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Sunday, it snowed a few inches and then melted down a bit. Today, it snowed another six inches on top of what we already had, so after I shoveled out three cars and then some, and after Jeff helped a neighbor shovel her driveway, we took snow pictures. I might have made us wait 20 minutes for the sun to come back out so we could get this shot of me:

© 2013.

© 2013.

The snow picture pertains to my Italian vacation and Il Duomo di Firenze (Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower, which is topped with Brunelleschi’s Dome) because there, I too waited a while for good light.

Like, an hour.

Here’s what happened. Best sister-in-law ever, aka Emily, and I left Matt and my mom in  Galleria degli Uffizi so we could climb il Campanile di Giotto in time for sunset pictures of il Duomo di FirenzeThe sky was pouring rain on us the whole way from Uffizi to il Campanile, and it was still coming down when, 414 steps later, we reached the top of the bell tower. But we’d come so far, so we stepped out into the rain anyway, at which point another man in the room thrust his open umbrella at us, which we obviously accepted.

This is what il Duomo and the rest of Florence looked like under heavy rain:

© 2013. Il Duomo di Firenze, under heavy rainfall, as seen from Giotto’s Campanile (bell tower) on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013.

Emily, who has never known me to be without a camera, graciously accepted that we would be waiting at the top of the bell tower, just to wait and see if the sky would ever break up and if the light would ever improve. So we kept baby Layla occupied and checked outside every now and again. When the rain stopped, we stepped back out. The sky was definitely clearing up in the west, but I still waited. Finally, just over an hour after I’d taken the photo above, the sunset cast an amazing orange glow over the city, and quality of light was almost Rembrandt-esque.

So, here’s my best Duomo shot:

© 2013. Only minimally toned in post-production.

Moral of the story: Real photographers wait for good light. (Unless, of course, you have two or three other assignments to complete and can’t afford to linger.) And, the quality of light can truly make or break a photo. Just take another look at that rainy-sky Duomo photo.

Thank you, best sister-in-law ever, for understanding this and being patient.

© 2013. Il Duomo from the ground, in less-good light.

Penn State ended its 2013 football season on a high note tonight, but here’re a few action-feature photos from the two regular-season games I shot this year. (I did shoot the spring Blue-White game, and did video for a third regular-season game.)

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Penn State’s Zach Zwinak brings the ball into the endzone against Eastern Michigan in the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. Penn State defeated Eastern Michigan University 45-7.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Penn State’s Adam Breneman celebrates in the end zone after scoring the first touchdown against Nebraska on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013. Penn State lost 23-20 in overtime.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg finds an opening in the Nebraska defense to rush a third-quarter touchdown on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Penn State kicker Sam Ficken reacts after watching his bad field goal attempt in overtime against Nebraska on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013.

When my mom and I visited my brother and his family in Naples, Italy, Matt and Emily made sure we saw the sights. For one thing, I’m pretty allergic to cats, and Emily wanted to minimize my exposure to their cat by getting us out of the apartment as frequently as possible. For another, we were in Italy — and who knows when or if we’ll be back?

So the photos below — a mix of landscapes, food and cute baby — are largely in chronological order of our travels around southern Italy and then our four-day excursion to Rome and Florence. Enjoy!

Costiera Amalfitana

Our first outing took us along the Amalfi Coast, where the views and seafood are ample.

© 2013. Can you tell where the sky and Mediterranean meet? View of the Amalfi Coast from an overlook near Ristorante L’Incanto in Furore.

© 2013. Matt’s platter of fried fishes, squids and shrimp at Ristorante L’Incanto in Furore.

Matt and Emily generally feed Layla “real people” food. She’s not allowed extremely salty things like prosciutto, but she can handle Indian food and a variety of other cuisines, and Emily always cuts up small samples of the meal for Layla to eat. So, nobody was surprised when Layla grabbed one of the lightly fried sardines that Matt left on his platter…

© 2013. Layla reaches for the fried fishes remaining on Matt’s platter.

…but everyone — including Layla herself — was surprised when she ate the tail end of the fish:

© 2013. What happens when a 14-month-old eats the tail end of a lightly fried sardine.

Onwards and eastwards down the coast. We stopped in Vietri sul Mare, a hamlet known for its ceramics. It also has a pretty nice view:

© 2013. View from a metered parking area overlook in Vietri sul Mare.

…and we discovered that Layla, who previously hated gelato for its frigidity, is okay with it as long as she’s holding the spoon:

© 2013. Chocolate gelato tastes even better if it’s all over your face.

Napoli

It’s easier to say Matt and Emily live in Naples, but they’re a bit removed from the city itself. Anyway, Emily took my mom and me into downtown Naples to check out some old churches (including Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo di Napoli and Museo Cappella Sansevero) and, of course, eat true Neapolitan pizza.

We learned that verace pizza napoletana (“true Neapolitan pizza”) is taken pretty seriously. There’s even a sort of governing body that inspects and approves pizzerias that produce verace pizza napoletana. Matt was a big fan of L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele — until he found out that that’s where Julia Roberts ate pizza in the movie Eat Pray Love. (Awful movie.) Since then, his loyalty lies with Pizzeria di Matteo (whose website includes an entire section about Bill Clinton’s visit there), where Emily took us:

© 2013. Pizza con funghi (mushroom pizza).

It was pretty tasty.

Roma

Matt and Emily spent their fourth wedding anniversary in Rome… with their baby and the in-laws.

