Cars: Compacted and Cubed

Ron Bourdage operates the new car crusher/bailer machine and lifts a junk vehicle into the air Monday at Gallup Recycling on Hwy 118, near Red Rock State Park. The $400,000 machine generates 2700 pounds of pressure per square inch and can crush as many as 25 vehicles per hour. Bourdage said that the crusher is mobile and he can go to other locations if people have enough vehicles for him to crush. He can be reached at 505-870-8770.


Realtors' New President

For a portrait of the new president of the Gallup realtor's association she invited me to meet her at one of the more upscale homes in town that is on the market. I intended to make a portrait of her in the home's front yard, using a wide-angle lens to get the for sale sign and the home as background elements. The day was perfect for such an image - high clouds supplied the area with a slightly overcast, and very difuse light that makes for excellent images.

Until about 15 minutes before our appointment. Then the cluods broke and the sun came out strong and directional. I tried for a diffuser to eliminate the harsh shadows on her face, but the sun was so bright that she could not help but squint something terrible. Enter plan B. Inside the home with some open areas and lots of available light, th kitchen was a pretty big component of the home, and it lent itself to an EVP. The reporter also told me that we would be doing a second story on realtors in the near future, so I also moved her into an arched doorway with plain walls for a mug shot with directional lighting.

Members of the Gallup Realtors Association recently elected Mary Lou Mraz to
serve as their president.

Baseball - Thoreau vs. Cuba (NM)

Thoreau Hawks pitcher Lance Etsitty hurls the ball from the mound friday afternoon while facing Cuba in a double header at Thoreau high school. Etsitty threw 14 strike outs in the first game.

This next image is a mixed bag for me. I like the photo being so tight on the batter, and I LOVE the dust swirl around the bat. The image falls apart for two reasons though: the batter does not have all that great of a facial expression, and second - and far more disappointing - is the baseball getting lost as it makes contact with the bat right in front of his hands.

Dust swirls around the bat as Thoreau Hawk batter Darryl Paul (9) smacks the ball for a base hit Friday during a double-header against Cuba at Thoreau High School.

Cuba base runner Rico Martin (29) begins his slide into second base Friday while Thoreau Hawk Justin James watches him and grabs to catch the ball at Thoreau High School. James dropped the throw and Martin was safe during the first game of their double-header.

Thoreau Hawk hitter Brian Francisco (43) hits the ball for a single, and a fielding error lets him turn the hit into a stand-up triple.


Baseball - and an Image I Like

I have been suffering miserably (along with half the other people here in the Southwest) from horrific allergies. I was not so sure I was going to be able to cover my assignments today because when I when up this morning my eyes were covered with a filmy layer of gunk (the medical term is goo!). After a squeezed in doctor's appointment I got some allergy drugs and was able to make my afternoon shift. The result is the images below.

In all of my time working and covering high school baseball this image is probably my favorite baseball image ever.

Tohatchi Cougar first baseman Tyolin Sam (13) just misses the throw to first while Gallup Catholic Panther Frank Jaramillo (12) steps on the bag Thursday during a double-header at Ford Canyon Park in Gallup. After the throw Jaramillo tried to run to second base but was tagged out.

Tohatchi Cougars catcher Dewayne Notah (1) tags Gallup Catholic Panther Ryan Nichols (13) to make the out at home plate and stop the Panthers from scoring.

Tohatchi Cougar Cody Ben (15) grabs a fly ball Thursday to make an out against the Gallup Catholic Panthers.

Keeping Fit: "Looking Great in 2008" 5k Run/Walk

The situation: A community fun and fitness walk/run in the late afternoon.

The problems: Photographing the beginning of the event required me to shoot almost directly into the sun as the walkers and runners left the chapter house. On the return thewalkers were scattered and very few were close together.

My solution: Use the side of a bridge as a framing device to make the image a bit more interesting than just two or three walkers in the wide open spaces of Mexican Springs.

Walkers cross a one lane bridge Thursday evening while participating in the 'Looking Great in 2008' 5k (three mile) fun run and walk at the Mexican Springs Chapter in New Mexico. The walk was organized to help promote physical fitness and reduce people's risk of getting diabetes.

Rochelle Becenti has her blood pressure checked by Betty Lou Begay, a senior community health worker with the Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project, while behind them participants in the Looking Great in 2008 5k fun walk and run do warm-up exercises Thursday before beginning the course in Mexican Springs, NM.

