Wednesday, June 30, 2010

2nd Quarter Goals

I had a few goals set for myself this quarter to shoot for. Small goals, but something to strive towards. The first was to do well with my "I Am West Texas" photo columns, and I think they were well received. April's column was on a new American citizen who is originally from Japan, and May's column was done specifically for the Memorial Day holiday on a local Vietnam veteran. I saw Mike Dyess, the vet, not to long ago and he said that the column has brought in new members to local Disabled American Veterans chapter. Everyone seemed to be pleased. Cool.
The second goal I had set for myself this quarter was to get as many photo pages printed in the newspaper as I could. That might seem like an odd goal, but believe it or not, photos are just as important as the articles themselves. Plus, people really like to see photos of themselves in the local paper. Well, I had seven pages this quarter and that's pretty good. I was hoping to have eight, but I didn't have an "I Am" column run this month. I hope my editor likes the photos from the next column enough to run another photo page in July.
Here are the pages that ran in the paper:


The first two are my favorites from the quarter. The page that ran with my "I Am" column of Mike Dyess and the special page that ran for the Central High School girls gymnastics team were beautifully put together. I love these pages because they look like traditional photo pages. They both have a lead photo (kudos to my editor for picking the photo of Mike watering his backyard as the lead photo for that page, it was my favorite), varying emotional situations and a very clean design. You can tell that the designer took their time to portray the story.


My next two favorite pages are the ones covering the outdoor education camp kids from Sterling City. I have posted about this story before, as it brought back memories of working at summer camp and the retreat center in east Texas through my college years. It was a great experience to see these kids from Sterling City having such a good time. The pages came out looking pretty good, maybe a few tweaks here and there, bump up the size of a photo and reduce the size of another. But basically a good design over all.


I am all in favor of running as many photos in the printed product as possible. Maybe just not all on the same page. There is an art and technique to designing a photo page and the next three pages have the feeling of being rushed. When a designer is not given enough time to get to know the story or the photos, it's noticeable on the printed page, and I think that's what happened with the next two. The pages of the Angelo State girls track team and the Frontier Day at Fort Concho seem way to cluttered. The Angelo State page doesn't have a defined dominant photo, rather a mass grouping of similar sized ones. Maybe the photos where done like this simply to have a picture of everyone on the team published. As for the Frontier Day page, there is a dominant photo, but all the other photos are the exact same size. Again, there is no flow or creative use of white space. I gave the designer seven photos to work with for a little variety. Unfortunately, they used everyone one of them, clogging the page. (To give credit where it's due, Cynthia Esparza took the photo of the ASU shot putter.)

I can't be too critical of the last photo page of the Rio Concho Intertribal Powwow. There was quite a bit of story overflow from the front page that may have caused some trouble space-wise for the designer. I only submitted five photos this time hoping that it might make it easier for the designer rather than have them worry about getting every photo on the page. Again, all the photos on the page are the same size accept for the very top image. The simplistic design of this page could also have been due to the fact that this page was a last minute decision from the editors, and the fact that it was a Saturday when our deadlines are extremely early. But, the page came out okay.
I like having photo pages run. I LOVE having photo pages run, and I hope to continue this goal through this next quarter.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stampede Express Rolls

Last night I was assigned to cover the first ever home playoff game between the local indoor football team the Stampede Express and their first round opponent the Fairbanks Grizzlies. That's right, Fairbanks. As in Alaska. Crazy, right? I don't think I have covered a Stampede game in three years, so I was expecting to be a little rusty. We have strobes set up in the Coliseum, but I decided that I would use my 200 mm f/1.8 lens so I could do continuous shooting. The strobes don't recycle fast enough to really catch the action of the game.
I remember the games being very disorganized, something like three and half hours long, and every tiny aspect of the game was sponsored by something. As in, "This penalty flag was brought to you by so-in-so." It was annoying. But, last night the game rolled on very smoothly and it was actually pretty fun. The Stampede ran away with the game early in the contest, but as the time ticked away the Grizzlies fought back to within just a few points. Eventually the Stampede scored again and won the game by 10 points. If you would like to see a gallery of more photos from last night's game you can go HERE.
SIDE NOTE: First, I would like to welcome readers from the Standard-Times website The editors decided to link this blog to the website, so every time I make a new post, readers will see it on Maybe now a few more people will read this blog other than my wife and her best friend. If you like the photos, videos and the random, rambling text, please click the FOLLOW tab on the left-hand side of the page. It helps me keep track of who reads this mess. Welcome to the adventure.
Second, the results of the first quarter Best Use of Photography contest from the National Press Photographers Association are now posted on their website. You can see the winners HERE. Go to the site and see how some of the top photo newspapers from around the country are using and designing their pages.
And thirdly, Jules Mattsson, a 16-year-old photographer, was detained by local police officers in Romford, England a few days ago for taking pictures of a group of police cadets forming up for an armed forces day parade. As he was being detained, Mattsson flipped on a recorder and taped the encounter. According to Mattsson's blog, police sited that he was "breaching the terrorism act, public order act, various misc copyright and child protection laws and otherwise being an “Agitator”."
As far as I know, it's not against the law to photograph in public spaces. You even hear at one point in the recording an officer say that they didn't need a law to detain Mattsson. Comments, opinions, gripes? Let me know what you think. Here is the recording of the encounter that Mattsson put together along with a few of his photos.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Showdown in San Angelo

