Month: February 2016

February 27, 2016

As I finished the last entry two days ago, I grabbed my iPad and got into the shower. Started the hot water and a film, Marshland. Started shaving.

Then a text appeared on the screen – “Call me it’s urgent.”

Immediate reaction – frustration.

Another text appeared from a second person – “They want you and I to go to Hurricane now! Please call X or me!”

We were soon on the road down to photograph a food bank outside of Short Creek.

Since we didn’t know how sensitive the situation would be for photographs I went in with just the Sony RX-100. It turned out to be a great decision, from an artistic standpoint as well as its ability as a small camera to not raise concerns from anyone.

Beyond that it was invigorating to photograph with a small, silent camera with a viewfinder showing the scene in black and white. I find myself working the light and the moments. The black and white images were beautiful, and it was a shame to create color versions for the main client.

I need to remember this moment, as photographing with this one small camera for that hour or so was such a good experience. When the next version comes out, I’ll have to upgrade.

As for the people, who are more important than the camera, they were all great. I saw a lot of people I had met before and made some new friends as well. There were some hesitations and some people who did not want to be photographed. For what I thought was the best shot, I got permission to use the shot but not to use names.

It was a nice situation – the best for me, really – where I am invited and accepted into a situation and I can just work quietly, unnoticed, finding angles and moments.


We drove home that night, arriving late being the penalty but having our own beds the advantage.


One thing about this trip. When the federal raids resulting in the arrest of Lyle Jeffs and nearly a dozen others happened the other day, there was a need to decide how to react. I was in the middle of covering the basketball tournament, but on the phone I could hear a lot of doubt that there would be anything worth getting if we went.

That skepticism could be applied to every single assignment. We never know what we’re going to get. That’s why you go.

They decided not to send me, and you know, I can see the reasoning. It’s possible that law enforcement had already left Short Creek by the time they were even talking about me going down, and I wouldn’t arrive for five hours or so later. So part of my reaction is this impotence to do anything – we missed a big story here, at least the photo side of it.

They said part of the decision was that the top leaders would be in court in SLC the next day. But it’s federal court, so no cameras inside. And then another photographer was assigned to the courtroom, leaving me to hang out at home.

At a certain point, just wanting things to be done the right way is not enough. You have to take action.


I had nothing Wednesday, the court stuff was over, so I went over to the basketball tournament to back up another photographer. Shot three games, got some fun photos. I’m really stretching in how I shoot basketball, resulting in some cool moments.

One of my philosophies has been to shoot very tight, often too tight. This results in a high failure rate, with a large number of frames being completely useless. But once in a while everything clicks into place and I have an image that no one else has.

The other philosophy is big data. I shoot thousands of frames. I’ve written before about people who insist that shooting less frames is somehow a purer form of the art. But in an action situation, the human mind is not fast enough to react to chaotically changing situations. Like when I’m playing with my dog, the dog gets his mouth to target moments before I can react to change its position or pull away. Sports photography is the same.

So I expose thousands of frames at every game, most of them completely useless and thrown away. But I’m increasing the odds of capturing the unusual moments that everyone else misses by simply capturing every moment.

I’m also keep the lens on players longer after the plays, catching more reaction and emotion.

I’ve been using absurdly long lenses for basketball, like 400mm and 600mm. Normally you’d use a 300mm lens. But since the far end of the court results in so few usable images, it is ripe for taking more chances with an ultra-tight lens.

On the close end, I stick to the 70-200, which is the one essential sports lens. I try to shoot tighter than others would and, while the competition locks in with mostly vertical photos, I shoot almost everything horizontal. This gets me a different look and often results in a better composition that the horizontal would have. I crop as needed, many times to a square or vertical.

And some games I shoot both ends with the 70-200, which allows me to have the camera on the game at every moment, instead of missing things while switching between two bodies.

I’m about to photograph Utah vs. Arizona basketball, and plan on two cameras – 70-200 and 400mm lenses, with a bias to using one camera (the 70-200) to ensure I don’t miss any action in transition. The 400mm will give me the reach I need for tight faces, coaches, etc. Space at the Huntsman Center is tight, so I’m planning on arriving two hours early and, since Arizona is ranked higher, securing a spot photographing Arizona for the first half and Utah in the second.

February 25, 2016

One obvious thing is that I’m not writing enough.

I’m too busy moping, feeling isolated even as I work to isolate myself.


A couple people from the neighborhood came over and asked why we weren’t so involved in the neighborhood anymore. My son and I told them, and a couple days later the neighborhood council called to set up a meeting the next day. So I guess word travels fast in the neighborhood.

What we told them, what I told them is that it’s become very difficult for us to be associated when the neighborhood has become such a focal point of social conservatism. And when the flag of religious freedom seems to be more of a justification of using the same flagpole to beat down others than anything else.

One of the guys was at least listening and the other guy was pretty bowled over. It was a polite conversation but it was obvious that something large had happened.

What my son told them is how disturbed he was at the sharp increase in calls to the suicide hotlines after the neighborhood’s policy regarding people in same-sex marriages (and their children).

One of the two hadn’t heard of the policy, but the other had.

There’s this big message that you should pray for the confirmation that the policy is correct and inspired. That message has – no, that’s someone else’s story to tell.

I’m reminded of sitting through a Sunday School lesson on Abraham obeying the commandment to kill his only son, a lesson where my only thought was, “why are we studying this?” If I was commanded to kill an innocent, it’s not happening and I’ll gladly suffer any next-life consequences.

One of the two said he was disappointed that people with our opinions weren’t at the neighborhood meetings to voice our opinions. But after years of experience, my feeling is that such opinions are almost always “corrected” by older fundamentalists who feel they have more authority. Let’s face it, you’ll never go wrong expressing a fundamentalist/conservative opinion at a neighborhood meeting. But go the other way and some dinosaur someone will make sure to “correct you.”

One of the two also said that just today in the neighborhood meeting someone brought up equality in genders and a comment was made by a dinosaur, “And now they’re asking for equal pay, too.”

The fact that the teacher replied with, “And they should get it!” doesn’t really cure the discomfort that sitting in that meeting, hearing such statements made, brings.

A while back I missed a neighborhood meeting where the teacher was advocating bland dress and bland haircuts, saying anything stylish was prideful behavior. It boggles my mind. And it always has.

The neighborhood. Wow.

One important thing about the course we have taken for our family regarding the neighborhood – it’s a very sad thing.