Friday, December 25, 2009

Tis the Holiday Season!

Covered several holiday stories this season. One was about families spending more quality time together during the holidays. In this photo Ella Slatalla, 18, plays around with a whisk with her younger sister Clem, 12, after they helped their mother Michelle make a meringue crust for a lemon meringue pie.

Another was about looking for more inexpensive gifts to buy this holiday season. Jan VanVlaenderen, an employee at Two Neat, a Mill Valley store that sell inexpensive fun gifts, models a large size t-shirt that Amy Yoger (2nd from right) and Sophie Newman (far right) were looking to buy as Louise Satterfield looks on.

And I covered a story about Hanakauah celebrations as well. Shelly Sagy of Concord, Calif. puts the finishing touches on her flower menorah at The Festival of Lights at the Jewish Community Center in San Rafael, Calif.

Happy Holidays!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The fun of photographing high school sports

Over the past month I have been photographing a lot of the playoff volleyball and soccer for the Marin IJ high schools. Its been a great time, with pulsating games, exciting finishes, great action and amazing celebrations afterwards.

All I can say is I wish playoff season lasted all year...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

My photo, not MY photo in the NY Times

I always wanted to have my photograph appear on the cover of the NY Times (or its website) and I finally made it!

But not exactly as I thought I would. Its actually a photograph of me cheering the World Cup Draw (I'm the guy jumping out of his seat on the left) at Danny Coyles on Haight Street in SF which has a World Cup Draw party.

Well I must say I really do like the photograph and I am really looking forward to photographing the World Cup this upcoming June!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

USF vs. Dominican

The Dominican Univ. team played USF on Monday evening and it was a great game. This year is the first year Dominican has become a NCAA Div-2 team and gave USF, a Div-1 team a scare for a half until they pulled away in the second half. A great showing!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Al Gore

Former Vice President Al Gore made a stop in Marin county at Dominican University on Monday evening to talk about his new book "Our Choice."
In the book Gore argues that every one of us are responsible to stop climate change and global warming.
Compared to how Gore was portrayed in the 2000 Presidential election, he was a good speaker who convincingly and strongly argued his point of view about climate change and threw in good nature barbs and ad-libs about himself that made the crowd laugh out loud several times.
Since this was a guy speaking on a stage photo shoot, I tried to get several different angles for the article and hopefully some good expressions of Gore speaking.
I also tried some other shots which I am not sure totally worked but was worth the chance.

Afterwords, Gore signed books for the overflowing audience.
There actually was too many people to fit into Angelico Hall on the university campus, so they had to watch via television at an nearby building. The line for people waiting to have their book signed by Gore lined clear outside the building.
In the end I tend to agree with Gore. Climate change is a huge threat and it really is up to all of us to become active and combat it. And we need to start now.

You can read the story about it here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Marin Triathlon

I guess I must really like sports that test the character and endurance of the athletes; in particular amateur athletes.

On Sunday I had a chance to photograph the second annual Marin Triathlon at McNeer's Beach and China Cove State Park in San Rafael.

Although the event features several world class professional athletes at the top of their game...
...the amazing part of the event is watching the amateur athletes who have spent months of time getting ready for the event and having their family and loved ones nearby the whole time cheering them on. That for me is why I love covering this race.

The festivities started out with a bag piper leading the spectators and athletes to the start of the swim.
Its always a lot of fun visually to see everyone dressed the same in a wet suit entering the water to take part in the 1.5 km swim.
After a desperate scramble out of the freezing bay water...
...the athletes switch to their bicycles to start a punishing 35.4 km bike race with a steep uphill at the start.

Then, as if that was not enough punishment, the athletes have to run a 10 km cross country course race.
But as they get close to the finish line the families are there to take photographs, cheer them on..
Possibly even run with them to the finish line...
Where big hugs await them.
As you can tell I wish I could do what these athletes do. I have modest goals though. For me I just hope to be able to run a 10K or half-marathon soon again. A triathlon will have to wait.

You can view a slideshow of all my images from the triathlon on the Marin IJ Website

Friday, October 30, 2009

Working for the Marin IJ

The past few weeks I've had several photography assignments for the Marin Independent-Journal. Marin High Schools are in the middle of the playoff season.
I photographed two soccer games that in the MCAL, one between Marin Catholic and Terra Linda and the other between Drake and Redwood that were both exciting to watch and fun to photograph.
Also I photographed the MCAL water polo playoffs as well and got to check out an intense match between Tamalapais and Terra Linda.

