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Sunny days Saturday, March 31, 2007

Keith Stockbauer of Gresham (right), and Alex Martinez of Troutdale work on their putting Thursday afternoon on the practice green at the Gresham Golf Club.

Thursday was sunny and warm in Gresham (69F, 21C), and people flocked to the parks and golf courses to enjoy it. Read more about it in the Outlook.

NW Equestrian & Event Center in financial limbo

(left) Stormy skies over the Northwest Equestrian and Event Center Wednesday mirror the financial status of the facility in Boring. Owner Mark Broeg lost the barn to foreclosure on Thursday.

(right) Mark Broeg discusses the future of the Northwest Equestrian and Event Center Mar. 28 with Gresham Outlook reporter Kari Hastings (not shown). As expected, the bank foreclosed on the Boring, Ore., facility on Mar. 29.

Mark Broeg is an interesting character. He took over the financially challenged Northwest Equestrian and Event Center about a year ago. Last Thursday, he lost it to the bank, wh
ich immediately resold it to a property wholesaler. You can read Kari Hastings' story in the Outlook.

You might remember that I photographed a rodeo at the Center back at the end of February. Wednesday, I got a much better look at the place.

For such a large barn (90,000 sq. ft., 200 stalls, 14-acre property), it was very quiet. Apart from Mark, there was just one girl cleaning her horses' stalls, and one other man I glimpsed walking down a hallway. One of the main reasons it was quiet was that three quarters of the stalls are empty. Granted it was a Wednesday morning, but it was also spring break week. Nobody was working their animals in the arena.

I'm no expert on horse barns, but it did strike me that the stalls—the empty stalls—were quite dirty. It didn't look like they'd been cleaned since their last occupant left. Maybe it's a chicken-and-egg thing, but it doesn't seem like a good way to attract clients. And Kari uncovered that in her story. The office and bar were in sad shape, too, with dusty, unused display cases, empty paper cups and straws, and kernels of popcorn on the floor.

Mark didn't want to be in the pictures. He wanted the story to be about the barn. Despite his protests, I took one photo of him on the phone in his office, but he noticed just before I did it, and stuck his hand up in front of his face. After some discussion, I convinced him to pose for a portrait with one of his horses, and later I was able to photograph him talking to Kari.

That's where the photo above was made. Rather than sitting in the booth with us, he pulled the rocking chair over from the corner, grabbed an empty Coors Light can from the recycling bin and lit up a cigarette. I wasn't sure whether the paper wanted to run a photo of him smoking, but it was him, so I found a way to make it work. I had to get an angle that didn't have the reporter in the picture, and his wide-brimmed hat shaded his tinted glasses. Fortunately, he tipped his head just so, and I was able to get the picture. The only regret I have about it is that the pillar behind him obscures the poster of a scantily-clad cowgirl advertising Three Olives cherry vodka. It seemed to fit into the character of the place.

Jax get memo: put ball in net

Portland's Bruce Alexander scores a behind-the-back shorthanded goal on Calgary's Andrew Leyshon in the first quarter of Friday night's game at the Rose Garden. Portland won 13-12 to end their 10-game losing streak.

The Lumberjax finally found a way to get the ball in the net, and the result was a win.

Thirteen goals hardly qualifies as a flood in the NLL, but it is the second highest total for the Lumberjax in 2007. The last time they scored that many was a 14-12 win over Philadelphia Jan. 13. Until
tonight, they hadn't won since.

It was not all good news. Though the Jax jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the first quarter, Calgary won each of the remaining periods. Portland was horrible on faceoffs (9-29), was outshot 51-34, and on the short end of an 85-57 loose ball count. They collected 42 penalty minutes to Calgary's 25.

Really, the only things that saved Portland were Dallas Eliuk's superb goaltending (39 saves) and Calgary's pathetic powerplay.

The Roughnecks were only 2-10 with the man advantage and worse, gave up 4 short-handed goals—including three in a span of 49 seconds in the first period.

Dallas Eliuk turns away a shot against the Calgary Roughnecks Friday nigh
t at the Rose Garden. He made 39 saves.

The other bright light for Portland was the play of rookie Jed Prossner (0G, 2A). Though he didn't score, the Easton, Md., native impressed by finding a way to the net through crowds of traffic.

Portland (3-10) plays their last away game of the season tomorrow night in Calgary (6-6). They have two more home games left. If they win all of their remaining games, and the right teams lose, they could still make the playoffs.

Jed Prossner

Raised sidewalks, raised tempers in Gresham Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Time has taken its toll on the sidewalks around Tom Holland's rental properties in Gresham. The City has marked 18 spots in front of his two properties on SE 1st St. that it says he must repair.

