Monday, December 27, 2010


Brooke and I spent several days in Indiana with her family for an early Christmas and to attend her brother's graduation ceremony from Purdue University. As graduations go, most are pretty boring and seem to drag on for the length of Bible. Fortunately, after the announcement of the doctoral and masters degree recipients the ceremony picked up the pace for the remainder of the event. Two lines where set up at either end of the stage, a list of names ran on two big screens behind the stage so the audience would know who was coming up next, and the graduates were run through as if on some degree buffet line. Video was being taken as the graduates received their diplomas and projected on two other screens so that family and friends who where were sitting way up in the balcony (where we were sitting) could watch and cheer.
Jake (my brother-in-law) had the presence of mind to figure out where the camera was that was filming his side of the stage and waved as he crossed the stage. I managed to snap a picture of him as he crossed. That's Jake in the upper-left corner of the photo. It was a long but good day. Kudos, Jake.
Unfortunately, I really didn't take many other photos of our time in Indiana. That's something that I struggle with constantly: not taking photos for myself when I am away from work. It's hard to get motivated to do something for my own enjoyment when I do it for my job. I was hoping to post a few photos from the full lunar eclipse from last week, but a low cloud bank rolled in and I missed the whole thing. Perhaps taking more photos for enjoyment will end up being a goal I'll set for myself for the new year... again.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Warren Jeffs: Round 3

Warren Jeffs was back in San Angelo this morning for yet another pre-trial hearing. The court date literally lasted all of five minutes. I was only there to see him come out of the courthouse, but today was a little more exciting simply because none of knew which door he was coming out of. It's like we where playing a little game of cat and mouse with the Texas Rangers. We heard through the grapevine from one of the bailiffs that because of some of the actions of some out-of-town reporters last week, the Rangers were mad at us.
Leave it to some big shot reporters to come down off the mountain of the mainstream media and mess everything up for us local guys. No respect, I tell ya, no respect at all. (Turns out the Rangers knew exactly who the intrusive reporters were and were very cordial with us today.) Today's photo: general stuff. To tell you the truth I didn't really have the time to come up with anything creative. I was just worried about getting something of Jeffs that we could run online. It may seem silly to sit outside of the courthouse every time this guy has a three-minute court date, but believe it or not, Jeffs and his followers from the FLDS is actually big news around here. For several months during April 2008 San Angelo was on the national news map. It was kind of cool getting to meet all the people I had seen on TV, looked at their photos online, or followed their blogs. The next court date for Jeffs is Dec. 29, but I will not be covering the story that day. I will be on vacation. (Is it weird for me to feel guilty for not being there?)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

State Six-man Championship: Game 2

The second game of the night last Saturday at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene was between Garden City and Throckmorton high schools. I was assigned to shoot Garden City since they are closer to our coverage area. This game, unlike the Richland Springs game, could have gone either way. And to tell you truth, I didn't know anything about Throckmorton except for the fact that they were big. Really big.
But they're not quick. At least not as quick as Garden City. I love shooting Garden City, not so much for the type of game they play, but simply for the way they play the game. Make sense? They have exceptional character on and off the field. They play hard, hit hard and run hard, but they never let the fact that they are beating you go to their heads. If a Garden City player knocks you on your back there a immediately two more right there to help you up. If they're the ones being picked up off the ground they tap you on the helmet and say, "Nice play," or "Good job," or "Keep it up." The team is a class act and they have a great example in the form of their head coach, Vance Jones.
After the Bearkats (yes, Bearkats with a 'k') won the Conference 1A Six-Man Division I title, Coach Jones was the first one on the field to shake the hands of the Throckmorton players. Even before he celebrated his second state championship in as many years with his own players, Coach Jones made sure to let the other team know how honored he was to have been a part of the state championship with them.
It was a fun night and I'm kind of glad that our football coverage is over. I was getting worn out. You can see more photos from the game HERE if you like.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Our Lady of Guadalupe

