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Lake Oswego beats Jesuit, 32-28 Sunday, November 30, 2008

Micah Hatfield (no. 3) of Lake Oswego juggles the ball in the end zone in the third quarter of the 6A semifinal against Jesuit Nov. 28 at PGE Park in Portland. Hatfield made the catch to put the Lakers up 26-21.

Last Friday night, the top four 6A teams in the state squared off at Portland's PGE Park for a ticket to the championship game next weekend in Corvallis.

The OSAA couldn't have planned a better bill, with both contests being rematches between fierce rivals. And, with all four teams hailing from the Portland metro area (three from the powerful Metro League), the games drew about 12,000 fans to watch the action.

In the first game of the night (which I didn't photograph), Southridge avenged one of their two regular-season losses by beating Beaverton 44-14. Their only other loss this year was to Jesuit, who ended up in the other semifinal against Lake Oswego.

Going into Friday night's game, the Lakers were undefeated and had been ranked top in the state all year long. Jesuit's only loss was a 36-33 defeat at the hands of ... Lake Oswego.

The game lived up to its billing. Although Lake Oswego jumped out to a 14-0 lead by the end of the first quarter, Jesuit evened the score less than four minutes into the second. From their they traded touchdowns. In the end, the Lakers' passing game proved bigger than the Crusaders' ground attack, and Lake Oswego won 32-28.

As promised, here is a slideshow of some of my images from the game.

Here is a second slide show with the sequence of Micah Hatfield's amazing touchdown reception from the third quarter.

6A football semifinal: Jesuit vs. Lake Oswego Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jesuit senior Anthony Blake carries the ball upfield for the Crusaders Nov. 28 in the 6A semifinal against Lake Oswego. Blake was the leading rusher for Jesuit, picking up 234 yards on the ground.

The Jesuit/Lake Oswego semifinal was definitely the game of the week, with either team favored to win the state championship next week in Corvallis. For the second time this season, Lake Oswego finished on top, this time by a score of 32-28.

The Lakers remain undefeated, and were the only team to beat Jesuit this year.

I'll post more pictures from this game when I get a chance. You can find a detailed score sheet from the match on the OSAA website.

The best and brightest Friday, November 28, 2008

I'll write more about my recent visit to Oregon Health & Science University in the near future. For now, this picture from the men's room used by some of the best and brightest research scientists in the country.

"Toilets and urinals flushed with reclaimed water. DO NOT DRINK."

Shooting wide Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tyler Green of Hermiston (no. 3, right) heads for the outside as Glencoe's Kyle Hogan (no. 24) looks to cut him off Nov. 21 in the fourth quarter of the 5A quarterfinals at Hare Field in Hillsboro. Glencoe scored a touchdown in the final minute to win 30-27.

Whether you're talking about soccer or hockey, shooting wide is almost always a bad thing.

When you're talking about sports photography, shooting wide is also a bad idea a lot of the time—the players are small, depth of field opens up, and backgrounds get bad. But when it works (and I'm not sugg
esting that any of my photos fit this category) you've got something really special.

I was out in Hillsboro last night to shoot the 5A high school football quarterfinal between Hermiston and Glencoe. So far this year, the weather in the Northwest has been amazing for shooting football—we've had rain, but Friday nights have been generally dry.

This week, it was the opposite—the forecast called for rain to start right around game time, then dry up overnight. Sure enough, the drops started falling at 6:30 last night.

I was prepared for it, though, and had my telephoto lens and camera all wrapped up for the weather. The rain covers keep your equipment dry (and therefore functional) but they do make it harder to shoot in several respects. First, the camera cover, which you have to look through to see the viewfinder, invariably fogs up on the inside. You can generally see through the fog, but you have to trust that the lens is focusing better than what you can see.

Second, the bag is somewhat larger than the camera (obviously), so it blocks your peripheral vision. That makes it harder to see out your non-shooting eye to follow the plays.

Finally, I only have one set of rain covers. Usually at sports events I'll have two cameras on my shoulders: one with a telephoto lens, and one with a wide angle. That way you can quickly switch between the two focal lengths without missing any of the action. But since I could only protect one camera from the rain, I only had one camera ready to go. And in the rain it is tough to switch lenses. Doubly so when you have the rain covers on. So I shot exclusively with the 70-200 for the first three quarters of the game. (That's actually kind of short for football, but you make do with what you've got, right?)

Fortunately the weather wasn't as bad as expected. The rain dried up (more or less) by the end of the first quarter, and basically held off through the second. It rained again through most of the third quarter, but I had planned to shoot from the press box anyway.

When the fourth quarter started and it was dry again, I decided to chance a second, naked camera and shoot wide for a while. (The rain started again near the end of the game, but at that point I figured my gear could handle it for a little while, and I'd need both lenses for the post-game reactions anyway.)

Shooting football with a wide-angle lens is fun. Instead of the typical tight photo that is supposed to make the viewer feel like they're in the game, it gives a broader perspective that makes the viewer feel like they're at the game.

It does, however, require a lot of patience. You really need the play to come to your side of the field. As soon as you set up for a shot on the left side, though, you know the next six plays are going to go to the right. Then the other team will get the ball and play to their left—still the wrong way. But there's no point in moving, because the quarterback will see you and start running plays to whichever side you're not on.

