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Behind the lens: Opening Day as seen from the upper deck

The National Anthem is performed before an Opening Day game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sunday, April 3, 2016. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]

The National Anthem is performed before an Opening Day game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sunday, April 3, 2016. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]

It's not often our photo staff is able to assign a handful of photographers to cover a Rays baseball game. Last weekend's Opening Day was an exception. While Rays beat photographer Will Vragovic shot the game from the photo wells near the dugouts, I headed for the upper deck with a 400mm telephoto lens.

The elevated position puts you a long ways away from the action, but the telephoto lens makes up for the distance. With a 400mm lens on a crop sensor camera, it's possible to shoot tight action around the infield. This perspective is very different from shooting at field level, and can provide great visual variety in a photo gallery.

An advantage of shooting from above is the ease of composing a clean background. There are no outfield wall banners or flashing advertisements to spoil an otherwise clean frame. On the other hand, a challenge of shooting from up there is getting faces in your photos. No matter how good the action, the photo will be weak if all you can see are the tops of hats and helmets.

Here are a handful of favorite frames from Opening Day. The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Sunday, April 3, 2016.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

The Tampa Bay Rays are announced on Opening Day before playing the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sunday, April 3, 2016.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Brad Miller (13) throws an out to first on a grounder in the top of the second inning of an Opening Day game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sunday, April 3, 2016.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Fans react to a foul ball hit by Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar (11) in the top of the fourth inning during an Opening Day game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sunday, April 3, 2016.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) attempts to steal third base before being tagged out by Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) to end the fourth inning during an Opening Day game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sunday, April 3, 2016.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

A groundskeeper dances for fans between innings of an Opening Day game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sunday, April 3, 2016.

Behind the lens: Opening Day as seen from the upper deck 04/08/16 [Last modified: Friday, April 8, 2016 4:25pm]
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