May 28, 2019 – Member’s Forum: “Baseball” with Frank Napoli

Frank’s Baseball PDF of Slides

Frank Napoli Biography

I began my “career” in photography back in the mid ‘70s. Two close friends were photographers (one of them a young lady with whom I definitely wanted to spend more time), so I decided to get a camera and become “a photographer”.  I bought a used Nikkormat FT2 body (which I still have) and one of the aforementioned friends gave me a 50mm lens, so I was set! We spent time together shooting a lot of film (mostly Kodachrome 64 for its tight grain pattern), attending the Nikon School of Photography, and sending the film via mail order to Kodak for processing. (It was about a 10-day turnaround time before we got to see our pix; a far cry from our instantaneous  “chimping” feedback today!)

I’ve always considered starting with the FT2 to have been a great advantage to my basic foundation in photography—it’s a manual focus, match needle metering body, with no automatic modes (either focus or exposure) of any kind. It forced me to learn and understand the basics of exposure and focus, which I strongly recommend to everyone.

As time went by I was able to amass a fairly reasonable camera bag full of vintage Nikon equipment – a 200mm and 300mm telephotos, a 55mm macro, a 35mm wide angle, a second body (Nikon EM, which gave me auto-exposure and a motor drive for the first time!), a Vivitar 283 flash, and the usual assortment of filters, tripods, monopods, manual release cables, and other accessories.

At the time I was shooting primarily wildlife (I’m also an avid birder—ask me about the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in PA), and family and work events. I used to keep my camera with me in the car almost all the time, and would often pull off the road at a moment’s notice to shoot something interesting. I remember, for instance, driving down I-70 and seeing a Red Tail Hawk swoop down to take a mouse and light in the median with its prey—I pulled over and got a few good shots of “dinner”.

I continued shooting regularly after I got married, often with my wife (she has a considerable collection of camera equipment too, although she doesn’t shoot much anymore) until my son was born. After that we no longer had room for a camera bag when we traveled, and started buying cardboard throw-away (film) cameras to stuff in the diaper bag.  Eventually, I bought my wife a Canon “Digital Elf”, an early digital point-and-shoot camera not much bigger than the cardboard throwaways, and the Napoli family entered the world of digital photography, where we were both very comfortable, since we both work in IT. Although we made great pictures with the Elf, I missed the control of my FT2 and selection of lens, and one day wondered out loud if Nikon digital bodies could use my old “film” lenses. My wife secretly grabbed one of my lenses, went to the local camera shop (boy do I miss the convenience of local camera stores!) found out that the Nikon D200 would work with all my old lenses, and bought me one for Christmas that year.  I’ve since upgraded to a D500 and added several state-of-the-art auto-focus lenses, but still occasionally pull out the 55 macro or the 300 tele. I worked with Georgette Grossman at the time, who invited me to NVPS, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Most of my photography since my son was born in 1997 has documented his life. In addition to his career as a singer, choir director, and music educator, throughout elementary and high school he played baseball, and played catcher/third baseman on the baseball team at DeMatha Catholic H.S. In my presentation tonight I’ll show some of my baseball pictures and I’ll discuss my approach to capturing them, some of the problems I’ve encountered while shooting them, and techniques I’ve used to overcome those issues.  Enjoy!

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