Like it or lump it, the city of Gresham mandates that property owners must maintain the sidewalks in front of their homes. Some residents of the El Camino neighborhood have chosen the latter after a new code enforcement officer marked dozens of spots in their district for repair.

Read more in the Mar. 28 edition of the Gresham Outlook.

Lumberjax lose. Again. Sunday, March 25, 2007

San Jose's Steve Holmes celebrates after scoring the winning goal on Dallas Eliuk. The Stealth defeated Portland 9-7 Saturday night at the Rose Garden. It was the 10th consecutive loss for the Lumberjax.

As an expansion team last season, the Lumberjax surprised the lacrosse world by winning the West Division title. Though they bowed out of the playoffs in the first round, the Jax started the 2007 season where they left off, with a pair of wins. However, they haven't won since.

Tonight, in their first home game since Feb. 15, they played hard against the Stealth from San Jose. In fact, they led the game as late as 14:56 of the third quarter. But they couldn't score at all in the final frame, and suffered their 10th consecutive loss.

It's not like the Jax are giving up a lot of goals. Portland's average of 12.1 goals allowed per game is slightly below the league average of 12.2.

But their offence can't find the back of the net. After tonight's loss, they are averaging less than 9 goals for per game. And they've only scored more than 9 once since Jan. 25.

In tonight's game, it was the power play that specifically failed for Portland. They only scored once in 10 opportunities with the man advantage, and failed to score on a two-man advantage they had for two full minutes in the first quarter. Worse, they gave up two short-handed goals—one in the aforementioned two-man advantage.

Before tonight's game, analysts were saying the Lumberjax needed to win the rest of their games—and have some help—to make the playoffs. With the loss to the Stealth, that looks almost impossible. Frankly, they don't deserve to.

Portland's Ray Guze (right) and San Jose's Gary Rosyski duke it out late in the Lumberjax game at the Rose Garden Mar. 24, 2007. Guze won the fight, but Rosyski had the last laugh. He had 2 goals and 2 assists to lead the Stealth to a 9-7 win.

Street of Dreams taking shape Friday, March 23, 2007

A house on Portland's Street of Dreams, being built by West One Homes.

The houses on Portland's 2007 Street of Dreams are starting to take shape. As previously mentioned, Homestead Images has teamed up with three of the six builders to document the realization of their "Dreams" homes.

For most of the homes, the foundations, framing, roofing, and windows have been installed, and the plumbing, wiring and HVAC systems have been roughed-in. Insulation and drywalling are the next steps.

[left] Sparks fly as a worker cuts a bolt inside a home built by Lakeside Custom Homes.

[right] KDC Construction's home has passed its framing inspection. Once it has been cleaned, they will install the insulation and drywall.

Time for spring sports! Wednesday, March 21, 2007

It's time for spring sports in Oregon, which include baseball, softball, golf, tennis, and track and field. (Some schools have lacrosse too, but it's not an official OSAA sport.)

I figured I ought to get a bit of practice shooting track and field, and m
y local high school was considerate enough to arrange a meet this afternoon—and a nice, sunny day, too.

Athletes from Benson (6A) and Cascade (4A) high schools were at Lincoln, compet
ing in the usual events. I'm definitely not in mid-season form, but with so many events, it's hard to trim the images down ...

One more story Monday, March 19, 2007

There was one more story I wanted to share from yesterday ...

As the march worked its way past Pioneer Courthouse Square, there was a group of eight people in orange jumpsuits with black sacks over their heads lying down in the middle of the street, all chained together in some kind of public expression. There was an older lady walking around them, spreading Jesus' blessing on them. I don't know if she was part of the group, or just acting on her own.

Nevertheless, I started photographing them as the protesters marched around them. So far, so good.

But then a guy told me that the shot "I" wanted was from a different angle. I stopped and started talking with him. When I asked his name, he hesitated, so I had to explain that I needed to caption the photos, so I needed some kind of a name to attach to them. He identified himself as "Lucas Personality," although I have to admit I'm not sure whether that was what he called himself or some company he was representing. He said something about trying to cast people for NBC/Universal or something ... I started getting the picture that the jumpsuit people were more of a stunt than a protest. He suggested I try to submit my pictures to Reuters or NBC.

Meanwhile, the protest was moving on and I needed to stick with it. Rather than talk with him for another 20 minutes, I gave him my business card, and suggested he email me with the details of who he and the group were, what they were trying to say, etc. I moved on, figuring that was the end of it.

