Sunday, December 20, 2009

Boerne-Champion Basketball

After spending some time down in Mexico over Thanksgiving I came back and was able to squeeze in my first basketball game of the season when Boerne-Champion played Floresville. While no sport in Texas has a greater fan base than football Boerne ISD has a big basketball tournament after Christmas, so I'm hoping to make some time for that. Depending on demand TMI and Boerne are also beckoning.

In between, I'm just enjoying the nice weather and trying to stay warm. You should do the same and enjoy a safe and Merry Christmas with your loved ones.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Champion vs Midlothian Book Pricing Special

Just back from Mexico and a bit of time on the beach, even if it was 58F one night, it was great.

My publisher is offering a great deal that allows you to get $10 off on the price of my photo book covering the Boerne-Champion vs Midlothian Football Classic game in the Alamodome this past August. This offer expires 31 Dec.

Just use one of the following promo codes, depending on which currency you are using:

Orders from the US (using US $): GREATGIFT
Orders from UK (using UK £): GREATGIFT2
Orders from EU (using EU €): GREATGIFT3
Orders from AU (using AUD $): GREATGIFT4

You can preview and purchase the book here:

Click this link for the complete gallery of photos:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

TMI Panthers vs Giddings State Indians

Just another football game last tonight, TMI vs Giddings State. I knew TMI had made the playoffs, but I didn't know much about Giddings, Texas, just that it was a small town outside of Austin, Texas. So I shoot the game, and even with the one-sided win by TMI I get some good action. Great thing about sports, it doesn't matter what the score is, there's always great action to be captured. Strong runs by both teams, some good shots of the line, something I always struggle to get.

As a photographer I just shoot the game; charged up players, pretty cheerleaders, color guard full of honor and purpose, but something kept bothering me when looking at the players when they are shaking hands at the end of the game. So polite, but reserved. Even on the field, in the middle of the mosh pit after a tackle, where only a 300mm lens can take you, I wasn't seeing some of the secondary aggressiveness I've seen at other high school games. I didn't think much of it, other than there were a few guys there I'd love to do portraits of, but not likely to happen.

Did you know there are two high schools in Giddings? The Giddings Buffaloes and the Giddings Indians. To play for the Indians it takes more than tryouts and good grades. Want to know more? Read this story by John Ed Bradley in Sports Illustrated (1997), his eloquence will put the photos you see here in greater perspective.

Friday, October 30, 2009

New Photo Book Available - Boerne-Champion Chargers vs Midlothian

I haven't been posting much recently, mostly because all I seem to be doing is shooting football games and editing photos. I did want to share something I've been working on this fall and that's a new photo book featuring the Boerne-Champion Chargers vs Midlothian Panthers at the 2009 Texas Football Classic, played in the Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas.

It's a pretty neat 8x10 softcover book, printed on premium paper, and containing over 100 photos from the game. You can even preview all the pages.

I don't do this very often due to the labor, expense and market realities that limit what a book like this can successfully sell for. Let's just say I'd make more gross profit when I sell three or four small prints. ;-)
In any case it was a special occasion and fun to do, so please check it out.

Also of recent interest to a few parents is that I was finally able to schedule a freshman football game, specifically Boerne Greyhounds vs Antonian Prep. Anytime I get to shoot a game in daylight, I'm one happy photographer and the pictures show it. Check out the gallery...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sports, Sports, Everywhere Sports

Wow, lots going on. Trying to cover three high schools, two sports and shooting a bit of college soccer and University of the Incarnate Word from the stands generates a lot of post-processing time.

The nice thing about Boerne High School and Boerne-Champion High School playing football at the same location is that there is often a Boerne High School varsity volleyball game going on prior to football which allows me to provide more coverage than I might usually be able to offer.

Ah, volleyball...if you really want to feel incompetent as a sports photographer, go shoot some volleyball. The lighting is usually wierd and varies around the court(color balance changes as the lights cycle, aggravated by the floor and walls reflecting their orange hue), the action is all over the place and there never seems to be a good position to cover all the plays from. Good sports photography requires peak action and clean backgrounds and I don't care how fast your auto-focus camera's usually not fast enough.
After reading this thread on at least I know I'm not alone in seeing volleyball as one of the hardest sports to shoot....but boy, sometimes you do get a killer portrait.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Boerne High School - Redux

The last couple of years has been a bit different for Boerne high school athletics. 2008 was the year Boerne-Champion High School opened and Boerne High School was closed for a complete redo.

With the start of the 2009-2010 season Boerne now has Boerne High School reopening and playing 3A, while Champion continues as the 4A school. Both schools were affected by the reallocation of students, but it's Boerne High that is having to work the hardest to rebuild their sports program.

