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Sun Rise and Fall

Last Friday was a mix of pleasure and pain. The Dust Devils' first game of their championship series against Vancouver spoiled what would have been a football-filled Friday, and their 6-3 loss seemed all the more sour after the Gravel Pit Championship between heavily favored Chiawana and Pasco was much closer than expected.

On the flip side, I had the rare opportunity to shoot a day game, as Kamiakin kicked off a double-header at 5 p.m. at Lampson Stadium in Kennewick by hosting Moses Lake.

Sure, Friday night lights may be fun to play under, and I certainly wasn't thrilled with hustling around in the heat, but I'll take that golden fading daylight any time. My eagerness to get there early to play in the pre-game light had to wait, though, as I had to slap together a quickie portrait at Southridge High School first.

By the time I got there, they were about to start their 9/11 tribute, and I managed a decent Hail Mary shot while Army Spc. Michael Cassens, who recently returned from Iraq, addressed the crowd:

They took the field not long after:

An extra bonus to the sunlight was having a chance to work with longer glass. I went with our 300/2.8 lens stacked with the 1.4x teleconverter, a setup you can't use under the stadium lights. The longer look also means less running around, since you have better reach — an extra bonus since it seems last year's lax sideline regulations have tightened again.

I had some decent luck with some reception shots as I tried to get back into the timing groove of the gridiron:

But I realized far too late that the endzone spot I chose was a dumb one, not only doing a terrible job at framing this touchdown catch by Tyler Perrins, but having most of the sequence blocked by the goal post:

I also took advantage of the longer glass to get some shots from a higher vantage point, getting an OK shot of Jesse Houser's 62-yard touchdown catch,

and some nice coverage from Corey McLean (6):

I headed back down for the second quarter to work some back lighting and lens flare, though this snag by Brandon Larson would have been better from the other side:

And I was somewhat relieved that he didn't grab this one since I would have kicked myself for not going with the back corner wide-angle spot:

Larson came up big for me again, though, when he intercepted the ball in my direction:

I just wish you could see his face in this angle.

Coach Scott Biglin let me into the locker room at halftime, where I was pleasantly surprised to see the nice light also had an effect inside:

The Braves had a pretty nice spread too, something I hadn't seen before:

I stayed as long as I thought I could before heading to Gesa Stadium, spending most of the time camped out at the front pylon, hoping for a nice in-your-face touchdown, but they never connected in my direction. Sloppy framing and focus marred what could have been a nice frame:

But I managed some decent action snaps of quarterback Jason Hutchison,

and running back Zach Umemoto,

before heading out with a ref silhouette:

After seeing the Braves fall short at last year's state championship, I was excited to see this year's squad. Getting to shoot them in the daytime probably excessively elevated my expectations and these shortcomings feel extra unfortunate since this could be one of the very few football games I shoot this season because we're about to rotate schedules.

Even the ever-reliable Tribe, Kamiakin's student section, was a letdown. Even during crappy games, I could always lean on them for blistering enthusiasm and wild costumes, but this was the best I got:

Expectations are funny that way, and this job constantly reminds me of how rarely things turn out like we think. The day before the football game, I was on a long, dry feature hunt. With my shortened shift ending soon, I reluctantly stopped by the spray park at the Playground of Dreams in Columbia Park. It's one of the many obvious fallback spots we try not to overuse, and I had managed to avoid it all summer.

I zeroed in on Nadia Ulyanchuk of Pasco, who was there with her 22-month-old daughter Ilona. It was a cute enough first-time outing and I hoped to get some funny reaction from the little one. The expression is kinda funny in this snap,

but things weren't lining up like I had hoped,

so I shot some of the rambunctious brothers were were slapping away at the water:

Just as I was about to resign myself to turning in a standard shot of a kid splashing around, Robinson Wells, 6, and his brother Tanner, 4, did something unexpected:

Moment, composition and light compose the trifecta that make great photographs. While nice light offers some inherent beauty, I think it's the one that holds up the worst when on its own — something that's apparent when contrasting these two shoots.

For longtime readers, the recurring theme of the unexpected is probably getting tiresome. I know I'm sick of it. And while the pleasant surprises are nice pick-me-ups, falling short so often at these hotly anticipated assignments always stings. Maybe I over-hype these shoots or I'm just creatively drained, stuck in one of those periodic ruts. Perhaps I'm just crazy, since this totally contradicts last week's blog. It's hard to see the same events year after year in different ways, but I know it's possible.

Here's hoping I figure it out before this sweet fall light runs out.

Speaking of seeing things differently...

A torrent of 9/11 coverage saturated our nation's pages and airwaves last weekend — most of it touching, poignant and somewhat generic. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but photographer Jason Powell came up with a clever way to commemorate the 10th anniversary. What's more surprising is that Eric Thayer's breathtaking shot of a plane flying through the "Tribute in Lights" wasn't all over the place.

Adam Ferguson's "War is Boring" narrated slideshow is worth a watch and offers a raw glimpse into the mind of a conflict photographer.

And if you really want your mind blown, check out these crazy animations by Johan Rijpma. Hallucinogens not required.


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