False Start

May 25, 2012 

What was once my hands-down favorite sport to shoot started out strong this season but I stumbled toward the end. And with my chances of the Herald sending me to my alma mater to cover the Olympic Trials looking slim, it's time to look back on my track and field coverage.

After a ho-hum effort at the punniest meet of the year, where my best photo was of Herald accountant Deborah Robichaud-Bourque's son Graham napping by the pole vault pits,

I had a blast covering the Pasco Invite. I managed to get most of the top finishers and chased a few features away from the action too:




Next up was the 4A District Track meet, where the unnumbered athletes made for an irritating day of shooting. It helps to know who the local standouts are, though, and I tried different angles on Richland's Dennis Christensen and Chelsea McClammer after photographing them so recently at the same venue:

I also played around with slow shutters again, almost nailing one of Chiawana hurdler Sadie Sparks, but unfortunately panning more solidly on the Wenatchee athlete on the left:

And while there's nothing special about this snap of long jump winner Payton Radliff,


I was glad to have swung by just in time to catch his last jump. The one plus of having to actually get his name was seeing how excited his mom was at the prospect of seeing Payton in the paper.

I was excited the regional track meet was the only shoot I had last Friday, as I looked forward to nice light and high-level competition with a job shadow in tow. I really should know better than to hype myself up for things, though, as I shot an uninspired edit at the slow meet, spending way too much time camped out at standard angles and not enough time pushing myself.

I did utilize Fran Rish Stadium's long jump pit setup to work some low angles on Payton Radliff and Danielle Loving,

and had fun going high and slow to capture 3A long jump winner Kyra Brannan:

I was glad to get a decent shot as Dennis Christensen watched teammate Scott Mayfield throw,

especially since Mayfield, the Bombers' second thrower had finished fourth but still qualified for state by hitting 155 feet. Sadly, we didn't have room in the paper to give Mayfield some love.

I didn't time Christensen's throw that well and should have gone a little faster with my shutter speed,


and while I like the crowd reactions in this rehash of Sadie Sparks in the hurdles,

I didn't take advantage of the pressure-free vacuum of prelims to go for something different.

The main photo of Anthony Armstrong's return to dominance shows his healthy lead going into the finish line, but lacks drama:

Even worse is cutting off Hanford winner Melissa Merrill's foot like I've never shot high jump before:

Yes, there was an embarrassing amount of dead space I cropped off the top.

Worst was my coverage of the Kamiakin boys 4x100 relay. I had good luck going wide during a bad handoff at the Pasco Invite above and wanted to get something in-your-face of their Regional race. Their higher seeding put them farther away (duh...), and the best I got was early in the final exchange:

I kinda like the layers a couple seconds later,

but the slightly behind angle doesn't feel good to me. I had a feeling something like that might happen, but I took a chance since we had just run a great feature story by Craig Craker on the team. I was happy with that portrait,


It's weird to think about how my photo preferences have changed the last few years. I used to grumble at the idea of shooting so many portraits. Now I look forward to the challenge of coming up with a few concepts and figuring out how to spice it up with my lighting.

The change has a lot to do with my own self-motivation. While I'm far from an expert on shooting sports, covering the same meets at the same venues every year has a way of quenching your creative fire. Most of these sportraits are at the same location, but offer more control and flexibility.

I still have plenty of room for improvement though, and I should have worked harder to compose without those power lines in this shot of Richland pole vaulter Elizabeth Quick:


This outtake suffers from the same visual distraction,


and both could use a better moment or expression from Quick.

I used the same basic background when photographing Kennewick javelin thrower Angelique Whistocken, but tried to let her fun personality show through:

It's strange to be so nonplussed while covering track and field these days. The thrill of being spitting distance from competitors performing fantastic feats of athleticism has waned for me. Maybe I'm overthinking it when I approach these assignments. It should be clear by the mere existence of this blog that I'm neurotic, but it's more likely a symptom of seeing the same kids doing the same events at the same venues.

And while the Herald probably won't send me down for the Olympic Trials in Eugene, I am already credentialed. Maybe the best remedy would be to return where my love of covering track started, free from deadlines and any pressure to rediscover fun on the field.

Speaking of Eugene...

My college paper announced this week that the Oregon Daily Emerald is planning to cease the 5-days-a-week publishing streak it has held for 92 years. Instead, the student news organization is switching to a twice-weekly magazine format with digital news delivery.

It made me sad to think the "gray, daily newspaper will be replaced by a modern college media company," as the announcement website stated, but I'm glad to see the news organization adapt to better prepare Oregon students for the rapidly evolving journalism job market. Working for the Emerald was undoubtedly the most educational experience during my time there, and though it's weird to think about this change, it appears that current and future students will still gain that invaluable experience.

A day later, news broke that the Times-Picayune in New Orleans will be folded into a new media company with print editions only being published on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

The Chicago Tribune did a nice job of introducing nuance to a potentially polarizing photo of an officer throwing a punch during the recent NATO summit protests in the Second City. It's a nice use of multimedia that really adds something to their coverage that a traditional words-plus-photos package can't really offer.

Here's a cool little cheat sheet explaining white balance settings in relation to color temperature.

Sadly, cloud cover ruined local viewings of the annular eclipse on Sunday. Luckily, we have the internet. There's a great collection over at the Atlantic's In Focus. And while I prefer it to the redundant one at The Big Picture, which In Focus editor Alan Taylor started, the tighter, more varied edit at the Atlantic is missing this awesome shot by The Dallas Morning News' Michael Chow.

~~~~~

kyau@tricityherald.com
(509) 585-7205
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