Winslow- there's a corner somewhere, for champions

The Eagles made Winslow, Arizona famous in one of their songs, singing about standin' on a corner when a girl in a flatbed Ford drives by. My question is, why did Jackson Browne end up there in the first place? There are certainly more romantic and exciting places to be standing around. I shouldn't say anything that comes off as sounding like I am slamming the city. I don't have anything against it. For the most part. Except, well, perhaps their softball field. Remember yesterday when I talked about how much I enjoy covering games at their baseball field? I feel even more strongly about disliking working games at their softball field - 30 feet away.
The filed is facing the opposite way from the baseball one, so the light is never very good for making images. Then there is the small dugouts and only one small opening on each of them, so there is no way that a photographer can stand in the opening ofthe dugout and cover the game. Between the coaches and the players needing to constantly be in and out, all a photographer would do is get in the way. What really annoyed me was that I asked the referees at games yesterday about being on the field, and was told to get the athletic director to draw out a media box along the outside of the baseline. So I went and asked him for a media box, and he said he would make sure it was okay with the officials.
I arrive for the game a bit early today and of course, no media box has been made. I have a few spare minutes so I hustle over to Wal Mart and buy myself a small step-stool. When I come back to the field I find a marginally good position to shoot from, stand along the fence on my step stool and shoot over the top of the fence. The photographer from the Navajo Times tried to take up residency just outside of the dugout along the first base line (which is where I like to stand for some of the local games) and he was kicked out by the umpire in pretty short order.
People want the coverage and the attention, but then they want to dictate so many things and not make any accommodations for the images to be made. On top of that we then get people calling expecting us to be their personal photographer, asking us to let them see all the other photos that didn't run, or expecting us to "just Email" the images. Hello? We are a newspaper, as in a BUSINESS. We are not the government. We are trying to make a profit.
Enough ranting. Time for some images:

Tuba City Lady Warrior outfielder Brandy Tsinigine (10) jumps tp secure a fly ball deep in left field Saturday afternoon during the 3A-North softball championship game in Winslow, Ariz. The Lady Warriors lost 10-4 to the Winslow Lady Bulldogs.

Tuba City Lady Warrior runner Leshonda Benally (15) slides into third base while Winslow Lady Bulldog fielder Alicia Flores (4) waits for the ball to come in from the outfield .

Winslow Bulldog catcher Victor Martinez (13) loses the ball Saturday while Greyhills Academy Knights runner Travis Willie (16) slides into home plate, colliding with Martinez in the ankle at Vargas Filed in Winslow, Arz. The Bulldogs came out on top of the Knights 15-6 in the 3A-North championship game.

Greyhills Academy runner Skyler Fowler (22) scrambles back to second base while Winslow Bulldog short stop Steffan Bailon (3) tries to pick him off, but loses track of the ball after it bounced off of Fowler during Saturday's 3A-North championship game at Vargas Field in Winslow, Ariz.

Greyhills Academy Knights pitcher Eric VanWinkle (15) grimaces as he hurls the ball toward home plate Saturday as the Knights faced the Winslow Bulldogs during the 3A-North championship baseball game.

Greyhills Academy Knight Ryne Hemstreet (12) dives back to the bag Saturday while Winslow Bulldog first baseman Joe Monsigor (17) loses the ball during the 3A-North baseball championship game.


Arinzona Stick-ball play-offs

Traveled to Winslow, Ariz. today and staying through until tomorrow for the 3A-North baseball and softball regional tournament championships. I love shooting at the baseball field in Winslow. It has great light and the dugouts are completely open, no fencing at all. So after checking in with the coaches and officials I get to take up residency in the far corner of the dugout and shoot the action without having to be restricted by fences or other limitations.

Greyhills Academy Knight second baseman Eric VanWinkle (15) tags Tuba City Warrior Jeremiah Greeson (7) for an out as Greeson attempts to steal a base Thursday during the Arizona 3A-North semi-finals at Vargas Field in Winslow, Ariz. The Knights won against the Warriors 13-6.

Grey Hills Academy Knights first baseman Ryan Sangster (14) reaches out and makes the catch a split second before Tuba City Warrior Jimmy Tate steps on the bag at Vargas Field in Winslow, Ariz.

