The Lumix Diaries Takes in Minnesota Twins Baseball
The Lumix Diaries takes in Minnesota Twins Baseball. Yesterday afternoon I was taking a nap at my sister’s place in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. My wife Tanya comes in and says, “Hey hon, Doug has eight tickets to the Twins for tonight. They’re playing the White Sox. We’re going to see a baseball game!” Ok, so most guys would have probably jumped off the bed, hitting the floor with a whoop and a holler and maybe even a back flip thrown in for enthusiastic effect. Me, not being a big sports guy, yawned, rubbed my eyes and said, “Baseball? Hmmm…that sounds kind of fun. I’ve never seen a professional baseball game.” Doug Fick, a brother-in-law that is more like a shining knight in our family was at it again, finding eight tickets for all of us to go spend some time making family memories. I played baseball as a kid and though my father is a rabid Twins fan, I’ve never seen any in-season major league baseball games. “Ok, let’s do it.”
I thought about bringing my Lumix GH4 and a longer lens but then decided, no, I’ll just take a break from photography tonight. Yeah right. That never seems to work out. I get to Target Center with my wife’s super-mini orange GM1 hanging around my neck and within seconds of walking through the front gate I’m realizing I’ve made a big mistake. I’m really, really wishing I had brought a more complete camera kit. The Target Center is absolutely gorgeous, as was the weather. The evening light was just reaching the golden hour and this virtually brand new stadium is so wonderfully designed you would swear you are in a much, much larger city. Kirby Pucket’s larger-than-life spirit in the form of a stunning bronze statue greets us as he’s charging onto the field, and the impressive, glistening glass towers of Minneapolis shimmer against a dark sky, clouded with zebra-toned cumulus clouds. The air is electric with lots of laughter and kids waiting patiently to get their photos in the giant catcher’s mitt. Off in the distance I hear, “Popcorn, peanuts, ice cold beer. Get it now, get it here.” The spirit of baseball is alive and well in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
One of the main reasons I thought it best not to bring my larger camera gear was my misconception that security would be blocking any serious equipment at the gate. Not the case at Target Field Doug tells me. Doug pipes up, “Hey Dan, why the little camera? Where’s your big stuff?” I gave him my thoughts on security and he says, “No, not a problem at Target Field. None of the other sports teams in Minneapolis will let you shoot—not basketball, hockey or football—but no problem here with the Twins.” Wow, what a nice bonus from the Minnesota Twins.
Making the best of it I decide this will be a great opportunity to really test the Lumix GM1, which by the way, had already passed its first test with flying colors as far as my sister was concerned. Yep, she’s also a camera connoisseur. Seems she really, really likes the fact it’s orange. Guess I can’t argue with that since it’s the exact reason Tanya wanted it as well. Admittedly, they both like the fact it takes an entire, relatively expansive line of lenses and it’s super small. But these two positive attributes are voiced long after the cool color comments. Me? Orange is OK but I’m pretty certain it was a confidence builder for the guy two seats behind us, who tried knocking me down with his thunderous voice that belted out “down in front” while I was shooting a few images. I’m confident he wouldn’t have been such a tough guy had my GM1 been black. Guess I’ll never know, but I’ve never had to take such abuse with my black cameras. Thankfully our seats were really close to the action, first ones just behind the White Sox dugout.
The players were close as was third base, so my little orange camera with its kit lens of 12-32mm was not as limited as it could have been. Not a sports lens by any stretch like the young man in the camera pit who was shooting a Canon 400mm F/2.8, a 70-200mm F/2.8, and th 24-70mm F/2.8. I was most certainly outgunned but I had intentions to make some nice pictures.
First on the agenda was to enjoy the game, a cold beer and half a cheeseburger while the evening light faded. As gorgeous as the golden hour was, one-third of the field was in bright sunshine, the other two-thirds were in the shadows. Too much contrast at that point so time was on my side as I waited for the blue light of dusk to envelope the Target Center. Right at about the start of the sixth inning I decided to make my break. I excused myself from the family as Doug made suggestions on which way to go and some highlights around the park to look for.
I slowly made my way around the entire field, stopping here and there to take an interesting angle or document a friendly face. Lots of security folks on hand and I was asked to move on more than once. I would make a couple of pictures and move down to another entry way. The sky was so beautiful that night I was wishing desperately for my 7-14mm wide angle zoom. I did the best I could with the the GM1’s kit lens at the 12mm setting which is equivalent to 24mm on a Full Frame system.
I’m a big fan of this new recently released miniature lens having a wide setting which gives us 4mm more on the wide side than most of the kit zooms that come with many other mirrorless cameras. I’ve always loved the 24mm range and now this lens gives it to us in a super compact package. There have been a few negative comments floating around the Internet regarding sharpness issues on this lens and I actually held off buying it due to what I came to find were completely false reports. I found this lens to be extremely sharp and produced fabulous details.
I’ll close with a story about how my dear wife got ahold of a game ball. Sitting behind the Sox dugout is a great place to get a game ball since players from both teams throw a ball into the stands between innings. Doug warned me to be ready. So as the Sox players would come in, Doug and I would stand and do our best to look worthy to get a ball tossed our way. After three or four handouts to kids and others around us I finally told Doug, “Don’t stand up, just let the girls stand and we’ll sit back. I bet the boys from Chicago can’t pass on two pretty ladies.”
So we did and sure enough, the next inning one of the Sox players gently underhands a game ball to the two pretty ladies. I was doing everything just short of ducking down behind the dugout, but fortunately my plan worked and we went home with a souvenir of our fabulous night at the Target Center. Oh, by the way. The Twins were ahead 4-2 for several innings until the top of the ninth when Chicago tied the game 4-4. Miraculously, in the bottom of the ninth, Daniel Webb (4-1) walked Eduardo Escobar and Sam Fuld with one out and Escobar beat the throw home with a thrilling slide to win the game. The play was confirmed upon review. It was a wild finish.