Sweet 16 Blog from Phoenix

March 27, 2008

Media CircusGameday

It’s GAMEDAY! Got up this morning to watch BKO sports anchor James “JB” Brandenburg being interview on ESPN’s First and Ten talking about the Hilltoppers. He was the best of the bunch that was interviewed about the teams they cover. I packed my gear and hit the media hospitality room for a bagel and coffee. Road the media shuttle to the arena and set up shop. I grabbed my little Canon G7 Powershot and went looking for WKU fans to do a quick video. I shot the t-shirt vendors setting up shop and wandered around until I found two WKU fans for a quick standup interview. Then I peeked into the arena to watch a few seconds of WKU closed practice. I tried to grab a few frames of video, but no luck. I was also worried about getting ousted. As I made my way back down to the photo workroom, I found the team walking to their bus. I shot a few seconds of video and started to put it all together. It is pretty down and dirty. I took the avi files into VisualHub and converted then into iMovie for a quick edit. I then took it back into VisualHub to export as an flv file. Compressed it and sent it to our online producer Chris Houchens. Did a walk around the arena, grabbed a Diet Coke and sat down to blog. Headed to the media buffet in a few and then will get gear ready and head to the floor. Very nervous. Pretty excited. Hoping for a win.

More in a bit.

Media Circus

Well, it’s officially a circus. I took the media shuttle to the U.S. Airways Center this morning at 9:30, got my credentials, secured a spot in the photo work room, talked to the photo marshall about my shooting spot for the game, saved the paper $300 on internet by getting a wireless line for cheap, got my camera’s cleaned, got some cool loaner gear, bought shirts and a hat for the family and oh yeah, shot a ton of pictures. 830 to be exact. I started off with West Virginia’s practice. Bob Huggins was looking rough. Then WKU took the floor and I shot from multiple angles, down low, up top and under the basket. The Hilltoppers looked relaxed, but not too relaxed. Following the 50 minute practice, they opened the locker room to the media. It was a circus! Reporters, videographers, photographers and more reporters rushed in for the news feeding frenzy. The players looked like deer in the headlights! I had to shoot from way above Courtney to see him from all the people closing in around him. Tyrone Brazelton was backed up against the wall. Even Adam Howard was getting some journalist love. I bet 30 people rushed in. I shot for about 20 minutes and did a quick sound interview with A.J. Slaughter and Boris Siakam. I use the voice recorder on the back of my camera to get 60 seconds of sound and then use it in the SoundSlides program we do our shows with. It just adds a little bit extra to the show. They should be online at www.bgdailynews.com by now. After the media frenzy, I went out and grabbed a few frames of Xavier’s practice for my shows. I went back and edited and then hit UCLA’s practice. They had the most fans. And man are they big, I mean really big. Speaking of fans, during WVa. practice a guy in a red shirt with a W on it sat down with his son and started watching the players and he stayed through WKU’s practice. I saw a bunch of TV people and reporters go over and interview him. I shot a few frames and planned to go over and get some sound. When I got closer, I noticed the W looked funny. I asked his name, Todd Baumer of Fort Wayne, Ind. I asked is he was a WKU fan. He said this is a Wisconsin shirt, I am a basketball fan and I came to watch all of the practices. He laughed and said every member of the media was surprised, thinking he was from WKU. He gave me his thoughts on the game and I used his sound.

I spent about two hours editing the pics, sound and slide shows. I shipped everything to the paper and packed up. On the way out I checked my photo position. During the first half of the WKU/UCLA game, I will be in the front row about the middle. In the second half, on WKU home end, I am in the front row, right under the basket. Primo photo real estate. Unless of course I get a ref who parks himself right under the basket. Which will really suck. Anyway, I am getting a little nervous about shooting. David Smith did such a good job for us, the pressure is on. I really will have to step it up a notch and shoot hard to justify spending almost $2K for a photographer to come out when we could get pics from the wire services. That’s why I did the slide show and put up the extra content. Time to find some dinner. I will log back on tonight to add more stuff to this blog, the Daily News blog and the online reprint service. I just got off the phone with Tracy and she said people have asked if I am having fun, did I go over to Las Vegas. I wish. If (or when WKU, wins) I might check out Phoenix and the surrounding area on Friday. If they lose, I am headed back to BG so I can see my son play soccer on Saturday. Just got a call from Brent Price. He and Jill are in Phoenix and I will be on the lookout for them at the game. More later.

Sweet 16 day 2

Here I am at the U.S. Airways Center on Thursday ready to cover practice and media day at the West Regional Finals. Rode the shuttle over, got my credentials, found the photo workroom and talked my way into $16.95 a day wireless instead of the $350 hard line. I went out and checked the light on the court and am getting my gear ready. Met the Nikon techs and got some loaner gear. West Virginia is on the floor and I shot a few pics and came back to post before WKU takes the floor. There is a ton of security and people checking your credentials everywhere. I am getting a bit excited about things starting to happen. I am ready to get the show on the road. More after WKU’s practice.

