Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lady Hawks Win Regional Semifinal

No wonder the Lady Hawks won the game, the entire opposing team was guarding one person leaving everyone else open. Actually, the game was a bit more difficult than that, but it was crazy exciting. Wall was behind for most of the game to Shallowater (the team that knocked them out of the playoffs in this round last year). But the Lady Hawks prevailed, through a strong defense, a hostile crowd, bad calls by officials and a team that never missed a free-throw. The game even had to go into overtime with Wall winning 75-61 to advance to today's final against Idalou. The winner of this game advances to the state tournament in Austin next week.
I will not be shooting today's final, much to my protest and disapproval. No one will be shooting the game due to an editor decision. Don't get me started.
SIDE NOTE: The fourth quarter and final results are out for the National Press Photographers Association's quarterly editing contest, Best Use of Pictures. My favorite newspaper, The Virginian-Pilot won the contest this year. Below is a selection of V-P section fronts from the 2009 contest. You can see the fourth quarter winners HERE.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Back in the Cattle Again...

I just couldn't take being in the pig barn anymore today so I mooo-ved over to the cattle barn to watch the steers being placed. They are beautiful animals. They also bring in the most money for these kids at the premium sale at the end of the stock show. I have a few more assignments to complete for the stock show tomorrow and then will be making the trip to Midland for the girls regional basketball tournament. Our Wall Lady Hawks are on the move again through the playoffs and are just two wins away from the state tournament in Austin. Should be fun.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ol' Man Winter Not Done Yet

We've been hearing since Saturday that San Angelo and the surrounding area was due for another round of snow and freezing rain. That's almost unheard of. Two days of snowfall? Wow. So, when I went to bed last night I knew that I was going to have to shoot weather features early the next day. In all we got four inches of snow. Fortunately, I was due back at the stock show were I knew there was going to be a lot of people, so getting that human element wasn't going to be very hard.
I liked the above photo because I was able to compress all the major elements of the carnival into one frame. You've got the Farris Wheel, the giant slide and ticket booths, plus a family headed to the livestock barn for the pig shows through the snowfall. Yes, the pig shows. You know my opinions on the pig shows. One cool thing, though, was that people remembered me from the day before. They knew why I was there and just let me do my own thing without asking a ton of questions.
I have to head out to Winters tomorrow (about 50 miles northeast of San Angelo) to finish a story for our quarterly business journal, but will be back at the stock show for the steer show on Friday.


Monday, February 22, 2010

First Day at the Stock Show

The San Angelo Stock Show is beginning it's second week of competitions starting with the Hereford heifer show this morning. Of all the animals that these kids show, the cattle are my favorite. They just look like cuddly, over-sized, lumbering Labradors. They are beautiful show animals. I came across a family this morning that had four siblings, all of which were showing the the morning's Junior Hereford show. This is Harley (sibling #3) leading her heifer to the show arena.
After I spent a majority of my four-hour allotted shooting time with the cattle, I moved over to the swine barn to photograph the kids bringing in the pigs. The pigs are my least favorite animal to photograph. They smell horrible, sleep in their own filth and the high-pitched squealing is like running your fingernails across a blackboard.
I head back to the stock show tomorrow morning, but I have a feeling that all I'll get to see are pigs. Goody.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

3rd Rodeo Performance

Bullfighters may quite possibly be the bravest men on the face of the planet. No way in the world would I ever get into an arena with a 1500 pound, raging animal. I think that job must have started off of a bet.
The San Angelo Rodeo, however, has some great bullfighters. This is Cory Wall. He was named the 2009 PRCA Bullfighter of the Year. He's a great guy and cool to hang out with. In the evening rodeo, a cowboy was thrown from a bull and was stepped on, resulting in paramedics having to take him to the hospital. While the bull was dancing around on this poor guy's stomach, Cory jumped in to distract the bull away from the rider. Whew! It was intense, but overall the rest of the rodeo went on okay. This will be the last rodeo performance of the nine scheduled I get to shoot this year as I will be switching to the day shift for the next three weeks.
Next week it's all stock show, all day. I'll have to remember to take my allergy medication starting Sunday night. Funny, I never had allergies until I moved to San Angelo.

