For the first time since 1638, we got a lunar eclipse during the winter solstice. What made this even more remarkable was the fact that a meteor shower was taking place at the same time. No photos of the meteor shower, though I did see one streak across the sky before 11 PM, and I took photos (both handheld and on a tripod) over the span of about an hour and a half. Pretty brilliant tonight and I was extremely fortunate to catch a break in multiple storms long enough to have clear skies for the whole thing.
The first two shots are much larger as I captured the stars as well, so they push off to the right of the page. You can right-click to view them separately.
That’s what I went to see last night and it was f’n amazing.
A little background first:
I was born in 1977 so I was way too young to have any idea who Pink Floyd was or what The Wall was at the time, but as it happens Floyd was one of the first concerts I ever went to. My father worked for a company that built sets for concerts, conventions, trade shows, sports (like pregame booths for 49er playoff games and the World Series) and more, and they did the set for the Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour circa 1987 (elements of which would show up in another tour a few years later).
Anyway, as part of that I remember being at the shop and seeing portions of the stage at one time or another and my father was able to take my brother and I to the show when they played in the Oakland Arena. I was only ten at the time and don’t remember much more than the music being good and the imagery very vivid, and yeah – I had a few nightmares afterward. At the time I had no idea who David Gilmour or Roger Waters were, or what led to their breakup.
Fast-forward to now, or at least the past few years. I saw the Live 8 reunion on TV and by then had come to understand the significance of it considering the tension between Gilmour and Waters. There were some of the more common Pink Floyd songs I’d known well like Comfortably Numb, Another Brick in the Wall Part 2, Money and so on, but I’d never really listened to much of them until I picked up a couple DVDs and more stuff on iTunes after that.
The door kind of opened at that point to my appreciation of their music, not to mention the revolutionary, high quality of the live shows they did, but by this point there was little chance of anything really happening as far as me seeing Pink Floyd stuff again live.
Then I saw Roger Waters was doing a 30th Anniversary tour of The Wall. Back then they only did it in two locations in the USA: Los Angeles and Uniondale, NY. If you wanted to see it, unless you lived in those areas you had to make a trip. This time around, Waters took it to more locations. Yeah, the money for a show like that sure is good but from what I’ve read he’s come a long way since the animosity of before, up to the point of doing a surprise four-song benefit show with Gilmour earlier in the year after Gilmour sweetened the deal by offering to do Comfortably Numb for one of Waters’ shows (which will likely be in England, as I haven’t heard of it happening yet).
When the pre-sale went up on Waters’ website I jumped and got a couple seats, but it’d be a while before the show. Finally, last night came. I got down to San Jose with more than enough time to spare and had a nice sushi dinner at Bluefin, just down the road from HP Pavilion. Once inside the arena, the first thing I did was go find my seats and look at the stage. Just seeing the base portion of the wall left me going “wow” in anticipation of the show itself.
As for that show, “wow” doesn’t even begin to describe it. For starters, it was the most impressive sounding concert I’ve ever been to, and I’ve heard HP Pavilion can be a poor place for that. Whatever the case, they nailed what they needed to. The visuals? Best I’ve seen yet at a show. With the technology that’s out there today, they took full advantage of it with the specific precision of every part of the displays.
When an image was projected on the wall, as each brick was set in place it filled in to match the rest in a way that seemed like each little part of the image was specifically programmed to fill in as needed and then become part of the whole, which I thought was really impressive. As you’d expect, the imagery was powerful and poignant the whole way through, especially on songs like Bring The Boys Back Home and Waiting for the Worms. Having it all up on the full wall probably made sitting further back a better view than being right up close, too.
Of course, getting to see and hear that whole album from start to finish was a treat in and of itself, but I was a little concerned how they’d handle Gilmour’s parts. Getting someone to do the guitar work is one thing, but the vocals are another. They found a guy by the name of Robbie Wyckoff to handle that and while there were a few spots that were off a bit, by and large I think he nailed the vocals as well as you could expect anyone to. He was especially good on Mother and Comfortably Numb, and I had goosebumps by the time the final solo (played by Dave Kilminster) ended. As for Waters himself? Sounded just fine to me for a guy approaching 70 and it looks like he’s kept himself in great shape.
I tried taking pics with my Droid X and aside from a few spots where I think it took a corrupted photo and I had to fight with the thing to clear it out before I could use it again, I got some really nice stuff. You can see them all here. No nightmares after this one, but it’s a show I’m glad I can say I went to.
