Living in Mercer County for about six months now, I have discovered and visited many places in the area. One of those places is Arm and Hammer Park in Trenton, home of the Thunder, a Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. Despite being a New York Mets fan, I still enjoy watching Trenton Thunder games.
The atmosphere at these games are cheesy, but in a good way. It’s real family fun with a lot of the kids getting involved with activities during the mid-innings. Also, you’re much closer to the players and the field so it feels like you’re a part of team as the team is part of the community.
I have been to a few Thunder games already and a trip to any ballpark is the perfect photo outing opportunity. Just like the game of baseball itself, with photography you never know what you’re going to encounter and you see something new every time you go. I’ve taken several photos before at the Thunder games, but at my third outing (June 5th, 2015) I took some photography notes using a new small journal I had recently purchased.
For my third Thunder game I went with my father, my cousin Alberto and his son Antonio. For this outing I shot in program, had my ISO levels at 800 and auto; white balance was set a cloudy and fluorescent: day white. The game started at 7:00 P.M and was on a Friday night. The Thunder were playing the Harrisburg Senators, the Double-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.
It was a cloudy day, but thankfully it never rained. I had to keep the white balance on cloudy and later to fluorescent: day white for night shots. The first noticeable cloudy shot was during the national anthem (Photo Above). Normally, I pay attention during the anthem by putting my hat over my heart and staring at the flag, but I saw an opportunity for a wonderful shot. Kids from little league teams from the area go on the field during the pre-game festivities and stand next to their heroes during the anthem.
From this distance I saw a kid with three of the Thunder players next to him by left center field. As the anthem went on, I quickly took my camera out of my bag and zoomed in for an extreme close-up. I framed it so I could get the players and the kid on the right side while displaying the American flag to show that the national anthem was going on. It’s a classic American baseball shot, but I wanted to take one of my own.
At the beginning of the game, I was seated just five rows from behind the Thunder dugout. I decided to take a close-up shot of the Senator batter (Photo Above). Zooming in, I took the shot of the batter anticipating the pitch. It was also a decent crowd in the background; I would have had just focused more on the hitter if the crowded seats were empty. I would had taken a shot of the batter making contact with the pitch, but that doesn’t happen all the time and I would have had to kept using the continuous shot feature and go through a dozen photos later. I was just looking for simple shots.
Later in the bottom of the first inning, I took a photo of a Thunder batter (Photo Above) with the same framing as the previous shot. I waited for a righty to come up to bat since I was sitting by the first base line. The reason for this was because I wanted to see the face of the player instead of his back if a lefty had come to bat.
What’s different from this shot compare to the Senator batter is that the Thunder batter is in action as he prepares to lift his left leg to swing. If you also notice, the batter’s box is pink as well as the pinstripes on the Thunder uniforms as it was breast cancer awareness day at the ballpark.
Almost every team in professional sports has a mascot especially in the minors. The Thunder has a traditional costumed mascot name Boomer, but they also have a golden retriever name Derby who is their official “Bat Dog”. During the first inning and only this inning, Derby will grab the bat with his mouth and return it to the dugout. I didn’t want to miss out on this talented pooch so I quickly took a couple of shots since I knew this would be the only time to do so.
Out of all the shots this was the best one (Photo Above). Zooming in for a medium shot, I was able to get the moment in which Derby grabs the bat with his mouth and begins his walk into the dugout. Of course, two fans get in the way, but the player with the Thunder cap helps indicates where the dugout is.
As the night went on, the Thunder built a comfortable 4-1 lead. Around the seventh inning, I left my seat for a bit and walked around the ballpark for some night shots. I switched my ISO levels to auto and the white balance to fluorescent: day white to get clearer shots as in the case with this one (Photo Above).
Crouching by some empty seats near the third base line, I zoomed in for a medium shot and included the jumbo screen by the far left and most of the field in the frame. I waited until the Senator runner on first was in position and the pitcher to get into his wind-up pitch to get an action shot in motion. It worked like a charm as the photo showed the game being played out. I added the fans on the bottom of the frame since it shows that they are into the game.
I continued to walk around the ballpark when I suddenly spotted empty front row seats. I quickly took to the opportunity to go down there as these seats were by the Senators on deck circle. This was a great time to get some really close-up shots of some players. Seating very comfortably in front of the action, I zoomed in first a little bit and framed the Senator batter on the right side (Photo Above).
The reason for this was because I wanted to showcase the action of the game going on in the background with a nice packed crowd. Also, at the right moment I was able to capture the Senator batter looking down with his bat in his hand, anticipating and thinking about his strategy at the plate. This was by far my favorite shot of the night.
With the next batter up on the on deck circle, I switched to rich black and white to get that old timely feel to an old timely game (photo above). This shot is the same as the previous only this time I captured the batter at the plate just missing contact with the pitch in the background.
Also, the on deck batter has his back turned on me, displaying his number two on his uniform instead. The black and white photo may not make this 2015 Minor League game look like 1955, but it still adds a nice touch. After a few on deck circle shots, I decided to leave since I felt at some point an usher would ask me for my ticket.
I walked further down the third base line and near left field when I saw an opportunity for a panoramic shot. In my previous visits to Arm and Hammer Stadium I didn’t find the right time to take a panoramic shot since either I wasn’t in the right spot, the attendance being low or fans simply getting in the way.
This time around, however, the timing was just right. I switched my camera to panoramic mode and quickly, but smoothly panned from right to left, getting all of the field and most of the crowd (Photo Above). It came out as a success as there was no interference at all. The bright stadium lights shined greatly on the baseball diamond as all the fans looked on during this beautiful Friday night.
I started to make my way back to my seat, but not before getting one last photo. This one was just a simple shot as I wanted some interior photos of the ballpark. Above one of the concessions stands is a food court sign displaying two of the Thunder’s mascots with Boomer on the left side and a thunder bolt next to him (Photo Above). I zoomed in and framed the sign in the middle with the lights reflecting it to end my photography night at the ballpark.
I made it back to my seat to finish watching the game. The Harrisburg Senators started to come back, scoring two runs in the ninth inning, but the Trenton Thunder were able to hold on to win 4-3! It was a nice way to cap off the night and another fun photography outing.