Team Mascot

As an addendum to the last post - not everybody was down and discouraged during the game. In particular there was this one young lady who was riding the bench and was working herd to keep her team upbeat and having fun. Whether it was by cheering them on with the unofficial mascot and its four lucky feet, or playing clapping games between innings, she was just having fun, and trying to get her teammates into the same frame of mind.


Summer Softball

With school out for the summer our sports desk gets a bit restless and starts hunting for local stories and images to put on the section front. Unfortunately that often means going to some lopsided little league games. I don't mind going to the games, except when I get the feeling that the kids would really rather not be there. Tonight's game ended up being lopsided and eventually got called for a mercy rule at the end of five innings. When the games get lopsided there are not a lot of interactive images of the two teams competing.

even so, going out and sitting around outside on a cool late spring evening and watching a little league game is far more enjoyable than spending my time digging ditches or sweating over a deep fryer.


Electric Overload

The assignment was simple and wide open. It was also last minute with no time to over-think what I should do. That was probable a good thing. From time to time our newspaper publishes a list of everybody that is behind on their utility bills to the City of Gallup. This can range from a couple of businesses that miscalculated their payments and owe something like $2.50, all the way up the the local hospital which at one point owed close to $175,000 in unpaid utility fees. This time around the paper is going to publish that list as a pull-out section, or tab. And to give some appeal to this list I was given the task of creating a cover image for this publication.

The gears turned over in my head and I started to think about the idea that some people were using more electricity than they could pay for. What would an excessive amount of electricity look like? I kicked around some ideas in my head on my way home and all through dinner. Then I spent some time with my family before getting busy. I grabbed just about every electrical appliance and cord I could scrounge up, along with some outlet strips and plugged all of them in to each other. I tried to strobe it at first. But the feeling I was getting was wrong. So I decided that I would let the incandescent lights from the next room spill into the otherwise darkened kitchen and give me some light that would be generated by the same electricty as the plugs were using. I shot a lot of minor variations, and in the end, this was the final image.
Once the image was done I did some post processing in Photoshop, adding a high pass filter, and some posterization to block up the edges.



New Mexico State Fire Marshall's office investigator Shannon Talent photographs the scene of a fire Friday on White Cliffs Drive, just north of Gallup. Officials say that the house had been set on fire about a month ago, and the fire department had saved part of it.

New Mexico State Fire Marshall's office investigator Shannon Talent talks with White Cliffs fire fighter John Moreno while examining the scene of a fire. A mobile home less than a quarter mile away also has been destroyed by a suspicious fire.


Cancer Support and Blessing

Ribbon cutting ceremonies border right on the verge of being as bad as covering a "Check-passing" event. On the surface. Today I went to cover the opening of the cancer support resource center. A very important facility and several members of my church are involved either as volunteers, as cancer survivors, or both. Yes, I did get the image of the ribbon cutting itself, but for my own personal fulfillment I looked at the less than expected things - like the blessing of the center before the cutting, and the short talk about the need for this service by one of the patients currently fighting cancer.
Virgil Gatewood performs a blessing ceremony Thursday during the American Cancer Society's Cancer Resource Center open house on College drive in Gallup. Gatewood is aware of the support needs of cancer patients, as his wife is currently undergoing cancer treatment.

Phyllis King, a cancer patient, talks Thursday about the support that patients need and can now get with the opening of the American Cancer Society's Cancer Resource Center.

The local Ford dealership is having its 75th Anniversary celebration, and for it they wanted to get some photos of people working in each of their departments for an advertisement. After doing the office people at their desk thing and some exterior shots of the lot and such, I moved into the service area. The lighting looked like it was going to be a real nightmare. Mercury Vapor? Fluorescent? Add is some daylight from the open bay doors for good measure. What to do? I am shooting with my cameras in RAW/NEF format almost exclusively these days, and so I set the camera to Auto White balance,knowing that I could adjust it to a good color compromise later on. What I didn't expect was that once I opened the files up I found that there was virtually no color balance issues. The auto setting had nailed it.


Up and Down

Mataya's Texaco store manager Rae Lyn Willie uses a pole Wednesday as she lowers the prices of gasoline by eight-cents per gallon at the station located at the intersection of Maloney Avenue and US-491 in Gallup. Despite the small bit of relief, gas prices are still pinching government budgets, leaving leaving government agencies and companies scrambling for the extra funding to cover operating expenses for vehicles.

