Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Drive through window...

Stereotypes often are built on truth. And as soon as I heard the call come over the scanner that a car had run into the front of a store, I immediately knew it was an old person driving. This has actually happened more often than you would think. Usually, however, it is the library that they are treating as a drive through window. I think it's happened to either the library or the post office 3 or 4 times in the last couple of years. This time it was a department store and I was right about the age, it was an 84-year-old woman who put the new hole in the store. When I got there I made a few quick photos. While I was waiting for the reporter to get information about the accident I noticed the store manager picking up a few items of clothing. I think she only picked up 3 or 4 garments before walking away. This made the best photo, showing her working while the car was half-way in the store.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monster Truck Madness and Horse Tryouts...

One of the things I love the most about my job is the variety of the assignments I shoot. Now, sure I love shooting football games and know I'm going to do that pretty much every Friday in the Fall. But during the week, things vary pretty often. Tuesday was the perfect example. I had to shoot tryouts for Hardin-Simmons University's six white horse team. Then after that, it was over to the Abilene Speedway to shoot monster trucks. It's tough to get much further apart on the spectrum than those.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

HOLY F%&K Did that just happen?!?

Saturday, I went down to Austin for the biggest football game in the state. Texas was playing Texas Tech in a rematch of what was an awesome game last year with Tech winning on the last play of the game and effectively killing Texas' chances of playing for a national championship. The main reason, however, why I was covering the game is because both teams' quarterbacks, Taylor Potts from Texas Tech and Colt McCoy from Texas are both from Abilene. Actually, McCoy is from Tuscola, which is a "suburb" of Abilene.
The fun for me started while I was walking from the parking deck to the stadium. As I was walking I kept hearing this clicking noise, I figured it was just my cameras knocking together, then I heard this loud glass thud underneath me feet, much like that of dropping a heavy glass. Because, well, it was heavy glass! The front element of my 70-200mm lens just just fallen out! After dropping a few "F" bombs , I calmed down enough to notice, miraculously, there were no scratches on the glass! It had landed on its side. So, I screwed it back in, and other than a nice fingerprint on the inside of the glass and a few more, which I later was able to wipe down, on the front. It looked good. It even focused better. Since the damn thing had probably been coming unscrewed the last week or so! So, now that the excitement was over I was able to get in the stadium, no matter what happened after that probably wasn't going to be quite as traumatic.
I generally like to get to college football games about 3 hours before the game starts. Yes mom, there is something I actually try to get to on time, and I generally make it around that time! That way you stay a little ahead of traffic, and if it is bad, I don't feel rushed. As well as it gives me time to pick up my credentials find where I'm supposed to park, find the photo workroom, set up etc. Not to mention it gives me time to take care of other problems such as, when your lens falls apart while walking into the stadium! And with all of that I was still able to make it to the field with plenty of time to spare.
The first half of the game was about as awful as it could be. Neither team was moving the ball and the only scoring were two field goals and a punt return for a touchdown by Texas which I was on the wrong side of the field for. I made a couple of decent photos, but there just wasn't a whole lot happening as far as action or big plays went.
The second half of the game was a hell of a lot better. There were a lot of big hits, as well as some nice offensive plays. I was still on the wrong side of the field for my fair share of plays, but there was enough that I got that I wasn't totally disgusted with my shooting. One thing about memorial stadium that I don't get a lot of when shooting high school games is nice light.
The stadium lights were bright enough, in combination with my D3 allowing to crank up the ISO a little, to allow me to use not only my 1.4x teleconverter, but also the 2x. That way I could camp out in the end zone and not have to move. It helped me make a decent shot of a touchdown from the other end of the field (above).
Shooting these night games are nice, especially in Austin, because the weather gets cooler. Event though it was still hot as hell, and the humidity sucked. I can only imagine how much worse it would be for an afternoon game! But, the problem you run into is these 7pm game on national TV seem to drag on forever, especially near the end. The commercial breaks seem to take longer and I'm looking at my watch after every play hoping that I'll be able to get back to the photo room and edit and transmit my photos before deadline. Luckily with this game being so big, we were able to push back deadlines and my photos didn't have to be in until 11:45.
The drawback to that is I had to make a decision beforehand to shoot a to a horizontal hole. It turned out ok. However, I did originally have a vertical shot I was planning to send. But, I'm actually pretty I glad I sent the one I did to be used as the main photo (top). Not only was it a local kid, but I think it also sort of summed up the game with the defense being the key to the game. Although I think everyone, including me, thought the offenses were going to shine.