© 2013. Il Colosseo by night.

And then the restaurant where we ate dinner (I had carbonara) had a pretty teeny bathroom, so Emily had to change Layla’s diaper in a dark alley between parked Vespas. Typical.

© 2013. Oh, the indignity.

Continue Reading »

Ciao bambina (Napoli)

Nine months ago, we all got to meet my baby niece Layla. A few months later, I was lamenting to a coworker about how fast the baby was growing, and how her living in Italy makes it hard for me to be a doting aunt. My coworker immediately chided me for not applying for my passport, booking flights and getting my butt over to Italy, because after all, Layla’s not exactly getting any younger.

So, two weeks ago, my mother and I flew to Naples, where my brother Matt and his family live, for a 10-day trip that would be my first-ever journey abroad. We explored Naples, had a four-day excursion to Rome and Florence, ate a lot and played with the baby. And I made a lot of pictures.

© 2013.

The pictures in this blog post (which is the first of at least three to come) show home life in Naples — or, Napoli. But first, the obligatory travel photo:

© 2013. First light over the Atlantic as we flew from Houston (IAH) to Frankfurt (FRA).

I never wanted to be that person who traveled abroad and returned home with all sorts of snooty attitudes about food, culture, etc., but let’s be real: You really cannot beat super-fresh mozzarella di bufala.

© 2013. A home-made charcuterie board at Matt and Emily’s apartment was our first meal in Italy. Clockwise from the top: Olives, fresh basil, freshly sliced prosciutto, cut tomatoes, olive oil and mozzarella di bufala.

Baby moped:

© 2013. Emily put Layla on a pint-sized moped in a Pozzuoli park.

Real moped:

© 2013. Matt on his Vespa. Behind him are his landlady, who lives downstairs from his apartment, and one of the many stray cats she feeds.

And now for some scenes at home:

© 2013. Emily takes Layla for a walk around the neighborhood above Pozzuoli.

© 2013. Layla pushes against the door screen to watch Matt as he sits on the terrace.

Continue Reading »

Analog: Rubber ducky

So, I guess I like rubber duckies, because this happened in July:

© 2013. At the 25th annual Rubber Duckie Race in Lancaster County Central Park in July 2013. Kodak Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

…And this happened in October:

© 2013. My best attempt at “duck lips.” Rubber Duck art installation in Pittsburgh’s Point State Park. Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013. Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

© 2013. Jeff’s best attempt at “duck lips.”

It was our first trip to Pittsburgh, and honestly, we went for the duck. We did do other Pittsburgh things, though. We toured the Strip District, dined in an old-person Italian restaurant in Bloomberg, saw Andrew Carnegie’s dinosaur skeletons, nixed a few sketchy hotels in sketchy areas and rode an incline:

© 2013. View of Rubber Duck art installation in Pittsburgh’s Point State Park from the Duquesne Incline. Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013. Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

But let’s be real: It was mostly about the duck.

T-rex jack o’ lantern

Today, I carved my first-ever pumpkin. Granted, my parents bought us pumpkins when I was probably six or seven, and I remember we scooped out pumpkin guts in our patio, but I’m pretty sure my mom handled the knife work. Which means, I’ve never carved a pumpkin. Until today.

Normally, I wouldn’t blog these sorts of shenanigans, except…

  1. I’m really proud of my pumpkin,
  2. I used all three of my prime lenses in documenting my pumpkin and
  3. Jeff and I went to some ridiculous measures to light up my pumpkin for the final shot.

So, here we go!

Taken with my 28/2.8. First, I had Jeff print out the “Jurassic Park” logo. Then, using my light table and a Sharpie, I traced it onto another sheet of paper and simplified some of the details, like the teeth. Jeff helped me tape and tack the pattern onto my beautiful pumpkin, which we picked at Barefoot Farm in Dover.

Using a weird pick tool (not sure why we have it), I punched small holes along the outlines. Then, once I removed the pattern, I used the same pick to create the lines via the holes. The hardest part was not the teeth, but actually the letters.

And voila!

Taken with my 100/2 lens on our deck. Because the pattern is so intricate, I figured it’d be easier to do a relief carving, rather than actually carving through the flesh and meat.

But as we all know, the only thing that matters is how good your pumpkin looks when it’s lit up. So… voila!

Taken with my 50/1.4. This is on our kitchen floor. A couple of tea lights are inside the pumpkin. My Boy Scout headlamp is on the floor behind the pumpkin, and Jeff held up his iPad (on a lower brightness setting) and used the iPad fold-over case as a gobo. Yeah. That happened.

So, uh, yeah.

I promise I’ll have some more, uh, professional photos up soon. And some film, once I pick it up tomorrow and get it scanned over the next few days.

Five years ago, Bill Eppridge visited my university. He and his wife Adrienne had some time to visit with students, so I hastily threw together a portfolio for them to review. I was terrified and convinced that they’d tear it apart — Bill being a venerable visual journalist and Adrienne being a venerable visual editor — but they were completely kind and supportive in their criticism and suggestions.

Looking back now, I’m guessing they recognized that I didn’t really know what I was doing, and that prodding me along would be more productive than tearing me apart. (Related: I’ll never forget the only written comment that former Columbia Daily Tribune photo editor Gerik provided after reviewing my exit portfolio in May 2010: “Could be a newspaper photographer someday.”) I’ve since made conscious efforts, every time I’m in a position to encourage or review work with a younger photographer, to be just as considerate and supportive as Bill and Adrienne were to me.