I had a couple of assignments covering the lives of Marin residents.

One was of filmmaker Michael Anderson of San Anselmo. He made a movie on the gritty streets of San Francisco's Tenderloin District. His movie, "Tenderloin," was shown at the Mill Valley Film Festival.

Another assignment had me photograph Dr. Paul Ekman. Ekman is a psychologist who
developed the science behind micro-expressions, the involuntarity physiological movements our faces make that can indicate, for instance, if we are lying. Ekman and his work are the subject of the FOX TV show "Lie To Me."

I also photographed San Anselmo's Tori Kropp, a prenatal nurse at the California Pacific Medical Center while working at the hospital in San Francisco. Kropp is author of the recently released book "The Joy Of Pregnancy."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

United States Men's National Team vs. Costa Rica

I wasn't sure what to expect really from the final United States Men's National CONCACAF World Cup qualifying game at RFK Stadium. The one possibility I didn't expect was how emotional an event it was for me.

There were several mitigating reasons I suppose: the tragic accident that US forward Charlie Davies was involved in, the fact that after a long two year campaign the USA was heading to the 2010 World Cup and an exhilarating game that had the team down by 2 goals early in the game and a last second equaliser that had the US finish top of the standings.

Before the game I spent a few hours hanging out at Molly Malone's regaling in the story of my friend Andy who made the trip to Honduras. He had an amazing time and was so emotionally spent at the end of the game that he wasn't thinking when he traded his custom-made USA soccer flag shirt that he had worn for every USA game he attended since the 1990 World Cup.

If anyone knows a good tailor that can make a new one for Andy I'd appreciate any tips.
From there I made it to RFK stadium where outside the USA Fans, led by the American Outlaws were having a tailgate and partying up. In a way it was a celebration party. The USA had already achieved its goal: Qualify for the World Cup in South Africa.
Soccer mom anybody?
Heading into the stadium the fans were still celebrating.
Despite a steady downpour everyone was in high spirits and ready for the game to commence.
But as the USA men's team walked out onto the field...
And the supporters sang the national anthem, the festive atmosphere was tempered by the tragedy of the Charlie Davies accident.
As a sign of respect and support the USA fans held up signs for Davies during the 9th minute of the game. With smoke bombs going off all around I felt it was a slightly unsettled atmosphere, commingled with tragedy and celebration.
And also the fact that I think the USA team was not ready mentally to start the game. There was a defensive breakdown. Costa Rica took advantage to take a quick one goal lead.
To the credit of the DC fans, they only stopped drumming and cheering for a moment, before they started up again full force.
But Costa Rica scored a quick second goal and the jeering between the two fans was in full force. The USA squandered several golden chances before the half and Costa Rica stood firmly in charge of the game.
Now this takes a lot of skill....props!

At the half I text my brother "Glad this game means nothing." He called me up and told me that Mexico was down at the half against Trinidad and Tobago and Honduras was up against El Salvador. This game actually did mean a lot. The USA could still finish first in the group and if they could tie it up Honduras would be going to the World Cup, not Costa Rica.
In the second half the USA team and fans were fired up...
The cheers were loud and non-stop. I love USMNT games at RFK stadium. It is the true national team stadium for the USA. There is no place in the country that turns out a better support for the team than DC. Nowhere.
And the fans were rewarded! After a first goal, Jonathan Bornstein got a second goal in the last moments of the game sending the USA fans into delirium!! It was an unreal atmosphere. It was a final hurrah to a trying and testing campaign for the USA that led to them finishing on top of the group. Mexico tied T&T so the USA won the group and Honduras defeated El Salvador to book their own ticket into the World Cup.
The players were just as excited as the fans (probably even more so, after all they did all the hard work)...
and the team presented a banner to thank all the fans for their support during the Qualifying campaign.

At the end of the game my brother text me: "And u thought this game meant nothing?"

He was so right.

Its been a crazy two years. This trip has taken me all over the place. To Caribbean nations, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico, and to all corners of the USA and now the trip was over. I guess I didn't realize how emotional a day it was for me. All the hope, all the worry, all the highlights and moments of despair. They were all over. Its been an amazing ride. I think the two following signs say everything I would want to sum up this post:and