He rewarded me with a phone call at 5:15 this morning. The first thing he asked was "did I wake you up?" Dude, it's 5:15 a.m. ... what did you think I'd be doing? And he called from a local number—it's not like he was in New York.

He asked if I wanted to sell my images, and told me I'd have to send them off before I went to work this morning; I could call 411 to get the number for Reuters, and I should let them caption the photos. I re-suggested that he email me the information. After telling me that he didn't have a computer handy, he confirmed my address and pretended to start an email: "Let's see ... compose ..."

I haven't seen an email yet ... and I'm not inclined to publish the photos, on this blog or anywhere else.

Anti-war demonstration in Portland

I haven't figured out what I want to say about yesterday's events yet, so I'll just post the pictures. Maybe I'll add more later.

The "zombie" feeder march (which did not have a permit) attracted more police than protesters—at their announced kick-off time, there were 11 cops for 5 protesters, only one of whom was dressed as a zombie.

By the time they turned south from Burnside towards the gathering point for the main protest, there were
about 9 protesters and 18 police; the protesters had also collected three citations for jaywalking.

Most of the estimated 10,000 to 15,000 protesters looked something like these. There were babies and dogs, teens and grandparents.

A group of about 200 "radical" protesters dressed in black and wearing bandanas co-opted the front of the march. Before it kicked off, they did some unspeakable acts as shown in this photo, too edgy for the mainstream press.

Organizers had intended the front of the march to look something like this.

Instead, it looked like this (left).

It seems that, after the anarchists had taken over the front of the parade, the organizers and/or police intended to let them move on a block or two ahead of the main march. About four blocks into the march, the radicals realized what was going on, so they turned around to rejoin the parade. The police quickly directed the main march on a slight detour, and the radicals were stuck somewhere in the middle.

After a while of walking with the radicals in the middle of the parade, I moved up to the front to get some shots of that group. Then I noticed that a bit of a gap had opened up between the mainstream front of the parade and the anarchists. As I headed back to the group, something happened that set the group off. When I got close enough to see, the police were separating an older, long-haired man from the crowd. I don't know why. But the anarchists clearly disapproved, shouting "this is what a police state looks like!" and throwing rotten fruit from somewhere behind the front line. I can only presume that the fruit was aimed at the police; nevertheless, I took three direct hits from rotten oranges. I think they only threw four. Fortunately, rotten fruit is soft, and my gear was basically uncontaminated. As one photojournalist commented to me after the incident, that's how you know you're in the right place.

Make no mistake about it, these "radicals" or "anarchists," or whatever they want to call themselves, are looking for an opportunity to clash with the police. Most wear bandanas or masks to conceal their identity. As well as the rotten fruit that some "just happened to have on hand," some came equipped with gas masks; others wore lab goggles to protect their eyes. Some self-described 'medics' carried water and some other concoction to neutralize pepper spray or tear gas.

More interesting was the way that these 'medics' used the word as a verb, as in "Yeah, I'm going to medic this afternoon because I already got a jaywalking ticket." What they had been planning to do remained unstated ... but of course the police must have provoked it.

I left the rally as the march returned to the South Park Blocks so that I could file my pictures. Apparently, I left too soon. The people I had been following all day burned their flags. Shortly thereafter there was an incident at SW Morrison and Park where the police used pepper spray, then a group of protesters surrounded the Justice Center in a standoff that lasted well into the evening. Fifteen were arrested. Just like that, my images became (almost) worthless ...

OSAA Dance Championships wrap up Sunday, March 18, 2007

(left) Members of Lincoln's dance team celebrate Mar. 18 after being announced as the winners of the state dance competition for 6A Large schools.

(right) Hermiston's Kara Burns looks glumly as the winners are announced at the 2007 state dance championships Mar. 18 in Portland. The Stardust dance team finished 9th in the 5A Small category.

(below) Pendleton's Rhythmic Mode team finished second in the 5A Large category with their routine "Supernatural."

[Ed's note: For a better celebration photo of the Pendleton team, pick up a copy of Sunday's East Oregonian.]

Fame! I'm gonna live forever ... Saturday, March 17, 2007

North Eugene's dance team performed a "Sound of Music"-inspired routine at the state dance championships, Mar. 16-17, in Portland.

All of the teams at the OSAA state dance championships have a theme for their performance. Some are more developed than others: North Eugene's dance was based on jazzed-up tracks from The Sound of Music, and Lincoln's was all about fire. I wish I had a photo of Newberg's dancers--they looked like some kind of hippie cowboys, with flower-print bikini tops and bottoms over a white, long-fringed leotard and knee-high white boots. But it was a sixties-themed performance, including selections from Jimi Hendrix and Hair. Those were the memorable themes among the scattered selection of performances I saw yesterday and today.

