📸 Through The Lens | Me And My Shadow

Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas Athletics staff photographer Jeff Jacobsen shares his memories of what he saw “Through the Lens” from his 23-year career with the Jayhawks.

Hoglund Ballpark on a spring afternoon as the sun falls towards the horizon provides amazing light that brings dramatic rich and full color and shadows that stretch out across the blue padding of the outfield fences. It might not always be as beloved by the third baseman, shortstop and left fielder starring into the setting sun, but it does make for stunning photographs.

Combine that light with a center fielder, like Joven Afenir, who never was afraid to chase down any fly ball, no matter the cost to his body, and magic can happen. It did in March 2016 during a KU baseball game against BYU.

Tracking a scorching fly ball while running full speed to the fence as the ball rockets overhead requires a leap of skill and madness to pull the ball into the glove. Meanwhile, the light of realization is flashing all the while in the outfielder’s brain with alarming intensity. That warning was that as beautiful was the catch, there would be a cruel crash into the fence.

From my photo position at the far end of the KU dugout, I had to track Afenir and carefully compose the picture to include the shadow that brought the beauty to the photograph and combine it with perfect timing. I know Afenir didn’t have time to admire his shadow, but it would have offered a perfect view of one great catch.