The story behind this Robert Seale image

Photographer: Robert Seale

Date: March 15, 2011

Location: Port Charlotte, Florida

Subject: Tampa Bay Rays All-Star Third Baseman Evan Longoria

Circumstances: A commission by Sports Illustrated for its baseball season preview issue

Camera and lens: Canon EOS 1DS Mark III and Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 lens (at 35mm)

Exposure: 1/250 second at f/13, ISO 100

Lighting: Four Profoto Pro-7B strobes

In Seale's own words: “When taking portraits of athletes or corporate executives, whose schedules and patience don’t allow the photographer much time, I make sure everything is prepared and tested well in advance. We planned this shot out days before and scouted the location the day before, using an iPad app to determine the best placement of the stage in relation to the sun.

“Sometimes, preparation means changing course beforehand. For this portrait, Longorio is standing on heavy Plexiglass stage, 1.5 inches thick, 5 feet off the ground. I’m lying underneath. We put the lights in place and put a big 8x8 solid over him to block the sun. We covered the balls with talcum powder so when he hit the ball it would create a puff of smoke. My timing is OK, so I was confident I could get him making contact with the ball; but when I looked at the situation, and the close proximity of the gear, I thought when he hit the ball, he was going to break a light or kill one of the crew. In anticipation of that, we went to the hardware store and got a 4-inch-long screw and attached the ball to the bat. Longoria would swing the bat, and we would consistently get the ball coming off the bat in every picture. We removed the screw in Photoshop, but this is what the scene looked like otherwise.”

Eric Minton is a writer and editor in Washington, D.C.