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Over the Weekend: The 2016 Youth Triathlon

Sunday was a fun day covering the 2016 Youth Triathlon at the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center in Bellingham.  It was the Mini Olympics as over four dozen children participated in three divisions with Division 1 for 11 to 13 year olds, Division 2 for 9 and 10 year olds, and Division 3 for children 6 to 8.

Diving In

Braeden Loeffelholz, right, 10, dives into the pool during the start of the Division 2 triathlon of the 2016 Youth Triathlon on Sunday morning Aug. 7, 2016, at the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center in Bellingham, Wash. (© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald)

Braeden Loeffelholz, 10, dives into the pool during the start of the Division 2 triathlon of the 2016 Youth Triathlon on Sunday morning Aug. 7, 2016, at the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center in Bellingham, Wash. (© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald)

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The 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon

First, sorry for the delay in blog postings. I broke my laptop screen early last week and it is now at TD Curran in Bellingham getting new life.

On Sunday morning September 28, 2014, I shot the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon for The Bellingham Herald. It is an epic race that goes from the Lummi Nation School at Gooseberry Point to downtown Bellingham, Wash.

And it started at 7:30 a.m. so I had to get up before dawn and drive the 20 miles to the school.

Leading the Pack:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Steve DeKoker, center (1), of Seattle begins the 26.2 mile run of the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon run from Lummi Nation School to downtown Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. DeKoker won the men’s division with a time of 2 hrs., 30.51 mins.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Steve DeKoker, center (1), of Seattle begins the 26.2 mile run of the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon run from Lummi Nation School to downtown Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. DeKoker won the men’s division with a time of 2 hrs., 30.51 mins.

The night before, I studied the map and planned my shoot. It was fairly simple, but I also had to negotiate around the various roadblocks while leaving myself some time to get downtown to shoot the winners as they crossed the finish line.

My plan was simple. Photograph three things to have somewhat complete coverage:

  • The Start
  • A water station
  • The Finish

Emergence:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - The first female runner approaches the 10 mile marker on Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon on Sunday morning September 28, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – The first female runner approaches the 10 mile marker on Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon on Sunday morning September 28, 2014.

I wanted to photograph the start so I could get the runners compressed together and show how many there were. To do this, I arrived about an hour early t check out all the different angles. It wasn’t that spectacular, but you work with what you’re given.

Big Sky Country:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Runners push past fog envoloped fields along Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Steve DeKoker of Seattle won the men’s category with a time of 2 hrs., 30.51 mins. Rika Hatachi of Coquitlan, B.C., won the woman’s with a time of 3 hrs., 2.24 mins.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Runners push past fog enveloped fields along Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Steve DeKoker of Seattle won the men’s category with a time of 2 hrs., 30.51 mins. Rika Hatachi of Coquitlan, B.C., won the woman’s with a time of 3 hrs., 2.24 mins.

As I wanted somewhat good coverage, I then headed to one of the 3 or 4 watering stations to photograph the volunteers as they gave runners water and snacks. I picked one about 1/2 through the marathon as I wanted to leave myself some time to negotiate the road closures downtown. The station I picked was at mile 10 in the race along Red River Road. It was hosted by volunteers from the Whatcom Football Club Rangers, a local soccer club that has a lot of teams from ages 12 up.

Supply & Demand:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - (l to r) Dylan McCoy, 10; Grace Meyer, 11;  Grace Holzer, 11, and Melissa Meyer hand water and cheer on a runner at the 10 mile marker on Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon  on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Meyers says the volunteer group is with the Whatcom Football Club Ranger soccer team.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – (l to r) Dylan McCoy, 10; Grace Meyer, 11; Grace Holzer, 11, and Melissa Meyer hand water and cheer on a runner at the 10 mile marker on Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Meyers says the volunteer group is with the Whatcom Football Club Ranger soccer team.

The fog was particularly heavy here as it sat next to a stream. So I wanted to work with that and try to capture runners as they emerged from the fog. Within 15 minutes of me arriving, the first runner, Steve DeKoker of Seattle, came through being followed by a Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputy on motorcycle. Had it not been for the flashing lights of the officer, I would have not seen him come out of the fog.

