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Sometimes you get what you wish for.

Earlier in November, I headed out to the Baldwins' home in south Richland.

The photo request said that their yard and crawl space had been flooded due to development in the area, so I threw on my galoshes before heading in to meet Ernie and Kim.

We started in the backyard, where my first thought was, "I changed out of my shoes for this?"

Sure, it wasn't pretty, with a pile of unearthed dirt and a trench where a pump worked 24/7:

But my initial response was pretty cynical. After all, the type of person who calls the newspaper to complain about a problem is sometimes nothing more than a complainer with an underwhelming problem.

So I shot this underwhelming portrait:

I sighed internally as we made our way back inside, trying to hide my disappointment.

I wasn't disappointed that their home appeared to be in better shape than the photo assignment had stated, but rather that I hadn't made an interesting photograph for the story. It was my first shoot of the Saturday and I felt like I was starting out badly.

Oh, how right I was.

We chatted some more inside the house before Ernie opened the trap door leading to their crawl space.

I made a sound that I'm not quite sure how to phoneticize. It was kind of a mix between “ooh” and “uh.”


I lowered myself down to see the extent of the damage.

Maybe it has some guttural consonants in it.


I stood up when I realized my hair was dipping into the water and tied it into a loose bun before heading down again, essentially crab walking in a squatted position trying to keep my pants dry.

Of course, I had just washed both my hair and pants before trying to make a photo in this:


Ernie, if you're reading this, I apologize for the undignified angle, but it's the only one I have to show the cramped path from entry to where I shot this:

I wish I could see what I looked like as I clutched my camera in my right hand and held the strobe, which was on an off-camera cord, as far to the right side of me as I could with my left hand to try and get the flash around the stud.

You wanted messy? Well here it is, cheese turds!, rang in my head as I tried to get a good angle on the flash, set a correct exposure and focus in almost complete darkness.

Ernie asked how he could show the depth of the water and suggested placing the stick in the foreground.

"Yeah, that sounds good," I said, not really thinking about it. After all, the viewer would have no idea how long the stick is, but thankfully he had his left arm submerged as a more informative illustration of the muck.

I also wish the photo didn't have the hot spot on the beam and his hand, but really, I can't complain too much.

Plus, I kept my pants and camera dry, and that's always something to be happy about.


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