Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Deer Dodging in the Gap...

This weekend was the eighth annual Buffalo Gap Food and Wine Summit. And, even though I'm not a wine drinker, this is a really cool event. They always bring in some pretty big name chefs who make some amazing food. Last year I was out there most of the day on Saturday, this year, I covered the Friday night dinner too. While all of the events are pretty spectacular, this one is really cool. It is a six course dinner for a couple hundred people. I ended up hanging out in the "kitchen" with the chefs. And, by kitchen it was a horse trailer (it was clean and really cool, didn't look like any horses had ever been in it, but at the same time it screamed west Texas) that was backed up to the big tent that was being used as the dining room. When the plating started of the dinner it was a really impressive sight to see all of the chefs working in unison to plate all the food quickly, uniformly on to a really pretty dish. I wish I could have stayed to see how all the other courses were done, but I had to get back to make deadline.
On Saturday, I had two different event to cover, the wine and cheese seminar in the afternoon and the Cowboys Cuisine & Cabernet dinner. The afternoon seminar was interesting, but since I don't drink wine, I wasn't really into how to pair it with different cheeses... though I am a big fan of cheese. The evening dinner is pretty much the signature event of the weekend. Lots of big name chefs from across Texas come in and do some really cool things and I have to say the whole event smells amazing!
When shooting food events like this I try to show the people enjoying the event. But, at something like this, the food is almost as big of a star of the show. So, I usually end up shooting a lot of detail shots too. Especially since most of the time the presentation of the food is just as good as it tastes and smells. Plus going around and shooting all of the food tables you learn some crazy things, like the Dude, Sweet Chocolate people who made a chocolate mousse with tobacco, kumquat marmalade and foie gras. I know, sounded weird to me too, but from hearing all the people raving about how good it is, they must have done something right.
So, how does the deer dodging in the title fit into this? Well, it has nothing to do with the event except when I was driving back from Buffalo Gap on Saturday night, cruising along at 70mph I look i the road and see two deer walking across the highway. There was no way I was going to be able to stop in time, plus I'm sure the car behind me would have ended up in my back seat had I slammed on the brakes anyway. One of the deer was on the shoulder and the one behind it was just across the center line in my lane. Basically, I only had one choice and that was go right between them... so that's what I did, hit the gas, swerved her to the right and split right between them it was tight, but I made it through, I'm just glad I have a small car, I doubt anything much bigger would have fit.








Monday, April 23, 2012

New Carpet...

It's no question Texas loves its football. and to make the best of their football, along with the ever-growing worry about water usage, many of the area football stadiums are install turf fields. About 10 years ago the Abilene school district installed FieldTurf to its stadium. Well, after hundreds of football and soccer games of the years the turf has become worn out. So, they ripped it up and put down the newest technology in turf. The price tag on this project is $400,000. If memory serves me right that's less than a quarter of what was paid for the original turf. A lot more had to be done back then, like re-leveling the ground, adding a drainage system etc. This time all they were doing was replacing the turf, a much smaller, cheaper and shorter process.
The project had officially started about two weeks ago. So, when I got out there I wasn't expecting to see as much done as they had gotten. The whole football field was laid out and they workers were busy placing the letters for the Cooper side of the end zone, and others were cutting out portions of the turf to put the numbers down on the field. The process was pretty cool to see, I had always wondered how the numbers were put on the field. I thought they may have been part of the turf and rolled out, but actually the workers use giant stencils and literally shave the green turf off and place the white cutouts in and glue them down with a hot tar, and they did the same thing with the letters in the end zones.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Maybe I'm Bad Luck...

So, on Saturday, I had to shoot two softball games and a baseball game. All three games were doubleheaders, so time wasn't really a factor. I shot the first game of Hardin-Simmons' softball games and the second game of ACU's softball DH. McMurry had a baseball game that was starting an hour behind the softball games, and since baseball games usually go longer I had plenty of time for all three.
Well, at the end of the day, I'm sure all three teams may have been happy if I didn't show up, since all three lost their games. I'm thinking I may have been bad luck. The good thing about it though is I was able to make some nice images from the two softball games, both plays at the plate, one of them with a nice bit of dirt getting kicked up. Well, if I'm going to covering the losing side of the game at least I can come away with a few decent shots.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Baseball Game and Softball Boredom...

On Friday, two of my assignments were the crosstown baseball game here in town and a softball game in Sweetwater between Brownwood and Sweetwater, with the winner taking the district 5-3A title.
The first game, the crosstown game, went pretty quick and I was able to stay for most of the game. The problem was the parts I was there for weren't nearly as exciting as I'd have liked them to be. I got a few decent shots, but while I was there just didn't have a whole lot of action going on. The one shot I really did like of the cooper player diving to pull in a ball, I couldn't use since Abilene High ended up winning the game. Oh well, that's part of the problem with baseball, when the pitchers throw too well, the photos tend to take a backseat, along with the offense.
For the softball game in Sweetwater, Brownwood took control of things early and the game was never close. The Lady Lions ended up winning the game, and while there was a lot more offense and action than the baseball game earlier, I ended up getting kind of bored towards the end of the game. Maybe it was because I'd shot 13 innings of baseball/softball that day, maybe it was the total number of games I'd shot over the last few weeks. Either way, when boredom sets in I tend to try and have a little fun with things. On Friday, my cure for boredom was playing around a little with slow shutter speeds and the pitcher. At first I was just dragging the shutter a little to her the motion of her arm, but I didn't like that all that much. I kept leaving it open a little longer and following the pitcher's motion. I got close with the photo, I ended up shooting the top shot at 1/2 a second and at f/22. I'm not totally thrilled with the shot, but I think it's a good start, I wish I could have popped a little flash to bring out her face just a little bit and more importantly the spin of the ball. Oh well, it got me through the game, maybe next time.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

District Track...