Watering Hole:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Tommy Meyer, 9, grabs more water cups while volunteering at the 10 mile marker on Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon  on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Group leader Melissa Meyers says the volunteer group is with the Whatcom Football Club Ranger soccer team.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Tommy Meyer, 9, grabs more water cups while volunteering at the 10 mile marker on Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Group leader Melissa Meyers says the volunteer group is with the Whatcom Football Club Ranger soccer team.

For me to feel that I worked the watering station properly, I shot from above, below, and worked various angles and places. Shot wide, medium, tight and then stretched. Here’s a quick tutorial of how I work a situation: Wide, Medium, Tight – Then Stretch.

Getting Low:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Volunteers from the Whatcom FC Rangers  hand water and cheer on runners at the 10 mile marker on Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon  on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Group leader Melissa Meyers says the volunteer group is with the Whatcom Football Club Ranger soccer team.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Volunteers from the Whatcom FC Rangers hand water and cheer on runners at the 10 mile marker on Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Group leader Melissa Meyers says the volunteer group is with the Whatcom Football Club Ranger soccer team.

When I dropped down, I got up close to one of the kids as they were holding a cup and worked it so you could see her hand holding the cup with runners as they passed. I was hoping for someone to pick her cup as I wanted a runner’s hand getting it with the layers of others in the background. I got something, but it’s one of the “Almost” photos.

Celebration:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Women's winner Rika Hatachi of Coquitlan, B.C., celebrates her victory at the finish line of the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon at Depot Market Square in downtown Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Hatachi won the women's category with a time of 3 hrs., 2.24 mins.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Women’s winner Rika Hatachi of Coquitlan, B.C., celebrates her victory at the finish line of the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon at Depot Market Square in downtown Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Hatachi won the women’s category with a time of 3 hrs., 2.24 mins.

After the first 50 or so runners went through, I decided to make my way to the finish line. Along the way, I stopped to photograph the runners as they passed freshly harvested fields. The Sun was peeking through the thick fog and made for some nice photos.

Exhausted:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Men's winner Steve DeKoker pauses for a rest at the finish line of the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon at Depot Market Square in downtown Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. DeKoker won the event with a time of 2 hrs., 30.51 minutes.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Men’s winner Steve DeKoker pauses for a rest at the finish line of the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon at Depot Market Square in downtown Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. DeKoker won the event with a time of 2 hrs., 30.51 minutes.

Overall, I feel that I did a pretty decent job. I got some nice creative shots as well as what I like to call “Cover Your Butt” photos. The basic ones you should really make sure you get.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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Paul is a Seattle-based photojournalist specializing in news, sports, travel, and portraiture. He also photographs weddings and portraits in Bellingham, Whatcom County, and Skagit County.

He is available for assignments in the Pacific Northwest. Contact him at paulconradphotography@gmail.com or (206) 450-8632 for availability.

The 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Invitational – Grace in The Heat of Battle

Super busy weekend. After a busy day on Friday shooting the NWC Championship Track and Field event at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., my friend Andy Bronson, photographer for the The Bellingham Herald, called me in to cover as they needed an assignment shot.

My job was to go to the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Invitational hosted by Western Washington University at Civic Field. I had no assignment sheet but Andy gave me one specific photo they wanted: Retired WWU Coach Ralph Vernacchia, the man the event is named for, had come into town from Arizona where he now lives. The sports editor wanted a photo of him on the field.

High Jumper

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Western Washington sophomore Katelyn Wright of Washougal, Wash., clears the bar at 5' 3.75" to win the Women's High Jump during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Western Washington sophomore Katelyn Wright of Washougal, Wash., clears the bar at 5′ 3.75″ to win the Women’s High Jump during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014.

Not so bad, I like that type of photojournalism. Interaction photos are my favorite to capture. This will be a fun assignment, but then again, all of them are always fun on some level. I’m a firm believe that there are no bad assignments, just bad photographers. Those assignments make me push myself even harder to get something creative. My wife Heidi says I feed off that.