Anthony Anaya-Gorman places a flier in the window of a downtown business Wednesday afternoon to promote this weekend's movie marathon fund raising event at the El Morro Theater in Gallup. Anaya-Gorman is trying to raise enough money to be able to participate in the 'Up With People' performance troupe tour this summer and fall.


Posing again...?

One of our reporters called me late this morning with a last minute assignment to cover a class building and installing a billboard along the highway in Navajo, NM. The teacher set the time pretty specific, which should have been a warning bell for me - after all, the time frame to build and install a billboard would be a couple of hours, or so I would think. As you can see, this was not exactly a full sized billboard. There was no welding and construction going on. Instead what happened was a couple of school employees came out and set up the signs where they will eventually be put up. Then the students who had painted the signs came out for a photo. The teacher then said those dreaded words: "How do you want them?" Grrr. I was lucky today though. The Navajo Times photographer was also there to document the event. She looked at me, I looked back at her and we both just shook our heads. She spoke up first, "We don't do that. It's not ethical to stage a photo or an event."

The teacher explained that today was the last day that the students would be available, as the school year ends this week, and the signs were nearly ready. They just needed to have a protective coat of clear paint put on them and then the signs would be going back up. Again, I was able to keep quiet and let her do all of the talking as she explained that we can't reenact anything, and especially not something that is scheduled to happen in a couple of days. I nodded in agreement. The teacher still didn't get it.

Finally I had to speak, "Group portrait time." It was the only way to extract ourselves from this scene without upsetting the teacher and the students - something that is not a good idea when you are trying to maintain loyal consumers for your paper. So, we posed them around the sign and made our staged portrait. We said thank you and started to pack up our gear and get names of the students spelled and in order. Then the students started working together to take the sign out of its frame. Suddenly there was something happening that was a real moment. It was not the staged thing of claiming that the students were setting up the sign, when actually school employees had. I got three frames as the sign came down, and a few more as some of the students placed it into the back of the truck to take it back to campus.

It was a real scene from a staged event. So to make sure that the readers knew what was going on, I spelled it out in my captions as follows:
  • Navajo Pine high school Leadership class students and their teacher, MaruLou Dellafiora, center, take down one of the signs that the students created after posing for photos with the signs Tuesday in Navajo, NM. The signs are finished with the exception of a protective coating, and should be installed permanently on Thursday.



Sixth grade students at Gallup Middle School were recognized Friday for their participation in the Stock Market Game program's InvestWrite national writing competition, and Micaela DePauli was the first place winner for New Mexico. The students who participated are (front row) Ashley Kinsel, Bliss Gonzales, Jennah Oweis, (middle) Ryan Barreras, Natasha Dhital, (back row) teacher Shari Ickes, Mariah Yazzie, Amy Rosebrough, state winner Micaela DePauli, Jessica Benally and Cara DePauli.

Normally I am not one to shoot this type of image - the dreaded 'grip-n-grin' that conveys little, if any information to the readers. After all, where is the story-telling in the photo? Lately I have been rethinking that approach. So many of our readers think that's what we should do. I show up on a story and I routinely hear "where do you want me?" "What do you want me to do?" (and occasionally "get out of here, you @%&*!"). the other paper in town, a weekly, runs tons of posed group images and I often hear comments about what a great photo this was or that was - when all it was really only a group shot. Even our own reporters still insist on trying to have us take these kind of photos, despite being talked to repeatedly about how they don't tell the story. Maybe my thinking is a bit elitist though. After all, the newspaper is simply a product for the customer. If they want to see that style of image in their paper, why shouldn't I provide them what they want.

For now I remain torn on the idea of doing group shots like this, so as a compromise I decided to make it a bit interesting visually. I did not have a large area to work with - things were being dictated to me by the faculty, and rather than try to fight it, I went with what was there. I had no room to spread the kids out into groups with different heights and levels so I could see all of the faces, so instead I hopped up on a handy stool, told all of them to look up at me and suddenly the problem of being able to see them all went away.