Taking the show on the road...

Friday night I got to go out of town to shoot Albany High School, the number-1 ranked Class A team in the state play Eastland. I've always enjoyed shooting in Albany. For a small school, Albany has really great light, probably because the lights are practically on top of the field. And, despite Albany winning rather easily 62-27, it was a really entertaining game to shoot. Albany has a big strong offensive line and executes plays great. Eastland is a passing team with a good quarterback. The problem was that Albany just pounded them. And when Eastland started to look good, they were down too much and couldn't come back.






Thursday, September 17, 2009

Forgetting what it's like to win...

In April McMurry University hired Hal Mumme as their coach. Over the last 10 years McMurry's football program has been nothing short of pathetic over the last few years. McMurry was on a 14-game losing streak coming into this weekend's game. The good news for them is they were playing Austin College, one of the worst Division III schools in the country. And, with the team's new system and high profile head coach this was supposed to be the game that finally broke the streak, and they were even going to do it on their home turf.
Well, no one bothered to tell Austin College they were supposed to lose. McMurry's offense actually looked pretty good. Better than they have in a long time. They scored. Something I hadn't seen them do in a long time. The problem was, the McMurry defense couldn't do anything to keep Austin College's defense off the field. That was a problem. The new high-octane offense spent most of the game on the sidelines. In fact, I think the whole third quarter McMurry only ran three plays. Here's where the problem came. Ironically since the defense spent so much time on the field, I actually got some really nice defense photos. But, I think the two photos that summed up the game the best were the touchdown pass slipping through the players' hands and the look on Mumme's face as he watched the game from the sidelines in the fourth quarter. I have a feeling he's going to have that look on his face a lot this year.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Raining on my parade...

I'm still not a fan of most of the parades we have in Abilene since not many people come to most of them, and quite frankly they are all pretty much the same and most of the "floats" are just people riding in cars advertising what ever car dealership giving them the car to drive in the parade. The West Texas Fair & Rodeo parade still has plenty of that, but it also has a lot of bands, some actual floats, riders on horseback and most important... a decent-sized crowd.
Since it is unofficially monsoon season here and I've bitched about the rain for the last three weeks what is one more post to bitch about the rain? Actually it wasn't raining when the parade actually started. Which, I guess, was good because it didn't scare the people away. The crowd was still good. The rain did start towards the end of the parade. Which is when everybody started to break out the umbrellas. That was a good thing since most of what I had shot so far wasn't all that fantastic. And, despite all the rain that I had shot in, I didn't really have an umbrella shots. So, I figured today was the day to shoot it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Up too early after a late night...

I've never been much of a morning person. So, there is nothing more miserable than after working till 3am on a Friday night covering football and going back to the office and building a slideshow gallery after the game to have to shoot an assignment at 8am. I think I was working on about 3 hours of sleep for this one, but it turned out a lot better than I expected. Cross country is a sport we seldom covered in the past. My personal feeling is it should be called conditioning, or more appropriately torture.
One good thing about this, was that I did find what I didn't see the night before at the football game, mud. The course had a stream running through it, that normally wouldn't be there, but since it rained there was quite a bit of runoff water running into the lake that wouldn't normally be there. I only had time to shoot two of the races before going to another assignment. When I found the spot during the first race, the group had already spread out and were on the last lap. The best shot I got from it was three guys going through the creek. So, for the high school boys race I waited there at the start of the race. The creek was only about 500 yards from the start and the lane was pretty narrow so it made the group look big. I liked it the best and the ropes made a nice line. The only thing that would have made a better shot would have been someone slipping in the mud. There were a few close calls but, sadly, no dice.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Technology isn't always that wonderful....

