Covering severe weather

Last week several tornadoes swept through the county I work in. The damage was dramatic but thankfully, no one was critically injured. Other parts of Texas have not been so lucky. Mostly Wise County saw a large amount of property damaged caused by tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding. Below are some of the photos I took in the Runaway Bay and Decatur areas. More severe damaged was reported near FM 920 in the county, but that was assigned to another photographer.

Covering a natural disaster, even one as small as this, can be pretty daunting. Finding the damage, getting accurate information and getting it back to the copy desk as quickly as possible is a completely different animal than most reporting duties. I’m not sure there is anything to compare it to.

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Iron Cowboy

Rodeo has got to be one of my favorite sports to shoot and there is no rodeo event more hyped up than bullriding. It’s fast, and dangerous and not unlike NASCAR, the fans are watching for the big wrecks. I shot PBR’s Iron Cowboy event Saturday at AT&T Stadium. It was amazing and fun. If you’re wondering about the technical feats behind shooting rodeo, it can vary widely depending on the venue. Most rodeo arenas are old and the lighting is just good enough to not trip over small dogs and children. Since the bulls are always at the end of the night, this event can be very tricky to shoot. You need fast glass, and a high ISO and even then you will have a hard time. However at AT&T, I might as well have been shooting in the daytime.

Covering the news

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Fires are some of the most exciting and heartbreaking things to cover. From a photojournalist’s point of view, it’s a little strange, because a fire is inherently beautiful and terrible all at the same time. You sit around campfires as a kid, staring into the flames and embers as they lick at the night. Orange, red, and yellow giving you warmth and security from the cold black sky. But there’s pain too.

A fire out of control kills and robs us of what we love. A house fire is all of this. A person’s hopes, dreams, and memories become a violent cavalcade of sound and fury. Their story becomes a warning. One that has to be told.

Swimming in January

It’s fairly cold outside, at least for Texas. I can’t say our weather competes with the like of the Midwest or the Arctic, but it’s chilly. That being said, the last thing I figured I’d shoot this week would be swimming. Thankfully it was indoors. I have not shot swimming before so this was definitely a learning experience and timing is everything for a couple reasons. The first and most important is to get a face in the shot and some decent action and the second is to stay dry as the athletes splash quite a bit while turning. It was a lot of fun and I encourage folks who are just getting into sports photography to shoot this. It’s fast, indoors, and the action is pretty predictable. These folks have to swim in lanes after all. Of course, I say it’s a good place to get some sports action chops, I can see how this sport would take a lifetime of shooting to master.

Grappling with light

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I’m just going to rant for a little while Some days I won’t know where I’m going to be shooting until a couple hours before. I have to carry what I need with me and work with the lighting situations before me. Some gyms and football stadiums are fantastic. The lighting is nice and even. However, a large majority of mid-sized to small towns just aren’t going to spend the cash on good lights. Couple this with the fact, using a flash is frowned upon by most high school teams.

So fast lenses, high ISOs, and some white balance acrobatics is necessary. White balance is sometimes a foregone conclusion as many of these stadiums use lights that emits widely varying lights wavelengths at a rate fast enough for the eye not to notice, but a shutter will catch it pretty consistently when you’re trying to take photos fast enough to freeze action. I’ve shot three or four frames and each one be completely different colors. There’s not a lot I can do about it. Shoot RAW and hope for the best.

High ISOs only get you halfway to a great photo. Depending on your camera body, the high-end ISOs can getting fairly ugly, but if you’re exposing correctly they’re okay. Underexposing at a high ISO will likely cause you fits while post-processing. If anyone out there has a magic-bullet fix for this, let me know.

Good, fast glass get you the rest of the way. Buying that nice pristine glass can hurt the wallet, but in the end, you’ll be glad you did. Even though I know this, I still haven’t shelled out the dough for some much-needed purchases and have instead been making due. Life is about compromise right?

I’m not a great sports photographer, but I try. With all these variables, I have to try very hard.

Basketball season

 

I don’t think I’ll ever not enjoy shooting sports. When your job is covering different events and many times going places you don’t want to, a good sports gig can be the cream in your coffee. It just makes the whole day or week more palatable. Some people like nature photography and that is their escapes while still working. Basketball is one of my favorites, second only to baseball. Nothing beats going to a good ball game, munching on a hotdog and taking photos.