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Children of summer

When I was younger, summer always seemed to drag on. Don’t get me wrong: It’s not as if I was anxious to get back to school. But after we finished swim practice in the summer mornings, my brothers and I were ushered off to the babysitter’s house for the rest of the day, and frankly, I’m not sure how we passed the time besides rereading the same old books and watching the same old TV shows and reliving the same old arguments. (I’m sorry, former babysitters.)

Now, probably because I have a year-round job and no three-month vacation, summers seem to fly right by. But most York County schools are opening up this week, so it’s time to share my second annual “Children of Summer” collection:

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Gabe Sulpizio, 9 of Manchester Township, comes back up for air as Cameron Wright, 9 of Newcastle, Dela., dives into the pool at Summit Grove Camp in New Freedom on Wednesday, July 16, 2014. Camp Superkids, run by Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center at Summit Grove Camp in New Freedom, is now in its 23rd year.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Led by Tiffany Berry of Conewago Township, Carly Knoedler, 4 of Jackson Township, rides Peanut the miniature horse at the 30th annual Olde Tyme Days in Conewago Township on Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. The annual show features historic power equipment, tractor pulls, a petting zoo and more.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. (Left to right) Temple Guard Drum Line members Reuben Beatty, 4; Quasen Hawkins, 5; Conrad Beatty, 5; and Mijiere Hillian, 7, perform at the third annual Codorus Street Reunion at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. The reunion, a celebration of the values and heritage of one of York’s first African-American neighborhoods, brings together descendants of families who moved from South Carolina to the neighborhood now marked by the park.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Kendell Graham, 3 of Delta, gets ready to ride the Dragon Wagon with her sister Cambria, 5 of Delta, right, and Brooke Shrewsbury, 5 of Fawn Grove, left, at the Mason-Dixon Fair on Thursday, July 10, 2014. The 16th annual Mason-Dixon Fair, located on the Pennsylvania-Maryland line between Delta and Cardiff, runs through Saturday, July 12, 2014.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. York Regional Academy Charter School second-grade student Claire Guschel hands a piece of trash to teacher Jennifer Reihm in Lincoln Park on Saturday, June 7, 2014. Second-grade students at York Regional Academy Charter School picked up litter at Lincoln Park along Roosevelt Avenue, as part of both their curriculum and York’s Litter Letter project.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. (Left to right) Brothers Zaire Kittrell, 7; Zayden Kittrell, 5; and Zyon Sweeney, 8, plead with their cousin Naquaj Sweeney, 14, for another push on the tire swing during Parkway Day 2014 at Williams Park in York on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. Parkway Day first began as a sort of block party for the neighborhood in 1984 and was held every year through 1996, followed by a reunion in 2001. Now the older generations who hosted the previous events hope the younger members of the neighborhood will carry the torch and continue the tradition of Parkway Day.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Red Lion Fire Company volunteers Jarred Miller, second from left, and Andrew Duarte, far right, help Lincoln Porta, 4 of Hellam Township, and Blake Kahler, 5 of York Township, down from the company’s ladder truck on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, at Grace Baptist Church’s Community Night in Windsor Township. Almost 10 firefighter, police or EMT units were represented at Grace Baptist Church’s first-ever Community Night, which was organized by fifth- and sixth-grade students at the church. The event took place in lieu of the regular Wednesday night service.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Nas Simms, 11, takes a shot at the basket during Parkway Day 2014 at Williams Park in York on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Ka’Liyah Redman, 6 of York, pulls out a notebook and other supplies that came in her new backpack at Project Big Love 717, a free back-to-school event that was the result of collaboration among Dillsburg-area churches, business and citizens, on Saturday, July 26, 2014, at Northern York High School. The project served about 500 special-needs persons by invitation only on Friday, and opened up to the public Saturday. As of 11 a.m. Saturday, about 1,500 people had come for free backpacks filled with school supplies, haircuts, sneakers, family pictures, groceries and lunch.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. New Hannah Penn students peer into the gymnasium during a back-to-school night at Hannah Penn K-8 School on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014. Hannah Penn was closed as a middle school at the end of the 2011-2012 school year, but is reopening as a K-8 school, to accommodate students who previously attended the now-closed New Hope Academy Charter School and to relieve overcrowding at other schools.

In March 2013, I covered the 2013 YAIAA Cheerleading Championship, where I made this picture:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. William Penn’s Q’ajaniyah Miller drops into her teammates’ arms during the Bearcats’ routine in the 2013 YAIAA Cheerleading Championship on Saturday, March 16, 2013, at Dallastown Area Senior High School. William Penn took first place in the “small” division, while Central York won in the “large” division.

Little did I know that Q’ajaniyah — whose name her teammates were unable to spell out for me — and I would cross paths again.

The YAIAA would host yet another 2013 cheerleading championship that took place in the next school year, in December. Sports reporter Matt Goul was covering a William Penn basketball game later that day, and happened to be chatting with their scorekeeper, who was upset that the William Penn cheer squad had lost their division title by a mere half-point. The conversation then revealed that one of the cheerleaders had had a particularly rough year: Q’ajaniyah had been caught in some crossfire in June and struck through the hip, yet recovered in time to rejoin the squad in the fall.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Q’ajaniyah Miller and other Tri Town Extreme cheerleaders run through a routine in the squad’s final practice of the year on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, at William Penn. Miller, 18 of York, has twice been the victim of gun violence: Her father, Ajani Miller, died via a gunshot in the pelvis in Dec. 1999, and she was caught in crossfire outside her house in June 2013. Newly graduated from William Penn Senior High School — where she was a cheerleader, class vice president and homecoming queen — and motivated by her brushes with gun violence, Miller is working to overcome financial and other issues in order to study criminal justice at The Pennsylvania State University this fall.

Matt relayed this information to me in January or February, and mentioned he was interested in pursuing the story. I encouraged him to dig a little deeper and to include me in the coverage.

The longer we worked on the story, the more we learned.

We learned that Q’ajaniyah’s father had been shot and killed two days after Christmas 1999, when she was 3.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. This picture of Ajani Miller, left, his daughter Q’ajaniyah, right, and Q’ajaniyah’s cousin was taken two weeks before Ajani Miller’s Dec. 27, 1999, death. The picture hangs on the refrigerator in Q’ajaniyah Miller’s West Princess Street home, and is the only one she has of her father.

We learned that her mother moved them to Brooklyn two years later and studied to become a police officer, but another tragedy prompted their return to York.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Q’ajaniyah Miller, 18, and her mother Ronielle Kirkland stand on their West Princess Street porch and brace themselves before running in the rain to the minivan to take Q’ajaniyah to school on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. When she hesitated about whether to leave her mother and family for college, Q’ajaniyah said her mother told her: “Get out of here, I’ll be fine.”

We learned that Q’ajaniyah, profoundly affected by her father’s death and perhaps influenced by sitting in on her mother’s law enforcement classes, was determined to go to college and study criminal justice.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Q’ajaniyah Miller, 18, participates in her criminology class at William Penn on Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Teacher Stuart Krise said of Q’ajaniyah, “She’s rare in my 32 years of teaching because she’s so resilient.”

