Thursday, April 23, 2009

The shrinking coach...

I was going through the photos I shot last week, and a lot of what I shot was advance stuff. This was one of them. Were were doing a story about the head girls basketball coach at Albany High School, Paul Johnston. Johnston is a really good guy, who avoids the spotlight all he can, he's the good coach you like to deal with, he's always trying to deflect the attention to his team and players. This is great, until he does something like loses over 110 pounds. Now, if you ask anyone that's quite a feat, but if you ask him it's not a big deal. Luckily our reporter was able to talk him into doing the story. Then I found out WHEN he does his walking... at 5am every morning. He walks three hours a day, usually 1-2 of those in the morning in the gym. Then he finds the other hour later in the day. My thought was to get him in the morning since it's a 40 minute drive up there. Now, it's the assignments like these that I dread, but always end up liking after it's over. As I was walking into the gym I noticed the above shot. I ended up taking a few more of him walking but this was my favorite.
All of my photos were shot in about 15 minutes, normally, I'd spend the whole time shooting photos during his time walking. But, I also shot video (below) of him. This was my first video, and looking back on it I needed to shoot a heck of a lot more b-roll for it. But the interview turned out really well and I think added a lot to the story. I'm still not a huge fan of video, I'd prefer doing audio slideshows, it's a lot easier to edit and can often have just as much impact or more. Now, I do think video may have it's place, but trying to do both at once makes both mediums suffer. I think I did ok, but would prefer to have done one or the other.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Balancing her time out in left field...

Multi-sport athletes and the kids that play a number of sports are the norm around here, and even the ones who excel at a number of sports are kind of common. However, those players are usually at the smaller schools where the good athletes, excel based on them being good athletes and great talent just isn't as plentiful. So, what make Sealie Tiner different is she is doing it at one of the local schools, where specializing in one sport, is more common. And, playing more than one sport per season just doesn't happen. The fact that she's a freshman and doing one of the top players in two varsity sports just adds to how good she is. Tiner recently was the only Cooper High School girls gymnast to qualify for the state gymnastics meet, she is also the starting left fielder on the softball team. On days when she doesn't have a game or competeing she is spending almost four hours a day practicing!

I've always enjoyed shooting gymnasts. To be a good gymnast you have to be in great shapes, which usually translate into nice body lines and more importantly good posture and great balance, all those together make for nice photos. The other reason is how easy the team is to work with, they don't really get a whole lot of ink so, when we do the stories the coaches are really willing to help out. Haveing shot nice photos to go with the stories in the past helps too. It also helps that I'm one of the few people in our office who has covered gymnastics before having covered UGA gymnastics when I was in college, so I know at least enough to talk competently about the sport, which has earned me points with the coaches.

The other nice part about this story is I got it a long time before the story ran so I wasn't rushed to the point that it needed to be shot the day it was assigned. How does this help? I had an idea of how to shoot it. With her softball gear in one of the gymnastics apparatus. So the day I got the assignment I was able to go talk to the coach and Sealie and set things up how I wanted it. I told he I wanted her to bring all her softball gear with her. Now plenty of photogs want their ideas to be their and not listen to suggestion. I'm always willing to hear others' opinions, now I don't always use them, but it nevers hurts to listen. For this shot it helped, like I said, I had the idea to shoot it with her in her leotard with her softball gear, and her coach suggested a good pose for her after explaining everything I wanted. The final touch was he cleats I had her put them around her neck, but before she hopped up of the beam the coach moved them so they were just draped over her shoulder, which made them placed perfectly for the photo.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tax Day Teabaggers...

A lot was made about the "tax tea parties" that took place last week. My feelings on the whole thing really don't matter on here, I refuse to talk about politics on here. The only thing I will say is I think both Bush and Obama's "stimlus/bailout" plans were giants wastes of money going to the wrong places! (Ok, so I did talk about politics, it's my blog damnit). Anyway, the local "tea party" drew quite the crowd, so much so that the number of people overflowed off the street corner they were on into the street as well as the other three street corners. It made for a couple decent photos... especially when Uncle Sam showed up.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Yet another brush fire...

We had a few more brush fires last week. The only one I shot was on Tuesday. Area-wise this fire was pretty small, only about 200 acres. However, there were quite a few homes in the path of the fire, and a couple were destroyed. I shot this photo as I was walking down a road following a local volunteer fire department fighting the fires. I liked it because of the surreal look it had from the smoke rising up between the burned trees. It was also one of the last shots I took before everyone had to leave because the forest service was going to make an air drop on that location.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Arena Football, and covering someone I haven't covered in 10 years...

Monday was the opening night of the new arena football team in town, the Ruff Riders. We've been covering the crap out of them, so Monday was no different. I had to work on my day off (horay overtime!). It was interesting covering this to say the least. I had never covered arena football before, and still don't understand a lot of the rules compared to "regular" football.
With this being minor league I was expecting the game to be pretty bad, however, I was pleasantly surprised at how good some of these guys were. Now in no way was it the NFL, but still entertaining nonetheless. There were a lot of players from some major college programs, as well as a few from some of the local programs. It was nice to see, a couple of the local kids I've been covering since high school, the ones who were plenty talented but just a little too short to be recruited to the big programs. Or, played for a school that wasn't "on the radar" so they slipped through the cracks.
The crowds were into it too. Abilene has a history of supporting its minor league teams at the start but they they go away soon. However, there are two things different about the Ruff Riders: 1) This is football, and there's no question West Texas loves football. 2) For the first time beer is being sold at sporting events. Reason two alone may keep the team afloat longer than most.
There was one other major attraction for fans to the Ruff Riders... Quincy Carter. Carter, a former University of Georgia quarterback, whom I covered his freshman year at Georgia 10 years ago is the starting quarterback for the Ruff Riders. Around here though, Carter is better known as the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback. Abilene is a big Cowboys town, and plenty of people showed up to see Carter and see if he'd still be worthy of the Cowboys job. I'm not sure about that, but he still has a rocket arm and threw for a league high in yardage for the week and scored five touchdowns, four in the air and one rushing.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Shooting arena football... outdoors

Last week was the final week of practice for the Abilene Ruff Riders, the new local professional arena football team. The irony about shooting this is everything I shot of them was outside. But since that was where they were practicing there wasn't much of a choice Plus, hey, the light is better than the light's they'll be playing under at the Taylor County Coliseum.
I had quite the list of things that needed to be shot for the team preview including individual player photos. But also, a front page story on the outlook of the team and whether the team could make it or not, since the last two minor league teams in town, the baseball and hockey teams, both folded after only a couple of years. I also had to get shots of a couple of the local people on the team, including the kicker (bottom), who is the boys soccer coach at Wylie High School. His story is actually kind of funny, I think he said he's only played about 8 football games in high school, and never in college, just soccer. He actually made the team as the kicker though because of great leg strength and accuracy. For the front photo (top) I was looking for something more featurey, the sports front could have been anything. I had a shot I liked with the coach going over a play with a few players (middle) that I though worked out best for the sports front.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I shot softball Friday, nothing too exciting, I was working on a bunch of other stuff and this was sort of a last minute add. I showed up in the fourth inning (high school baseball and softball only play 7 innings) and the game had already gotten out of hand, Abilene High was ahead by 6 and had runners on base when I got there. The game was kind of boring, even all the scoring was hit after hit, nothing too exciting. I did make a couple of shots I liked. The team isn't as strong as it has been in the past, I thought the bottom photo sort of told that story, although I doubt that's why she had that look on her face since they were up 8-0 at the time... but the light was nice