Electric Moccasins

Vanessa Begay-Lee laces up a pair of moccasins for her grandson, Austin Nelson, 10, to try on at the City Electric Shoe Shop on Coal Avenue in Gallup. The family members were shopping for a pair of moccasins that Austin could wear to participate in a squaw dance.

As a small business owner Louis Bonaguidi is learning that the key to success is adaptation. He years he has run the locally famous City Electric Shoe Shop. And for years his shop has done shoe and boot repair, and sold a large amount of cowboy boots.

The market can be fickle though, and Louis knows it. So a few years ago when a local leather belt manufacturing company closed its doors he bought it. And now, being on the edge of the world's largest Indian reservation when he had the opportunity to acquire the Taos Moccasin Company (he was their biggest customer) he took a gamble and bought it.

Photographically speaking this was a nice assignment to handle. I was given an open ended request from the reporter, just asking for me to get something to illustrate people buying moccasins for graduations and ceremonies. The shoe store has a large selection and a pretty steady stream of customers. It was only a matter of finding somebody that was interested in moccasins and was willing to be photographed. When I asked Vanessa Begay-Lee if I could photograph her with her grandchildren she responded with an enthusiastic yes. From there the only hard part was to wait to see them interacting with the moccasins where I could see faces instead of hte tops of their heads.

The portrait of Louis was a bit more difficult. Being as the production line and store room are in the basement of his shop, lighting was limited to fluorescent or flash. With the colored wood surrounding him on all sides, including the ceiling, bouncing a flash was not much of an option, and I really prefer not to use direct flash, especially when the subject wears eye-glasses. My answer was simple. Put the camera on a tripod to use a long exposure that would get rid of some of the issues with the flickering of the flourescent bulbs, then I set my D200 camera to the flourescent light setting. shooting in raw-format I then cleaned up the colors and tweaked the contrast a bit in Photoshop to give an image that does not have terrible color issues.


Firewater Protests

The Navajo Nation is a dry place. Not only is it high desert on the edge of the Colorado plateau, but the sale of alcohol is prohibited throughout the reservation. Where you have poverty, you also have drinking. Alcohol is a major problem, and since the City of Gallup as well as McKinley County allow the sale of alcohol at the edge of the reservation, many people come into town to drink. This even earned Gallup notoriety when the news magazine show "60 Minutes" did a profile piece on the city and labeled it 'Drunktown, USA.'

In the ten years that I have been here in Gallup I have seen major improvements in the city's efforts to combat the problem. DWI checkpoints stop fewer and fewer drunk drivers and instead catch people with outstanding arrest warrants.

In the midst of all this, a gas station located halfway between Thoreau and Crownpoint on Highway 371 is selling alcohol. Area residents turned out today to protest the sale, holding a rally at the church located less than half a mile away. Personally, I am not clear on how the Chevron station can sell liquor. The area is checkerboard - where county and reservation land are interspersed, so perhaps the station is on county land. Yet when there are problems and people call the Sheriff's department they are told that the gas station is on tribal land.
Florence Silver, 70, stands along Hwy 371 on Wednesday as she participates in an anti-alcohol protest rally near Bethesda Church in Smith Lake, NM. Dozens of protesters showed up to voice their disapproval of the sale of alcohol at the Chevron Station along Hwy 371.

Community members marched along Hwy 371 to protest the sale of alcohol at the Chevron gasoline station in Smith Lake.

Stephanie Smith, of Church Rock, holds a sign declaring her opposition to the sale of alcohol on tribal land during an anti-alcohol rally along Hwy 371 in Smith Lake, NM.

A discarded beer bottle lays on the side of the road as protesters make their way from Thoreau to Smith Lake during an anti-alcohol rally

A line of vehicles follows protesters as they make their way toward Bethesda Church during an anti-alcohol rally along Hwy 371 in Smith Lake NM.


Lights, Action

Today's first assignment was an advertising image to be taken at a local business called The Electronic Center. They handle radio communications, cellular telephones and a host of other things, including work for the police and fire departments. After doing the required stand-in-a-group photo for the ad I glanced back into the garage and saw a couple of guys working on the light bar for a new police cruiser. I grabbed a ladder to shoot down on the guys, showing what they were doing and giving some color and some what cleaning up the background up by having just the car, instead of the usual clutter of the garage.

