Photos © Jean Fruth
Brad Mangin is baseball photography. That’s it. He breathes it. Lives it. Owns it. If you’ve seen a kick-ass baseball photo over a double-truck in a magazine lately, I’d gamble it’s his. It was truly a pleasure to have him make a frame while on assignment for Sports Illustrated at the San Francisco Giants home opener.
The FOCUSED cameras are criss-crossing the globe – albeit slowly – from one eye to the next of photojournalists who inspire me daily. Being able to hear these back stories and vignettes of their time with their one click is really one of the best things about this project. There will be more and more of these dispatches as the project rolls on, so check back soon!
When I first heard about Chip’s great idea of the “FOCUSED” project I thought it was a great idea. I was quite humbled last year when Chip asked me to participate in his mission: “…to rely more on our senses than technology.” I would be shooting ONE FRAME on the same roll of film as photographers like Ami Vitale, Sam Abell, William Albert Allard, Vincent Laforet, Christopher Morris, and Jack Gruber. These amazing photographers have traveled all over the world shooting the biggest stories of our time. All I do is go to baseball games. Hopefully I would be able to squeeze the shutter at the right moment when my time came.
The big day for me was coming quickly as April Fool’s Day was celebrated all over Facebook. I had just returned from covering spring training in Arizona and was preparing to begin my coverage of Major League Baseball’s regular season. The best day for me to make my one frame would be Friday, April 13, 2012. It was the San Francisco Giants home opener. They were hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates on a sunny afternoon at one of the prettiest ballparks in the big leagues.
I nervously read Chip’s directions that came with the camera the day before my big shoot. I then packed the chrome Nikon FE body with an old 35mm 2.8 Nikkor lens attached to it into my Think Tank rolling case. The Nikon film camera seemed very out of placed cuddled next to my regular assortment of Canon digital cameras and lenses ranging from a 15mm 2.8 to a 400mm 2.8.
Opening Day is one of my favorite days of the year, and this one was very special as torrential rain the night before gave way to sunshine and white puffy clouds as I arrived at AT&T Park at 9am. I was on assignment for Sports Illustrated, but all I could think about was the one frame I needed to make with my Nikon. Being at the park 4 1/2 hours before first pitch only heightened my anxiety. The funny thing is I killed time early in the morning shooting pictures around the ballpark with my iPhone 4s so I could make Instagrams out of them. What a span of technology I would be shooting with today- everything from an old film camera to the latest cell phone technology.
After the pre-game ceremonies ended I got situated with all my gear in one of my favorite photo positions in San Francisco. I was in the low inside first base spot. This is a great angle looking up the third base line. I am sitting in a trench below the field, putting my camera at ground level. From here you do not get the traditional long lens batting pictures, etc. From here I am able to shoot with my 70-200 as much as I am with my 400.
As the game moved along I knew what my picture would be. The light kept getting better and better as I waited for Giants superstar catcher Buster Posey go come to the plate to hit late in the game. Posey missed almost all of last season with a broken foot and the fan-favorite was making his first regular season appearance in front of his adoring fans. Posey was part of the story of this Opening Day and he would be the subject of my one frame.
At 3:03pm PDT Posey stepped into the batter’s box to face Pirates right hander James McDonald. I set me Nikon for an exposure of 1/500 at F: 11 for the 400 ASA Fuji color neg film. The 35mm lens gave me a beautiful pictorial view of Posey hitting with plenty of blue sky and white clouds above. The squishy feel of the shutter button as I depressed it with my finger to make my exposure was startling. I had not tripped a shutter like this in so long. Before I realized what was happening I had clicked the shutter. DONE. That was it! Frame number seven on the 36-exposure roll of film.
The Giants went on to beat the Pirates 5-0. It was a glorious day at the ballpark. The new season was underway, and the nerves surrounding my one frame had vanished. I can’t wait to see what everyone shoots on this roll of film. What a fun project FOCUSED is. The end result will be a fascinating look at the world around us as seen from photographers around the globe. One frame at a time. I bet mine is the only one from a ballpark!
For more of Brad’s work, please visit http://manginphotography.com/.