Saturday, December 30, 2006

Arkansas vs. Louisiana Tech

A little basketball action from tonight's Arkansas Razorback game.

I really liked this top shot. It's almost graceful looking, with all the extended arms and random players suspended in the air.

Arkansas clearly had the upper hand throughout the game. The final score was 80-50, and they lead by more than 20 points for most of the game. Oddly enough, the action wasn't boring. A lot of loose balls, steals and all that good stuff.

Here's what I turned in for the lead tomorrow. My favorite photo was actually the top one, with Patrick Beverley under the hoop. But the sports editor told me that the lead on the sports front was going to run kind of small and squarish (they're doing a big centerpiece previewing Arkansas bowl game tomorrow). So I thought this one, which is tighter and has players larger in the frame, would look better on the front. It doesn't hurt that the action is nice too.

I moved around a little bit in this game too, shooting from the stands just to keep things interesting. I got a nice clean shot of Sonny Weems making a dunk above. At left, Weems tries to keep his balance and the ball in play as he falls back out of bounds.

And I just thought this photo was kind of funny. Sometimes on assignments I wish I had an extra set of arms. I suppose they'd come in handy in a game of basketball as well.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Surprise, Suprise

Today I was actually shooting pretty well. I've felt like I've been in a slump the last few weeks, so no one was more surprised than me.

This is from a bus stop in Springdale. A lot of Hispanics in the area are from or have family in Mexico, and many of them shuttle back and forth across the border on the array of autobus services. Here a grandmother says goodbye to her granddaughter as she prepares for the long ride back to Monterrey. This was an assignment that fell through, but I liked it enough I lobbied for it to be a stand alone for the next day.

And a little portrait action with the new director of the Red Cross.

I actually kind of panicked when I got there. I arrived early to set up and scope out the place. But after several test shots around the building with a stand in I recruited, I didn't have anything I liked.

The building was pretty sparse too. Small offices, narrow hallways, and apparently the last director didn't let them hang or paint or do anything with the walls, so most of the building was pretty bare. After snagging a cross and a piece of wall art from someone's office, I turned their training room into a little photo studio. I really liked the results.

Now I'm in a pretty good mood today. To keep the happy vibes going, I'm giving you a little music off of Goldfrapp's Grammy-nominated album "Supernature." I've downloaded enough of the group's music off iTunes to feel comfortable recommending them, but I didn't actually have a full Goldfrapp album until this week. It's quite an experience. Very synthesized, almost futuristic pop. Imagine pop music in 2010 from the perspective of someone living in the early '80s, and you'll get an idea of Supernature's sound. Including the previously blogged lead single, "Ooh La La," there are some really cool tracks. Here are a couple of my favorites so far:

Satin Chic.mp3


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Holiday Blur

I love taking motion blur photos.

I only needed one shot of the holiday shoppers for the newspaper tomorrow. Since it was my only assignment I took my time shooting it. I ended up spending a couple of hours at the mall, quietly recording the last-minute shoppers as they scurried about.

It was actually surprisingly calm in the mall today. The goal was to get lots of people shopping, but I like how this photo is kind of quiet and interesting with just the single guy walking through the frame.

That's all for today. For anyone I don't see or talk to tomorrow, have a Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Game Time

Who knew kids still played Monopoly?

I guess it's never too early to learn how to financial crush your friends and neighbors. There was a Monopoly tournament Saturday, and it was actually kind of fun to shoot. The fact that the kids were just sitting playing a board game sounds kind of boring, but it gave me a chance to practice annd play with the light (here I have an on-camera flash with an omnibounce, using a second light to the right on the end of the table for some fill).

Plus, the kid in the red sweater was a riot. His name is Tiger, and he is easily the coolest 12 year old I know. There were other tables of kids, but I focused in on this table because of how energetic these two kids were. As it turned out, my favorite pictures of these two ended up being when they were more serious and focused on the game.

I also shot some basketball yesterday. It was the first Arkansas Razorback basketball game for me to shoot this year. I didn't get anything spectacular, but who needs good action when you have Charles Thomas. I love when players don't hide their emotions, and Thomas is never shy about yelling in celebration or venting his frustration on the court.

I did move around a bit at the start of the game. This shot, taken about 10 or 15 rows up in the stands on the left side of the goal, came out cleaner then it would have if I were on the floor. I love shooting basketball, but getting a clean shot without extra players' limbs or the referee's ass in the frame can be hard some times when you're on the ground.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Smoke If You Got 'Em

So I had this idea for a photo.

It was inspired by another photo I saw a few weeks ago, with smoke and beams of light coming up from behind the subject. When I realized I was shooting one of our Player of the Year athletes Monday, I figured it would be a good time to try it out.

