Soccer Season Starts

Gallup Bengal Cameron Beamsley (10) watches as the ball hits the back of the net Friday after he beat Bloomfield Bobcat goalie Raymond Adams and scored at Public School Stadium in Gallup. The Bengals easily beat the Bloomfield Bobcats by a score of 7-1.
This first image was made using a remote camera. Being the first time I ever actually set one up I was pleased with how reliably and easily the remote worked. I went into the storage closet and dug out one of our paper's abandoned Nikon D1 cameras. I attached it to a magic Arm and Super Clamp, secured that to the back of the goal and set the camera up to trigger using a Pocket Wizard Plus radio system. The transmitter was attached to my D200 body, and so each time I took a photo with the D200, it triggered the radio to fire the remote camera. Then I set the remote camera with a wide angle lens and pre-focused. Finally, it was time to start the game and make some photos.

Gallup Bengal Cameron Beasley (10) wins control of the ball from Bloomfield Bobcat Jeremy Johnson (18) during the varsity boys soccer match.

Gallup Bengal Cameron Beamsley (10) makes a slide tackle on Bloomfield Bobcat Ben Baugh, knocking the ball out of bounds

Gallup Bengal Bertin Rivera (4) maintains control of the ball Friday while Bloomfield Bobcat Jose Martinez (3) pursues him during the varsity boys soccer game


Simply for the Sake of Color

One of the other photographers had the idea to create an abstract photo package that was simply about the crisp, vibrant colors in the area. The idea would be for each of the photographers to submit several photos that were about color more than the usual story-telling type of work we create. So here are the four images I submitted to be considered for inclusion. They don't really need any captions, other than to identify the places.

Pecos Sunflowers; Gallup, NM

Dried Skulls; San Rafael, New Mexico

Excess Printing Ink; Gallup, New Mexico

Color Phone; San Rafael, New Mexico


Buried Liquid- the Hunt for H2O

The drilling platform is back in action in Gallup, only a short distance from the spot of the last well, having moved to the North side of Historic Rt. 66. The first well they drilled, called Rosebrough 1 (named after our former mayor, Bob Rosebrough) was a success and they reached a larger aquifer than expected, and is expected to ease a lot of the drinking water concerns that the city officials have.

They don't ease my concerns though. In my home we do not drink the municipal water. Each year the city sends out water quality reports and each year the numbers are funny, like they have been played with. This year's water quality report used numbers from the 2005 tests, and in every single test the reports came back as just barely under the upper limit for contamination/pollutants.

Two years ago my wife called the city with questions about that year's report and some possible inconsistencies with the previous year's report. The woman at the water department was stunned that she would call and question it, and when my wife said she had the previous year's report was told, "you're not supposed to keep them!" So much for trusting the government...

My other issue with not drinking the municipal water is that we are less than 15 miles from Churchrock, New Mexico. The whole area was heavily mined for uranium in the 1970's and I think into the early '80s. During that time the uranium tailings were merely placed in open piles on the ground. Rains came and often washed some of the tailings away to soak into the soil. The Navajo men who worked those mines were never told it was dangerous. The mining management never provided them with equipment for their safety - deciding that it would be cheaper to pay for the disability and health problems of the miners at some future time.


Flattened Earth - Developing Homes

Nicholas Arbelaez tests the level of soil compaction Monday afternoon as construction begins for a 55-home development project along Sakalares Boulverd in Grants. The project, which spans 10 acres of land, is being developed by Gilbert Lovato and K-RAM Homes, and is the first such project in Grants in many years.

A front end loader uses its weight to compact the soil as work begins on a new 10-acre housing development by Gilbert Lovato and K-RAM Homes. The development is planned to have 55 homes along Sakalares Boulevard in Grants.

I could argue that a bunch of heavy equipment moving dirt is not a very interesting image. Why not wait until the new houses are being built? For one, by then it will not be news. People will know what is going on by then, and from another source.