. . .

I’ve just learned that Bill has died. His legacy includes a number of iconic images made in times of peace and war, and I’m certain he inspired and helped young photojournalists who are far more successful than I. But for my part, I’ll never forget the gentle, compassionate critique he and his wife gave me five years ago in the Missouri photo lab. My next portfolio iteration was much more restrained and well-edited enough to land me an internship at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the following summer, and I’m convinced that Bill and Adrienne gave me just the right push to get my internship applications rolling.

(With a wink in Adrienne’s direction, Bill also told me that the best advice he could ever give a young photographer is to marry a good editor. I’d like to think Jeff and I have edited each other’s work fairly thoroughly in our almost-five years together.)

Just for fun, I’m opening myself up to potential embarrassment by posting what I believe is the portfolio that I showed Bill and Adrienne on that Oct. 2009 evening:

Sgt. Curtis Webb moves forward to reinforce the line formation during the 1140th Military Police Company's riot control training on April 15, 2007. The company, which is a local division of the Missour National Guard, practiced blocks and movement patterns using wooden bats.

Sgt. Curtis Webb moves forward to reinforce the line formation during the 1140th Military Police Company’s riot control training on April 15, 2007. The company, which is a local division of the Missour National Guard, practiced blocks and movement patterns using wooden bats.

Columbia City Clerk Sheela Amin swears re-elected mayor Darwin Hindman into office on April 9, 2007. Winning more than 70 percent of the vote, Hindman won a record fifth term.

Columbia City Clerk Sheela Amin swears re-elected mayor Darwin Hindman into office on April 9, 2007. Winning more than 70 percent of the vote, Hindman won a record fifth term.

Oklahoma State junior shortstop Jordy Mercer slides home during the series finale against the Tigers on April 6, 2007, in Taylor Stadium. Mercer scored three runs in the game, which the Sooners won 8-6.

Oklahoma State junior shortstop Jordy Mercer slides home during the series finale against the Tigers on April 6, 2007, in Taylor Stadium. Mercer scored three runs in the game, which the Sooners won 8-6.

(No cutline, apparently, but this was from the first-ever Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival in Columbia, Mo.)

(No cutline, apparently, but this was from the first-ever Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival in Columbia, Mo.)

Andrea Molina and Maria delCarmen Reguera dance the flamenco during the Multicultural Dance Expo's opening act on March 19, 2007, at Memorial Union. Other dances featured at the expo highlighted Mexican, Indian and Southeast Asian cultures.

Andrea Molina and Maria delCarmen Reguera dance the flamenco during the Multicultural Dance Expo’s opening act on March 19, 2007, at Memorial Union. Other dances featured at the expo highlighted Mexican, Indian and Southeast Asian cultures.

Robert Ray places a rattlesnake's still-beating heart on his hand after skinning the snake in front of a small audience on April April 26, 2008, in Mangum, Okla., during the 43rd Annual Mangum Rattlesnake Derby. Ray, a Mangum native who now resides in Oklahoma City, has been butchering rattlesnakes at the derby for 32 years.

Robert Ray places a rattlesnake’s still-beating heart on his hand after skinning the snake in front of a small audience on April April 26, 2008, in Mangum, Okla., during the 43rd Annual Mangum Rattlesnake Derby. Ray, a Mangum native who now resides in Oklahoma City, has been butchering rattlesnakes at the derby for 32 years.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., concludes her speech to more than 5,000 supporters on Jan. 19, 2008, in the McCluer North High School gym in Florissant, Mo. Clinton had just won the Nevada primary and was beginning her campaign in Missouri and the other Super Tuesday states.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., concludes her speech to more than 5,000 supporters on Jan. 19, 2008, in the McCluer North High School gym in Florissant, Mo. Clinton had just won the Nevada primary and was beginning her campaign in Missouri and the other Super Tuesday states.

Elton John acknowledges the audience's screams and applause after making his entrance on Oct. 5, 2007, in Mizzou Arena. During an encore, John wore a headband with tiger ears, which a Missouri fan gave him in anticipation of the Tigers' football game against Nebraska on Oct. 6.

Elton John acknowledges the audience’s screams and applause after making his entrance on Oct. 5, 2007, in Mizzou Arena. During an encore, John wore a headband with tiger ears, which a Missouri fan gave him in anticipation of the Tigers’ football game against Nebraska on Oct. 6.

Missouri guard Kassie Drew scans the court to pass the ball away from Nebraska guard Ashly Ford's block during the game's second half on Jan. 20, 2007, at Mizzou Arena. The loss was the Tigers' fifth in conference play.

Missouri guard Kassie Drew scans the court to pass the ball away from Nebraska guard Ashly Ford’s block during the game’s second half on Jan. 20, 2007, at Mizzou Arena. The loss was the Tigers’ fifth in conference play.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reads aloud a quote he always carries with him, on Feb. 1, 2008, in the Spirit of St. Louis Airport. The quote, by George Washington in 1789, reads, "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars and how they were treated and appreciated by their nation."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reads aloud a quote he always carries with him, on Feb. 1, 2008, in the Spirit of St. Louis Airport. The quote, by George Washington in 1789, reads, “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars and how they were treated and appreciated by their nation.”

A man holds up a sign to cheer on participants in the Disney World Marathon near Mile 2 on Jan. 13, 2008. The marathon course began and ended in Epcot, and went through each of the theme parks in the Disney World complex.