Obviously I didn't have a smoke machine, so I had some junior high kid puff clouds of climbing chalk around my subject to try and give me that smokey, beaming-light goodness. Above you can see the kid got a little over zealous and stuck his hand in my photo. For my light set up, I had one light behind the guy on the floor aiming at the player's back, and a softbox to the players right and a little in front.

The results were mixed. The light wasn't really beaming through the smoke like I had hoped. At first I had a grid spot on the back light, but it didn't seem to show so well. When I took it off, it just kind of looked like the carpet was on fire or something. Before I got it on my computer screen I still thought it would be OK, but on many of the shots the particles of chalk were pretty visible. So it looked more like there were pockets of dust in the air rather than smoke.

In the end I went smokeless. To me it just seemed cleaner. I think I'll try this again some other time, hopefully with greater success and less mess to clean up. Suggestions are welcome.

So the other day I got my first Christmas present in the mail from my brother, Joe. I'm guessing they are CDs. Not just because they have the look and weight of two CDs, but they came with a free rock music sampler CD. The note on the gifts said don't open until Christmas, but the sampler CD was fair game. Hey, I'll take new music anywhere I can get it.

I expected it to be mostly generic, boring rock. A lot of it was (Hinder? Gross...Blue October? No thank you), but there were a couple of surprise tracks that have made their way onto my play list.

Joker & The Thief.mpg
by Wolfmother - These guys are a little more rock than I usually listen too, but this song blows me away. I had heard of this group before, but not any of their music. I may have to check out more of their stuff.

I Don't Feel Like Dancin'.mp3 by Scissor Sisters - I previewed this groups last CD and don't really remember being that impressed. This song comes off of their latest CD, "Tah-Dah." It's interesting. I loved it at first, got kind of tired of it real quick, then got it stuck in my head and just had to listen to it over and over to be satisfied. Auditory crack, I say.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sounds of the Season

Only 10 more shopping days until Christmas. Yes, really. Christmas has kind of come out of no where this year. Before you know it we'll be saying goodbye to another holiday season.
I've shot my fair share of holiday happenings this year, including Santa meet and greets (above and right) and Christmas parades (below, from earlier this month). It seems like it should be easy to get great photos out of these type of events, but I felt like I always came away with very average photos. Maybe I'm just not in the holiday spirit.
To change that, I'm adding some Christmas music to my play list. But not the typical "Jingle Bells" and "Deck the Halls" kind of stuff. While Christmas music can be fun, most of it is a bit cheesy. So today I give you some Christmas music Sufjan Stevens style. These are from his recently released, 5-disc boxed set called "Songs for Christmas". Most of the traditional Christmas songs are pretty straight forward. It's his original Christmas songs, however, that really stand out. They have all the greatness of a typical Sufjan song, but just happen to be about Christmas. Here's a sampling:

Star of Wonder.mp3
Only At Christmas Time.mp3
That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!.mp3

and one of my favorite traditional Christmas songs:

O Come O Come Emmanuel.mp3

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Best In Show

I love dog shows.

The colorfully bizarre people. The cute dogs and their overly primped and puffed hair. It's totally not something I would ever want to do myself, but it sure is fun to take pictures of.

These two women were great. I loved how excited they were to be there and how meticulously they prepped their pair of pomeranians. They said they had a whole lineup of dog shows after this one. They were way into the dog show thing.

A lot of the time I was there I was trying to get something at dog level. There were a handful of children showing dogs, and I was enamored with shooting low photos of these short people with their small dogs walking around the kids' short legs. It wasn't as weird as it sounds.

This little guy, wearing his little suit with a little bulldog in tow, was my favorite one.

This was also amusing to me. With all the dog grooming tables around her, this girl takes a little time to groom herself before the competiton. I wish there had been a dog on a table or someone nearby grooming a dog, but it didn't work out that way.

And before I left, I saw this sign on the bathroom door. I wonder if they put that up after someone tried to wash their dog in the bathroom sink. Now that would have been a good photo.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Lights, Camera

The action was back stage as this student gets in costume before the choir's annual madrigal festival. They were performing at a local church, and I was pleasantly surprised that the room where the kids where getting ready had this great scene painted on the wall.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Mix and Mashup

It's a random coincidence that today I got by hands on two eagerly awaited publications featuring my photos. What better way to celebrate post No. 50?

