Monday, June 25, 2012

Y-Press snags Colts, Pacers coaches
to help in first-ever fundraiser

Getting together the head coaches of Indianapolis' two major league sports franchises -- the Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers -- to agree to answer questions, socialize, sign autographs and pose for pictures would be a coup for any civic group.

So it was a big deal Wednesday, June 20, for the youth-driven Y-Press news gathering organization in Indianapolis when it did just that. Y-Press, in operation since 1990, held "The Big Why," the title of its first-ever fundraiser in a converted downtown Indianapolis school building that is now home to the advertising agency Young & Laramore, and Colts and Pacers coaches Chuck Pagano and Frank Vogel were featured guests.

Through its history, staffers of Y-Press -- formerly known as Children's Express -- made a point of reporting and conducting interviews without adult supervision. It's been a hallmark of the group's mission -- to learn by doing. They made an exception for Wednesday's fundraiser; the point, in fact, was to publicly display what they did to generate the support they were hoping to get through the fundraising mechanism.

Attendees paid $100 per ticket to watch as five Y-Press staffers questioned Pagano and Vogel. The youths' research for their questions was so solid, they somehow learned about when Vogel, as a 13-year-old, appeared on the "Stupid Human Tricks" segment of the "Late Night With David Letterman" program to show how he could spin a basketball on a toothbrush -- while brushing his teeth. So the youths asked Vogel to reprise the trick for the crowd, and the impressed coach remarked, "You guys did your research!" before complying and giving the delighted crowd a show.

Afterward, the coaches met attendees, signed autographs and posed for pictures with them. Y-Press asked me if I would photograph the event for their promotional needs, and today's post features some of the shots from that shoot.

If you weren't able to attend "The Big Why" but would like to donate or contribute to the Y-Press endeavor, you can do so online at this page of the Y-Press website

Above and below: In the green room (which actually was painted yellow) before the program, Colts' Coach Chuck Pagano greeted Y-Press staffers and, along with Pacers' Coach Frank Vogel, posed for pictures.

Above and below: WTHR-TV asked Y-Press staffer Isaiah Treadwell to conduct a brief interview of Pagano for a live segment on Channel 13's 6 p.m. news broadcast. Afterward, WTHR's Dave Calabro asked Isaiah if he had any time to work for the station this summer. 

Above: Vogel, the coaches wives, Pacers' director of media relations David Benner, Young & Laramore president Tom Denari, other Y-Press staffers and Y-Press bureau director Lynn Sygiel (woman seated) watched Isaiah's interview on live TV in the green room.

Above: Y-Press interviewers (from left) Isaiah Treadwell, Hrishi Deshpande, Naomi Farahan, Glen Schroering and Aine Montgomery.

Above and below: Vogel reprising his teenage "Stupid Human Trick" on the "Late Night With David Letterman" show. 

Above: Vogel posing with Y-Press staffer Greta Herbertz, who emceed Wednesday's program.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Park2Park Relay, Part V:
Everything else ... and it's all good

Like I did for last year's inaugural running of the Hendricks County Park2Park Relay, when I came across lulls Saturday, I turned my photographic attention to my surroundings. The photos in today's post are about those.

Many are high-dynamic range (HDR) renderings -- single images reflecting slightly surreal tones as a result of the melding of two or more images of the same scene taken in quick succession, each with a slightly different exposure. In the case of Saturday, I bracketed my exposures at -2/3 (darkest), 0 (normal) and +2/3 (brightest) stop intervals. I'll indicate which are HDR shots, although maybe you'll recognize them instantly, given the volume of HDR photos I've presented in Photo Potpourri since I first indulged in HDR a year and a half ago.

Under normal circumstances, you mount the camera on a tripod when photographing scenes to process in HDR software. The precaution is a reliable safeguard against any camera shake or movement as the camera records the three bracketed frames. But on days like Saturday, when you don't want to lug around a tripod for 12 hours, it's handy to have a lens like the year-old Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II PZD VC, whose vibration compensation (the VC) technology has enabled users to enjoy a high incidence of success capturing steady images for HDR while hand-holding the camera. Adding to the safeguarding for hand-holding my HDR shots was the Canon 7D's 8.3 fps (frames per second) burst rate. I set the burst at its highest performance mode. So combined with a high enough shutter speed, those hand-held bracketed shots are recorded in no time ... less than a second.

