Sunday, August 30, 2009

While You Were Sleeping.

I think I got suckered into going to work yesterday.

Of course, nobody can get suckered into anything unless they're willing to agree to a deal that sounds too good to be true.

Since I have a busy Sunday planned, I only agreed to go in because it seemed like a good deal to go to work from 6:00pm until the last liveshot during the 11:00pm newscast,

Apparently the station preferred that I work the entire eight hours they were going to have to pay me for working.

Instead of working five and getting paid for eight.

That's just outrageous.

Wouldn't have been the first time either.

But that's how I wound up driving through the fire threatened area at 1:00am while every sane and rational person was home asleep.

Not a bad trade off to lose some sleep, but get to see a fire like this up close (and get a few still shots to boot).


Let's not tell anybody.  Heh-heh, Suckers.
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Enemy Mine!

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Posted via email from beFrank's posterous

. . .and now, Fire: Day Five!

Just got the call.  I'm headed in for an SNG shift tonight.

Yesterday I was hanging out in Altadena and wound up with Melissa McCarty.

Set up on the rear deck of Larry Welk's home near Angelus Crest (Hey, Allen.  It's a typo, I swear).

It's been a tough week.

More difficult for the residents in that area, but still some long days for me.

Apparently, it also isn't over yet.
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Just trying to get home.

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Posted via email from beFrank's posterous

Friday, August 28, 2009

Three Days of the Fire (so far).

It started on Tuesday afternoon. Anchor/Reporter Glen Walker and I were heading to San Dimas to cover a story about that city's 50th Anniversary coming up next year.

Glen spotted this out in the distance and we called our desk. They were aware of it and a chopper was in route. Continue on to your original story.


But wait. . .

. . .we're right here and our interview isn't scheduled for another hour. How about we send you a live HD picture of what we can see.

Makes sense. Do it for the top of the 5:00pm show.

The current time? Why, 4:51pm.

Find a spot, stop the truck, fire up the generator, pop the mast, pan in the microwave signal; throw out and connect the sticks, camera, cables; dial in the IFB, check levels and listen as they come out to our live picture.


That was day one.

On Day Two, I was sent out to relieve the dayside SNG operator on the fire for the same fire burning over Azusa.

It was pretty freaking hot out on San Gabriel Mountain Canyon Road and we couldn't even get up close to where the fire was burning for our liveshots.

Still, the photo opp from the mouth of the canyon where we had made base camp was worthwhile and the crew was able to get an escort up into the fire area to shoot some compelling fire footage.

It was kind of cool to see that we could make out the LA skyline even from way out on the edge of the county line.

Our nightside liveshots were a bit more on the minimalist side.

Not a lot to see out in the brush after dark.

On to the third day.

I was surprised that they didn't send the SAT truck back out to cover the fire near Azusa and I wound up sitting around the station for several hours. Somebody must have seen me sitting around with nothing do and looking all happy. They sent me to downtown LA to cruise for news.

For me, that meant a french dip sandwhich from "Cole's" or "Phillipe's", but before I could get my hot mustard on, I was called to head up to Jeff Maile's house.

Jeff Mailes is one of my fellow photographers at CBS2/KCAL9 (oops, I mean NEWS CENTRAL. . .ta daa!) and he lives up in the La Canada/Flintridge area.

They had a small fire going on up there and it was just ever so slowly creeping towards the populated parts of the area.

Not slow enough for the comfort of Jeff and his neighbors, but not fast enough to make people immediately get the heck out of Dodge.

It was exciting and then boring and then it got exciting again. Like a movie, but with the added risk of people actually losing their homes and all their worldly possesions in a blazing hellish inferno.

Also, somebody baked cookies. Now that's so much more friendlier than what we can usually expect. I kept asking Jeff if he'd like to turn the sprinklers on us.

I wouldn't have minded.

Heck, it was Jeff.

Got any more of those cookies?
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Other Day.

I'm actually sitting in the satellite truck up near the fire burning in Azusa or maybe it's burning in the hills above Azusa.  I can't really tell because I'm closer, but still nowhere near the fire which Glen Walker and I (okay, mostly him) spotted on the way to a completely different story yesterday.

