Friday, December 31, 2010

Toast to Trine's Watt, Franklin's Ray

Earlier this month, Trine University quarterback Eric Watt (pictured above) was named the winner of the 2010 Gagliardi Trophy, NCAA Division III football's most prestigious individual award and D3's version of Division I's Heisman Trophy. It recognizes a student-athlete's excellence in football, academics and community service.

He was announced as winner in front of a live audience and chosen over defensive end Matt Hoffman of Rowan and quarterbacks Kyle Ray of Franklin and Ben McLaughlin of Louisiana College.

Watt led Trine (Angola, Ind.) to three Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles and three NCAA Division III playoff berths. With Watt as a full-time starter, the Thunder went 29-1 in three years.

Why is this a big deal -- and cause to mention in this blog? Because the one regular-season loss that Trine suffered came in September 2009 at Franklin College, a game I shot and uploaded pictures for a previous blog post. I still have a gallery up with images from that game: Trine-Franklin football. Franklin came from 13 points behind late in the third quarter to pull out the win, 30-29. The Grizzlies had an equally successful season this year, losing just once and making the postseason playoffs. 

I find it fascinating that Ray (below), who also played in that September 2009 game at Franklin, also was a finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy this year. His stellar 2010 senior season was largely responsible for Franklin's success and qualification for playoffs. For his first three years at Franklin, Ray wore jersey No. 10 (as seen below, his junior year); this season, his last, he switched to No. 26 in tribute to his father, who also played at Franklin and who died last year.

Unbeaten Little Giants prevail
in rematch with Grizzlies, 77-74

On Nov. 20, in the final game of the Little Giant Tip-Off Classic on its home court in Crawfordsville, Ind., the Wabash College men's basketball team destroyed Franklin College, 96-55. The Little Giants continued to roll thereafter, and going into Wednesday's rematch with the Grizzlies at the Spurlock Center in Franklin, they were 11-0 and ranked eighth in the latest poll of small school basketball teams.

In Wednesday's rematch, the Grizzlies gave Wabash everything they had, rallying from an early 30-13 deficit to eventually grab the lead on several occasions in the second half. But the Little Giants hung on to win, 77-74, improving their record to 12-0. Franklin dropped to 4-8. The Little Giants' Derek Bailey (red jersey No. 41) iced the win by sinking two critical free throws near the end of the game. Teammate Wes Smith (#21) led all scorers with 23 points; freshman Bailey Howard (#20) led the Grizzlies with 22 points.

A week down the road, the Little Giants will face top-ranked Wooster (Ohio) College at home in what should be a very interesting game. These images are from Wednesday night's game at Franklin. To review a full gallery of photos from the game, click on this link: Franklin-Wabash basketball.








Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A night shoot in Zionsville, Ind.

In a final push to capture nighttime holiday decorations, I accompanied a group of photo enthusiasts to the town of Zionsville, a northwest suburb of Indianapolis, on Thursday night, two days before Christmas. It was my fourth or fifth opportunity to put my new PowerShot G12 to the test, and I remain pleasantly impressed with its ability to deliver fine, sharp RAW images at shutter speeds as slow as 1/15 and even an occasional 1/6. Those were my default settings using Program mode and an ISO of 1600. 

We were hoping to hook up with the Indianapolis Hiking Club, which was having its annual tour of Zionsville and Chocolate shop stop outing. But by the time we got out of the eatery where we dined beforehand, we apparently had missed the rendezvous. The four of us meanered through the nearby neighborhood then returned downtown to shoot.

We ended the evening in the upstairs restaurant called Plum's, where we had a chance to experiment with different still life opportunities using our plate and drink dishes as subjects. Our nice waiter, seeing us shoot away, even brought over an empty wine bottle, suggesting that it might make for an interesting subject of our images. He was right.

I also tinkered, for the first time, with the HDR (high-dynamic range) feature on the G12; it captures three images at different exposures with one press of the shutter, then automatically melds the best exposure elements of each of those three captures into one, amply-exposed image. You get the best brightness, best contrast and best dark characteristics of the image. Because you are shooting multiple images when using HDR, you need to use a tripod to ensure stability (no camera shake). I didn't have a tripod, so I rested the G12 on the table. The HDR feature is an "automatic," not "creative," mode, however, which means the image will be rendered as a JPG, not a RAW data file. That was fine with me, as I didn't buy the camera for this feature, though it did pique my interest. However, I did like what I saw of it, and I'm likely to explore it more. I'll show you a frame from one of those HDR images near the bottom of this post.

A lot of the shots you see in the second half of the photos are looking into window displays of downtown Zionsville storefronts. The lead image at the very top of this post features two Zionsville landmarks: In the foreground, the Christmas tree that the town erects in the middle of brick-covered Main Street each December. And yes, cars respectfully drive around it. The structure in the background is Carter's Toy Museum and Ice Cream Parlor.

The first several images below are simply homes within a two- to three-block range of the heart of downtown.


I would like to have tried to capture the tree above with a DSLR mounted on a tripod and equipped with a wide-angle lens. But as it is, it didn't turn out too bad.

The angle gives the illusion that this street lamp is ensnarled by leafless branches. But in fact, the lamp hovers well away from the branches.

Above, a member of the photo group silhouetted while taking a shot of the most spectacular home we came across. We chatted briefly with a resident of this home who had come out to go to her car to run an errand. The image above and the next three below are from the same residence.

Above, a holiday decoration in the display window of the studio, shop and gallery of "Painter of Light" Thomas Kinkade.

Above, another juxtaposed illusion: The colored-lighted building in the background is about a block away from this Zionsville street clock.
Above and below: Two frames from the 15 or 16 I took of the combination of candleholders, water glass and wine bottle.

Above: New props: a dish with leftover brownie and orange slice (two forks indicating the person who ordered it -- not me -- offered to share) and a saucer and expresso cup.

The picture above is the HDR-treated capture. Notice the background details picked up and the milky brown color tones to the table, which was actually very close to what I remember of the table's color. You can see from the pictures above this, however, that the single-exposure, non-HDR treated photos pick up very little by way of background.

Above and below: I couldn't decide which of these -- color or B/W -- I liked better.

Above: A college sports-neutral retailer displaying the logos of Butler, Indiana and Purdue.
Above: It seems like model trains are part of so many decorative holiday displays this season. The gnomes on the right are a different touch, however.

Above: An exterior shot of the studio and shop (the Sanctuary) and restaurant (Ghyslain at the Sanctuary) owned by painter Nancy A. Noel.

Above: A horn of plenty, but hardly plentiful, in another window display among the downtown shops.