Q - I would like to know how to take some interesting pictures of my two sons as they play baseball. Pictures of the boys in the outfield show the players so far away that the significance is lost. I have a Konica Auto-reflex with the standard 50mm lens.
A - You're right: Outfield pictures need a far longer lens than the standard 50mm. In fact, you need something more like a 500mm for a decent-size image.
Forget that outfield shot, even if that's where the boys are playing. Concentrate on action on the bases and in the dugout.
The best place to sit for these views is on the first-base side. From here you can catch your boys up at bat and making the run to first as well. Then, in the event of a run, you can also catch them coming in.
You should use a fast shutter speed - 1/500th is good, because that will stop the action. You can go to 1/100th, but that means you have to open up a stop and lose some depth of focus. Choose a seat midway between first and home and focus on the bases. Then you'll be sharp on either one.
When the action happens, you can shoot your son hitting the ball and running to first without changing the focus. In fact, if you're fast with your camera you should be able to shoot a series of the hit, running and arriving at first.
From your seat on the sidelines you can also watch the action and the reaction of the boys as they wait their turn at bat. Be ready to shoot when there's a home run, even if your boys are not the lucky sluggers, because often there's a demonstration of solidarity as the players line up to shake his hand.
Q - On my last roll of film I took some flash shots with my new electronic flash. Only half of the frames turned out, the other half was blank. What went wrong?
A - This question keeps coming up, so I'll answer it again. A number of things could have happened, all having to do with synchronization. The most likely is that your camera shutter wasn't set at the X synch setting of 1/60th of a second. (This is the usual setting, although some models synch as low as 1/30th and as high as 1/125th of a second for electronic flash).
The second most likely fault is that the internal synch - that little dial in front of the shutter-speed dial setting that shows a green dot, a red dot or F or FX - was on the wrong setting. The right setting is FX, and it's on any other setting the synch will be off even at 1/60th of a second.
The final possibility is that the internal mechanism needs to be adjusted by a camera repairman.
There is a simple way that you can see if your flash is in coordination with your shutter. Take the back off your camera so you can see the curtain shutter inside. Of course you'll have to unload your film, which you can replace later.
Then take the lens out and mount your flash on the camera body. Next set the proper shutter speed for synch and flash a piece of white paper, looking at it through the back of the shutter as it opens. If you see a full white frame when the flash goes off, you are in synch. If you're in doubts as to whether you see the entire frame, use a higher shutter speed and you will instantly see the difference. At the higher speed, like 1/125th, only part of the opening will show.