Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Morning With the Monks

Well , I tried as hard as I could over the last two days to just relax and not do anything. And I did, only when the alarm clock went off this morning I just felt like I didn't get enough rest. I was draggin' big time today. And it didn't help that I had an early assignment in Christoval. The only thing that made the morning bearable was the location of the assignment: the Mount Carmel Hermitage. I love going out to the hermitage to visit the monks. Father Fabian, the one on the left in the above photo and the rector of the hermitage, is one of the most unique individuals you could ever meet.
Most of the time, the assignments that we get out here are not ground-breaking by any means, but it's the pure passion these monks have for life and the joy they find in the little things that make the experience worth while. Take today for instance. Every year the monks hold a big Christmas sale at the heritage and this year they were making fresh tamales for the public to purchase. No big deal, just a group of monks and a few volunteers from a local Catholic church having a good time. Plus, the stay out at the hermitage is always made more pleasurable simply by the fact that hot pumpkin bread and coffee are always served.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wall Stands Tall

Well, after have a very long, peaceful and gut-busting Thanksgiving on Thursday, I was back out on the road the next day to Seminole to cover Wall High School's regional semi-final playoff game against Muleshoe. The Hawks were 12-point underdogs going into the game, but knew that if they could control the clock and keep the high-octane offense of Muleshoe off the field they might have a chance to move on. Muleshoe is led by University of Oklahoma commit Cooper Washington on both offense and defense.
But, as they have all year long, the Hawks managed to go ahead in the first quarter after a botched point-after-try turned into a successful two-point conversion, and they never looked back. It's been very exciting to watch these young men play this year. I didn't get to follow them much during the regular season because we had a freelancer cover them for us, but the playoffs have been a blast. As of right now we still have five teams alive in the playoffs: Wall, Sterling City, Mason, Richland Springs and Goldthwaite. Though Goldthwaite technically isn't our coverage area, we were receiving calls about not covering them very much last year so we decided to beef up the coverage this year. We could have six teams left by the end of the night if Garden City wins in Big Spring this evening.
I'm now looking forward to my much-needed two days off.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fall... Finally!

Mark it on your calendar, today, November 24, 2010 as the day that autumn showed up here in West Texas. Well.. sort of. It was still 80-degrees today, but for whatever reason the trees decided it was time to change color. So when it does happen, you have to act quickly, because it will not hang around for very long. Generally we get about two or three good days of fall colors and then just bare branches. But, today the winds were blowing pretty strong and I had a feeling that by the weekend the leaves would be gone.

I was given an assignment to go and check out the river bank to see if the city was putting up their annual Christmas lights display, but found they were not. I did see, however, that the leaves along the water's edge were just screaming to be photographed. Traditionally, this is the best place in San Angelo to find the autumn colors. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that these trees are near an available water source all year round, especially during the dry summer months, and I guess healthier leaves produce brighter fall colors. I took a few frames here and decided that I would cruise on out to the lake for a few more options.

Sadly, there were not as many changing leaves out at the lake as I had hoped, but I pulled into Spring Creek Park, rolled down the windows, turned up the bluegrass music playing over the airwaves from a station in Lubbock and enjoyed the afternoon. Brooke and I will be staying in San Angelo for the Thanksgiving holiday this year because I will have to be on call for work. This is the first time in a long time that we have not been with family for one of the major holidays. However, we will be spending some time with good friends here in town that have graciously offered to have us over for dinner. Looking forward to it!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Believe It Or Not... (pt. 3)

... The Central High School Bobcats gave it their all this season, but in the end came up just a little short in their Class 5A area round playoff game against Arlington Martin. The Bobcats had an incredible turn around from what looked like a dismal season into making it into the second round of the playoffs. It was a good game for the first half, but Arlington Martin's running game proved to be to much. Shooting a team that loses a playoff game can be hard, simply from an emotional aspect. For many of these kids this will be the last time they will wear a football uniform competitively. And most of them are bawling their eyes out, so it's necessary to give them a little breathing room. You hate to see 200+ pound high school senior weeping and sobbing.
Usually we would end up running a photo of that kid crying on the cover of the section, but this year we took the high road and went with a different frame, one that was a little more up beat. You can go HERE if you want to see a few more photos from the game.
It's now round three in the playoffs and we still have four schools left in our coverage area that are alive. I'll be making the three-hour trek back north to Seminole for the Wall/Muleshoe game this Friday. Wall is an exciting team to watch and I have a good feeling that I'll be on the road again next Friday covering another one of their games.