Friday night gave me my first chance to shoot the Greyhounds and I managed to squeeze in a varsity volleyball game prior to Boerne football taking on Lake Travis, a 4A, state championship level team. As was planned the football team got a good look at the level of play they will begin developing to achieve.

The neat thing about sports photography is there is always great action, no matter whether it's Pop Warner level play or the pros, whether it's a close game or a blowout. You just have to look for it. At the end of Friday nights game you didn't see anyone giving up or even looking overly depressed, personally I thought some of the guys looked like they wanted to go another quarter.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tunnel Vision

So far this year, I've managed to get run over by a softball player, come way too close to foul balls at both high school and professional baseball games, and backpedaled really fast when I had a quarter ton of football players coming at me.

I guess the point is, particularly with football, you really have to pay attention to the players when talking on the sidelines or looking through a 200mm or 400mm lens, either of which tend to give you a very narrow view of the world. Add all the folks just hanging out on the sidelines and things can get interesting fast.

So if you find yourself shooting from the sidelines or just hanging out and you aren't one of the guys in helmet and pads, you might find this message thread eye-opening.

Stay safe...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Boerne-Champion & TMI Football...the season is underway

Another busy weekend and it started on a Thursday. I'd forgotten the joys of shooting football in the afternoon with good light, but the images from Thursday's JV game between TMI, The Episcopal School of Texas, and Pearsall made for an easy reminder. Not only was the light good, but the photos show why you don't need to be shooting pro or college sports to get peak action, intense player emotion images.

The Boerne-Champion vs San Antonio East Central game on Friday started early enough to get some nice pre-game photos, particularly with the great yellow and black helmets of East Central. As I've written about in the past, to get really sharp images you almost always have to use strobe lighting at high school fields. The downside of strobes includes batteries, low light on long distance shots, uneven lighting depending where the play is on the field, setting ISO too high so you pick up the ambient light on the field when you really just want your flash to be doing the work...which usually means blurring.

So given all that fun stuff, when half the lights went out at Boerne High School stadium it looked photography was going to come to a standstill. But Forrest Gump would have been proud, with only half the stadium lights working we had some really interesting portrait light to work with and the players all had their helmets off. How cool... Here's one of my favorites...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dave Campbell's Texas Football Classic

Wow, a couple of pretty intense days. I was selected to shoot the Dave Campbell Texas Classic Floresville vs Fox Tech game on Thursday for MaxPreps and the Boerne Champion Chargers win over Midlothian for Dave Campbell's Texas Football. Both were exciting games that really got going in the 2nd half .

I capped a weekend of football as a spectator to watch my nephew, Dakota Mawyer (#33), co-captain the first game of the University of the Incarnate Word's inaugural football season. The high-scoring game ended with UIW defeating Monterrey Tech 42-39.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dave Campbell's Texas Classic Football Tournament & Boerne Chargers

The Boerne-Champion Chargers face Midlothian on Friday, August 27th in the Alamodome as part of Dave Campbell's Texas Football Classic.

Click to hear Coach Danny Threadgill speaking at the announcement ceremony.

(I'll be shooting the Thursday game for and the Chargers on Friday)
Thursday, August 27th - 7:30pm - Floresville vs. SA Fox Tech
Friday, August 28th - 7:30pm - Boerne Champion vs. Midlothian

Saturday, August 29th - Noon - Katy Mayde Creek vs. Brenham
Saturday, August 29th - 3:45pm - Odessa Permian vs Duncanville
Saturday, August 29th - 7:30pm - SA East Central vs. Cibolo Steele

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Boerne-Champion's Blake Smith - ESPN 2009 All-Star Team

Blake Smith (23) was selected as one of 36 players on the 2009 ESPN All-Star teams. Blake is a 2009 graduate of Boerne-Champion High School, Boerne, Texas and will be playing for the University of New Mexico in 2010.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Last Chance Forever - The Birds of Prey Conservancy

I first saw John Karger in full medieval falconry regalia in the mid-1980s at the Houston Renaissance Faire. Over the years I've continued to be mesmerized at his various public demonstrations and fund-raising events. His Last Chance Forever organization is one of only two facilities in Texas approved for the treatment and repatriation of birds of prey to the wild by the State of Texas and United States Fish & Wildlife service.

Today's event in Boerne, Texas, had John sharing his knowledge and thoughts on nature and man's place in it, highlighted by letting the attendees see hawks, falcons, owls and a Bald Eagle up close and personal.

John has been doing this a long time and with help from friends, family and private donors, small and large, he is building the foundation for the Last Chance Forever organization to continue long after he is no longer in a leadership role...which hopefully will be many years away. ;-)

Check out my photos and then visit his site, Last Chance Forever, check the schedule for future presentations and consider helping out.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

San Antonio Missions Baseball

10 June Update: Mike Baxter, San Antonio Missions outfielder, was named Texas League player of the month for May, 2009 by the San Diego Padres.