The annual drag boat races came back to town this weekend. I have only covered this event once before, but I remembered how cool the top hydro boats were. With a burst of incredible speed, these rocket ships on water can reach speeds up to 250 mph in less than a quarter mile. Amazingly loud, I pity the spectators who were anywhere near the start line. Really the best place to watch the races is closer to the finish line so you can see the entire race (all 2.5 seconds of it) and see who crosses the finish line first. The only thing that could make the event a little more exciting is to have more top hydro boats running. As of this year there were only five. The rest of the races are boats of a lower class that don't have near the speed or the sound. Still cool, though.
SIDE NOTE: Two videos for you today. The first is the fourth installment of the "Starved for Attention" effort by VII Photo and Doctors Without Boarders. It is by Franco Pagetti titled "The Malnutrition That Shouldn't Be". It was shot in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The second video was shot by Craig Shimala, a guy who lives in Chicago. Shimala set up his Canon 7D to shoot video from his balcony as a nasty line of thunderstorms rolled through downtown and caught a cool triple strike that hit the three tallest buildings in Chicago.

Lightning strikes three of the tallest buildings in Chicago at the same time! from Craig Shimala on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Watch It Wednesday

Nothing is better than watching TV in a great chair. To look at me, you might think I'm a young-ish, large-ish Texan who doesn't appear to have a taste for the more refined things in life such as interior design, but believe it or not, I actually do appreciate the fine art of furniture. I move around quite a bit of mass everyday, and I can't sit just anywhere, so I was surprised today when I sat down in this retro-colored chair today at the Fine Art Building at Angelo State University.
I was with our summer photo intern Tim Lester while he was covering an assignment and decided to take a break from aimlessly wondering the building. I had time to kill, so I decided to take a few interior shots of the facility. I liked the way the color of the chairs contrasted that of the brick, which had good, clean lines to add to the frame. I know it seems like a weak topic to blog about, but hey, I like what I like.
SIDE NOTE: I've got two videos for you today, both from the VII Photo and Doctors Without Borders collaboration 'Starved for Attention'. Find a good chair and enjoy. A few days ago I posted a video by Jessica Dimmock on her reportage in Burkina Faso. The first video today is part 1 of an interview with Dimmock on her time there covering the child malnutrition problem.

The next video is the third installment of the group by Ron Haviv titled 'A Terrifying Normalcy'. This report takes place in Bangladesh.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Intertribal Powwow

San Angelo celebrated a new event in town this weekend, the Rio Concho Intertribal Powwow. Hopefully this event will continue to be held and evolve into something the entire community will embrace. I was really looking forward to covering this event, having seen several photos from powwows from around the country. It took me awhile to get into shooting mode as many of the native customs don't allow photos or video to be taken during certain dances and songs. I was at the event for over an hour before I was permitted to take a single photograph. I was beginning to worry because I was responsible for the A-1 centerpiece, a photo page and a gallery on the website, and time was beginning to run short.
Eventually, I settled into shooting. My favorite dancer of the day was a guy named Harley Tall Chief, a member of the Seneca Tribe in New York. His entire head dress was fashioned out of eagle feathers. He told me it was what would be worn as part of war ceremonies. It is a very elaborate costume that took a lot of time to piece together.
It was a neat experience, and I think over time, it will become a more participation-friendly event for everyone. If you would like to see a few more photos from the powwow you can see them HERE on the Standard-Times website.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

You Want Some Of This!?

You Want Some of This?
I just happened upon this amusing scene while covering the Angelo Football Clinic today between Texas A&M University and University of Texas head football coaches Mike Sherman and Mack Brown. I'm positive that the two high-profile coaches were having a very cordial and civil conversation, they were smiling, shaking hands, but at one point during the encounter the smiles faded and the hands came up. The only caption I could write for this frame is, "You want some of this!?" If you live in Texas you know about the rivalry between the three major football schools in the state: Texas, A&M and Texas Tech. It's always an interesting scene when the head coaches of these three schools get together because they seem to be the best of friends. I certainly think there is healthy respect for one another.
SIDE NOTE: I have a couple of videos for you today. The first is the second installment of the reporting collaboration between the VII Photo agency and Doctors Without Borders shedding light on the childhood malnutrition epidemic called Starved for Attention. This video was done by Jessica Dimmock called 'A Mother's Devotion' and was done in the African nation of Burkina Faso.

You can go to the page of the previous and future videos HERE to see what's coming up next from the group. The next two videos are on a much lighter note. The first is a cool little shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II of world champion freediver Guillaume Nery at Dean's Blue Hole. Cool stuff! And the last video is by Colin Rich in which he sends programmed cameras up to epic heights using homemade weather balloons. Watch and be amazed.

