Monday, November 29, 2010

Regional Volleyball Match 1...

Going to Lubbock on the first Saturday of the football playoffs is not that out of the ordinary, however, going to shoot volleyball that weekend was. Bronte was playing in the Region I-1A volleyball finals against Wink, the team they had beaten the previous season to make a trip to state. This year's contest turned out a little different, however. Wink came out with revenge on their mind and took advantage of it. Bronte, did play well in game three, but they were just over matched. They ended up losing the match 3-1.



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Portrait Time...

This was kind of a late assignment that came up as a last minute replacement for a Sunday story that fell through. The assignment was to shoot Roz Thomas, who after hearing about her life and talking to her, is an incredibly fascinating person. She was active in the civil rights movement, which got a hit put on her by the KKK, as well as was a taxi cab driver, the press secretary for the mayor in Atlanta in the 80's, did Central American mission work and is now a preacher in Texas. Just kinda crazy. So, my job was to a portrait of her. When I'm going to shoot a portrait like this I normally spend a few minutes talking to the person for a couple of reasons. The first being to make them comfortable, if you jump right into it, guns blazing they're not going to be comfortable and your pictures will suck. The other one is just to explore their world, and find a good place to shoot.
So, as we were talking she told me that despite all the different careers she'd already had she still inspired to write the "Great American Novel" and had always wanted her photo taken in her library with all over her books like you see on a book jacket. So I said, "Sure! Let's do it!" I figured this was as good a place as any other and her library was a really cool looking, albeit tiny, room. So, I go and grab my lights, nothing crazy, a two-light set, both on grids 20 degree on her and a 40 degree behind her to light up the room. After taking a few test shot I wanted a little more to the photo and turned down my shutter to add in some ambient. To balance out the light from the other room I ended up shooting a .6 second exposure. I really like the effect that the camera shake gave me, the other room shows up but doesn't distract, plus the books on the other side have a little blur to them too, pushing your eye in on her.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Playoff Opener...

The opening of the playoffs usually start out with a couple of games on Thursday night, then going into full effect on Friday and almost as many games on Saturday. This year was kind of weird in that there was a full slate of games on Thursday and Friday and then only a few fairly insignificant games on Saturday. So, it started out big with Wylie playing Burkburnett. Wylie hadn't had the best season, partly because they had played a hellava tough schedule. So, with the playoffs starting everyone had the same record again, and you lose you're out. Well, they came out acting like they were a lot better than their record showed and took down Burkburnett pretty easily winning 40-23.




Monday, November 22, 2010

Veteran's Day...

Abilene is an incredibly patriotic town. Therefore, Veteran's Day is a big deal. Now here's the problem... Nobody has Veteran's Day activities the day BEFORE Veteran's Day, but in order to get it in that day's newspaper that's pretty much what has to happen. Luckily, the local veteran's cemetery puts flags in front of all the grave sites the night before. So, when I called out there to check they were happy to have us out to shoot the volunteers putting flags at the grave sites. So, when I showed up the volunteers started coming and coming and coming. That would normally be great, but this cemetery just opened last year and there are only 281 grave sites. And with 70+ volunteers putting the flags out, it goes by REALLY quick. I literally had about three minutes to shoot and it was over! Overall I was happy with what I got, but wish I had more time to work the situation. It was nice that some of the airmen who put out the flags stuck around to pay their respects and read the grave stones.


Sunday, November 21, 2010


I'm not a huge volleyball fan, all my pictures seem to look the same throughout the season. I think it has a lot to do with being stuck shooting from the same position quite a bit. It also, doesn't help that a lot of the teams that we cover aren't very good (with a few exceptions). So, when the playoffs start you hope for something a little better. This is from a playoff match between Munday and Newcastle in Albany. The action wasn't great, but I did like the polka dotted socks that Munday was wearing.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Last Week of the Regular Season...

Going into the final week of the season Cooper had beaten its crosstown rival the week before and was only one game away from an undefeated regular season. A win at Midland High would give Cooper only it's fifth undefeated season in school history and it's first outright district title in Class 5A in a while. Well, the problem was Cooper came out and played like they had won the Super Bowl the week earlier and were still dealing for the hangover from it. Sloppy play and bad defense put the Cougars in a hole that they were having a hard time getting out of. The team was only down by a touchdown on the final drive of the game and was moving the ball well. And, with the Cougars' offense it was possible to come back. One final pass in the end zone as time expired was deflected (top photo) as it was thrown into double coverage. Lucky for them, the playoff matchups were already set and the only loss was the outright district crown, they still were able to claim a share.








Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy to Live Each Day...

This was a really sad story , but cool at the same time. Hawley High School head football coach Brad Schoonmaker has stage 4 Melanoma and a has less than a 10 percent chance of surviving through 5 years. I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I went out to shoot practice the team had only won 2 games and was headed into their last game of the season with no chance of making the playoffs. But, when I got there everyone's spirits were high and Schoonmaker was as nice as can be. I'd met him earlier in the year when I was shooting mug shots. He was a genuinely nice guy, but pretty business-like. When I went out there to shoot practice he was a lot more loose, and pretty easy-going. So much so, to go and throw out a few jokes about photoshopping him to look younger. I gotta say, he's the kind of guy you really want to pull for to beat the odds. Staff writer Evan Ren wrote a great story you can read here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'm With The Band...

In my 11 years at the Reporter-News the one event I've never shot is the UIL State Marching Band contest. It's always on a Monday, which is my day off. Well, with some crazy staffing issues we've had of late, I ended up getting sent to San Antonio for the event. The state marching band competition is kind of an interesting event because the classifications only go to state every other year. Meaning, in four years of high school a student can only go to state a maximum of twice. One of our local school, Wylie was making it's second straight trip to state
Something else that was different about going to state band as opposed to the sports assignments I'm usually going for is, I was writing the story too. It's really not a big deal, I figured this would be easy enough, just write a color story on what it's like to be there. And after talking to both the band director and one of the students who had gone on Wylie's last trip I knew I had a great story. From talking to them they all told me that last time as the band was walking off the field they knew they had done awful. The echo of the Alamodome had thrown off their steps and beat. This time, however, when they were leaving they felt great about their performance. So, I'm thinking "cool, this story is about the redemption."
So, I go sit up in the press box of the Alamodome and start cranking out my story while I was downloading my photos and waiting for the results of the competition. Well, when the finalists were announced Wylie hadn't made the top 10. That's ok I'm thinking, I can still work this, I mean last time they finished second to last, and this time they were happier with their results. At this point, all I needed to do was plug in a quote from the band director and add what place they were in and I was relaxing and watching football and the World Series from my hotel room the rest of the night! Yeah, if only it could have been that easy!
So, I call the band director, and say, "Hey, sorry you guys didn't make it to the finals, but I just wanted to find out where you finished." Me, thinking that they probably just missed the finals, he tells me they finished 23rd... out of 23 bands. So, after my jaw dropped and I screamed inside of my head, and realized I just wasted almost two hours writing a story that will never make anywhere outside of my computer, the band director went on to give me a couple of nice quotes about how it stings to finish last and that's not something you ever hope for but hey at least we made it to state. Well, that wasn't exactly what I was hoping for but, hey, it's too late now and I have another story to write. Well, about two hours later I had story #2 done and sent. It was tough, not the story, but trying to tow the fine line between calling them losers and sounding like an apologist. Well, I think I did ok with the story, given what I had to work with. And given my normally procrastinating nature, I've learned my lesson from ever trying to get ahead of things again!





Monday, November 15, 2010

Crosstown College Showdown...

After having gone to a college who's football team draws 90,000+ fans a game I still find it ironic that the Friday high school games draw the biggest crowds in town by a long shot. But the fans that go to the games are still loud and passionate about their teams, so it's still fun to watch. This game while it is called a rivalry has been pretty lopsided for the last few years. In fact, McMurry is in the midst of a 22-game losing streak to Hardin-Simmons. But, things have been changing, with a new coaching staff and a high-octane offense McMurry is trying to challenge the old guard of HSU and be king of the city. The problem was no one told Hardin-Simmons. McMurry put up a decent fight, but still extended its losing streak to 23 games, maybe next year.





Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Crosstown Showdown...

For the last few years the annual Abilene High vs Cooper football game has been losing its luster. AHS had won the last 6 over Cooper going into the game. And for the last two years the game has meant nothing except bragging right with AHS being in 5A and Cooper being in 4A. However, this year with both teams back in the same district and having undefeated district records, that meant the winner of this game would at worst claim a share of the district title.
AHS has been sort of a weird team to watch this year, almost leaving you wondering which team was going to show up. Cooper has shown they have a great offense and a defense that has "issues." The first half showed just kind of that. Cooper's defense made a few stops but Abilene High led the game 28-24 at the half.
The second half was a completely different story. Cooper was pretty stingy with the ball, and didn't want to give it back. And the times AHS did get the ball they either couldn't hold on to it or they couldn't do anything with it. Cooper, on the other hand, scored on each of it's possessions, except the last one, which it just killed the clock. It made it kind of nice, the emotions of getting the monkey off their back after six years of losing made for some really nice images.