Walkers young and old head out onto the road while participating in the 'Looking Great in 2008" 5k fun run and walk.


Softball - Gallup Catholic vs Zuni

Zuni Thunderbird Carmen Dishta (27) grabs for the ball and collides with a Gallup Catholic Lady Panther runner as she runs to third base during a double header Wednesday at Ford Canyon Park.

Gallup Catholic Lady Panthers Shynal Robinson (3) slides into second base and is tagged by Zuni Thunderbirds Megan Hughte (2) during a double header at Ford Canyon Park. The Lady Panthers won the first game 14-0.

Zuni Thunderbird catcher Kandis Quam (7) reaches for the ball as it hits the dirt Wednesday and Gallup Catholic Lady Panthers score a run.

Gallup Catholic Lady Panther Robbie Loretto (5) catches the ball in time to tag out Zuni Thunderbird base runner Angel Natewa (34) during a double header at Ford Canyon Park.


Wildlife Adventure - Gallup Style

feeling less like a people person today, and as I drove away from a group portrait I spotted a few prairie dogs. They seem to be the local harbingers of spring. They are a bit tricky to shoot images of, though. They are skittish of people, and I have found the best way to get to them is to use my car as a mobile wildlife blind and shoot through an open window with my 300mm lens. (See the bottom image).

After getting the prairie mutt photo I started thinking about other wildlife that people in Gallup don't know we have, or pay attention to. Sure enough, when I brought these images of ducks onto my screen several of my co-workers asked where I had managed to find ducks in the Gallup area.

There are a couple of secret spots that I have squirreled away for just this type of occasion, something that living and working 11+ years in one community has as a benefit.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the animals.


Chain saw Safety 101

Mount Taylor hot shot Clybert Peyketewa handles a chain saw Monday while squad boss and certifier Christopher Moore gives him some tips while felling a tree during training with chain saws on the slopes of Mt. Taylor as they prepare for the coming fire season.

Mt. Taylor squad boss and certifier Christopher Moore, left, reviews the steps that hot shot crew member Clybert Peyketewa used when he felled a tree during Mount Taylor hot shots training with chain saws on the slopes of Mt. Taylor. The training session included reviews of keeping exit strategies in mind and how to handle the chain saw for a bore cut.

Spa for a Cause

A local group of cancer survivors and their support network raise money for the American Cancer Society through an event called Relay for Life. In addition to the large event, the groups that participate in the relay also hold other events to raise funds. Today they had a spa day at the UNM-Gallp branch cosmetology department. Facials, manicures and pedicures were available for $5.00 each. So I walked in this afternoon and sprung my camera on some unsuspecting prey... Not really. She is a cancer survivor herself, and leader of a relay for Life team, and was glad to let me photograph her to get the publicity for the event.

Beverly Crowe, a breast cancer survivor, gets a facial Monday from University of New Mexico-Gallup cosmetology student Paris Begay during the Relay for Life Spa day, a fund raiser to help support the American Cancer Society. The annual Relay for Life event is schedule for June 20 and 21.

The shooting situation was not ideal - window liht from one side and flourescent lights overhead. Time to use my own light sources. I wanted to give the shots a look of natural light, not noticiable. So I dug into my bag of tricks and pulled out a SB-800 with a shoot through umbrella and a pocket wizard. I positioned the umbrella pointing down and at her feet, giving a pretty good wrap around light that only has minor hot spots. The hot spots bother me a lot less than the colors and the grainy shadows I would have faced using available light.


Existence, with Evidence

Yes it is Easter weekend, and yes there are a lot of other things that needed my attention. It still didn’t mean I was willing to actually do them. Instead I plunked myself down and pored through the pages of an autobiography by Jim Lo Scalzo. Don’t know who that is? That’s okay. I wasn’t familiar with him either, until I saw his book praised on a photography web site (Sportsshooter perhaps?) Jim does a good job of painting a vivid image of his 17 years in the business of photojournalism. He reveals a lot about himself and does not hold a lot of things back, including his shortcomings. He explains the trade-offs of the life he chose. The globe-trotting photojournalist always looking for his next fix of adventure, at the expense of his relationship with his wife.