Pacific Star II from Colin Rich on Vimeo.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Weird Wednesday

As part of the media, we get to meet people that most would not, like politicians. While I am not an overly political person, it is kind of cool to meet the current and potential movers-and-shakers of the world. The Texas governor's race is set for this November and the democratic candidate Bill White made his rounds through San Angelo. My assignment was to simply follow him for the day. Not real exciting stuff, mostly handshakes, speeches and baby-kissing. After a meet and greet lunch at the Cactus Hotel downtown, White was slated to meet with local educators at the Angelo State University lake house out at Nasworthy. Interesting. Never shot there before.
But a few hours before I was to head to the lake we got a call from someone saying the police had blocked off an entire intersection in east San Angelo and the SWAT team had set up a command post. Turns out the State Troopers were serving an arrest warrant for someone who had a history of violence. The troopers asked for the support of the SWAT team as they surrounded to house they believed the suspect was in. But, as luck would have it, after a five hour stand off at the house it was determined the suspect wasn't even there. Oh well, maybe next time.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Today's Double Feature

Okay, so today's post is going to be featuring a duo of videos that I wish I had the brain power and creative skill to do. My photographic pickings have been slim the past few days, not to mention that I am coming off a much-needed 3-day weekend, so I decided to showcase the talents of a few photographers that I would normally put in the SIDE NOTE portion of the blog.
The first video is an award-winning short film about a heart-warming connection of a husband to his wife through her love of photography. Enjoy.

Leave Me from Daros Films on Vimeo.

Kind of a serious film, right, but tugs at the heart strings a little. The next feature is a collaboration between one of the photo agencies I admire the most, VII Photo, and Doctors without Boarders, a non-governmental organization that travels the world providing medical aid to war-torn and disaster riddled countries. The group has teamed together to shed light on a rising epidemic of childhood malnutrition and have created a website titled Starved for Attention. VII Photo photographers spread out across the globe documenting communities that suffer from the lack of food and will release videos, audio slideshows and interviews from their travels throughout the year.
The first piece released is by VII photographer Marcus Bleasdale titled "Frustration" and takes place in the African country of Djibouti.

If you're interested in being a part of the movement to help bring light to this growing problem, sign the petition on the site.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

May Photo Column

For my May photo column, I Am West Texas, I wanted to feature a local veteran to run on Monday for a Memorial Day section front. I talked with the local chapter of the Disabled American Veterans and found Mike Dyess, a veteran of the Vietnam War who fought with the 1st Air Cavalry. I spent the day with him just talking and hearing about some of his experiences while in country. The photo above ran as the lead with the column below on Monday, May 31:

SAN ANGELO, Texas — It’s a cool Tuesday morning as cars begin to pull into the parking lot of the Disabled American Veterans, Jesse D. Booth Chapter 7 meeting hall in San Angelo.
“We like to get together every Tuesday for coffee and doughnuts,” said Mike Dyess, a local veteran who has been a member of the organization for three years. “It gives us a chance to stay connected and shoot the breeze.”
Dyess, who served with the 1st Cavalry Division in the Army for two years during the Vietnam War, expected to be drafted. “I knew I would go,” Dyess said. “I just didn’t know when.” Seven days after receiving his draft notice, he was on his way to basic training and eventually was deployed to a base camp in the central highlands of Vietnam at An Khe.
“I was part of an air mobile unit, so if, and when, we were needed, the helicopters could drop us off,” Dyess said. “Mostly we would be running through the jungle or rice paddies looking for the enemy.”
During his 12 months in Vietnam, Dyess would be awarded with the Bronze Star Medal, the Silver Star Medal and the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in combat.
“It can get pretty scary at times,” Dyess said, “but you are there to do a job because your country has called on you to do it.”
That is so even during an unpopular war.
“We found that when we came home we didn’t have the support of many of our country’s citizens because of their dislike of the war,” Dyess said. “You may or may not approve of any conflict our country may be involved in, but when it comes down to it, it is important that we support our troops.”
Many returning veterans, Dyess included, suffered the indignity of being spat on and called degrading names just for wearing their uniforms in public. But with the passage of time, veterans of the Vietnam era slowly have gained the respect they deserved from the beginning.
And life is a little quieter now for Dyess, who enjoys spending time in his yard or mornings with fellow brothers in arms. “It was tough, but I don’t regret my service,” Dyess said. “I believe that it is important for each citizen to serve our country, whether it is through military or other civil service.”

To accompany this column, I also put together an audio slideshow for our website. You can see it HERE.

SIDE NOTE: I just got back from my annual trip to the Indy 500. I spent the majority of the week with my father-in-law camping near the track. We had a newcomer this year, Gary my step-dad. I think he had pretty good time meeting everyone we camp with as well as at the race and it was really cool for me to have him come and take part in something I do every year. There was one major difference this year from previous years, though ... I didn't take a single picture. Not one.
I am ashamed.
Fortunately, the local newspaper, The Indianapolis Star, did, and put together a great page on their website of all the coverage of the event. You can get to it HERE. The most exciting and terrifying moment of the race came on the last lap when Mike Conway crashed heading into the north chute in full view of where our seats are during the race. Below is the video of the crash. Miraculously, Conway survived with non-life threatening injuries.