Anywho, as I remembered the layout from the High School competition, I can plan my shots a bit easier and even stretch myself. I don’t like feeling like I fell in a rut. So when I go to the same place, be it a playground, sporting venue, or even a city council meeting, I push myself to get something new and different.

Concentration:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Western Washington University senior Andrew Knight of Puyallup, Wash., begins his approach during the Men's Shot Put at the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Knight fouled out of the competition.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Western Washington University senior Andrew Knight of Puyallup, Wash., begins his approach during the Men’s Shot Put at the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Knight fouled out of the competition.

For one, find a better angle from what I shot the previously. Get back, get closer, use a longer lens, go wide, go low, and mostly, don’t have a lead finger and burn. Anticipate moments, study the individuals, take a moment to observe.

So, off to the The Herald to pick up a D3 and 300mm f/2.8. A hefty combination. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve shot with a 300mm lens. But I’ll endure I’m sure. It’s just a lens.

Ultimate Effort:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Western Washington University  junior Ryan McDonald of Bellingham, Wash., hoists the shot put during the men's competition at the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. McDonald had a best distance of 44 feet, 7 and a half inches earning him 13th place.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Western Washington University junior Ryan McDonald of Bellingham, Wash., hoists the shot put during the men’s competition at the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. McDonald had a best distance of 44 feet, 7 and a half inches earning him 13th place.

The day was pretty bleak. It wasn’t raining but it looked like it would rain at the drop of a hat. The meet began at 10 a.m., but I got there at 11.  My first order of business was to go to the officials area to see if anyone has a roster and knows where I can find Mr. Vernacchia.

The roster was easy. The woman at the table told me they knew him, but had not seen him. So I gave them my number and asked them to call me if they see or hear that he’s here.

Splish Splash Taking a Bath:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Olympic College's Keith Ryan, left leads Seattle University's Nathan McLaughlin and Western Washington University's Noah Ripley as they tackle the Men's 3000m Steeplechase during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. McLaughlin came in fourht with a time of 9 min. 42.72 seconds. Western Washington's Matt Lutz won the event with the time 9:24.95 with WWU's Joshua Reitner on his heels earning second with a time of 9 min. 38.58 seconds.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Olympic College’s Keith Ryan, left leads Seattle University’s Nathan McLaughlin and Western Washington University’s Noah Ripley as they tackle the Men’s 3000m Steeplechase during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. McLaughlin came in fourth with a time of 9 min. 42.72 seconds. Western Washington’s Matt Lutz won with a time 9:24.95 with WWU’s Joshua Reitner on his heels earning second with a time of 9 min. 38.58 seconds.

With roster in hand, I read what events were going on and looked at where they are. Watching, I noticed the high jump going on and figured they may be in the finals. And I was right. Only 2 woman left: One from WWU and the other from Central Washington.

I quickly found a spot on the other side of the track, sat down on the ground and hefted the 300 to my eye. Watching the background, I moved until it was nice and clean with only trees and the skyline. But, while moving WWU sophomore Katelyn Wright of Washougal, Wash., took her turn and I shot. But I didn’t like the background, so while sitting and looking through the 300mm, I moved to get a nice clean background. Then she took her second turn and I got her as she flew over the bar.

Water Hazard:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Western Washington University freshman Noah Ripley of Wasilla, Ak., grimaces in pain after taking a hard landing during the Men's 3000m Steeple chase at 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Ripley came in 6th place with a time of 9 min., 45.46 seconds.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Western Washington University freshman Noah Ripley of Wasilla, Ak., grimaces in pain after taking a hard landing during the Men’s 3000m Steeple chase at 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Ripley came in 6th place with a time of 9 min., 45.46 seconds.

As I worked my way around the track, the rain began falling. Misty at first, but by the time I got to the Pole vault, it was pretty heavy. So covering the gear, I ran under the stands. A 15 minute rain delay ensued.

As I was shooting shot put, they began the Woman’s 3000m Steeplechase. It is what it’s called: runners jumping over barriers, some into water. Oh yea, fun to shoot.

