I’ve moved my blog over to a new site and design at dannywild.com, so if you’re reading this, go check it out. All my archived content from this site is over at the new one, where you can search for photos or topics. Let me know what you think, thanks for stopping by!
April has been a busy month as usual with baseball starting and the weather sorta kinda getting slightly warmer in the northeast. I’ll try and recap:
April 2 took me to Yankee Stadium for the second game of the Major League season here in New York, I brought my fisheye lens along and snapped this as I followed my friend Lynne off to explore the park for the final two innings:
I ran a red filter on that in Photoshop to bring out the sunset a little more and just warm up the colors in general.
April 9, I went up to Michie Stadium to see Army lose a close one to Bucknell on a really gorgeous day in West Point – bright sun, temperature around 60, great crowd.
The sun was actually quite difficult to shoot with at times, along with the heat waves coming off the FieldTurf surface, but I found more luck toward the end shooting totally back-lit.
I’ve been determined since last February — since snapping my first ever frame of Army lax, on the left — to get another good entrance shot of the team (I nearly ruined the shot for everyone else a month ago when the team took the field earlier than I expected) but I wasn’t too disappointed with this one:
I loved being able to work in the DCA logo on the right below Hoffman Press Box — plus, when I lay down in this spot, I’m not in anyone else’s way since those ads block me from midfield. Good to see the Comm, BG Rapp, back on his feet and on the sidelines for this game after recovering from hip surgery, not that he’s missed any games regardless. You can see more of my photos from this game on the Army Athletics site.
Going back further, I also shot Army’s game against Cornell (with snow lingering) on March 5:
More photos from this game here (I’ll post Bucknell later).
Of football relevance, and this isn’t especially exciting, but I can report that USMA is renovating the East Stands at Michie for the upcoming football season — the bleachers have been removed and they are powerwashing and repairing the aging concrete stands. Should look nice and shiny for September — the Corps may even get some seatbacks in their area, if I recall. Michie is an old place and has a great charm to it, I think. Before the last lacrosse game, an osprey flew over the field holding a trout he’d just yanked out of Lusk Resevoir. When I told my friend Mark later that day, he said, “an M22 Osprey?!” heh not quite.
April 9-10 was the Army-Navy baseball series, a pair of doubleheaders on a pair of cold, windy days. One of my favorite photos from the weekend was of a Navy home run:
Cannot ask for better reactions and expressions than that. A little later, it was Army’s turn to celebrate when JT Watkins ripped a walk-off RBI single to left, a line drive that was bobbled and allowed Joey Henshaw to slide home safely:
More of that series can be seen here.
Finally, Sandhurst. I’d been looking forward to checking out SANCOM since I missed the opportunity last spring. Sandhurst is an international military skills competition hosted by West Point since 1967 that brings together 9-member squads from various academies in North America and around the world for a two-day event at Camp Buckner, West Point’s summer basic training venue. The main part of the event is held Saturday and starts at 0600, which is about four hours after I first get home from work in Manhattan. So, I wasn’t going to be there for the start, you can imagine.
I got up to Buckner around 1130 and hiked my way around the seven-mile course with my 20-pound 400mm lens and a pack of camera gear. It was fairly chilly, windy and it rained toward the end. Man did I have a blast — what a great day. I got soaked and dirty and probably walked off a few pounds, met some cool people and got exactly the kind of intense action and tight portraits I was looking for.
What a different perspective. I’ve been to enough hockey games and football Saturdays to get the vibe of what it’s like to be apart of that scene, but this was pretty cool to witness. West Point sends 32 teams to this annual event, one from each regimental company, and many cadets from those companies come along to run with their team and just cheer and support their friends on what has to be an ridiculously grueling weekend for all involved.
West Point, academically, is tailored to be stressful and challenge the cadets in every aspect of their four years on post, and this was just a bottled up day of that mentality — these guys were doing stuff (pushing 300-pound tractor tires across open fields) that would make you think back to math class, why the heck are we doing this stuff? And at SANCOM, these cadets train for months to be ready to dominate those crazy obstacles and tasks.
When you’re watching a guy carry a wooden crate of howizter ammunition across a field, it makes you think twice about complaining about the weight of your camera lens.
Also, where else can you lay down in front of a soldier pointing an M16 at you and really not feel worried at all?
One site I liked a lot was the boat/water course, and when it started raining hard late in the day, I was loving it.