Monday, November 22, 2010

So, This Guy's Got a Camera...

...and he thinks everything he takes a picture of will magically come out just right. Actually, I have way more mistakes and lucky frames than I do well thought out and composed photos. So, yesterday, after a full morning and afternoon of watching nothing but football, I decided that I should probably step out of the house at least once and went for a drive. We have had unseasonably warm weather lately and yesterday was no exception (almost 80 degrees!). I usually head toward the lake and decided to park my car on a little dirt road next to the water. The sun was setting with nice colors, there was cool breeze, and a huge flock of birds were making the rounds overhead. I thought, "This would make a great picture." I grabbed my camera out of the car and started clicking away.
So here you go, my lame attempt at shooting nature. I have no idea what I'm doing, but hey, a least I'm doing something other than sitting on backside in front of the television. Honestly, I really do admire people who can find some way of taking a great nature photo. I know that they use a ton of filters and post-process techniques, but I consider it artwork so do what you want. (Unless of course you're rubber stamping something in or out of the frame.) So in the spirit of showcasing great nature photography (something you obviously won't see on this blog) here are a few links to some of photography's greats:
Ansel Adams, Galen Rowell, Philip Hyde, Robert Glenn Ketchum, and John Shaw.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Re-Elect Tobar

I spent most of the day in Ozona, a town about 85 miles southwest of San Angelo on I-10. The Standard-Times will be publishing our quarterly Business Journal this month and in the journal is a profile on some of the businesses in Ozona. Typically, this assignment falls to me and more often than not produces less then inspiring images.
Today I was killing some time, waiting for a particular business to open back up after the lunch hour and drove around town to take in the sites. I found Ozona, a town that I have come to often during my almost seven year stint here in the area, to be quite charming. These photos are not ground-breaking by any means, I just liked them, and it is a nice break from posting anything that has to do with sports. It seems like once school is back in session I'm shooting nothing but sports until the football season is over.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Believe it or Not... (pt. 2)

... Central High School won their bi-district playoff game against El Paso Franklin on Saturday afternoon. To tell you the truth, we all knew it was going possible for Central to win this one, we just didn't know which Central team was going to show up. Was it going to be the Central team that keeps a steady pace, plays good defense and controls the clock? Or was it going to be the Central team that takes an early lead only to choke in the second half, play no defense and turn the ball over 12 times. To tell you the truth, both of those teams made an appearance on Saturday, but it was the first one that stuck around for the longest. It was an exciting game, probably the most exciting Central game I have shot this season.
Central took an early lead, held on to it heading into the half, and were in high spirits. The second, more evil Central team showed up at the start of the second half letting Franklin come within a touchdown of a stalemate, but decided they didn't want to play anymore, allowing for the first team to run the rest of the game. Central won 35-21 to advance to the next round.
The photo above was one of those happy accidents that occurs every so often. I was actually trying to focus on the Central player that had just intercepted a pass and was headed back towards the end zone, but my camera was focusing slower that the action was advancing so I managed to snap a few pics of the Central sideline cheering while hammering down on the motor drive. It's one of those photos you don't know you have until you go back through the edit process. I liked it and included it in the gallery I posted to the Standard-Times website HERE .
Central will play host to Arlington Martin this Friday at San Angelo Stadium. This is going to be a tough one. Martin is on a 9-game winning streak and features a running back who as already committed to the University of Oklahoma. And, as luck would have it, Arlington Martin knocked Central out of the baseball playoffs and the volleyball playoffs. If anything, Central wants to get a little payback.