To me the ideal image ould have been to get up in a small plane or helicopter and shoot an aerial image of the scene, giving a better idea of the scope of the project and the location with the hills surrounding Mt. Taylor in the background. Not having the budget for that, I decided to shoot wide angle (with my favorite lens - the 12-24mm zoom) and let the equipment move around in front of me.



For cost reasons a funeral home in Grants, Compassion Mortuary, has offered what they call "basic burial". This is what it says, a really basic casket that is essentially made out of cardboard rather than the expensive metals and hardwoods that are usually used. While the initial intent behind using this type of casket is to save money, it also turns out to be eco-friendly. The body is wrapped in a shroud rather than embalmed, and it decays more quickly without the risk of any of the chemicals used for embalming leeching into the ground. The casket degrades quickly as well.

The director, Tommy Crow, told me that often times people make burial arrangements based on guilt and over-spend for the arrangements because they feel terrible for not having resolved some matter with Mom, or because they never took the time to visit Dad the last several years. That sort of thing. Although Crow would probably say that he earns a little bit more money on the more expensive arrangements, he told me that the cheap one does the same job as the rest, and he would be much happier to see the families only spending what they can really afford.

The technicals on this bottom portrait are pretty easy. I placed one flash on-camera and bounced off the ceiling. Then I handed the reporter a second SB-800 flash and had him stand in the corner of the room to my right, giving Mr. Crow a side-lit appearance and also lighting him with no reflections in his eyeglasses.


People with Their Stuff

Today I has a couple of assignments today that lent themselves to portraiture. Portraiture in a hurry. I spent less than 10 minutes photographing each of the subjects here. The first one is of Robert Day in his auto repair garage. I spent about three minutes talking to him about his business and glanced around for something that would give a sense of what his story is. The suspended engine block caught my attention right away, and I originally thought of shooting with the open door to my back, letting the natural light come in for an even lighting, but the background was cluttered and distracting. Turning toward the doorway and using some off-camera flash to balance the scene looked better.

I angled the shot to minimize the whiteness of the sky and use the truck as an additional element of place.
Robert Day has seen his auto repair and tire business grow rapidly over the last six months in the Window Rock, Ariz. area. Located on Hwy. 264 just west of the fairgrounds, Day's Customs has grown from a small shack to a building with three car lifts and five employees who not only repair cars, but also customize them.

Harris Francis and Klara Kelley pause from setting up the new exhibit, Legacy of the Dine' Traders, Thursday at the gallery inside the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Ariz. The project, which opened to the public Thursday night, is the result of more than 20 years of research and study into the history of Native American traders and trading posts.

The second image here was done for a preview of the opening of a new gallery exhibit at the museum. The opening was only a few hours away and nothing had been hung on the walls yet. My hurry was to let them get back to work preparing for the opening. I placed three flashes for this image - one on camera as a bounce and trigger. The other two flashes were placed on the floor about 10 feet to each side of me.

Placing the strobes off to the sides allowed me to keep from having major issues with their eyeglasses and gave a more even light to the scene. I kept a wide aperture and slower shutter speed to allow the ambient color of the room to come into play in the background.


Computer Education

I got assigned to do a portrait of one of the instructors at the local branch of the University of New Mexico. When the assignment came in I was told simply to "get a picture of her teaching." The reporter had not even made contact for conducting the interview, so between not having information of the focus, and having to try to work quickly to minimize my disruption to the class I was very limited in what I was able to shoot. Certainly I could have made a better image if I had worked harder to do so, but without having an idea of why I was making the image I didn't want to create something that didn't fit with the focus of the story. Instead I opted to go with a straightforward image that illustrated the interaction with the students.

Elvira Stahn teaching class at the UNM-Gallup campus.


Almost Football Time

With the departure of the NMSU Aggie's football team from Gallup, Mike Casias and Ryan Harrison move the uprights wider apart Tuesday while preparing for the upcoming high school football season at the Gallup Public School Stadium.