Eventually they have to come your way, and then you're good to go.

(right) Players and coaches hug on the sidelines in the dying seconds of Hermiston's 30-27 loss to Glencoe Friday night.

You can read the game story and see a couple more photos here.

Here are a couple more photos that aren't (as) wide but I wanted to add anyway:

Glencoe's Kyle Hogan (right) was the standout player for the Crimson Tide, running for 281 yards (193 in the first half) and two touchdowns.

Hermiston's Tyler Green made the most of his 66 rushing yards, scoring three touchdowns for the Bulldogs. He also caught four passes for 32 yards receiving.

What in the world ...? (answer) Friday, November 21, 2008

The correct answer to yesterday's "What in the world ...?" quiz is the Benson Bubbler.

These public drinking fountains are spread throughout downtown Portland. The traditional style is the four-bowl design shown at right, but some have just a single bowl.

The original bubblers were installed after Simon Benson donated $10,000 to the city for 20 fountains in 1912. The story goes that the teetotaling sawmill owner was dismayed by the smell of alcohol on the breath of his workers after lunch. They said that there was no readily-available alternative to beer, so he provided one.

There are now 52 four-bowl, and 76 single-bowl Benson Bubblers in Portland. You may or may not want to actually drink from them, but that is what they are for. I've never heard the city issue any warnings about the water quality.

You can read more about Benson here, and the bubblers here and here.

What in the world ...? Thursday, November 20, 2008

We haven't had a "What in the world ...?" quiz in awhile, so I thought it was time. The precise answer to this puzzle is something pretty unique to Portland, so you might need to do a bit of research if you're not from these parts. Leave your guesses in the comments ...

Soccer Star in Salmon Creek Tuesday, November 18, 2008

About a month ago I went out to Salmon Creek (on the northern fringes of Vancouver, Wash.) to photograph 13-year-old soccer phenom James Nosack, who was recently selected to the U14 National Roster.

The story ran in The Columbian today. I won't repeat the details here because you can read them here.

Portland Christian wins soccer title Monday, November 17, 2008

Caleb Nyone (left) celebrates with his team mates after scoring against Umatilla Nov. 15 in the 46th minute of the 3A/2A/1A soccer championship in Wilsonville. Portland Christian won 1-0 to capture their first state title.

Here are a few quick images from last Saturday's small-school boys' soccer championship in Wilsonville. Portland Christian beat Umatilla 1-0 to win the state title. It was the first visit to the championships for either team.

Just to give you some idea of the degree of overkill my gear has for images destined for the internet, the lead photo (above) was shot from near the opposite net with just a 200-mm lens. I couldn't really see what was happening from back there, but I shot a few frames just for kicks. I had to crop the photo pretty severely, but even still, I downsized the photo before I put it on the web.

[left] Umatilla captain Samuel Navarrete blocks a shot in the goalmouth after Portland Christian drew keeper Juan Ayala out of position in the first half of the game. [below] Mario Anaya of Umatilla is restrained by Portland Christian keeper Keegan Rogers as he tries to chase down a ball in the box.

[right] Anaya (right) is trapped on the sideline by the Royals' Ryan Harding (left) and Jake Arntson in the second half.

You can read the game story and see more of my photos in the East Oregonian.

Missiles from The Dears Friday, November 14, 2008

[right] Murray Lightburn of The Dears gets soulful Nov. 5 at Berbati's Pan in Portland. [below] Natalia Yanchak and Murray sing a duet.

Just a short note to let you know that my interview with Murray Lightburn of The Dears is online at Northwest CanCon, here. It also has portraits of Murray and the (new) band, and pictures from their concert.

Volleyball day 2 Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mariah Watchman hits for Helix in their 25-15, 18-25, 25-19, 25-19 loss to Imbler Nov. 8 in the 1A championship at the state volleyball tournament in Forest Grove.

I wrote yesterday about the challenges of shooting volleyball. There was one "wow" shot that I found, but didn't quite get. The photo at left is as close as I got. I wish I'd aimed just a little more to the right to include the net. It's just out of the frame—trust me.

This shot, with the venue's logo in the background, was only available in the odd games (1 and 3) when Helix was playing in the left side of Court 1. (You could line up the player and logo in the even games from the other side of the court, but the right-handed hitters would be facing the wrong way.)

Then, the set has to go to the middle or left hitter, and they have to go for the big hit (not a tip). Then you have to get it in focus, and time the shot so that the ball is in the frame. Then you have to hope that the other players on the front line don't get in the way. If it all lines up, then you've got the shot.

As I implied above, I was covering Helix in the 1A finals. The Grizzlies—who actually play for Griswold High School, in the town of Helix—fell short of their goal. Even their mascot (left) was glum.

[right] Demetria Thompson of Imbler celebrates a point against Helix Nov. 8 in the 1A state volleyball championship.

I wasn't shooting Imbler at all, but after Helix missed a block that I was trying to shoot, I saw this in my viewfinder and couldn't help but fire a couple of frames.

