September 21, 2012 

After a nice long weekend off, I jumped back into football coverage last Friday determined to figure out a better way to manage my new deadline. My night started at Fran Rish Stadium in Richland, where the Bombers were hosting Chiawana High.

Sports only wanted one photo from this game, so I committed to staying one quarter and leaving. It was painful to do this, as I felt I had some decent pro-Chiawana shots should they win,

but not much in the way of Richland photos. I left for Lampson Stadium in Kennewick anyway and after a disappointingly close shot of a missed touchdown catch,

I managed to snap the Lions' desperation heave at the half that Kennewick's Kaden Julian hauled in spectacularly:

Had he caught it, that first shot would have pissed me off by how much the lack of end zone lights swallows players' faces in shadow anyway. As Kennewick headed to the locker room with a 9-0 lead, I felt good about my options for a Lions win. For a second shot, I could offer up this sack for an offense and defense mix:

But the Suns turned it around in the second half, picking off a bad Kennewick pass and returning that to the 4-yard line. I unfortunately was downfield and had a bad angle on the interception, also botching the focus on a rare glimpse of the ball on the goal line as Southridge quarterback Grant Lathim punched in 6 points:

I had a much better angle on Kadin Diaz's 62-yard-go-ahead touchdown run when he juked his way down the sideline and caused two Lions defenders to collide:

So far, nothing's different, right? It's just my same old rambling recap of some high school games you probably don't care about. Well the one difference was my anal, nonstop chimping all night.

Photographers and longtime readers know the term, but in case you don't, chimping is when you check the back of your digital camera to see if you got the shot. I've been told the name comes from photogs excitedly saying, "Ooh! Ooh!" after seeing the photo.

It's a bad habit I've spent the last few years trying not to do because time spent looking at your camera's screen is time you're not seeing what's going on around you. A lot of good things happen after plays and between the obvious moments. My thinking has been that either I nailed it or I didn't and there was no point obsessing over something I couldn't change.

It's not that I was chimp-free before, but this time I made sure to zoom in, check focus, note the file number, yards on the play if it was big and the numbers of the players in the photo. This way I had a quick catalogue in my notes of potential photos for the paper.

It's not the biggest of deals, but it does limit my ability to shoot non-action. Herald football gallery faithful may have noticed the lack of off-field color in my galleries from the games in Richland and in Kennewick. The ones I do have are easy, quickie snaps right after a big play,

or when the crowd happened to be doing something during downtime:

During halftime of the Southridge-Kennewick game, I grabbed a few snaps of the marching band before grabbing a bench to look through photos of the first game.

I picked out the best of my pro-Richland shots just in case they turned it around after the first quarter:

The second is of Josh Phillips, whom we had just run a feature story on. So I was pleasantly surprised when I texted sports reporter Jack Millikin about the photo choices that Deric Samples, featured in the first photo, had caught the game-winning touchdown.

For the main event, I had Kadin Diaz's touchdown run on the sports front with Kaden Julian's touchdown catch inside. My grab of his haul was rare enough to have a Kennewick shot in the paper and was fine by me during a close 16-15 contest.

I hope that was OK with the online commenter who derided Craig Craker's assessment that Kennewick "dominated' the first half with a 9-0 lead after allowing only four first downs by Southridge.

Either way, some better planning, more experience and a little luck made this week go much smoother than the first. With all the extra chimping and note writing, I know I'll miss something good in the coming weeks and the earlier deadlines still mean I generally won't have time to look through my whole take before making my photo decision.

For example, I didn't notice this parallel tackle by Richland's Jessie Malone, left, and Elijah Norris on Chiawana's T.J. Avery until after everything was filed and I started working on the gallery:

It's probably my favorite shot of the evening, though it wouldn't have made sense to run as the solo photo. Here's hoping I don't overlook something important in the coming weeks as I get better at editing while on assignment.

For a truly inspiring edit...

Check out this amazing video about the Columbia River by the Oregonian's Bruce Ely and Jamie Francis. Be sure to check out some of the extra goodies too, including a dizzying perspective of a camera sent to the edge of space in a weather balloon. In an era of quickie, low-quality newspaper videos, it's nice to see how an investment in time can produce something wonderful.

Also see University of Nebraska student Andrew Dickinson's work documenting drug addicts in New Delhi.

On the flip side of quality, Nieman Lab proclaimed that 19-year-old Gage Skidmore is one of the hottest political photographers in the country. Too bad all his images are free. This has touched off the ever-present cries from some shooters of the downward spiral of the photo biz. I tend to think that the sites that use Skidmore's work wouldn't be paying for it otherwise, opting to find other free images or just stealing them.

As for the work, it's all just baseline, semi-professional quality — stuff that anybody with a decent camera could snap. To see some really clever political work, check out Stephen Crowley's Smoke-Filled Rooms series. Maybe somebody could have paid the bills with Skidmore's level of shooting at some point, but there's no point in lamenting how the business of photography has changed. More and more people are willing to give their work away, and that's not going to change. There's no denying the difference in quality between Skidmore's work and this photo by Damon Winter, though, and people with drive and unique vision will continue to make it in the field.

Plus, nobody is ever going to go with a free photographer for something like Forbes' cover shoot of a philanthropic group worth $126 billion collectively. Talk about a high-pressure shoot.

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