While I only covered one Minor League All-Star Game this season, I was able to make up for not going to any others by putting a little four-day trip together to Colorado for the first time.
It all began around planning to see 311, a band my brother got me into over a decade ago. I really enjoy their sound and style and got out to 311 Day in New Orleans in 2008 to see them play over 60 songs over about five hours. Every even-numbered year they do a concert like this on March 11, so it’s considered the ultimate show for a 311 fan.
This summer they toured with The Offspring for about a month and their only dates in California were down south. I decided to at least see what would work around my days off if I went out of town and when I saw they were playing Red Rocks in Colorado I knew that was the place to go. It’s one of those venues any fan of live music should get to at least once if they can.
From there it was a matter of figuring out what else to do around Denver and decide on how long to stay. I found a wild animal sanctuary outside Denver and liked what I saw, so I donated to them and made plans to visit the place.
I would have liked to see the Colorado Rockies but they were out of town so I checked on the Colorado Springs Sky Sox as a backup. It happened to be they were at home and the Sacramento River Cats would be visiting. Perfect timing! Thanks to that, I had my plans. A friend in Colorado Springs also suggested I visit Garden of the Gods while out that way, so that was added to the mix as well.
All told, I ended up posting 280 photos in six different galleries. The wild animal sanctuary was nice, though the stories of a lot of the animals that ended up there are pretty sad. Some were really abused and the things people did and ways they kept some of these animals illegally is disturbing. It was good to see them in a more open area and as evening set in, the lions and tigers roared, the wolves howled and it felt right.
Red Rocks was pretty special. Just the way the seating fits in between the rocks creates a perfect, natural place to see music with some great scenery around it. Rain fell for much of the early evening but it cleared up by the time 311 took the stage. I don’t usually take pictures at a concert but I got some decent ones out of this with my Nikon Coolpix P100, the non-DSLR camera I used for everything but baseball on this trip. It was picked for its superzoom ability (26x) and I knew that’d come in handy in exchange for sacrificing a little image quality compared to the DSLR.
Garden of the Gods was also pretty neat and the weather cooperated long enough for me to get some good shots over the course of about an hour and a half. I would’ve liked to get up to Pikes Peak but for me that’d probably be more of a full day because of all the stopping and snapping of pictures I’d probably do.
Sacramento won both games without much trouble and put up 49 runs and 12 homers in the four-game series, sweeping it. I always enjoy the chance to work at a ballpark I haven’t been to before and while the one in Colorado Springs isn’t the fanciest, I was a little closer than I usually am at other places. It’s the highest pro ballpark in the country (about 6,500 feet above sea level) and has the smallest capacity of any in Triple-A (about 8,500). The first night was a sellout with Rockie Troy Tulowitzki there for an injury rehab appearance, and the way it worked out I saw his only two games there.
Good, enjoyable trip. Here, have some galleries:
From Security Service Field in Colorado Springs. The River Cats won, 8-1. Tyson Ross earned his first win for Sacramento with 5 shutout innings, allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks to go with 7 strikeouts. Chris Carter & Steve Tolleson homered for the River Cats while Tolleson, Dallas McPherson, Josh Donaldson & Adam Heether all recorded a pair of hits. Eric Sogard, Tolleson & Carter had 2 RBI each. Troy Tulowitzki singled in an injury rehab start for Colorado Springs & Chaz Roe took the loss.
From Security Service Field in Colorado Springs. The River Cats won, 14-9. Seven Sacramento players had 2 or more hits, with Jeff Baisley picking up 3, 2 of them doubles while scoring 3 times. Josh Donaldson, Anthony Recker & Dallas McPherson all homered and combined with Baisley for 9 RBI. Chris Carter walked and scored 3 times as well. Boof Bonser picked up his first win for the River Cats. Chris Nelson homered, had 3 hits and scored 3 times for Colorado Springs, and Matt Miller also went deep while driving in 3 runs. Josh Muecke took the loss.
What’s this, an actual update? Baseball is here again and I’ll be talking more about that soon, but first something else.
This is about baseballs of the past century. Just about, at least.
One of the many things I’ve been working on as a new homeowner is more of a pleasure and not a necessity – a baseball memorabilia room. It’s not quite finished yet but one of the cornerstones of it is a large baseball collection. Among them are a number of baseballs that not only cover the past couple decades, but also league baseballs dating back to around the 1920s. There will be more to share later on but right now my brief focus will be on the American League and National League.