First, I got a little treat in my mail box today in the form of the monthly News Photographer magazine, a publication of the National Press Photographers Association. It had the national monthly clip contest results for July 2005 (they run a little bit behind), where I placed third in the Spot News category for this car accident photo:

To my surprise, this photo has won a couple of awards, including a POYi Award of Excellence. Yeah, I was just as shocked. But for some reason seeing it in the magazine was a great thrill. Every month when I get the magazine the first thing I do is flip to the clip contest results. I look over the winning photos and sometimes think (with a bit of bitterness and envy), "I could have shot that." Now photographers around the country are looking down on my photo, second guessing my win and questioning my photography skills. It's fantastic.

Today I also got my advance copy of Year of the Dog, a book written by Prep Sports editor and friend Kurt Voigt. The cover and small photo section inside feature several of my photos. I didn't have any final say on what made the book and how the photos were used, so it was interesting to see what was chosen. This is my favorite photo that made it in the book:

The book is all about the highly touted Springdale High School football team's state championship run, and the swirl of media and recruiting attention some of the team's top players received, including Bartley Webb (above) and Mitch Mustain (right). I shot these kids a lot last year. As a result I've become a big Mitch fan. I read a few chapters before it was published, which were great. Now that I have it in hand I can't wait to finish it. And no, I'm not making any money off of the book. It's tragic.

Did I mention this is my 50th post? This requires a little party music. I've already decided for my 100th post I'm going to get a big cake with my blog name on it, just like when TV shows hit their 100th episode. Any excuse for cake, right?

First, a little Killers. I wasn't thrilled with their single "When You Were Young" when I first heard it, but I'm really digging master mixer Jacques Lu Cont's version of it. And just for fun, a random mashup that's been making the blog rounds, featuring Block Party's "Banquet" with the lyrics of Fergie's "Fergalicious." I think Fergie's songs are an awful mess, but Block Party's poppy beats are so strong they make this song very enjoyable.

When You Were Young.mp3 by The Killers (Jacques Lu Cont remix)
Blocalicious.mp3 by DJ Schmolli, featuring Bloc Party and Fergie

Sunday, December 03, 2006


This is the face a University of Arkansas player made when he looked up at the scoreboard late in the game. They lost to Florida in the SEC Championships yesterday.

Funny, I made a similar face when I looked over my photos from the game.

And here a girl is performing at a beauty pageant I had to shoot today.

I made a similar face when I walked in the door.

Friday, December 01, 2006

I Didn't Come For Ice Fishing

So winter finally came to Northwest Arkansas, slapping the region with a blast of ice, sleet and snow yesterday. Here the little kiddies are scurrying to the buses as school dismisses early because of the bad weather.

We've been relatively lucky weather wise here. It's been cold here some days, but until yesterday we've completely avoided the icy streets and snow days. I'm sure it will all be melted by the end of the day. That's why I like the weather here much more than when I lived in Wyoming. I lasted one winter there and knew I had to get out.

So today I'm giving you a little Kid Dakota, who hates winter more than I do. Or maybe he just hates Minnesota. I don't know anything about this guy other than this one song, but I really like it. Very cold and wintery sounding. Enjoy.

Ten Thousand Lakes.mp3 by Kid Dakota

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

On Display

The rest of the photo staff and I attended a little photo gallery opening reception tonight. The local little theater has a small art gallery in their building, and they invited our staff to display some of our work. I wasn't that excited about the showing at first, but it was actually kind of neat. It was also very flattering to hear the positive responses from the people who attended.

Here are the four photos I had on display:

If you want to own this piece of history (from a local immigration rally this past summer) it will set you back $350. I didn't realize our work would be for sale. My first question was, who gets the money? I'm not completely sure about the answer, but I know its not me.

This Michael Zamora original is a steal at $250. I don't know who assigned the value of the photos, but it would have been interesting to be a part of that conversation.

Another $350 masterpiece. I was kind of surprised this photo made it on display. I like it, but I don't really know what regular people would think about it. I was also surprised that after looking around a bit, $350 wasn't the highest value. Some, like a fellow photographers fishing photo, were marked at $450.

And this work is priceless. Literally. NCAA rules prevent us from selling images of college athletes, so it was marked as not for sale.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Elderly Care

Some photos I shot last week about caring for elderly family members ran as the Sunday center piece today. I was kind of surprised what and how they ran, so I'll post what I would have run here.

Actually I'm pretty sure I know why they didn't run this photo, It really doesn't have much to do with anything, but I love it. I thought her expression and framing were nice. And not to brag, but how perfect is that lighting? Flash Master, I say.

They did run this photo, but they cropped down close on the subjects and made it a square. As a general rule I hate square photos (they're just not aesthetically pleasing). I was really into shooting wide and taking a stepping back at this assignment. It gives it more of a quiet, fly on the wall look, I think, like I wasn't even there. Although maybe the extra room around the subjects is more distracting than informative in this photo. I don't know.

