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Sporting Signs Of Spring

 

 

As a photographer, I enjoy keeping myself busy exploring the world through the lens of my camera.  But when the weatherman is using terms like “arctic blast” and “Siberian Express”, I find myself wanting to just crawl back into my warm bed and hibernate until spring.

Punxsutawney Phil tends to make matters worse when he sees his shadow and harborages 6 more long weeks of the stuff. Fortunately I am starting to see signs of spring in the air.  I’m not talking about the lengthening days or the delicate crocus peaking their heads through the snow.  My spring isn’t determined by a date on a calendar, my spring appears on the sports schedules.

Most people think spring arrives with the Spring Equinox. But I know it really starts with Spring Training.  The words speak for themselves.  When the Boys of Summer call for pitchers and catchers to report, I know warmer weather is on the way.

If you are a baseball fan, you owe it to yourself to attend a Cactus League or Grapefruit League game where you can see today’s mega stars, and tomorrow’s hopefuls, all in an intimate setting.  It is also a fabulous way to practice sports photography skills, as players are more relaxed and eager to interact with fans.  An added bonus is the games are played in warm weather states!

Spring fever brings on a full-scale case of March Madness.  From Selection Sunday through Championship Monday, the NCAA tournament means fast paced competitions, upsets, Cinderella stories, and an excuse to watch basketball from morning ‘til night.

It doesn’t matter what the temperature reads outside, my “girl cave” is a comfortable 70 degrees year round (my husband thinks it’s his man cave – we’ll just let him keep his illusions).   My sports retreat happens to also be my photo studio, so I can grab some quick session work on the commercial breaks.

Spring means the budding of flowers.  From the delicate early buds of the Dogwood tree, to the eye popping colors of azaleas, this can only mean one thing.  It’s time once again for a tradition like no other, The Master’s.

It’s still too cold to play golf, but I enjoy watching my favorite players competing in Augusta for the coveted Green Jacket.  And seriously, if what the professionals play is called golf – what I play is called hitting a dimples ball over the river, through the woods and onto the beach.

If you’re lucky enough to attend a professional golf tournament, you should be aware that cameras are usually banned – and if not outright restricted, they are highly discouraged.  Golfers make their livings playing this game, and the unfortunate click of an ill-timed camera shot can mean the difference between winning and losing.  Grab great shots by attending open practice days before the event when there are usually no photo restrictions and players are sometimes even happy to pose for a shot or two.

Springtime in Paris means Rolland Garros, and Rolland Garros means the clay courts of the French Open.  While the tennis major’s season actually starts earlier in the year down-under in Australia, May brings the game back for sports starved fans in the Northern Hemisphere and is soon be followed by the grass courts of Wimbledon and the hard courts of the US Open.  Photography for these events are usually restricted to the Press Corp only, so just sit back and enjoy the action if you are one of the fortunate ones to get a seat in the stands.

Spring brings the arrival of babies, and for horse racing fans it means the 3 year old babies are beginning their Run for the Roses.  The first Saturday in May is all about pageantry, fancy hats and mint juleps.  But the races leading up to the Kentucky Derby are held in racetracks around North America.  Many of these tracks provide opportunities to attend morning work-outs or lead backstretch barn tours giving you up close access to capture the true majesty of these incredible beasts in addition to the heart pounding action of the races.

While all of these events allow me a to get a quick “fix” for my love of gambling as well – I prefer to think of myself first and foremost as just a true sports fan.

Get out and enjoy your favorite sport or activity as a spectator or participant as the warmer weather comes around to where you live.  Just don’t forget to grab your camera and take your allergy medicine before you go.

Karen Foley is a freelance photographer and writer.  See more of her work at Dreamstime.

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