Above The Bar:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Western Washington University freshman Morgan Annable clears the bar during the Woman's Pole Vault in the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Annable took second place with a height of 10 feet, 8 inches.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Western Washington University freshman Morgan Annable clears the bar during the Woman’s Pole Vault in the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Annable took second place with a height of 10 feet, 8 inches.

Got close on the water and as they began jumping over the barrier, I would begin shooting. Most didn’t come out after the first splash, water on a lens isn’t very transparent. But I got a few zingers.

I saw the assistants setting up the hurdles. While watching, there was one shot I’ve always liked and wanted to duplicate: looking through the hurdles to the start line. I saw it once during the 90s when it won a POY award.

Compressed:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Western Washington junior Logan Myers of Olympia, Wash.,  launches during the start of the Men's 110 meter hurdles the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Meyers came in second with a time of 14.69 seconds making it a new personal best.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Western Washington junior Logan Myers of Olympia, Wash., launches during the start of the Men’s 110 meter hurdles the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Meyers came in second with a time of 14.69 seconds making it a new personal best.

So, I went to the finish line and with the 300, kneeled on the ground and looked through the hurdles. Pretty cool. But, it was too loose. Lots of space above and below. The left to right looked nice as you could only see down one row. And the light was beautiful.

I waited for a WWU student to run. The Herald only would run photos of Western students. And only one runner was from Western so I focused on him. I shot through as he set his chocks and the started. After I heard the gun go off, I quickly bounce to my feed to shoot him as he went over the hurdles. Fun times and the pain in my knees is proof.

Winning Form:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Western Washington junior Logan Myers of Olympia, Wash.,  launches during the start of the Men's 110 meter hurdles the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Meyers came in second with a time of 14.69 seconds for a new personal best.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Western Washington junior Logan Myers of Olympia, Wash., launches during the start of the Men’s 110 meter hurdles the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. Meyers came in second with a time of 14.69 seconds for a new personal best.

After I shot that, the announcer directed everyone’s attention to the “Man in the Fedora.” Mr. Vernacchia showed up and was roaming the stands. Being as he was my primary assignment, I had to literally hunt him down. When I found him, he was at the Woman’s Javelin watching Western sophomores Katie Reichert and Bethany Drake.

So I shot a few of him there. After the competition was over, he stayed to chat with old friends. Katie and Bethany walked over and talked to him. Kinda poignant to get him with some new students.

Student of Javelin:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -Retired Western Washington track coach Ralph Vernacchia, right, of Scottsdale, Ariz., observes  WWU sophomore Katie Reichert of Kelso, Wash., compete in the Woman's Javelin during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. The invitiational is named in honor of Vernacchia's long time service. Reichert took 2nd place in the competition.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Retired Western Washington track coach Ralph Vernacchia, right, of Scottsdale, Ariz., observes WWU sophomore Katie Reichert of Kelso, Wash., compete in the Woman’s Javelin during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. The invitational is named in honor of Vernacchia’s long time service. Reichert took 2nd place in the competition.

With nearly 4 hours shooting games, I was pretty much done. The only issue was to get the results so I can identify the individuals in the photos. That to me was the biggest challenge of the day: getting proper names and spellings.

Among Old Friends:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Retired Western Washington University track and field coach Ralph Vernacchia, center, chats with javelin referee Bob Sund, left, and current WWU coach Pee Wee Halsell during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. The WWU track and field event is named in Vernacchia's honor.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Retired Western Washington University track and field coach Ralph Vernacchia, center, chats with javelin referee Bob Sund, left, and current WWU coach Pee Wee Halsell during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchio Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. The WWU track and field even is named in Vernacchia’s honor.

Sunburned and tired, I headed to the Official’s tent to thank them and get final results. Then off to the paper to download and edit for the Sunday edition and the online gallery: 33rd Annual Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Invitational.

