25 April 2010

131 Days on... 24•April•10

"Newburgh has put a lot of young men in coffins lately. But no little boys. Not until now."
...Marc Anthony Bookal was laid to rest Saturday, 131 days after he disappeared from his mother's home on Benkard Avenue. His body was found inside a bookbag last month, and an autopsy revealed Marc's death was a homicide. Police have not arrested any suspects in connection with the killing...
-Adam Bosch. Times Herald-Record staff reporter.
Yul Bookal collapses on the coffin bearing the body of his son Marc Bookal, during funeral services for the child at the House of Refuge in the City of Newburgh, NY on Saturday, April 24, 2010. Bookal is the four year-old Newburgh boy who went missing last December 14th., and whose body was eventually recovered on March 24th. His death has been ruled a homicide. Times Herald Record/CHET GORDON

*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.)

17 April 2010

*Homage to Kingston & NFA Basketball* - Final Take. April•2010

"...Baby, I'm from New York... Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, There's nothing you can't do, Now you're in New York..." -Alicia Keys.

NFA vs. Middletown. Kingston vs. Minisink. Mix in the possibility of a Newburgh - Mount Vernon rematch in the NY State Quarterfinals at West Point's Chrystl Arena in mid-March. What a season it turned out to be photographically for me. Throughout the season, even a mere reference to any of these teams would elicit a wave of excitement from fans, players and even we in the media covering these kids. Names like McLeod, Henderson, Coffey, Castro, Dolson, Pooley and even Nick Smith at Middletown on the floor, just about guaranteed a night of first rate HS basketball. The high school basketball season that ended a few weeks ago was one of the most memorable I've ever photographed. Period. Probably just as exciting as covering Newburgh Free Academy's run to their first state title and of course Will Bouton's last-second, game winning heave from beyond mid-court to beat rival Mt. Vernon last season. (Click here to view the video the paper produced after that game and Bouton's miracle shot.) That all could've just as easily been 10 years ago now in news-cycle time. Besides, it was all about winning everything last year - so you almost became accustomed to the jubilation, high-5's and frenetic fans in all the gyms and arenas I'd worked then. Fast forward to this season for both the Kingston HS girls and NFA boys. Both were destined to have back-page headline stealing seasons. Kingston senior guard Rachel Coffey (right) deserves her own slide show here on the blog, as I can't conjure up enough adjectives to accurately describe her game. I think I read somewhere she picked up the nickname "Lady A.I.", after NBA guard Allen Iverson, replete with her own tattoos and all. She is easily one of the top 20 athletes at any level that I've photographed in my career and that alone is saying quite a lot. I've witnessed and photographed top ballplayers like Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, an even Elton Brand throughout his high school career over at Peekskill HS, his college days at Duke, and right into the NBA in his rookie year with the Chicago Bulls. In a simple comparison of pure athletic ability, talent and sheer hard work - Coffey is right up there with the best of the best. Knowing that this was going to be her last season in high school proved to be a sentimental year for me in photographing the Kingston Lady Tigers, as she and other teammates like Charlise Castro and Ariana Parker would also be graduating this Spring. On the boy's side of the hardwood if you will, state champion Newburgh Free Academy was touted not only by our sports writers but by other publications as a potential repeat state champion. So what did they do in the first weeks of the season? They landed standout guard Devon McMillan (left) as a transfer student from Uniondale HS on Long Island - whom NFA had defeated in the state tournament last year en route to their title. That move alone had the whole state literally talking about Newburgh basketball all season. It was all going to be some year for photographing basketball, particularly the big marquee games. Couldn't forget about the big girl over at Minisink Valley HS. Stefanie Dolson (at right) earned a full ride to UCONN, she was named a first-team McDonald's All American, and she was itching for another opportunity to knock off Kingston and Rachel Coffey in the sectional playoffs prior to the state tournament. Coffey had also accepted a scholarship to Syracuse - so who knows, maybe these two young ladies from the area will continue their rivalry on NCAA courts in the Big East.

For the better part of the last two seasons, the names Castro, Kell, Coffey, Parker, and Longto up in Kingston along with Henderson, Bouton, Cousar, McLeod, Johnson and transfer student McMillan here close to home at Newburgh Free Academy have meant something to me. Making images like these reinforces why I continually work as hard as I do - particularly
in fully strobing gyms and utilizing remote cameras for those added extra camera angles, especially at the big games during the playoff tournaments.

*With apologies to Alicia Keys and her "Empire State of Mind (Part II) - Here's an edited look at my take on both the Kingston girls and NFA boys seasons - including their sectional playoffs and state tournament games (boys) up in Glens Falls, NY. ~cg.

*(Use the arrow at the bottom left of the player or click the image to start the slide show. Enable full screen viewing by clicking the 4-way arrow icon above the captions button at lower right of the player. Pause the portfolio slideshow in the right column by clicking the "II" pause button. Remember to turn up your volume.)

15 April 2010

REWIND - Images from the Archive.

KRASNAYORSK, SIBERIA. RUSSIAN FEDERATION. A man sits with his crutches as bridal gowns are seen on display in the background in September 1999. Krasnayorsk, Siberia. Russian Federation. © Chet Gordon / THE IMAGE WORKS

*As good a time as any to re-examine some of my older file
images made
in the Russian Federation... ~cg.

