Monday, June 15, 2009

State Track, Day 2

Day 2 of the state track meet isn't quite as long, but it's a lot more concentrated. Saturday is actully six track meets in one day. The boys and girls meets of Class 1A, 3A and 5A are all run. The morning like the day before is just field events. And again, it gives me time to concentrate on the field events. Because, once the running events start it's trying to be in two places at once or hoping to get lucky and the kid I'm covering is either throwing, jumping or vaulting between races and I can get over there to get a nice shot and get back in time to shoot the race.
This year's meet was pretty disappointing in how few local winners we had. I've said this a million times before, it's not my job to cheer, my job is to tell the story. But, for obvious reasons, I;d prefer to be covering the winners since the photos normally are better. Actually, I'd prefer the kids win who weren't expecting it. Or, they just show some personality after they win, pump a fist, let out a scream do SOMETHING more than just walk off the track!! You just won a damn state championship for crying out loud... be happy!!!
The bulk of the work on Saturday is during the afternoon, while the sun is the hottest. So, while I'm spending much of my time trying to stay hydrated and searching for any little bit of shade near the track that I can find, I try and shoot a few races in between. The 1A and 3A running events last from noon until the last races which start about 3:30. And, 1A is the bulk of where our athletes come from, but this year we had a lot of 3A kids competing too, so there were very few races I wasn't shooting. To put it in perspective, of the 1,400+ photos I shot that day, about 1,100 of those were taken in the four hours of the 1A/3A meet.
Rochelle High School's Bonnie Richardson (above) made national headlines last year when she won the Class 1A girls team title by herself. She's quite the athlete, competing in the 100m, 200m dashes as well as the high jump, long jump and discus events. She's pretty much a shoe in to be a heptathlete in college. Even though she doesn't compete in our area (Rochelle is just outside the southern part of our coverage area), her story is unique in that she was competing for the team title alone again this year. Plus, she competed in Abilene during the regional meet, so it's not like she's not known to the local track fans. So, I made sure to grab a shot of her while she was competing for the story, which again made the national headlines after she repeated her solo team title, winning it by 2 points.
After this, I've got about two hours to download and edit the 1,100 images in the unairconditioned media tent again. To make it even warmer I spent about 40 minutes with my head under a jacket to reduce the glare, only taking breaks to wipe away the gallons of sweat to keep from shorting out my computer (if it were a Mac I wouldn't worry, but it's a PC... what I wouldn't give for a Mac!!). The 5A meet began at 6pm and first local kid raced at 6:30, so I needed to have everything edited and sent before then. I actually got everything edited, captioned and sent by just before 6pm. I think the lack of great emotion shots made it easier since I didn't have to make any real hard decisions to make about what to send.
The highlight of the night is the 5A meet. As far as track meets go, the Texas 5A meet puts some of the best athletes in the country competing and it's just damn fun to watch even if I'm not covering it. But, I was. Abilene High had a girl in both the 100m hurdles and 300m hurdles and boys team in the 4x200m relay. The AHS showing wasn't quite as good as expected so of course the emotions weren't quite there. Amanda McGill did finish third in the 300m hurdles, but didn't celebrate too much, I think she was expecting better. The boys 4x200m team finshed 7th but ended up getting bumped up to 5th after two teams were DQ'ed, but still nothing to get too excited over. There were some really great races to watch while I was waiting for the ones I was covering, in the boys 100m dash a kid ran a lightning fase 10.08, which would have shattered the national record of 10.14 had it not been wind aided, still it was fun to watch.
One thing I think I missed on Friday that I made a point to do was shoot less from the finish line and mix my shooting up a little more. I think on Friday I was waiting for a nice emotional shot that never seemed to happen. I wish I'd have just written it off and gone with the creative stuff earlier instead of waiting for something that didn't happen. I was sure to change it up a little on Saturday. The 100m dash is one of the events I try to shoot from somewhere other than the finish line, I prefer to line up about halfway down the track and pan the shot, it makes the race look a lot better as well as does a nice job of showing how fast these athletes are moving. However, shooting at the finish line does have its advantages, such as when a kids looks like he's going to win the race, but ends up running out of his lane only to be disqualified. All I had to do was get the shot of him actually stepping out of his lane (above), which wasn't that hard since I think he took about six steps in the other kid's lane.
All in all I think Saturday's photos turned out a lot better than day 1. The final race of the day is always the mile relay. The nice thing about it is you can get all the handoffs in the same place as well as shoot the start without having to run around the track or miss anything. It also usually yeilds some of the best photos, since not only are the kids exhausted at the end of the race, but if they do well they usually celebrate since it's more of a team event than individual. That's exactly what happened with Hamlin (top photo), they were in 5th place on the last leg and their anchor, Jaylen Rogers, who had already won the girls 800m run earlier in the day, ran a great leg and finished third to put the girls on the medal stand. I was glad to see it, I finally got that nice emotional shot I'd been searching for all weekend... it also ran as the main photo on the sports front.

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