Among New Friends:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Western Washington University sophomores Katie Reichert, left, of Kelso, Wash., and Bethany Drake of Sandy, Ore., chat with retired WWU coach Ralph Vernacchia during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. The annual event is named after the retired coach.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Western Washington University sophomores Katie Reichert, left, of Kelso, Wash., and Bethany Drake of Sandy, Ore., chat with retired WWU coach Ralph Vernacchia during the 2014 Ralph Vernacchia Track and Field Meet at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday April 26, 2014. The annual event is named after the retired coach.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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NWC Track & Field Championship in Bellingham, WA

This past Friday, Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash., was host for the Northwest Conference Track & Field Championships. All the High Schools in the area participated. The field filled with students from all over the Northwest.

Synchronicity:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Lynden's Hannah Hommes, left, Anacortes' Lexia Hall, and Nooksack Valley's Alex Parson trail in Section 2 of the Girls 300m Hurdles during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash., on Friday April 25, 2-14.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Lynden’s Hannah Hommes, left, Anacortes’ Lexia Hall, and Nooksack Valley’s Alex Parson trail in Section 2 of the Girls 300m Hurdles during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash., on Friday April 25, 2-14.

As a volunteer photographer with the Northwest Conference Athletics, I had a front row seat to the organized chaos. Luckily I’ve shot events like this before, so putting my “Press Hat” on, I rambled off to find my assignment: Long and Triple Jump with some track as they circled passed my position.

Amano Landing:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Bellingham High School senior Christian Amano of Bellingham, Wash,. lands in the pit during his attempt at the long jump druing the NWC Track & Field competition at Civic Field in Bellingham. Amano ended 8th overall with a distance of 18 feet, 11 inches.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Bellingham High School senior Christian Amano of Bellingham, Wash,. lands in the pit during his attempt at the long jump during the NWC Track & Field competition at Civic Field in Bellingham. Amano ended 8th overall with 18 feet, 11 inches.

As I was shooting this not as a photojournalist but as an event photographer, my goal was to get as many of the kids as possible. Afterall, who doesn’t want photos of their kids as the land in soft sand while making funny faces.

Beautiful Backlighting:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Burlington-Edison High School senior Megan Wilburg of Burlington, Wash,. lands in the pit during her attempt at the long jump during the NWC Track & Field competition at Civic Field in Bellingham. Wilburg ended fifth overall with a distance of 15 feet 8.75 inches.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Burlington-Edison High School senior Megan Wilburg of Burlington, Wash,. lands in the pit during her attempt at the long jump during the NWC Track & Field competition at Civic Field in Bellingham. Wilburg ended fifth overall with 15 feet, 8.75 inches.

There were multiple challenges I had to overcome: Backlighting of the competitors, and the girls and boys competing at the same time.

When I arrived at the long jump pits, I saw that they had two parallel stations: one for boys and the other for girls. My thinking was they would rotate girls competitors then boys. But, no.

Hard Landing:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Burlington-Edison's Luke Tackett lands in the pit during the first Flight of the boy's long jump at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Tackett did not qualify for the finals.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Burlington-Edison’s Luke Tackett lands in the pit during the first Flight of the boy’s long jump at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Tackett did not qualify for the finals.

They ran both at the same time and I was hoping at least the competitors would be staggered. But, no. One competitor down each lane at the same time.

So I had to go from one lane and shoot them as they landed, swing my lens to the next lane and hopefully catch that competitor as they landed. Not too difficult. Unless they ran at EXACTLY the same time, then I just concentrated on one.

The other challenge was the incredible backlighting. As it was mid-afternoon when I started shooting, the sun was about 75 degrees above the horizon and to the left. To overcome this, I used the “Sunny 16 Rule” and overexposed by one stop. This gave me workable highlights without dropping out too much detail in the shadow areas.

During the breaks from the long jump action, I drifted towards the track and shot the runners as they passed me. For the photo below, I panned as they went by. I closed down my aperture all the way down and overexposed by one stop (which only blew out the most extreme highlights) to get a shutter speed of 1/30th. I wanted the background blurred with a sharp runners face.

