Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Goodness Gracious, Great Balls of...

I covered the area fire conference hosted by the Abilene Fire Department was last week. It's a good event that allows us to cover some of the area volunteer fire departments getting some training time. It's an event I've covered a couple of times before, but not for the last couple of years. So, it's nice to have an idea what I want to shoot and what is going to make the best photos going into the event.
When I got there I noticed there was an extra fire added. In the past they had done the house fires in the burn house and the propane fire, but last couple times I've been there, there wasn't a car fire. So, I ended up spending a little more time on it than I had planned. Mostly because it took longer for the fire to "cook" than it did for the firefighters to put it out (which was almost immediately after the hoses went on).
So, by the time I was heading over to shoot the propane fires the sun was setting fast. In the end I guess that was a good thing. As I was walking up a big wall of flames shot up framing the sun. I sat back and made a few frames of that. Then hung around a little after the sun went down. It helped knowing where to shoot from and having an idea of what I'd get going in, especially when shooting on a tight deadline.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Girl and Her Horse...

Last weekend I was assigned a story about three generations of women barrel racing at the same event. It sounded interesting enough. When I got there I found out the focus of the story had changed since just the youngest was racing. That ended up making the story a little better photo-wise. I was afraid I was going to show up and shoot a bad portrait of the three of them standing by a horse and then wait to shoot individual action shots of each of them. This one was better I got to get some photos of Bree as she got her horse warmed up and talk to her mom and grandmother during the process. The great part about it was she was the third rider in the competition so I was able to shoot her race. After the race she had pretty much forgotten about me being there and as she was walking her horse back to its trailer she stopped and gave it a kiss. It was a really sweet moment. When I was shooting it, it was one of those rare moments I knew I had the shot I wanted to use. Then I look at my camera an notice it was white balanced for the arena. Ugh! I had also had the ISO jacked up pretty high. I cringed looking at it in the LCD screen. Luckily it wasn't too blown out, just the background (which actually helped clean things up). When I got back to the office I was able to fix it pretty well. Then I noticed it was going on a black and white page. It's not often I change my photos to black and white. But after seeing this in print it really does work a lot better for these photos.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Last Week, at Band Camp...

Around here the forgotten two-a-days are the local high school's marching band practices. Not only are there good numbers of participants in the local football programs, but there are good numbers in the local bands too. Watching the way they put everything together between the precision marching and learning and putting the music together to go with the performance in just a couple hours a day and then putting it all together is pretty impressive.
I ended up having to shoot the whole thing in just two days, I was hoping for three, but a much needed rain shower lost me a day. The first day I went to Cooper, who was still putting their marching together without instruments. Then the second I got Abilene High outdoors, luckily they picked up their instruments towards the end of practice. After that I headed to Wylie to shoot them playing in the band hall, with hopes of getting the marching the next day (that got cancelled because of the rain). I did end up getting enough nice shots from each school that it turned out well, even with the wrench that got thrown into things.






Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Praying For Rain...

Last week I headed up to Stanford for a pray for rain gathering put together by a group of churches up in Stanford. Now, it's been a few months since we have had any significant rain in the area. So, having a prayer circle to ask for rain may not have been such a bad idea. The event was happening at 8pm, so the good thing about it was there was going to be some nice light to be had. The bad part about it was the nice light wasn't going to last too long. I found a nice shot that I liked of a couple of people holding hands during the prayer and spent a little bit working it so the sun was coming between the people and the hand silhouetted against the sky. After a little bit I got a shot I was happy with, then I moved along and saw the couple holding the rosary beads. Damn, at this point I didn't have a whole lot of sun light left after spending so much time working the other shot. Quickly I tried to reframe the shot to what I had before with the cross hanging down against the sky. Luckily after a little rotation of the frame I ended up with the shot I wanted. After that it was just a matter of getting a couple secondary shots to go with it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Early Morning Wake up Calls, it's Football Time...

I'm still trying to catch up... Football practice recently got started which for me means mug shot tour. Shooting mugs shot of all the 11-man football players in the area. As a way of keeping my sanity I try to squeeze in shooting practice for an end of the week photo column and slideshow. This isn't always the easiest thing to do given that I'm already on a pretty tight schedule. So, most of the schools I'm shooting I only get about 10-15 minutes to get my shots before moving on to the next school.
This year was a lot harder than normal. Last year the UIL, state state's governing body for high school sports changed the rules for two-a-day practices. Instead of the way it had been done, now schools can't have a two-a-day practice until the fifth overall practice and they can't have 2 two-a-day's in a row. Not only did it cut down on the actual practice time for the players and trying to get them into playing shape. But, it also cut down on the time I had to not only shoot practice but to get mug shots. Because of less times the teams had to practice most of the schools I went to who were normally in the middle of their break were either in the middle of practice (luckily most were kind enough to work in mug shots during a water break or take a few minutes from practice to shoot mugs) or were already finished. One school was done and players were about to leave and the coach had to stop them from leaving. Luckily, only one school had to be rescheduled and only one was missed. That's about par for the way things happen every year. I even was able to make a few decent frames and work some nice early morning light.






