Prologue... I was going through old posts, cleaning up broken picture links when I came across this article from last year that I FORGOT to actually publish! It's just been sitting in the queue for the past year. I didn't want to cheat Ricky Robertson out of his day, so here it is... better late than never.
Dateline April 11, 2012:
It's not often that you see a superlative that starts with the word "World." But that's exactly what this was. At the 2012 Pepsi Florida Relays, Ricky Robertson from Ole Miss jumped a 2012 world's best 7'7". And best of all... I was there to photograph it!... and I didn't screw up.
Conditions were very good for photographing the high jump. The sun was low in the sky, a little behind and to the left of the bar, which offered nice highlights when taking pics behind or to the right of the pit. A bonus of the right position was the full stands in the background. When they called the start of the High Jump, high school relays were running (which don't interest me much), so I stationed myself behind the pit for some good pics.
The competition was stiff, with several stereotypical high jumpers from Georgia Tech, Indiana, Maryland... all about 6'6" - 6'8" and lanky. I really didn't even notice this kid from Ole Miss, who was about my height (not impressive), and quietly went about his work. The bar moved up a few times and jumpers started getting weeded out to the point where it was the tall guys and this regular looking kid from Ole Miss. Then I started paying attention to him... and so did the crowd. Looking back at my pictures I see that cleared the later heights with room to spare.
At the final height, he cleared and the remaining two failed in their three attempts. The bar was set higher for him alone. Ricky got his running start and cleared it on the first attempt! The crowd went wild and Ricky jumped out of the pit and ran toward the stands. The bar was set yet higher to 7'7"... a mark higher than any jump of 2012 so far. I could tell the officials were nervous as they verified the height with a laser measure. They knew they were wading into important territory.
Ricky made his run and cleared again! He jumped just about as high out of the pit as he had into it. The crowd was on its feet... an exuberance not often seen at a track meet. All I could do was watch and pray that hadn't messed up the pics. I was trying a new manual focus technique that I hadn't tried before, so I was nervous.
The officials reset the bar, remeasured and Ricky made three attempts at the next height. After the last attempt, he waved to the standing crowd in appreciation. It was us who appreciated him, providing such an exciting moment in our lives. Its not often that one witnesses a superlative that begins with, "World's Best."
I was on pins and needles until I got back home and downloaded the pics for viewing. They came out perfect. My new manual focus technique was a success!... and an uncommon one in this day of auto-focus, especially for sports photography. I couldn't be happier.
See more of the 2012 Pepsi Florida Relays here.
See much more at www.wlpearce.com where it's all about the photos!