Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Girls don't play as hard as boys."


Common Myth: Girls don't play as hard as boys in sports.

Watching softball around here on a regular basis will dispel that myth quickly. The collision in the top photo caused a 20 minute delay in the game, in which the girl sliding into second was taken off the field on a stretcher, the girl she ran into was carried off the field.

The girl carried off the field returned to the game two innings later. The one taken to the hospital was back the following week for the state tournament.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My new D3

Anybody who knows me, knows I'm a total gadget geek. So when I got my new D3 last week, I was like a kid with a new bike... a $5,000 bike, but a new bike nonetheless. My first two assignments I got to exploit the features that I was most excited about the camera.


The first assignment of the day was the "I Love America Parade" at Dyess Elementary School. It was a typical assignment, but the part I was excited about was I was able to exploit the full frame ability of my D3 and use my old 20mm lens, my favorite lens that I've had since college. I missed my old friend, using the 14mm lens on a digital camera just isn't the same, the 20mm has a lower profile and isn't as much of a "conversation piece." It looks just like any old lens.


Later that day... I went up to Snyder, about 80 miles northwest of Abilene for a baseball playoff game. It was a pretty boring game, a pitchers duel, the kind of game I love to watch as a fan and HATE to shoot as photojournalist. Well, after watching players from both teams do nothing the first two innings it was time to play around. The light was really pretty and this lack of action was wasting some really pretty light. So I went and sat behind home plate, I figured if it was going to be a pitchers duel, I better get a few shots of the pitcher to cover myself.

Well, after about three pitches, I had about all I need and then some of the pitcher. And since there were no baserunners and no one was hitting I figured I'd play around. Silhouetting the batter, catcher and umpire, with the picther in the background. Then I zone focussed hoping to catch the ball sharp and the pitcher in the background. The shot above was actually taken on the first pitch I tried this. Man 9 frames per second is sweet! I shot six or 7 more pitches and got a couple more with the ball in focus, but I liked this one the best b/c of the way the strings were and the pitchers form in the background. We didn't end up using it for the next day's paper. I liked the shot but didn't do much for telling the story.

The game went to extra innings and the lights at Moffett Field are well, high school baseball stadium lights (translation: awful). Luckily and probably one of the best features of the D3 is shooting at high ISO. So I cranked it up to 3200 ISO and kept going. On my D2Hs I would have had to shoot at 1600, with a slower shutter speed and no sure way of knowing I'll have a fast enough shutter to stop action. The D3 was able to let me shoot high enough to not have a worry and I could have even cranked up the ISO another stop if needed.

Another pleasant surprise about the camera is auto white balance actually works!! I was shocked by that. Normally auto WB looks like crap and is totally unusable. Now, even with cycling stadium light the auto WB has saved my ass from some serious need for post-processing to fix the color! Man, this thing really is turning out to be all it's cracked up to be!

State Track Meet

The Texas high school state track meet is one of my favorite events of the year to shoot. We usually have about 40 or 50 kids competing over the two day meet. The days are long, we usually get there about 8 or 9 am and get done around 10 or 11pm. And by done I mean having sent all the photos for the next day's paper, I usually end up going back to my hotel taking a long cool shower, getting dinner then putting together a massive online slideshow for the web, since my deadline for that isn't as tight. I think this year's slideshows were around 40-50 per day. I got done Friday night/Saturday morning around 2am and took a long nap and got up and did it again on Saturday morning.
It gets pretty crazy sometimes trying to get photos of all the area competitors, and sometimes you miss things. I go into this with a couple goals when shooting this meet: First is to get as many of the local kids as possible, it's pretty embarrassing to have a local kid set a record and you don't have a shot. Second is don't take boring pictures and have fun!
The great part about having so many kids is you can have fun and experiment different techniques, if you miss a shot there are plenty more kids to shoot. While I try not to miss anything, it's a fact of life, it's probably going to happen, the key is to get more good shots than bad. As usual when I'm covering a sporting event, I look and kind of feel like a pack mule. I bring as many of the tools I can. The great thing about this meet is the press tent is at the top of the parking deck and my car is right outside the press tent, so I can have easy access to extra long glass, camera bodies, remotes, etc. I can leave in my car when I don't need it all.
Another important part is good communication with reporters, with everyone having cell phones it's a lot easier to keep in touch. It's a great way to have a second set of eyes on an event. When the discus is on one side of the stadium and the high jump on the other it never hurts to have someone keeping track of who is throwing/jumping when and when I need to be there or not, like if someone is jumping for a record or is one of the final two jumpers of the event, I need to be there instead of watching our discus kid on her second throw since she has four more to go.

Monday, May 26, 2008


I've never been a huge fan of Willie Nelson, it's not that I didn't like his music, just more of an indifference thing, until just recently when I shot his concert. When I went down to pick up my passes from the promoter (Abilene isn't all the big and the Abilene Civic Center is 4 blocks from my office) , I asked him how many songs I had to shoot., so I could be prepared. This is when the shock set it. The promoter told me "Willie doesn't like song limits, his only rule is that you don't block a paying customer, so you can shoot the first two songs up from after that make yourself at home and just don't block anyone with a ticket."

Wow!! Even the most washed up of bands that have anything close to a hit put a song limit on their concerts. Hell, Foghat made me quit shooting after three songs! And they haven't had a hit since, what? The 70's? And Willie, who's been around forever and doesn't even need the publicity lets a photographer hang around for the whole concert! They even let me shoot from backstage.
And I must say, it was great to hear Willie sing "Georgia on my Mind." Not to mention the childhood memories I have of when my family would go to the laser show at Stone Mountain and all the rednecks would get up and cheer and toast their beers at the end of the show when they played Willie's rendition of the song.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Shot in the.... Ankle


This was just odd, this guy showed up after getting in an argument with the guys that called the police, he got out of his car told the police he was shot by the guys in the house 30 minutes earlier, then asked the cops if they wanted to see the gunshot wound. So, he drops his pants and the gunshot is just above the ankle. I think he lost his balance while he was bent over b/c then he flopped down in the middle of the street. Then after he gets up, he asks the cops if he should go to the hospital!

After he left the officer on the left comes up to me with a big smile on his face asking me "Please tell me you go photos of that." I did and we ended up using it in the next day's paper. I still don't understand why he didn't just pull his pant leg up. I gotta hand it to the two police officers, I never would have been able to keep a straight face, as it was I looked over at my reporter and both of us were biting our lips to keep from laughing!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

So this is my blog, I actually created one a couple years ago and have been meaning to make my first post, but well.... yeah. So a couple days ago when I went to actually make my first post... I forgot the password! So here we go again... Tommy's blog 2.0. Well, I guess this one is already successful since I'm already making a post.

Here's what you can expect out of this blog: my pictures, my opinions and editorial comments about the photos and what, if anything I was thinking when I took the shot. The comments may not always G rated, but I'll try not to go too far beyond PG-13.