Except for the early-morning images at Sodalis Nature Park, where I did use a tripod (and my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens) for the pitch-dark start of the ultramarathon at 5 a.m. and for a while thereafter, all of my HDR shots Saturday were hand-held using the Tamron lens.

Leading off the post is a shot composed about 5:50 a.m. at Sodalis -- 20 minutes before sunrise -- using the Canon 24-70mm lens set at 46mm on a tripod. It is not an HDR shot; it was taken at f/2.8, 2.5 seconds at ISO-800. This fisherman probably was confounded by the beehive of activity there at time, as more and more people filed into the park, he moved more and more to the left to be out of people's way.

A full gallery of race-only pictures is now available at my site.

You can all cheer; this is the last post I have planned for my shots at the Park2Park. :-)

Above: Another shot at Sodalis, this time using the pond as sole subject. I've been told that with water reflection shots, you should compose or drastically eliminate the lion's share of the source object or go without it altogether -- in this case, the real trees -- to enhance focal attention on the reflection. I felt that if I did that here, I'd lose that beautiful arc in the center, and I didn't want to do that. This is an HDR composition.

Above and next two below: Hummel Park in Plainfield was a the second exchange station on Saturday's 64.5-mile course, but there also was a fitness fair going on.  In fact, moments after I arrived, two gals led a large group in a Zumba routine. I tried shooting this from the front, but the sun was right in my eyes. That's why the shots below are from the back.


Above and below: Two views of the bridge spanning White Lick Creek in Hummel Park. The one above was taken from the east side, looking west. Below, an HDR rendering, from the west side looking east.

Above: One of the prettiest sites on the course, the garden that greets visitors entering Hummel Park from the east.

Above and next two below: Shots taken from the Plainfield A-frame town welcoming sculpture where White Lick Creek meets Washington Street (U.S. 40). First below is a birdhouse in the rest area near the sculpture; second below is the creek, taken from the bridge above looking south (left). The birdhouse and creek are HDR shots.

Above: XRB Browsburg radio's Shane Ray (left) and Rob Kendall, doing live remote broadcasts of the Park2Park Relay from near the gazebos in Williams Park, Brownsburg.

 Above: White Lick Presbyterian Church at 2530 N. Hendricks County Road 600 East near Avon. This is an HDR rendering.

Above and next two below: Shots from a cemetery catty-corner from White Lick Presbyterian Church. All three are HDR renderings. In the case of the monument closeup below, those white specks you see in the background isn't sensor dirt; it's the sunlight highlighting specks of foliage in background bokeh.

Above: A reprise of the Danville/Hendricks Regional Hospital water tower, only without the power transformer box and stretching athlete as shown in yesterday's post.

Above: A look at the grassy ravine and footpath below the rust-colored steel bridge in McCloud Nature Park.

Above and below: Above is a gravel path along the west side of McCloud. The turn in the foreground leads immediately to the rust-colored bridge (below), a view that looks east. Once runners cross the bridge, they turn right (south) to do a double-back segment whose hairpin return point is the park's southern-most border. On the northbound return trip, they could catch one last glimpse of the bridge by looking left from the slight ridge you see beyond the bridge, where the white path ends. Both of these images are HDR shots. 

 Above: I heeded this warning, posted in McCloud.

Above: A modest wooden bridge in McCloud in the park's eastern section. This is an HDR shot.

Above and below: Above is one of the birdhouses I came across on the course path in the eastern section of McCloud. It is just outside a layer of brush and trees that buffer the course path from Big Walnut Creek (below). Both of these images are HDR shots.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Park2Park Relay, Part IV:
Running on empty ... or fumes

It was so hot on Saturday, the National Weather Service issued a Flash Sweat Warning for runners in the second annual Hendricks Count Park2Park Relay! (bah-dum-pah).

