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Wedding preparations Saturday, April 28, 2007

Anne Ginn (right) shows her parents how to start the water heater so they can take a shower.

As any bride-to-be knows, there is a lot of preparation involved in a wedding. That holds true in Mexico, although the list of things to do is a bit different.

In Mexico, instead of having a wedding party, the couple has padrinos, which each provide a service for the wedding—music, transportation for the couple, or flowers, for example.

And instead of having the reception catered, the family and a few friends helped cook the entire meal. Hence, the lettuce in Anne´s fridge (see yesterday´s post). In the morning, a party of about eight women chopped tomatoes, cheese and lettuce for the salads.

Meanwhile, Alberto was running all over town, trying to get signatures required to make the wedding legal, making sure the tarp and tables were set up properly, trying to buy some shoes for the wedding, and picking up the fresh chicken for the women to prepare.

Alberto shows his frustration with preparations at the wedding site as he reports back to women making salads for the event. The tarp that was installed was smaller than he had ordered, dirty, and poorly installed, so he had to make last-minute arrangements for a new tarp.

Anne´s friend (and some kind of relation) Viki used to do catering, so she organized the preparations. It was all cooked at her house, with her small kitchen, dining room table, and outdoor barbecue. It probably didn´t meet North American standards for food safety, but the food hasn´t killed anybody (yet).

Chicken scraps were fed to the kittens.
(right) After cooking a test meal, Viki decided that the chicken needed more salt.

Fridge full of lettuce Friday, April 27, 2007

Anne Ginn´s fridge is chock full of lettuce Apr. 19 in anticipation of her wedding Saturday afternoon.

Just before I left for Mexico, Anne sent me, my parents and brother an email describing the plans for picking us up at the airport and proposed sleeping arrangements while we were in Mexico. She also mentioned something about not having any room in her fridge because it was full of lettuce for the wedding. It seemed an odd thing to mention, and it piqued my curiosity.

Turns out, she wasn´t kidding. I had to take a picture.

We didn´t do very much Thursday. After breakfast Mum & Dad and I went for a walk into the town of Ocoyoacac (Anne´s place is kind of on the edge), and we wandered around the downtown area a bit.

Anne and Alberto went into the city to pick up Stuart and Sue. We were expecting them back home around 3, so we had a simple lunch there and waited. And waited, and waited (see previous posting). It turns out that Alberto gave Stuart and Sue a bit of a tour of Mexico City, and they didn´t actually arrive until well into the evening. We said hello, and went to bed to the sound of barking dogs.

Peter and Alison Ginn pass time Apr. 19 in Anne and Alberto´s living room, waiting for Stuart and Sue to arrive.

Living on Mexican time

Anne Ginn and her father, Peter, wait for her fiance to pick them up at the airport in Mexico City, Apr. 18, 2007.

Yes, I realize that this post is a few days before the previous one, but that one seemed more pressing at the time. For the sake of continuity, I´m going to go back and blog the rest of this trip in chronological order.

I love flying to Latin America. It never ceases to amaze me how you can get on a plane in Houston or L.A., fly for a few hours, and get off the plane in a totally different world—different climate, different language, different food, different money, different music, different smell ... different.

I timed my flights to arrive shortly after my parents´flight from Toronto. After I collected my bags and cleared customs and immigration, I stepped outside the secure area of the terminal. It didn't take long to spot my sister and mother, leaning on a pillar in the terminal. That, apparently, was lucky. My dad was waiting at the next gate over, where the signs said I would be coming out.

After we found Dad and gathered all our belongings together, it was just a matter of waiting for Anne´s boyfriend, Alberto, who had left with the car to visit one of his clients.

And we waited, and waited, and waited. Two hours after he was expected, he finally arrived, attributing his tardiness to traffic.

The five of us, with three large pieces of luggage, piled into Alberto´s early-90's Dodge Shadow, and held on for the ride. The vehicle struggled to clear the numerous speed bumps that control traffic on Mexico´s roads, but it made it over the pass between the D.F. and Ocoyoacac.

On the ride, we discovered that my bottle of contact solution had opened in-flight and completely drained, and my sunscreen had partially-exploded all over the inside of the bag I'd (thankfully) put it in. Since I wanted to wear my contacts again, we had to stop on the way home to get some more solution. Fortunately, there was a Wal-Mart on the way.