Second assignment for the day - a sports feature. For the first time in several years, there is an adult fast-pitch softball league in the city. With 10 area teams that rotate playing against one another the league is more about the guys getting out to have fun and play some ball. The game I was sent to was pretty lopsided, with no close plays at the bases or otehr action that was exciting to see. Since this was a feature story I tried to look for something a little bit different to go with the story. Idecided that the batter warming up on deck with his face being mostly obscured would work for making a generic image about the game. Of course, knowing that the sports desk may have wanted some actual game action I also gave them a shot of a guy at the plate, taking a swing to get on base.


Making a Run for it

Laguna Acoma Hawk Jonathan Gaco sprints his way to his second state championship Saturday as he wins the class 3A boys 400 meter dash with a time of 50.47 seconds.

If the students at the State high school track meet in Albuquerque don't cross the line with a first place, it is not for lack of wanting it and trying. Over and over again I saw these kids collapse from the effort they had put themselves through, trying to win. I made some images of the athletes being helped from the track, like this one of Laguna Acoma Hawk runner Cassandra Sanchez, not to try to embarrass them for not winning, but to show just how much they have tried.

Kirtland Central Lady Bronco Alexandra Hathaway strides over a hurdle Saturday as she makes her way to becoming the 4A girls 100-meter hurdles state champion.

Wingate Bears runner Logan Wauneka (8) runs the final few steps to the finish line Saturday as he places fourth in the class 3A boys 3200 meter run with a time of 10:17.95

Gallup Lady Bengal Vanita Joe runs the track Saturday while competing in the girls class 5A 1600 meter race during the New Mexico State high school track meet in Albuquerque. Joe finished with a time of 5:37.39 to take ninth place in the event.


Leaps and Bounds

In past years our biggest schools have done well at the state track meet in NM, especially in the distance running events. This year Gallup had virtually nobody in the top qualifying spots for any events, and Grants was down to (I think) only four athletes total. (Though in defense of Grants, this year they were moved up from Class 3A to class 4A). Instead most of my coverage of the track meet was of students from Laguna Acoma and from Kirtland Central. Both schools are on the fringes of our readership area.
In pole vault Blaine qualified in second place with a vault of 11'6". During practice he had made a couple of jumps at 12'. Today was not one of those days however, and he ended up settling for fourth place, missing out on third place because he took more attempts to clear the 11'6" height.

Jonathan Graco of Laguna Acoma had a good start to the meet, taking the 3A boys high jump championship with a leap of 6'4". Last year he won the 2A boys event with the same jump height. Tomorrow he is in a running event where he could very well take the top spot as well.

In the girls shot put event I was told to watch the girl from Kirtland Central. I did, but during the flight I began to notice that Vanessa Begay was doing a great job. So when the final round came I concentrated on both of the girls. In the end Vanessa would walk away with a second place finish, missing the title by less than one inch.


State Softball

The Gallup Catholic Panthers traveled to Farmington, NM to play in the New Mexico state softball tournament .
Gallup Catholic Lady Panther Justeen Lopez (1) tags Estancia Lady Bears runner Kayla Dominguez (13) out at second base Thursday during the New Mexico high school softball state championship tournament in Farmington, NM. Despite a fifth inning rally by the Lady Panthers that put them into the lead, they lost 6-5 to the Bears.

Gallup Catholic Lady Panthers first base Natasch Dennerlern (36) catches a throw from the outfield to make the force out against Estancia Bears runner Ashley Durant (7).

Gallup Catholic Lady Panther hitter Ashley Thomas (10) connects with the ball Thursday for a base hit.

Gallup Catholic Lady Panthers pitcher Shannon Toledo (24) releases the ball Thursday as the Lady Panthers faced the Estancia Bears in the New Mexico High School softball tournament.