A man holds up a sign to cheer on participants in the Disney World Marathon near Mile 2 on Jan. 13, 2008. The marathon course began and ended in Epcot, and went through each of the theme parks in the Disney World complex.

Then-Missouri House of Representatives Minority Floor Leader Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, waits to be recognized by House Speaker Rod Jetton during the House's morning session on April 17, 2007, in Jefferson City. Harris has since resigned from his position as Minority Floor Leader to concentrate on his campaign for Attorney General.

Then-Missouri House of Representatives Minority Floor Leader Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, waits to be recognized by House Speaker Rod Jetton during the House’s morning session on April 17, 2007, in Jefferson City. Harris has since resigned from his position as Minority Floor Leader to concentrate on his campaign for Attorney General.

IndyGround LLC hip-hop artist Bustrip freestyles a song and a beat on March 5, 2007, at the Sapphire Lounge. Hailing from Tulsa, Okla., Bustrip has joined forces with seven other rappers to form a new record label in Columbia.

IndyGround LLC hip-hop artist Bustrip freestyles a song and a beat on March 5, 2007, at the Sapphire Lounge. Hailing from Tulsa, Okla., Bustrip has joined forces with seven other rappers to form a new record label in Columbia.

Byron Carlisle awaits instruction during swim practice in the Student Recreation Complex on Nov. 9, 2006. Carlisle, who is a competitive swimmer on the University of Missouri swim team, was diagnosed with ADD and dyslexia in the fourth grade.

Byron Carlisle awaits instruction during swim practice in the Student Recreation Complex on Nov. 9, 2006. Carlisle, who is a competitive swimmer on the University of Missouri swim team, was diagnosed with ADD and dyslexia in the fourth grade.

Missouri forward Leo Lyons tries to hold onto the ball as Kansas guards Sherron Collins and Brandon Rush grab at Lyons' forearm during the game's second half on Jan. 15, 2007, at Allen Fieldhouse. The Tigers attempted a failed three-point play in the game's final 11 seconds and lost 80-77 to the Jayhawks.

Missouri forward Leo Lyons tries to hold onto the ball as Kansas guards Sherron Collins and Brandon Rush grab at Lyons’ forearm during the game’s second half on Jan. 15, 2007, at Allen Fieldhouse. The Tigers attempted a failed three-point play in the game’s final 11 seconds and lost 80-77 to the Jayhawks.

Rest in peace, Bill, and thank you again.

Children of summer

Incredibly, summer is past, and we all made it through unscathed. The kids have been back in school for a month or more now, but here are a few wonderful children I was fortunate enough to photograph this summer:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. (Left to right) Siblings Asyar Hoover, 6; Amir Hoover, 8; and Anayah Hoover, 4, of North York, try to eat their ice cream cones before they melt at the counter at Jim Mack’s Ice Cream on Thursday, July 18, 2013.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Holding a candle and wearing a “Stop the violence in York, Pa.” T-shirt, Danari Hankerson, 5 of York, turns around to face a singer singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at a vigil for Trayvon Martin on Saturday, July 20, 2013, outside the York County Judicial Center. Hankerson and 20 other men and boys stood with candles in front of the courthouse as a representation of the years Martin had lived and, after being shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, the years that Martin would not live to see. More than 125 people gathered for a vigil for Martin at the same time as similar vigils in other cities across the nation. The York vigil, organized by York City School Board member Sandy Walker, featured prayers, calls for justice and a singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Trinity Young, 4 of Yuma, Ariz., gets a lift from family friend Kayla Sherrod, 15 of North Carolina in front of the Cookes House in Martin Luther King Jr. Park during the Codorus Street Reunion on Saturday, July 27, 2013. Young’s great-great-great-grandparents lived across the street from the Cookes House from 1927 to 1961, before the Codorus Street homes were razed and the area became the park. Families and friends congregated at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in York City for the second annual Codorus Street Reunion. The park was once the site of Codorus Street, to which a number of black families moved from South Carolina in the 1920s.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. (Left to right) Nicholas Warren, 3 of Windsor Township, waves to passing firefighters as he, his sister Brianna, 9, and his mother Danielle watch the Firefighters Association of York County parade of firefighting apparatus pass by on West Broadway in Red Lion on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013. This year’s convention and parade were dedicated to the memory of Loganville fire chief Rodney Miller, who was killed in the line of duty in April 2013.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. (Left to right) Hayden Russ, 5; Keaton Brenner, 4; and ZaiNez Davis, 3, all of York, eat ice cream while wearing oversized backpacks they received during a giveaway hosted by the Freemason Social Friendship No. 42 at Farquhar Park on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013. In front of the boys is a line of several hundred people waiting to receive their free backpacks.

The first high school football game of the season is tomorrow, and we’re sending folks to cover Penn State’s first game on Saturday. With that in mind, here’re a few pictures I made last year while working on a story about pee wee football.

© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Boys Club rink varsity football players do the crab-walk while drilling at practice on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012.

For one and a half years, practically every fall evening as I drove back to the office via Parkway Boulevard, I’d see miniscule football players running through drills and practices. Finally, my interest had been sufficiently piqued and, one evening, I pulled over, observed the final minutes of practice and chatted up one of the fathers who was making sure his son wasn’t slacking. Then he introduced me to the coach, and after that, I was at practice at least once a week.