One-liners aside, it really was hot on Saturday. So why was one of the 278 runners participating in this event wearing a cow costume (well, OK, not the head piece, but definitely the full torso)? I guess because he wanted to. I came across cow-bedecked Brett Nabb, a member of Team Six Pack, about midway through one of his legs of the race and asked how he was doing, and Nabb said, "Not too good." A real trooper.

Team Six Pack definitely was making a fashion statement. Teammate Mary Nabb (no doubt a relation to Brett, but not sure what) wore a different outfit for each of her turns on the course. And each of the outfits was distinguished by bright colors and punctuated with shades and bright red lipstick. When I first saw her at the exchange point at Hendricks Regional Hospital, she wore a hot pink headband and a pastel pink shirt emblazoned with the boast, "Princesses Don't Finish Last." For the last leg of the race, the one ending in McCloud Nature Park, she was outfitted in a bright purple and black tiger-stripe-pattern top; a fluffy and sparkly solid-purple-colored skirt and a reddish-purple headband.

Getting past the fashion wear, I found that some of my favorite pictures while going through the collection were shots on the road that zeroed in on a runner close to me when, behind them a ways, there were either other runners or a vehicle approaching to provide secondary elements to the composition. And then there was the shot leading off this post -- two runners choosing opposite sides of the road to cover their terrain (I didn't see too much of that) -- with a car in the distance, just creeping over the first of two undulations in the road. That's team Hall Render A's Mark Garsombke on the left, team 10-Mile Tape Worms' Justin Hochstetler on the right.

Stuff like this made watching and photographing the Park2Park a fun time for the second year in a row. I hope you enjoy the other pictures -- and some of the "stories" behind them -- from the course here as well.

Tomorrow, I'll present the non-race photographs I managed to get during lulls along the course. There was some nice ones, so do come back.

Above and below: At one moment (above) along a double curve portion of Vestal Road north of Plainfield, Jared Burris of the men's division-winning North Salem State Bank 2 team was alone on the course. But by the time he reached the curve you see ahead of him above, a convoy of Harley-Davidson riders (below), headed in the opposite direction, were driving past him, headed to Indy West Harley-Davidson in Plainfield for the 10 a.m. start of the Ride for the Salute to Military Families. If you click on the bottom picture, you can see Burris' red shorts just in front of one of the riders in the background.

Above: This is Burris just a little farther along in the course. 

Above and below: A member of the team P-town Warriors looked game-serious as I snapped the shot above from the side of the road, as four runners in the distance kept her within their sight. After taking this shot, I moved quickly to her left, when she broke into the expression below. 

Above: Angelia Kniesly, one of the runners behind Munger in the wider picture above, was always willing to offer a smile when I came across her on the course this year and last. She and her Team Tenacious teammates ran the ceremonial short loop off the start line in Sodalis Nature Park together, as did several full teams, and when I camped briefly at the rust-colored steel bridge in McCloud Nature Park, Angelia was running side by side with her team's last-leg runner, Michael Sapper. Clearly, she loves to run.

Above: One change in procedure that race organizers made in this year's event was to not require runners to carry and hand a baton to teammates at the exchange points. Instead, a team's runner finishing a leg merely had to hand-tag the runner beginning the next leg, as illustrated above by team Hcxc2 runners Claire Hinshaw (left) and Mackenzie Dye at the exchange station starting Leg 10 on Hendricks County Road 250 North, just east of County Road 100 East. Dye's leg of the race would end 3.67 miles later at Hendricks Regional Hospital in Danville. 

Above: A wide view of the beehive-like activity at an exchange station out in the country. This was the station at County Road 250 North, starting Leg 10.

Above and below: In yesterday's post, you met Logan Kuhne (right) of team 5 More Muffin Men and an Old Guy, who was interviewed by WCBK radio's Randall Wayne for a live remote broadcast from Sodalis Nature Park, the Park2Park's start point this year. Above, at the exchange station to start Leg 10, Kuhne had jogged out to meet his Leg 9 runner, Ichiro Mozawa (left), and accompanied Mozawa for the short jog to the switch point, where Mozawa yielded to teammate Nate Secrest (foreground, below). Kuhne yells words of encouragement to Secrest, as the latter began Leg 10 en route to Hendricks Regional Hospital.