He has a chapter in his book about time he spent here, on the Navajo Nation. He mentions Gallup as his arrival point, and his nearly immediate departure for Window Rock, and then on to Chinle, Ariz. It was interesting to see another photojournalists take on this place, on his interactions with the people here more than a few years before my arrival. The book’s cover even features an image he made in the Chinle area, while participating in a sweat (bottom row of the film strips on the cover, frame #34). The image is not included on the book’s web site gallery, nor are any other images from his visit here.

The images are available in a piece titled Along the Byways of the Navajo Nation, and was published by the Washington Post. The catch is that the only way I could find the article and images now is through a pay to read library site.

The book title is Evidence of My Existence. He has a web page dedicated to the book posted through the US News and World Report web site.

Here is a quote from his book –

Photojournalism is accessible; it is about the world, for the world. And its players take more risks, endure more hardships, witness more misery in order to practice their craft than any other artisans I can think of. When they make a picture, they are not imagining a scene but standing right before it. The crackheads and Russian whores and people dead or dying all an arm’s reach away. (pg 71)

In the end Lo Scalzo deems his wife, his newborn child, to deserve a priority in his life. He has an epiphany in Iraq – he is not the greatest in the photojournalism world. He gave it his best and it still wasn’t enough. On that I can certainly empathize. I have given up entering photojournalism contests. I have a box full of awards from the Associated Press. They mean absolutely nothing to me. I am not some great photojournalist that will be singled out as being somebody that others want to emulate. Instead, I think that I am a solid shooter that can do the job and deliver what the editors and readers need from a story. That does not mean that I don’t put in effort in my work. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have passion for making images. It just means that my priorities have shifted.

When I used to hear of severe wrecks or fires or other spot news I was excited about the chance to make some powerful images. Now when I hear such thins over the police and fire radios I cringe and try to prepare myself for seeing somebody’s life drastically, even tragically, altered. Yes, I still am excited about making images, but not for the same reasons. Even though the image may come out the same, the thoughts and feelings I have making the images has changed. I don’t show up at most of these things wondering what I can take away from the scene that will make me look better as a photographer. I come away from these scenes, most times, wondering if the readers will understand why they should care about what has happened.

Photojournalism is about people, and the most interesting stories and images are about people overcoming obstacles. Sometimes they don’t, the obstacles beat them. When that happens it can suck the life and energy right out of a journalist there witnessing it. Or at least it should. If a photojournalist walks away from the scene of a fatal accident with excitement about what he has done, then that photographer has missed the point. The people we interact with, document, have lives and feelings and problems and anguish and joy.. they feel. The people we put in front of our lenses do not exist just for the sake of being targets for our cameras – things to claim like a hunter during deer season.

So many times I have met young photojournalists that are all about their egos, about their work. They want the accolades and the bragging rights. Somehow they have managed to enter the profession with the idea that they can be cool and artistic; or else they have lost sight of things along the way IT IS NOT ABOUT US! It is not about the ability to show up full of ourselves and look down on people that are not as talented as we are. Photojournalism is an obligation to give people a voice that they otherwise would not have, and to let that voice speak, not be tramped upon by our enormous egos. Realizing that I am not, and likely will never be, this great photojournalist is not a bad thing for me. It means I can sit back and look at what my subjects have to say, and then use my skills to try and focus that voice into a visual that the readers will understand.

If my work was about myself, my ego, then I would be running to New York and selling images in Galleries and covering celebrities and making easily ten times more money.

There is nothing wrong with not being the best in the world. Not as long as you are doing your job with honest effort and a true spirit of trying to let your subjects be heard, instead of trying to drown them with your ego.

Always remember that even though that local spelling bee is agonizingly simple to cover, it is still an even that means something to the people there. It is their life you are observing. Treat them with the dignity they deserve. We get so jaded in our newsrooms, complaining that things are beneath our skill levels, not worth our time. Are we really that much superior to these other people in our towns that we can be condescending to them? What if that person you blow off and are rude to happens to have three great stories lined up after that nothing event?

As Bill and Ted said, “Be Excellent to One Another.”


Grants Softball Tournament

The Grants Lady Pirate Naomi Gonzales (18) delivers a pitch Friday as the Lady Pirates defeated the Thoreau Lady Hawks 12-2 at Wells Softball Park in Grants, NM.

Grants Lady Pirates second baseman Jennifer Morgan (3) tags out Thoreau Lady Hawks runner Bailey Johnson (3) during Friday morning's varsity softball game.