Panning to Accentuate Speed:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Anacortes High School senior Grace Dzieciuch battles her second lap in the Girl's 3200 Meter Run during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash. Dzieciuch finishied in 13th with a time of 12m51.7s.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Anacortes High School senior Grace Dzieciuch battles her second lap in the Girl’s 3200 Meter Run during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash. Dzieciuch finished in 13th with a time of 12m, 51.7s.

By the time the finals began for the Long Jump, the Sun had settled too low and the light turned horrible. The flare was relentless and ruined most pictures. So to challenge myself and get something different, I shot from the side.

Switching from my telephoto to my wide-angle (17-35 f/2.8), I took a few test shots as the athletes warmed up. I picked a spot on the ground perpendicular from where I thought the apex of the arc the jumpers created as the went up and over the pit.

Sailing Through:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Sedro-Woolley's Mason Elms flys over the landing pit of the long jump during finals at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Elms won 4th place with a distance of 20 feet, 3 inches.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Sedro-Woolley’s Mason Elms flys over the landing pit of the long jump during finals at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Elms won 4th place with 20 feet, 3 inches.

Once I figured out where the apex would be about, I placed my camera on the ground right on the edge of the pit, angled it up, and shot a few test frames as to get the crew on the other side of the pit on the bottom of the frame. This helped exaggerate the height of the jumpers and kept them in frame.

As the competitors jumped from the line, there was a distinct “thump” and that was my cue to begin shooting. As they went over I watched then quit shooting before they landed. It worked for a few, but the above photo was my favorite as the athlete had the best “pose.” To me it shows him really pushing it to get the last few inches.

Hand Off:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Sehome's Girls hand off during the final lap of the 4x400m relay during NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Sehome won second place with a time of 4 mins, 8.1 secs.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Sehome’s Girls hand off during the last lap of the 4x400m relay during NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA. Sehome won second place with a time of 4 mins, 8.1 secs.

When the Long Jump competition was over, I moseyed to the finish line and began shooting track. There were still a few races left. Mainly the long relay races.

So once again, I used panning to help accentuate the speed of the runners and try to capture the handoff. I got a few photos, but nothing I would rant and rave about. I just like the two I posted.

Reaching:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Lynden Christian's Brianna Bruneau gets the baton from Emily Sytsma during the final lap of the Girl's 4x400 realy at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash. The Lynden Christian team of four won First Place with a time of 4 min and 7.29 secs.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Lynden Christian’s Brianna Bruneau gets the baton from Emily Sytsma during the last lap of the Girl’s 4×400 relay at the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash. The Lynden Christian team of four won First Place with a time of 4 min and 7.29 secs.

While I walked around searching for photos, I noticed the reflection of the field in the press box window at the top of one of the westside sections. I liked how you could see the field and the spectators in the stand. I worked it for a few minutes.

Later in the afternoon or early evening, the light on the north side stands was dramatic. I worked it as much as I could to get something nice. But everyone was just sitting in their seats. As I turned to walk away, the little girl on the left started running up and down the stairs. So I shot a few frames.

Running Up:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – A little girl runs up the stairs of the east stands during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash.


After editing the photo in Photoshop, I zoomed in tighter and liked the composition. I just don’t know which one I like better. What do you think?

Running Up – Tight:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - A little girl runs up the stairs in the east stands during the NWC Track & Field Championship at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash., during the early evening April 25, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – A little girl runs up the stairs in the east stands during the NWC Track & Field Championship at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash., during the early evening April 25, 2014.

In the last shot, I was just waiting for a race to begin when I looked up and saw the reflection in the press box windows. I like it so I found a spot that would give me some balance in the image. It’s a quickie, but after coming home and editing, I really wish I would’ve shot just the windows super tight.

Reflecting:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, WA.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – The field is reflected in the press box windows of the west stands during the NWC track & field meet at Civic Field and Stadium in Bellingham, Wash., on Friday afternoon April 25, 2014.

Again, which of the photos is your best and why? Do you have a questions about technique such as shooting into the sun? Or Panning? Or keeping sane in all the chaos?

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

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Paul “pablo” Conrad

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