Ending with a whimper

December 6, 2013 

Back in 2010, Kamiakin made it to the state championship. I remember being heavily invested, having covered many of their games that season, and arguing for the chance to go cover the title game in Tacoma. It was upsetting to think I could follow them all year and miss out on the biggest game of the season.

They ended up getting routed 38-0, and while I felt bad for our local players, for me the season at least felt complete.

Last year, I poured myself into the campaign-themed football preview and covered a handful of games. Had one of our local teams made it to the Tacoma Dome, I might have felt similarly invested. But as we go into another weekend of championship tilts in Tacoma, Chiawana, the newest school in Tri-Cities, is going for its first title. While I'm disappointed that one of our staff photographers doesn't get to go cover the semi-historic game, I'm not feeling that same emotional and professional investment of years past.

After a weak set of photos from Kamiakin's quarterfinal loss to Shadle Park, I had a pretty decent day with a semifinal doubleheader at Edgar Brown last weekend. Here are my favorites from Chiawana's drubbing of Federal Way:

My photos form Prosser's loss to Tumwater weren't as good due to a combination of the cold, poor lighting and some bad breaks on positioning:

This week, I joined sports writers Craig Craker and Kevin Anthony for a harried visit to Chiawana's practice for a few stories previewing their Saturday state championship game against Camas. The Riverhawks were conditioning in the gym, thankfully avoiding the cold and acclimating to playing in dome temperatures. As Craig interviewed coaches, I worked to get a shot of Steve Graff and his assistants for his story,

falling back on this Hail Mary snap of Graff with the team:

While the group coach shot is lacking in a lot of ways (poor lighting, boring composition), it worked best in the scant time I had to go with Craig's story about Graff and his staff, who have been working together since Graff was head coach at Pasco High.

I also had to shoot a couple feature photos. First up were offensive linemen Kayden Maughan and Chandler Newell. With the team crammed in one section of the gym and school basketball squads taking up the other half. I searched for a location. Thankfully, the weight room only had a couple kids in it. Unfortunately, Maughan and Newell were in a rush to get back to practice after Kevin interviewed them, and I made a pretty weak portrait of them:

I went with simple lighting because I knew it would be rushed, but I should have thrown some lights behind them to give them some separation from the background.

I had even less time with receivers Dre Dorton and Blake Bishop as practice wrapped and players headed to important film sessions. I dragged the lights into the hallway outside the weight room and slapped this snap together:

Each portrait session only lasted about two minutes.

Heading to Touchet the next day with Craig was a little more relaxed. We caught the tail end of their outdoor practice, and I got a decent action shot of head coach Gary Dorman, right, and assistant coach Guy Gregg:

Craig's feature story was on quarterback Elias Martinez, the youngest of his siblings, who were solid contributors to Touchet athletics over the years. The school had a nice trophy case that I wanted to utilize. My knee jerk idea was to have him reflected in the case, looking wistful and dramatic, but it felt like it would be too soon to trot out that technique after Tom Whitney.

I wanted to light it in a way to draw attention to Elias, with just some spill from my lights illuminating the case, so I totally underexposed the ambient light and set up a little rim lighting for him:

Thankfully, I had a good 10 minutes to work with Elias, who was pretty shy and quiet. It's an OK portrait, but far from a definitive frame to end the football season on. Though I was less involved in this year's preview, didn't cover many Friday nights and have never seen Touchet play in person, I still wish I was covering the championship games.

The disappointment is not nearly as crushing as it would have been three years ago, though. With one less photographer on staff, the logistics of sending somebody across the state are tougher. It's just a sad sign of the times that a stringer will be photographing Chiawana's first appearance at the big show.

Speaking of disappointment...

The Seattle Times' Erika Schultz voices her displeasure at one of her portraits being used out of context on Fox News for a piece about how "Sharia Law is now changing everything." Fox News' story was about a program in Minnesota and Erika touches on how situations like this can jeopardize the trust journalists need to do our jobs.

Leonora LaPeter Anton shares her personal connection to Gretchen Molannen, a subject in her story about a rare condition, who recently committed suicide. It's a tough and interesting look at how journalists can become so intertwined with the people in their stories as Anton looks back on the project and questions whether the spotlight on Molannen had anything to do with her suicide.

The New York Times has a piece about how tensions between the Obama administration and White House press photographers have strained the relationship between official White House photographer Pete Souza and his colleagues.

Erik Johansson shares what went into a creative composite image.

The Strobist updated his bookshelf listing with some must-have books for portrait photographers. I only have the Gregory Heisler book and The Moment It Clicks by Joe McNally in case any readers are looking to buy their favorite Herald photo blogger a Christmas present.

And finally, prepare to feel feelings and stuff with this feature on Benjamin Von Wong's beautiful shoot with Suzy Johnston in which he made her dreams come true.


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