After following the “rinkies” for about a month, I pulled the story together with this basic summary:

After an undefeated regular season — and not allowing first downs or touchdowns in all but the last game — the Boys Club of York Red Raiders’ rink varsity football team lost the York County Youth Football Association championship game 12-0 to West York’s rink varsity football team on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, at Northeastern High School. The “rinkies” are 7-8-year olds who had practiced every weekday from August through the beginning of November on a field just off Parkway Boulevard in York. This team of rinkies has played together for three years so far and, despite three consecutive undefeated seasons, has yet to claim a league championship title.

You can read my final story here, and view more pictures here, but finally, after a year, I’m showing a few of my personal favorites:

© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Marlyn Dellinger ties the shoe of his son’s Boys Club rink varsity football teammate Jonathan Orr, 8, before practice on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012.

© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Armonni Borges, 5, waits for the whistle as Jaxiel Ascencio, 8, runs through a drill during practice on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2012, at a field just off Parkway Boulevard in York. Armonni’s older brother Terrance Price, 8, plays for the Boys Club’s rink varsity team, but Armonni is too young to join the Boys Club’s youngest division — the 6-7-year-old “smurfs.” Nevertheless, the “rinkies” coaches allow Armonni to practice alongside the older boys and to watch games from the sidelines.

© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Boys Club rink varsity football coach Shanoy Moody knocks helmets while trying to pump up the boys near the end of practice on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012.

© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Zamir Weedon-Parker, 8, stands with his co-captains in the endzone before the semifinal game against the Eastern York County Blackhawks on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, at Central York High School.

© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Boys Club’s Jonathan Orr stiff-arms Yorktowne’s Imeire Manigualt on his way to a touchdown in the final regular-season game on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, at Central York High School. For the first time this season, the Red Raiders allowed first downs and touchdowns, but defeated the Yorktowne Patriots 32-18.

© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Andrew Miller, 11, encourages his nephew Zamir Weedon-Parker, 8, as Zamir stretches out after a long rush for a touchdown to bring the Red Raiders up 12-6 after the half against the Eastern York County Blackhawks on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2012, at Central York High School.

© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Zamir Weedon-Parker, 8, is carried off the field by teammate Mehki Workman, 7, and uncle Andrew Miller, 11, after the Boys Club won its semifinal game against Eastern York County on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, at Central York High School.

© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Nani Nieves, 8, listens to the Boys Club coaches’ post-game talk during a huddle after the Red Raiders defeated the Eastern York County Blackhawks on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, to advance to the York County Youth Football Association championship game. Nieves’ mother Neesha said she likes to wear makeup at home — and, evidently, while playing football.

© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Neesha Nieves helps her daughter Nani, 8, get geared up for practice on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012.

© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Boys Club rink varsity football players march down the track before playing the York County Youth Football Association championship game against West York on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, at Northeastern High School.

© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. West York’s Connor Michael breaks past the Boys Club defense in the York County Youth Football Association championship game on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, at Northeastern High School.

© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Boys Club rink varsity quarterback Kerry Glover, 8, leaves the field, tears streaming, after the Red Raiders lost the York County Youth Football Association championship game to West York on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, at Northeastern High School. “The hardest part for me was seeing the look on their faces,” said his father, also Kerry Glover, who is head coach.

Happy football season, everybody!

Rarr

Last week, Jeff, his brother Mike and I found a T-rex skull at the National Zoo. Much to the joy of a nearby 17-year-old girl whose mother insisted she was too old to pose with the skull, I insisted that Jeff take this photo of Mike and me:

© 2013. Um, yeah, I’m 25. And a half. Pentax 6×7, Kodak Portra 400.

Today, while on assignment at a 30-attraction fun park in southern York County, I discovered that owner Hugh is a kindred spirit when I asked him to hop on top of an incomplete tire-saurus for a picture and he immediately struck a dinosaur pose without my prompting him:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Maize Quest Fun Park owner Hugh McPherson stands atop a “tire-saurus” whose head has yet to be mounted on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. The tire-saurus and a nearby sea serpent — also made of tires — are the latest additions to the 30 attractions at the park, and need to be completed within the next two days before opening day. McPherson opened the park with the original corn maze 17 years ago, and has added another attraction or two every year. DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – CHRIS DUNN

KINDRED SPIRITS, I’M TELLING YOU.

(Read more about the Maize Quest Fun Park here.)

Jeff was burrowing around last week and found three rolls of undeveloped 35mm film in a cookie tin. (There were several unexposed rolls in there as well.) So I took them to get developed. One is a Fuji roll he shot during our 2010 spring break trip to the Santa Fe region of New Mexico; another Fuji roll is from his Dec. 2009 visit to Houston.

The Ilford XP2 Super roll is from our Feb. 2012 trip to New York City — a trip whose digital pictures I never blogged, and whose film frames I never saw ’til now.

Along the lines of an earlier post about how I had a bad habit of wasting film, I was pretty disenchanted with the frames on that black-and-white roll: Too many frames where I shot something just for the sake of depressing that shutter button and advancing the film. Like I wrote before, I’m working now to make pictures, with film, that mean something to me, which typically means they need to be of people I care about. That roll from New York City is a good reminder of what I as a photographer should never do again.

But here’re two frames that I do like from that roll. Obviously, I shot one and Jeff shot the other. Can you tell who shot which?

© 2012. This was shot on 400 ASA Ilford XP2 Super, so you can imagine what the shutter speed was.

© 2012.

Shroud of dust

Softball picture from forever ago:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Red Lion’s Alexa Taylor, left, swivels around third to successfully evade Central York’s Kelsey Wisner in the fifth inning at Central York on Friday, April 26, 2013. Central York defeated Red Lion 6-4.