Tuba City Warrior runner Steven Goldtooth (23) is tagged by Grey Hills Knight catcher Chris Hardeen (6) while trying to score a run Thursday at Vargas Field in Winslow, Ariz.


Campus Colors: Self-assigned

Our new managing editor has a different approach to newspapers than we have had here at The GI for a long time. He likes to plan things out a long way in advance. He is a former news photographer himself, and so he has some real empathy for the situations the photographers can be faced with in and out of the newsroom. Anyway, with his decision to extend planning to as much as a week or more it has made things a lot easier for me and my staff. We are getting some time to work on things that we know are going to be used, and we are enjoying free time to look at stand-alone art packages.

I had very little on the books to cover today, and so when I heard about the sidewalk art competition at the Gallup branch of the University of New Mexico I jumped right on it. What I figured would be a single photo, with a possible secondary detail image turned in to an edit of five images for the editor to select from.

As I said, Barry is a former photographer, and he loves to give images space, and loves to present them as packages. So just in case, I decided to let him have a range of things to select from, horizontal and vertical, tight and wide etc.

The result is that the photos are not running tomorrow as a two-image package. Instead Barry is planning on giving me a full page to display the images.

Going to College

The assignment: Chris Weaver is going to be attending college next year on a partial scholarship for athletics. What normally happens in these silly things is the parents and the coach(es) gather around a table in a ugly, fluorescent lighting nightmare of a location and have the student sit and pretend to sign the paperwork, then look up and smile while hold the pen at the ready. My thoughts on that idea? It is a waste of space and tells the readers no new information that could not be handled by a simple portrait/mug shot. I have argued with the sports editor several times that if the students is being recognized for their athletic ability then we should be looking for images of the student competing in their sport.

Today? The signing happened a couple of weeks ago, and the editor just got to giving me the story assignment. Working fast, since the assignment was for when school got out, I located a flag with the team name on it and the team colors right inside the front doors to the office. Then I used the histogram on the camera to take an exposure, used the north-facing glass doors as a directional light source with some wrap and popped of about a half dozen frames.

Sometimes simplicity can be your friend.


Farwell Announcement from the Chamber

The Assignment: cover the resignation announcement for the Chamber of Commerce. Not having all of the details, like was this a forced resignation, where was the person leaving to etc., had me a bit concerned about this assignment. For all I knew I was walking into a hostile situation where the person leaving was less than happy about the situation.

I needn't have worried.

Herb Mosher, a gentleman who I have had many positive interactions with during my 10+ years here in Gallup, had an offer to go and work as an administrator at a new college in Montana. At his side was Ralph Richards who talked about what a loss it was to the community. So far not much of visual interest. A few tight shots of Mosher, a few loose shots with both of them together. Then as the talk went on they started to relax and kid each other a bit. I could have walked away with only the tight shot of Mosher, that was all that my new editor had asked for. But there was more to the story. There was a good relationship with Herb and the city and the chamber. The laughter and the slap on the back in the top image here goes a long way to adding that for the readers even if the reporter never mentions it in his story.

Later on today I got a call that the State Police had a vehicle pulled over and they were "tearing it apart" on the side of the road. The search was taking place in an area where I-40 and Maloney Blvd are only seperated by a guard rail and a grssy embankment. No fence or anything else to restrict access. One of the State guys chided me for being there, but did not actually tell me to leave. (His comment was along the lines of "this is really news around here? - to which I answered "depends on what you guys find.")

The driver told me that he had been stopped for "following somebody too close." Then he shook his head and said that there was no way that was right. In the end the search came up empty and the driver was sent on his way, with the police officers actually putting his possessions back into the car for him.



Olin Vicenti sits surrounded by thousands of bricks and carefully chips the mortar off of each one as he tries to salvage them during the demolition of JFK Middle School here in Gallup. The first images I made were the broader ones, showing just how massive the destruction is and I am happy with those images (below). What I wasn't happy with was the lack of a human element in those images. As I explored the site (I have found that having my own hard hat as part of my gear that I carry is a blessing) I started looking at the different piles of debris that had been sorted. The bricks stacked neatly in the middle of everything being toppled caught my eye. Add the human element of the lone worker in the midst of a large amount of work and I came up with an image that I am pretty pleased with.

