Wednesday, May 29, 2013
In the past shooting state golf has been a really busy, but not overly long day. This year, however, instead of the normal two teams qualifying for the state tournament, the top three teams from each region qualified. This made it a lot tougher since all the teams could no longer be on the course at one time. So, instead of state golf being over around 3 or 4, it was close to 7 or 8 when everything finally got finished. And with 39 players spread around over three different courses it made for a lot of walking (more than 10 miles) and not a lot of time to spend following any particular players.
One the first day the weather was cold and windy, like 25mph steady winds with gusts in the high 30's. This made for some interesting golf to say the least. It also made for a lot of shots coming up short or going off target, often landing in the sand traps. That may not have made for the best scores for the players, but it did make for some nice shots.
Friday, May 24, 2013
The second day of state tennis is always the more exciting, photo-wise. The championship matches are almost always filled with emotion. And Wylie was trying to make history by sweeping all five of the matches in Class 3A. Last year they won four, boys and girls singles, mixed and boys doubles. The only one they didn't win state in was girls doubles, they finished second. This time they had a chance to do it again with players or teams in all five of the championship matches.
They day started out with boys and girls singles and mixed doubles playing all at once. Luckily they kept all three of the matches were being played on adjoining courts. That helped a little in that I wasn't having to run all over the complex, like in years past. However, with all three players winning in straight sets it did make it a little tougher to shoot, but I kind of had an idea who would win their matches first so I was able to plan a little bit of where I needed to be and when. I was surprised a little bit to see some of the celebrations, they were a little better then the others.
In addition to Wylie, we also had a boys singles player in the Class 2A championship match. The was on the other side of the stadium courts, not too far away, I was at least able to keep an eye on it to make sure I didn't miss anything. Luckily that match was pretty close so I was able to finish shooting all the early Wylie matches before moving over there to shoot it as well. Things ended up working out well, after Wylie won all three of their matches I was able to move over and shoot the last half of the second set of the 2A match, another win.
The boys and girls doubles matches were the final matches of the day. The Wylie boys and girls teams were playing on opposite sides of the stadium. This made it a little tougher, but easy enough to deal with. I started out shooting from the stands up high. It made for nice enough photos. Then I moved down to court level. They were playing on a court that also had access from the sides so I could get to court level. Both the boys and girls teams do a really good job of showing a lot of emotion throughout the season, so I knew there should be some pretty good celebrations following at least one of the matches, at least I had hoped.
The ends of both of the matches literally happened within minutes of each other. I was running back and forth trying to figure out who would win first. The girls were cruising along at first, up 4-0 and then ended up losing three straight and winning in a tiebreaker in the second set. The boys didn't go to a tiebreaker but it ended up being pretty close as well.
The girls match ended on the other team hitting a shot out and the line judge taking forever to make the call, before finally saying it was out, there was a nice little celebration, but not nearly what I was hoping for, a winner at the net would have been nice, but there was still the boys match going on leaving me hope.
I got to the boys match and had a great position courtside for the final match. I could almost breathe a sigh of relief. With six total matches and everyone having won their matches I hadn't missed one yet. Now that I didn't have any other matches to shoot I felt good about what I had so far, but now I wanted the big emotional shot. I was feeling pretty good about it now that this match was tightening up a bit and getting kind of heated. The "winner" shot that I really wanted ended up happening on the shot before match point. Then on match point I was all set and ready. The Wylie team had the momentum and were up. Then probably the worst thing could have happened, the other team double faulted, match over. Damn! I ended up going with the shot from the point before, it told the story of the match a lot better and was a nice shot. I only wish those two points would have been flip flopped. All in all, it worked out well, I ended up with some really nice frames and Wylie made history in the process becoming the first school to sweep all five matches in the same classification in the same year.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
State tennis this year was a lot different from years past. Like a completely different place and city even. In the past Classes 4A/5A and Classes 2A/3A traded back and forth between playing at the University of Texas courts in downtown Austin and at Lakeway World of Tennis about 40 minutes outside Austin. The problem was, when the matches were at Lakeway, nothing ran on time and Lakeway being a private club made it pretty clear they didn't really care about state tennis being played there and it was a giant pain in the ass to both deal with the members running things, bad parking plans and things never able to stay on schedule.
