Ed Lucas is a blind sportswriter and broadcaster, which one might think to be a contradiction in terms. How can you report on a game you can’t see?
At the age of 12, Ed was blinded by a baseball. He was robbed of sight by the very game he loved. He traveled a long road, faced many doubters, but eventually proved himself as a broadcaster. He is now considered an “elder statesman of the press box,” as one of his bios mentions. He is so respected by the Yankee organization, he and his wife (also legally blind) are the only couple who have been allowed to be married at home plate at Yankee Stadium.
How do you approach a job like this? First off, read everything you can about the your subject, and look at every photo available. Doing this, I knew home plate was important, as was his old school microphone tethered to a tape deck. In his interview pictures, he always had that big old mike. So, those two physical totems of his prowess and his personality were destined to be included.
Our location? A field in New Jersey, home of the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League. Given the weather, the location was not promising at first look.
But, light transforms everything. I put up two Profoto B4 units into 1×6 strips, each fitted with an egg crate, off to the sides of Ed, to illuminate his profile, basically. That was the main shot, seen up top.
But you have to go further. I had bargained for two hours at the ballpark, so I tried another solution. I sat him the seats, and used a single strip to illuminate his face, and a Profoto B4 with a narrow beam reflector to give a glimmer of light off the background seats.
Then, I faded back and shot this with 200-400mm f4 zoom, racked out to 400mm. The compression helped the graphics of the photo, to be sure, but I had another reason for the long lens. It gave me distance, and allowed him to have some personal space. He took hold of the ball, and rolled it around in his fingers. This man’s whole life was wrapped up in that horsehide sphere. I watched him and for a moment, he seemed lost in thought, playing with the ball. I liked the above frame. Simple shot, but it spoke well to the assignment.
Then, I couldn’t let the day go without a detail. Shifting back into color, I shot a tight shot of the details of the day–the mike, the ball, and….his tie.
Two hours. Simple light, storytelling photos. A progression, if you will, from entire to detail. A wonderful couple of hours with an extraordinary man. The pictures remain unpublished. Until today.
All photos made with Nikon D810, set to monochrome for some of the portraits. At the plate, I used a Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8. Seated in the stands, Ed is seen through a Nikkor 200-400 f4. The detail above is shot with the Nikkor 70-200 f2.8.