Friday, July 27, 2007

Bonds and Beyond

After the Conrad Black trial finally wrapped up, it was back to the diamond for me. Among my first assignments after Lord Black's trial was Barry Bonds' arrival at Wrigley Field for possibly the last time in his career. So even though it was back to sports for me, things hadn't quite returned to normal since Bonds was only 4 home runs away from tying baseball's all-time record. My job the first two games of the series was to cover everything Barry: fans, signs, and if Bonds ever popped out, the man himself. Of course, Bonds was held out of the starting lineup both nights I was there, so all I got to shoot was a whole load of signage:

He did finally make a pinch-hit appearance in the second game. As expected, he was booed viciously by the Wrigley faithful, there were a fair number of San Francisco fans cheering him on as well.

In that particular at bat, Bonds flied out harmlessly to left field which led to a lock of mock cheering by the Cub fans...

But he did hit two bombs against the Cubs a couple of days later in a losing effort. As of this writing, Bonds is now only one home run away from tying Hank Aaron's career home run record.

But, that's not my problem anymore since he's back in San Francisco. Which means for me, it's finally back to "just baseball."

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Only at Wrigley...

... can a baseball get eaten by the wall.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Black Friday

I forget who said it, but on Friday, one of my colleagues said "This might be the only day in my life where my day has been better than Conrad Black's."

Another photographer then responded, "Well, today and every other day from now on..."

On Friday, July 13, 2007, Conrad Black was found guilty of obstruction of justice and three counts of mail fraud. The former media mogul is now facing up to 35 years in prison and up to a $1 million fine. This marks the end of a long three-month fraud and racketeering trial against Black.

I didn't really cover a lot of this trial until it's final week. Which isn't entirely a bad thing. Court photography is not exactly the most glamorous thing in the world. When shooting at federal court, we don't actually get to go up into the courtroom to shoot the proceedings (there are artists for that sort of thing). So all we do is photograph the people as they enter and leave the building. It's really quite silly, but that's what the media outlets want. Sounds boring, huh? Well, yeah, it involves quite a lot of sitting around. Check out this photo taken by Dave Chidley, of the Canadian Press:

Now as for photographing people going in and out of the building, it's actually not as easy as you might think. At the Dirksen Federal Court in Chicago, there are only a handful of entry and exit points that one can go in and out of. There are four sets of revolving doors that someone can enter: one from the north, one from the south, and two from the west. The problem is that the federal courthouse is a whole city block long, so the only way to cover all the entrances is to have people stationed at each entrance and alert each other when the person (or persons) of interest pull up. Then everybody sprints towards that entrance and hopes to get a decent picture.

It's a little bit easier to get people leaving court. The entire building is glass, so you can see which exit the subject is headed for. In the case of Lord Black (he has a seat on the British House of Lords), he would always leave from the same place, and get into the same SUV. He did this for almost three months.

Of course, the tricky bastard duped us all on Friday after getting his verdict. As usual, after court was adjourned, his white SUV would roll up to the federal court's front door. But this time, things were different. What I didn't mention above was that there are actually two sets of revolving doors on the east side of the building, that are exit only doors. This time, Black surprised us and went out one of these "back" doors. So why is going out the back door such a surprise? Well, the problem for people going out the back, is that it's a much longer walk to the street, and therefore a much longer distance to walk while hounded by the press. But the Lord cleverly arranged for another driver, in another SUV that nobody had seen the past three months, to pull up really close to the exit. Black was then able to hop in the SUV without too many photo and video guys on him. Only a handful of outlets were stationed at the "back" door and got him walking out. Like I said, that sneaky bastard!