2nd Rodeo Performance

Tonight I got to photograph the second performance of the San Angelo Rodeo. I love shooting the rodeo because you never know what might happen. Unfortunately, most of the competitors did complete the full eight-second ride or rope the calf or steer. But I guess I can't complain. It was a night of action any way. These are two of my favorite action pictures from the evening.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Rodeo Time

Last night was the opening night of the San Angelo Rodeo. The rodeo is in it's 78th year and is without the biggest event in the area. I didn't get to shoot the performance for the paper as I was put on a few assignments that will run later in the week. My favorite parts of the rodeo are the opening and closing acts. Each year the opening and closing performances are a little different, some build on the previous year, some don't. This is a photo of the opening act when one of the Ambassadors carries the American flag into the arena. There are usually pyrotechnics that go off during the anthem. I have no idea why they do that. It only freaks out out the horse the rider is on. Last night when the singer go to the part of the song "the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air" a giant explosion went off. The horse freaked out nearly throwing the rider to the ground. Maybe tonight they will lessen the amount of powder in the keg.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Sports Month

As expected, it was a busy sports month for me. I shot high school boys soccer, men and women college basketball, college baseball and would have shot college softball all weekend if I had not already had plans to spend a long weekend with my dad in New Mexico. I'll round out the month shooting the sixth largest PRCA rodeo in the country on Thursday.
Usually the rodeo is a pretty relaxing time for us in the photo department. If you're not shooting the rodeo performance that night, you're shooting the stock show that day. We always know what's on our plate for the day. I only got to shoot one, maybe two, performances last year which was a bummer. This year I was hoping to shoot a few more since I'm on the night shift, but I have to spend two of the first four performances shooting other stories for the daily paper that will publish later in the week. On Monday I go back to the day shift, missing out on the remaining five performances. Dang.
SIDE NOTE: The World Press Photo competition, the first of the major photojournalism competitions for the year, has posted their results. It is amazing to see how differently judges from one competition to the next compare and contrast entries and eventually pick the winners. Personally, I have always been somewhat skeptical of the winning entries from World Press Photo over the years. Maybe I'm not "artsy" enough to appreciate the winning entries. Don't get me wrong, I do like some of the winners, but I think that other competitions do a better job of selecting a broader range of winners. You can see the complete gallery of World Press Photo winners HERE.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An Exhausting Day

Rev. Green
Today started out really good. I spent part of the morning with a local pastor, Rev. Henry Green, to finish a pastor Q&A that will run on the Faith page later this month. I was a bit worried at first because he was not going to be doing anything special except lay in bed all day. He doesn't actually lead a church in San Angelo, but in Eldorado.
As we began to chat, I noticed that he liked to talk with his hands, so I asked him if he had any favorite topics he liked to cover with his congregation, and he immediately went into a half-hour explanation of why he loved being a pastor. This was a photo of him I snapped while he was talking.
I toyed with the thought of turning it into a black-and-white, but decided that I liked the earth-tones in the photo. Plus you would lose the color detail in the small cross hanging above the fireplace.
After Rev. Green I went to shoot a tattoo parlor and two college basketball games. Whew! Oh, and by the way, we finished all of our Progress stories.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Assignments Covered Like Clockwork

There are certain times of the year when you look down at your watch, and judging from the time on the face you know exactly what assignment is about to happen. Every year at this time is the annual NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet here in San Angelo. This is a pretty run of the mill assignment: people come in, they sit down, eat, and then leave. Not to exciting, which means photos usually aren't either.
Now that our paper is designed in Corpus Christi (352 miles away) and then printed in Abilene (90 miles away) we have had to move up our deadline times almost an hour. So instead of getting two hours to shoot at the banquet, I got one hour, which was just enough time to see the last of those in attendance get their food in the buffet line before I had to jet back to the office.
I didn't get to shoot any of the performances or the keynote speaker, who, by the way, sounded like was going to be pretty cool to listen to. The only thing I got to photograph was the posting of the flags, the singing of the National Anthem and the singing of "Lift Every Voice and Sing". The photo above was the frame that ran lead in the paper. It's a nice moment, but I wish she had raised her hands to help fill the frame better. But a nice moment for a tough situation.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Do You Remember Playing Wall Ball?

Actually when I was growing up the game was called 'butts up'. Anybody remember playing that? Whatever.
I have made the switch to the night shift here at the good ol' Standard-Times which means I'll be shooting a lot of sports this month. Mostly basketball. I headed out to Wall High School last night to photograph the boys and girls games against Jim Ned. I love shooting Wall basketball games, especially the girls team. They are ranked No. 4 in the state in Class 2A and are a very high-octane, high scoring team. It's a lot of fun. I do not, however, like shooting in their gym. Wall is a small school and all small school gyms suck. Poor lighting and cramped space is a given when shooting basketball in West Texas, but what makes shooting in Wall so difficult is the number of fans that come to the games. There are so many fans crammed into such a small space that they start sitting on the gym floor during the game. I am always surprised to see that there isn't any code enforcement officials at these events regulating the crowd. Don't get me wrong, the Wall crowd is awesome, just not when I have to fight them for position to do my job.
SIDE NOTE: The rain is still falling here in San Angelo. I guess the almanac was right this year. It predicted a cold, wet winter and it certainly has been that. That means I get to do my all-time favorite assignment (note my sarcasm)... Rain Features! Puke. I did like this tranquil photo of a tree (in a van - Chris Farley) down by the river.