This job is full of the unexpected. About to eat your dinner?
Somebody drove into a canal and you gotta go check it out.
Or are you covering an event that seems like it would be rife with visual fireworks?
You're about to work your ass off just to come up with a serviceable photo.
Not all surprises are bad, however, and some are a lot less obvious.
I always hated watching gymnastics when my parents had it on during the Olympics and my disinterest, coupled with my inexperience, makes photographing the sport a deficiency of mine. Unsurprisingly, heavy dread weighed my feet down as I dragged them to a meet at Kamiakin last week. In my brief gymnastics coverage experience, the one constant has been poor lighting and terrible backgrounds. All the necessary equipment is crammed into space-maximizing configurations and finding a clean spot to place the athletes can be tough.
You can probably guess where this is going. Not only was the lighting adequate, but the balance beam was placed against a nice clean spot of wall.
The occasionally present competitor/spectators added a nice touch too:
I did do my best to mess it up, however, like when I went a little too low on my angle and got some distracting lights into the frame:
And for whatever reason decided to abandon the clean angle for Kamiakin's Danielle Brandon's routine:
She, of course, went on to win it and this was the shot I ended up going with. I suppose I just got bored of the same angle and wanted to spice up the perspectives for the web gallery, but I should have been smart enough to save that nice clean look for the later competitors who had a good chance at winning.
A couple days later, I was deep into a mentally arduous feature hunt way too typical of January hunts in its fruitlessness. Lured by a clear skies to the west and a pastel dreamy sunset, I stopped at Chiawana Park in Pasco in hopes of making something out of it.
This one was kind of pretty and featured some of the tumbleweeds that had been blowing around,
but I thought it was kind of a snoozer. I tried working the ducks into frame, hoping their flappy silhouettes might add something to the shot, but they weren't doing what I wanted them to and got another boring shot trying to show the gray mass that hung over the Tri-Cities:
As I crouched and waited for something favorable to happen, a very unfavorable odor hung low to the ground. Next to me was a dead salmon and next to it was half of a dead salmon. The other half was near another carcass and I was off shooting dead fish on the shore, which it turns out is even easier than the barrel variety.
It was oddly fun stomping up and down the shore looking for more of the washed up subjects. After a dreary, lame feature hunt, it was just nice to be shooting something, I guess, and they weren't even the grossest thing I came across that day:
After submitting this shot half-seriously,
it surprised me that it found a home in our outdoors section. Looking back, though, I ended up liking this shot better,
and a printout of it is taped alongside a dead squirrel photo on our equipment cabinet. If I run out of blog ideas, you might get to see that collection soon, too.
Later that day, I had both a girls and boys basketball game featuring local hoops heavyweights Chiawana and Richland. Not having covered the Richland girls yet this season, I opted to start at Art Dawald Gym in Richland to snap some pre-game stuff
and shot about a quarter and a half
surprisingly ending up with a pretty good shot of Shelby Ellsworth, whom sports reporter Craig Craker happened to interview,
before scooting out to Chiawana in Pasco for the boys game. All I was hoping was that there would be a somewhat competitive game when I got there. Oftentimes, even anticipated regular season matchups end up being duds when I go shoot them. On top of being bored when this happens, key players usually get some rest when the game is all but secured. Thankfully, this wasn't the case and I got some decent shots
before Richland started pulling away. When I was almost ready to head back to the office to work up my photos, Chiawana's Justin Smith apparently decided the game wasn't over yet and took over, making layups, both uncontested
over Richland star Calvin Douglas. With time running out and the Riverhawks still trailing by three points, Smith hoisted a desperation three-point shot, drew a foul and, perhaps thanks to the student section's wing-flapping mojo,
sank his three freebies (threebies?) to send the game into overtime:
In overtime, I managed to get a decent shot of Miquiyah Zamora coming up with a big block,
which went well with Jack Millikin's coverage of the game, but really, little else of interest — surprising, perhaps, since I'm always crowing about how I'd get better photos if only the games were more competitive in the regular season. I didn't even get a great jube, and this was the best frame I managed as Chiawana put the game away:
And a potentially storytelling scene of a woman protecting a child's ears from the noise was botched by my conspicuous approach:
though a slight crop helps hide that shortfall.
If you're still reading, then I'm surprised you've stuck with me during this half-baked blog. If anything, this random smattering of assignments and boredom is pretty indicative of the January grind. And when you and the news in town are in a rut, sometimes you have to enjoy whatever slight pleasure you can find.