We learned that she is the oldest of her siblings — two brothers, ages 6 and 2, and a now 10-month-old sister — whom she helps care for, and for whom she strives to set a good example.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Q’ajaniyah Miller, 18, helps her brother Julius “Juju” Little, Jr., 2, brush his teeth before school in her family’s West Princess Street home on Wednesday, April 30, 2013. Q’ajaniyah, who is 12 years older than her oldest sibling, helps her mother, Ronielle Kirkland, care for her younger brothers and baby sister.

We also learned that she found strength in cheerleading, where she made friends with other girls who had lost their fathers to gun violence.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Q’ajaniyah Miller looks across the floor as she and other Tri Town Extreme cheerleaders stretch before the squad’s final practice of the year on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, at William Penn Senior High School.

Over the course of several months, we worked with Q’ajaniyah, her mother and her friends, and incrementally learned new tidbits that would shape or completely change the story. The weeks before Q’ajaniyah’s graduation presented a tough time for all involved, as she wasn’t sure whether she could afford to go to Penn State and we weren’t certain how we should end the story.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Q’ajaniyah Miller, 18, reacts after the announcer at William Penn’s commencement ceremony pronounced her full name correctly on Friday, June 6, 2014. She was named after her father, Ajani Miller, who was killed when she was 3.

In the end, I’m grateful to Q’ajaniyah for opening up to us, and glad that we all put so much of ourselves into the story. And I’m excited for her as she starts classes at Penn State in the next few weeks, and I wish her all the best.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Q’ajaniyah Miller, 18, stands with her grandmother Tina Maxfield while waiting for her mother, Ronielle Kirkland, to drive the minivan over after graduating from William Penn on Friday, June 6, 2014. Q’ajaniyah, who is enrolled to attend Penn State in State College in the fall, plans to spend this summer working on her tumbling and staying in shape for cheerleader tryouts.

You can read Matt’s story here, and view many more pictures here.

When I went to Houston in May for my grandfather’s funeral, I brought not just my digital camera, but also my Mamiya C220. I shot an entire roll of just family time in the backyard, but this one’s my favorite.

© 2014. Emily with Layla, then almost 20 months old, in Houston.

We’re in the midst of sweaty, humid, buggy summer, so it’s high time I shared my favorite photos from a Spring Forward fashion show I photographed back in April.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Jamie Wolf, a model for The Watchmaker’s Daughter, gets her hair braided into a fishtail by stylist Christina Vicario, before The Parliament’s Spring Forward event on Friday, April 18, 2014, at The Bond Building. The Parliament hosted Spring Forward: Fashion Meets Art, an event featuring collaboration between local artists and fashion boutiques and culminating in a runway presentation at The Bond Building on East King Street in York.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Pairs of shoes line the floor beneath a table of refreshments backstage at The Bond Building as 20 models prepare for The Parliament’s Spring Forward event on Friday, April 18, 2014.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. (Left to right) Karen Staub, owner of The Watchmaker’s Daughter, and Hilary Arthur, owner of Arthur & Daughters, consult on what type of shoes model Annie Mendoza, far right, should wear for The Parliament’s Spring Forward event on Friday, April 18, 2014, at The Bond Building.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Event hair director Glen Oropeza, of Glen Coco for Hair, leans in for a selfie with Allyson Bohnert, a model for KrysLyn’s Bridal Boutique, before The Parliament’s Spring Forward event on Friday, April 18, 2014, at The Bond Building.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. People mix and mingle during The Parliament’s Spring Forward event in The Bond Building, which will become a wedding and events venue, on Friday, April 18, 2014.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Annie Mendoza, a model for The Watchmaker’s Daughter, waits as the other models line up before walking the runway at The Parliament’s Spring Forward event on Friday, April 18, 2014, at The Bond Building.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Tony Jacquiez, a resident artist at King’s Courtyard Artists’ Collective, high-fives Angela Brenneman, a model for Sweet Melissa’s Dream, as she walks the runway at The Parliament’s Spring Forward event on Friday, April 18, 2014, at The Bond Building.

You can view more photos here.

For my last eight working days in June, I put down my camera and became a reporter.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News.

It was the first part of a “cross-training” experiment of sorts, wherein another reporter and I traded jobs for eight days. I’m told there’ll be more cross-training in the future, between other departments, but as far as I know, my part in the experiment is done.

I first started this blog in January 2009 for two classes I was taking at the Missouri School of Journalism: Advanced Techniques in Photojournalism, and Advanced Reporting. One class had me working on weekly assignments to improve my ability to use different lighting for photos. The other had me reporting on state politics out of the Jefferson City statehouse three days a week.

So I’m no stranger to reporting, but it’s also been a few years since I’ve done it on a near-daily basis. If anything, my eight days as a reporter were varied. There were days I was handed a press release and told to make an actual story out of it. There were other days I was given a vague story idea and instructed to turn it around into something meaningful. Sometimes, these leads didn’t work out, but more often than not, I was able to find a story and write about it.

Here, I share the stories I worked on, roughly in the order in which I wrote them:

My first assignment was a hot weather story, but I found out that we weren’t even going through a heat wave, technically. Still, it was hot. Determined not to go to a water park, pool or lake, I went to a baseball game where I found a bronze-skinned umpire just dealing with the heat.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record.

Thanks to modern satellite technology, Jimmy Buffett was to give a concert at about 90 drive-in theaters across the nation. After talking to the local drive-in’s owner on the phone and doing some research, I pre-wrote about half the article before I arrived at the drive-in around 5 p.m., at which point I did some more interviews for color. As activities wound down, I wrote up the rest of the story in the projection room before the concert began, and planned to end the story with some more color from the first song. Then, the satellite signal was disrupted, fans complained and I had to rewrite the whole story.

We received a press release about how the grown children of a train-loving man planned to take his ashes for a ride on a local Civil War-era replica train. For this story, I ended up talking to three of the man’s sons and learned a lot about their father, who had grown up alongside steam engines during the Great Depression and, years later, built a U.S. Navy-commissioned satellite to track the newly launched Sputnik’s path.

A quick-turnaround brief I jimmied up toward the end of my shift… after checking my own bank statement, that is.

Another quick-turnaround brief that happened near the end of my shift.

Yet another quick-turnaround story also resulting from a press release. I tried to liven it up with some detail about one video in my lede.

Interviewing kids is hard. I’ve long known you’ll get better, more genuine quotes from kids if you just follow them as they tour a fire station, and keep the recorder app on your phone rolling. But then you have to make a note at which point a kid said something awesome, or else listen to the whole recording later at the office.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News.

I’ve covered the Senior Games in some capacity every year since I’ve been here. This year was the first I did so as a reporter. But it’s always fun to watch people having a good, competitive time, and this was definitely another instance where I just stayed with folks I’d already interviewed and kept the recorder app rolling.