This is west Texas, it never rains. The last three weeks at least one of the football games I've covered has gotten rained on. Including one game last week that got flat out canceled because of lightning (in 10 years that has never happened to me). I think it's been a few years since I've had to shoot a game when it rained for more than 30 minutes. So, I'm guessing this is the photo gods way of making it up to me.
One thing I do remember about shooting games in the rain long ago was mud. Mud always added something nice to photos. The problem now is, there is no mud. Since it pretty much never rains here most stadiums have put in field turf, which is pretty damn nice and doesn't have to be watered and the grass never dies. All of these are great, the other nice thing is water drains away pretty quick, but sadly there is no mud and puddles which always used to make such great photos. So now, rain is nothing more than a damn annoyance, which just makes shooting in it pretty damn miserable!
So, this week's high school game was the annual cross town football game between Abilene High and Cooper. For the past five years Abilene High has won pretty easily. Well, this year the teams were a lot more easily matched. The first half of the football game proved just that both teams' offenses looked like neither could be stopped. This games was starting to look like whoever had the ball last was going to win the game. Both offenses were moving the ball up the field. Abilene was was doing it with long plays and quick drives, while Cooper was moving the ball methodically up the field 4-6 yard a play.
The second half was a different story. Cooper took the opening kick off and moved up the field the same way they did in the first half but was stopped short of a touchdown and had to settle for a field goal. Abilene High scored not too long after that and didn't look back much after that. An onside kick after a quick score was pretty much the dagger that made Cooper lose their will and AHS took over from there to make it six wins in a row over the cross-town rival.
One part of the game that technology has not changed, well until high school stadiums start putting in domes (I give that at least another 10 or so years), is the fans. In particular, the student section. The student sections are always the most fun to watch since most adults, especially at high school games aren't very rowdy. The student sections, however, aren't afraid to show their true colors even if they have to pain it on their faces or chests. And, even if the rain is going to wash a lot of those colors away. Also, they aren't going to hide under an umbrella to watch the game.
Now, even though there wasn't any mud to speak of, since instead of dirt and grass it's rubber pellets and nylon "grass," there was still plenty of rain coming down... the whole damn game. The rain did make for some interesting photos that you just don't see much since it doesn't rain a whole lot around here. One shot, in particular, that I like was the one of a kid making a tackle and a splash of water flying off his helmet (above). It kind of reminded me of the boxing photos of the guys getting hit and the sweat getting knocked off their face.
There was one good thing that came out of the this weekend's nasty weather. The tempertures have gone from hotter than hell to mild, I'm actually able to drive around with the windows down on my car and when the sun comes back out, my sunroof open. Hopefully next week, though, I can not have to worry about rain in the forecast. As of now, it's supposed to be cool and clear. Hopefully that won't change, three weeks in a row is enough.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This one was supposed to be over sooner...

Last weekend was the opening of the college football season. And, except for my beloved Georgia Bulldogs, most of the bigger teams opened up with patsies. Like Texas Tech, who was playing North Dakota. The only problem was that no one told North Dakota that they were just supposed to let Tech's high octane offense that they were supposed to run wild all over North Dakota.
Honestly , the only reason we would even go up and cover this game was that Taylor Potts, the new starting quarterback for Texas Tech is from Abilene. There are also a couple of other players from Abilene who get significant playing time. I spent most of the game shooting photos of Potts, and the other two local players, Lyle Leong and Will Ford. I'm not sure how many other games we'll be able to get up to shoot based on what other local games there are to shoot as well as other events going on locally. So, I had to make sure we'd have plenty of file photos for the future, in case I can't get back. Hopefully that won't be the case, outside of coach Mike Leach showing some rare emotion (bottom photo), and a decent celebration shot after Potts (top photo) scored his first touchdown, I didn't get a whole lot of photos I was happy with.