Pirates and Parrots

It is the end of the school year and suddenly our department is being inundated with calls from schools to come and cover their events. That is not necessarily a bad thing, I just wish that we had a way to spread it out more evenly so we don't have to pick only one or two of the events to cover due to space restriction, schedule conflicts (they are all at the same times...) and the issue of the images starting to look to similar. Of course that does not mean that we aren't going to try and cover what we can. Today I went to the dress rehearsal for "It's a Pirates Life for Me" done by the students from Gallup Catholic High School.
Gallup Catholic high school students Lindsay Tarro and Alex Guimaraes share the spotlight during one of the final scenes Wednesday in the dress rehearsal

The dialog for this shot? First the set up - the multi-colored costume worn by Kelly Mason is that of a parrot. The cast is discussing what to buy with the treasure. Her request "Can somebody please get me a cracker?!?"
Capt. Blood, played by Alex Guimaraes, examines a ring discovered in a cave while Long John Sliver (Brandon Estrada) and fellow cast members watch during Wednesday's dress rehearsal .


Historic Preservation for the Acoma Pueblo

Today's assignment was presented as the signing of the formal agreement between the Acoma Pueblo and the National Trust for Historic Preservation,designating the San Esteban del Rey mission as a historic site. But as is typical with government functions, tribal or otherwise, plans got changed. Instead of signing the papers they exchanged gifts. Actually made for a slightly more interesting image - at least there was some interaction of the participants and not the people all posing with their pens poised.

Pueblo of Acoma 1st Lt. Gov. Gregory Histia opens a box containing a Pendleton blanket Sunday May 6, 2007 while exchanging gifts with Richard Moe, president of the National Trust, during National Trust Board of Trustees day at the Sky City Cultural Center on the Pueblo of Acoma. Joining them on stage is Acoma Gov. Jason Johnson and Janet Riley.

Laguna Corn Dancers Phillip Marmolejo, front, and Dustin Sarracino perform the Velvet Shirt Dance on Sunday May 6. 2007 at the Sky City Cultural Center Plaza on the Pueblo of Acoma.


New Mexico Track meet - 1A and 2A schools; Pt 2

More of the state track meet in Albuquerque. And more of the Gallup Catholic boys winning the top spots, sweeping the podium.
Gallup Catholic Panther Stephen Jochem runs along the finishing stretch, followed by teammates Chris Weaver and Chris Ellefson during the Boys A 800-meter state championship race Saturday at the University of New Mexico track in Albuquerque

Navajo Pine Warrior runner Chantel Hunt runs between twin sisters Camille Schultz (2) and Courtney Schultz (1), both from Cloucroft, during the girls 1600 meter Class AA championship race Saturday at the New Mexico high school state track meet at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Hunt took third place in the race, finishing behind the sisters.

Navajo Pine Warrior runner Chantel Hunt shares a congratulatory hug with Ramah high school's Shawna Woody after completing the girls 1600-meter class AA championship run Saturday.

Navajo Pine Warrior Ryan Nez closes on the finish line Saturday as he takes second place in the boys 1600 meter class AA state championship run at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Nez finished first during Friday's 800 meter run, but withdrew from the 3200-meter event due to suffering from shin splints.

Gallup Catholic Lady Panther Chelsey Thomas strides away from the starting line Saturday during the girls 800 meter class-A run


New Mexico Track meet - 1A and 2A schools

Shooting in Albuquerque today and tomorrow for the small schools state track meet. We had a couple of state champions amongst our coverage schools, but the most incredible was the Gallup Catholic boys - they took first, second and third place today on distance running events - twice!
Navajo Prep Eagle Nicole Crisp leaps into the air Friday while competing in the girls triple jump during the New Mexico high school AA state track meet at the University of New Mexico track in Albuquerque.
I was not able to get anything impressive from this event due to a couple of issues, one being the limitations of where we could shoot from, and the other being the sun backlighting the shot.

Navajo Pine Warrior Ryan Nez passes Capitan high school's Kevin Kelsey on the home stretch Friday to win the state championship title in the boys AA 800 meter race

Gallup Catholic Panther Stephen Jochem is followed by teammates Chris Weaver and Chris Ellefson during the Boys AA 1600-meter state championship race Friday at the University of New Mexico track in Albuquerque. The Panthers took the top three slots, with Jochem finishing first, Ellefson in second and Weaver in third place.

Gallup Catholic Panther Stephen Jochem reaches the finish line, followed by teammates Chris Ellefson and Chris Weaver during the Boys AA 1600-meter state championship race Friday at the University of New Mexico track in Albuquerque. The Panthers swept the event taking the top three slots.