I was a little nervous about covering the USA-GER World Cup match, even though I was just putting a local spin on it and not actually reporting from Brazil. Thing is, I know pitifully little about soccer. I played it in P.E. in grade school, but the day I blocked a hard pass with my sternum was the day I quit caring about the sport.

Fortunately, at Buffalo Wild Wings, I found a group of visiting Germans who happened to be passing through York on a three-week vacation to the U.S., brought their Deutschland jerseys with them and set up a little American flag on their table. Also fortunately for me, Germans tend to speak very good English. They basically saved my story.

A local blogger tipped us off that her neighbor has been upset and preoccupied by the gift of a $50 from two young girls. So, before I headed to Buffalo Wild Wings for the World Cup, I interviewed Joe Sheetz in his home. Later, I was able to get in touch with the president of the Pay It Forward Foundation, a California-based nonprofit, who gave me some background on the concept of paying it forward.

I wrote that article almost as if it were a column, largely because it was practically a single-source story. Joe was a very sweet man, and I hope he finds the answers he’s looking for, and the end of the story that he’s seeking.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News.

 

This past week has been my first week back at my own desk, with a camera in my hands. I enjoyed working alongside other editors and journalists in the newsroom, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to tune up my reporting skills. But I’m also glad to be back in the photo department and telling stories the way I love most.

Dead mall walking

In my 3.5 years in York, I’ve never known the West Manchester Mall to have even half of its storefronts leased out and occupied. Let’s hope that its de-malling brings good results.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Mardell Messersmith, 75 of Dover Township, left, walks with her brother Harold Feeser, 64 of York City, around the interior of West Manchester Mall on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Messersmith and Feeser have taken to mall-walking a few days a week in the past year, but security will soon ask mall walkers to cease their routines before the mall begins dramatic renovations. With the West Manchester Mall destined to give way to an outdoor town center-style shopping center, stores within the mall are shutting down and moving out.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Central York student council members greet graduates after they received their diplomas and sunflowers during commencement at Central York on Friday, May 30, 2014. Central York graduated 445 seniors, 430 of whom participated in the 2014 commencement ceremony.

I didn’t attend my college graduation because I had better things to do. But, having photographed four high school graduations and one college graduation in the past two weeks (including three ceremonies in as many nights, in a row), I’ve probably heard “Pomp and Circumstance” enough times now to atone for not walking in my own commencement.

Without further ado, my favorite pictures from the 2014 graduation season:

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. (Left to right) Stefano Colletti and James Volpe, both candidates for Bachelor of Science degrees, try to figure out their regalia before York College’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 17, 2014. York College of Pennsylvania’s class of 2014 celebrated its spring commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 17, 2014.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Retiring nursing faculty member Jacquelin Harrington, left, chats with fellow nursing faculty member Susan Scherr as they wait for York College’s spring commencement ceremony to begin on Saturday, May 17, 2014.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. York Catholic senior Ralph Maiolino, center, relishes the applause of faculty members as he and other seniors proceeded to commencement at York Catholic on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. York Catholic graduated 107 seniors in its 2014 commencement ceremony.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. York Catholic graduate Mary Hale, left, exits the stage after receiving her diploma during commencement at York Catholic on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. York Catholic graduated 107 seniors in its 2014 commencement ceremony.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. A York Catholic graduate winks at a friend in the audience during commencement at York Catholic on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. York Catholic graduated 107 seniors in its 2014 commencement ceremony.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. York Suburban senior Allie Patterson looks at photo collages of her classmates in the cafeteria before commencement on Thursday, May 29, 2014, at York Suburban. York Suburban had 213 seniors participating in commencement.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. (Left to right) Central York seniors Teal Kreft, Jaida Klyeman and Zane Knaub wait in queue for the procession before commencement at Central York on Friday, May 30, 2014. Central York graduated 445 seniors, 430 of whom participated in the 2014 commencement ceremony.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Central York senior Pedro Tavarez pauses and acknowledges the crowd at the stadium for commencement at Central York on Friday, May 30, 2014. Central York graduated 445 seniors, 430 of whom participated in the 2014 commencement ceremony.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Central York graduates stand and wave their sunflowers during a choral arrangement of “For Good” from the Broadway musical “Wicked” at the end of commencement at Central York on Friday, May 30, 2014. Central York graduated 445 seniors, 430 of whom participated in the 2014 commencement ceremony.

I didn’t intend for all of my favorite pictures from the next graduation — William Penn Senior High School’s — to feature one particular senior, but it just turned out that way.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. William Penn senior Jeshaun Maddox wears sunglasses as he relaxes in the school library before commencement on Friday, June 6, 2014, at William Penn Senior High School.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. William Penn senior Jeshaun Maddox, left, looks back on classmate Symia Major-Kinard as she cries into a tissue as they enter the auditorium for commencement on Friday, June 6, 2014, at William Penn Senior High School.

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. William Penn senior Jeshaun Maddox comforts classmate Symia Major-Kinard — and checks her face for tears — as they enter the auditorium for commencement on Friday, June 6, 2014, at William Penn Senior High School.

Congratulations to the Class of 2014, and best of luck to everyone!

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Central York seniors stand to receive their diplomas during commencement at Central York on Friday, May 30, 2014. Central York graduated 445 seniors, 430 of whom participated in the 2014 commencement ceremony.

When I first made plans to fly to Houston for my grandfather’s funeral, I had no intentions of bringing a camera. When my brother made plans to fly himself, my sister-in-law and my niece to Houston, I packed up my cameras, both digital and film.

As I previously wrote, exploring our childhood home through the eyes of my niece, then almost 20 months, was a lot of fun. Without further ado, I present pictures of the world’s most important toddler:

© 2014. A particularly grueling customs process at IAH put Matt in the depths of despair, but gave Layla some time for a nap.

© 2014. Wide awake, Layla explores one of her favorite things — the stairs — under the watchful eye of my mother. To the right are baby portraits of my younger brother and me. Matt’s baby portrait is out of frame.

© 2014. Mother and child.

© 2014.

© 2014. Jet-lagged.

© 2014. You’d be pretty self-satisfied too, if you’d navigated going down the stairs by yourself not long after waking up.

Continue Reading »

Earlier this month, I returned to Houston for my grandfather‘s funeral, but I was hardly the most far-flung traveler: My brother, sister-in-law and almost-20-month-old niece flew in from Italy.

Not since Christmas 2010 had my two brothers and I been together under the same roof, so while we had gathered to pay respects to our grandfather, we had fun being siblings again and exploring our childhood home through the eyes of Layla, who is now a very confident toddler.

Making pictures of a constantly/unpredictably moving target is a lot different from making pictures of a babe who is either being held or lying relatively sill, but it’s also a lot more fun. Unfortunately, editing down pictures of a toddler who is rambunctiously touring her new domain is pretty difficult. How can you say no to this face?

Saturday, May 3, 2014. Layla at 19 months in Houston, Texas.