Above: Heather Cox of ARC Design and Bob Hicks of team Hall Render B out on a rural section of the course.

Above: Allison Zimmerman (left) of team O Runner, Where Are Thou and Anna Eschbach of the Danville Dream Team strode side by side, embracing the popular notion that having a companion alongside makes the time go faster.

Above and next two below: Above is Brett Nabb, the first time I came across him, on Leg 10 heading to Hendricks Regional Hospital. Not too long afterward (first photo below), I arrived at the hospital relay station, and photographed him just about 50 meters from the end of the leg. Not long after that, he stripped off the cow veneer and understandably helped himself to a refreshing shower of cold bottled water.

Above: Mary Nabb, wearing the "Princesses Never Finish Last" T-shirt, takes over for Brett and begins Leg 11 for Team Six Pack.

Above: On the long jog to the Hendricks Regional Hospital parking lot exchange station, runners finishing Leg 10, like the runner in yellow above, and those starting Leg 11, like the shirtless runner, would cross paths.

Above: I used the Danville and hospital water tower as a backdrop for a runner using a transformer box as a place to stretch at the hospital.

Above: Team Post-Fontaine's Crystal Alley approaches the hospital relay station.

Above: These are volunteers staffing the exchange station that started Leg 15 on County Road 650 North, just west of County Road 200 West. Runners starting here would finish in North Salem, 1.86 miles later, the shortest leg on the course.

Above: Mary Nabb, at McCloud Nature Park, in her final leg fashion.

Above: Angelia Kniesly again, accompanying Team Tenacious' teammate-of-record for the final leg, Michael Sapper, as they round the corner of a gravel portion of the course right before crossing the rust-colored steel bridge.

Above: I remembered Joe Mulholland, of team Saint Susanna/Against the Wind, from last year's race because every time I came across him both last year and the only time I ran into him this year -- running this last leg at McCloud -- he would give up a warm smile. It helped make being out there on the course a little more fun for me seeing that the runners also were having fun.

Above and below: In McCloud Nature Park, Team Shut Up & Squat members (from left) Kattie Fleece, Amber Peacock and Emmy Hites could afford to be relaxed; this thing was over for them because they weren't their team's official runner of record for this leg. Not to worry, though. Passing this very point only a few moments earlier (below) were the team's runner of record, Michael Purichia (left), accompanied by another teammate, Lewis Hites.

Above: I didn't spend much time photographing runners on the bridge this year because the mid-day sunlight didn't do for those shots nearly what the dramatic, early-morning light did for them last year when McCloud was the start point for the Park2Park. Here's one I did take, of team Marathon Mamas' Brittany Meyers. The bridge comes up about a quarter of the way into the 3.1 miles of the last leg in McCloud.

Above: After crossing the bridge in McCloud, runners turn south, run to the park's southernmost border and make a hairpin turn to double back to this point, which is just east of the bridge and about three-quarters of a mile to a mile later in the route. Runners have about 2 miles to go after reaching here. This is Danville Dream Team's Kameron Baker; behind him in the distance is Mulholland, pictured above shortly before crossing the bridge.

Above: A lot of runners joke that when they enter and participate in an organized event like the Park2Park, their main objective is to not finish last. I've done it. When you run an ultramarathon course -- 52 miles all by yourself -- there is no shame in finishing last. Indeed, it is quite the accomplishment to merely finish. That was the joy expressed on the face of ultramarathoner Dick Whicker (left) at the end of his journey at McCloud Nature Park in a time of 12 hours, 39.01 minutes. Although Whicker, who was race director for the inaugural Park2Park last year, was the last runner in any of the competitions to cross the finish line, he did so only 5 minutes behind fellow ultramarathoner Jonathan Nolan (right), who finished fourth of six ultras in 12:34.13. Finishing between Nolan and Whicker was Abe Garcia, whose time was 12:35.06.