 

Sheep to shawl 2013

Pictures from forever ago, it feels like. I have even older photos that I have yet to blog, believe it or not.

This is the annual Sheep to Shawl contest at the Pennsylvania Farm Show this winter. The name says it all: A team shears a sheep, and then uses the wool to make yarn and weave a shawl, all within two hours.

First, the shears:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Nathan Good of Windsor Township holds up his shears to signal he’s ready to start competing in the 34th Sheep to Shawl Competition on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. Good was a member of the Treadlers thru Time team, whose other members hailed from Lebanon and Lancaster Counties, and whose shawl was not completed in time to be judged. Eight teams of five participated in the 34th Sheep to Shawl Competition on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Then the sheep’s sheer terror:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Nathan Good of Windsor Township shears a sheep in the beginning of the 34th Sheep to Shawl Competition on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

And finally the kids’ sheer terror:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record. Nathan Good of Windsor Township shears a sheep in the beginning of the 34th Sheep to Shawl Competition as his nephew Mitchell Wise, 11; son Tyler Good, 6; daughter Riley Good, 8; nephew Cameron Hoover, 2; and wife Leanne Good, with phone, watch on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Earlier this month, I finally bought my dream camera, and I’m going to use it to cure myself.

. . .

For seven months now, I’ve been dealing with a struggle.

It’s not a daily gloom, nor is it definitive, long-term or easily explained. Additionally, “dealing with” is the best way I can characterize what I’ve been doing — largely because I can neither face it head-on nor avoid it, largely because I don’t know what it is.

It’s not a rut or cabin fever. I’m still passionate about what I do as a photojournalist, and I’m proud of some of the recent work I’ve done.

It’s probably related somehow to my experiences in Newtown, but I’m not sure how or why.

It’s not impacting my ability to function as a human or as a photojournalist, although I’m sure that my boyfriend would appreciate it if I helped out more with chores, as I once did.

I can’t diagnose it because I don’t know what it is, where it came from or why it’s affecting me, but I’ve recently decided that the best prescription is to care a little harder.

. . .

I think, in this age of Instagram, Facebook and quick-and-easy photo-taking/-sharing, we don’t care as much about the pictures we make. We snap a shot, share it, move on. By the end of the week, we’ve shared two or a dozen more photos, and we don’t even remember what we photographed two weeks ago.

On a related note: I love my job. We are trained to transmit photos almost as soon as we make them, in certain cases (mostly breaking news and sports). It’s fun and fast-paced, and I think it’s a neat step forward that we’re able to do. But because I work for a daily newspaper, I can have anywhere from one to four assignments in a day, which adds up to a lot after any given period of time. People ask me what I did this week, and I have to explain to them that I honestly can’t remember because every day has blurred into an indistinguishable continuum.

So, I have recently found myself pretty anxious to take a very large, deliberate step back from the immediacy that everyone else supplies and demands. (At least, for personal work.) Therefore, I’m returning to my roots, which means film. I first learned real photography at a summer job in New Mexico, where a hippie named Grant put a 6-pound, medium-format Pentax in my hands and taught me the entire process. To make frames on such a tank of a camera — and to develop the film, use enlargers and make prints, all in the same day — was incredibly empowering, and magical. I fell in love.

Last month, I went to Santa Fe to see Grant again and spend time with him. (I don’t think he ever believed that I made the trip just for him, but it’s true, Grant.) It was only a three-day trip, but it was peaceful, and in my heart, New Mexico is home. As I used my Mamiya (no Pentax yet) to make a picture of Grant and his Charlotte in their backyard, I knew I’d found a cure, or at least a relief, for my struggle.

I’m going to return to film, and make pictures that mean something to me. I can’t tell you how many rolls I’ve wasted on shots “just because,” and how many of those frames are just languishing in my binder because they ultimately are of no value to me. So I’m going to care harder about my personal photography, and it’s going to be film, and it’s going to be something that I will treasure 20, 30, 40 years down the road.

I’m starting now, with a few frames from a few rolls I got developed after my New Mexico trip. These were all taken with the Mamiya, but expect to see a lot of work coming from the Pentax from now on.

© 2013. Let’s start with Grant, who here strikes an “American Gothic”-esque pose with his Charlotte in their Santa Fe backyard in late June 2013. It goes without saying that I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for Grant and his guidance, patience and warmth.

© 2012. An accidental double-exposure during a Special Olympics event at Blue Knob State Park in February 2012. This frame features two Jeff’s, and two Mike’s (Jeff’s younger brother).

© 2011. When Jeff moved in with a family in Broken Arrow, Okla., for the duration of his Tulsa World internship, they brought home a cat for him. I named her Oreo, and finally met her when I visited Jeff in October 2011.

© 2011. The Blue Whale of Catoosa, because who doesn’t love a Route 66 roadside attraction?

© 2012. I went back to Houston for a few days in August 2012, and Dad happened to match up his authentic Hawaiian shirt perfectly with his Crocs. So, this happened.

© 2012. My mom took this of Jeff and me on the morning we left Houston to drive back to York. Notice the brand-new boots.

© 2013. Step aside, Prince George Alexander Louis. Baby Layla is the only baby that matters. Family portrait with Matt, Emily and Layla, then 6ish months old, in my parents’ Houston backyard in February 2013.