Here’s a shot of the sixteen American League, National League and Major League baseballs that have been used since the 1920s (AL) and the 1910s (NL). The first ones aren’t exactly that old as there were different versions of them used during the tenure of some of the earlier league presidents, but they’re good examples of baseballs that do go back that far. It’s a pretty wide image and is actually composed of four separate shots (4x4s of the baseballs)
Until the late 1970s when Rawlings took over (in fact, they’d actually been manufacturing baseballs prior to that under the Spalding stamp), Reach made the AL balls while Spalding made the NL ones, though they were all under the same company. Briefly in the 1970s, both baseballs had Spalding stamps before Rawlings started putting their mark on them. I’ve been able to get examples of both.
If you’d like to see the years the league presidents served, I have larger versions of each ball starting here and going on to a few more on the last page. Lots more can be seen beginning here. There are 114 at this point.
Enough for now. More on the upcoming season soon, along with a bit of a look at this year’s Fox Sports/Scout.com magazine I have some of my work in.
I’ve been keeping busy but the lack of posts here probably suggests otherwise. Just in case anyone does follow this (you should see all the comments: spam, spam, spam), here’s what I’ve been up to with my photography since August:
From Raley Field in Sacramento. The River Cats won, 4-3 in 12 innings. A throwing error on a stolen base allowed Eric Patterson to score the winning run a few innings after the RedHawks tied it in the ninth. Earlier, Patterson hit a home run to become the second River Cat (Mark Bellhorn, 2000) with at least 10 homers, 10 doubles, 10 triples and 10 stolen bases in one season. Gregorio Petit had three hits for Sacramento and Travis Buck added a pair. Four RedHawks had two hits apiece and Chris Davis walked four times.
From Raley Field in Sacramento. The Grizzlies won, 6-3. Four Fresno hitters had two hits apiece, including two doubles by Joe Borchard. Buster Posey had 2 RBI for the Grizzlies, who scored four runs in the seventh to take the lead and make a winner out of Waldis Joaquin in relief of Matt Kinney. Dana Eveland worked six-plus innings but failed to get an out in the seventh, taking the loss. He allowed 9 hits and struck out 9. Matt Carson and Travis Buck hit solo homers for the River Cats, who struck out 17 times compared to 13 for the Grizzlies.
From Raley Field in Sacramento. The River Cats won, 9-5. First Sacramento honored the Oakland A’s World Series win in 1989, then they scored 7 runs in the 2nd inning to break it open early. Brett Wallace collected 3 hits and drove in a pair, Chris Carter, Adrian Cardenas (both doubles) and Gregorio Petit had 2 hits apiece, and Eric Munson knocked in 3. Clayton Mortensen made it through 7 innings though he allowed 11 hits and 5 runs (3 earned). Fresno’s Kevin Pucetas was hit hard to the tune of 9 runs on 8 hits, 2 walks and 2 hit batters while recording just 5 outs. Kevin Frandsen had 4 hits for the Grizzlies and Matt Downs had 3 RBI.
From Aces Ballpark in Reno. The River Cats won, 17-6. Chris Carter’s first 3 homers with Sacramento, along with 7 RBI, led a 20-hit attack as 7 River Cats had multiple hits, including 4 by Matt Carson and 3 each by Carter, Chris Denorfia and Brett Wallace. Carson and Tommy Everidge also hit home runs, Everidge’s hitting the top of the scoreboard. Josh Whitesell and Luke Carlin had 3 hits apiece for the Aces and Cole Gillespie homered. Reno’s Seth Etherton gave up 10 runs on 12 hits in 5 innings along with 4 homers, and Scott Dohmann allowed 7 more in the 9th. Chad Reineke pitched into the 6th for Sacramento, allowing 6 runs on 9 hits with 3 walks and 3 strikeouts.
From Aces Ballpark in Reno. The Aces won, 8-6. Reno took an early 7-1 lead against James Simmons, who gave up 5 runs while getting only 5 outs, and held on for the win. Eric Byrnes, Cole Gillespie, Ed Rogers and Abraham Nunez each had a pair of hits for the Aces while Rogers and Agustin Murillo drove in 2 apiece to help Tony Barnette (6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 9 SO) to the win. Tommy Everidge hit two solo homers and drove in 3 runs for Sacramento and Daniel Haigwood pitched well in relief of Simmons, allowing 2 earned runs in 5 1/3 IP.