With the exception of club sports, summer is usually a slow period for sports photography, but I recently spent some time shooting the San Antonio Missions. While the speed of play was faster it was interesting to compare shooting at Nelson W. Wolff Stadium vs somewhere like Boerne-Champion or TMI.

Nelson Wolff stadium has wonderful line of sight with the only nets being between you and the players if you are behind home plate. The downside is that foul balls and bats can do some real damage, particularly if you have you eye to the camera and don't have a clue what's coming at you. In my most recent game we had the usual foul balls go into the stands, including one that took a policeman out with a hit to his elbow, interspersed with two bats into the stands, one of which was broken as it hit the ball.
I'm not that happy with my first effort there; mid-day sun made the light harsh, but better than stadium lights I guess, but the inability to be at the same level as the players means it's harder to get under the helmet and see the eyes. Just more to work on, though I'm not sure I have enough time left to get to the Brad Mangin level.

San Antonio Zoo in the Summer

I've been a member of the San Antonio Zoo for longer than I can remember, but I usually only visit in the winter when it's cool outside, the animals are a bit more energetic...and there are fewer people. With high school sports wrapping up I was looking for something a bit more laid back so off to the zoo I went. Good time, got rained on and still way too many people, but this guy is always entertaining...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Texas Military Academy (TMI) Lacrosse

Living in San Antonio I have the opportunity to shoot a wide range of sports, everything from traditional high school football to Mexican-style rodeos, but last night was my first lacrosse game courtesy of the Texas Military Institute (TMI) as they played San Antonio Reagan in their league playoff game.

Lacrosse in San Antonio is pretty much what soccer was like in the '70's on the northside, a niche sport with no official UIL sponsorship. This hasn't kept the teams from growing stronger each year, with a recent Boerne High School star soccer player moving up to a lacrosse scholarship at Sam Houston State University.

For the sports photographer this was like shooting baseball played on a soccer field, with the players faces hidden in the shadows of their helmets, but once I got the drift of the game my soccer experience really helped...though keeping the players, a tiny ball and a large stick all in the frame is a trick. This is where post-editing and cropping really helps, even if it's time consuming.

End of the school lacrosse season, but hopefully I'll get a chance to shoot a bit more next year.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Boerne-Champion Softball vs San Antonio Brackenridge

WOW!... One long hot afternoon with two exciting Texas District 27-4A playoff softball games. While it turned out to be a great come-back for the Brackenridge Eagles after their Friday night loss, it was a heart-breaker for the Chargers after strong rallies in the last innings of each game.

I guess one of the hardest parts about shooting high school sports is you always know one team will have to lose, but where else will you find the opportunity for fantastic action photography and the next minute you're shooting emotions you'll rarely see outside someone's personal life....rarely in professional sports, that's for sure.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Boerne-Champion Baseball vs Smithson Valley

When I first started shooting sports it was primarily the Smithson Valley High School baseball team I focused on, so it was a double-treat to shoot the Boerne-Champion Chargers playing the Smithson Valley Rangers on Parent's Day....and it was an afternoon game!

Since Smithson Valley is a 5A team and Boerne-Champion is 4A this was not a district game, which allowed me to get photos of players I don't often see. Some good action at first and second and my usual attempts to get the ball on the bat.  No, a five+ frames/sec motor drive does not guarantee you'll get the ball on the bat. ;-)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fiesta Frenzy - "An Evening at La Cage"..a benefit for Childsafe of San Antonio

and now for something completely different.... ;-)

I thought I was just going to a benefit performance last Wednesday and was looking forward to spending some money on a good cause and to see a few musical numbers that weren't on my usual list for weekend entertainment.   So there I am, sitting on the 4th row of the historic San Antonio Josephine Theatre getting ready to enjoy a mix of musical & dance numbers, female impersonators and stand-up comedy skits...when the MC says feel free to take pictures.   Too good an offer to pass up...

I'm guessing by the 3rd act the guy behind me was tired of seeing my elbow in the air holding my camera, but given the boisterous nature of the crowd and the phenomenal acts it turned out to be a really fun night for a good cause.

Fiesta Frenzy is in its 9th year as a regular San Antonio Fiesta event whose goal is to raise money for selected community groups.  This year the event benefited the Childsafe organization which...

 "provides services in a safe environment for child and adolescent victims of sexual abuse. At the center professionals ensure that the child’s needs  emotional and medical  come first. The mission of ChildSafe is to restore dignity, trust and hope to children traumatized by sexual abuse."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Alamo Dressage Association - Spring 2009

Want to learn about dressage?  Try immersion...   I just spent two, intense, but fantastic days shooting a new sport for me, while trying to deal with less than ideal lighting situations.

The Alamo Dressage Association hosted their Spring show at the San Antonio Rose Palace the weekend of March 21-22, 2009.  Three rings, two days, over 90 riders/horses and me trying to figure how to shoot the indoor rings with low light (Nikon D700, 70-200/2.8, ISO 2500-4000), bad backgrounds, all while trying to learn what makes a horse and rider look great. You can read up on any new sport to get a sense of what makes a good photo, but I had the fortune to be able to pick the brains of top riders, coaches and trainers and a seemingly never-ending supply of riders to refine my technique on.  Three rings, a new rider every nine minutes or so and me with a camera.  Way cool!

If you ever get a chance to attend a dressage event, go with a sense of patience and appreciation for the nuances...and watch the top class riders.  They had their horses doing moves I'm not sure I can do with only two feet.

Alamo Dressage Association Spring Show 2009 Photo Galleries 

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Baseball & Softball Season is back!

New fields, new tournament, new faces and great weather....a great way to start up the Boerne-Champion High School baseball and softball season.

Boerne-Champion hosted their first Champion Memorial Baseball Tournament this weekend (5-7 March). I spent Friday shooting a couple of baseball games and finished up the day shooting the Charger girls vs the Antonian Apaches late in the afternoon. Great lighting on the catcher and batters, but major glare with the sun setting in the outfield.

The new fields look great to play on, but I knew it was going to be interesting to figure out how to shoot through and around all the new fencing and netting. With a long lens and shooting close to the net you can minimize the impact, but anything other than straight on is going to be an issue. All that said these were afternoon games with great light and great action so it was worth the eight hour day.

In between games I caught some of the Charger pole vaulters practicing. The Track & Field team has a home field meet coming up on 28 March, so that should be another fun day with a whole new mix of action shots.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

2009 Hawaii High School Canoe Paddling State Championship - Maui

While on Maui I had chance to shoot the 2009 Hawaii High School Canoe Paddling State Championship. The Hawaii State High School Association has also been kind enough to present a small gallery of my images on their site.

This event has historically been held on Oahu, so this was pretty exciting for the Maui teams and provided them with a lot of home town support, with local canoe clubs providing the canoes.

The lighting at midday and distance to the canoes limited the quality of the action shots, but I really enjoyed shooting the candid portraits, friends, family and support teams. As a former/inactive whitewater and sea kayaker I could really appreciate what these eight-person teams were going through, particularly the boys and girls that paddled their own class and then had to turnaround and paddle the mixed events.

For those that are use to just seeing traditional Texas sports photography I hope you find these image enjoyable....and if you are visiting my site from Hawaii, Mahalo!, I had a great time.

Additional coverage by The Maui News and photos by Amanda Cowan:

Race Results may be found here: edit

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Art of Frank Weir - Texas Beyond History

"A burial party lays a loved one to rest at Loma Sandia, about 2700 years ago. This interpretive painting by TBH artist Frank Weir accurately depicts some of the archeological evidence documented at this ancient cemetery site. Other elements reflect the local landscape and climate. The scene is set on a winter day, just as a "blue norther" arrives, an auspicious moment for a funeral."   (Artwork copyright Frank A. Weir, Text copyright Texas Beyond History) Click for full image.

I was at the San Antonio Menger Hotel last night and spent some time looking at all the old pictures on the walls. I started thinking how the rarity of old film based photos compares with the overabundance of digital images today, particularly as the future life of digital images depends on iterative updating of the media upon which they reside. For instance, if you have any images stored on 'floppy' disk or early CDs you might want to see if you can even read them on your current hardware.

This brings me, in a roundabout way, to the University of Texas website Texas Beyond History and the artwork representing the past. It's one thing to take a photo of a current event, but it's something else to dig the artifacts out of the ground and build a visual history from what you find.  There are a number of talented artists on this site that do just that, but I want to point to the works of Frank Weir, not only because they are evocative of what life must have been like back then, but also because he's my uncle and it's the least I can do for all the cool art work he's given me over the years. 

Please take the time to check out some of these links...

Now if I just had inherited a small percentage of his artistic skill.... ;-)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Boerne-Champion Soccer vs Abilene Wylie

I took the opportunity to shoot some soccer in daylight at the recent tournament hosted by Boerne-Champion high school. The team usually plays at 7PM, so even though it was an overcast day, it was better than being under stadium lights. Soccer is/was my sport so it was great to be there, vicariously wishing I was playing or even refereeing...yeah, even did that for 15 years at the amateur level.

A good tutorial on shooting soccer can be found on the Canon Professional Network by John McDermott, a Sports Illustrated soccer shooter for over 30 years.

(backgrounds, backgrounds, backgrounds....ugh, clean backgrounds are critical to great shots and I think there's only one decent background at the Boerne High School stadium. ;-)