Each team approached the lake’s beach, read a map and then had to decide whether to take a larger black boat or two smaller red boats. The entire team then had to paddle out to the middle of the lake and go around a specific buoy before returning. Like each site, the event was timed and penalties were issued for any violations to the rules.
One team was just pulling into the beach, about to jump out and finish up, when one of the supervisors yelled over from the beach that the team had navigated around the wrong buoy. They could either take a 30-minute penalty, or, go back and do it right. Guess which option they chose?
From a photographic perspective, this was served up on a platter. Nine guys grimacing through the pouring rain, paddling in unison in a race against the clock, making a line right at me and my camera? Point and shoot, basically. I would have liked a cleaner, darker background here, especially with the rain, so I moved around a bit. The Naval Academy team had one of the best times in this event. The Afghanistan team? Have to wonder if they’ve ever been in a lake before.
The hike back to my truck at Area K parking lot when this was all finished was… long. I felt pretty good, actually, but it was a long afternoon. USMA’s Company B-3 team won the event, too.
You can see a slideshow of images from the day here. Also, down in Annapolis on this same afternoon, Army beat the snot out of Navy in lacrosse.
Thoughts? Also, for more experienced WordPress users out there, I’m thinking about turning my [other] website into a WordPress-themed site. Is it difficult to transfer over blog content to that site? If anyone has some advice or insight, let me know. I’m also thinking about a new desktop PC — advice/recommendations on specs/brands?
Vin Scully is telling family stories about Pablo Sandoval as I write this, which is extremely distracting since I have been waiting months to hear his voice and anecdotes from L.A. But, I also waited months to make that familiar walk through the green left field wall in Roger Dean Stadium, through the bullpen and into the dugout for what, to me, is the best way to start the baseball season: spring training.
My trip didn’t end well — my family and I all got food poisoning and spent some time in the hospital — but the baseball portion of it went smooth.
Some of the shorter batters, I was able to just squeeze ‘em into the frame horizontally. Here’s Brian Bixler:
One of the most unexpected things happened around the fifth or sixth inning of this game, when, after several players had been hit, the Nationals’ Ian Desmond charged the mound after taking a pitch off the back from Miguel Batista. The benches immediately cleared and Cards skipper Tony La Russa was in the middle of the action, as was Nats 1B coach Dan Radison. Here, La Russa gets into it with Desmond up the first base line:
Batista was ejected, although tempers flared again in the ninth.
One of the real good guys in the Majors, Logan Morrison:
Have to include this — a little grey bird landed at the top step of the dugout during the game and was totally unfazed by the action, fans or players. He wasn’t the only little critter to stop by during a game — a big toad showed up in the dugout during one Marlins game (Jeff Conine picked him up and paraded him around) and a little lizard jumped on my back after one of the Florida pitchers tried to scoop him up with his cap! He knocked it off me, though.
I still need to go through more photos — the food poisoning kept me in bed for a few days — so I’ll try and post a few more later.
One of the nice things about getting back to the Dean is seeing some familiar faces, including the third base dugout usher, Al, who always has some stories to tell. I dunno if it’s Florida, the ballpark, the spring atmosphere or all three, but everyone down there is super friendly and welcoming. Getting to chat with Lou Brock at Cardinals games, it doesn’t get much better. And I was lucky enough to watch a game with my friend Lynne — a former girlfriend, if you can believe it — on Thursday, when we rooted against the Red Sox.
I also got a free upgrade from Hertz on my rental, a red 2011 Ford Mustang convertible with black leather, Sirius radio and 300 horsepower. My sunburn is still peeling from a week in this guy with the top down on 95:
I’m leaving in an hour for Newark Airport for my annual trip to Florida and Spring Training. It’s always a little tricky packing my camera equipment for plane trips — I take my big 400mm lens as a carry-on — but it’s worth it.
Spring Training, and this trip/week, is one of my favorite times of the year. The weather in Florida is incredible in March (80* and sunny every day this week) and the atmosphere at the ballparks is always very relaxed and laid back. The conditions for shooting are ideal — bright sun, puffy clouds, 1:05pm games. Roger Dean Stadium, in Jupiter, Fla., is my destination for most of the week. Love that park — it’s clean, fairly new, the dugouts are perfect to shoot from and it’s real easy to get to. Plus, it’s the shared home of the St. Louis Cardinals and Florida Marlins, so there’s plenty of games to see.
I’m also looking forward to actually using this 400mm lens — I traded in my old one last August but never had a chance to shoot baseball with the new one (my first time using the lens was an Army football game against Temple I think). It’s definitely sharper and focuses much better than my old one, so I’m kinda excited.
