27 March 2010

"Extremes." 25•March•10

The feet of a premature baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Lukes Cornwall Hospital in the City of Newburgh, NY on Thursday, March 25, 2010. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

On Thursday morning, one of my four assignments for the day, had me in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) of the local hospital here for a feature story on premature babies and the doctor / nursing staff who care for these fragile newborns. This was the following morning after covering the body recovery of little Marc Bookal (previous post below) right in town. Later in the day, I'd make the curbside memorial and following press conference at 5PM on the Bookal story. Once again, this business, craft or whatever you want to call it, is about "extremes" a lot of the time and how you step up to not only the technical, but the emotional challenges of making good, story telling images. I always try to keep those factors in mind when working. ~cg.

"Little Marc has been found..." 24•March•10

NEWBURGH, NY. Candles and teddy bears at a curbside memorial for Marc Bookal on South Colden Street in the City of Newburgh, NY on Thursday, March 25, 2010. A body believed to be Marc Bookal was recovered yesterday from an empty lot on South Colden St. in the city. Bookal is the 4 year old boy who's been missing since December and was last seen with Cory Byrd. Byrd remains in custody on related charges in the boy's disappearance and is the live-in boyfriend of Christina Bookal, the missing boy's mother. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

For the past three and a half months, four year old Marc Bookal has been missing. I've written in previous posts HERE about my coverage of the case, and how it's even been an emotional ordeal for me at times. For as we know, this child could've easily been my son or daughter, your son, grandson or your neighbors son, nephew... Getting the call on Wednesday morning from the reporter and shortly after from the the newsroom about the search being resumed by State Police cadaver dogs and Newburgh police wasn't something I wanted to hear. You see I was home, still enjoying my second day off from all the weekend's HS championship basketball coverage upstate. I wasn't prepared to literally run back out on the street to cover a developing news story like this, just a few short blocks from my home. The camera gear was still literally packed from the weekend's sports coverage, but fortunately when I did jump into my clothes and run out of the house, I had the fast 300mm f/2.8AF in hand, so that became my prime lens from a discreet apartment overlooking the crime scene. Everything fell together for me with the reporter on scene, and when experience kicked in, we were fortunate again to be in a position to see and photograph the ongoing evidence recovery where the child's remains were found in a vinyl book bag. You know from similar scenes that when the crime scene investigators don their white paper fabric jumpsuits and booties, it's all serious and definitive evidence has been found and is about to be recovered.

Right now, at this time there isn't much more to write about this story. The workweek continues, and as mentioned earlier - the news doesn't wait.
Additionally there is still a major post or two swirling around in my head on the previous two week's worth HS championship basketball coverage at West Point and the five games
in two days up in Glens Falls. Please do stay tuned. ~cg.

23 March 2010

"I Gotta Get a Bigger Luggage Cart..." Back from Glens Falls, NY 22•March•10

Packing up my gear at 12:30AM including the Apple 12" PowerBook, (4) head DynaLite arena strobe kit, (4) digital cameras, lenses, remote mounting hardware, tools, heavy duty extension cords, and Pocket-Wizard kits after four NYSPHSAA Tournament games in the Glens Falls Civic Center on Saturday, March 20, 2010. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

Yea that's it, a bigger cart. That'll do it. Kept reminding myself throughout the weekend up in Glens Falls, NY for the Boys HS State Championship Tournament - that I go through all this for high school basketball. Looking back at the last month or so of just basketball preparation and coverage, I've installed full arena strobes at two college gyms for the sectional playoffs here locally and then tackled the almost monstrous task of hauling in all the lighting gear to light up West Point's Christl Arena last weekend for the two HS State Quarterfinals games. It wasn't the first time I'd spent 12+ hours in a sports venue - nor will it be the last.

While mumbling (I guess you could call it) to myself up in Glens Falls about how working this hard felt like I was back covering NBA games earlier in my career, a younger photographer at courtside said it's only high school. To which I replied, "No it's about making the best images possible..."
So I guess a sturdier cart will be on the shopping list for next season.

I will be embedding a slideshow of the weekend's work in a bit. Still moving file images and loading a slideshow to the paper's archive and website. Thanks for looking - stay tuned. ~cg.

20 March 2010

*"It's Gotten Ugly Up Here..." 19 - 20•March•10

Jake Palmer (#33, left) of John A. Coleman Catholic walks off the court as Maple Grove players celebrate their NYSPHSAA Class D Finals Championship win at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Saturday, March 20, 2010. Maple Grove defeated Coleman 43 - 38. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

Writing live from courtside along press row here at the Glens Falls Civic Center, in Glens Falls, NY (about an hour north of Albany, NY... So far three games in the can today and our schools are 'Oh-for-Three' in the State Tournament up here. One more game to go tonight in less than an hour, and the one I covered last night upon arriving up here. Lights, radios, tape, arena strobes, and more gizmos than I can recall right now. Some decent images I'm pretty happy with, albeit mostly dejection as favored Newburgh Free Academy and last year's state champions got their tails handed to them earlier today in the marquee game (below).

