It's hard to believe my fifth Follies is in the books, and though I didn't have quite as much fun covering the boat races as I did while photographing last year's riverfront house party story, last weekend's unmatched variety provided me with some Herald highlights.
Instead of my usual morning trip to Art in the Park, my Friday started with some swimming action at the Inland Empire Long Course Championships after my flight on the B-25 bomber was delayed four hours. It was only my second time shooting swimming in my 3 1/2 years here and the assignment brought back a lot of memories having grown up as a competitive swimmer. That experience also helped me figure out what was going on.
Swim meets are chaotic affairs and this one was running with alarming efficiency as they started some heats while the previous one was wrapping up — maximizing Memorial Pool's starting blocks on both ends. The parents and coaches were friendly, offering up tips on swimmers to look for and letting me sneak peeks at their heat sheets, but the biggest help was the Channel Cats' bright orange swim caps that made spotting them a snap. The color also provided a warm pop against the blue water, and the officials gave me great access to mix up the angles:
Never miss a local story.
Toss in a slice of meet camping relaxation,
a cliché in the shade,
and I'm pretty happy with my take from the meet considering how rarely I've photographed swimming.
Next up was a flight on the B-25 bomber. While snapping some feature shots before, I got some OK frames of the B-25's bomb bay,
and the B-17's engine starting up,
but my favorite ground feature was at one of the F-15's:
Up in the air, I longed for wider glass, unable to give viewers a full sense of the tight bombardier's compartment:
We ran that second shot with the story, and while I'm usually all for shying away from the obvious wide-angle shot, I think that would have been better in this instance. Photo disappointment aside, it was an honor to fly in such an old plane that saw actual combat in World War II. The odd popping noises were disconcerting at first, but added to the historic experience — one that took the top spot as most brag-worthy assignment during my time here.
For a much cooler air show story, check out our coverage of John Klatt with the Air National Guard — including a very cool video and photo gallery by Paul T. Erickson and Jacques Von Lunen.
Art in the Park wasn't anything special, though a new local vendor's washable cloth tea sets inspired by a granddaughter's severe allergies was a nice angle:
Other than that, it was my usual smattering of color,
attempted artsy reflections,
and cute kids:
Saturday at the boat races in Kennewick wasn't too eventful, but I had fun capturing the characters, sights and moments that make up Water Follies:
I enjoyed photographing Austen Rippley, 14, of Kennewick, as his sister Kathy, 13, pelted him with rocks as he worked on his "ninja skills," but this image was sadly deemed inappropriate for our photo page:
My hydroplane ignorance was exposed after a cute snap in the pits:
After getting the names of Jon Zimmerman and his son Jack resting during the air show, I asked him if he was a member of the crew.
"I'm the driver," he said, making me feel like an idiot. My stupidity was exposed again as a group of people asked me to take their picture. I used to roll my eyes at these demands, but these days I turn it around, requesting that they do something cool if they want their picture taken. Most of the time, people just posture like street toughs, but one group offered to get on each others' shoulders while another guy did a backflip:
This fun, impromptu portrait is ruined by my lackadaisical background choice, especially considering a nice clean, colorful trailer was readily available with a minor angle adjustment.
Sunday's jaunt through Pasco was interrupted by a trip back out to Bergstrom to photograph Brian Reynolds for a feature, but I managed to represent play time for both kids
as well as a pretty air show snap,
before heading back to Kennewick in the hope of snagging a helicopter ride again.
I've always liked the laid-back Pasco side much better. The cool grass makes for a nice contrast to the radiating asphalt and concrete across the river.
My longing to stay in Pasco was further confirmed as I looked for a parking spot in Kennewick. A parking attendant puffed up his authority after I told him I'd prefer hanging the parking pass on my rear view after finding a spot. He played policeman by replying that I could either hang it on or not go in at all before saying that he needed to search my trunk.
I sighed as I got out of the Tri-City Herald car to let him prod my photo equipment before his tone flipped to friendly small talk.
"So I saw your photos in the paper..."
I was afraid the annoying parking experience was foreshadowing for a frustrating Follies finale, but my fears were quenched after tracking down Event Director Kathy Powell, who happily met me by the golf course to ask me what my preference was. It was great to have somebody in a stressful position who was probably bombarded with requests all weekend treat me infinitely better than the overzealous parking goon with nothing better to do than flex his might at me.
I managed to get a fun shot of Spiderman giving an impromptu performance en route to the kids zone,
before taking to the sky for the second Unlimited Finals in a row. Ben Burchfield, shooting for KNDU, had the prime seat, but was gracious in letting me know what his shooting position would be and asking how he could make my backseat angle better. Snapping race action,
and crowd aerials was no problem:
And this dock photo was doubly fun,
since I had photographed the Reece family at dock level just a few hours earlier:
A napper gave me a nice summary-type photo for the day:
As usual, it was a sweaty, whirlwind of a weekend I've grown used to covering. And while my back doesn't love my job as the features rover, I can't think of a better (sober) way to experience the Tri-Cities' marquee event.
See more of my photos from Saturday and Sunday, our photo staff's favorite shots from the weekend, and a fun gallery by Paul T. Erickson of Sports Editor Jeff Morrow's beach adventure.
Not enough Follies? Go to hydroracing.com for our full coverage.