Sweet 16 day 1

I stayed up late last night packing for my trip to phoenix and the chance to cover the Hilltoppers. I made the morning budget meeting and worked the photo desk for three hours until a 1015 press conference at Diddle. Usually just the WKU beat writer Rob Herbst and BKO’s own James Brandenburg are there. But today we had the AP, Louisville and Nashville tv along with a few word herders I didn’t  recognize. Ty rogers and Tyrone Brazelton came in and sat down and answered questions for about 30 minutes. They were used to it by now. They have been on sports center CBS and been interviewed by tons of national press. They both gave great answers and one that stuck out was Tyrone talking about his friends asking if WKU was a Division 2 school. I tried to make interesting pictures to Wednesday’s sports centerpiece. I pulled out all of the stops looking for every angle. Another tv guy showed up late and took Ty and Tyrone out to floor of Diddle were I think I made the picture that will run Wednesday. I talked with ty for a minute about their travel plans and then left to pick up my reporter. We headed to Nashville to catch a flight on Southwest to Phoenix. The team was leaving by charter at 3 from BG. So here I am typing on my iPhone 40,000 up. Herbst wrote his story and crashed. I am going to get the flight attendants attention and cash in my free drink coupon for a bourbon. Back in a bit.

Made it to Phoenix. More later.


Woe, Canada

December 19, 2007


David W. Smith/ Daily News
Players from London Christian, a high school basketball team from Canada listen to an abbreviated version of their national anthem before a tournament game against Edmonson County Tuesday.


David<br /> W. SmithI got to cover an international assignment of sorts Tuesday.

It wasn’t overseas, but I had to travel to Edmonson County to get there and figured I crossed over a couple rivers on the way.

At the Rafferty’s Caveland Classic Basketball Tournament in Brownsville Tuesday there was a team from north of the border. And they were even generating some excitement before the game.

“I heard they are in their off-season, like summertime,” one local speculated of the high school hoopsters from London, Canada.

“I heard they are really fast, ” was overhead from another in a restroom conversation.

Even though they came from the homeland of two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash and even with the inventor of the game Dr. James Naismith hailing from there, little is known about basketball in Canada.

London Christian, a small private school from the Western part of the province of Ontario, was set take on the hosts of the tournament, the Edmonson County high school squad.

The gym was abuzz with excitement before the match and a good-sized crowd started to fill the bleachers.

The scorers table looked confused and struggled with the pronunciation of the players names but with help of a team manager eventually figured it all out.

In a very friendly gesture, the organizers announced they would play the national anthem of Canada followed by the Star Spangled banner.

As the music started to play the Canadian players seemed surprised and pleased.

Some of them even started to sing…..

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

The Canadian players watching the bleachers of American fans across from them, put their hands over their hearts, though awkwardly and some held closed hands to their chests.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

I started to croon a bit myself, being Canadian and not having the chance to sing my national anthem often in Kentucky, let alone in Edmonson County. It was a nice warm feeling….

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

and on to the final verse both players and photographer sang……

O Canada, we ……

What the heck? It stopped…..the music stopped before the final verse…..the crowd applauded…I don’t think they knew it

wasn’t finished yet. (I hope they weren’t applauding because the lack of music had stopped my singing) I wondered if they downloaded the song from Napster or something and didn’t get the full version.

The players looked at each other, a little confused maybe. And then they did what any red-blooded, patriotic Canuck would do when someone messed up their national anthem. They laughed. A lot.

It was a honest mistake. No harm, no foul.

After the full version of the American national anthem it was on to the game.

The visitors from the Great White North staked an early lead against their Bluegrass hosts but it didn’t last long and the Christians from London were fed to the lions or in this case the Wildcats and lost by a huge margin. It wasn’t a physically rough game and players from both countries shook hands after it was over and there was Peace on Earth. Well at least in Brownsville.


Road Trip

December 7, 2007

David<br /> W. Smith
One great thing about being a photographer for the Daily News is the amount of travel we get to do. Last night I made my first trip to Vanderbilt University to cover the Lady Toppers battling the 20th ranked Commodores. I rode down there with Dr. James Robinson a friendly, well-known local dentist. He shoots pictures for WKU’s Sports Information Department. It seems like there are a lot of doctors and dentists shooting on the sidelines of sporting events these days. Of course it’s easy to tell them apart from the newspaper and magazine photojournalists. No it’s not the media credentials hanging from their necks because lots of people can get those. And it’s not the grizzled look of the news veterans who have been coming to these events for years. The doctors and dentists are easy to spot because they have the most expensive cameras. But I have shot a lot of games with Doc Robinson and am long over my lens envy.

I was excited about going to Vanderbilt and curious to see what the basketball arena would be like. Just the Vanderbilt name evokes a certain vision of grandeur and nobility. Maybe it’s the history of the shipping and railway magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt that makes everything sound so expensive, or maybe its just the tuition fees at the school that do that. Either way I could picture chandeliers hanging down in place of halogen lights and people dressed up to view the spectacle known as NCAA Women’s basketball. I envisioned the arena as some grand theater with a parquet hardwood floor for the sports. A place that Dr. James Naismith would be proud to have to showcase his invention.

