A Little Luck

April 13, 2010 

Even with all the planning, timing and anticipation that goes into making a good photograph, it never hurts to have a little luck on your side.

In early March, we ran a story by Kristi Pihl about the Tri-City Animal Shelter’s potential future locations and upgrades. Since all this is a few years from becoming reality, a new policy of spaying and neutering all animals available for adoption was the only tangible angle in the story, so I focused my photographic efforts there. Photographing an operation would be gross, so I went to the shelter in hopes of photographing an adoption in action. Luckily, Haley Benner of Pasco was right in the middle of adopting Kibou, her new Chihuahua, which also serendipitously yawned, adding a little aww to an otherwise bland photo:

A couple weeks later, I caught this circuitous moment as Pasco shortstop Seth Lochridge dove during a doubleheader against Chiawana:

The base runner’s foot is almost lined up perfectly with Lochridge’s, and the lack of advertising at the new field made for a clean background to add to the looping effect. A week later, the shot of Lochridge came in handy for a feature story by Kevin Anthony.

During the Americans’ regular season home finale against their rival Spokane Chiefs, I captured this frame of Chiefs goalie James Reid blocking a shot with the smallest part of his stick as he appears to shield his face:

Perfectly timing a goalie’s block is really tough, and always takes a dash of luck. Shots fly so fast that you can’t possibly follow it through the air, so I generally focus on the goalie as the offense moves into scoring position. Even though I keep both eyes open while shooting sports, sometimes my camera is blocking the offensive players’ approach from my left eye’s view, so deciding when to trip the shutter is based mostly on the goalie’s flinch. But without always knowing how far out the shot is coming from and how fast it’s traveling, it’s tough, if not impossible, to always nail the timing of saves and goals. It worked out this time, and luckily for this photo’s shot at publication, the Chiefs won that game. Plus, the apparent luck that it looks like this block depended on did a pretty good job of summing up a game in which few things seemed to go right for the Americans.

I received a little dose of hockey luck again last week as the Americans closed out their playoff series with Kelowna in a dramatic game five. In what seemed like déjà vu in reverse compared to the Ams’ overtime loss to Chilliwack two weeks earlier in game five of that series, the Americans closed in late in the game and tied with 1:24 left in the game — 10 seconds later than Chilliwack’s game-tying goal two weeks earlier.

I took a chance with my overtime strategy, opting to move across from the media area in section “N” to the opposite side, which is closer to the parking lot. This would save me a lot of time and give me a good chance of not getting stuck in traffic, but shooting from in the crowd is risky because people jump out of their chairs in exciting moments. I somehow found an empty seat behind a guy with a cane who was reading a magazine instead of watching the game, and felt like I had avoided that possibility. I crossed my fingers that the Americans would not only wrap it up quickly, but would also celebrate in my direction, and when Kruise Reddick scored the game-winner 5:37 into overtime, Brooks Macek, left, and Brendan Shinnimin did just that:

I wish the Kelowna players looked a little more dejected, but the silhouetted hands and bells are a nice touch. I got my shot, sprinted out the front door and drove traffic-free all the way back to the office. In the immortal words of Col. Hannibal Smith:

~~~~~

kyau@tricityherald.com
(509) 585-7205
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