Monday, June 28, 2010

Jeter's Last Ride...

Please excuse any typos, I'm trying to type through the alligator tears without shorting out my keyboard. I've heard that all dogs go to Heaven. Well, then Heaven just got the best there is! At 4:30am this morning, I lost my best friend and the best model for the camera I've ever had. Jeter, my 12-year-old golden retriever passed away this morning. To say I already miss him is an understatement! I know I usually only write about my photojournalism work, but since he's been the subject of numerous photo illustrations and God only knows how many other file photos needed of a dog for calender page and contest promos, He's appeared in the paper more than some politicians, and he wasn't nearly as crooked!
My wife and I got him the day of my brother's high school graduation in 1998 while we were dating in college. I knew he was the one when I picked him up, a five pound, 8-week-old puppy, he fell right to sleep in my arms. Until that moment, I was on the fence, leaning toward not wanting a dog... after I picked him up it was love at first sight, no one was going to get this dog away from me!! After that there was never a moment I regretted getting him. He proved quickly to be awkward as he grew up. Not 20 minutes after adopting him he got his head stuck in the cart at PetSmart. Then a couple of weeks after that I watched him run full-speed head-first into a telephone pole! Only to get up shake himself and start running again.
Jeter touched plenty of lives and everyone who met him knew just how special he was. While I was doing my internship and my wife was living with my parents in Atlanta, I'd often go home to find my dad in the pool with him, floating him around on a raft. And, I doubt my dad and wife will ever forget the "adventure" they had with him when they moved us to Texas in a U-Haul truck that broke down every 100 miles. It took them three days to drive the 900 miles from Atlanta to Abilene and Jeter subsisted on mostly plain hamburgers my dad would buy for him, I think Whataburger was his favorite.
As much as I miss him, I'll never regret having him. He had such a unique personality. He didn't really eat any people food, we tried to keep him strictly to dog food but we both sneaked him stuff. I would always sneak him a tator tot or shredded cheese whenever I was cooking or eating them. My wife would always share yogurt and cantaloupe with him, those were certainly his two favorites. It wasn't uncommon for him to steal a bite right off her spoon if she wasn't paying attention, he was sly and cute at the same time. Beer was another of his favorites, it started in college, when we had a party, Jeter always got a squirt of beer from the keg when I went to refill my beer. Now, since I only drink beer out of bottles, he'd get the last sip from the bottle, I don't know what I'll do with the last sip anymore, but it'll always be his.
Picture 005
Jeter's two other favorite things to do were ride in the car and swim. He absolutely loved the pool. Every summer, my wife would buy a kiddie pool for him in lounge in during the summer. And when the city does its annual doggie splash day on the last day the pools are open she takes him every time, and he looks just like that little puppy I got 12 years ago.
The only thing that compared to the pool was the car. Everytime I could take him, he went for a ride. He was feeling pretty good on Saturday so I took him to get gas in my wife's car with me. He always stuck his head out the window and loved the wind in his face. The bottom photo is the last picture I took of him, standing in the car waiting for me to finish gassing up.
Last night, he wasn't looking so good. I thought his joints were acting up because of the changing weather. I laid on the floor with him for a while, but when he tried to get up and stumbled over I knew something was wrong. I woke up my wife and she said we need to get him help quick. As we were driving to the emergency vet clinic he died in my wife's arms... as much as I miss him, I know he's in a better place right now, and I can't think of a better way for him to go. Rest in Peace buddy, I love you so much!!
Picture 009

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Regional Champs...

The second game of the Stamford/Forsan series was late Saturday afternoon. Stamford has a thing about playing games late on Saturday, I think it was becoming a superstition thing. Because of this I was hoping for a Stamford win, so I wouldn't have to spend all my night covering two games and that Stamford would put it away early. Well, unlike the game two days before this one was a lot closer. Forsan came out and took the lead early. But as I've watched them do the last three weeks Stamford came back and chipped away at the lead. That coupled with some really poor base running and fielding errors allowed Stamford back in the game.
In the seventh inning holding on to a 6-4 lead, Stamford third baseman Michael Hernandez bobbled a ball and couldn't get the runner out at first. Then in one of the worst base running ideas I've seen in a while the Forsan player on first thried to make it back to third. Hernandez made up for his mistake by getting back to the bag and tagging the player out in a great play to end the game. I was semi-ready for the play. After Hernandez made the throw I just kept my camera on him waiting for a celebration. So, when I saw him running back to the bag I was on it. It turned out really nice, I got the tag, the Forsan player's reaction, and the celebration all together. I also nearly missed it! I pretty much kept the shutter down through the whole play and filled the buffer on my camera and I was stuck waiting a second to get a few more frames available to shoot. Luckily, I didn't really miss a whole lot and it made me be a little more selective with my shots. But, it also gave me enough time to reframe my shot so I was able to move over a hair and get the Forsan player laying down in the background with the Stamford players celebrating together in front and his helmet off to the side (top photo). The rest of the sequence is below. It turned out really nice, and I knew I had my shot as I was walking to my car to edit. That doesn't happen very often.






Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gone Fishin...

Here's some pix from a local fishing tournament for kids. I use the term tournament loosely, since there were prizes but it was mostly just to get kids to learn about and get into fishing. I walked around for a few minutes just checking things outs. As I was walking toward the west end of the lake (it was a really small lake) one of the judges told me "you really should watch that kid, he's like the fish whisperer, he's got one on his line every time I look over there." So I figured I'd keep an eye on him, the next thing I know he's got something on his line and is holding on for dear life! Then his mom starts laughing and he's pulling in his empty line. It turns out he's snagged his second turtle of the day. And like the first one, it got away too. But it did make for a nice shot and the only photo I got of anyone with anything on the line in the hour I was there. So, I stuck around for a little while longer getting a few other shot and left with only a fish story to tell.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Last Man Standing...

For the third week in a row I was covering Stamford in their run in the Class A playoffs. It was somewhat of an unlikely run I don't think many people outside of Stamford were expecting the team to get this far. But they were, and playing really well, despite the Bulldogs tendency to play three games each series that I had seen them the two previous weeks. The series was split between the first game on Thursday and the second and third (if necessary) being on Saturday. On paper it wasn't looking too good for Stamford, Forsan had only lost one game all season, in a playoff warmup game. However, after having watched the team the last few week I figured they could keep it close and play a good series. Stamford is a scrappy team, they don't strike out much and put the ball in play a lot, and don't make many errors. In Class A baseball, you don't need a whole lot more than that. When the game started though, it was something that I hadn't expected. Forsan came out and scored in the first inning. Then Stamford got up and nickel and dimed out six runs, then a couple innings later had another six run inning and ended up winning the game with a 10 run mercy rule win in the fifth inning. Like I thought Stamford would be able to play with Forsan, but this was never expected.



Sunday, June 20, 2010


I've said it many times before that my goal when shooting graduations is often to be gone before the start of the ceremony. In the past I've been able to do it because of other assignments needing to be shot. This year I didn't get so lucky, in fact, I had to stay for the ceremony to shoot a photo of one of the graduates for a Life story the following week. However, with my feeling of the best photos are always taken before the ceremony I still got there 45 minutes before the start of the program in order to get the preparation photos. Also, with the push to the web and need for more slideshows for the web this allowed me to get enough photos for a decent slideshow. Besides, I didn't have any other assignments that night and I can assure you I'd MUCH rather be out shooting pictures than sitting in the office!
I am kind of glad I had to stay for the kids walking across the stage. Since I had been there so long and I did have enough of a cushion on deadline I figured I'd stay until the end to get the shot of the graduates throwing their caps into the air. I know it's been overdone, however, it's not often shot here. Either because we've needed to get photos in early in the past or, like I said earlier I've just left early. Plus some of the other schools won't allow it for safety concerns (it kinda hurts to get hit in the head with the corner of one of those mortarboards! As I was leaving I began to feel really old when I realized that most of these kids were born the year I graduated from high school... so not cool.





Saturday, June 19, 2010

Bald Bull...

Again, going with the end of school week theme, I had to shoot another one of those cliche-type assignments. It seems like every year one school principal offers to shave his head or color his hair if the school gets good grades on a standardized test or reads X number of books. However, that's usually at the elementary level and not the high school level. Hell, I can't even remember the name of my high school principal he was so insignificant in my educational career. So, when I was assigned to shoot Abilene High principal, Terry Bull, getting his head shaved I had to give props to the guy for offering his head of hair to kids for raising their TAKS scores by 15 and 20 points in science and math. And the best part is he didn't have some hand-picked goody goodies to do it, he just went around and picked some random students out of the audience. He did, however, have the cosmetology program students on hand to even out what was left of his locks after the clipper wielding sophomores were done with him. And, kudos to you is you got the late-80's Mike Tyson's Punchout reference I used for the title.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Havin a Field Day...