I’m scheduled to shoot the Cardinals, Marlins, Mets, Twins, Nationals and Red Sox this week. Expect some updates throughout.
I think I line up to shoot Chris Carpenter’s start on Monday, which will be his second since a minor injury sidelined him for the beginning of spring camp. Last year I had a chance to shoot Adam Wainwright, one of the best pitchers in the National League, although he’s out for the season.
You can also watch out for some of my photos on MLB.com’s daily spring galleries and any of the above noted team websites.
Been working on some photo illustrations lately, what do you think?
Some lacrosse love:
I’ve been slacking on the blog, although I have plenty of images to share — Army’s spring football practice, some lacrosse at UMass and West Point, some Spring Training baseball in Florida coming up next week. Some additional illustrations on Flickr — I have a few more in the works as well.
Some of my Army hockey photos will be featured in the upcoming issue of West Point Magazine, published by the West Point AOG, I’ll try and get some screenshots of that up when it’s available. (Interestingly, I found out recently that the AOG office was created at West Point following the Civil War in an effort to bring alums back together, many of which who fought against each other during the war. Pretty nuts.)
Football-related, I heard Army linebacker Andrew Rodriguez may return for 2011 and may also have a shot at being the first captain of the Corps — pretty exciting on both fronts.
Next week, I’ll be in Palm Beach County, shooting some Cardinals and Marlins spring action.
Wasn’t sure what to expect this weekend in Connecticut for my first taste of outdoor hockey when Army took on AIC during the week-long Hartford Whalers Hockey Fest at UConn’s 40,000-seat football stadium, Rentschler Field.
To set the scene, it was brutally cold and windy, and almost no fans showed up for this particular game, which was both disappointing and extremely understandable (my hands were cold even with gloves on). Army won 4-1 thanks to an outburst of goals in the second period.
My stuff will most likely be featured in a story that’s running in the U.S. Military Academy’s new alumni magazine, West Point, a publication of the West Point AOG office (the was also a photo gallery on GoArmySports.com). I think the story will focus on the seniors, so I tried to get some of each, including goalie Jay Clark, who joined his teammates in wearing eye black:
The sunlight offered some great light to work with on the far edge of the rink, although when the shadow from the press box crept up as the game went on, it made it a little difficult.
The rink’s glass was pretty dirty, and the holes to shoot through were both small and square, which couldn’t have been less ideal for photography (who the hell designs these things?) I brought my 400mm lens, since it comes everywhere with me, but it was pretty difficult to use in a tight space. The holes were just small enough and positioned poorly enough that if you wanted to tilt your lens up ice to get the play developing, you got the edge of the glass (plastic, really) in your frame.
I tried to work my fisheye lens in as much as possible, which is par for me — a view from behind the AIC net showed the scene:
This isn’t an especially good shot, but it does show the stick flex in action:
Here’s one with the 400mm f/2.8 L lens:
An uncropped photo at 400mm of Mike Santee, who’s dad, David, was a two-time Olympian:
Here’s a slideshow of about 180 images from this game.
Last week I worked on a fairly lengthy feature for Black History Month about Emmett Ashford, the first black umpire to reach the Major Leagues — people know the story of Jackie Robinson, but consider Ashford, a black man who not only made it in an almost exclusively white baseball universe of the 1950s, but he did so from a position of authority on the field. I’ve done a few of these BHM stories in the last few years, and they are often some of the most difficult and most rewarding stories I end up with.
I had no clue who this man was before starting my research, and in the end, it’s a pretty unique story — check it out.
Anyway, I was pretty flattered today to find a nice note from a fellow sports writer, the highly-respected baseball scribe and longtime [former] ESPN columnist, Rob Neyer:
Over at MiLB.com, Danny Wild’s got a really fantastic piece about Emmett Ashford, the first black umpire in the major leagues. I’m not going to throw an excerpt in here because the whole story really deserves to be read. It does occur to me that with the first 20th Century black player (Jackie Robinson), the first black American Leaguer (Larry Doby), and the first active female owner (Effa Manley) of an important team all in the Hall of Fame, there might eventually be a place for Ashford, too. He might not have been a great umpire — opinions are divided — and you might think umpires shouldn’t be showmen. But he certainly was entertaining, and he certainly was a pioneer.
No greater honor than one from someone like Rob. The feature has created some buzz on Twitter, and I know Mr. Ashford’s daughter has been proudly circulating it among friends. Perhaps it’ll bring his story back to light for the Hall of Fame to reconsider.