Monday, September 7, 2009

Feature Cruisin...

For some reason when school starts back up we go through a lull of stories, which means the last two weeks have resulted in a lot of feature cruising. Friday was one of those days. I've always felt the best and sometimes easiest features to find are those with some sort of a news peg. Before going out I try and check our calender pages and any other places that may have a list of events going on. They don't always prove very fruitful but every once in a while you find something. After that it's just getting in the car and driving around looking for something interesting. Friday I had spent about 30 minutes looking before heading by the Taylor County Expo Center, I had remember seeing some of the truck from the carnival in a few days before but nothing was going on. It was worth a shot to check again. As I drove by there were a few of the rides being put together. After that it was just a matter of making an interesting photo.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

If you do it too good the first time, you have to do it again...

Sept. 1 is the opening of dove season. I don't know this because I'm a hunter, but because we do a story on it every year. As I've said in the past, I'm not a hunter. I don't have a problem with it and and if that's what you're interested in I say go for it. I'd just rather do my hunting at the grocery store since I know I'm going to catch what I want and don't have to clean or gut anything.

So, last year I was asked for a portrait for the start of dove season that looked like a "magazine cover shot." And, despite all the mosquitoes that were out there the photos turned out really well. This year I'm thinking it may have turned out a little too well, since I was asked for the same thing again this year. The basic photo was the same, hunter, gun and dog. This time though, I was a little more prepared. I knew what I was looking for and was able to set it up a little earlier, so it wouldn't be pitch black when we got done.

I still think I like last year's shot better, it just worked out a lot better plus the lighting etc was nicer. I just like the image better as a whole. But, I still like what I did this year too and got a lot of compliments on the photo. So, I guess I need to start thinking about how I'm going to shoot next year's dove season photo.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Football Day 3, Games 3&4

There is nothing better than a daytime football game. And, even better than that is a doubleheader. The final two games of the weekend were a day/night doubleheader of football games. Abilene high was playing an 11am game, then two area teams were playing the nightcap at 7:30pm.
The first game, like the night before was pretty much awful as expected. In fact, it was pretty much over right after the opening kickoff, which Abilene returned for a touchdown and the other team never came any closer than that. It did make finding the photo that defined the game a little easier though, since we ended up using that as the main photo of the game.
The one good thing about the game was there was a wide receiver on the other team that was rated by most recruiting services as the number two or three best wide receiver recruit in the country. The problem was the kid didn't have a decent quarterback to throw him the ball.
0830AHSvsDunbar 0325
Despite it being a not so great game matchup-wise, there were still plenty of decent photos to be made, unlike the ACU game a couple nights before when both teams were playing sloppy and couldn't throw a pass. It didn't hurt that I spent most of the game out of position. There were a few nice plays and I wasn't out of position nearly as much as a few nights before. Having daylight and no deadline pushing back at me didn't hurt either.
The second game of the night was actually a decent game and would have been worth the price of admission. Jim Ned played Merkel, both 2A schools are only about 20 minutes away away and brought decent sized crowds.
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This game looked like it was going to start out a lot like the Abilene game. Merkel took the opening kickoff back inside the Jim Ned 20 yard line and then scored a couple plays later. However, Jim Ned never rolled over and played dead like the team in the earlier game.
0830JNvsMerkel -0837
The game was actually really evenly matched and despite some first game sloppiness from fumbles and such it was a really fun game to watch. The problem there was, since it was Saturday, I had an earlier deadline and had to leave at halftime. Which at first I wasn't too disappointed about since it had been a long game. But, since I hadn't seen a decent football game all weekend it would have been nice to be able to stick around a little bit longer. Oh well, I'm sure I'll see plenty good games, there is still 14-16 weeks left!
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