Sunday, August 25, 2013

2013 Pre-Season All West Texas Football Team

2013AWT25 It's that time of year again, folks... football time. And at the start of the season the San Angelo Standard-Times publishes it's high school football special section, Blitz! It's a glossy-covered, tabloid section that is published in the Sunday edition the weekend before the first kickoff. The tab, put together by the sports, photo and advertising teams, details all of the high school football teams in our coverage areas. We cover one 5A school, one 4A school and a gathering of 2A, 1A and Six-man schools.

One of the sections in the tab highlights 26 individual players that the Sports department believes will have a standout season or are players to watch in their respective classifications called the Pre-Season All West Team. One of the challenges of the this section is deciding on how to photograph these players. In the past we have used Polaroid photos, long-exposure photos in the studio with strobes and Christmas lights and the more traditional football poses on the field.

During one of our many meetings about the tab held this summer someone asked the question "How are kids today using photographs to document their own lives?" The answer was pretty obvious: on smartphones via social media. Why not use the same technology to take portraits of these 26 kids for the tab? Once the list of players was finalized, sports reporter Carlos Silva and I made a schedule to drive out to all the towns to photograph and interview each player.

I decided to use a photography app on my iPhone called Oggl, created by the same people who designed Hipstamatic, to photograph the players. Oggl is a lot like Instagram, a social media community that revolves around photos and video, but the main difference is that with Oggl you don't have to make the photos public until you're ready for them to be seen. This allowed me to take all the photos, run them through various filters in the program (lenses and film types) and download them to my computer all before revealing the finished product to the public.

So, after five days, 14 towns, 1,129 miles, seven fuel stops, six energy drinks, four meals and two very tired drivers... this is what we came up with:

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

High School Volleyball: 2013 Nita Vannoy Tournament

NitaVannoy15 For the past 36 years San Angelo has played host to the Nita Vannoy Memorial Volleyball Tournament, a massive 32-team high school tournament played at various courts in the city. This two-day tournament can be a lot of fun, but at the same time you come away pretty exhausted. Like, if I never see another volleyball for the rest of the year it'll be too soon, kind of exhaustion. I know that will never happen as we have some pretty good teams in our coverage area that deserve some love from the Standard-Times.

The teams are divided up into eight pools and play three games each that first day. I had a good plan going into Friday's games as far as coverage, but there are always the unseen variables that can throw you a curve ball. One of those curves was if a match ended early, game officials only allowed roughly five minutes for the teams of the next match to warm up before starting. I had a 8:00am game which finished in about 30 minutes so the next game started roughly five minutes later. That game also ended in about 30 minutes. The tournament was now running ahead of schedule by about half an hour. Were the other games at the other gyms across town moving as fast as this? Hope I don't miss any. Fortunately, I was able to make all the other games I wanted to with the exception of the very last one. I had to wait another 2 hours before I was able to shoot the last area team at 7:00pm.

Originally, I was scheduled to be off on Saturday, but we had a few too many assignments to cover that day and too few photographers to cover them. I had to come in and shoot the championship game held at Central High School. Vying for the title were the Lady Mustangs from Midland Christian and San Angelo's own Central High School who, by the way, have won the title eight times.

Make it nine.

From the start it looked as if Central was going to run away with the title. They won the first set 25-13. The second set was a little more action-packed as Midland Christian and Central traded points back and forth for most of the game. Eventually Central took control and won 25-23. I've seen more volleyball in the last two days than I will for the rest of the year. With football starting in a week I doubt I'll be shooting another game for a while.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Chicago Street Photography - iPhone Style

Hipsta-ChicagoStreets11 This last week I was given the opportunity to work on a story, much thanks to my editors by the way, in the great city of Chicago. I'll have a post about the story I was covering later in the year once it has published. We had a lot of fun and it should turn out well. But aside from work, being in a big city like Chicago offered me time to do something I've always wanted to try out: street photography.

There are a number of photographers that I follow and one of those is Scott Strazzante, a photojournalist with the Chicago Tribune. You can find a link to his blog on the Tribune website on the right-hand side of the page under the "Blogs I Read" column. The name of his blog is "Shooting From the Hip." Along with posting photos from the various assignments he shoots, Mr. Strazzante also does a lot of street photography and he does it almost exclusively with his smartphone. Since I'm not in Chicago very often, this being just the second time in maybe six or seven years, I decided to try my hand at wandering the streets of Chicago, iPhone in hand, looking for a visual adventure.

If I could have, I would have devoted an entire day to walking the streets. What a blast! Large cities are such a visually-rich environment you could go in a different direction every day of the year and find something new. I only had a few hours each day after finishing work so I didn't get to roam as long as I wanted to. It was almost sensory overload and I had a difficult time focusing in on any one thing. "Oh, that's a great reflection," or "Those shadows make a cool pattern," or "I like the way this guy is standing as he waits to cross the street." These are all things I would have going through my mind while trying not to get run over by right-turning cars and buses.

But what a rush!  It's refreshing to be able to step out of your element, mine being small towns in West Texas, and into something new. I hope to take my Chicago experience and apply it to other adventures in life, not just those in the "big city."

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