[left] Helix junior Meghan Schroeder dons the silver medal with tears in her eyes after the Grizzlies' loss in the 1A final. [below, and bottom left] Coach Tammie Parker consoles Britney Smith. Smith was chosen player of the game for Helix.

It's never fun shooting the second place team, especially for high school sports. I considered both of these shots (above and right) for the paper; instead they ran the shot below.

You can see other photos and read Justin Chartrey's stories here, here, and here.

Back at the Kiggins Bowl Monday, November 10, 2008

South Kitsap's Ryan Williams heads for the end zone Nov. 7 in the fourth quarter of the Wolves' game against Skyview. His two fourth-quarter touchdowns weren't enough, though, as the Wolves were knocked out of the playoffs with a 23-21 loss to the Storm at the Kiggins Bowl in Vancouver, Wash.

[left] South Kitsap's Isaiah Davis carries the ball into traffic.

[right] Skyview's Duke Kelly plows into the South Kitsap defense. Kelly rushed for 177 yards Friday night, including a 65-yard touchdown run on the first snap of the game. [below] Duke Kelly wears no. 32 for the Storm.

[right] I didn't see Simons on the field, but he was hard to miss on the sidelines.

More pictures from the game here.

Volleyball is tough to shoot

Volleyball is a tough sport to photograph, especially when you only do it one weekend a year.

The ball moves quickly when it is near the players, and spends much of its time high above their heads and out of the frame. The players generally keep their backs to the sidelines, forcing you to shoot through the net for many of the shots. In that case, not only do you have the net to contend with, but half a dozen opposing players wandering between you and your subject. And the best shots usually involve the player(s) jumping or diving, making it that much harder to focus on them.

My solution, for the most part, is to concentrate on one particular shot—line up the player, and wait for the ball to come to her. Of course, by the time you see the ball in the frame it's too late to shoot. So you have to watch with both eyes—the non-camera eye on the play as it develops, and the camera-eye on the subject, waiting for her reaction. Meanwhile, you see the other five girls making all kinds of miraculous plays that you aren't capturing. C'est la vie.

Even if you get the timing right, you can still have problems—cluttered backgrounds (above), soft focus (below right), and ball-head (below left). So you shoot lots and hope for the best.

State Volleyball Tournament Saturday, November 08, 2008

Heppner's Lenka Dobosova lines up her attack Nov. 7 in the Mustangs 25-15, 25-22, 16-25, 19-25, 14-16 loss to Nestucca in the quarterfinals of the 2A state volleyball championships at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore.

[right] Sherilyn Peck celebrates a point with her team. The senior, who wears ankle braces on both legs (below), broke her left leg in three places in a ski boot-style injury in the fifth game of the match.

Senior Jennifer Thul sets for Weston-McEwen Nov. 7 in the TigerScots' 25-8, 19-25, 25-19, 11-25, 15-9 win over Bonanza in the 2A quarterfinals at the state volleyball tournament in Forest Grove.

See more of my photos and read about these games in the East Oregonian here and here.

The Dears at Berbati's Pan Thursday, November 06, 2008

Montreal's The Dears rocked Berbati's Pan here in Portland last night (Nov. 5). Before the show I talked with band leader Murray Lightburn (below) about the near breakup of the band, the new lineup, and where the band goes from here. Look for the interview and concert photos in about a week in the next edition of Headliners on Northwest CanCon.

More football pics Tuesday, November 04, 2008

As promised, here are a few more pictures from last Friday's football action at the Kiggins Bowl. Hudson's Bay won 24-6 to recapture the Peace Pipe trophy. It was also the Homecoming game for the Eagles.

Above, l-r: Mychal Harrington hauls in a pass which he ran inside the 5-yard line for a gain of more than 40 yards; Trappers' quarterback Richard Vansiclen heads for the sideline in the second quarter; Fort Vancouver running back Bogden Goncharuk (no. 8) was the go-to guy for the Trappers offense throughout the game.

Below: Eagles' quarterback Shane Pacheco hands off to Tim Ivanov in the first quarter; wide receiver Mychal Harrington was the biggest offensive threat for the Eagles throughout the game.

Bottom: The referee was hurt on a play in the second quarter. He missed the next play but returned to finish the game.

Friday night lights Saturday, November 01, 2008

Hudson's Bay High School beat Fort Vancouver 24-6 on Halloween night at the Kiggins Bowl in Vancouver. I'll post more photos here when I get a chance, but you can see some now on The Columbian's website ... click here.

The Kiggins Bowl is a beautiful facility, at least from the photographer's perspective. The light fog that rolled in through the game added an air of mystery, and thankfully the rain held off until I was leaving the stadium.

Headliners: Corb Lund

The latest edition of Headliners is now available on Northwest CanCon. I spoke with Alberta country/roots artist Corb Lund on Oct. 23 before his show at the Doug Fir. Among other things, we talked about European rodeos, a new U.S. record deal, and his inadvertent connection with the late, great Stan Rogers.

Don't forget, you can sign up for our podcast on iTunes: click here, and press the "subscribe" button. Once you are a subscriber, the latest episode of the podcast will automatically download the next time you open iTunes.