See, I'm posting these shots and intending to write about the day I had on Monday, but now it's Wednesday and a lot has happened and I'd probably just blow off the Monday events, but I got to work with Kristine Lazar (whom I hardly ever get to see) and I'm working on this out in the field and I don't have the pictures from yesterday with me, so there we are.


We doing live shots over at the Buena Park Police Station, giving the rundown on the developments on the model murder story.

See, this is why I'm interested, but not feeling a need to rush out and see Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds". . . hey, did I spell it wrong right?

When you cover stories that feature dismemberment, stuffing body parts in a suitcase and ends with a suicide twist, a Hollywood film that plays extreme acts of violence for entertainment just seems like amateur hour.

Yeah, I'm still going to go see it, but I can wait until the crowds thin out.

This last shot is included because I wanted to have dated proof that I'm serious when I claim to set up a hair/back light at least twice a year.

Okay, that's one.

I'll try to get some more posts up, but don't expect any flame shots from this particular fire.  I'm closer than I was yesterday, but I'm still not close enough to see anything burning.

Maybe I'll go set up some lights for the reporter I'm working with tonight.  You know, kind of get it out of the way for the year.
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Justice League of Photographers -vs- Venice Beach

It was a strange day out at the beach. The weather was hazy and gray when we first got there, but the sun poked through every now and then.

Even if we hadn't seen the sun at all, there was more than enough going on to make for another great day of picture taking.

Clearly, one of the biggest advantages of having these photo meetups is that we get to practice and add to the sum total of our experience as still photographers.

If you don't shoot for a living, I think most people are content to wait for opportunities to present themselves.

I like that we aren't waiting for vacations or family events to snap pictures.

We're going out and making our own opportunities for taking pictures.


Plus, there's also the idea that you greatly increase the number of good shots by snapping more pictures.

Shooting digital mean I never have to worry about the ratio of good shots to total number of shots taken.

you know, I've taken somewhere around seventy-bazillion shots.

The beach was pretty crowded and you really have to love the kind of dirty ocean/carnival combination of smells that you don't get anywhere else.

I'm talking about that mix of salt water, sweat, cotton candy, beer, vomit, hot dogs, cigarette smoke and good gosh, something that was coming off a touristy guy that I'm thinking was something he stepped in.

We met a lot of interesting characters. . .wait, no, that's one of us.

Maybe yesterday wasn't so much about interacting with people anyway. Our meetup time was set for 5:00pm, but I'd gotten word about a bikini parade that was taking place a little earlier.

I caught the tail end of the parade and I'm a little curious to see what kind of shots the other photographers managed to catch.

In addition to the street performers and artists, surprisingly the Hare Krishnas were out on the beach.

After being the butt of so many jokes in the 70's and 80's, they seemed to have vanished like an endangered species.

Obviously somebody has been breeding them and reintroducing them into the wild.

So much cool stuff was going on and I don't think any one photographer could capture everything. I tried. I got a lot, but I've already seen some of the shots being uploaded from other group members.

Note to self: Next time, try and get at least one shot of the ocean.

At least I got the drum circle. It was like all the cool people on the beach got together and were making music and some were getting high and everybody was just having a really good time.

Of course, I stopped having a good time when they asked me to leave after I tried getting some shots from inside the circle. I can't say I blame them. I could see where I was kind of crossing a line.

I'm just glad they all didn't stop playing and chase me off by throwing things at me. I don't think that would have been cool at all.

People, buildings, animals, signs. . .

. . .it was just another good day out in the world.

I'm a better photographer than I was the day before just for having taken more pictures and I gained a little more experience.

Some of the shots I took might never see the light of day and just float around on my computer's hard drive.

Other shots might become part of my portfolio for a while or might make an appearance online (like maybe here).

I'm just happy to have the opportunity to share some of the day with people who might be interested.

It's awesome that I practiced what I already know about how to take pictures. I learned from my experiences and from the experience of other people that came out for the day.

One of the best way to get better at taking pictures is to go out and take more pictures.

That's what I'm going to do.
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Thursday, August 20, 2009


My contribution to the newscast today was pretty minor. I shot some video of a web site for Leyna Nguyen's story on the Compton minister accused of embezzling from his church.