I really wish that reporters had a better sense of timing. This morning I got a call with less than 30 minutes notice about six police recruits "doing some physical training." When I got there I learned that the recruits were not training, but taking their physical fitness exams to join the force, and I had already missed the sit-ups and push-ups portion of the exam. That would have probably given me better images, some interaction images, the uniformed officer standing over the recruit, stop watch in hand, counting. Instead U had to settle for a generic running image.
On the plus side, while at the stadium I did find the above two workers resetting the uprights for the upcoming football season. I especially liked the contrasting primary colors of blue and yellow, and the swooping curve of the bar in the horizontal image. It makes the people almost unnecessary from a purely visual point.

Gallup police recruit David Luginbuhl strides to the finish line, followed by Steven Mumford and Roderick Joe during the 300-meter sprint Tuesday at the Gallup Public School Stadium. The police department was conducting physical fitness testing for its recruits.


Light Rain

The assignment: Get some basic art to go with a story about the city closing off access to one of the main roads from a side street to help reduce traffic flow problems and accidents. I got there mid-morning and the light was just acceptable. Nothing special and the images were pretty basic. The crew was waiting for the city to come and check the amount of compaction before they could pour cement for the curbs, and so I decided to come back after lunch break.

When I did I noticed that clouds were rolling in from the south, so instead of shooting with the sun to my back or side, I shot facing the clouds, giving me a great rim-lighting and back-lighting effect on the workers, while still allowing me to keep the background under control. No blown-out sky. The result is that the workers really popped out of the scene and gave me much stronger images than the firts frames from this morning.
A.S. Horner employees smooth over freshly poured cement Thursday afternoon as they work to permanently close off the access from Wilson Street to Maloney Avenue along 1th Street in Gallup.

For this top image I selected my 50 mm lens to get in a little bit tighter and isolate the workmen as they smoothed out the cement for the new curb and gutter.

This second image and third image were done with my favorite lens - my 12-24mm. I like the way the lens lets me get in close to the scene and show a large amount of the situation without having to work around obstructions on the foreground that would be there if I shot with longer glass and backed up.

Of course, those clouds rolling in meant rain. And it also meant lightning. The rains today were nothing near what we have been having in Gallup and the surrounding area earlier this summer. The flooding we did have in town was because of a lightning strike knocking out the power to one of the drainage pumps and the water backed up. The rain had pretty much quit when I got to the scene and I made some images of the large puddle covering the road. Suddenly the Dept. of Transportation guys got the pump running and I was shocked at the speed which the water drained away. You can get a small sense of the current by looking at the water flowing past Jeremy's feet in the image below.

Water rushes over the feet of New Mexico Department of Transportation employee Jeremy Cobb as he uses a pitchfork Thursday afternoon to check for any debris blocking the drainage grates on Maloney Avenue after NMDOT and city employees worked to reset the water pumps. Eastbound traffic was temporarily re-routed after a lightning strike in the area caused the pump to shut down, but it was quickly turned back on and the road opened back up.


College Football (Practice)

The New Mexico State Aggies are in town for a week, using the stadium here in town for training camp. I have to say it is really fun getting to cover sports in bright daylight, and getting to make images of athletes with a higher level of skill than I normally get to cover, even if it was only a practice session.

On the downside, arriving at the practice I was less than thrilled to find out that the 300mm f/2.8 lens that the staff shares was not working on my Nikon D80 camera. This has to be my biggest complaint about having pool equipment - somebody else messes it up and never bothers to admit that something happened, leaving the next person to use it in a bind. I did get the lens to work on my D200 camera body, so it was not a total loss.
New Mexico Aggie's Spencer Diaz (38) gets wrapped up by Michael Brewer (59) while running a play during practice Tuesday morning at the Public School Stadium in Gallup.

