End zone to end moan

September 7, 2012 

The impact we've been bracing for since learning about our earlier deadlines touched down last weekend with the start of high school football.

Granted, its direct effect is far worse on our sports and copy editing staffs, but that doesn't mean the earlier crunch time doesn't squeeze me too.

Thankfully, games start at 7 p.m. this season, 30 minutes earlier than last. Friday's doubleheader of Chiawana at Hanford and Richland at Southridge was harried, but manageable on my end, especially as the phone frenzy pushed the sports staff to the edge of deadline.

I looked forward to only having one Saturday game as Prosser and Kamiakin faced off at Lampson. A busy day at the stadium pushed the start time back to 7:30, so my nice light time didn't stretch past warm-ups. I also popped into the locker rooms to wrap up my pre-game feature hunt:

I managed to get a couple non-action snaps during the game too,

but when it came time to figure out what worked best for the paper, the new deadline nearly strangled me. I've always strived to select photos that sum up the story of the game as well as I could. For example, if Team A beat Team B, it doesn't make sense to me to have a photo of Team B doing something good. But what do you do when the game isn't even over yet?

That's how it looked on Saturday with a close, slow-moving game that also started late. I selected a boring, but mostly neutral photo to cut out as our front-page promo:

I decided to feature the closer local school's quarterback, who had a decent game, but wasn't going to be in any of my photo options for the night. Since we were running two photos in the paper, I picked shots that were pro-Kamiakin and pro-Prosser that I could crop about the same so that the front and inside page designers could plan for a certain shape regardless of the outcome:

As deadline neared, Prosser tied up the game to send it to overtime. Unsure if we'd even have a final score before sending the paper off, I opted to put the second photo out front. Javan Williams had made some great catches and I figured the more local team was the best bet when in doubt. Plus, that scoring play was taken back after Kamiakin was ruled to have had an ineligible receiver. That costly penalty would fit the storyline if Kamiakin ended up losing and also worked for the sloppiness of opening-day play.

Overtime went quicker than expected and when the Braves weren't able to answer Prosser's two-point conversion I yelled to sports editor Jeff Morrow asking if we could swap photos. This was about five minutes before deadline. He obliged and I yelled across the room to Jack Millikin to see if he had heard me. He must have been talking to somebody else or I misheard him say he did. It wasn't until about a minute before deadline that I realized I had messed up the the cutline for that photo. I yelled again to see if I had caught it in time. Craig Craker looked at the proof and found nothing wrong before I realized that the photo hadn't been switched.

My relatively minor screwup had prevented the epically embarrassing screwup of running the same photo twice.

I'll take the almost blame for that since the sports guys are swamped to the last minute taking calls from coaches and communication becomes difficult during this time. I should have walked over to make sure the message got through, but I was mired in photo editing to crank out the photo gallery — something I used to be able to work on first when we had a little more breathing room. Now, my workflow is reversed and far less efficient, as I used to be able to work on images for print while dozens of gallery photos uploaded and processed for our website.

But the biggest detriment of the system is working with incomplete information. The two photos we ran were fine, but it would have been nice to get something of Prosser receiver Danny Raap in action,

since he caught the tying and go-ahead touchdowns. By the time I knew that, it was way too late to swap in a new photo, though. The earlier deadlines and Prosser's general dominance over teams in its own conference means I probably won't shoot another Prosser game, so that's doubly disappointing.

Another option would have been to run a photo that went with the storyline of Kamiakin, the bigger school playing on its home field, dropping its home opener:

And if Prosser had come up short in overtime, something like this might have fit that story:

None of those were on the table, though, and I hadn't even had time to look through all my images as the deadline knelled.

And with how rushed and incomplete our report was during a season opener (sports reporter Kevin Anthony couldn't even stay until the end of the game), I shudder to think what will happen come playoff time.

We'll adapt to the new system because there is no going back. It's even rough on coaches who have to send us stats an hour earlier if they want their teams' accomplishments to make it in print. While I'm sure things will run smoother as the season goes on, there's clearly no way we're going to be able to provide the same amount of coverage we used to.

Speaking of change...

There's a nice interview with no-nonsense photographer Michael Rubenstein, who recently had his first gig after a nasty wreck on his motorcycle that nearly killed him. I especially like this quote: "When asked about the future of our industry he didn't miss a beat, replying, 'Whatever, that's a silly question. Everyone freaks out about it. If you're good at what you do and you have the right business contacts then you'll get work. If the business changes, change with it. If not, then do something else…I think it's absurd to think a business isn't going to change, things always change, business is never stable or stagnant…so figure it out."

Also check out this interview with Anton Kusters about his work documenting the Yakuza.

The Seattle Times' Erika Schultz produced a wonderful photo essay on women's head coverings. The simply beautiful images have a nice timeless quality to them as well.

File this under "Cool! But why bother?", as somebody has developed a way to mount big SLR lenses on your iPhone.

And thanks to Scott Brauer at DVAFOTO for featuring my football preview photos this week.


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