies regarding the sale of still photographs, I’m in good shape.

So here’s the plan.  I’m packing the slitscan-modified Nikon EM camera and my non-slitscan-modified Nikon F100 camera.  I’m only going to use one lens, the big bulky Nikon 50-400 f/4.5 “Rachel” telephoto, which will be locked onto my Vanguard Tracker IV tripod.  Those are my weapons.

My ammunition?  Every film I’m bringing can be developed in C-41 chemicals.  In other words, one pile of film dropped off at the local Walgreens, and a pick-up the next morning.

Got my weapons, got my ammo.  Let’s go.  Interstate 88, here I come.

I drove down Interstate 88, with the plan to arrive at NYSEG Stadium an hour ahead of the 1:00 p.m. first pitch.  What I didn’t realize was that Friday night’s game against Akron was weather-postponed, and Saturday’s game became a double-header that started at noon.  All right, no problem.  I picked up my photo pass, signed a release form (if I take a line drive off my skull, it’s my fault for being in the path of a speeding baseball), and set up my cameras along the third base line.

Okay, first up – let’s get some slitscan pictures.  I figured I’d practice some shots by taking images of the Mets’ pitcher of the day, Rainy Lara.

Rainy Lara stretches out.  Fuji Experian 800 film, Nikon EM camera moddified for slitscan.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
Rainy Lara stretches out. Fuji Experian 800 film, Nikon EM camera moddified for slitscan. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Okay, I can make some adjustments, let me wind off the next pitch and –


The rewind handle snapped right off my camera. The EM is now broke and out of commission.

Are you kidding me right now?  I drove two and a half hours to Binghamton, it’s barely 30 degrees above zero, and my damn slitscan camera just broke?

I can’t deal with this.  I’ve got enough stress on my plate – enough stress to bend titanium – and now I have to deal with this too?

All right, I’ll have to make do.  Let’s see if my experimental films can at least help me out at this point.    LomoChrome Purple, can you come through for me?

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Okay.  Now let’s see if I can at least pull something out of this with my Revolog Tesla film.

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Okay.  At least the Revolog and LomoChrome films kept this from becoming a complete washout of a day.  And my thanks to the Binghamton Mets organization for allowing me to take photos this weekend.

But overall, it was a mixed effort.  I’m glad that the experimental pictures came out well, especially the Revolog lightning-coated film.  But I’ve worked that Nikon EM camera past its limit.  That crank system isn’t supposed to be used in this manner.  And I need to re-tune this camera so that stuff like this doesn’t ever happen again.

Believe me, I’m trying very hard to find something positive in all this.  Maybe there’s something in these shots – perhaps one of the Revolog photos – that can help me get an edge in competition season.

I just need something to work in my favor.

I wonder if it’s too late to hit a five-run homer.