© 2013. Can you tell this is May in Missouri? Chelsea and I were college roommates, and this visit was the first time we’d seen each other since senior year.

© 2013. I went up to Philmont Scout Ranch, where Grant first taught me in 2006, for a day. This is Bryan outside the News & Photo building, and he’s holding a printer that I took back for Grant. Bryan and I worked together at Philmont in 2008, and he’s now the ranch’s marketing director.

Every single one of these frames means something to me.

Is that something any given person can say about any given photo they’ve taken recently?

Probably not.

But it’s something I want to be able to say, honestly, about all of my personal work from now on.

I’m not gonna lie: For the majority of my life, Memorial Day meant little more to me than a long weekend.

Until I met a 90-year-old World War II veteran who has devoted the past two years of his life to finding, documenting and mapping more than 70 York County veterans memorials.

Al Rose is blind in his left eye, but he spent countless hours poring through newspaper microfilm at the York County Heritage Trust, in search of any news of veterans memorial dedications. Then, before giving up his drivers license last Christmas Eve, Al put several hundred miles on his car in search of these memorials — many of which are pretty difficult to find even if you know generally where they are.

Believe me, I know: I followed in Al’s footsteps in order to confirm his work and readers’ information and to help create a map of these memorials for the newspaper.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. In a fit of OCD-induced restlessness during a relatively empty shift, I compiled all the pictures I made of York County veterans memorials into this poster-like image. The bottom image is of the various honor rolls that adorn the columns of the old York County courthouse.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. In a fit of OCD-induced restlessness during a relatively empty shift, I compiled all the pictures I made of York County veterans memorials into this poster-like image. The bottom image is of just a few of the various honor rolls that adorn the columns of the old York County courthouse.

This was a time-consuming process that took me several shifts — in one case, all the daylight hours of a shift — to complete. And I loved it. I thrilled in driving to and finding corners of York County I had never seen before. It was exciting to find an obscured memorial, and it was sobering to read the names on so many communities’ honor rolls.

One honor roll had a name listed under the Spanish-American War. Others were overwhelmed by those who served in World War II. At least three honored those who have served in the current war on terror.

After finding and photographing 68 of the 70+ veterans memorials over roughly the past few weeks (editor Scott and reporter Brandie helped out with a few of the last ones we found out about), I find it repugnant that I formerly had so little respect for Memorial Day, and that many Americans continue to do so.

York County certainly has its share of veterans memorials — over 70! — and yet I doubt that many who live here are aware of or care about their existence. It’s saddening, especially when I think about all the tiny communities who gave up so many sons that their honor rolls are too long for a readable photograph.

Yes, I’ll probably participate in some sort of grill-out this Memorial Day weekend. But I’ll draw the line at Memorial Day sales. And, thanks to a long and sometimes difficult search for almost 70 veterans memorials, I’ll remember just how much of itself York County has given to this nation.

For more information:

  • A summary of Al Rose’s work and how we completed this project
  • The interactive map itself
  • A full slideshow of all the veterans memorials Scott, Brandie and I photographed
  • A video of Al Rose working on his project… at the bedside of his wife, who has Alzheimer’s

Off to the side

Sometimes, when the big event is happening, I look elsewhere to make pictures — especially when the big event involves somebody at a podium.

So, I look to the children.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Goode Elementary fourth-grade student Demylee Perez leans on her crutches while pledging allegiance during the 21st annual Four Chaplains Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, at the Yorktowne Hotel. Perez, who is a member of the school’s select chorus, received her leg injury in a minor car accident the previous day, but nevertheless showed up at the school Wednesday morning with her mother so she could sing at the breakfast. Major General Wesley E. Craig spoke at the 21st annual Four Chaplains Prayer Breakfast at the Yorktowne Hotel on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, while Hanover-based American Red Cross member Elizabeth Tyler received the Legion of Honor membership.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Leah Bazzle, 7, and Mia Johnson, 9, hold the keys to the city that were presented to their fathers David Uhrik and and Jamiel Alexander during the State of the City reception prior to York mayor Kim Bracey’s address at York College on Thursday, May 9, 2013. Uhrik received the York Humanitarian Award, while Alexander received the York Unity Award.

(I love that the fathers in the second photo can so easily show affection for their daughters without my having to include their faces: Look at their gentle hands.)

Well, I thought I was okay.

Sometime between mid-January and late March, I had ceased thinking about Newtown on an hourly or daily basis. The holiday season was finally over, I got to meet my baby niece, Jeff and I were taking ballroom dance lessons and I was back in the swing of regular work.

But near the end of March, I had a dream: I was back in Newtown, and I was interviewing a florist as she was preparing spray arrangements for a child’s funeral. Suddenly, I felt my eyes burn hot with tears, and my mind went blank. I quickly turned away for a moment, then faced her again.

“I’m so sorry,” I told her. “I don’t know what’s the matter with me.”

Then I woke up.

Later that day, another reporter who had been in Newtown wrote a blog post in which he explained his reluctance to talk much about his experiences:

1.) I’ve been nervous that [this] just comes across as me complaining about my own personal situation.
2.) I’ve felt a certain amount of guilt for feeling so badly when there are obviously people who were directly and significantly affected by what happened far more than I can imagine.
Additionally, I’ve wanted to distance myself a little from my coverage in Newtown. It’s not a fun thing to talk about so I largely avoid it, though there are times when I’m drinking with buddies that things will slip out. 

That basically sums up my feelings.