I was a little disappointed when we got to Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville. It was cavernous but not really grand. It seemed like a bunch of theater seating coming at you from four different directions. Maybe it was designed for country music events. Maybe they should rename it the Wynnona-dome or something.

It seems strange as far as basketball arenas go. It is almost like four arenas or four theaters if you will, almost like four separate sets of stands. The floor, unlike most other schools is raised and the teams benches are along the the baselines instead of the sidelines.

The Vanderbilt people seemed friendly though and I wasn’t there to admire the architecture but to shoot a basketball game.

I sat down in the end zone and was soon joined by other photographers. Attendance in the building was very sparse at the start of the game and never really got any better. The night before was a sellout when the undefeated Vandy mens team played Wake Forest.

A young photographer sat on my left and a television cameraman was on my right. After shooting the action for awhile I noticed the young photographer would tap his hand holding the camera with his open hand after every Vanderbilt score or good play. It almost seemed like clapping but without sound, more a symbolic type of display.

After awhile I asked him if he was cheering. He answered that with the lack of fans in attendance he thought his team needed all the help they could get.

I said that usually cheering by journalists is discouraged and there are even signs to that effect posted in press boxes everywhere. He said that “The Hustler” who he worked for, was not bound by any of these rules. Interesting I thought to myself, deducing that the Hustler was the student newspaper at the university and not the more well-known adult magazine.

Either way Vanderbilt didn’t really need any help as they easily defeated the Lady Toppers. I felt bad Western lost but kept it to myself, after all we are supposed to record the event and not be part of it.

Click here to see a slideshow of the Lady Tops – Vandy game.


Kentucky Christmas

December 4, 2007

Joe Imel/Daily News
Matt Prater, of Owensboro, decorates a used tire Tuesday outside the the Farm House Fraternity on Chestnut St.

I spent this evening driving around looking for a feature picture. You know, that “slice of life” photo, people just doing. I thought I might get lucky and find people decorating their houses near campus. I heard about a Christmas Week event sponsored by one of the WKU fraternities. I made a few loops around campus and saw a few guys hanging lights at the Farm House Fraternity on Chestnut Street. I overshot a parking spot so I had to circle the block. When I pulled up, I saw they were decorating a used tire hanging from a tree in the front yard. The lights had gone out and Matt Prater was trying to get them working. I was using a D200 with a 12-24mm lens and an SB-800 flash. I wanted to use a little flash to fill in his face and still get the glow of the light. I was shooting at 800 or 1000 ASA with the flash set to under-exposure the scene by 1 stop and using rear-curtain sync (so the flash would fire after the ambient exposure). My exposure was 1/40th at f4. Kinda technical I know, but I think most amatuer photographers would like to know how to make better pictures at Christmas. So much for the numbers. I got down low on the ground to get Matt’s face framed in the tire. I was motordriving through the scene as he was working and probably shot 50 frames (easy to do when you are shooting at 4 frames a second. I kinda like the picture. Not bad for five minutes worth of work, from getting the camera out to getting the cutline info. I hope to post the story behind getting the picture. More later…..


November 30, 2007

Game time

 Joe Imel/Daily News

BGHS football players end their practice Thursday with their helmets held high.


post written by Joe ImelI covered Bowling Green High School team’s football practice tonight for a story that will run on Friday’s sports front. It is a preview story of their clash with Owensboro. The Purples had a light practice, just a walk though to get mentally ready for the game. TIme to get focused. They have been at it since temperatures were in the high 90’s and heat indexes were ridiculous. Now we are looking at the low 30’s and just one game at time. While they spent their time walking through each part of the game, I kinda did the same thing tonight to get myself ready to cover the contest at Rash Stadium. Preparation. My walk through and game routine have been pretty much the same over the last 20 years of covering youth, prep, college and professional sports. I am guessing I have covered more than 5,000 games in my time as a photojournalist. And the night before each is always the same. Charge all the batteries, clean the lenses, clear the digital cards, pack three camera bodies, four lenses, two flashes, four compact flash cards, rain gear, gloves, hat, laptop, charger, cables, card reader, find wifi near the stadium, download the rosters and pack it all in the right camera bags for easy access. I could do it in my sleep. I get a bit jittery the night before a big game. I like to get there early to get all the gear ready and walk in with plenty of time to spare. I hate being rushed, because I will forget something, have a setting wrong or just can’t settle into the groove. I worry about getting from the stadium to a place to transmit from. I worry about making my deadline. I worry about making a better picture than any other photographer there. Darn it, I just worry. I’m jacked up before I go shoot a game. I can’t help it. You should have seen me the night before I shot the Titans/Rams Super Bowl. I was outta my mind jacked. It usually takes me about a quarter to get into shooting the game and concentrating on making pictures that tell the story. I’m a bit nervous about the game Friday. But once the ball is kicked off, I am in my office, working my job. See you on the sidelines.