Behind The Photo: Home Plate Remote Camera

By Jordan Murph, Photography Editor & Archivist

Remote cameras are a tool we use to expand our coverage of your Angels. They provide us with different angles from our hand held cameras in case we get blocked, they can give a unique view from a location that is impossible to physically photograph from, or they can just provide extra coverage.

But what is a remote camera? It is a non-manned camera that is mounted in place and fired via an external trigger anywhere from a few feet away to several hundred feet away. There are many different camera, lens, mounting, triggering, and creative options. We regularly use a remote camera mounted behind home plate to make pictures. Here is some information about the equipment we use, a little technical information about how we set it up, and some examples of images that a remote camera behind home plate can produce.

Home Plate Remote Gear

130618_HP_Remote_Gear_List

  1. Nikon D3s Digital SLR Camera
  2. 70-200mm f/2.8G VR Lens: this lens is perfect for this situation. It has a great zoom range to give different options for framing, has a fast aperture of f2.8 that allows creative options such as controlling depth of field and shooting at night, and has a built in foot that can be attached to different mounts.
  3. Bogen Manffrotto #244 Variable Friction Arm with Camera Platform & Super Clamp: this is the standard mounting arm for remote cameras. This arm is often called a “magic arm” which is a similar looking device with lever instead of a round knob. The magic arm lever is either loose or tight with no control over the level of tension. A variable friction arm can be tightened incrementally to allow precise positioning and security. The lever on a magic arm can easily be hit and released whereas the knob on variable friction arm must be deliberately loosened which makes it considerably safer.
  4. LPA Design Pocket Wizard MultiMAX: this is the standard radio triggering system in the industry. Consisting of a transmitter and a receiver in typical setups, these devices have several programmable functions and can be used to trigger the remote camera from over 1,000 feet away.
  5. Bogen Super Clamp & LPA Designs Radio Isolation Post: this is used to mount the Pocket Wizard MultiMAX receiver unit in a position to receive an optimal signal and to minimize radio interference.
  6. Shawn Cullen Designs Nikon 10-Pin to Miniphone Pre-Release Cable: this custom built-to-spec cable is five feet long and includes an inline on-off switch to keep the camera “awake” so that it is always ready to fire.
  7. Gaffer Tape & Wrench: when working with remote cameras, two tools to always keep on hand are a Leatherman multi-tool to secure the mounts and gaffer tape to secure the lens’ zoom and focus rings.

There are few guidelines we follow when setting up remote cameras. Safety is always first. This particular angle is on the ground, but remote cameras are often mounted in precarious places. If you plan on setting up your own remote, always use safety cables if the camera is in a position where it could fall on someone and remove all extraneous pieces that could fall off, such as the lens hood.

A remote camera should always be mounted in as low of a profile as possible, that is, keeping it as out of the way as possible. This hints back to safety as well as taking the time to make the remote look clean and professional. It also helps to make room for other cameras as a courtesy to other photographers which is especially important at big events like the World Series.

Home Plate Remote Sample Photos

Here are a few examples of the types of images a remote camera behind home plate can make.

Typically, photographers want these high-intensity peak action photos from remote cameras. This photo from the archive is a perfect example of a unique angle of a peak action moment:

Vladimir Guerrero slides under Detroit Tigers closer Todd Jones for the game tying run to score on a two-out wild pitch in the ninth inning on April 24, 2007.. The Angels won 9-8. Photo by Matt Brown

Vladimir Guerrero slides under Detroit Tigers closer Todd Jones for the game tying run to score on a two-out wild pitch in the ninth inning on April 24, 2007.. The Angels won 9-8. Photo by Matt Brown

But there is more to the story of the game besides just big moments of peak action. This next photo is a great example a reaction that follows a play at the plate. Here is the original, un-cropped frame, that the remote saw:

Photo by Matt Brown/Angels Baseball LP

Photo by Matt Brown/Angels Baseball LP

And here is the cropped version. The crop brings you, the viewer, into the moment more, and removes unnecessary dead space in the frame:

Houston's Trevor Crowe reacts after being called out on a tag by Hank Conger #16 who made the catch from pitcher Garrett Richards #43 in the ninth inning. Photo by Matt Brown/Angels Baseball LP

Houston’s Trevor Crowe reacts after being called out on a tag by Hank Conger #16 who made the catch from pitcher Garrett Richards #43 in the ninth inning on June 2, 2013. Photo by Matt Brown/Angels Baseball LP

This next image is a great example of another type of image you can capture with a remote:

Photo by Matt Brown/Angels Baseball LP

Photo by Matt Brown/Angels Baseball LP

This image is not the traditional action play at the plate but rather a moment of celebration without the big slide or collision:

Josh Hamilton #32 celebrates with Mike Trout #27 after hitting a home run in the eighth inning which allowed Trout to score a run in the eighth inning against the Astros on April 14, 2013. Photo by Matt Brown/Angels Baseball LP

Josh Hamilton #32 celebrates with Mike Trout #27 after hitting a home run and allowing Trout to score a run in the eighth inning against the Astros on April 14, 2013. Photo by Matt Brown/Angels Baseball LP

This tighter crop accentuates and focuses on the moment of celebration and joy between Josh and Mike.

We hope you enjoyed this look at how these image are made and how we use tools like remote cameras to cover your Angels. If you have questions, please leave a comment!

11 Comments

This was excellent!

Thanks Jordan

Dave

Amazing work guys!!

I’ve always loved ground-level photos! How do you guys capture the shots without any blur/interference from the wire mesh gate?

Neat! Always loved those ground-level shots! But how is it that you manage to capture the shots without the blur/interference from the wired mesh gate? Thanks.

We are shooting at 1/1250 of a second, the chance of blur is almost zero. You don’t see the net when you are shooting close to it. We also are shooting at F5.6 as well.

Pingback: Remote Cameras Behind Home Plate with the Los Angeles Angels « PocketWizard Blog | Radio Triggers for Photographers

Outstanding, definitely going to work it into my photos

and i have abused the wide aperture myself for the pitcher to catcher shots. dont even see the fence

How do you focus? Is it auto or manual. If manual where do you set it? If it’s auto how do you get focus past the net/fence?

Hi Linda,

Focus is pre-set while installing, and the camera and lens are both set to manual when completed. If left on auto focus, the camera would constantly be searching for a focus point which would drain the battery and while the new breed of digital SLR’s are very high tech, they aren’t “that” smart.

What we do is “zone focus” which means focusing on a certain point/distance in the frame to place the in-focus depth of field where we want it to make the desired picture. For example, if we are focusing on making pictures of a left handed batter like Josh Hamilton, we would choose a different focus distance than if we are trying to make a picture of a base runner sliding into home. Day games allow shooting at smaller apertures for greater depth of field, while night games are darker which in turn means a wider aperture and less depth of field.

I hope this answers your question!

Aloha,
Jordan

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