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.

10 April 2010

*"The 50th..."

*Today is my 50th. birthday.

"I am Ann & Chester Sr.'s only son..."
It's been some ride so far & it's finally here. 'nuff said. ~cg.


09 April 2010

Popular Photography Magazine. March 2010, pg. 42.

In all the craziness of this year's HS playoff basketball tournaments the past few weeks, I've just gotten around to writing about the above piece in Popular Photography magazine. A photo of mine with an accompanying story was published last month. (March 2010 - page 42.) Click HERE. It was actually a file photo from a HS basketball playoff game here in my coverage area made 2 years ago, and I've previously written extensively on the preparation and execution in making the image here on the blog. Click HERE to view those earlier links. The real interest in the image itself was that not only was the image made from a remote camera mounted behind the backboard glass - that camera also fired the arena (studio) strobes a colleague and I installed the night before in the college gym for the weekend's playoff games. Professionally for me and extremely gratifying was the exposure of one my images in a national magazine. I began receiving emails from photographers around the country who'd seen the piece as subscribers, when I couldn't find a copy of it here in any of the big retail bookstores in my area. A couple of local photographers teased me about the piece at a big HS basketball game (where else?) one Friday night in late February; that due to scheduling, I wasn't even working. It was a big deal game between two local rivals and I still sat along the baseline to watch the game from what would've been my normal working perspective.
In all seriousness, it all began by answering what looked like a generic or possibly even a junk email after Christmas, which materialized into a series of phone interviews with the senior editor at the magazine, subsequently followed up by email submissions of the images from me.

*A final word on having a photograph like this not only seen by other editors, but the rights purchased for publication (from the paper) and a decent fee paid to us both. Proves again that you never, ever know who's looking at your work from afar...
Big fun. Nice tearsheet(s). I'm looking forward to hanging this piece on my office wall sometime soon. ~cg.

06 April 2010

"Bringing Your 'A' Game..." *Musings from late March / early April 2010.

*More on different
aspects of

my sports photography -
(particularly at the championship level...)

I've thought a lot lately about approaching the challenges of not only the daily grind, but stepping it up when necessary to make memorable or game telling sports images. Sports portraits also offer that opportunity to show the viewer an athlete's personality or character, if you will. It also gives me a few brief moments to connect with athletes on a more personal level, other than just photographing them during their games, practices, press conferences, etc. It's nice to have that interaction in a quiet enviornment with a subject I've been photographing - especially athletes on top of their games.

(above): Newburgh Free Academy guard Michael McLeod (#4) photographed in the school's gym in the City of Newburgh, NY on Tuesday, April 6, 2010. McLeod is the Times Herald-Record's 2010 Player of the Year. Times Herald Record/CHET GORDON

This mindset is a year-round exercise of preparation, creativity and logistics. It's usually the cause in itself for many sleepless nights, gnashing of teeth, and what has become a continual, yet albeit need for packing enough lighting gear, extra cameras, and supporting hardware like clamps, umbrellas, stands, radio transmitters, and extension cords to cover a championship game. Sometimes it's just a 15-minute portrait made in the school's gym; catering to the subject's schedule, as the top image illustrates earlier today. It's good when the pre-visualizing of the finished image in my mind's eye actually has a good chance of materializing. It's always a good feeling of relief when an athlete is pleased with the image(s) on the back of the camera. When all those elements come together in what can sometimes be a hurried session due to factors outside of my control, you can almost hear my heels clicking...
Kingston guard Rachel Coffey is the Times Herald-Record's 2010 Girls High School Player of the Year. She's seen photographed at the Rondout Neighborhood Center in Kingston, NY on Wednesday, March 31, 2010. Coffey will attend Syracuse University next Fall. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

(Sports Photography con't.): "Fight Night in Poughkeepsie..." Last Saturday the challenge in assignments were (#1.) Army's Annual Spring Scrimmage Game and later that same evening, a full boxing card of 8 bouts in Poughkeepsie, NY in the horribly dark Mid-Hudson Civic Center. This image of the fighter's face being soaked by his trainer just works for me. It's not a moment you normally see in print from a boxing event and I remember intentionally jumping up on the ring to be outside of the ropes for what was probably no more than 30 seconds intervals between rounds, pushing myself to make a few feature-type images of what it's like in a fighter's corner.

Boxer Daniel Sostre of Highland, NY is treated by his trainer Tracey Patterson between rounds of his NY State Welterweight Championship fight against Jay Krupp of Catskill, NY at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, NY on Saturday, March 27, 2010. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

In looking back at a lot of the sports imagery I've made in the past few weeks, you come to also realize again that it's not always the peak-action, last-second, buzzer-beater images that hold a viewer's attention and interest. Getting in close with a subject to reveal something intimate about their character, either in a controlled and lit portrait setting or in sort of a "behind the scenes look" in a feature moment of a single image or series of thought out story telling images, is just as rewarding to me as a photographer and critical viewer (and former photo-editor) as covering any other big event. A good image is a good image, and my efforts are continually showing the viewer that I worked a little harder in discovering some new truths or nuances about whatever my subject matter happens to be at any given time. Stay tuned... ~cg.

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