Spring is in the air, and to many Americans that means one thing: Baseball Season. Hell, I don't even like sports and yet find few things to be so indicative of spring than the sounds of a baseball game. For all you Mets fans out there, here's a guide to photographing Queens' Citi Field.
Getting to Citi Field
Citi Field is located on Roosevelt Avenue is Flushing, NY. The Driving & Parking page on the Mets' website has detailed instructions for driving and parking based on how close to game time you plan on arriving. Most directions include taking the Grand Central Parkway towards Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and following the signs for Citi Field.
Street parking is extremely limited -- plan on paying about $20 to park in one of the official lots during the regular season.
Take the 7 train to the Mets-Willets Point stop. Outdated information or signs might still read "Shea Stadium" -- Citi Field is in the same location.
Photographing Citi Field
If you arrive early enough to walk around and visit the concessions, head to the "Taste of the City" area on the field level in left field for a panoramic view of the stadium. Here's the view standing at the top row of the outfield seats behind the Box Frites stand:
Here is the same point of view, but photographed with an ultra-wide angle 12mm lens. You could get a similar effect by shooting a series of photos from top to bottom and left to right, then stitching them together in Photoshop.
If you are sitting in certain field or promenade sections underneath the overhang, you may end up with a big, dark mass across the upper third of your photographs. I crop out most of it and turn this into another opportunity for panoramas.
One of the best times to shoot your photos is 10-15 minutes after sunset during a night game, when the ambient light and the stadium's lighting will be balanced just right to give you an image with both the green grass on the field and a deep blue tone in the sky. Expose for the field and not the seating in front of you (which might be in shadow) so as to avoid blowing out the highlights.
If you are interested in photographing the action, seats close to the field will obviously give you a good position. Otherwise, you're going to need a very long lens. I have found that when sitting in the promenade or upper deck, a 300mm lens will fill an acceptable (but still small) portion of the frame with the players. If you don't have any longer glass, 300mm might give you a good base image from which you can crop a tighter frame.
This image was shot from the same location as the panorama shown above.
After a night game, the exterior of Citi Field looks very impressive lit up. Nearly every angle is interesting, but if you want to get a straight-on view of the building, there is a light pole and a line of bricks in the ground that line up perfectly with the middle of the facade. You can walk along this line until you are far enough back to fit the whole building in your frame.
Take note of the lights at the base of each column, half way up the building. Those lights are extremely bright. Be careful that the dark night sky doesn't throw off your exposure, or you'll end up losing a considerable amount of highlight detail.
Here are a few other ideas that I have not covered in-depth:
- According to the seating chart it looks as though you can get a central view of the entire stadium from behind home plate by going to the area between sections 513 and 514 in the upper deck.
- The Jackie Robinson Rotunda, the main entrance at the front of the stadium, is very ornate but also very crowded. Try not to hold up traffic, and use your camera's neck strap so you don't drop anything over the railings.
- The large flower bed in front of the stadium makes a good foreground for landscape-style shots of the exterior in daylight.
As you can tell from the samples in this article, I think ultra-wide angle shots make for a very interesting photograph at Citi Field. Most of these photos were taken with a Sigma 12-24mm lens on a full-frame Canon EOS 5D. That's the widest rectilinear lens you can get on a 35mm digital camera.
Basically, that means you won't be able to get photos this wide without (a) similar equipment, or (b) stitching together panoramas. Don't be deterred though… most DSLR kit lenses have a wide angle capable of getting shots that still encompass a great deal of the stadium. Just shoot at the 17-18mm end of your zoom.
Unfortunately, most compact point & shoot cameras do not have a very wide angle field of view. The majority of them have about a 35mm equivalent field of view on the wide end, which is of course not anywhere near these 12mm shots. I prefer compact cameras that advertise a "wide angle" lens, which usually works out to be around a 28mm equivalent field of view.
With regards to shooting the players, you will want the most telephoto lens you have available. On a compact camera, this obviously just means zooming in as close as you can get. For DSLR owners, this means the long glass. Both Canon and Nikon make consumer-grade telephoto zoom lenses around the 70-300mm range and I have never been denied entry to either Shea or Citi for carrying one of these. If you've got monstrous, heavy professional gear, or even just a moderately-sized 70-200 lens, you may want to do some research ahead of time to figure out whether that will be permitted inside the stadium. You don't want to be leaving that sort of expensive equipment unattended in your car.
If you don't have very telephoto glass or your lenses are denied entry by security, you can fall back on Photoshop if your camera has enough megapixels. Modern entry level cameras in the 12-15+ megapixel department often have plenty of leeway for cropping out portions of the frame and retaining an acceptable amount of detail.