© 2014. Like many other young ones, Layla has been trained to stop what she’s doing and smile at the camera. I think I’ve largely trained her out of that when I’m the one holding the camera, although she’s still pretty intrigued by its buttons. This was the first (and only) time she actually walked right up to me and smiled. I’m okay with that.

…Or to this face?

Friday, May 2, 2014. Layla at 19 months in Houston, Texas.

© 2014. EPIC POUT.

Layla isn’t quite ready to put nouns and verbs together to form sentences, but she is very capable of understanding directions and making pout faces. The pictures in this blog post wouldn’t have made the final cut for what I’ll ultimately share, but I take my responsibility as family photographer* very seriously and believe that not sharing these pictures would be akin to committing a serious transgression.

Saturday, May 3, 2014. Layla at 19 months in Houston, Texas.

© 2014. At the breakfast table, with the “Little Mermaid” plate that was my favorite when I was 5 or 6.

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© 2014. I think my younger brother Geoff made this picture, at Grandma’s house.

Obviously, there will be more Layla pictures to come.

 

* Apparently I was always the family photographer: While looking through photo albums for pictures to submit for my grandfather’s obituary page, my uncle Doug discovered this picture:

A picture of Chris taking a picture of extended family at Uncle Emmo's Sugar Land house in 1994. Friday, May 2, 2014.

A picture of me taking a picture of extended family at my second-uncle Emmo’s house, probably in 1994. I would have been 6 years old. We couldn’t figure out who actually took this photo, unfortunately, nor who the girl on the far right is.

Uncle Doug was very proud of this discovery. I am very excited about this early evidence that I’m better behind the camera than in front of it.

Doggy paddle

We’re currently enjoying spectacular weather here in Pennsylvania, which certainly wasn’t the case even last month when April dared to hurl hot days, cold days and snowy days at our faces, as if the snow-laden winter hadn’t been brutal and long enough.

In January, my editors sent me to a local pet daycare where dogs can indulge in the luxury of two heated swimming pools. It was a fun assignment made better by the caring and energetic dog handlers. My only advice to anyone photographing swimming dogs: Wear rain pants. I’m glad I did.

Morgan's Paws Pet Care Center dog handlers Roxanne Smeltzer, left, and Rikki Herbst keep an eye on six dogs and the two heated pools during the daily one-hour pet swim session on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. Dogs enrolled in Morgan's Paws Pet Care Center in Spring Garden Township have access to two heated pools for an hour-long session, while dogs not enrolled can participate in private or open swim sessions. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

Morgan’s Paws Pet Care Center dog handlers Roxanne Smeltzer, left, and Rikki Herbst keep an eye on six dogs and the two heated pools during the daily one-hour pet swim session on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. Dogs enrolled in Morgan’s Paws Pet Care Center in Spring Garden Township have access to two heated pools for an hour-long session, while dogs not enrolled can participate in private or open swim sessions. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

Charlie the English Springer Spaniel wades in a 2-foot-deep, heated pool at Morgan's Paws Pet Care Center in Spring Garden Township on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. Dogs enrolled in Morgan's Paws Pet Care Center in Spring Garden Township have access to two heated pools for an hour-long session, while dogs not enrolled can participate in private or open swim sessions. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

Charlie the English Springer Spaniel wades in a 2-foot-deep, heated pool at Morgan’s Paws Pet Care Center in Spring Garden Township on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. Dogs enrolled in Morgan’s Paws Pet Care Center in Spring Garden Township have access to two heated pools for an hour-long session, while dogs not enrolled can participate in private or open swim sessions. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

I wouldn’t call myself a sports photographer by any means, but when you photograph as many sports as we at the Daily Record do, you can’t help but consider the immense variety of humanly physical achievements these athletes are attempting via any amount of training or number of techniques.

Take, for instance, javelin. Javelin is but one sport in the all-encompassing term “track and field,” but it’s similar to shot put in that both involve an athlete manipulating his/her physique in order to manipulate physics in order to propel an object as far away from him/her as possible. Yet, if you observe different javelin athletes, you can’t help but notice each one is using completely different techniques to attempt the same basic objective.

And that’s just javelin. Shot put has the same basic objective, but it’s achieved completely differently. And again, each athlete has his/her own techniques to that end.

Maybe I think too much about these things. But these are the types of things I think about when I’m sent to cover two very different track assignments in one day.

Track and field…

Littlestown's Lucas Reynolds fails to clear the high jump at 6 feet, 2 inches on the first day of the District 3 track and field championships on Friday, May 16, 2014, at Shippensburg University. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Littlestown’s Lucas Reynolds fails to clear the high jump at 6 feet, 2 inches on the first day of the District 3 track and field championships on Friday, May 16, 2014, at Shippensburg University.

…and sprint car racing:

Hanover driver Logan Schuchart, in his first season in the World of Outlaws, drives a time trial before racing the Pennsylvania Posse at Williams Grove Speedway on Friday, May 16, 2014. The World of Outlaws raced their first night of the season at Williams Grove against the Pennsylvania Posse on Friday, May 16, 2014. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Hanover driver Logan Schuchart, in his first season in the World of Outlaws, drives a time trial before racing the Pennsylvania Posse at Williams Grove Speedway on Friday, May 16, 2014. The World of Outlaws raced their first night of the season at Williams Grove against the Pennsylvania Posse on Friday, May 16, 2014.

Yesterday was the first of two days of PIAA District 3 track and field championships at Shippensburg University. Track and field is a good sport to cover if you want to stay on your toes, because it comprises so many different types of sports (and, in the case of track, different events) that are all photographed differently.

Yesterday was also the World of Outlaws’ season debut at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg. Sprint car racing is a good sport to cover if you don’t mind partial hearing loss.

Anyway, when you cover these different sports in one day, it’s hard not to marvel at what the human body (plus the occasional gears, wheels and oil) is capable of doing.

I’ll stop babbling. Photos:

Drivers warm up their cars on the track as others get their cars pushed onto the track before the World of Outlaws and the Pennsylvania Posse raced at Williams Grove Speedway on Friday, May 16, 2014. The World of Outlaws raced their first night of the season at Williams Grove against the Pennsylvania Posse on Friday, May 16, 2014. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Drivers warm up their cars on the track as others get their cars pushed onto the track before the World of Outlaws and the Pennsylvania Posse raced at Williams Grove Speedway on Friday, May 16, 2014. The World of Outlaws raced their first night of the season at Williams Grove against the Pennsylvania Posse on Friday, May 16, 2014.

Dallastown's Lillian Cook throws the javelin for 117 feet, 9 inches on the first day of the District 3 track and field championships on Friday, May 16, 2014, at Shippensburg University. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Dallastown’s Lillian Cook throws the javelin for 117 feet, 9 inches on the first day of the District 3 track and field championships on Friday, May 16, 2014, at Shippensburg University.