With the end of school, it usually means the start of the really slow news months. The last week of school is sort of a last gasp effort of finding photos at the schools. And one of the only things I think I miss about being a kid and being in school is field day! This field day was for the math and science magnet school while is housed at one of the local universities. It's sort of a gifted and talented kind of program that kids spend their whole school year with the same class. And, they don't have a regular field day like most schools, so to make it a little more like a "normal" school, McMurry University faculty and students put on an educational type of field day for these kids. But it is still pretty much based on fun and tat's the most important thing is to make sure the kids are going to have fun, not to mention the staff too. It was a pretty fun event to shoot, especially after covering the fatal accident the night before.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fatal Wreck...

I personally hate covering car accidents and luckily unless it's something big I rarely ever do anything more than listen to them on the police scanner. When this one got called out, however, it was called as a motorcycle vs. wheelchair. it was interesting enough and a pretty slow night and almost time to go home so the cops reporter and I went to check it out. As we were driving over there it wasn't sounding like this was going to turn out too well. The road it happened on was closed off and I found a side road a little over a quarter mile away and we walked in. As we were walking it it was incredibly dark and then I noticed a man kneeling down and covering his face, it was one of those things that I just shot out of habit. When I was shooting tie photo I didn't even notice the wheelchair off to the left, I was kind of getting blinded by the headlights of the police car, which was also the only lightsource I had. After I walked up not only did I notice the wheelchair was in three pieces but I later found out the guy kneeling was the driver of the car. The man in the wheelchair later died at the hospital. It's one of those tragic stories I never want to cover, however, it's also a story that needs to be reported. The driver of the car was not charged. The road was pitch black, there were no streetlights and no shoulder to drive the wheelchair on, and the speed limit on the road was 55mph. It was pretty much a recipe for disaster.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

6 Games, 3 Days It's the Baseball Playoffs...

The week after hell week is when the baseball/softball playoffs kick into full gear. This year was no different. In fact it was a lot busier than normal. With baseball in the third round and softball in the fourth, our teams are normally pared down. This year was a little different. Normally we have about 4-6 teams still alive. This year the number was 15! Day one was Thursday, it started with a regional semifinal softball game in Trent, Albany played Forsan. I got a nice shot of a girl leaping to catch a fly ball which would have been fine just the way it was, add in a guy behind the fence ducking out of the way, and well it just makes it a little funny. After that it was back to Abilene and Jim Ned playing Holliday in a one-game playoff, the team that knocked them out the year before. That was by far the best game of the weekend. Jim Ned won in a close won and made for a nice jube shot after Jim Ned's pitcher struck out the final batter.
On Friday, it was the "easy" day, only one game, Cooper vs. Canyon in Lubbock. This game was a lot closer than I thought it would be. Cooper lost but kept it pretty close most of the game. Near the end of the game, I made my favorite shot of the weekend after the second baseman and shortstop got tangled up and the ball dropped right in the frame. Saturday, was long, and hotter than hell! Cooper got beat down pretty bad and there wasn't a whole lot worth showing off. The next game was on the other side of the campus of Lubbock Christian University. Stamford was playing Clarendon. It was supposed to be a pretty good game Stamford had lost the first game 1-0. I hadn't planned on staying both games even if they won the first one. But the game was so good, it was close for a while until Stamford blew up in the sixth inning and didn't look back. So I figured I'd send some pictures then go est dinner and come back to see how things were going. When I got back it was close and Stamford was up. I shot a few frames but was pretty much just killing time to get a celebration/dejection shot. Stamford ended up winning the game pretty close, which made some nice jube shots. A nice 10 hour, three game day in the books, and I still had to drive home.







Sunday, June 6, 2010

State Track Day 2, Sweet Irony!!

Sometimes it feels like I spend almost as much time arguing with/getting yelled at by officials as I do actually doing my job. It never fails, every year at the state track meet there is at least one bitter old man who wants to feel important so he makes it a point to yell at the media every chance he can get. Now, let me say I think the Texas state track meet may be one of the best run track meets in the country and it's an event I look forward to shooting every year, however, these bitter old officials can be done without!
This year's state track meet was no different. Despite the UIL officials telling all these guys every year NOT to harass the media, there is at least one guy who feels the need to "enforce the rules" the way he sees fit. So, when I was shooting the Class 3A triple jump, the little bit of sweet irony of a kid running down the runway to the pit and seeing a buffoon walking across the runway at just that time first made me do a double-take, then I had to check my camera to make sure that what I thought just happened really did! Then, just to triple check, I checked with the photog next to me to see if he saw it too. After all that we kind of got a laugh at the irony of the situation. The kid looked confused, the coach was a little more pissed, and rightfully so! If any member of the media did something so stupid we would get thrown out of the meet, no questions asked! Of course since this is an official it's just swept under the rug and the kid gets a redo. I'd like to know what would have happened had he screwed up a whole race!