I attended a karate match. Brown belts, they were among the best students. You score for landing a punch or a kick on the pads in the front or on the side. You are not allowed to strike high or low. As I said there were no injuries during this match. It just looks like something happened. Ouch!
Jen doesn’t swim. She doesn’t have a driver’s license. She had never been on a quad. And if I recall correctly, she doesn’t know how to ride a bike. So she’s getting a quick lesson on riding and operating a quad. Gee, I did not know the thing had brakes for the first 30 minutes I was riding. Just turn uphill and you stop, like snow skiing. And she wanted to ride on back of someone. No! We made here do it herself. Darned if she did it. It’s kind of funny because all the quads they gave our group were green except for the black one I rode. Odd man out again, I ended up on it. I was not the leader but I had the odd bike anyway.
This intrepid group was on a mission. They were determined to go on quads in the desert. Some had never been on a quad. Others admitted they did not know how to ride a bike. And there were a couple who could not drive a car nor swim. Well, I guess swimming is not a fair prerequisite for using a quad. Talk about sheltered lives, but they sure had a good time. There was no hope to get this group to jump so I would settle for making them raise their hands. Even that was not easy to coordinate.
There was a point when David took up the sport to test his skill. He could ski pretty well. He wanted to snowboard but his mother required him to don a helmet. So he opted to skateboard. She did not know he needed a helmet for this too. I have to admit that David got the hang of it and could do some nice tricks. Basic things, but he was skilled enough for me to be impressed. And of course I was around to get some images. Look ma, no feet (on the board).
I got a call one night. I was home in NY and on call. Lisa was on Long Island. It was twilight and she was breathless. She’d found a bridge and rode over it. She was still a long way from home but the view was breathtaking and she was exhilarated. It is a very long tall bridge in a spot you would never expect. Despite the long uphill ride, it’s not too strenuous. We’ve done it many times together since she discovered it. As impressive and hard as one might expect from its look, I’ve never been physically challenged as I thought. Every time we ride it I smile.
Halloween 2011, Columbia University, Baker Field, Yale vs Columbia. At least I didn’t travel far. It was snowing hard before kick-off and it never let up the whole game. Yale won. Yay! Snow is wet. I had an umbrella and my trusty long lens 80-400mm. I shot. I tried to keep my gear dry. I shot anyway. Alex remembers this game fondly. I remember being wet and cold. I’m used to cold when I ski. But when you are sitting and just moving your finger on the shutter, fun has an entirely different context. His Elis won and I got some shots. Everyone was happy.
I admit to being a photo opportunist. Alex wanted to follow his beloved Yalies to the ECAC Hockey Championships. It was held in AC, Atlantic City. It’s hilarious because Alex and I don’t gamble. The venue was where they used to hold the Miss America pageant. And no camera; I was stopped as soon as they saw my serious camera gear. I think it was the 80-400mm lens that really scared them. Other people got in with medium teles. So I fell back on my Canon G11 point and shoot. Now that’s a real challenge. There’s a shutter lag, you shoot, and a few milliseconds go by before the image is captured. At that lag, how in the whole wide world do you capture the action. Lighting is horrible and everything is moving to say nothing of the glass that surrounds the rink. You might as well not turn on the camera. So I just sat there and experimented. As with anything, I figured you have to follow the action. That means the puck is where the action is. Yup! I got a few with the puck headed past the goalie. Not great but not bad. You have to look close but that puck is in the frame.
This post ties in with other discussions on this blog. J recently ran the LA Marathon. I met Charlie and we flew in his Bell 47 helicopter. I shot with Manny, from Sport’s Illustrated. Manny told me of the quintessential shot of the NY Marathon in which the image is made of the runners cresting the Verrazano Bridge. Well, I was in the position to try for this image. The shot had been described but I had never seen it. It was crystal clear blue sky day as Charlie and I hovered in his ship over the bridge. It also helped that he had been a former NYC Police helicopter pilot. We were not chased away from the venue. All that remained was to get that “shot.” You can go wide or tele. I know I didn’t quite get it right. I got a lot of images but the “one” got away. I still count myself lucky to have been there. A lot of stars came together for me to have the chance.
The county fairs in Maine had woodsman day. Excuse me, ‘women’ day also. The best group was ‘Chicks with Axes’ well at least the name. In one place they put a Coke can (full) in the bullseye for the axe to hit. Sawing, chopping and other assorted timber skills were contested. The loudest were the chainsaw events. Cut down a tree, yes, there was a contest for that as well. For the participants this was really serious stuff. The trees were erected like telephone poles. It’s the last event. The trunks are trimmed to the same diameter. Bring a sharp axe and wear a shin guard. No bleeding this time.
But it’s the chainsaw that has made all the difference. They even compete in souped up chainsaws to cut the block in the fewest seconds. It’s way too loud. They actually hand out ear plugs among the audience.
It was pretty cool! Justin Henin, Belgium, Svetlana Kuznetsova, US Open Tennis 2007 finals… Manny Milan, a well-known Sports Illustrated photographer, invited me as his assistant. I got to access the venue from as close as you can get. It was exciting! And it was an education in shooting sports. Manny told me the shots that the photographers were trying to capture. Then I had the opportunity to get them myself. Lighting is artificial because the finals are in the evening. Most photographers prefer daylight. Everyone tries to capture the moment when the champion collapses in joy on the court.
The preferred action shot always has the tennis ball and a look of total concentration. Where you’re stationed in the stadium determines whether you are trying wide angle or telephoto images. The cameras are fast and the lenses fast and heavy. The preference is overwhelmingly Canon. The “glass” ranges to the biggest fastest lenses, which are more than a handful. You don’t carry them as much as you “lug” them. Thanks Manny.
In thousands of images there is only a small fraction, which get the player, the expression, and the ball in the same frame. And after all of that, the editors take only a few to illustrate the story of the event.
Even the award ceremony is scripted. Photographers are assigned positions from which to shoot the champions. It helps if you have connections.