(Left to right) Crew members Vince Hamberger and David Rohrbaugh change out the rear gears of York driver Cory Haas' car before the World of Outlaws and the Pennsylvania Posse raced at Williams Grove Speedway on Friday, May 16, 2014. The World of Outlaws raced their first night of the season at Williams Grove against the Pennsylvania Posse on Friday, May 16, 2014. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. (Left to right) Crew members Vince Hamberger and David Rohrbaugh change out the rear gears of York driver Cory Haas’ car before the World of Outlaws and the Pennsylvania Posse raced at Williams Grove Speedway on Friday, May 16, 2014. The World of Outlaws raced their first night of the season at Williams Grove against the Pennsylvania Posse on Friday, May 16, 2014.

West York's Abdul Junaid runs the 100-meter dash trial on the first day of the District 3 track and field championships on Friday, May 16, 2014, at Shippensburg University. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. West York’s Abdul Junaid runs the 100-meter dash trial on the first day of the District 3 track and field championships on Friday, May 16, 2014, at Shippensburg University.

Hanover driver Jacob Allen drives a time trial before the World of Outlaws and the Pennsylvania Posse raced Friday, May 16, 2014, at Williams Grove Speedway. The World of Outlaws raced their first night of the season at Williams Grove against the Pennsylvania Posse on Friday, May 16, 2014. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Hanover driver Jacob Allen drives a time trial before the World of Outlaws and the Pennsylvania Posse raced Friday, May 16, 2014, at Williams Grove Speedway. The World of Outlaws raced their first night of the season at Williams Grove against the Pennsylvania Posse on Friday, May 16, 2014.

You can view more track and field photos here, and more sprint car racing photos here.

Groundhog hunt

Cue the obligatory kick-in-the-pants. Like many other photo-bloggers, I’m guilty of falling way, way behind in posting current — or even old — photos.

It’s my personal rule to share pictures I made for the paper only after they’ve been run in the paper. I actually have a number of photo stories — some dating back to 2012 — that I haven’t yet blogged. I’d like to think I’m a mercilessly efficient and adept photo editor, but the reality is that I still struggle to edit many of those photo stories in a way that I’d be comfortable sharing. That said, I hope sometime this year to finally post a few of those stories.

But for now, a fun photo from an off-the-beaten-path story that reporter Rebecca LeFever (soon-to-be Rebecca Hanlon) and I covered last summer:

James Parsons IV, 13, lowers two dead groundhogs into a tub on top of a scale to be weighed together, as his father and volunteer firefighter James watches and as his twin sister Rebecca, 13, stands by to record weights on Saturday, June 15, 2013. The groundhogs were two of nine brought in by Steve Wilson of Lower Chanceford Township, who registered in Airville Volunteer Fire Company's first-ever groundhog hunt fundraiser. "Now I get the dubious pleasure of getting rid of them," Wilson said as he scooped the carcasses back into the bin in which he'd brought them. Airville Volunteer Fire Company hosted a groundhog hunt fundraiser, registering 38 local hunters who hunted for groundhogs on Friday and Saturday, June 14-15, 2013. Two prizes -- one for the heaviest groundhog and one for the most kills -- were awarded. DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - CHRIS DUNN

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. James Parsons IV, 13, lowers two dead groundhogs into a tub on top of a scale to be weighed together, as his father and volunteer firefighter James watches and as his twin sister Rebecca, 13, stands by to record weights on Saturday, June 15, 2013. The groundhogs were two of nine brought in by Steve Wilson of Lower Chanceford Township, who registered in Airville Volunteer Fire Company’s first-ever groundhog hunt fundraiser. “Now I get the dubious pleasure of getting rid of them,” Wilson said as he scooped the carcasses back into the bin in which he’d brought them. Airville Volunteer Fire Company hosted a groundhog hunt fundraiser, registering 38 local hunters who hunted for groundhogs on Friday and Saturday, June 14-15, 2013. Two prizes — one for the heaviest groundhog and one for the most kills — were awarded. DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – CHRIS DUNN

Grandpa

My grandfather — my father’s father — died earlier this month. Tomorrow, I’m flying to Houston to spend time with family and attend his funeral.

The announcement that was printed in the Southern Chinese Daily News.

The announcement that was printed in the Southern Chinese Daily News.

My grandfather led an enormously productive life (as you can read in his obituary), but my brothers and I mostly got to know him better after he retired in 1997 and settled with my grandmother in a house 10 miles from our own home. A significant language barrier lay between my generation and him, but I knew him as a stern yet benevolent patriarchal figure who was largely content to spend his retirement in peace and to observe us quietly as we grew from rambunctious, bickering kids to generally functioning adults.

Every Sunday night for years, we’d drive over for family dinner. Every Christmas, Thanksgiving and Chinese New Year, my father’s two brothers would fly down and join us for a food-filled celebration. These were rituals that we could count on. At first, as an oblivious, sometimes bratty kid, I resisted particularly the weekly dinners, for which my grandmother often cooked up seven different Chinese dishes from scratch. But over the years, I learned to appreciate these times and, especially once I went to college, my grandmother’s cooking. I therefore made a point of visiting my grandparents every time I was in town during college and afterwards.

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The Dunn clan (plus Jeff, minus my younger brother and cousins) on Chinese New Year, Feb. 10, 2013, at my grandparents’ house. Four generations are represented in this picture. This is the last picture I ever took with my grandfather.

My grandfather won’t be present at Jeff’s and my wedding — one reason we booked a Texas venue was so my grandparents could attend — but it’s okay. He served his country for 54 years in three (I think) different countries, and earned his long, quiet retirement. He lived to see one of my generation get married and to meet one of his two great-granddaughters, and he liked Jeff and knew of our engagement.

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© 2009 by Jeff Lautenberger. Jeff took a picture of my grandparents at my older brother’s wedding, and I probably intentionally hopped in at the last minute and probably unintentionally became a creeper/photo bomber.

In Chinese culture, it is important to honor your elders, and in addition to attending his funeral and spending time with family, writing this blog is the best way I can honor and remember my grandfather.

Rest in peace, Grandpa.

  • You can read more about my grandfather’s life and see pictures here.

I think we may have just had our final snowfall of the winter — well, I sure hope so, anyway.

Whenever people here in Pennsylvania find out I’m originally from Texas, their next thought is usually the assumption that I’m not used to snow and real winter weather. What they often find out next is that I went to college in Missouri, where the first Midwestern snowfall I experienced was a 16-inch dump that canceled classes. So I’m not entirely a snow baby.

That said, I am absolutely done with snow and winter for now. Everyone in this stretch of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic is. We’ve had nearly 20 winter storms involving ice and/or snow since December, which means area students have had something like a week’s worth of snow days, municipalities have run out of rock salt and everyone is ready for spring.