The morning started out with a call from our police reporter that there had been a fire earlier at the adult bookstore in town. I was a little disappointed to arrive and find that the fire had been some 8 hours earlier and the only thing left was the investigation of the cause. At least in the daylight I could see some of the damage, and see into the open window when a firefighter walked in front of it an looked at the ceiling.

A short while later I saw the owner of the restaurant next door peering at the damage I knew that was the best image I would get. I talked to him and found out that the fire had caused a lot of smoke damage to his business and he would be closed until he could get a clean-up crew out to take care of the mess.


Coyote Del Malpais

Grants Pirate number two ranked golfer Jeffrey Trujillo tees off on the fourth hole Monday during the Grants high school invitational golf tournament at Coyote Del Malpais Golf course in Grants, New Mexico.

Tannin Cash tees off on the fourth hole Monday while competing in the Grants high school invitational golf tournament at Coyote Del Malpais Golf course.

Stephen Moleres chips the ball up a hill and onto the green at the fourth hole Monday during the Grants high school invitational golf tournament.

Grants Pirate golfer Tannin Cash chips the ball onto the putting green Monday while competing in the Grants High School invitational golf tournament.

Rehoboth Lynx golfer Josh Yzenbaard, the school's only golf team member, tees off Monday at the third hole while competing in the Grants high school invitational golf tournament.


No More Tears

One of the pressmen told me there was a very interesting bit of graffiti on the rail car that delivered today's shipment of newsprint. When I walked out to the loading area I was surprised. Often I see graffiti as ugly and a nuisance. This was more though. Somebody had areal message to share and at least a small amount of artistic talent. No, it is not news.Things get tagged and painted all over the country. It does fall into the category of personal vision. I have been wondering who the girl is/was. Who was the artist? Why do the words "Don't Cry" appear beside it? This was somebody's personal statement, and it was meant to be seen by many, even if not fully understood.

Photojournalism is the opposite. It is meant to be seen and instantly understood, with no unresolved questions. So how do we, as photographers do that, when we don't have all the answers?


Rows of Work

I spent a lot of time today doing routine advertising work. In the middle of that I cam across a scene that struck me as interesting - a long row of the same model of vehicle with a lone worker in the middle washing them. One of the things that has really been catching my interest visually has been repeating patterns. Add to that a strong vertical and a diagonal line made by the windshieldsreceding into the background and I think that the image works.

Vince Smith uses a hose to spray down the new cars on display Thursday at Amigo Chevrolet on South Second Street in Gallup. Strong winds Wednesday helped to stir up a lot of dirt and deposit it onto the vehicles and a lot of other places.

As an aside, our newspaper has a new managing editor effective today. He was formerly at the newspaper in Farmington, NM, and a few people (photographers) that worked with him really liked his approach and say he is very "photo-friendly." He told me today that he sees feature hunting as a waste of time and resources, and that every time a photographer heads out the door they should be doing so to work on a story, and have a plan. To a large majority I agree - but there are times when it is nice to get ordinary people doing their ordinary things, getting some recognition. So perhaps my work will take more of a story-driven approach in the coming days. I would like to push myself and make some changes in my work-style.


Kick out the Jams

Feature hunting today - hit the streets and see what can be found going on. Not necessarily a bad thing, just a little tiring when it has to be done as much as the photo department here has to. So I dug out a community calendar and saw that the University of New Mexico-Gallup branch was having a welcome day celebration for high school seniors. A lot of booths and crowded spaces with not a lot of visual activity were the core of the event. When I got to the back end of Gurley Hall I saw a stage area and a sound board. I was fifteen minutes early for the start of the music competition. The light was awful (always is in the main area of the hall) so I was able to play around with dragging the shutter on the camera and trying to capture a bit of the motion and energy of the performances.


Constructive Help

An organization in Gallup, calling itself Care 66, is helping homeless men get back on their feet and rejoin society. Running on a shoe-string budget, and wondering from month to month how they were going to keep their doors open for the men already in their shelter, they have somehow managed to raise funds, get grants and promote their mission of helping.

They are now beginning the construction phase of creating apartments for these men and families who have low income jobs. Even though the project is barely begun I wanted to make some images of the project from one end to the other. So this is the beginning, digging down to build back up. My hope is that once the building is done I can continue to work, documenting the lives of a few of the men who are struggling to turn their lives around. And succeed or fail in their efforts I think it will be important to show how hard it is and how much they try.


