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This year on my Minor League Baseball trip I saw nine games in six days, one a double-header. The ballparks I selected to see encompassed a group in New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania that I had not visited, and with their addition my ballparks page now holds 63 locations. I now have just about all existing ballparks within about a five or six hour drive of home. There are some onesies here and there that I need to add some day, like the Vermont Lake Monsters and the Portland Sea Dogs, but I’ve got pretty much all of them.

In looking at the geographical locator I happened to notice that there was one nearby that I had missed, the Potomac Nationals. I had been to that ballpark in the early 1990s but that was before I started adding panoramics to my website, so I decided to go to a playoff game there, as the season had ended.

The 45 miles took me three hours, driving through D.C.’s rush hour traffic, and I arrived just in time. The reward for my efforts was a wonderful sky, a great night for a game, and a win by the Potomac Nationals (they won the playoff series and are now playing for the Mills Cup).

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A few weeks ago I was on my Baseball week, where I try to see as many minor league games as possible, photograph a panoramic during the game, and post it to my website. This time I brought one of my pinhole cameras and additionally shot a panoramic of the ballpark exterior. This is a 35mm panoramic camera that I was fortunate enough to trade for years ago and works quite well. The nicest thing about it is that the film is advanced by a lever, similar to the one on my Nikon FM2N, so turning the lever three times takes me to the next frame.

This particular ballpark was that of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, who are located in Niles, Ohio, where I started this year’s odyssey.

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One last pinhole from Point of Rocks.

I have offered two other images from the train station location, but none of the station itself. It is rather picturesque and I have a feeling that pretty much anyone who has been there has taken the same picture (a glance at Google Images confirms this).

I wanted to photograph what happened on that particular day, which was a windy one, so I moved to the other side of the railing where foliage was being tossed back and forth and chose what I felt would be a unique vantage point.

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I thought that I would post one more image taken from my 35mm pinhole camera. Again, this is the Point of Rocks train station, and this part is the waiting area. I hadn’t thought of it at the time but the image looks much as if this is a toy on a child’s train set-up.

Another reason I wanted to post this was because so often I hear the comment that when using a pinhole camera one does not know what their results will be, and best practice is to simply hope that the composition includes the elements one wishes. I am not certain where this advice started but it definitely is not the case. It was my intention to include the small buildings in the frame and position the outer ends of the structures on either side equidistant from the side. It is simply a matter of marking sight lines on the camera to make this work.

One thing that I did notice is that the bubble level on the camera is not exactly positioned, so that is something I will need to adjust. Once done, this camera will be ready to travel with me later in the year to Ireland.

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A while back I had the opportunity to trade one of my Bromoil prints for a pinhole camera that uses 35mm film.  I enjoy trading my prints for other’s prints (one of the few ways I can afford them), but this was the first time I had a chance to trade for a pinhole camera.

I set it aside without a chance to try it out, but I have been trying to decide which cameras to take with me to Ireland so I decided to test it out.  The thing I like about it is that not only does it employ a very wide format, but the film advance uses a winder from an old manual camera.  This means that I am not counting turns of a knob when advancing the film, but am pushing a lever, in this case three times, to properly advance the film.

To test the camera I went to Point of Rocks, MD, a stop along the MARC line that goes to Washington, D.C.  This is a picturesque area where I found it easy to use the full roll of film.  This particular image is of an abandoned rail car sitting to the side of the tracks.  I wonder how many miles it may have traveled in its lifetime.

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The first minor league Baseball game I saw was in 1989 when Ben McDonald pitched for the single-A Frederick Keys at the end of their season. This was at McCurdy Field, a Babe Ruth League stadium where the only seats were bleachers, and was replaced by Harry Grove Stadium the following year. In 1994 the Oriole’s AA affiliate moved to Bowie, MD and I decided to document the construction, which lingered on due to the harsh winter. Around that time I started visiting minor league ballparks by taking a week off from work and travelling to as many as possible to see a game. I did not even think about photographing the venues until 2001.

One of the difficulties of photographing a panoramic at the time was the fact that there was no convenient means of stitching together the disparate images that comprised the whole, as I did not have a panoramic camera. Photoshop now makes that task simple, but I gained my stripes figuring out how get things to work with the tools available.

Last week I saw nine games in six days (two of the games were part of a double-header), which was a little unusual because it is typical to endure at least one rain-out during my week off. The most picturesque of the games was the 11am start for the Lake County Captains in Eastlake, Ohio. Exceptional clouds graced the day and forced color everywhere.

This image will go onto my website, where once I have completed processing this past week’s images, will include 66 minor league venues. This represents all but a literal handful of ballparks within a few hundred miles of home. It was not until I mapped out all of the minor league ballparks existing and marked the ones I had yet to visit that I realized that I had completely forgotten about the Potomac Nationals. I saw them as the Prince William Cannons in 1994 but that was before photographing the location, an oversight I will correct later this summer.

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One of the things I like about pinhole photography is that it does naturally what lens photography does not. One of those is infinite depth of field – there is no single plane of focus as is the case with the use of a lens. The other is the use of time – although lens photography almost always employs the capture of a portion of a second, lensless photography almost never captures a scene in less than a second.

To avoid a holy war of arguments about the frame rate of the human eye, I will jump to an experiment I performed many years ago where I photographed a waterfall with many varying shutter speeds. The print that appeared closest to what I actually saw was shot at about 1/100th of a second, so that is where I believe our perception generally lies. When using a camera with automatic settings this is a typical shutter speed. Lensless photography naturally takes us well outside of that range and allows us to capture the fourth dimension in a manner outside of our perception.

When using pinhole photography for photographing on the street I am less interested in the individual per se and more interested in that person’s space within time, so I like to use a slow film that ensures a long shutter speed (in this case I was using PanF+ at EI50, with a shutter speed of about 20 seconds). The result are things that we look at but not see because we are stuck within our four perceptible dimensions. Pinhole photography can release us from this restriction, celebrating what we disparagingly refer to as motion blur.

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I have done some pinhole street photography in the past, and although this may seem to be contradictory terms it simply means that if one wants to minimize the blur, the subject needs to be relatively static.  While in Pittsburgh I saw several possibilities for taking pictures of people in a lensless fashion and this is the result of one.

As I was setting things up the woman looked at me and asked if I was Jo Babcock.  I smiled and told her that I was not, whereupon she returned to her book.  I am not often confused with others (actually, I claim to be confused with looking like George Clooney, though nobody believes me).  Not only was I surprised that she would know who Jo Babcock is, but it gave me a bit of a boost that I would get such a question, despite the fact that our work is not similar at all.

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As I wandered around Lake Kittamaqundi there were numerous places  to stop and contemplate, and this was one.  I set up the 8×10″ pinhole camera and composed for the lightly moving branches and shadows, opening up to reveal the lake.  Following the exposure I decided to next concentrate on the small cloud.  I reset the camera, pulled the dark slide, and just before starting the exposure I realized that the small cloud was no longer there.

Sometimes that is just how it works.

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The obviously great thing about spring is the weather and I love being outdoors. This means that extended exposure times are a bonus so getting the large pinhole camera into service is the obvious choice.

Lake Kittamaqundi in Columbia is a relaxing place to go to simply enjoy the weather and is a common location, where there are numerous photographic opportunities. This is an 8×10″ pinhole of a tree well above the lake on a great spring morning.

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