This year Class 1A-3A got moved to the Texas A&M courts in College Station (Class 4A and 5A stayed at UT in Austin). And, I have to say there have been some really bad ideas made about venue changes (like the move to Lakeway in the first place), but this may have been one of the best ideas made in a long time. A&M has great facilities, they didn't charge for parking, things all ran on time and the people running things did a really great job of keeping everything running smoothly.
So, on to the competition... Wylie had their regular contingent of entries into the tournament, seven total singles and doubles teams together. We also had boys singles players in 2A from Merkel and Jim Ned. The first day of competition is a lot like the first day of regional track, there isn't a whole lot of emotion, just the players going through their matches. So, part of it is trying to get all of the local kids' matches in and just trying to find some nice action going on and any kind of reaction that may go along with it. It made for a pretty long day, but not near as long as it had been in years past since everything at least was running on time.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
The second day of regional track started early. I had to shoot a couple of the early field events before the running started in the afternoon. The good part about this was I'd be able to edit all the field event photos before the running got started, less to do after the meet ended. And since I had a 150 mile drive home afterwards everything I could do to save time was a good thing.
Normally there is a little bit of emotion at the end of some of the races, but the people who are expected to win their races aren't much for celebration. Either they were expecting to win anyway or have been to state already, etc. So, the few times there are nice celebrations at the end of races I make sure not to miss the shot. When it's a local kid doing the celebration I get pretty excited, mostly because I have the chance to make a nice image. So, when the Abilene High kid in the 800m made up a lot of ground after getting boxed in and moved from 7th place to 2nd in the last 300 meters there was a great celebration after he qualified for state for the first time.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I covered the Region I-3A and 5A track meets in Lubbock for the last couple of years now. It's a lot different from the state track meet in a lot of different ways. The biggest is there are both prelims and finals races over two days, at state, it's just finals. So, the first days is pretty nuts and bolts. There isn't a whole lot of emotions, mostly because even if you win your prelim race you still have to come back tomorrow and race again to make it to state. It often is time spent trying to figure out ways to make nice photos and stay creative. The one nice thing that I did have added over the last few track meets I shot, were field events. So, that was a nice change.
Another difference from past years is both the 3A and 5A meets were being combined instead of afternoon and evening sessions. This made things a lot easier for the deadlines since by the late session I was usually trying to edit from the earlier session and the late session both at the same time and send photos all at once. It made for a late night followed by an early morning. This time, though, I was finished and had everything sent by 9pm. In years past the late session was just getting finished at that time and made it for only a 12 hour day instead of 16. That helped a lot the next day.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Despite how early the assignment was I was kind of excited about shooting the first-ever high heel dash in Abilene. It was supposed to be a mile and a half race for people wearing high heels with a pretty big prize ($1,000) to the winner. It was raiding money for the Children's Miracle Network and had brought out a pretty big crowd of both men and women. Most of the guys had bought their heels at Goodwill or other thrift stores earlier in the week. Some, however, had gone all out, buying new shoes online or some had their shoes bought for them. It was a pretty funny event and everyone was having a good time, and this was before the event had even started.
No one had told me ahead of time, but they shortened the race from the original length to just .2 miles. It made my assignment go by a lot quicker, but kind of caught me by surprise as the winners were sprinting across the finish line a mere 38 seconds after the start of the race. And all of the 50 or so runners were done in less than two minutes. It was pretty fun to see all the guys out for the event and having fun, and so many of them took it further than wearing just heels. Made for a lot of fun.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
It's never been a secret how much I've enjoyed shooting track. The last few year, though the only meets I've been able to shoot have been the regional and state meets. And, while those are usually the best ones photo-wise, it's always nice to get a little practice in beforehand. So, I got sent down to shoot the District 2-5A meet in San Angelo. I've only been tot he Angelo State track a few times, but have always liked it. The track is sunken into the ground so there are some nice high angles to shoot from.
I only shot the last day of the meet which was just the running finals, all the field events had finished the day before. They also had the whole JV meet at the same time of the varsity finals. At first it seemed like it was just dragging the meet out longer. But, there towards the end it made for some nice time to be able to download and edit my photos, so hopefully I wouldn't be there all night. So, between 2 heats of the JV boys and girls 1,600m runs and mile relays, I was able to get most of my photos edited and cropped and toned. So, at the end I only had two races to edit and then caption photos and send. It made life a lot easier, though the track meet ending an hour earlier may have done all the same things.