Others were less clear. Hermiston, for example, was about "color and movement," or something like that. I don't want to take anything away from the dancers, who worked hard and, to my untrained eye, did a fine if unspectacular job.

I do have to wonder about their costumes, though. Women always complain about the unwearable bridesmaid dresses they get stuck with in their closets. I'm not sure whether dancers ever expect to get any additional use for a costume, but I might be bold enough to suggest that the best reuse for Hermiston's might be as an alternative energy source. Preferably in some kind of incinerator system.

Jordan Smalley (center), Stephanie Rowden, and other members of Hermiston's Stardust Dance Team perform Saturday night in the final round of the state dance championships in Portland.

One of the most challenging aspects of digital photography is accurate color reproduction. For me at least, purple seems to be the most difficult color to capture accurately. Needless to say, the dresses in the photo at right are bright purple (Hermiston's school color) with fluorescent orange trim. They added some sparkly ribbon to the orange parts and bright orange hair bands for good measure.

How did this clash happen? Perhaps orange fabric was on sale. Maybe in rural Oregon they need some safety orange on their clothes so hunters can see them. I don't think they needed pity points from the judges. Perhaps it was a calculated fashion-forward risk by the designer?

Sorry, it didn't work. Not even in 1988.

OSAA State Dance Competition

Kara Burns of Hermiston's Stardust dance team applies false eyelashes in preparation for the state dance competition Friday night in Portland. The team qualified for Saturday night's final round.

Ahhh, the wonderful life of a photographer. What could be better than watching clutches of nubile young girls in skin-tight outfits through a telephoto lens, as they shimmy and shake in sync on the hardwood?

That's the good part. But remember that at least half of t
he job is completed backstage.

Backstage at Memorial Coliseum is your typical web of unadorned concrete hallways. Remember, again, that these are teenage girls.* When they are excited—or trying to get themselves excited—they scream. They scream when they are psyching themselves up for their perform
ance. They scream when they finish their performance. They scream when they finish screaming. And the bunker below the stands seems specifically designed to focus and amplify high-frequency sound waves.

I got used to it after a while, but perhaps I just went deaf.

Amanda Rinehart (center) gives a pep talk to the members of Pendleton's Rhythmic Mode dance team before their preliminary performance at the state dance competition Mar. 16, 2007, in Portland. "This is the second-last time we perform this routine," she said. The team qualified for the final round of competition Mar. 17.

I photographed the Hermiston and Pendleton teams for the East Oregonian (again tonight, too). They were looking for action shots of the performances, but—aural assaults notwithstanding—I think my best shots of the night came from backstage.

Pendleton faced some serious challenges coming into the competition. In separate incidents, two of their senior dancers had emergency surgery in the last week—one gall bladder and one appendix. The remaining girls had to adjust their routine to fill in the holes. Emily Umbarger (right) had her gall bladder removed on Wednesday, then boarded the team bus Thursday for the 200-mile journey to Portland. I'm not sure whether Heidi Cupp, who had her appendix removed last Saturday, made the trip.

*(Yes, there are a handful of male participants, but something less than 2% of the hundreds of dancers.)

(below) The girls are more flexible than the average North American, even me.

U.S. Open Squash Championships come to Portland Thursday, March 15, 2007

Joan Ahlberg of Portland returns the ball to Colleen Rathburn of Grande Prairie, Alberta, in their match Mar. 15, 2007, at the U.S. Open Squash Championships. Rathburn easily eclipsed Ahlberg, 9-0, 9-2, 9-0 to advance to the quarterfinals. The women are competing in the 45+ age class.

The U.S. Open Squash Championships are being played at the Multnomah Athletic Club in downtown Portland through Sunday. It's not quite as big an event as the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, but it's free to watch, and much closer to my apartment.

Seattle's Laura Bachman concentrates on the ball during her match Thursday against Cancace Whittall of Grande Prairie, Alberta. Whittall won the match, 3 games to 1.

Squash isn't the most popular sport in the United States (estimated 500,000 players, compared to some 18 million who play soccer, for example), and that may be why you don't see very many pictures of it.

The other reason is that it's hard to shoot. The ball, which is only about 1-1/2 inches in diameter, moves at speeds up to 170 mph (270 km/h). More challenging, though, is the fact that it is played in a small room where the players spend almost all of their time facing the walls. Except in big championship matches, three or four of these walls are opaque. I was fortunate to find a couple of matches played in a court where the back wall is glass. It really would have helped if the front wall had been clear, though ...

