Photographing the National League Division Series

By Jeff Smith, Shutterstock Submitter

Story Behind the Photo

is an ongoing series that highlights a unique story behind a photo or photos created by a Shutterstock submitter. This month’s featured story comes from Jeff Smith. Mr. Smith recently participated in Shutterstock’s

On The Red Carpet

program, which specializes in obtaining media clearance for Shutterstock photographers to access celebrity-themed or newsworthy events — in this case, the National League Division Series in Denver, Colorado. The

On The Red Carpet

program is a great way for subscribers to source Shutterstock images for editorial usage. You can view Mr. Smith’s gallery here and learn more about the

On The Red Carpet

program here.

As a baseball fan, I was thrilled when my first opportunity to try out Shutterstock’s On The Red Carpet program was to cover two nationally-televised baseball games ““ Games 3 and 4 of the National League Division Series.

The Colorado Rockies had an abysmal start to the season. After a mid-season manager change, the team made a miraculous turnaround and by season’s end, they owned the Wild Card spot for the National League.

I rented a 200-400mm lens to use for the games. If you don’t own a long lens and you plan to cover a sporting event like this, I would strongly recommend renting one as well. It enables you to get closer to the action. Using my monopod, my equipment was very mobile, and I mostly shot with the 200-400mm lens for both games. I also carried my backup camera with a 17-55mm 2.8 lens.

Game 3

Game 3 was scheduled in Denver for October 10th. A cold front through Colorado called for temperatures to hover in the teens by game time. By midday, the National League announced that Game 3 would be delayed one day.

That was welcome news. I had visions of frozen fingers trying to photograph the game.

The next day, the temperature had “soared” to 35 degrees by the time the first pitch was thrown, setting a new record for the coldest Division Series game. With a start time of 8:07 p.m., temperatures were only bound to get colder. After setting yet another record -the longest Division Series game, at four hours and six minutes, the game-ending temperatures had dipped into the twenties.

With the help of Aisia Williams at Shutterstock, I received credentials that allowed me to access the field prior to the start of both games. By game time I was sitting in the photographers’ pit next to the Rockies’ dugout. I quickly figured out the “protocol” for photographers. Row 1 of the photography area was clearly reserved for the “big names” like Sports Illustrated, AP, UPI, and so forth. The next level was mainly for the TV cameras but had a spot for two photographers, one of which I claimed. Shortly after, two “regulars” arrived and their stares told me I was in “their” spot. Not wanting to be sent to the photographers’ area in the concourse, I moved up to the third and final level of the pit area. There I was safe; sitting next to the TBS on-field announcer, I had my spot.

Game 4

With a start time at 4:30 p.m., and temperatures in the mid-forties, the conditions for both playing baseball and shooting pictures had considerably improved. I secured my same seat in the photographers’ pit as the night before. It was a good thing I did, as there was an additional TV camera and photographer in the pit area. Although I was as close to the field as the players in the dugout, I found my seat for the “rookie sports photographer” not without difficulties. With two photographers standing in front of me and a continually turning TV camera, I found it a challenge just deciding where to focus and finding an open spot to shoot.

The on-field experience was terrific. I was able to capture players in a very relaxed state and get some great close-ups you would not normally have without being on the field. Pre-game warm-ups brought old friends together from both teams. It was difficult to imagine that by game time, there would be no love lost between them.

Unfortunately for those of us in Colorado, the Rockies found themselves playing their last game of the year by Game 4. After a wild late-game rally to take the lead and seemingly force the series back to Philadelphia, they lost in the ninth inning.

There could have been nothing worse for the players and fans than to have to watch the on-field celebration of the Phillies on the Rockies’ home turf. I suppose that embosses the old saying, “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”

All in all it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I had my “Sports Illustrated” shot of Dexter Fowler leaping over the Phillies’ second baseman. I am already looking ahead to working with On The Red Carpet for other events coming up in Denver.

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