New Mexico Aggie's wide receiver Chris Williams (28) makes a catch Tuesday while defensive back Davon House (26) leaps to try and break up the pass during the first day practice in Gallup at the Public School Stadium

New Mexico Aggie's running back Justine Buries (34) slips out of the grasp of line backer Jamar Cotton (57) during a practice play

New Mexico State Aggie's defensive back Alphonso Powell (31) wraps up Ben Bradley (25) and takes him to the ground during a practice play.


The Fall of Avalon

David Jim sits at the controls of a John Deere excavator Monday and works on demolishing the old Avalon Restaurant building at the corner of Historic Rt. 66 and Ford Canyon Road in Gallup. The restaurant and Bill Nechero's gas station were closed to be turned into parking space for the Uptown Plaza.


Ceremonial Parade

Even though it was my day off today, I couldn't resist making a few images while attending the parade downtown with my wife and son. The newspaper is going to run a photo package next week, so I think I will submit a few images in case they need some supporting images to supplement what Brian and Matt covered.
Members of the San Juan Pueblo Dance Group perform for the crowds lining Historic Rt. 66 in downtown Gallup on Saturday during the 86th Annual Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial.

Navajo Code Talkers wear their uniforms with pride and dignity during Saturday's parade in downtown Gallup as part of the 86th Annual Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial.

Yazzie Appreciation Festival 2007 baby contest princess and woolly champion Sally Henry waves to the crowd during Saturday's downtown parade as part of the 86th Annual Inter-Tribal Ceremonial.


Senior Citizen's Native American Day

David Hall plays the drum Friday while Nelson Becenti sings during Native American Day at the Ford Canyon Senior Citizens Center in Gallup. The celebration was held in conjunction with the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial.

Elbert Burbank scoops up a serving of his Blue Corn Meal with sage and serves it to the seniors Friday afternoon at the Ford Canyon Senior Center in Gallup. The center held its annual Native American Day to tie in with the 86th Annual Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial, and served a meal featuring the corn meal and balogna sandwiches which they laughingly called Navajo Steak.

Dressed in a Squaw outfit that her mother wore, Ashley Chischilly picks up a sandwich and some blue corn meal with her grandmother, Mrs. Brown, following behind her Friday during Native American Day at the Ford Canyon Senior Center in Gallup. Brown said she is known for the traditional clothing she makes, including the dress she is wearing.


Inspecting the Troops

Gallup city attorney George Kozeliski examines a police stun gun while mayor Henry Mendoza speaks with Lt. Gerald Tholund during the Gallup police department's annual inspection Wednesday morning at the police department headquarters.

Gallup deputy police chief Robert Cron, center, speaks with Sgt. Francie Martinez while inspecting his patrol car Wednesday morning at the Gallup police headquarters on Boardman Avenue. Cron, who is the acting chief, said that all of the officers looked sharp during the annual inspection and "should be proud."


Out of Action

On the last day of the Wrangler Junior High Rodeo Finals I slipped while climbing over a fence between arenas and twisted my knee as I landed. I thought it was a minor thing, but later that night it really started bothering me. I hobbled around for a week on it, having problems walking before deciding it was not going to get better on its own. Last year I had to have surgery on my left knee for a torn meniscus. On the 13th I got in to see my doctor who had an initial reaction that I had torn the meniscus in the right knee, but after examining me more closely became hopeful that it was simply a severe sprain.

I got in the following Tuesday and saw a specialist who took X-rays and examined the knee some more, and he came to the conclusion that I had torn the medial ligament. Crutches were issued as a stop-gap until I could get a knee brace. Trying to carry camera gear while on crutches is not really a workable thing. So I limited myself to office work (like scheduling, paperwork etc) and simple assignments like advertising that would require virtually no walking.

Then add in to the equation that I took last week off for a vacation to visit relatives in the Midwest and the result has been a lack of photographs to post on my blog.

I am now using a pretty good knee brace and am walking around pretty well, so more images will be coming soon. In the meantime, grab your camera and make your own images...