Willamette wins 5A title Sunday, March 11, 2007

[above] Wolverines fans watch as Head Coach Terry Harrison cuts down the net after the girls basketball team defeated Churchill 45-29 to win their first state championship.

Churchill's Jordan Goschie takes a shot over Willamette's Danielle Bellando (No. 33) after driving past Katie Stewart (No. 30) in the 5A championship Saturday at the University of Portland.

Three-peat for Southridge

[above] The Skyhawks celebrate as the buzzer sounds at the end of Southridge's 50-27 win over Jesuit Saturday in the 6A girls basketball championship.

With 20 points and 6 rebounds, Michelle Jenkins was the player of the game for the Skyhawks.

More of Friday's bkb action Saturday, March 10, 2007

[left] Churchill's Mackenzie Fegles gets a hand on Kelsey Kaufman's shot in the Lancers' 46-38 win over Crescent Valley Friday. With the win, Churchill advanced to the 5A championship against their Midwestern League rivals, Willamette.

It is interesting to note that both the 5A and 6A girls' basketball championship matches feature league matchups: at 5A, Churchill (No. 8) will face Willamette (No. 5) in a battle of Midwestern League (Eugene-area) teams. Willamette took two of three from Churchill this year.

The 6A final pits Metro League teams Southridge (No. 4) against Jesuit (No. 6). Their rankings in the AP poll notwithstanding, Jesuit won the Metro League title this year with a 9-1 record, and was the only team in Oregon to beat Southridge—twice, and by double digits both times.

I photographed three basketball games yesterday—Southridge vs. Lake Oswego, Churchill vs. Crescent Valley, and Jesuit vs. Central Catholic. For all of this year's games up to yesterday's Southridge game, I have used just available light.

[right] Michelle Jenkins (No. 33) of Southridge and Lake Oswego's Emily Hatch, fight for the rebound off a free throw in Friday's 6A semifinals. Jenkins' 21 points led the Skyhawks to a 41-34 win. They will defend their two consecutive championships tonight against Jesuit.

The Chiles Center at the University of Portland has plenty of light, but the problem is that it all comes from the middle of the arena, in a big ring around the scoreboard. That means that when the players are facing the basket around the key, their faces are all in shadow.

So for the last two games last night (Churchill and Jesuit) I borrowed a couple of Pocket Wizards from my friend Roland, and set up a speedlight in one of the corners.

The difference is remarkable—what I lost in sync speed (1/500 without the light, 1/320 with), I gained in ISO and color. With just the one light, you do get some shadows (e.g. left), but not too bad, in my opinion.

Julianne Brands scored all 11 of her points in the second half as Jesuit overcame a 13-point third-quarter deficit to beat Central Catholic 46-41 in the 6A semifinals. Brands was chosen as the player of the game for the Crusaders.

I did forget to set up the speedlight so that it wouldn't go into standby mode, so the first shot of any sequence was unlit. You can see the difference in the photos below. The image at left was the first photo I'd taken in a minute or two, so the speedlight had gone into standby mode. At right was the second frame of the burst, so the light fired as expected. In the latter image, the difference between the red, blue, and black is much more apparent.

[below, both] Mackenzie Fegles of Churchill drives toward the basket guarded by Crescent Valley's Kelsey Kaufman.

Jesuit advances with 'Holy war' upset

Jesuit's Lauren Wilkins (left) and Taylor Towne celebrate as the Crusaders upset top-ranked Central Catholic 46-41 Friday in the 6A semifinals. Wilkins led the Jesuit with 16 points and 7 rebounds; Towne had a team-high 5 assists. Jesuit will face two-time defending champions Southridge in Saturday's title match.

[More photos of Friday's action at the Chiles Center will be published tomorrow.]

Had enough of basketball yet? Thursday, March 08, 2007

[left] West Albany's Megan Hortsch is trapped up against the sideline by Ashley Smith as Willamette's defense shut down the Bulldogs' in Thursday's 5A quarterfinal. Willamette won 41-30 to advance Friday's semifinal against Jefferson.

[right] Jefferson's Janita Badon goes up against Sarah Von Arx of Hermiston in the first period of their quarterfinal match Thursday. The top-ranked team in the 5A tournament, Jefferson's high-powered offense had a below-average game. Nevertheless, the Democrats prevailed 79-72.

[left] Hermiston freshman Shoni Schimmell lit up the crowd with her spectacular play. The player of the game for the Bulldogs, she played all 32 minutes and scored 18 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds.