Spot Mews

July 16, 2009 

Sunday shifts seem to be drought or monsoon. Often, Sunday serves as a day to make up for any overages accrued on the much busier Saturday shift.

What can tip a Sunday into a hectic direction is breaking news, so when reporter Sara Schilling called me Sunday evening while I was shooting a Dust Devils game, I tightened and clenched.

I had only been there for an inning after stuffing my face with three hot dogs from the media room, so my body’s reaction to the call may have been unrelated, but there’s no denying my mental state after she told me that a tree had blown onto a car on Seventh and Yelm in Kennewick.

I already had a serviceable shot from the game, but a storm was blowing in and I envisioned the possibility of a wide-angle baseball shot with dramatic lightning flashing through the sky or a bona fide dust devil whirling through the stadium. That, coupled with the knowledge that whatever drama was unfolding at Seventh and Yelm would likely be over by the time I got there tugged me back and forth on whether I should go.

As fat drops fell with increasing regularity, the Willamette Valley native in me chuckled as people frantically covering their heads as if a little water was going to cause permanent damage. But when the first faint flash came and went without a whimper, I trusted the amateur meteorologists chatting nearby who agreed that the storm was past us and heading away.

I drove toward Kennewick with a conservative sense of urgency. I knew the fresh rain mixed with all the dust would make for slick conditions, and sure enough, a car had just slid off the road at the underpass merging onto eastbound Interstate 182.

When I arrived, the smashed car was gone and Kennewick police officer Brian Banner helpfully filled me in on the details after telling me I was late.

Although the main drama was over, Brenda Bryan, who rents the property the tree was on, was working to clear the debris with methodical purpose. I grabbed a shot with some informative elements in the background:

Before her cat Boo jumped on the fence to check out the new guy:

Maybe the Lazy Hazy Alpaca Daze had primed me for cute photos:

But my initial urge was to pitch the cat photo. It's kinda funny and totally different than typical spot news. After a bit more thinking and a brief talk with weekend editor Jeremy Dutton, however, I realized the humor could be perceived as disrespectful to the victims who suffered minor scratches in the incident but lost a car.

Plus, seeing the photo at a bigger size than the back of my camera made it painfully apparent that Bryan is smiling at the camera.

And though my serviceable shot of three Aquasox players botching an easy pop fly ended up not making sense in light of Everett’s win over the Dust Devils:

I don't regret bailing out on baseball early. The shot of Bryan cleaning branches is nothing special, but it ended up covering the stormy weather and replaced a very boring photo of mine that was planned as the secondary shot of the front page.

~~~~~

kyau@tricityherald.com
(509) 585-7205
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