Grants Lady Pirate Amanda Kennedy (5) steps onto third base safely while Thoreau Lady Hawk Philean Yazzie (17) waits for the ball to arrive from the outfield.

Grants Lady Pirate Chelsea Chavez (20) slides safely into home plate Friday as Thoreau Lady Hawks catcher Bailey Johnson (3) loses the ball Friday at Wells Softball Park in Grants, NM.


Thoreau Baseball Tournament

Miyamura Patriot runner Zack Shank (7) leaps to avoid being tagged out by Navajo Prep Eagle third baseman Anthony Nelson (20) during the Thoreau Invite baseball tournament Thursday at Thoreau High School. Nelson dropped the ball (in ront of his knee) during the play an Shank made it safely onto third.

Miyamura Patriots runner D'mar Elleby (20) kicks up a cloud of smoke sliding into second base while Navajo Prep Eagles second baseman Gerald Johnson (10) jumps to catch the ball thrown from home plate.

Navajo Prep Eagle runner Jay Lansing (1) steps back to first base Thursday as Miyamura Patriots first baseman DyLam Summy (3) catches the ball from the pitcher as they try to pick off Lansing during the Thoreau Invite baseball tournament.


Thoreau vs. Tohatchi:

Thoreau Hawks catcher Justin James (15) grabs for the ball as Tohatchi Cougar runner Jarred Stevens (12) runs to home plate during the Thoreau Invite baseball tournament Thursday at Thoreau High School. The Thoreau Hawks defeated the Tohatchi Cougars 12-8.

Thoreau Hawks pitcher Brian Francisco (43) hurtles the ball from the mound Thursday while facing the Tohatchi Cougars in the Thoreau Invite baseball tournament at Thoreau High School.
Tohatchi Cougar hitter Jarred Stevens (12) connects with the ball for a base hit Thursday against the Thoreau Hawks.


Hospitals, Nuns and Academics

Today was, in essence, a series of portraits. From two nuns being honored to a couple of 'building mugshots' to an actualy head and shoulder mug shot.
Sisters Angela Aldi, front, and Rose Marie Holden laugh together Wednesday as they recount some of their memories about their experiences starting the Sacred Heart Retreat Center, south of Gallup. The two nuns were honored for their work at a luncheon at the center as the facility commemorates 30 years of operation.

These two building photos are for stories about the hospital. Although I think from a graphic design standpoint the top photo is better, the editors say they prefer the lower one because of the signage.

Richard Holder is the new interim director of the University of New Mexico-Gallup campus.

This final image - a more formalized portrait, was created using a single SB-800 strobe fired at a shoot-thru umbrella only about two feet to the side of the subject. (Placing the light beside him creates an oblique angle that eliminates and glare to his glasses). He was also only a few feet away from a light colored wall to his right, which acted like a large bounce card/reflector to keep the right side of his face from being thrown into dark shadows. Pretty straight forward stuff.


Baseball - Gallup vs Grants

Grants Pirate Adrian Lopez (11) upends Gallup Bengal short stop Roberto Caraveo (22) during Tuesday's varsity baseball game at Ford Canyon Park in Gallup.

Gallup Bengal John Tafoya (10) connects with the ball to get a triple as the Bengals defeat the Grants Pirates.

Grants Pirate third baseman Kris Rostrepo (7) reaches out and makes the tag on Gallup Bengal Roberto Caraveo (22).


A Toast to the Irish

Oh! the green land, the old land,
Far dearer than the gold land,
With all its landscape glory and unchanging summer skies;
Let others seek their pleasures
In the chase of golden treasures,
Be mine a dream of Erin, and the light of Kathleen's eye.

Colorful drinks, including green beer, are the order of the night Monday as bartender Raul Lopez serves up drinks for customers celebrating St. Patrick's Day at Sammy C's Rocking Sports Pub and Grill on Coal Avenue in Gallup.

Alicia Mares serves up drinks for customers celebrating St. Patrick's Day.
Paul Thompson plays the tenor recorder as he and other members of the Desrt Highlanders group perform for St. Patricks Day at Sammy C's Rocking Sports Pub and Grill on Coal Avenue in Gallup.
Greg Collison plays the jaw harp.
Fiddler Carla Dvorak-Lash performs with the other members of the Desert Highlanders.