And finally some telephoto action with a side remote light I shot while the reporter was doing the interview. This was actually the lead photo in the paper today, but here it is without the headline filling up the dead space in my photo.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving Stuff

I had a few days off for Thanksgiving, so I went down to the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas to visit my parents and see the hundreds of other members of my extended family. I had every intention of shooting a lot in the valley to post to my blog, but laziness and about 10 pounds of turkey got in my way.

My family has a sort of chilling effect on my photographer. I don't know if I'm just embarrassed to shoot around them or feel like I'm showing off or what, but I hate taking pictures around them. Good thing I live thousands of miles away or I'd be out of a job.
This is Grandma Zamora, shot at a little gathering at a cousins house the day I arrived. It was more awkward to take then I thought, but at this point in the evening I had some beer and BBQ in me and felt brave enough to break out the camera.

The only other time I really shot much was when my mom and sister were preparing the Thanksgiving meal. Oddly enough, the two of them started a food scrapbook. Every time they make a new dish or try out a recipe, they take pictures and catalogue it for their scrapbook. At some point (I don't remember if I was designated or volunteered) I ended up taking the pictures for their scrapbook.

Of course I couldn't just take normal pictures, so I broke out the flashes.

I set two on remote, putting one on top of the fridge and one on top of the TV, both bouncing light off the ceiling when I fired my mom's point and shoot digital camera. Here's a little light test above. And the secret to my sister's "homemade" gravy is revealed at left.

So I'm heading home Saturday and will be back to work Sunday. I won't be heading home for Christmas, but I think I ate enough turkey and pumpkin pie to sustain me for the rest of the holiday season.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Look How They Shine For You

Sometimes these music/photo hybrid posts just write themselves...

Yellow.mp3 by Coldplay

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Damien and Football (or Unpleasant Surprises)

Let's just get this over with. I bought the new Damien Rice CD, "9," on Tuesday with very high expectations. I planned to post my thoughts on the CD that day and share some of the awesome songs I found. But there was a problem: I didn't really love the CD. So I've been dragging my feet the last few days, hoping that if I spent a little more time with the CD I would love it. I think it has a lot to do with me not being into this type of slow, sorrowful music right now.

Don't get me wrong, "9" isn't that bad. I do like the CD, and Damien Rice fans will definitely find something on the disc to enjoy. Some of it is just beautiful, reveling in Damien's typical heartfelt misery. But some of it is just there, offering nothing new or interesting and sometimes lyrically disappointing. If you are interested in Damien Rice, I highly recommend his first CD, "O." It is still his best and most ambitious work to date.

Coconut Skins.mp3 from the CD 9
Grey Room.mp3 from the CD 9

Now, onto today's photo post. I had today's posting all planned out. I covered an away University of Arkansas football game today, which means I got to ride the phat corporate jet to Starkville, Miss. We fly in and out the same day, rock-star style, and I was going to post some pics from the ride. Sadly, when I got to the stadium, I reformatted all the cards in my camera before I download the photos to my laptop. Booo.

I'm not a huge fan of head coach Houston Nutt, but I liked the expression on his face after his team got the win to clinch a spot in the SEC Championships. If you concentrate on the photo, you can almost hear his thoughts:

"It was so worth selling my soul to the Devil for this winning season..."

I didn't shoot my best Saturday. I had decent action art, but nothing that was really important to the game. Here's an example:

I was all over this guy as he nabbed this interception. The interception didn't amount to much since it happened near the end.

And when he swooped in and intercepted this ball earlier in the game, I was so there too. But after a penalty the interception was overturned. Grrr.

So of course on the interception that counted (the one he turned around for a touchdown) I dropped the ball. There he is about to catch the interception in the background on the top photo. In the bottom photo, there he is breaking away with the interception, partially blocked by some ass standing across the line on the field.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Becoming An American

I loved this assignment.

I've never been to a naturalization ceremony. I expected it to be boring, and it kind of was, but what made it for me was how excited some of these people were to become U.S. citizens. I particularly liked the old Mexican men. They had this proud, respectable kind of vibe, and they were so pleased with themselves for what they had accomplished. They kind of reminded me of my dad, or how I like to think about my dad, at least.

( Creepy )

The actual swearing in/oath was kind of boring. Or I just shot it badly. Before the ceremony I scoped out this French woman on the left. She seemed to be really thrilled beforehand, excitedly conversing with a family member seated across the aisle to her left. She wasn't as excited when the oath came around, but I was already slightly enamored with her by then so I shot her from every angle anyway.