From Raley Field in Sacramento. The River Cats won, 13-2. In Game 3 of their best-of-five Pacific Coast League playoff series with the Rainiers, Sacramento poured it on early and late and rode a strong performance by Jerome Williams (7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO) to coast to the victory and a 2-1 series lead. Chris Carter, Matt Carson and Brett Wallace all went deep for the River Cats and Wallace had 4 RBI. Chris Denorfia and Adrian Cardenas both pitched in with 3 hits each and Cardenas also had 3 RBI. Tacoma’s Andrew Baldwin didn’t make it out of the 3rd, giving up 6 ER on 8 H before the River Cats added on in the 8th with 5 more runs against Robert Manuel, capped off by Wallace’s 3-run homer.
From Raley Field in Sacramento. The River Cats won, 13-8. In Game 4 of their Pacific Coast League playoff series Sacramento scored 6 times in the 1st and after Tacoma closed to within 7-5 the River Cats opened it back up with 6 more in the 7th, advancing to play Memphis for the PCL title. Tommy Everidge drove in 3 runs with a pair of hits, Chris Carter homered for the fifth straight game (1 regular season, 4 playoffs), Brett Wallace tripled in 2 in the big 1st inning and Aaron Cunningham had an important 2-run double in the 7th. Shawn Chacon lasted 5+ innings and allowed 4 runs for the win while Gaby Hernandez of the Rainers was lit up for 6 runs in just 2/3 innings and Justin Thomas later allowed 4 of his own in 1/3 innings. Chris Shelton and Matt Tuiasosopo both homered for Tacoma and drove in 3 runs apiece.
I’ll probably be covering at least one or two of the Sacramento/Memphis games at the end of the week then that might be it for me for the year unless I get out to any of the Arizona Fall League games, which would be fun.
Baseball isn’t all I’ve shot, though it does wind up being the majority of it during the season. While I was in Reno I came back through Virginia City so I took the chance to basically redo some photos I took a few years ago and get a few more of things I didn’t the first time around. Those can be seen here.
I also enjoyed having my brother visit not too long ago and he and some friends invited me out to see them do some power kiting on a sod farm in Lodi. That’s some pretty cool stuff but you definitely have to know what you’re doing. You can see a couple galleries here and I’m sure it won’t be the last time I take pictures of them doing it. It’s fun to shoot different things and play around with it.
There are a few things I’ve shot lately, including my first visit to Alcatraz last week along with finally starting to go back and import some older stuff to the current site, such as New Orleans back in March, but the main focus this time is the Media Day event the Golden State Warriors held last Friday.
To be clear, I’m still just an amateur when it comes to certain things. When I do work for Scout.com I have media credentials but it’s an unpaid thing at this point. At A’s games, I’m just a regular ticket-buying fan and they’re pretty lenient on letting people in with an SLR as long as people don’t try to sell the images and they don’t block others. It’s a little different with the Warriors. I can’t bring a professional camera into the arena, so I’m restricted to using my old “prosumer” camera, one that’s SLR-like in shape.
Point is, to gain access to certain things it helps to have connections. I’ve been on Warriorsworld for a number of years now and they, along with Golden State of Mind, are two of the largest fansites for the team. GSOM has a pretty good relationship with the team and usually has one or two games a year where a large group of fans attend. Warriorsworld is more of a free-flowing site with much less moderation, which basically means anything goes. That definitely gets interesting.
The Warriors have done a pretty good job of understanding the role blogs and fansites play overall. The people who use those sites are among the most diehard fans you’ll find if for no other reason than the fact they’ve sought out a site to communicate with other fans. As part of this, the Warriors have extended invitations to both Warriorsworld and GSOM to cover their annual Media Day. Last year I went for the first time (and ended up transcribing about 20 pages worth of interviews in one evening, ouch) and I was asked to go again this year. There are certain limits on what we can do, which basically amounts to “Working media has first priority when asking questions, but feel free to ask your own at any empty tables.”
This isn’t too hard to comply with, especially when the first group that came out on Friday consisted of veteran Stephen Jackson, second-year player Marco Belinelli and three rookies/training camp invitees. Immediately, all the media gathered around Jackson’s table and I got the other four players one after the other. Not long after that, Belinelli had a few people at his table while I set my recorder down at Jackson’s and still got over 12 minutes worth of questions and answers as I snapped a few photos. Pretty simple stuff.