My only assignment today, other than filling in for my boss who is out of the office for the next few days, was to cover the procession put on by the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo to honor the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It's an annual event where the Catholic faithful of Mexican descent pay homage to the patron saint of Mexico. Hundreds gathered at St. Mary's Catholic Church and made their way north up Chadbourne Street to the Sacred Heart Cathedral for mass.
I am not Catholic, but that doesn't mean I can't admire the imagery. I love religious art, and so does my wife. The architecture, sculpture, painting and the ritual of Catholicism is quite beautiful. I even love the smell of the burning incense. Today's procession was full of great imagery, however I seem to remember it not being so dark the last time I covered this story. I had to wait until the procession past a street lamp in order to get enough light to make a proper exposure. But, it was fun never the less. Except, however, that I made an error in driving myself to the church instead of asking someone else to drive me and drop me off. Once at Sacred Heart I had to hoof it all the way back to St. Mary's to retrieve my car. My feet hurt.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

And, the State Six-Man Div. II Title Goes To...

...Richland Springs High School! But, none of us were really surprised. Actually the game went on longer than expected. For those of you who are not familiar with six-man football, there is a 45-point mercy rule: 1) If one team is leading at the half by 45 or more points, the game is over, or 2) if at any point one team goes ahead by 45 or more points during the second half, the game is over. All of us in the press box were predicting that Richland Springs would mercy rule Sterling City in the third quarter. The mercy rule came into effect in the fourth. It was a blowout. Richland Springs won 46-0.
This was the first six-man game I have shot all year. I had forgotten how fast the game moves, especially how fast Richland Springs moves. You definitely get your cardio in when shooting a six-man game. But, as luck would have it, the game was played at 2:00pm which means I could use my 400mm lens. I could plant myself in the end zone and shoot all day. And day games seem to be a little more stress free than night games. For one, you get good light for he entire game and you don't have to worry about temperature-shifting stadium lights, and two, you're not under the gun to get photos out on deadline for publication. Football is a much more relaxing game when photographed in the middle of the day. You can see more photos from the game HERE if you like.
I shot the Div. I game between Garden City and Throckmorton later this evening and will have a post and gallery for you early in the week.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Angelo State Men Lose in Triple-Overtime

On Wednesday night I covered the Angelo State men's non-conference basketball game against St. Mary's University at the Junell Center. The ASU team has some great talent, they just can't figure out how to hang on to the lead during their games. They are currently 0-4, two of those losses have come in overtime.
Wednesday's game started out as usual with the Rams taking the lead, but eventually gave up that lead and headed into extra time. It was a back and forth overtime, eventually ending with ASU's Steven Moore scoring the tying shot to go into the 2nd overtime. The 2nd OT was more frustrating than the first simply because fans just wanted to get the game over with and go home with a win. The Rams are desperate for a win, anything to turn around the momentum of the season.
Unfortunately, I couldn't stay for the 3rd OT. I had a wife at home who was having a bad day and there was no way I was going to get paid over-time for this. The Rams ended up losing to a last-second shot by St. Mary's. I'm sure it was a depressing scene to behold. I put up a gallery HERE if you want to see more photos. Better luck next time Rams.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Windmill Country

My assignment for the day was to head up to Sterling City, hang out in town and show how it's citizens were preparing for their football team to head to the state six-man championship game this Saturday. I get this assignment almost every year. If it's not for one of our area football teams it for a basketball, baseball or volleyball team. Basically I just wonder around town looking for signs of team loyalty and fans painting windows with shoe polish with the common "State Bound" phrases. But today was different. I couldn't find anything. It's as if the town didn't realize that their team was headed to the title game for the first time or they just didn't care. I couldn't find a single sign, painted window, t-shirt or cap. Nothing. That meant I would have to shoot the team practice. Not something I would normally do, but I was in a tight spot and short on time considering this was going to run on tomorrow's front page.
It was noon and practice wasn't until 3:00 so I had some time to kill. The land around Sterling City is covered with wind turbines, the new alternative energy initiative booming across the country. Just a few years ago Texas surpassed California as the leading wind energy producing state in the Union. Personally, I think the turbines are pretty cool. I've had the chance to cover several stories on these things.
I decided I would take a little drive in the country, relax a little after having a hard time illustrating the current assignment. A quiet afternoon usually works in clearing my head.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Warren Jeffs: Round 2