We finally arrived at Anne and Alberto´s place around 9 p.m. (my flight landed about 3:30). Anne cooked us up a quick supper, showed us to our room, and we went to bed to the sound of dogs barking all around the neighborhood.

A Canadian-Mexican wedding Monday, April 23, 2007

To the delight of their guests, Alberto Garcia Roman (left) and Anne Ginn plow their face into the cake Apr. 21, 2007, at their wedding in Ocoyoacac, Mexico.

My sister, Anne (aka "Annie") married Alberto Garcia Roman on Saturday, at a private garden near their home in Ocoyoacac, Mexico. People came and went, but there were probably 75 people there at one time or another—a small wedding, by Mexican standards. Anne´s parents (Peter and Alison), two brothers (Matthew and Stuart), and Stuart´s girlfriend (Sue) represented the Canadian side of the equation. The rest of the guests were family and friends from Mexico.

Ocoyoacac is just west of Mexico City, near Toluca.

I have plenty of photos from the wedding and the preparations therefor, but those will have to wait for another day.

(right) Anne and Alberto dance their first dance. (below) Anne tears up as she says her vows. (bottom) Alberto´s daughter, Dhamar, 8, led the procession.

New post below Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ed's note: Another note for the regulars: To make sure you don't miss any of the exciting action in this corner of the blogosphere, I wanted to let you know that I've added another post below, here. I wrote it Monday night, but had to hold it until today's Outlook was published. I wasn't sure whether the posting would be listed based on when it was written or when it was published; apparently it's the former.

I'm at the airport in Portland now, waiting for my flight to Mexico to board, and taking advantage of the free wi-fi access that PDX provides. Free wi-fi, shops with the same prices you'd find outside the airport, consistently good flying weather ... no wonder PDX was chosen the best airport in the U.S.!

A bit of a rant Tuesday, April 17, 2007

One of the benefits of having your own blog is the ability to spout off on whatever topics you want, regardless of who wants to hear it. And what would a blog be without the occasional rant?

So the topic of the day is the Virginia Tech massacre. Clearly the horrid, deplorable act of a guy with some serious "issues." And of course, we feel sympathy for the loved ones of the dead, and wish the best for the injured.

Irrelevant image no. 1

What I want to talk about, though, are these people suggesting that the campus police should have canceled classes and locked down the campus after the dorm shootings.

Get real people! Sure, if they had done that, it may have saved 30 innocent lives. But the police and university administration had no indication that the gunman intended to shoot anybody else. (The argument that his professors and
colleagues thought he needed help doesn't hold any water, because—among other reasons—the identity of the shooter wasn't known until after the second incident began.)

Unless evidence like, say, a news release from the shooter comes to light, there was no way the authorities could have known that the dorm murders were any different from the dozens of other murders that happen in this country every day. Hardly any of those incidents are the acts of a rampaging gunman.

Irrelevant image no. 2

Let's look at the numbers. In 2005, there were 16,692 murders in the United States. That's nearly 46 per day. Consider the situation at about 7:45 Monday morning—two people shot dead in a college dorm. Much popular opinion these days suggests that, based on that information, the college administration should have enacted a lockdown until the shooter was found.

The Virginia Tech community comprises some 32,000 faculty, staff, and students. Two people shot, lock down 32,000 people. At that rate, authorities would have to put a hold on the life some 736,000 people in the United States every day!

Or, why don't we look at it geographically. Two people dead, lock down the 2,600 acre campus until the perpetrator is found. If the authorities locked down four square miles for every pair of murders, it would amount to shutting down an area larger than Seattle every day!

For that matter, why assume that the shooter is going to stay on campus? He (and it is always a he, isn't it?) could just as well have headed to the local shopping mall and shot that place up. Or downtown Blacksburg. Or he could have driven to the next town, next state to find more victims. And that's assuming that the perpetrator intended to shoot more people in the first place, which, as we have already discussed, was not apparent until it actually happened.

Sure, modern communications allow rapid communication, but it isn't foolproof. And the authorities have the ability to shut down the campus. But there is a big leap between ability and responsibility.

