Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Two Games, Two Towns, Again, Game 1...

As I was pulling into Lubbock, our sports editor sent me a text message asking if Jim Ned won their regional championship game if I'd be willing to drive down to Midland to shoot the regional championship game since it was at 1pm and Wylie's championship game would be at 8pm. So, I was on the road to Midland at 10am headed to game one of the day.
Jim Ned came out looking pretty good early, playing good defense and working their press really well. I think Wall slowing down the pace of the game helped Jim Ned out a lot. Wall seems to have lived and died by the three-point shot a lot this year and wasn't shooting real well this game. So, Wall's limiting of possessions was starting to hurt them.
One thing I do love about the regional tournaments are they are played in bigger nicer arenas that have better light and basket on the ground and not hanging from the ceiling. The great part about that is that it allows me to set up a floor remote to shoot the game. Not only is it easy to set up, but setting it right next to the basket protects the camera and has the potential to make a pretty cool shot.
It wasn't a very high scoring game, but there was plenty of great action that made for a few decent images. Adding the remote made for some nice practice for the state tournament next week in Austin, but I didn't get anything fantastic. One thing about remotes is they can make some really cool shots, but I never rely on them, since they seem to be really hit or miss. And, the two-hour trip back to Lubbock and a great reporter who was willing to drive, gave me plenty of plenty of time to put together and post the slideshow for the web.



Monday, February 27, 2012

Put This in your Pipe and Smoke It...

Well after a second week of weather raining out my original photo column idea, I was scrambling again to find a replacement. I got a phone call from one of the editors saying one of our stringers told him about a pipe smoking contest at one of the local tobacco shops. This sounded like it had a potential to be really cool, but then it got me to thinking, what exactly is a pipe smoking contest, and how does it work.
I love going to shoot small businesses, especially the ones run by smart owners. First you don't have to jump through a lot of corporate hoops to get permission to shoot and the ones run by smart people see this as a free advertisement. I really have no problem with that and The Leaf is a really cool place and the owner, Bill is a good guy and was happy to have the coverage.
So, the contest rules were pretty simple, everyone gets three grams of tobacco, two matches, you light your pipe once and the last one smoking wins. The great thing about it was, while it required some concentration, it doesn't take a whole lot to keep your pipe going, just a puff every little bit and your good. So, most of the guys were sitting around cutting up and having a good time. It made it really fun. I was a little nervous at first, wondering how many people wouldn't want their photo taken smoking. It turns out everyone was really cool about things. After about 15-20 minutes, things started getting better, some of the guys started blowing smoke rings... some better than others. This actually worked out a lot better than I thought it would and luckily the one I had planned that got weather delayed was able to be rescheduled, so I'm already set for next week.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Two Games, Two Towns, One Day...

Now it's getting down to crunch time for basketball season. Which means I'm bouncing all over the place, much like I do in December, but not quite as long a road trips. On Friday, we had the Region II-1A girls basketball tournament here in town and Wylie was playing in the Region I-3A tournament in Lubbock that night.
In Abilene, Hamlin was playing Muenster in the regional semifinals. They had made it this far last year and lost in the same game last year. So they were hoping the results would be different this time. The first quarter was pretty tight, but then in the second quarter Hamlin went cold and was having a hard time with Muenster's tight press. Hamlin ended up losing the game in the same round they lost in last year. With a tight schedule I was only able to shoot the first half of the game, but luckily I was able to get a few decent shot before heading out for the 150 mile drive to Lubbock for my next game.
In Lubbock, Wylie was in a familiar spot, playing Shallowater, the same team they played in this round last year. It was kind of a weird game, Wylie's star player, Peyton Little, struggled in the game only hitting five field goals. The rest of the team though picked up their games and played really well, with four players finishing the game in double figures. Despite Little's struggles Wylie still ended up winning the game easily. Ironically, the "bad" game she had, she still ended up with 20 points going 9-10 at the free throw line. Setting them up for a rematch of last year's regional championship game with Kennedale.




Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sing Song Sing Along...

It's photo column time again, I swear the last few times I've reached my turn in the rotation I feel like I've just finished. Anyway, in a very rare weather situation the column I'd originally intended to do it got cancelled because of the weather. So, I ended up going with a backup of ACU's annual Sing Song event. We were already running a preview of the event, so I needed to find something a little bit different from it.
I ended up going heavy with behind the scenes photos, just because those photos tend to be a lot more fun and it's different from the performances. For the story I took the angle of the groups' directors. I got some really great quotes from the two that I talked to and was amazed at how much work they have to put into the preparations for the show in addition to being actual college students and going to classes. It doesn't leave a whole lot of free time. All in all, it's a fun event to shoot and it's really impressive to see how college kids can pull off such a grand show.




Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Basketball Playoffs Round 2...

