Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Helicopter Swine Eradication...

These are photos I shot last week for a story about feral hog eradication. These guys are doing it a little different, they are shooting them from helicopters. Now before anyone decides that this is inhumane, I'll say this, feral hogs in west Texas are a major nuisance, they destroy crops and can do serious damage to cars if they get hit. Not to mention they are mean as hell. These aren't the Arnold Ziffle, pigs from Green Acres they're shooting. These are mean hogs that will kill you and eat you given the chance. Not to mention a pack of 5 or 10 can literally ruin a couple of acres of crops in one night.
So, I went out early one morning and wasn't able to get a whole lot done. About half way through I got called back to the office because there were a number of afternoon assignments that needed to get done and no one to do them. That actually worked out well. Being out there Monday was more like a circus than anything. There was a film crew there doing a documentary about the project as well as a Lubbock TV station doing a story, plus us and a guy who was coming up to take all the hogs killed that day to process them to feed the hungry. Tuesday was a lot more laid back, it was just me with the film crew, who were a lot of fun to hang out with, and the helicopter crews. I was able to get some better stuff too since some of the fields they were shooting hogs in were close enough to the road that I could get some shots of the hogs being shot from the helicopters, albeit with a really long lens. I was using my 400mm lens with a 2x teleconverter and I still had to crop into the photos. Then again I'd rather shoot it with a long lens since there are bullets and mean pigs flying and running around!
Actual hunting of hogs is legal, and there are no limits on the number that are allowed to be shot. However, hunting them from helicopters is illegal. The way these guys get around it is a number of farmers in Haskell County have banded together to pay to have the hogs eradicated. They keep a record of all of the hogs shot and where. It's really pretty incredible to see how good a shot these guys are being able to shoot a pig running around and changing directions quickly while shooting from a moving helicopter. And while I had to get up before the sun came up two days in a row it was really worth it to be able to experience this.



Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Basketball season... it's not sucking as much as usual...

It's normally at this point in the season that I'm starting to despise basketball season, but this year is different. Normally I'm still waiting on shooting a game I'm not totally disgusted with, however, this year, I'm finding myself liking a lot more of my shots. I think some of this could do with me not shooting as much of the city schools and more of the area teams, who play better basketball. But even with the local colleges I'm liking my shots more. It may have something to do with trying to make sure I don't shoot the whole game from the baselines and I'm getting up high to shoot. I shot these games Friday (the high school game) and Saturday (the college game) and I was pretty happy with both games. In fact, the high school game I had a news assignment that needed to be shot only 30 mins after the game started so I had to leave after the first quarter. Now, had this been a bad game like some of the stinkers I get shooting Abilene High or Cooper I'd be all for it, but this was a good game and I was liking what I was getting. Well, I guess it's good I got something good early since I had to leave so quick.




Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Super Food...

I've always enjoyed shooting food illustrations. Partially because I love to eat and it's also pretty fun. When I first started at the paper we had a regular food writer and I was shooting these all the time. That stopped not too long into my tenure here and it became an occasional story on the Life page. So, when these come up, especially when it's good food and not some story on vegan sprouts and nutritious dirt, I'm all for shooting it. This was for a story we were doing about food for your Super Bowl party. Our reporter cam up with the idea and her and a friend made the food. The best thing about a staff member making the food is I get to taste test it. Because of ethical reasons we are not allowed to accept free gifts from people we are covering. However, when it is someone working for the paper I have no problem sampling the cuisine. The idea was to do food for the two teams in the game. The Saints part was easy, Cajun fried shrimp. For the Colts, the reporter searched high and low for what food Indianapolis was known for and found that the corn dog is one of the most popular foods in the state. And yes, the food was awesome!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

This was SUPPOSED to be a blowout...

There's no question Abilene is not a basketball town. Between the three universities and three high schools, none of the 12 teams are all that great. The ACU mens' team had shades of brilliance a couple years ago, but now they are back to mediocrity. This year's team is no different. However, the game against Midwestern State the team played as good as they have in a long time. Midwestern was coming into the game nationally ranked and with only one loss. ACU came into the game looking for an upset. They led pretty much the whole game, to the point where I was ready to leave early when they were up by nine with about three minutes left. I decided to stay so I would have the final score. MSU, being the team they are came back and even pulled ahead with just a few seconds remaining. Then with only a little over 2 seconds left ACU hit a three to go ahead.
One of the things I hate about basketball more than any other sport is the last minute can last forever!! This one literally lasted at least 15 minutes! After the last three shots the referees went to the video to check how much time was left. Now, I'm all for getting things right, but for God's sake, it shouldn't take five minutes after every basket to figure out how much time is left on the clock! After ACU hit its three MSU threw the ball down court and called a quick timeout, which the refs had to review. Then, they threw the ball in took a shot and got a tip in to win the game. It was incredibly exciting, and of course, it had to be reviewed, I guess the refs just weren't ready to leave. Finally, after another excruciatingly long wait MSU was awarded the basket. Luckily, the players celebrated knowing they had won the game after the shot was made. I was able to get a nice frame of the player being mobbed by teammates. And, then it was finally validated by the officials... way after the celebration was over.



Wednesday, February 3, 2010

World of Wheels...

The World of Wheels is an event I shoot nearly every year. So, trying to find something new gets rather tough. I know I could probably shoot a similar photo from it every year and I doubt anyone would notice, the problem is, I would. So, it becomes sort of a challenge to shoot something a little different every year. This year we were looking for a full slideshow from the event. It was really easy to shoot a bunch of detail photos of the cars and people looking at them, as well as some photos of former University of Texas wide receiver Jordan Shipley signing autographs (we had another story about that), as well the the hundreds of people waiting in line to meet him and I was done. However, for the photo for the paper I wanted to find something decent. I walked around the place a couple times people watching and gawking at the sweet rides on display. After a couple laps around the civic center I decided to go upstairs and make a few frames from up high. I waited around until there was a big group around the cars and had my shot.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Players of the Year...

Our players of the year ran last weekend. This year's group was pretty tough to pick, so much so that our newcomers of the year pick was a tie. This year's crop will most likely all end up playing D1 college football somewhere, the defensive player of the year, Matt Ritchey, has committed to Baylor. The offensive player of the year, Case McCoy, had already left for the University of Texas. Which kind of left me with a dilemma. I ended up using a photo I had taken of him for our preseason players of the year. So, basically I was kind of stuck as to how I was going to shoot it so his style didn't look too different from the others. I didn't include the McCoy photo, because it's not new. But the style is similar to these without the backlighting.