The Free Lance-Star Photography Department shares the stories behind the photos.

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Luck, preparation and opportunity

“You know that just made me realize how much luck plays into what you guys do,” Justin Rice, assistant sports editor.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” Seneca, 1st century Roman philosopher.

What Rice was referring to was the above photo that I took during the fourth inning of last Friday’s softball game between Mountain View and Stafford High School. Mountain View’s Sabrina Hill charged down the third baseline and collided hard with Stafford catcher Ashley Chenoweth. Hill scored the run. Chenoweth was knocked out of the game.

For the first three innings of the game, I shot from my on-the-field position near third base. At the start of the fourth, I moved to the outside of the fence behind home to get head on views of the starting pitchers.

Had the collision happened in any other inning, I would not have had that vantage point. From the third base position I might have gotten a shot, but not one that showed both player’s faces at the moment of impact.

From the first base position that I later worked from, I would have missed it because my view would have been blocked entirely.

Baseball and softball have always been difficult sports for me to shoot. Action is sporadic and it’s easy to lose focus on what’s going on in the game. I’ve worked hard to become more vigilant in following the flow of the game.

I watch the players more closely to determine the hitters, the base stealers and the ball hawks. I listen to the chatter on the field and in the dugouts. All of this information helps me anticipate the action.

Prepping my camera equipment appropriately has become second nature. I carry two different camera and lens combinations. While using one, the other is positioned so that it is easily accessible. Depending on where the play is happening on the field, I can switch between multiple set-ups without missing a beat.

And that’s where it all came together. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. The opportunity unfolded before me. And I was prepared to capture it.

– Dave Ellis, director of photography