In the hopes that the 1-inch pittance we just had is this winter’s last hurrah, here are just a few of the wintry-weather photos I made since December:

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Ashawn Creque, 6, right, catches snowflakes on his tongue as his brother Amari Brady, 5, follows on West Market Street in York on their way home from a clinic on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. York County’s first snowfall of 2014 happened two days into the new year. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. A red bird perches on a tree branch amid heavy snowfall in the Springetts Apartments complex in Springettsbury Township on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. The National Weather Service predicted a total of 10-18 inches of snow will have fallen by the conclusion of a storm that began late in York County, Pa., on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, and continued through Thursday afternoon. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Mail carrier Greg Holler delivers mail in the snowfall on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, in West York. York County received its third snowfall in a week on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Two people walk the King Street bridge across the Codorus Creek in York amid a dense fog advisory on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. Much of York County was cloaked in dense morning fog on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. (Left to right) Ben Bartkowski, 12 of Springettsbury Township, and Sasha Sobestanovich, 13 of Springettsbury Township, tube down the AvalancheXPress slope on Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in Springettsbury Township. AvalancheXPress at Heritage Hills Golf Resort was closed Thursday during the heavy snowfall but opened back up with fresh snow on Friday, Feb. 14, 2014. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. As coworkers Jack Adams, left, and Todd Barnhart, far right, tug at a fallen pine tree, A Climbers View tree services employee Robert Mays cuts off sections of the tree trunk on the York County Heritage Rail Trail half a mile north of the Taylor Hill Road crossing on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, in Shrewsbury Township. York County Parks and its contractors are working to clear sections of the York County Heritage Rail Trail that have been blocked by fallen trees from this winter’s storms. Parks assistant superintendent George Howett said this winter has felled the most trees in the past 11 years, and he expects more to fall by summer: Trees, especially pines, that are already leaning over will likely succumb to typical springtime rains and strong winds. “This has been an exceptional winter,” Howett said. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2014 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Kristian Martiny, 2 of Lancaster County, gets ready to slide down a tall snow pile created by snow plows near AvalancheXPress’s snow-tubing slope at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in Springettsbury Township on Friday, Feb. 14, 2014. Martiny’s mother took him down the tubing slope twice, but he preferred to slide down this smaller snow pile on his stomach. AvalancheXPress at Heritage Hills Golf Resort was closed Thursday during the heavy snowfall but opened back up with fresh snow on Friday, Feb. 14, 2014. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

A dress for dancing

We watched the Academy Awards show last night, and I’ve just now been thinking about costumes and pretty dresses, and then I remembered that I never shared this photo. So, here we are and there you go.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Costume designer Carrie Robbins shows a group of college, high school and middle school students how she designed a silk dance dress for The Alley Theatre’s “American in Paris,” during a talk she gave on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, at Penn State York. A Penn State alumna, Robbins has designed costumes for on- and off-Broadway shows, including operas, for about four decades and has received multiple awards and two Tony nominations. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

Mini golf mania

It’s 20-something degrees outside, and we’re about to get this season’s 17th winter storm, and I’m not sure that we’ll ever see warm weather again, so it is time that I posted photos of people having fun in the sun, even if only to remind myself of what summer is. (That said, come summer, I’ll almost wish for winter weather again. Almost.)

Last summer, I went to every miniature golf course in York County — eight! there are eight! — and made pictures at each for a project at The Daily Record/Sunday News. You can view all the photos and read my snippet of an article, but here’re some of my favorites:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Carl Henry Smith, 4 of Abbottstown, practices his putting on his first time at a miniature golf course as he waits for the group ahead of him to finish the next hole at Cones and Clubs Miniature Golf in Hellam Township on Saturday, July 20, 2013. The facility, owned by Jimmy Mack, includes the 24-hole miniature golf course, a miniature zoo, an arcade, a bounce house and, of course, Jim Mack’s Ice Cream. Elijah was too young to play miniature golf with his father and brother, so his mother Christy kept him occupied in the Bankshot court. York County is home to eight miniature golf courses, and each offers a different approach to the game. DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – CHRIS DUNN

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Miniature golf clubs stand up against the concession stand building at the Memorial Park complex’s miniature golf course on Thursday, July 25, 2013. Donald Reeser of The Frosty Putter Miniature Golf Course built the course in York City’s Memorial Park complex, “somewhere around 2000.” The course is now owned by Tom and Julie Thomas, who open it mostly during the spring and summer softball seasons and operate it as a nonprofit benefiting the Razorback softball team. DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – CHRIS DUNN

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Donald Reeser watches as a golf ball gets putted into the final hole — built into a sprint car — at his Frosty Putter Miniature Golf Course on Friday, Aug. 9, 2013. The car, which replaced an Amish buggy that rotted over the years, was “one of the best sprint cars in Pennsylvania,” according to Reeser. “This one won 26 features in one year. I worked about six months to get it.” Three years after a shoulder injury forced him into early retirement, Donald Reeser built The Frosty Putter Miniature Golf Course within sight of his house, just south of Lewisberry. Now 76, Reeser enjoys watching people roam the course. The par is 41, but Reeser says he’s shot a 32, which included six holes-in-one. “In fact, I had four of them straight in a row,” he said. DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – CHRIS DUNN

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Madison Messinger, 5 of Franklintown, runs up a green to join her twin brother and grandfather at Putters’ Paradise on Thursday, July 25, 2013. Putters’ Paradise, formerly Rutter’s Putters’ Paradise, has been located near the Manchester Township Rutter’s Dairy facility since 1983. John and Liz Inch have owned it and the adjacent snow cone stand for five years. “It’s just a fun night out,” Liz Inch said. “Dessert’s good with everything.” DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – CHRIS DUNN

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Jim Richard, 75 of Newberry Township, watches as his wife Judy, 63, tries to putt her ball from between a bear statue’s legs at Putters’ Paradise on Friday, July 26, 2013. DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – CHRIS DUNN

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Madelin Marcin, 6 of Catonsville, Md., stands on a rock formation and a wooden stump near her golf ball as she and her brother Drew Marcin, 9, wait for their grandparents to putt at Hickory Falls Family Entertainment Center’s miniature golf course on Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013. “It was Jeff’s dream to own a miniature golf course,” said Rick Martz, who now co-owns Hickory Falls Family Entertainment Center with Jeff Stern and several others. The miniature golf course is just one of several attractions at the Penn Township complex, but it was the first one built, in 2002. “It’s something that all ages can do,” Martz said. “We’re all about promoting family time.” DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – CHRIS DUNN

Thank you, Grant Kalivoda

If you took Yoda (non-combative, original trilogy version), Obi-Wan (mostly Alec Guinness’s version) and Gandalf the Grey (pre-White) and mashed them together, you’d get Grant Kalivoda.

Grant wasn’t an awards-amassing ivory tower type, nor was he a lofty-minded artist, nor was he a Jedi (I think). But he was a whiz at camera, darkroom and printing technology who dreamed of organizing Segway tours of his beloved Santa Fe and who had a hearty appetite for New Mexican food and good conversation. He was the “New Mexico hippie [who] put a medium-format film SLR camera into my hands and told me to have fun” who is mentioned in my biography on this blog.