Wall Moves On

This last Friday was the start of the football playoff season here in Texas. I love shooting the playoffs. The action on the field seems to be turned up a notch, the celebration and dejection seems to be more emotional, plus I get to travel to towns around Texas that I have never been to before. This last Friday I was assigned to shot the Wall Hawks playing in a bi-district game against Bushland High School in the thriving metropolis of Denver City. I had a general idea where the town was as it is only about an hour and a half from Lubbock where I grew up. I didn't know, however, that Denver City is dead center in the heart of oil country, and that horrific smell that comes along with it is ever present. It's so strong that you can almost see it hanging in the air. You think after a while you'll just get used to it, but no, it's so strong that it even permeates your clothes.
The game was fun though. It started out as a defensive battle and became very clear that the first team to score was going to end up winning the game. Wall struck first and never looked back. They went on to win the game 28-6. I enjoy shooting Wall games for a few reasons. 1) Wall is pretty good and it would be pretty safe to say that they will come away with a win, and 2) there are three moms that shoot the game from the sideline with me. They are great! They're always happy to see me and fun to hang around with. This week the Hawks face Merkel in Abilene on Thursday night. I don't think I'll get to shoot them this week because I'm not on the night shift. I think it will be Cynthia (our other full-time shooter) or one of the photographers from the Abilene Reporter-News (our sister paper) or maybe a freelance photographer. The possibilities are endless! I have posted a gallery from the wall game HERE if you would like to see a few more photos.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Believe It Or Not...

... the Central High School Bobcats are in the playoffs. It was a fairly dismal season for the Bobcats early on, but a few weeks ago they secured a spot in the playoffs having won just three games. They kept the ball rolling last week with a 35-27 win over Amarillo Tascosa and will play El Paso Franklin this Saturday at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa for their bi-district game. I'm not sure if I'll be the one to cover that game seeing as how I'm currently on the Monday-Friday shift. However, there are several assignments to cover this weekend, including the final ASU game, so I may end up with a few overtime hours. I was looking over the list of schools in our coverage area and where they will be playing this week for the first round of the playoffs and I think we will be doing quite a bit of traveling. There is one game here at San Angelo Stadium, but all the others are way out there.
Shooting the playoffs in any sport can be exciting. You never know what the game conditions are going to be, there is always a sense of desperation in not knowing if your season will continue for another week, and there is always a trophy at the end of the game. Hopefully, our area teams will hang in there for a few rounds. I'm not entirely convinced I'm ready to shoot basketball which starts on Tuesday. If you would like to see more photos from the Central game last Friday you can go HERE. This week is going to be busy. More to come...


Monday, November 1, 2010

A Sport of All Seasons

There are two major sporting seasons that take place here in West Texas, and in San Angelo specifically. The first is obviously football season. From the end of August to the middle of November, our sports and photo staffs are covering high school football every Friday night. The second most popular sporting event we cover is the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo. The main rodeo takes place in mid-February, but every October there is a long weekend of roping that brings in competitors from all over the country. I was assigned to cover the 57th annual Autoplex Roping Fiesta this last Saturday, an assignment I had managed to miss for the last couple of years.
Calf roping, for me, is not my favorite rodeo event. I suppose it's because there is not enough violence. Not like there is in bareback or bull riding. However, the Roping Fiesta is held outside in the middle of the day, which means I can use my long lens, drop the ISO, and hit the motor drive to catch every little detail during a run. The rodeo held in February takes place inside the San Angelo Coliseum, and we have to use strobes in order to get a usable photo with out having to jack up the ISO to 1600 or higher.
The main attraction during the day of calf roping is the match roping competition between two ropers. This year it was Cody Ohl, a 16-year veteran roper, and Tuf Cooper, an up-and-coming competitor. They go head-to-head each roping 12 calves, and the guy with the fastest overall time wins. Let's just say it was a tough day for the veteran. Tuf Cooper ended up winning the match and the custom belt buckle. I have posted a gallery of the match roping HERE if you would like to see more photos. I have also posted a gallery of random photos HERE of the whole event as well.