Thursday was the District 5-3A track meet at Wylie. The great part about shooting this meet for me is there are no losers. Given that all of our Class 3A schools are in this district no matter who wins, it's either a local or an area kid that is winning the meet. It was good to have this meet back in Abilene again, since it's always fun to cover and the past few years while it's been in the other area towns we haven't covered it, so I was happy to see it back in Abilene.
Last year, for the first time in 16 years the Wylie boys didn't win a district title in track. This year the boys came back and with a vengeance. And speeding ahead of the pack, literally was Wylie sprinter Devan Brown. With the strong winds on Thursday and Brown's smokin fast speed already it was pretty obvious that the 100m dash was going to be a very fast event. Brown didn't disappoint. He literally blew past the field even without a great start he blazed down the track to win the race with a time of 10.29, easily beating a pretty fast field.
For the last 21 years the Wylie girls have brought home a district track title. To put that into perspective, the last time the Wylie girls team didn't win a district championship was at least three years before any of the participants in the meet were even born. Last year the girls were able to squeeze out a win over an incredibly fast Big Spring team. This year though, it wasn't in the cards and Big Spring finally dethroned Wylie, but not without a fight.
There are goods and bads about shooting district track. The access is about as good as it can be. Outside of standing on the track during the race I can pretty much have the run of things and the coaches are happy to have you there, so they're all very helpful. It allowed me to set up a remote almost right next to the track (I id make sure that it was far enough away that if someone fell they weren't landing on my remote, for both the safety of the runner and my camera). Now, the bad parts... usually going into the meets you know who is going to win. There isn't the vast pool of talent you'll find at regionals and there's nothing close to what you'll find at state, so the emotion of winning just isn't really there since you won't see a lot of upsets and the winners are kind of expecting to win. But, it's really just the start of the track season for me and, overall, I was happy with the action I got. Hopefully it'll get better from here and I know the emotion will come over the next few weeks at regionals and state.




Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Basketball Players of the Year...

It's that time of year again to shoot our annual All-Big Country basketball players. This year I kept with a similar idea of the dark background. For the first team players I like to have them all with the same pose, but I like to have two options just in case I end up needing more than one photo for one reason or another. The one good thing that I did this year was gave myself more time to get the photos shot. For the first time, I think, ever I had two weeks to get all of the photos done. Which after last year was really needed.
For the MVP's I try to change things up a little bit. I go to shoot them in their gyms. That way there's more room and a basket to use in the background. I ended up shooting Marquos Barnes (top photo), the boys player first. I always try to get at least two shots of the players, the first one is kind of an easy shot, mostly to get the player comfortable with everything. The nice thing about shooting high school kids as opposed to pros, is the high school kids will always give you all the time you need to make a nice photo. Another great way of getting kids on board with the photo is showing them the photo in the LCD screen, once they see how cool it looks they'll work with you to make the best photo possible, after all it's their picture that's going to be in the paper.
The girls player of the year was Peyton Little (above). This was good and bad. She had been player of the year last year and was great to work with, that was the good. The bad was, she was player of the year last year and I needed to shooting something different than I had the year before. Since I had shot Barnes looking like he was going up for a basket, I decided to keep with the same idea for her, plus last year we did a shot of her dribbling the ball.
For the rest of the players of the year I went with side views with a warming gel on their faces and a colored gel with the team color behind them. I liked the way the photos turned out. They were different from the head on shots I had done the last couple of years despite keeping the same style. I also did a second shot of the player from the front, but for the most part I like the side views the best.



Monday, April 9, 2012

Hoppy Easter Egg Hunters...

Saturdays in the Spring are usually really busy with all the sports and other events going on. However, the one Saturday of the Spring that's relatively slow is the Saturday before Easter. Most of the sports are played on Thursday and Friday and the weekend is left pretty open. The one event that is going on is Easter egg hunts... lots of them. I ended up covering two different ones. It was a nice change from what I had been covering and it's probably been 5 or 6 years since I've covered an Easter egg hunt.
The great thing about all this was my two assignments were spaced out enough that I could go and get there a few minutes early scope things out and then stay awhile to make a decent photo. The first place I went was great because they were having multiple hunts for different age groups all on the same field. So I could shoot one hunt, then figure out if I needed to shoot from a different spot or not. It was fun because it was almost like being allowed a do-over, since I usually only get one try. Overall it was a lot of fun to shoot and I was happy with the images I made.







Saturday, April 7, 2012

First Track Meet of the Year...

It's been almost a year since I've shot track and I've been looking forward to it. I never really get to shoot enough track. Unlike football we only get a few local meets in town anymore, and unlike football where I shoot a couple of games a week for almost four straight months I usually only get to shoot three or four track meets a year. So, I was excited to shoot the Big Country Relays. There was only one problem. When I got there the only events going on were the JV events, except for the pole vault. Well, it was easy enough to decide which event I was going to shoot. By the time most of the varsity events were supposed to start I had to head out, I had other assignments to do and wasn't going to make it back. Oh well, at least I got a shot that I liked and left me wanting for more... hopefully soon.

Friday, April 6, 2012


There is nothing better than shooting baseball on a nice sunny afternoon. Even if the team I'm covering isn't having a good day. Cooper was playing Midland High and the game started out looking like it would be a good game until the third inning when the wheels fell off for Cooper and it was all downhill from there. The game ended up with Cooper losing 17-6, and I did end up making a few images that I liked and the one of the kid missing the ball in the outfield about summed up the game perfectly. Well, at least it was a nice day.