Newburgh head coach Frank Dinnocenzio (left) consoles his players (L-R): Mike McLeod (partially hidden), Devon McMIllan, and Patrick Johnson in the closing moments of their NYSPHSAA Class AA Semi-Finals game against CBA- Albany at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Saturday, March 20, 2010. CBA-Albany defeated Newburgh, the 2009 State Champion 60 - 41. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

I've been in the arena since 9:30AM today, with the final game tonight at 9PM. I'll back here tomorrow to retrieve the arena strobes as I'm sure I'll be sitting here until nearly midnight editing and sending images from the final 9PM game. You can do the math I'm sure... Stay tuned, more to come for sure. ~cg.

18 March 2010

En route to Glens Falls, NY (Again) for NY State HS Basketball Tournament. 18•March•10

Newburgh players (L-R, standing): Marcus Henderson, Patrick Johnson, Michael McLeod, Will Bouton, Damon Cousar, and Davon McMillan (squatting) on Prospect Avenue in the City of Newburgh, NY on Thursday, March 18, 2010. Newburgh is the defending Class AA state champion and will face CBA of Albany in the state semifinal game on Saturday in Glens Falls. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

It's gonna be some weekend up in Glens Falls, NY. Off the top of my head - here's some of what's been keeping me up the last few nights: (4) - Arena strobes w/ appropriate clamps, tool bag, luggage cart, gaffers tape, about a dozen Pocket-Wizards, (4) - Canon camera bodies, (1) Nikon D-1X w/ 2 or 3 Nikon AF lenses (to use as a secondary remote body), 6 - Canon AF lenses, supporting gear such as digital camera battery charger, Mac PowerBook kit w/ spare battery, numerous CF cards, (6) - locking safety cables, about 200' of heavy duty extension cords, 30 - AA batteries, more gaffer's tape, black cine-foil, extra eyeglasses, and yet more gaffer's tape. Oh yea, a few packs of gum too.
Last year's Class AA State Champions, Newburgh Free Academy (NFA) plays on Saturday afternoon against CBA of Albany. We have three other teams from our coverage playing in the state tournament, so there is a possibility I may be shooting 6 or 7 games in the next three days. Stay tuned... ~cg.

16 March 2010

"Time Starts Now..." Newburgh, NY. 13•March•10

"News doesn't wait. It never has..."
Shameeka Burks (24) cries as she talks on a cellular telephone near the intersection of Benkard Ave. and Little Monument Street in the City of Newburgh, NY on Saturday morning, March 13, 2010. Her boyfriend, John "Tarzan" Maldonado (21) was shot and killed at the scene on Friday night. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

"Time Starts Now..." Shit Happens. People die. What are you going to do when the phone rings or the PD/FD pager is blaring out coded text info on yet another homicide / fatal fire or MVA (motor vehicle accident) in the neighborhood...? I am constantly anticipating what will my reaction time be to any of these events, including jumping out of bed, and the hurried driving like a Tokyo cabbie needed to sometimes get to a breaking news scene. ("Hubba-Hubba Honcho...!") I don't like to miss pictures - particularly news pictures. Every single thought-out frame can potentially tell the story. Forget about the work schedule - this business demands an unending desire or passion to just "get there..." As a photojournalist, working the streets can be as difficult and challenging as any big time ballgame or staged political event with the current well-heeled national or international talking head. Want to improve your core photographic strengths and polish your social skills? Work the streets in an urban area for a while. Go to crime scenes. Cover funerals. Walk and eat with those less fortunate and/or homeless. Stay overnight in a shelter to gain the trust of your subjects. I have - and more than once. Get in there with "the people..." There are those that get it and thrive on this kind of work to the point of excellence and those that can go their whole careers and not tell you any two intersecting streets in 'da hood. I've been in this business a long, long time and have been fortunate to have worked alongside quite a few from the former. I continually look back at my training and those that mentored me - particularly on the streets in Newark, The Bronx & Harlem, and now draw on those experiences here in Newburgh, Middletown and Kingston, NY as a means that has shaped my own inner desire to excel on the street. There is no mistaking a good news photograph or the effort the photographer made to get it.

In all the craziness the past two weeks or so in covering the high school basketball
playoffs and now preparing mentally, as well as physically for the upcoming road trip for the state tournament games upstate this weekend, I'd thought for a couple of days about not even writing about the 24-year old woman seen here crying at the scene where her boyfriend was gunned down the night before. You see, this was the second homicide in less than 24 hours in my town, that I covered. (first one at left)

Yea, Newburgh is now "My Town..." too. I live here. And you can bet I take offense when others knock the city. Shoot, I grew up in Newark and remember the riots of the late 60's - albeit as a youngster, and lived briefly in the South Bronx before landing this job.
I hear the occasional gunfire. It's no secret what's going on in these neighborhoods. We're in the middle of an escalating gang war. We've recently had a 13 year-old knife a 17 year-old in the leg, killing him. (memorial at right)
Heavy stuff, man. I mean a 13 YEAR-OLD...!

