Irony Abounds

I had to do a double take when I saw this house in Oskaloosa, Iowa. I was driving back to Iowa City after being in Des Moines to take the Bar Exam and figured I’d take state highways and see some of rural Iowa. And I suppose I did.

I don’t have strong opinions on the Confederate Battle Flag issue, having lived in the north and south - I know that the flag has become about more than the Civil War and is as much of a symbol for people to push back against what they see as elitist norms from the coasts. Having said that, it’s always a little disconcerting to see it being flown in a state sent troops to fight on behalf of the Union. But the real irony to me (though maybe it shouldn’t be) is that Blue Lives Matter flag on the right. Still trying to figure out who’d fly a flag that’s a symbol of revolt against the US while flying a flag in support of probably the most ubiquitous arm of control of government. Irony abounds.


A Wing and a Prayer

When my editor asked me if I wanted to shoot a B-17, my only response to her was “are you kidding me?” And with that, I got the opportunity to photograph EAA’s B-17G “Aluminium Overcast” during its visit to Cedar Rapids.

This actually wasn’t the first B-17 I’d been inside—about 20 years ago, I’d been able to see the Collins Foundation’s “909” which was just as cool. After seeing Aluminum Overcast, I feel like I’ve seen the two most significant flyable B-17s in the world.

And, as one of the staff photographers put it: “It’s not just that you got to photograph a B-17, it’s that you got to photograph a B-17G.”

Finally, someone who gets it.

Two firsts yesterday. Shot my first prep sports and shot my first assignment with my new Canon 1DX MK II. As for the camera, I’d shot one before while working at The Daily Iowan and thought about buying one for quite some time but had avoided doing so—due entirely to cost, of course. But now that I’m freelancing I was forced to realize that my 7D MK II just. wasn’t. good enough. And so I upgraded. And, based on a sample size of one, it was worth every penny. Sure, I still missed shots, but at least **I** was missing them and not my camera—and even then, I didn’t miss many.

As for the games, it was playoff soccer so the teams were good and the games were high scoring. But I still haven’t cracked the code of how cover a team that’s losing. Fortunately, my assignment was to cover both teams in each game (all of the teams come from the readership area of the paper) so I could focus more on the winning side but making a meaningful image of a team that’s just doing nothing continues to elude me.

Storm Ambushing

Well, you can’t really call it ‘storm chasing’ when it comes right to you. So, it happens that we had a tornado rip through Iowa City yesterday. Doesn’t seem to have done too much damage - touched down to the southeast of the city and leveled a cattle barn, but that was about all I saw. Far more interesting were getting shots of the funnel cloud spikes as it passed by my apartment building.

Don’t think I’ll be taking up storm chasing any time soon but shooting this gave me a great appreciation for what those folks do. This was thrilling but even watching these (small?) spikes form, you could tell just how dangerous this all is.

A Change in Rotation

As I begin to wrap up my time at the University of Iowa, one of my goals is to fill in the gaps in my sports portfolio by shooting the few remaining sports I haven’t shot yet. Fortunately, I’ve been able to shoot almost everything the University competes in, with one notable exception—gymnastics. Well, that hole got finally got filled after I lucked into a women’s gymnastics assignment.

As for the sport, what to say? It’s great—high action but in discrete moments, easily allowing you to reposition and set up new compositions. And you know where the competitors are going to be—no need to go chasing any action. Nothing is going to beat Football or, of course, Field Hockey in “favorite sports to shoot” list, but this was a fun assignment—hopefully it wasn’t my last exposure to this sport.

Roundball Shortfall

Had the chance to get back to sports photography last night when I shot the Iowa-Michigan State game. Unfortunately, things didn’t go exactly as the Hawkeyes planned and after a gritty first half , the game got away from Iowa early in the second and they wound up on the losing end. Still, I got what we needed for the paper (always the first goal) and, if nothing else, Tyler Cook (Iowa’s #25) is always a fun player to photograph.


The photo coach at my newspaper turned me on to the work of Todd Hido before the holiday season and I spent a few days laying on the couch and going through his work. While it was a mild December here in Iowa City, January has made winter great again and so I’ve had a couple of opportunities to stumble around in the snow and practice trying to integrate flash into my urban landscapes. Still a work in progress, but I’ve been pleased by some of the results.

Field Hockey—Tasmanian Devil

Since Iowa isn’t known for being a field hockey state—the sport isn’t played at the high school level here—the University of Iowa team has go far afield to find players. As a result, a number of the players are from overseas—a couple of continental Europeans but mostly Brits, Aussies, and Kiwis. One of the team’s standout internationals, is a sophomore from Tasmania by the name of Maddy Murphy—I was lucky enough to shoot her first hat-trick as she single-handedly took down no. 6 Penn State on a fall evening.