Last year, with 12 regular season losses Wylie ended up winning a state championship a little under the radar. This year, there is nowhere to hide for the defending state champs and one of the best players in the state leading the team. Friday night was the Lady Bulldogs' first test of the playoffs was against Glen Rose in Cisco after earning a first-round bye.
I ended up getting to the game a little late, I had another game to shoot 15 miles down the road in Eastland that started 30 minutes before the Wylie game. So, I missed most of the first quarter. When I got there Wylie had already built a comfortable lead and even with their best player in foul trouble they were cruising to a pretty easy win. One thing I like about Cisco is they have a pretty large gym and the stands are high which allows me to get off the court and shoot up high, plus like I've said many times before, the seats are a lot more comfortable up there too. By the fourth quarter Wylie pretty much had the game to a point they weren't going to lose, so most of the starters were pulled. They ended up winning the game by 17 after having a 30+ point lead. But, after emptying the bench Glen Rose made things a little more respectable and they starters were able to rest. Luckily I was able to make a few decent images in the two quarters before the starters were pulled.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Now, These are the Games That Count...

The playoffs started on Tuesday. These are finally the games that count. Every game I shoot now has some sort of meaning and has something riding on it. It seems like every February I begin to enjoy basketball season a lot more. Mostly because I finally get to see some decent, competitive games.
So, my playoff opener started with a pair of area teams, Comanche and Clyde facing off in Eastland. The game was really kind of sloppy, both teams are young and the majority of the players on the court were underclassmen will be back next year. And the playoff inexperience really showed in all the missed shots. But, at least it was even, the final score had Clyde winning 29-28. A scored that stayed that way for the final 2:09 of the game... neither team made a shot, free throw or field goal for the last 2+ minutes of the game. That was kind of ugly, but at least with a close win there is the chance for a nice celebration. Thankfully, since there wasn't much scoring.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hunting for the Missing Birds...

In working in Abilene for more than 12 years there aren't many events that I haven't shot a few times over, and even fewer that I've never shot at all. Well, the DRI Celebrity Quail Hunt, now called the Big Country Celebrity Ultimate Hunt. I guess it has a lot to do with schedule and me usually working nights. Anyway, I was finally going to shoot it, and had to be up early to do so. For the newspaper, I was shooting photos for two different stories. The front page story was about the declining quail population in the area. I'm not a bird hunter, so I didn't really know this, but the population of quail in the area has been declining in the area for a while. And, with the awful drought from last year, finding wild quail in the area is damn near impossible... not that I would know, a bird looks like a bird to me!
When I got to the hotel I asked the guide I was going on the hunt with if we would even find any birds at all. I was told it was going to be a "canned hunt," basically meaning that quail raised in captivity were being put out there to shoot. While I was walking around the fields with the hunters a couple of the hunters told me even if they did see a wild quail they wouldn't shoot at it since the population is so low. They'd rather wait in hopes to preserve the current population. It was a really interesting statement given how often you hear people complain about hunting. Most hunters I've ever talked to seem to be more concerned about animal populations than most.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Boys of... Late Winter?

I love baseball, grew up playing it. It's a thinking man's sport and involves a lot of strategy. And I'm all for playing baseball in the spring, summer and even the fall. However, when games are being playing on a weekend when snow is in the forecast... well, it's just to early to be playing. Rant over.
So, last Friday, with the weather being in the 40's and the wind blowing pretty hard, I shot the first game of ACU's doubleheader against Colorado Christian. At this point of the year my goal is just to get a semi-decent photo and try to get my timing down, and come back with a photo that not awful and my best image not coming from second base. I don't have a problem with second base shots as my #2 or #3 photo, but not my #1, except on the rare occasion that it's a spectacular photo. The shot of the left fielder, at this point in the year made me happy, it's a decent start to the season... even if I was bundled up.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Daddy/Daughter Dance...

Last Thursday I shot the city of Abilene's 14th annual Daddy/Daughter Date Night. It's really a pretty cool event that the city puts on. Every year around Valentine's Day Little girls, up to seventh grade, and their dads have date night. And, it has become a pretty big event bringing in hundreds of little ladies and their fathers for dinner and dancing.
Now, normally I don't change my photos to black and white. However, the combination of the light being really awful and the DJ lights that just threw everything off made the color photos just look atrocious. Plus they ran in black and white in the newspaper. The top photo, especially, looked 100 times better when the color was removed since it got a little blown out by the DJ lights. However, after taking the color out of it I thought it looked much better, and made me a lot happier with my images.

Monday, February 6, 2012

February Means Better Basketball...

The great thing about the beginning of February is I finally get to start covering decent basketball. The reason for this is the really bad local teams that I've had to suffer through covering the previous month are finally either totally eliminated from the playoffs or are close enough that I can start covering some of the teams that matter and deserve some coverage for them either being involved in a good game or had players that we are doing features on.
So, on Friday I headed out to Eastland to shoot their district game against Jim Ned. The girls game wasn't expected to be all that close, and it wasn't, Jim Ned won really easily. However, like in most blowouts, it's best to get there early since showing up at halftime usually means the game has been decided and either the starters or off the floor or they're just trying to kill the clock in order to not run up the score quite as much. The one good thing about that is it gives me time to download and edit and caption my photos before the boys game gets started.
The boys game started out looking like it could be the boys game all over again, but with Eastland being on top. Then in the second quarter things started to click for Jim Ned and it turned into a game. In the second half Jim Ned was looking really good and like they were going going to take the lead back, but Eastland was playing tough. By the last minute the game still was totally up in the air Eastland was holding on to the slimmest of leads, but even from the line Jim Ned just couldn't get ahead. Eastland ended up winning 51-47 in one of the most entertaining games I'd gotten to see all year. Hopefully this will be a sign of things to come with better games from here on out.