Monday, February 15, 2010

Gutter talk

One of the rules of news photography is always wear clean socks on assignment; you never know when you are going to have to take your shoes off.

Take for instance the bowling alley assignment from last week. I was assigned a story about the 50th anniversary of the Tracy Bowl now called West Valley Bowl. I got the traditional standing-with-the-bowling-balls photo but I wanted something a little more dramatic. I could photograph them bowling but it looks boring from behind. I need to get out on the lanes.

Bowling alleys oil their lanes pretty heavily so I decided to make my way along the gutter. My plan was to head in a five or six feet and get a low angle view of the bowler releasing the ball. First thing I noticed is they were right, the lanes are slippery and very cold. So hunched down in the gutter I made a few test frames to check exposure and focus and had him roll away.

It is kind of strange to see a 16-pound ball kind of flash by your head. It wasn’t that close but it seems to be and the noise the ball makes landing near me is a little unnerving. The crack of the ball on wood and the shudder is a little disconcerting.

A couple of tries and I was happy with the composition of ball and bowler. I could have used a little more shutter speed to make the ball a little clearer as it sailed past me but I was happy with the results. The bowler asked me if he need to do anything special. I had one request, no gutter balls please.

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