Sunday, August 19, 2012

Splish Splash on the New Pad...

Just recently was the opening of the new splash pad built at Nelson Park in Abilene. And while it would have been ideal if it were finished a couple of weeks earlier when the 100+ degree temperatures started, there are still plenty of those days ahead for people to get good use out of it over the next few weeks before the things (hopefully) cool off. The day the splash pad opened was no disappointment weather-wise. When the ceremony started at 11am it was already over 90 degrees and the mercury rose from there. That made things easier for me and made for some nice photos of the kids enjoying the cooling effects of the water cannons, fountains and other water devices.



Monday, August 13, 2012

Honoring a Hero and Bucking Bulls...

For the second year in a row the InVinci-Bull Youth Bull Riding World Finals came to Abilene to showcase some of the best young bull riders in the country. This is a really fun event to shoot. They start out wit kids under 8-years-old competing in mutton busting and move up from there to the steers and the 15-18 year olds ride real bulls. I think I'd have to say my favorite group was the 10-13 year olds. There was no short of emotions and celebrations after a really good ride. Between kids coming off their steer and throwing their helmet in the air to jumping around after a really stellar ride, it was something you just don't see at regular bull riding events.
One really cool thing that I saw at the start of the event that I wasn't expecting was they honored a Marine who had lost both of his legs from a road-side bomb while serving in Iraq. It was a pleasant surprise to see them genuinely honoring this man and his fellow Marines. I ended up with two shots I really liked. The one of him walking out did a good job of highlighting his artificial limbs. But, I think I liked the one of him standing in front of his fellow Marines with all of them rim lit. All of the elements just seemed to work out right between the light on the men in the back. anyone who has ever seen the Marines knows the outline of the uniform and the hats. Plus with him up front, his body language looks like a proud man, who is humbled to be honored, plus again, it highlights the artificial limbs. It was a nice moment to see before seeing the riders being thrown from the steers and bulls.




Sunday, August 12, 2012

P-Dogs 2 Day Homestand...

I spent a couple of days shooting the Abilene Prairie Dogs' recent home stand. The team is in its first year playing and has been pretty interesting to watch. The team hasn't been all that great, they've has some pretty bad pitching issues, with the bullpen blowing a lot of games or the hitters having a hard time getting clutch hits. But, given the price of the admission and from some of the games I've gotten to see this year it has been nice to get out and shoot some sports during the summer in a time when there really isn't a whole lot to shoot.
As a new tea in the league, the Prairie Dogs aren't playing the normal schedule of splitting their home and away game 50/50. Les then half of their games are home games. Which will often cause them to only play a couple of home games a week and some weeks they are gone the whole week. That keeps things from getting stale. The two games I shot a couple weeks ago between Abilene and Edinburg got pretty interesting with a nice argument between a player and an umpire, some fun games for the kids between innings and some really nice light. I think the best thing about getting to shooting minor league baseball this summer though, is unlike shooting high school and college baseball, there is no sound better than the carck of a wooden bat hitting a baseball.





Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Week in the Horse Barn...

I pretty much spent all of last week covering the Texas State 4-H Horse Show. While the weather was creeping into the high 90's and 100's it's was a little tough balancing shooting the competitions and the miserable heat. The horse barn at the Taylor County Expo Center was miserable, not only was it hotter than hell outside, but the heat was beating down on the metal roof and almost no circulation inside of there. It wouldn't have been so bad had the person riding that I needed to shoot was rider number 114. The good thing about it was I had plenty of time to play around and figure out the best place to shoot from. I ended up finding a rip in the bottom of the fence covering allowing me to get low and shoot some nice stuff.
A lot of what I shot for my photo column was non-competition, behind the scenes looks at the week. I do wish I had found the kids in the little pool the day I was stuck in the horse barn all day, since I was so drenched in sweat when I walked out it kind of looked like I had been in a pool anyway! With as little rodeo that I shot at the high school rodeo earlier in the summer this wasn't so bad spending every day out there, except for the heat.