Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Best (photo) Weekend Ever

Last weekend, I headed to Tallahassee to shoot the FSU Invitational.  It was a small meet... UNF was only sending three runners to try to get qualifying times... so I wasn't expecting too much from the weekend.  I got there Friday evening and went straight to the track.  It was deserted!  There were heats with two or three runners.  I almost left.  Then, I noticed the long jumpers assembling, and it sure looked like a competitive crew, so I stuck around.  Competitive indeed.  There were Olympic class jumpers there, and I got some great long jump photos.  Tried some new techniques for night shooting too that seemed to work well.  This is Christian Taylor, 2010/2011 NCAA Champion Triple Jump, 2011 World Champion Triple Jump.  Trust me... he can jump!

Saturday, I drove out to the Hammer throw area and took some pics out there.  On the way back to the track, I saw a train stopped on the Lake Bradford Rd overpass.  I'm a big train buff, so I took a right to try to track down the engines.  Found them soon enough and hopped out to take some pics.  Then I noticed the Engineer waving a piece of paper out of the window... well, at first I figured he was shooing me away from the tracks, but on second look, it looked like he was waving me over.  I walked over to the engine and he threw a piece of paper out the window and told me to send him a pic!  Great!

After that, I jumped back in the car and traced the tracks down to the Monroe St. bridge and set up for pic there.  No waiting, perfect light, nice setting for a pic.  Perfect...

I was feeling special by 11:00 that morning!  So, off to the track.  Got some typical track photos... day was going well.  I was shooting the girl's pole vault, not paying much attention when, Pow!  A pole broke... and I happened to capture it on "film."  I've only even seen it happen three times, and I captured this one.  Wow.

Not long after that, I was shooting the 200M dash.  Nothing special there right?  I was keying on my favorite FAMU sprinter (wish I knew his name).  I looked at the pics on the camera as I frequently do just to check my work.  To check focus accuracy, I'll zoom the photo up on the screen... when I zoomed up on this guy's face, check out what I saw!...

Too cool!  Pretty good day, huh?  Not over yet, even though the track meet was.  The FSU Spring Game was going on just across the way in the stadium, so I ambled over to the Media Office over there and asked if I could get a last minute photo credential.  The girl calls her manager on the radio... "I have a Bill Pearce from UNF here...."  Silence while he tries to figure out who in the world Bill Pearce is and why would anyone from UNF want a photo credent... but finally he just says, "Yeah, go ahead."  Score!

I decided shooting football was fun, but pictures aren't much good.  You can't see any faces, and that's what makes the pic in my opinion.  The alumni flag football game at half-time made for better pics.  Here's Antonio Cromartie (currently a cornerback for the New York Jets) dunking the goal posts after a score...

And, of course you can't shoot an FSU football game without the obligatory Chief Osceola pic...

End of a nice day, right?  Nooooo... after the football game, I walked across the street the FSU Circus. So neat!  It was the last performance of the year, and while I didn't have a photo credential, I did get a floor seat.

Finally the day was over! I went home and collapsed into bed after the best photo weekend ever!

See more at

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


It's rare that a pole vault pole snaps, but when it does... everyone knows it!  KaPow!  I've only seen it happen three times and never with a camera pointed at it.

I was snapping away at the FSU Invitational, not expecting too much as it was a very small meet.  I usually have a predisposition to shoot the Florida teams, and since USF was competing, I figured I'd post a few.  This girl came up and I started shooting when... Pow!

I immediately stopped shooting and dropped the camera from my eye and saw the girl land in the pit holding half a pole.  Part of the bottom shot straight up (in picture above) and part shot out sideways, missing me by three feet, ending up in the middle of the track.  The girl was initially shocked, as I was, but then she hopped up and starting yelling, "I broke a pole, I broke a pole!"  Funny!

I have to learn not to stop shooting when weird things happen.  Glad this girl was OK after her mishap.  A pole breaking can be extremely dangerous.  One of the three that I've seen shot fiberglass splinters out in all directions.

See more at

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Week of Champions

What a weekend of photo shooting!  I shot no less than four conference athletes of the week at the Pepsi Florida Relays this weekend.  Above is Maurice Mitchell of FSU... ACC Athlete of the week.  Maurice ran a blistering 20.08 200M to win.  He's the defending 2011 NCAA Champion in the 200M, and that's the best 200M time in the nation so far in 2012.  Clearly, he's way out in front coming out of the turn with another 90M to go.  I think we'll see him again at the NCAA Championships.

Next up is Ricky Robertson of Ole Miss... subject of my previous post.  Ricky was the SEC Field Athlete of the week, for obvious reasons.  This jump is the World's best so far in 2012 at 7'7"... less than six inches off the all-time world record jump of 8'0.5"  Not hard to see how he won SEC honors this week.

Next in line is Brianna Frazier of the University of North Florida.  Brianna was the ASUN Female Track Athlete of the Week for the second week in a row and fourth time in her career.  Brianna has been tearing up tracks wherever she's run this year, and Gainesville was no exception.  She blew through 400M in 52:25, the third fastest 400M in the nation this year so far.  I'm pretty sure we can expect to see Brianna at NCAA's this year.

And finally, how about Cameron Dickerson of the University of North Florida, the ASUN Male Track Athlete of the Week.  That's a UNF sweep!  Cameron ran an ASUN leading 3:48:44 in the 1500M.  I talked to Cameron before the race.  He wanted to make sure I got a shot of him running with Alan Webb (American record holder for one and two mile).  I teased him and said, "I'd better get that picture at the start."  Well, here's Alan (#5) and Cameron on lap #2 with Cameron running just a half step behind Alan.

Here's lap #3... Look at Cameron now!

Cameron rounded turn #4 on the final lap in second and crossed the finish line in fifth place after a strong kick from some of the other runners.

Congrats Maurice, Ricky, Brianna and Cameron.  Outstanding performances!

See more at

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Man! This guy can jump!

UNF's 2012 indoor season concluded with the Embry-Riddle Indoor Outdoor Challenge in Daytona Beach.  How's that for a name?  About the most blatant oxymoron I've ever seen... an indoor meet, outdoors!  Funny.

Anyway, had fun shooting the event and watching the guys and gals run and do their thing.  At the end of the day, the high jump event started.  Doesn't get much better for taking pics... high jump set up directly into the setting sun... clear day... perfect light.  I was stoked about taking pics.  Some of my favorite pics are high jump pics, particularly when you get someone that really knows how to do it.  The head snaps back and the body contorts into an impossible arch... it just doesn't look possible, especially frozen in time. 

I wasn't expecting too much.  UNF hasn't really had a good jumper since I've been watching.  But, up walks this tall lanky feller with a UNF jersey who I've never seen before.  The kids started their warm-ups and jumpers were struggling to make it over the warm-up height.  Then this new UNF kid walks up to the bar, takes two steps, sissors the bar and lands standing upright in the pit!  Huh?

My favorite aspect of the photo above isn't the wonderfully contorted body, or perfect light, but the reflection of the setting sun in Steve's sunglasses.  Very subtle, very cool.

Needless to say, I was impressed!

Check out the shadow in the pic below.  Sun is right at horizon.

Equipment:  Canon 7D, 28-135mm IS/USM.  Top pic taken at 35mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-200.

See more at