But now I feel ready to share some of the pictures I made while in Newtown. It could be that the warmer weather and sunshine are helping me overcome the dreariness of that trip. It could be that I’m actually getting okay-er over time. Or it could be that it’s simply time to do this now.

Continue Reading »

Today, the York Catholic girls played their seventh state championship game in the past eight seasons.

Today, they lost 45-38 to Bishop Canevin.

But — they lost with grace.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. (Left to right) York Catholic’s Zaenna Echevarria, Morgan Klunk, Hannah Laslo and Amelia York listen to head coach Kevin Bankos in their locker room after losing 45-38 to Bishop Canevin in the PIAA Class AA girls basketball championship game on Friday, March 22, 2013, at the Giant Center.

I began following the team’s journey this morning after I checked in with the student tailgate outside the Giant Center:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. (Left to right) York Catholic seniors DeeDee Davis and Bri Raineri and junior Ian Shelley help themselves to eggs as Mary Williams and her daughter Christina, 11, work on cooking the bacon at a student tailgate outside the Giant Center before attending York Catholic’s PIAA Class AA girls basketball championship game on Friday, March 22, 2013.

Hairspray:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. (Left to right) York Catholic’s Zaenna Echevarria and Deanna Chesko fix up their hair as Morgan Klunk washes her hands in their Giant Center locker room on Friday, March 22, 2013, before playing the PIAA Class AA girls basketball championship game.

Socks:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. York Catholic’s Amelia York prepares to change out of a lucky pair of socks in the locker room at the Giant Center on Friday, March 22, 2013.

High-fives:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. York Catholic’s Morgan Klunk swoops in for high fives from her teammates as they get ready for a group picture on the Giant Center’s court on Friday, March 22, 2013, before the PIAA Class AA girls basketball championship game.

After the game, tears:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. York Catholic’s Amelia York, right, wipes her face after receiving her PIAA Class AA runner-up medal on Friday, March 22, 2013, at the Giant Center. To her left is Marissa Ressler (22).

Trophy:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. York Catholic’s Morgan Klunk holds the PIAA Class AA runner-up trophy while watching Bishop Cavenin players receive their championship trophy on Friday, March 22, 2013, at the Giant Center.

Chocolate:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. York Catholic’s Hannah Laslo holds up a five-pound Hershey’s chocolate bar as she and her teammates greet the student section after losing 45-38 to Bishop Canevin in the PIAA Class AA girls basketball championship game on Friday, March 22, 2013, at the Giant Center.

And a pep talk:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. While comforting teammate Hannah Laslo, York Catholic’s Amelia York gives a pep talk to her fellow players after York Catholic lost 45-38 to Bishop Canevin in the PIAA Class AA girls basketball championship game on Friday, March 22, 2013, at the Giant Center.

I’d like to thank the girls for letting me follow them around, even inside the locker room, and being completely normal about it. They’re a class act, a strong team and wonderful people.

For more coverage:

Working out

I’ve never taken the time to count how many times I’ve been assigned to photograph people as they work out or otherwise exercise. But even if we don’t include sports practices and games, it’s still a fairly large number. In the week around New Year’s this year, I happened to have two separate assignments that had me cover people going through their routine gym workouts.

The funny part was, people in both assignments made remarks along this vein: “I’m sorry you have to follow me around while I’m in the gym today. This can’t be that interesting. I hope they’re paying you a lot.”

I assured them that I was not suffering in these assignments. On the contrary, I see these assignments as a challenge to show the human interacting with and mimicking the form of the gym equipment.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Shelby Dietz, 40 of Windsor Township, completes a set of pull-ups under the supervision of her personal trainer Evan Branin on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2012, at Strictly Fitness in Springettsbury Township. Dietz has been working out with personal trainer Evan Branin for about five years, and has been concentrating on weights and strength training. Dietz said she typically does four days of strength training and two days of running in a week.

© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Mary and Craig Duttera of Dover Township exercise their arm muscles in the fitness room at Bob Hoffman YMCA on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. The couple have been members at that YMCA for about 20 years, and work out 5-6 times a week. Since Mary joined Craig in retirement several years ago, they have been working out together more frequently.

My first-ever cheerleading assignment took me to the YAIAA Cheerleading Championship, where seven teams competed in two divisions. It was a lot of fun, especially with the presence of the youth cheerleaders who performed showcase, non-competition routines. If I shoot this next year, I’ll definitely take my shooting to the next level, but nevertheless — this was fun.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Dallastown Cougar youth cheerleader Nautica Shortlidge, 11, works on 11-year-old teammate Lauren Maher’s hair as Riley Sharp, 10, looks on before they showcased 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 of the 2013 YAIAA Cheerleading Championship on Saturday, March 16, 2013, at Dallastown Area Senior High School, while Central York won in the “large” division.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Members of a Dallastown Cougars youth cheerleading squad practice their routine in the wrestling room before showcasing in the 2013 YAIAA Cheerleading Championship on Saturday, March 16, 2013, at Dallastown Area Senior High School.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Susquehannock cheerleaders return to the locker room after performing their routine in the YAIAA Cheerleading Championship on Saturday, March 16, 2013, at Dallastown Area Senior High School.

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. William Penn cheerleader Shalai Tyler and Central York cheerleader Abbie Davis, center, hug on the mat after each school took first place in its respective division in the 2013 YAIAA Cheerleading Championship on Saturday, March 16, 2013, at Dallastown Area Senior High School.

Check out more photos, plus a video I produced of Central York’s winning routine.

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