Monday, May 29, 2006


Memorial Day weekend is traditionally a pretty big sports weekend across the country. Obviously, there's baseball, but there's also the Indy 500, NHL and NBA playoffs, as well as various NCAA championship tournaments.

I was originally scheduled to spend this weekend up in Boston, covering Northwestern lacrosse's back-to-back national championship. Unfortunately, athletics ended up deciding middle of last week that they didn't want to pay for my travel expenses, so I stayed here in Chicago. That and they were able to just hire a couple local students for cheap. I would have thought that athletics would pay the extra couple hundred bucks to reward my loyalty, as well as pay for the security knowing that I'm familiar with our playing style, and know exactly the kind of shots they were looking for. Oh well, hope they like their backlit, non-strobed, and partially cut-off team championship photo. The AP got a nice one though...

It's ok, because I ended up spending most of the weekend grilling and hanging out with friends instead, and then went to shoot the Cubs-Reds game on Monday. It turns out that Vince Vaughn was a celebrity guest today, and was scheduled to throw out the first pitch, as well as sing "Take Me Out To the Ballgame" during the seventh inning. Well, that explains the larger than normal crowd of photographers. Paparazzi. It was interesting watching them work though. They would basically all just follow Vaughn around and fire off photos of him doing whatever like crazy. When the game started, a few pulled out binoculars and started scanning the crowd for Vaughn and his rumored girlfriend, Jennifer Aniston.

Well, eventually the paparazzi found them together in a skybox, and started communicating with each other via headset walkie-talkies, and started photographing them in their seats with their giant telephoto lenses, which are actually longer than the ones us sports guys usually use. 500/600mm lenses + 2x teleconverters? Jesus. We only use 400mm lenses by themselves, sometimes 300mm. That explains how these uhhh, "entertainment photographers" can spy on celebrities out in LA get shots of them doing what they do, incriminating or not. Naturally, all us sports guys shot some frames of them too. I mean, if they're there, why the heck not? It was kind of amusing to do that, but if I had to do that all the time, everyday, I'd probably feel like such a scumbag. Celebrity hunt aside, I did my job and shot the game too. It was kind of slow as far as action goes, but it was good to see the Cubs pull out a 7-3 win!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Big Skirt

The Oakland Athletics are in town for a three game series, which means the return of "The Big Hurt," Frank Thomas. Thomas was ran out of town by White Sox management, leading to a war of words in the off season. It left a lot of people angry at him, and has led to a lot of my photographer colleagues to start calling him "The Big Skirt."

Anyways, nobody knew how Thomas was going to be received in his first at-bat back to U.S. Cellular Field. Surprisingly, he got a huge ovation, and he tipped his helmet to the crowd. Then he promptly blasted a home run off of White Sox starter Jon Garland. That was pretty cool to be a part of. Thomas finished the game 3 for 5 with two solo home runs.

The Big Hurt's return aside, this was a wacky game. Isn't it always at the Cell? I mean, we all know about the craziness that happened during the playoffs, then there was Saturday's brawl. This game featured a squirrel delay, an ejection, and a thrilling come from behind, extra-innings 5-4 Sox win in which the game-winning hit was a bunt base hit by the backup left fielder! Crazy!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Crosstown Classic

MLB interleague play 2006 has started, and one of the first AL-NL matchups of the season features the Chicago Cubs at the Chicago White Sox. Players always say that there isn't really a rivalry (and that the rivalry is only really between the fans), but you know tensions always run high and know they play with a bit more fire so that they can claim bragging rights in the Windy City. The first game was on Friday, and although the intensity lived up to its billing early, the end result was a laugher, as the Sox ran away with it 6-1.

Saturday's game was also a blowout Sox victory (final was 7-0), but will probably be remembered for years. There was a huge collision at home plate between Cubs catcher Michael Barrett and Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Some words were exchanged before Barrett unleashed a sucker punch on Pierzynski, which led to a good ol' fashioned bench clearing brawl. Fines and suspensions will be handed down by the MLB for what happened, but the fight will certainly make the next four Cubs-Sox matchups in 2006 something to look forward to!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Jenn and Avery

Well, I took a break from the usual today and shot an engagement session! Yes, about 95% of the work that I do is editorial - mostly sports, and to a lesser extent features and spot news, but once in a while, I'll get a job like this. Usually I end up doing jobs like this because they involve people I know, who know that I'm a photographer and end up convinced that I'll do a good job. I usually use the spiel that weddings and sports really aren't that different, as far as good photography is concerned:

For one, we're always looking for good, clean, or unique/photogenic backgrounds to shoot into. For two, and probably most importantly, we have to capture "the moment" the instant it happens.