I worked with Leyna on Tuesday night and we almost didn't get a story on that night either, but managed to put together something on the Commerce water rate increase.

That night I also managed to snap this picture of Leyna.

I like it.

So far this week I haven't accomplished anything of note in the world of journalism, but that's okay. News is often a career that's subject to luck of the draw.

I'm just happy for having taken a picture that with a little tweaking will likely find a place in my online gallery.

It's nice to feel productive.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

It's After 5:00PM, TAKE HIM DOWN!

We call it VOSOT patrol.  I don't remember if I've ever explained the term.  I kind of assume most people who read my blog either understand some of the newsroom lingo or more likely, don't really care.

I'd been filling in for our beloved vacationing Chief Photographer.  Being back in the field and running around town to pick up some smaller stories was a good way to decompress and have a light day without actually goofing off.

I covered the opening of a low income apartment complex that's intended to serve the needs of emancipated foster care youth and formerly homeless families.  It was touching to see a tearful tetimonial from one of the new young residents.  I also found out that Councilman Richard Alarcon is pretty funny.  I'm kind of sorry I never voted for him for anything.

Next time.

I was heading back to the station with my video and looking forward to lunch when I got a call to head over to the federal building in Westwood.  Police had chased down a guy who was now barricaded inside his car in the parking lot.

Cool.  I could use a little action to brighten up my mellow news day.

I should have known the day was going to go downhill when I arrived.  I'd heard on the radio that the street on the East side of the federal building was blocked, so I entered from the street that bordered the West side.

Pretty solid plan, but LAPD was stopping vehicles from getting anywhere near the suspect and had also blocked off the West side of the federal building's parking lot.

That didn't bother me too much.  Hey, you know, nutcases sometimes know how to make things go BOOM!

So, we were going to just go live from the far side of the parking lot, but our desk wanted us to find a closer spot where we could get a better view of the action. 

Other stations were going live from the East side of the building.  We were told to break from our current position and try to secure a position where the other crews were set up.

And do it quickly, so we could get our reporter on TV ASAP.

Well, some crews had gotten in on the East side street, but the LAPD weren't allowing any more trucks into that area.  We poked around and found a good close position on Ashton Avenue.

Really close.

Not so close that I felt in any immediate danger as we did a couple live hits, but apparently closer than the LAPD felt was safe.

They eventually booted us out of the area and didn't really give us an alternative spot.

Again, not knowing if the suspect had any explodey materials in his red Volkswagon Beetle (which is about centered in the picture below), I wasn't too upset about moving.

At least I got a shot of the armored vehicle as it trampled some hedges.

Some folks were asking on Facebook why they didn't use the driveway to the left in the picture.  I'm thinking the guy who was driving either didn't particularly like the hedges or he was also being cautious about getting too close to the suspect.

We secured another spot and I was feeling pretty confident that the station was going to simply send me home.  I hadn't had lunch and we don't throw around overtime hours as casually as we've done in the past.

I called the desk.  They told me to make sure I wasn't needed and then come on back to the station.

I surveyed the perimeter, but didn't find anything of interest, so I stopped at a gas station convenience store, snagged an orange Icee and a cookie and was about to hit the freeway.

With any luck I might miss the main surge of rush hour traffic.

Too bad, my luck wasn't working for me very well that day.  A press conference was announced (in the parking lot where we had first set up earlier).  I was directed to cover the presser.  That was about 3:00pm.

We set up and waited. . .

. . .and waited. . .

. . .and waited.  It was funny, because we could see the staging area about fifty feet away.

By the time the public information officer (PIO) for LAPD finally arrived after 6:00pm, the suspect had been tear gassed twice and still had not given up.

That must have been frustrating for the cops.  I know it was sure starting to tick me off.

I'd been updating people about my day on Twitter and I think it clearly showed how my sympathy for the suspect and hopes for a peaceful resolution had eroded.

For instance, the FBI had sent in a robot and I was severely disappointed that it was only the kind that could go in and monitor the situation with a remote camera.  It wasn't the kind that could break the window and haul the suspect out by his nuts.


It was a long day.  Next week when I get paid, I might appreciate the overtime. 

Some of us sometimes just want to go home.
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