Grant passed away earlier this week.

Grant Kalivoda, 67, sits for a portrait in his Santa Fe front porch with Gnorm the Gnome on Tuesday, June 25, 2013.

© 2013. Grant Kalivoda, 67, sits for a portrait in his Santa Fe front porch with Gnorm the Gnome on Tuesday, June 25, 2013.

I’ve mentioned Grant before on this blog, but only once, apparently. Which is absurd now that I think about the extraordinary impact Grant had on my life. So, I now belatedly attempt to correct this oversight.

Rewind to 2006. I had applied for several different summer jobs at Philmont Scout Ranch in northeastern New Mexico and, on a whim, included a CD of pretty craptastic photos I’d taken on my first digital camera, a Canon point-and-shoot. For whatever reason, Philmont offered me a job as a photographer. I accepted, even though I knew nothing about photography and was terrified of learning how to use real cameras and the darkroom.

Enter Grant. Grant, a photo and printing specialist out of Santa Fe, had for years been training Philmont photographers how to use the gigantic Pentax 6×7 cameras, how to develop C-41 film with the Jobo processor, how to use the enlargers and the Kreonite print processor for individual prints and how to use the Noritsu print processors for prints en masse. As the only photographer on staff who’d never manually exposed or developed her own film before, I was at a distinct disadvantage, but Grant treated me just as if I were any of the other photographers. All I needed was a bit more mentorship, which he provided.

Under Grant’s instruction, I didn’t botch up my first-ever roll of film (which I still have), nor any roll of film I shot that summer. I fell in love with film, hard. Being in complete control over every step of the process never ceased to awe me, and I was hooked. I happily lugged the heavy Pentax gear up and down mountains, relished the thudding sound of the heavy shutter and voluntarily spent many late nights developing film and printing.

This said, I was still an awful photographer. I’m not sure that the ranch was able to use most of the pictures I produced for marketing purchases that first summer. But I sure did have fun.

In fact, I had so much fun that when I went to Mizzou that fall, I slammed the brakes on my aspirations of becoming a reporter, and instead worked my tail off to become a photojournalist.

And now here I am.

A photojournalist.

© 2013. This is a control panel from one of two Noritsu printers that was saved and mounted amid the 2007 digital conversion at Philmont News & Photo.

© 2013. These prints, dating from the early 1990s, were ones that Grant Kalivoda used to demonstrate color compensation for the Noritsu printers we used at Philmont News & Service before the 2007 digital conversion.

I came back to Philmont for two more summers: In 2007, I was one of the only returning photographers from 2006 to help transition the department from film to digital, and in 2008, I headed the ranch’s weekly staff newsletter. Grant provided training during both those summers, albeit at a diminished frequency compared to 2006. Still, I loved seeing my old friend whenever he made the drive from Santa Fe, and was greatly reassured that he was only a phone call away.

When Jeff and I made Santa Fe our destination for our 2010 spring break road trip, I made sure we saw Grant. It only made sense to introduce two of the most important people in my life to each other, and of course it was great to see Grant again. We met up for green chile burgers at the now-defunct Bobcat Bite and ended the night at Grant’s house, where we ate ice cream and played dominoes.

© 2010. Santa Fe from afar, coming up north on I-25, on March 31, 2010. Kodak Portra, 35mm, not sure which ASA.

After that trip, my contact with Grant was limited to a few emails here and there. I’d occasionally catch a recurring mountain fever, but finances and time kept me from making another trip to my beloved Sangre de Cristo mountains. Then, last spring, a friend contacted me with news that Grant had Parkinson’s and arthritis and wasn’t doing too well.

That changed everything.

Three months after I emailed Grant to check up on him and one month after he replied, I was on a plane to New Mexico. I stayed three days in the Land of Enchantment; the only times I wasn’t with Grant and his girlfriend Charlotte were when I took a quick driving tour of Santa Fe and made a half-day trip up to Philmont. But we spent two days eating lots of good food, taking driving tours, sharing old memories and puttering around their home on the outskirts of Santa Fe. Usually when I make trips, I produce lists of things to do and eat, and every day is planned out to the max. But this trip, I had no agenda except to be with Grant and Charlotte. I don’t think Grant ever believed me on that — several times, he tried to guess why I really came from Pennsylvania to New Mexico — but my earlier revelation that Grant might not be immortal made me realize I wanted to share more time with him.

Earlier this month, I got mountain fever again and started babbling to Jeff about booking another trip to Santa Fe. This trip, I’d want to make a few hikes, but seeing Grant and Charlotte was definitely at the top of my list, too. Unfortunately, a few hours after I got off a 12-hour overnight shift today, I received word that Grant wasn’t immortal after all.

© 2013. Grant Kalivoda and Charlotte Schaaf stand in their Santa Fe, N.M., backyard, “American Gothic”-style in late June 2013.

Lessons I learned from Grant Kalivoda, many of which he may not have known he taught me:

  • Slow down. (Still learning this one.)
  • Knowing more than others doesn’t necessarily make you better, and often it just makes you lazy.
  • Never stop tinkering. Never stop learning. Never stop wondering. And have fun in the meantime.
  • You’ll enjoy things a lot more if you slow down and appreciate them. Unless it’s ice cream we’re talking about.
  • It ain’t broke until fixing it just makes it worse.
  • Anything can be repurposed.
  • Taking the time to enjoy a meal (slowly) with friends, sans phones and other distractions, is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

The thing is, I’m just one of countless people who learned from Grant and became a better person for it. I have no clue how many summers he helped train Philmont’s photo department, and he also had a sizable presence in the Santa Fe community. The man’s influence was and is far-reaching. He helped me realize where I wanted to take my career, and I’m positive I’m not the only one who so benefited from his instruction, patience and kindness.

The Philmont and Santa Fe communities owe much to Grant Kalivoda, whether or not they realize it. For myself, I’m learning that there’s never enough time in the world to spend with those who matter most to you, but I’m no less grateful for the time that we did share.

Rest in peace, Grant. You are dearly missed.

Last week, while washing out my Tupperware in the office’s break room, I mentioned to reporter Rebecca how I’ve known Christmas is coming up, yet I could hardly believe it was next week. She then said something that completely explained that phenomena: We at the paper have been covering Christmas-y things for so long that Christmas just feels like a marathon now, not a sprint.

I’m not sure if that makes sense written out, but it makes sense in my head.

Here are pictures from pretty much all the Christmas-y assignments I’ve had, starting in… November! I also covered at least three  — maybe four? — retail/business stories focusing on Christmas shopping, so I’ll spare you most of those, too. (Whew. End-of-year holiday coverage truly is a marathon.)