The hardest thing about shooting a perp walk is that you usually only get about 15 to 30 seconds of shooting time and you're faced with the challenge of coming up with different angles and perspectives from the last time. Warren Jeffs (you remember him from a few posts ago) was back in town this morning for a pre-trial hearing at the Tom Green County Courthouse here in San Angelo. I have a feeling we are going to be photographing this guy for a while as he has just waived his right to a speedy trial. Currently he doesn't have any legal counsel in the state of Texas, so that's going to eat up quite a bit of time. I think we'll be lucky if all of this is over by the end of March next year.
As I was saying, coming up with something visual as officers walk with inmates back and forth can be a challenge. As Texas Rangers were escorting Jeffs out of the courthouse, I caught Jeffs' and a Ranger's reflection on the glass door. It's not a photo that immediately jumps out and says, "This guy is in trouble." But, I like the fact that you only see the reflection of the Ranger, as if he is this foreboding presence hovering over Jeffs. From that, you can decipher that this guy really is in trouble. Jeffs' next hearing is next week and I'll post another update then.


Cross-Town Rivalry

Today was a typical evening-shift kind of day: Got up at 9:30am, dressed for work and ate breakfast, did some editing and CD burning of other assignments, went to a visuals meeting and finally headed over to the Junell Center for a cross-town rivalry game between Central and Lake View high schools.
Central and Lake View have not played one another since 2007. I like covering sporting events when the two home-town schools play. There always seems to be some animosity between the athletes and the fans. Central is often viewed as the school for the rich kids and Lake View the school for the poor. There have never really been any problems when the two schools get together, but the tension is surely there.
The game was played at the Junell Center, the main arena at Angelo State University. It's a great facility, especially since we have strobes positioned up in the catwalk above the floor of the court. Strobes are nice because they give you nice even light so you can use a lower ISO. They do have drawbacks though because you have to be a sniper when shooting. The lights don't recycle fast enough to lay on the motor drive so you have to pick your moments.
The game started out close, but Central outscored Lake View 21-7 in the third quarter that put the game away. It was a good day and I've got another basketball game tomorrow after a day of sitting out at the courthouse for the next installment of the Warren Jeffs trial. I'll have a gallery up from tonight's game for you tomorrow. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: I have added a gallery of more images from the game on the Standard-Times website. You can see them HERE. Sorry for the delay for those of you who care.

SIDE NOTE: I've got a few videos for you today. The first is a time lapse video built by individual still photos pieced together to make the video. It's of the Aurora Borealis over Norway. Very cool.

Aurora Borealis timelapse HD - Tromsø 2010 from Tor Even Mathisen on Vimeo.

The next one is a a Canon commercial that puts a fun twist on the childhood game of freeze tag. Watch and enjoy.

CANON Commercial - Freeze Tag from Saman Keshavarz on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wall Crumbles in State Quarterfinal

I regret to inform you that this is the end. The Wall High School 2010 football season is over. It was a blast covering these guys this year through the playoffs. No one expected them to make it this far, it was pure grit and determination that got them through. Unfortunately, the Hawks didn't put up much of a fight last night as the Littlefield running attack and defense proved to be to much. I put up a gallery from the game HERE if you would like to see more photos.
It's a sad thing to see such an exciting season come to such an abrupt end, especially being completely shutout the way they were. I personally, would rather lose by one point. But the boys held their heads up through the entire ordeal and showed great character, even under the taunting of the other team. Better luck next year, Go Hawks!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Warren Jeffs in the (Big)House

Warren Jeffs
Today started out as a usual Wednesday: I slept in until 9:30 a.m., cleaned up and ate breakfast and did some light reading before I was to head in for my shift at 11:00 a.m. All of that changed around 10:00 a.m. when I got a semi-frantic call from my editor explaining to me that Warren Jeffs, at some point last night, was flown from Utah to Texas to stand trial for felony sexual assault charges, and that his arraignment was this morning.
For those of you who are not familiar with who this guy is, he is the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and at one time was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. In April 2008 Texas state law enforcement raided the FLDS Yearning For Zion Ranch near Eldorado, about 40 miles south of San Angelo, on an anonymous of tip of child abuse. It is believed that the FLDS practices plural marriages and that some of the girls are under the age of what is considered a consenting adult.
It's hard to believe that after more than two years that I'd still be working on this story. Well, here he is at last, the head man himself. I wonder how long the state is going to him wrapped up in the courts until the selected jury will come back with a verdict?