Culture and Land

What started out as me looking for images of the clouds and fog obscuring the landscape in the distance (below) but ended up finding that a detail of rain water trickling down the red rocks was more intimate and interesting to me.

The actual story that I was working on was far less visual. A speaker at one of the high schools talking to the students and runnig an anti-suicide program. I knew that I needed to get an image of him, and he did wander around a bit as he talked, but I never really had the chance to see him interact with the students. As a result I had to settle for a more generic image than I would have wished for, but it was what I found there.

Clayton Small talks to students at Wingate High School on Friday during his presentation of Native HOPE, a program to aid students and administrators in suicide prevention and increasing the strengths of young people.

After Mr. Small was done talking the students broke into small groups to talk about the ideas and strategies. As the students were moving around and getting situated some of them joined in this drum circle and played a song to go along with the programs goals of keeping the students focused on their roots and being proud of who they are.

Students at Wingate High School join Tony Becenti Sr. around the Sun Elk drum on Friday as they sing during the Native HOPE suicide awareness and prevention program at the school's gymnasium. One hundred students participated in the program which focused on finding strengths and including Native culture and traditions in learning to deal with the emotional stresses and wounds of being a teenager.



This is one of those found things that was pretty much a non-story, but I liked what was going on visually with the guys in the middle of the road, and it sort of was justified as a news event because it was an informational thing for drivers - putting a barrier in the middle of the street to stop drivers from cutting into the other lane for the left turn.
This first image is about the guys working, the human element. I had to get low and close with a wide angle lens to get the shot, ore-focusing and then putting the camera down almost touching the street to shoot up under the hats and get the workmen's faces. I still did not get his eyes as much as I had wanted.

These other two images were about the barriers and the repeating patterns they made. First a diagonal curve to give some visual motion and tension (above) and then shot from the other end with a telephoto lens to compress things a bit and emphasize the pattern as being uniform and even.


A Sweet Event - Chocolate Covered

I got the assignment to cover the "Sweet Creations" event on Monday. Looking ahead I saw that we already had an evening assignment for Thursday (the day of the event) so I got in touch with one of the organizers and asked him if he had any information on who some of the people making goodies for the event would be. A couple of telephone calls later I was all set to visit the Culinary Arts students as they worked on their entries. It was a win-win situation. The event got a preview, the culinary arts class got publicity and I got a couple of decent images.

Center for Career and Technical Education Culinary Arts students whip up some sweets Wednesday at Central High School as they work on their entries for the Sweet Creations Festival. The festival is tonight at Red Rock Elementary School and features pies, cakes, pastries and other goodies and is a fund raiser for the McKinley Education Foundation.

Culinary arts student Herman Smith spread frosting on a cake that is a combination of angel food and devils food with strawberry glaze Wednesday at Central High School in Gallup.

CCT Culinary Arts instructor Nathaniel David gives Preston James reed some tips about rolling out his dough while making the crust for an apple pie


Love Love

Every spring the city of Gallup gets clobbered with strong winds. Some days we have 40+ MPH sustained winds, with gusts of 55 MPH or more. Today was like that, and still the tennis team tried to play. Photographing high school tennis around here is hard to begin with - most the the kids are not tennis players as their preferred sport, and they often don't have the fluid and powerful swings you see in the magazines and tournaments. Still, considering the way things stacked against them with the weather today it was amazing they even managed to get the ball over the net and still keep it on the court.


Spring Fever

Home from vacation and I was amazed at how much spring has set in around Gallup in the 10 days I was gone. Not having any assignments from the reporters I headed out in search of the natural essence of spring.... ahem.

These first four images are all of the blossoms on a fruitless Pear Tree. The blossoms are smaller than a dime, and required the use of my 60mm Micro lens to get details up close, with the exception of the second image which was a wide shot using the Tokina 12-24mm.

I had fun looking at how the light was changing from different angles, and how the clouds drifting around could change the feel of an image in only a few moments.

To round out the package of spring and renewal I spotted some prairie dogs on my way back to the office, and spent about an hour chasing down one that would let me get close enough to photograph it.

I had a lot of images of just the tops of heads sticking out from their burrows, but only one of them was brave enough to pose for me.