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. An apatosaurus-like dinosaur is one of many lit-up attractions at Christmas Magic for the 2013 season. Christmas Magic, which opens the day after Thanksgiving, is celebrating its 30th anniversary in Rocky Ridge County Park. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Greater York Dance students Katie Harper and Jennah Motter perform as harlequin dolls as Morgan Strathmeyer plays another doll in a dance sequence from a party scene from “The Nutcracker” at the Capitol Theatre during Light Up Night on Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. York City hosted its annual Light Up Night throughout downtown, with events culminating in the arrival of Santa Claus in Continental Square. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. York Revolution mascot DownTown greets Rodney Yeaple as he plays Christmas tunes on the bagpipes while approaching Continental Square during Light Up Night on Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, in York. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Faith United Church of Christ member Pete Perez puts the finishing touches on his 10-year-old son Aaron’s shepherd costume before participating in the church’s first live nativity program on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Christina Abel, 6 of Jackson Township, picks out a poinsettia for her mother as she shops with her grandmother Sherry, not pictured, in Ollie’s Bargain Outlet in West Manchester Township on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. With three snowfalls in a week’s time, both shoppers and stores are being affected by the weather. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Brothers Carlos and Jorge Montalvo, along with Carlos’s daughter Karla, beat on las plenas (drums) as they and other relatives sing traditional Puerto Rican, parrandas-style Christmas music in Carlos’s living room on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2013. Jorge Montalvo and his brother Carlos came to York from Puerto Rico about 14 years ago, and have since lived in the city with their families. Every Christmas, their 12 other siblings and other relatives fly up from Florida, Puerto Rico and other areas to celebrate the holiday in a hotel ballroom that they rent to hold more than 100 people. The Montalvo brothers and their families also regularly gather at least twice a month for large family dinners featuring traditional Puerto Rican food. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Sister Ana Luisa Sanhueza plays the guitar as she and others lead parishioners in worship during mass while celebrating Las Posadas in a York home on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. Parishioners of the Church of The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in York participated in one of nine nights of Las Posadas — a Latino pre-Christmas tradition focusing on the journey of Joseph and Mary — at the house of Vicente and María Reinoso in York. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Santa Claus, played by Elmer Baker, opens up his bag in veteran Ryan Walton’s York Township living room as Walton’s son Ayden, 3, watches shyly on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. With the help of Santa and Mrs. Claus, CJ Hoffman and her nonprofit Feed the Vets Red Lion delivered an early round of Christmas presents, grocery gift cards and food to Walton’s family. Walton, who served in Iraq and was at Fort Hood at the time of the 2009 shooting, is currently hospitalized for renal failure and disintegrating spinal discs. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

Next up… my “Best of 2013″ post.

Maybe.

After all, I didn’t get around to my “Best of 2011″ until February 2012.

Cats of 2013

I’ll scrabble together a “Best of 2013″ — and maybe “Best of 2012,” since I didn’t get around to it last year — at some point, but for now, let’s talk about cats.

I love cats. I do. Unfortunately, I’m pretty allergic to cats. This means that every time I’m on assignment and a cat is in the vicinity, that cat finds a way to rub up against my legs. In return, I find a way to get that cat in a picture.

And then I manage to get that picture published.

According to some people in the photo department (my editor, and Kate), six published cat photos (out of nearly 1,500 published photos in 2013) is a lot.

I guess it is.

Here they are.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Omega Horse Rescue director Kelly Smith bundles up hay feed for the following day, on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. Kelly Smith, director of Omega Horse Rescue in Peach Bottom Township, rescued a horse from a kill auction whose photo she posted on Facebook. A Massachusetts teenager recognized the horse as hers, and is now reunited with it. DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – CHRIS DUNN

In my defense, two of the six photos involve barn cats, which are basically the most bad-ass domestic cats around. I mean, check out Rascal:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. One of Eric Thomas’s Belgian Draft horses approaches Rascal the barn cat on Thomas’s Springfield Township property on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. Eric Thomas and his family own five Belgian Draft horses, which weigh about 2,000 pounds each, and keep them and three other lighter horses on their 50 acres in Springfield Township. “As a kid, I wanted elephants, so this was the closest I could get into it,” Thomas said. The family got their first team of Belgians in 2000. DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – CHRIS DUNN

And I’ve also been working on a three-part series about a married couple who operate a white-glove travel agency, and they work out of home, and they have a naked Sphinx cat. A NAKED SPHINX CAT. How could I not make sure to get photos of a naked Sphinx cat?

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Jason Holland wears his pilot’s uniform as he enters information from scores of business cards he’s collected onto his computer and social networking sites, as Sphinx cat Bailey nestles in his lap, on Wednesday, May 15, 2013. Jason and Sandy Holland’s white-glove travel service, Travel Simplicity, has recently turned a profit. But Sandy Holland, who has been the primary provider since they started the business, continues to work her full-time day job even as she helps the company grow. DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – CHRIS DUNN

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Bailey the Sphinx cat watches from a high chair as Jason Holland mixes up another batch of chocolate chip cookies, which he and his wife Sandy Holland serve to potential and existing clients at trade shows and during meetings, on Wednesday, May 15, 2013. DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – CHRIS DUNN

Gettysburg cat:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Buddy the cat stands up to look out a window in the Shriver House Museum’s attic, which during the battle at Gettysburg served as a sniper’s nest for Confederate soldiers. Blood stains have been detected on the wooden plank floor, and bullets are still embedded in the brick walls of the house that is now a museum depicting civilian life during the Civil War. Private musuems in Gettysburg are starting to prepare for the 150th anniversary of the battle this summer. DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – CHRIS DUNN

And, finally, spot-news cat:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Holding a Dora the Explorer blanket and a wet cat, a woman prepares to disembark a five-ton rescue vehicle after she, four girls and two dogs were rescued from a flooded Hellam Township mobile home park on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013. Chris Dunn — Daily Record/Sunday News

But even my cat-loving editor says she’s getting tired of my cat photos, so I guess I’ll have to seek out a new favorite animal for 2014.

Analog: Bambina

Thanks to warehouses and shipping and other forces beyond my control, I won’t get to send Christmas presents to my brother, sister-in-law and niece in time for Christmas. So, Matt, Emily and Layla, here are some analog photos from Italy (and a bonus frame) as an early Christmas present to make up for the belatedness of your package!

© 2013. Layla rides a turtle? dinosaur? something? in a playscape near the Pozzuoli harbor.

© 2013. Emily and Layla along the river Tiber in Rome. This frame looks like I applied an Instagram filter, but this is real film, y’all.

© 2013. You can sit on ancient pillars inside il Colosseo. I think my mom might’ve had something over the lens, on the righthand side of the frame.

© 2013. Family photo in Montepulciano.

© 2013. Along the Pozzuoli harbor.

© 2013. At this point, I was trying to use up the rest of the roll of film, and Emily and Layla happily obliged.

Aaand now for a bonus frame — the last frame on the roll, which I took during one of three snowfalls we had in a week back in York:

© 2013. We bought this bottle at the Maker’s distillery back in May, and I got to dip it in the wax. Jeff finally opened it to make bourbon balls, but before he did, I insisted on making this frame. Check that dynamic range!

And thus concludes my blog posts of photos I made while in Italy.

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