Picture of the Month Little Leaguer
Photo by NYIP Graduate Troy Wallace
Today, Friday the 13th, is Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, and we arrogant New Yorkers expect to win the whole shebang, including the World Series. We Yankee fans never lose! Like Gilbert and Sullivan, we say: what, never? No, never! What never? Well, hardly, ever. The clouds of despair may hover above Boston, Philadelphia, or Los Angeles, but certainly not over Yankee Stadium. Are we not the legacy of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, and Berra? Hubris is for the other guys, not for New Yorkers = at least not for Yankee fans.
And that brings us to the Picture of the Month, a photograph made by NYIP Graduate Troy Wallace of Natunta, Colorado. It shows a Little Leaguer in a batting cage. He's taking a healthy cut, and we fully expect that he dreams about the day when he, too, will proudly wear Yankee pinstripes. Is there any other possible baseball dream? Maybe, but more like a nightmare than a glorious dream. Leo Durocher, a Yankee shortstop in the Babe Ruth era, said "show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser" or words to that effect. And Vince Lombardi of football fame and a native New Yorker said that there is no substitute for winning.
The three NYIP Guidelines prevail here as always. Strong subject matter (a kid on his way to the major leagues and Yankee Stadium). Some might prefer to be a CEO on Wall Street. Some might prefer to be the first astronaut on Mars. Some might choose to be a rock star on American Idol. But nothing takes the place of being another Bronx Bomber!
Now look at the ways that Troy Wallace, the photographer, focused attention on his subject — our second NYIP Guideline. He made good use of leading or converging lines of the batting cage to direct the viewer's attention to the Little Leaguer at bat and from that point to "Iron Mike" throwing the pitches. The selected shutter speed, whatever it was, freezes the action of both bat and ball for emphasis. The batter is placed off center, an example of the Rule of Thirds. The fence of the batting cage frames the boy, too.
And one additional means for focusing attention on the subject — the use of color. There is the boy's red shirt; red often suggests excitement, possibly even danger. The blue of the batting helmet, the boy's jeans, and the "Iron Mike" pitching machine suggest a cool, calm, and collected approach indicating that a steady predictability is as important as enthusiasm. The yellow of the baseballs perhaps show that baseball is also a happy time, game to be enjoyed as much by children as it is by multimillionaire professional adult athletes. The silver of the bat makes it stand out against the grey background of concrete.
You might say that these are the colors that Troy Wallace found on the scene, and that is true. But the way that the photographer grouped them adds significantly to the composition.
One area of the photograph bothers me a bit, namely, the out-of-focus foreground. We are very accustomed to out-of-focus backgrounds in photography. That is because the human eye cannot see accurately for more than about 100 yards. We can see for many miles, of course, but not clearly. Only for about 100 yards. But we generally do not see out-of-focus foregrounds unless there is something physically wrong with our eyes. We can see an out-of-focus foreground when we use our cameras for selective focus, but we do not see this phenomenon unaided. I suggest that the photograph could have been stronger with greater depth of field.
Still, the photograph has much merit. We can say indeed that there will be joy in Mudville because mighty Casey has not struck out.