The designer's house

I photographed local interior designer Mark Roberts for a Hoopla cover a couple of weeks ago in his home. Portraits (and lighting) are not my strong suit, made slightly more difficult on this shoot by needing to incorporate the decor of his house into the portrait. We started in the living room, but it just wasn't quite working photographically, so we moved on to the dining room. (Much thanks to our new intern, Julie, who came along and stood in a tiny corner holding the light, when a lightstand was much too obtrusive.) I love the rounded doorway, the starburst mirror (but wish the light fixture was a little higher), and showing just enough of the room that you get a sense of his style. I also knew it would never run that way in Hoopla, since it's a square cover (but I guess I hoped it might run full-frame inside). Oh, well.


Synchro skate, or, learning the hard way

There's always one night a winter where I forget to take ALL the gear I'll need in the morning inside for the night. That night was last night. My wide angle was fine, with minimal fogging. But my longer glass fogged on the inside -- not just the front of the lens, where I can wipe it off. Usually I can just wait for it to clear, but the 20 minutes I arrived early for the ONE local team weren't enough to let the lens clear up. Lesson learned.

Here's the untoned version:

The toned version is further proof that if you don't start with a good file, you can't just magically fix it in photoshop:

I cringe, but maybe this public shaming will prevent me from being forgetful for the rest of the winter.


Five months in the making

(..or, the story that just wouldn't happen.)

Environmental Management Services technicians Waylon Setser and Jarrod Conger, both of Davenport, remove a hose after Conger cleaned out the inside of the diesel storage tank at the old Linn-Mar schools bus lot in Marion on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009. A special wash and rinse with emulsifying soap is used to break down the hydrocarbons in the fuel and make the tank safe for use as scrap metal.

The budget line for the story was simply, "LUST: Did leaking underground storage tank program succeed?" That was in July. The DNR told us about a tank (not a leaky one, however, but still a gas tank) that was set to come out at the Linn-Mar bus yard -- we just had to wait for it to actually happen. I'd hoped to photograph the new tanks going into the ground, at the new site, but couldn't get access. So the story was pushed back, and pushed back, and pushed back.. I made weekly calls to my contacts, who referred me to other contacts, and I was passed down the line until, in early November, I heard, "after Thanksgiving we'll know something. I'll call you."

A diesel storage tank is removed from the ground at the old Linn-Mar schools bus lot in Marion on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009. The old diesel and gasoline tanks were removed after new tanks were installed at the new bus lot. After the tanks are removed, the ground is tested for contaminants, and the tanks are drained of any remaining liquids and cleaned before being used for scrap metal.

"I'll believe it when I see it," said one editor, who had also (jokingly, I think..) suggested that we just go dig it up ourselves, to speed up the process. But, sure enough, the tanks came out, I had a great on-site contact and as much access as I could possibly have hoped for. Wearing a hard hat into the job site without being asked, being genuinely interested in what they're doing and why, and heeding their warnings of where to stand to avoid potential explosions and/or passing out from the fumes, all go a long way on a shoot like this. When one of the technicians suited up and got INSIDE the tank to clean it out, I might have hopped just a little bit out of sheer joy (or maybe it was to keep myself warm on the frigid day).

Environmental Management Services technician Jarrod Conger of Davenport cleans out the inside of an old diesel storage tank after it was removed from the ground at the old Linn-Mar schools bus lot in Marion on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009.

...And then the story comes out, and I think, "Now, why was this so hard?"


Finally, the game

I reached the upper deck just in time for "Back in Black" to start blaring through the speakers, and adrenaline overtook my bowl week fatigue. A HUGE gallery is over here, with action from the game and tons of celebration.

Our Gazette photo team, exhausted at about 1 a.m.

Bowl pregame

Wandering the stadium during team arrival and warm-ups... see our slideshow here. Above are football players' mom's, Caryn Davis (Keenan Davis), Tracie Clayborn (Adrian Clayborn) and Anne Edds (A.J. Edds) as their sons arrive for the game.

The team huddles before warm-ups. If I leave a game without any bruises from wedging into a scrum, I haven't worked hard enough..

Ferentz chats up Clayborn during stretches.

Pre-bowl tailgating

Iowa's tailgaters took over the parking lots at Land Shark before the bowl yesterday, making our job easy, and fun. Fans were beyond exuberant to be out in the warm-to-them weather, and I was soaking up one last day of Florida sunshine before heading back to Iowa. See more tailgating photos by the Martin+Ray+Slosiarek super team here, and Brian's awesome panorama here.



Bowl fatigue has set in, and we still have more than 24 hours before kickoff.

See more photos from my trip to the Everglades, and read Mike Hlas' column.


South Beach

I spent a little time on South Beach last week for a story with Mike Hlas (blog post here).. I still haven't had a chance to shoot everything I want down there (in particular, the fabulous architecture -- afternoon is the worst time to work down there, but it's been my only free-ish time so far), but this was a start.

Obie at the hospital

Iowa football players (and Obie, the Orange Bowl mascot) visited the Baptist Children's Hospital yesterday. Needless to say, kids had interesting reactions to the giant orange, who made every frame sort of absurd. Freddy, below, was a little shy at first, but Iowa swag made him relax and enjoy the attention. See more photos here.


(as seen from the media hospitality suite, white waiting to head to dinner..)


Beach day

...was rained out. I made pretty pictures of the beach (and photographed coworkers) instead.

Celebrity sightings

On the way to the team's beach day, we saw a group of people (and photographers) huddled on the boardwalk near Fontainebleau. Can you spot the celebrity?

Yes, friends, that is Spike Lee. (A disclaimer: I felt a little.. dirty, or something, after the few minutes I spent alongside the paparazzi. It's a very different mentality and way of working than my daily work as a photojournalist, despite subjects' jokes about me being their "own personal paparazzi." Still, it was interesting for about 30 seconds.)

NYE on the street and on the beach

After a long day walking around South Beach (I'll share those photos later..), I headed to downtown Ft. Lauderdale with some other media folks for the rather modest, but still fun, midnight ball drop.

After several 'Happy New Year!' texts, we flagged the last cab in the city and hit the beach near our hotel (quickly becoming a favorite place to relax at the end of the day). Despite what you see below, there is NO light out there this time of night. The bright, full moon and lights from the city lit the clouds just enough to almost focus, but my steady hands weren't quite still enough for 1/3 sec exposures..

In Miami, even the parking garages are eye-popping colors