In this country, a double murder still doesn't indicate an impending massacre, and the authorities at Virginia Tech had no reason to believe it would. That's the good way of looking at it. The other way is that a double murder is just another day at the office. Either way, it doesn't justify locking down a campus or even canceling classes. Sad, but true.

New slide show

Ed's note: For those regulars out there (if you don't already know), I'll be in Mexico for the next couple of weeks. I hope to have the chance to update the blog from time to time, but it certainly won't be as often as usual. So to keep you going for a while, I've posted a slide show on my website. Click here to see it.

I started working on it a month ago (just after the basketball tournament). I wanted to do a flash thing, though, where the photos fade from one to another, all fancy-like. But I don't really have the right software to do that, so it was becoming rather time-consuming and generated a huge file. So rather than abandon the project entirely, I went back to my tried-and-true method.

Gary Weber taught me to pay attention to the coaches when shooting sports. And, as you can see, it's worth it—the coaches probably display more emotion than the players. Enjoy!

New beginnings Monday, April 16, 2007

Rebecca Landis (left), Susan Johnson, Porsche Jordan and Veronika Hazlett repaint the former Pink Palace on 181st St. Monday, as part of its transformation from an adult video store to a Center for Family Success.

I was on assignment for the Gresham Outlook Monday as inmates from Multnomah County Sheriff's system repainted a former porn shop as part of its transformation into a Center for Family Success. What was known as the Pink Palace, on SE 181st Ave. in Gresham's Rockwood neighborhood, will now provide services for the children of incarcerated criminals.

The Rockwood site is the second location for the Center for Family Success. The other location is in the St. Johns neighborhood of north Portland. You can read more about it in the Outlook.

The event was popular with the local media. As far as I could tell, I was the only still photographer on hand, but three local TV stations—KATU (ABC affiliate), KOIN (CBS)* and KGW (NBC)—sent crews.

Shooting around other photographers (still or otherwise) is part of the job. We're all in the same boat, trying to find the definitive storytelling image for our respective outlets, at the same time trying to get something different (and better) than everybody else. So you help each other out, try to stay out of each others' way, and work around each other as much as possible.

I have to admit that I don't know a lot about producing a TV story, but it is quite a bit different than shooting for a newspaper. TV coverage of events like today's does, however, seem to be a bit more "stage managed" than the way I shoot. For example, I overheard the TV cameramen talking with one of the police officers, who gave them the order of events for the day—interviews with key figures, taking down the old sign, etc. It may have simply been the officer giving a heads-up to the media of what their plan was, but it sounded like he was asking for approval from them. Later, after the porn shop sign had been taken down, it appeared that one of the TV photographers asked the guy with the cutting saw to make another cut on the pole so he could get some closeup shots. Maybe I'm mistaken on that, but if that is the case it would definitely be outside my ethical boundaries. I understand that TV news stories are more interesting with cuts between closeups and wide shots, and that the network is expecting a single photographer to capture both, but maybe that's the price of not sending a second photographer. If you didn't get it when it happened, you didn't get it.

Maybe I misinterpreted what I saw; maybe it's acceptable in TV. But with the photojournalists' credibility under fire on a routine basis these days, can we afford to take chances?

*You can see me briefly walk through the background of the KOIN report while they're interviewing Glenna Hayes.

Fixing a landslide Sunday, April 15, 2007

ODOT crews scrape dirt off the embankment beside the westbound lanes of Hwy. 26 near the zoo in Portland, Ore., Apr. 14. A landslide in the area closed the westbound lanes of the highway for several hours on Mar. 28. The highway was closed for about 24 hours on Apr. 13 and 14 as crews resloped a 100-foot section.

Yes, those are people you can see at the top of the photo at left. The orange excavator is a Hitachi EX700, which has a reach of about 100 feet. It was barely long enough to reach the top. Read more about the work in The Oregonian.

SSA Day 4—Rugby Friday, April 13, 2007

Back Bay RFC (white) defeated Santa Monica 23-19 Apr. 7 to stave off relegation from the Men's first division of the Southern California Rugby Football Union. It was their last league game of the season.