In a sense of these happenings on the streets, these images will easily become part of an ongoing project that I've been archiving the past 18 months or so. Covering the streets from various POV has allowed me good access, and at some point I'll share more of those images and thoughts here... ~cg.


11 March 2010

HS Basketball Sectional Championships & NY State Tournament games. March 2010.

aka "March Madness..."
Before I could even turn around and catch my breath after last weekend's work, which began Friday night in helping out a colleague retrieve strobes from a local college gym after his two games, I found myself right in the middle of the craziness at this level of HS playoff basketball competition. I must've photographed 7 or 8 games in 5 days at two different college gyms and had a part in two other games, as I'd installed strobes in the gym at 8AM last Sunday morning. I won't even get into utilizing a remote camera mounted in the stands for a games this week too. (That'll be a separate post to follow here later in the playoff rounds.) Let's just look at some of my favorites from games this past week, beginning last Saturday thru Tuesday night. All the games where shot with arena strobes, which to me, the viewers, players, coaches & sports officials seem to really appreciate. That sure means a lot to me, and justifies all the extra preparation time in climbing ladders, reaching around dusty and dirty pipes and rafters in these gyms to run electrical extension cords, and the physicality itself in just hauling in all the gear and installing the hardware to support the strobes and remote camera(s)... It is all quietly getting me mentally prepared should one of our local teams make it to the State Semi-Finals and Finals again up in Glens Falls, NY in another week or two. Here's my edited take of HS playoff basketball so far this week. Stay tuned for coverage of two state quarterfinals games at West Point on Saturday. Enjoy. ~cg.

*(Use the arrow at the bottom left of the player or click the image to start the slideshow. Enable full screen viewing by clicking the 4-way arrow icon above the credits button at lower right of the player. Pause the portfolio slideshow in the right column by clicking the "II" pause button. There is no audio track with this presentation.)

07 March 2010

HS Basketball Sectional Championships. aka "March Madness..."

Did somebody ask if I wanted to work through this weekend...? This is perhaps my favorite time of year for work, particulary covering sports. It is (finally) the beginning of the high school sectional championship games here in our area. Besides covering marquee events like graduation at West Point, the annual Army - Navy football game on the road, and POTUS (Obama) there last December, nothing gets me as pumped as the beginning of HS championship & possibly the state tournament games, and following our teams upstate.

Yesterday began a weekend of 8 games at 2 college gyms; where I'll haul in 4 - studio strobes to light these venues, expect to use 3 cameras for each game (one remote body), edit and transmit on site, and of course chew a lot of gum...

Here's a preview so far from last night's games. Off to SUNY New Paltz' gym for four games today - all on strobes. Stay tuned. ~cg.

06 March 2010

REWIND - Images from the Archive.

TOMSK, SIBERIA. RUSSIAN FEDERATION. A "Babushka" (Russian elderly woman) keeps an eye on things from her property in Tomsk, Siberia. June 2001. © www.chetgordon.com/blog

REWIND - Images from the Archive.
A showcase for some of my favorite images here on the blog that aren't particularly in the working portfolio. Look for this occasional feature where I'll highlight a single image that's meant a lot throughout my career. Enjoy. -cg.

05 March 2010

Chef Carlos Olivares w/ his New Orleans Roasted Duck. Newburgh, NY. 5•March•10

Food Photography. *(for me, like riding a bicycle...) I cut my teeth in NYC years ago shooting big cameras on chrome with 4 x 5 cameras and even an occasional 8 x 10 Linhoff while assisting during tabletop food photography shoots in a commercial studio on lower Broadway in Manhattan. Then later in my career, while at the Journal News in Westchester County, NY we'd be handed an assignment that required chrome and our medium format camera of choice was at the time, a Mamiya RB-67 loaded with Fujichrome 100D, and finally at the NY Daily News, photographing the myriad of chefs and restaurants, eateries and even push cart vendors in all five boroughs of the city, was one way the photo editing staff would weed out stringers and determine if they could "hack it" in New York. Those that know New York, like other areas I'm sure; the restaurants would eventually proudly display the clips of their restaurant review either in their windows or somewhere near the entrance way. It was always a kick and brought a smile to my face to see my work displayed like that anywhere in New York. For a few brief moments this afternoon, I had a couple of nice flashbacks while photographing a Dominican chef here in my town. When I learned chef Carlos was from the Dominican Republic and I mentioned my recent trip to Haiti, it made the assignment today that much more relaxing. It was really nice to connect on that level, learn of his career in the restaurant business, and as we swapped stories, it made my part that much easier. Enjoy. ~cg.