I can't really say which field is the tougher field, since I don't have a whole lot of wedding experience. In a way, weddings are much easier because they're mapped out from start to finish. For the most part, you know when everything is going to happen, and can plan accordingly. Get your lens choices and settings all worked out before the event. Sports, on the other hand, is very random and you don't always know exactly what's going to happen and when. But if you miss a sports shot, no big deal, other than getting an earful from the editor and feeling annoyed at yourself for doing so. If you miss a wedding shot.... hooo boy.

Anyways, Jenn and Avery were great to work with this morning. We went out to Grant Park in Chicago and took most of our photos there. It was sunny out, so I didn't have to fiddle around with lighting a whole lot, unless we went into the shade. They were very spontaneous, and I didn't have to really pose them much, if at all. After about 90 minutes of wandering around, shooting in a bunch of different spots in the park, we were all done.

Their wedding date is August 6, 2006 in downtown Chicago, IL.

Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

Yeah, I know, crazy right? The Cubs beat the Washington Nationals 4-0 on Tuesday evening, which was actually kind of surprising since Chicago had lost 12 of their last 13 games entering yesterday night.

Trust me, the Cubs did a lot that could have cost them the game. They grounded rally killing double plays, ran the bases pretty poorly, and took many weak looking swings at the plate. I mean, what's wrong with Aramis Ramirez these days? Luckily, the Washington Nationals are one of the worst teams in the National League, and were just what the Cubs needed to pull out an elusive "W."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Wildcat Womens' Weekend

This weekend was all about Northwestern Wildcat women's sports. All three teams I covered this week were participating in some sort of postseason tournament, and all were hosted in Evanston. Yeah, the Northwestern womens' sports programs are all very good.

First up was a tennis in NCAA regional action vs Purdue. It was raining, so they moved the match into indoor tennis facility, which actually really sucks to shoot in because the light is both uneven and dim. Because of that, all the pictures come out with some kind of motion blur and are pretty damn grainy. On top of that, the backdrops are pretty crappy. Nothing you can do as as photographer but shoot it...

After tennis, I went up to the softball field to shoot the Big Ten softball championship game between NU and Michigan. Unfortunately, NU lost 6-0, and it didn't look like they had much of a chance in that game, the way the Michigan pitcher was throwing. I think I came away with some nice shots that tell the story of how the game went, but it would have been nice to have some positive shots. Oh well. NU is hosting the opening rounds of the NCAA tourney in about a week, so I'll get a chance to get some happy moments then...

The next day, I wrapped things up with NU and Stanford lacrosse in NCAA tournament action. The story was the same as it is for just about any Wildcat lacrosse game: NU jumps out to a huge lead at halftime, kills the clock the entire second half and earns an easy victory. Seriously... the way they're playing, they're going to be tough to beat.

Friday, May 12, 2006

MLB 2006: May 4 - May 12

Shot a whole bunch of MLB games the past week or so. I went to pretty much one game each of every series that was in the city - Seattle Mariners, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres.

Not really much news and notes since my last update. Just that the Sox keep winning, and the Cubs keep losing...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Northwestern Lacrosse Part II

Sunday was senior day for the Northwestern women's lacrosse team. I wasn't originally going to be there, but got a call on Friday asking if I could do it. Sure, why not?

But they seriously could not have picked a ranier day for it. I would have said it was a conspiracy by NU's head photographer Steve Carrera just to get away from the forcasted downpours, but he was actually at the Big Ten golf tournament. Which I'd imagine was equally rainy, but about infinity times more boring.

By some tremendous stroke of luck, the rain stopped about 10 minutes before game time, and then didn't come back until about 5 minutes after the game ended. I was actually kind of annoyed about that. Part of me wanted it to rain like crazy during the game, because we so rarely shoot in those conditions, it makes for some interesting photos.

Anyways, senior day is easy. The most important stuff is just "grip-and-grin" shooting, on top of the normal game stuff.

With about ten minutes left, this little fella (and her buddy) flew in about 15 feet in front of me in the field of play. Quack, quack. The coaches tried to shoo them off but they wouldn't leave. Probably the only thing that would have made the ducks move is if the players came barreling in at them. Or some bread. But the game ended before players could tumble into them. Too bad, because if it did, I'm thinkin' "Photo of the Year Winner!"