The final event for me at Sports Shooter Academy IV was a rugby game in Newport Beach. The Southern California Rugby Football Union has been around since 1937. These days, at least, its players are an eclectic mix of men ranging in age from their 20's to their 40's, or maybe older, with
a disproportionately high concentration of English and Kiwi accents.

Access was great (it is an amateur event), and there was plenty of action to shoot. Unfortunately, most of it happened on the opposite side of the field from me. The home side, Back Bay RFC, beat Santa Monica 23-19 in their final league game of the season. With the win, they avoided relegation to Sr. Men's Division II.

The field was ringed by palm trees, so I tried to use those as a graphic element. The photo above was the best result of those efforts. It was selected as a finalist for the photo-of-the-day competition, but it never really stood a chance of winning against Kenneth Gatlin's photo, and one or two others. (As well as photo-of-the-day, that shot won the Best Photo award, and was part of the best pro portfolio from th
e workshop.)

I wish I had more photos of this guy (left). Even the dogs were getting in on the action at half-time (below).

Newport Beach (left) is an odd place. The rugby field is in Peninsula Park, on a long spit just 100 feet from the ocean. On the inland side of the park is this public sidewalk, replete with people on Segways, then a row of houses that undoubtedly come with obscenely high prices. Finding a parking spot there is about as much fun as it is in my neighborhood, except there it's all metered parking.

Sports Shooter Academy IV concluded with the faculty judging the photos of the year (Saturday night), and the Academy awards brunch Sunday morning. I left for the airport at 3 and, apart from a 1-hour delay on the second leg, had an uneventful trip home.

SSA Day 4—Crew Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Out on the dock at Orange Coast College in Newport Beach, Calif., kids wait for the boats to go by during OCC's rowing regatta against UCI and Cal State Fullerton Apr. 7, 2007.

After going to bed after 1
a.m. Saturday morning, I pried open my eyes at 5 a.m. to photograph rowing in Newport Beach. We beat the rowers to the boathouse.

The one consolation for rising so early is the pretty morning light—you've seen the photos before of shells on the glassy water in beautiful, golden sunlig
ht. Saturday morning proved to be overcast.

Eventually a few rowers arrived and started warming up, so we photographed that. Then we all mo
ved from the old, beat-up UC (Irvine) boathouse to the swanky Orange County College boathouse, which was hosting the regatta. Originally, we'd been told there would be an opportunity to photograph the rowers from a motorboat running alongside them, but for some reason that plan was kiboshed. So we were stuck on the dock.

As we were waiting for the boats to go past (we were about halfway along the course), I saw these two kids in OCC crew tee-shirts just hanging around at the end of the dock (see above). I thought, gee, won't that be a great photo when the boats come through? So I hung out there and waited. Just as the boats were about to come in sight (there was a loudspeaker with commentary describing the race), all the girls left on shore ran out to the end of the dock and changed my image. The shot I got (right) is fine, but not quite what I'd hoped for.

Most of the races had just two boats (OCC and UCI), but a couple—including the premier event, men's 8's—had three (OCC, UCI, and Cal State Fullerton). Irvine led that race for almost the entire length of the course, but OCC came back at the end to win by about 3 seconds. With that race in the bag, they swept the regatta. Someone ran a corn broom up the mast.

Early call time, boring light, limited access, and an overabundance of photographers notwithstanding, shooting crew was fun. I'll have to do it again sometime.

Volleyball Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Long Beach State's Tommy Pestolesi (left) and Teddy Liles get ready to block Ernie Vidinha's spike in the 49ers' match against the University of Hawaii Apr. 6 in Long Beach. Hawaii held on to beat Long Beach 30-27, 30-20, 22-30, 27-30, 19-17.

The last event for me Friday was an indoor volleyball game, still at Long Beach. As mentioned previously, I'd never shot volleyball before (which is one of the reasons I went), and it showed in the results.

After shooting a bunch of uninspired shots from the stands behind one back line, I moved around to the sideline. I found this big banner for "Beach" and tried to use it as a background. I was hoping for a Long Beach player to spike under it, but the plays always came from the left of it, or the right. After waiting for the better part of a game for that to happen, I gave up and started shooting the Hawaii players spiking under it. This was the best frame from that attempt, but it's still the back of the guy's head.

The shot I had in mind might be there, but you'd probably need a 400mm lens from up in the back line stands to my right. Oh well.

Portrait session at SSA IV Monday, April 09, 2007

Bert Hanashiro (left) makes a portrait of AVP player Dana Schilling Apr. 6 in Long Beach, Calif.

As mentioned in my previous blog entry, we had the opportunity to make portraits of the beach volleyball players after they played. Bert Hanashiro took one group of students over to Court 2 to make some lit portraits. Wally Skallij helped the rest of us make natural light portraits on Court 1. I spent a bit of time in each area.

Rather than put my other camera in the sand while I was working with Wally and Janelle Ruen, I asked another photographer to hold onto it for a moment. Later, I discovered he'd taken this picture of me at work. Unfortunately, I can't remember who it was ... Bob Ford, maybe? But yes, I'm still finding sand in my wallet.

Matthew Ginn makes a portrait of Janelle Ruen Apr. 6, in Long Beach, Calif., with the assistance of Wally Skallij.

The (better) results of my efforts are posted below. Nothing particularly original, but they look nice.

(right) Janelle Ruen

(below) Dana Schilling shows off her wingspan.

A long day in Long Beach

San Jose State's Geraldine Hazlett (right) attacks Long Beach State's Andrea Angstadt in the second half of the Trojan's 13-6 win in Long Beach, Calif.

I spent pretty much the whole of Day 3 (Friday) in Long Beach, shooting water polo, beach volleyball, and indoor volleyball. Probably because I had never shot any of these sports before, I didn't have a particularly good day.

I wasn't even planning to shoot the water polo, but we arrived early for the beach volleyball (right next door), so we shot the second half of the game. I didn't really come away with anything special from the water polo, certainly not this shot. But I'm posting this image because just about everybody came away with a photograph of Hazlett, or "Crazy Eyes," as she became known in the editing room. All the photographers were stuck on one side of the pool, and maybe that was the side she played. Or maybe she was just trying harder than her teammates. Or maybe she's just more expressive. But she ended up in a lot of photos.Then it was on to the beach volleyball. This wasn't a league match up, but Bert Hanashiro (organizer of SSA) had arranged for two pairs of players from the AVP to play a practice match for us: Jen Snyder and Janelle Ruen squared off against Dana Schilling and Alicia Zamparelli. Their season starts next weekend in Miami.

As mentioned before, I was having an off day. I ended up with a few "almosts" (e.g. both of these) but nothing particularly noteworthy. Yes, I did get some cya "safe shots," but that's not what this story is about.

(right) Janelle Ruen dives for a ball. (below) Jen Snyder and Janelle Ruen both went for a ball hit in the middle.

After the girls had played for an hour or so, we had a chance to make portraits of them. But this posting is getting a little long, so I'll start another one to talk about that experience.

Driving in LA Sunday, April 08, 2007

Todd Spoth (left), Shawn Lynch and Corey Perrine change a flat tire en route to shooting boxing in La Habra, Calif., Apr. 5.

This is the first time I've spent an extended period in the Los Angeles area. Sports Shooter Academy is based at a hotel in Irvine (in Orange County, east of downtown), but we've been traveling all over the east side to photograph events: La Habra, Fullerton, Long Beach, Newport Beach, and Irvine for me.

I haven't been driving, but I have been riding with, and sometimes navigating for, others who are also unfamiliar with the area.

Thursday was particularly challenging. After our morning classes, Shawn, Kasia, and I piled into the Corolla that Todd and Corey had rented and headed off to find La Habra. Vague directions, unanticipated exits on the left, unsigned splits in the road, and a flat tire all conspired against us. The pit crew did a great job on the tire, though, changing it in less than seven minutes. And even with the 55 mph limit on the tire, we arrived at the gym ahead of the SSA faculty.

SSA day 2 Saturday, April 07, 2007

Andrew Martin, 9, works on the speed ball at the boxing gym in La Habra, Calif., Apr. 5, 2007.

For me, Day 2 at Sports Shooter Academy IV included a session on arena lighting, followed by photographing boxing at the gym in La Habra and baseball at CSU Fullerton.

Art Bojorquez, aka Bruno Franco, tapes his hands before a work out at the La Habra gym in La Habra, Calif.

The boxing gym was really cool. It was inside a little, old church, barely wider than the boxing ring. It was dark, though, so faculty member Matt Brown set up some lights on the ring for us. That helped, but the area around the speed balls and heavy bags was still dark.

At least initially, the photographers--about a dozen plus two faculty--outnumbered the athletes. A couple of pro boxers who compete out of the club were working out, and there were a few other men around. The pros sparred for a couple of rounds under the lights, so we shot some of that. Later, some kids and a few women arrived for their session.

After boxing, it was off to baseball, UC (Irvine) at CSU Fullerton. The two schools are natural rivals, just a few miles apart. Fullerton was favored, but UCI prevailed, 2-1. It was a night game, so the light wasn't very good, and as I was limited to my 200mm lens*, my shots were somewhat limited. I shot some action (right), but mostly I played (below). And yes, Gary, I was thinking about Tanya Tucker when I shot that.

(right) Matt Morris of UC Irvine (OF) dives back to first base before the Titan's Matt Wallach can apply the tag in the second inning of the Anteater's game at CSU Fullerton Apr. 5. Morris scored the game's winning run later in the inning.

I have more images I want to post from Day 2, but I've been up since 5 a.m. ... I'm tired, I'm going to bed.

CSU Fullerton pitcher Wes Roemer recorded 10 strikeouts and allowed just two runs in a complete game against UC Irvine Apr. 5. The two runs were all the Anteaters needed, though, as they beat the Titans 2-1.

*Canon is sponsoring the workshop, and providing a lot of loaner gear to participants, such as 300mm and 400mm lenses, which are better suited for shooting sports like baseball ... but I shoot Nikon, so I'm stuck with the equipment I brought. Do what you can with what you brung, right?

From one OC to the other Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Yesterday, I was taking pictures in Oregon City. Today, it's the other OC--Orange County, California.

I'm here at the Crowne Plaza hotel (left) in Irvine for Sports Shooter Academy IV. It will be my home for the next few days, although I will be traveling around the area, from Long Beach to La Habra.

The first early bird session begins in a few minutes, with the main action starting tonight. Look for lots of sports shots ... if I have time to post them.

Meanwhile, here is a picture of the hotel's neighborhood (below). Maybe there's more to it than that, but from what I've seen, it's all low-rise office buildings and 8- to 10-lane roads. The star attraction, right around the corner from the hotel: Taco Bell world HQ. I wonder what they have in their cafeteria?

Building the Dream Monday, April 02, 2007

I added a big slide show to the Homestead Images website tonight, with images from the three Street of Dreams homes I'm photographing. There's a link on the front page of the Homestead website, or you can just click here.

I know it's pretty long, and incomplete (the homes are still under construction). I'll have to edit out some of the images as I add more. But let me know what you think.

Paddlers party as picture premieres in pub Sunday, April 01, 2007

Dozens of kayakers gather around the big screen at the Horse & Hound pub in Hood River, Ore., to watch the premiere of LVM issue 22.

It was a standing-room-only crowd at the Horse & Hound British Pub Saturday night as nearly 100 kayakers packed themselves into the Hood River taproom to watch the premiere of Lunch Video Magazine's latest release, Issue 22.

There were so many people there, in f
act, that organizers decided to show the movie twice so that those at the back of the room would have a chance to see it.

Among those in attendance were kayaker/videographers Ryan Scott and Nate Herbeck. Paddlers Todd Anderson and Heather Herbeck were also on hand.

(right) Ryan Scott (middle) helps viewers find Todd Anderson in footage he shot for LVM Issue 22.

The premiere was organized by another local paddler, Stacey Johnson, who learned about LVM in her hometown of Atlanta. "I wanted to give something back to the boating community," she says, "and make it entertaining." She has helped organize similar events in Atlanta.

As well as the feature film, Nate Herbeck's movie "Liquid Insanity" and LVM Issue 20 were shown. Johnson also held a raffle for prizes including various whitewater DVDs, club memberships, and a Watershed dry bag.

(below) Tara (right) sells raffle tickets at the LVM premiere Saturday night.

(above) The taps were flowing at the Horse & Hound pub Saturday night as dozens of kayakers came for the LVM premiere.