I may not yet be at the level of someone paid to do this but it’s still fun to have the chance to go to something like this. Whatever anyone thinks of the way the Warriors are run – and the opinions range from one extreme to the other among the fans – it’s great that they give people who wouldn’t normally have any access the chance to observe and take part in a few things.
For a recap of Media Day along with a link to the photos, go here.
For about 70 minutes of audio from the various interviews, go here.
Usually, as training camp goes on, material the reporters obtain on Media Day is cycled through little by little. In my case, I can get it all out there at once and provide a different type of coverage that isn’t limited to so many words per article or column.
Finally, the last game of the trip. May in particular was packed with games I could cover (ten), but now that we’re getting more into the summer months most teams scale back drastically on their day games except for Sundays. Also, many of the midweek day games I look for early in the season end up being “education days” where kids from local schools attend. That makes for an interesting setting when the first 2/3 of the game is filled with kids making a lot of noise then the place suddenly goes silent as they all file back to their buses around the 7th inning, which I don’t really get. If you’re going to bring a group of kids to the game, let them see the whole thing.
Anyway, Lancaster changed over to an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox not too long ago and they definitely make sure people know about it (and why not?). They have their “Jethawk Nation,” a “mini-monster” sign above the scoreboard in right, plus they play “Sweet Caroline” and then “Dirty Water” following a win.
Clear Channel Stadium, also known as The Hangar, has a full-size jet mounted in front of the main entrance and it calls attention to the aerospace legacy and military presence in the area, particularly Edwards Air Force Base. The design of the stadium itself is nearly identical to the one the Inland Empire 66ers use in San Bernardino, probably no surprise as both opened in 1996 and I’m certain they were designed by the same architecture firm. The concourse and seating setup is very similar and both have the same general roof design. There’s nothing wrong with it – they’re both cozy places to watch a game in.
The Ports and Jethawks engaged in a game of “Anything you can do I can do” as both scored single runs in the 3rd and 4th. Then Lancaster added the “better” part when they scored 4 in the 7th after Stockton took a brief lead on a solo home run by Matt Sulentic. Jorge Jimenez tied it with a single, Josh Reddick gave the Jethawks the lead with another, then Chih-Hsien Chiang’s double plated the final two as Lancaster won 6-3.
After being a little displeased with some of the results in Visalia and Fresno, I went back to shooting with an ISO setting that got me better photos before and it worked well again here. The early part of the game had a decent cloud cover so the shadows were easier to deal with, but by the time the sun came out I got the usual brightness I’m used to working with during the middle of day. I also had the best weather of any place on the trip: 70s.
This 10-day, 7-game trip ended with 474 photos uploaded along with 55 more from an afternoon/evening in Joshua Tree National Park. Thanks to those who have looked. If you visit Scout.com, you should eventually see many of these on various player pages as well. Without them and the occasional work I do for SFDugout.com, I don’t get this kind of access.
Yes, I do more than just sports photography, but this stuff usually means needing to be out of town for more than just part of a day.
The last time I was down in Southern California for a tour of minor league ballparks, I only had enough time to spend a couple hours in Joshua Tree National Park and fairly quickly do the upper loop drive from the Joshua Tree entrance to the Twentynine Palms one. I would’ve liked to go see some other things there but I just didn’t have the time.
On Friday I was able to put in closer to three and a half hours in there and I started out going in through the south entrance about 20 miles east of Indio. I got to check out some of the different desert terrain before it changed over to the higher desert that features the distinct Joshua trees. This time I also made it up to Keys View and that was pretty spectacular. I had just enough time to get back down to the main loop and head back toward the Joshua Tree entrance to try some sunset photography with and without the camera flash, and the results were pretty satisfying. All told, the drive from Indio through the southern entrance, then out the westernmost one and back to Indio was about 150 miles.
I want to get out to some more places and do work during the sunrise and/or sunset because of the lighting and shadow effects. I think you’ll see how much they can add to a photo. I also like to bring out the color in these a bit more. It’s a personal style when I shoot landscapes, nature, etc. compared to sports. With people, I have to be careful not to oversaturate them so their skin looks like they’ve been crossed with a lobster. When it’s just trees or rocks and stuff like that, I have more freedom to make it as colorful as I want.
55 photos in this gallery: