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Track & Field at Clackamas HS Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Micah Strong of Clackamas is first to the tape with a time of 11.23 seconds in the boys 100 meter dash Apr. 2 in a dual meet against Oregon City High School.

I got a last-minute call from my buddy Craig Mitchelldyer last week to cover a track and field meet at Clackamas High School for the Clackamas Review and Oregon City News (which are basically the same paper).

It was a bit of a busy afternoon for me—I got the call at about 1:30, just as I was leaving for a brief appointment in Beaverton (a suburb west of Portland). After that, I stopped at home just long enough to grab my gear and head off to Clackamas (a suburb southeast of Portland). I left the track meet before it was over and got home about 6:45 only to remember that I had a meeting in Vancouver (a suburb north of Portland) at 7. I downloaded and filed my pictures as quickly as I could, th
en rushed off to the meeting. I got there a little before 8; it wasn't a big deal (I knew I could get there a little late). I got home around 9:30, ready for a rest.

A quick snap of Justine Belliveau for ID purposes became a spontaneous portrait. Belliveau won both the javelin and shot put events for Oregon City.

This was the first track meet I'd shot this year, and I'd never been to Clackamas High School before. I love shooting track and field—it has a whole bunch of very traditional, straightforward athletic endeavors. There's lots going on all the time, and a lot of opportunities for creativity. It does come with some challenges, though: because the events run concurrently, sometimes you have to be in two (or more) places at the same time. (That occasionally happens to the athletes, too.) And the events generally start as soon as the previous one is done, which means you have to pay attention to everything lest you miss an event you needed to shoot. The toughest part, though, for a photojournalist—at least in these smaller events—is that the athletes don't wear numbers on their uniforms. Sometimes it's tricky to keep track of who is who.

The facilities at Clackamas offered another, unexpected challenge for this photographer: in almost every event (or at least all the ones I needed to shoot) the athletes were coming straight out of the sun. It's hard to imagine how that could happen, but it's true.

[left] A diagram of the events I shot at Clackamas High School, produced with the help of the good folks at Google Maps. [right] In the perfect, golden sunlight of the late afternoon, the triple jump landing point was right in the shadow of the football scoreboard, the only shady spot in the entire stadium.

To be fair, the shot put was in a reasonably good direction. I held high
hopes for the girls triple jump, which started pretty late in the afternoon with beautiful golden sunlight coming in at a low angle. And that was great for the run up to the pits, but the landing zone was right in the shadow of the football scoreboard. What can you do?