Friday, September 30, 2011

Outside Conrad Murray

Presser or Not?

I fought traffic.

The presser was cancelled.

I could have just tweeted this.

See, not every day is filled with action and adventure. Although it is kind of cool to visit LAPD Headquarters.

I'm still working my way through the archives.

Bad Luck Criminals

It's another early morning start to a longish day at the Conrad Murray trial. I'm on the bird and waiting for the CBS Newspath reporter or photographer to feed tracks, a stand-up or any early morning b-roll.

While I'm waiting, here's some shots from an assignment from a while back (yup, still clearing out the archives).

It's been a while, so I'll try to get the facts straight.

So, what it was, you had some guys pulling off some bold daylight robberies. They were just coming up on (likely) random people and robbing them in the street.

This was all happening in North Hollywood and it was so random, it was likely to be difficult to catch these bad guys.

Unless the police got really really lucky.

So, these robbers are in the middle of a robbery and a couple of Glendale plainclothes detectives (following leads on an unrelated case) witness what's happening.

They engaged the suspects and captured them. I remember there was some gun fire, but only the robbers were hurt (and nobody was killed).

I guess if they thought about how the whole random thing was working in their favor, they must not have considered that random and unlikely doesn't mean that something might never happen.

Picking a spot where cops who aren't even looking for you, catch you right in the middle of jacking somebody?

Come on, I mean, what are the odds?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

JLOP -vs- Hollywood Boulevard (again) (again)

As I sit here between satellite shots at the Conrad Murray trial, I'm feeling a little isolated from the activity in front of and inside the courthouse.

"Stuck in the truck" has been my mantra for the last three days and I've got one more day (this week).

Fortunately, I've got plenty of wired gadgety goodies to keep me occupied and no shortage of photos that are begging to be posted.

I've lost count of how many after midnight photo meet ups I've participated in with my fellow Justice League of Photography peeps.

It's getting to the point where we'll have to find a worse area to hang out around. We're so comfortable in Hollywood that it kind of defeats the purpose of trying to get out of our comfort zone.

It's just difficult to resist. The colors and textures and personality surrounds you. The ability to captures shots in one of the most iconic cities in the world makes it seem like we're just taking it for granted if we don't go out to shoot every now and then.

I know there are photographers in places most people have never heard of looking at the shots we get and wondering how we can get, well, bored.

Maybe bored isn't the right word for it, but sometimes you kind of like being challenged.

Sometimes you want to do more than shooting fish in a barrel.

This last time, I think the only unexpected thing that happened was the work being done on the "Red Alley" we used to enjoy.

That's not a huge change from what we're used to. Just a minor inconvenience (and I was a little sad), but it was quickly back to business as usual.

And really, when it comes down to it, part of the whole point to taking pictures (for me) is to capture a moment in time.

I'm not sure how many shots of people falling down I need to have in my archives, but you never know what future generations will be able to learn from us.

(sigh)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

You See That Too, Right?

My first thought was that "Pigzilla" had returned to finish destroying Los Angeles.

That's kind of how my mind works (even more when I'm running on very little sleep).

It was probably obvious to everyone else that the giant pig sitting on top of the Capitol Records building in Hollywood was more likely a promotion for some sort of Pink Floyd related event.

Rock on, piggies.

Crazy Tired

I haven't even gotten to the Obama / House of Blues photos yet and now I'm spending the better part of my day running satellite shots for CBS Newspath.

That's actually a big "plus" for me. I like running the SAT truck.

Just not so much when I'm running on no sleep.

I ended my shift about 10:30pm on Monday, but with the drive home, snacking when I got there and spending some quality time with my computer, I didn't get to bed until almost 1:00am.

Call time Tuesday morning was 6:00am.

Our SAT truck was parked about a block North of the courthouse. As bad as I felt for me over the day I was facing, I felt worse for the photog who had to set everyone up and cover the overnight

I wish I had a better picture that shows the block long cable run from the truck to the camera position.

If anyone asks, tell them how much I'm really not a fan of long cable runs.

Even with my gripe about lack of sleep, this day was a prime example of why I think my job is so cool.

With my own eyes, I get to see things for myself. The trial of the man accused of killing one of the most popular entertainers in history makes this a historical event in itself.

I'm looking at it from a block away through bleary eyes, but there are a lot of people who might be inclined to swap places with me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fallen Camelot

There are some really brave photographers out there who probably would have jumped right in and started exploring.

I've just always tried to find that fine line between bravery and stupidity and tried to keep to the brave side.

No, I don't always succeed, but I try.

I'm on vacation this week and I'm using that time to catch up on a few projects, take a break from my daily grind and recharge my creative batteries.

One of the projects that I wanted to move forward on was a photo essay of the old Malibu Castle property off the 405 freeway in Lawndale.

This property used to be a thriving entertainment center with a massive arcade, miniature golf courses, water park and batting cages.

The property sits vacant now. Most of the main structures are gone. What's left sits mainly on the trash and graffiti covered former miniature golf course.

These days, the miniature golf course is a homeless camp. This was as far as I dared go alone.

I wandered around the perimeter, but even though there were plenty of holes in the fence, the urban jungle isn't the kind of place you should venture into if you don't really know what you're doing.

I'm not ashamed to admit, I didn't know what I was doing.

It was a nice tentative first step outside of my comfort zone. I saw a few homeless camp sites and I stumbled across a guy in a truck working on the security fence around the property.

He told me I'd have to check with the property owner before I could shoot pictures. He then jumped into his truck and sped away.

I was scratching my head and it took me a minute before I realized he wasn't really fixing the fence. Nope, I'm pretty sure he was stealing parts of the fence.

So, that incident made me realize how out of my depth I was. That might have been a dangerous situation and I wouldn't have seen it as dangerous until it was too late.

I'm pretty sure in the back of his truck he had a piece of steel pipe in just my skull size

That's a good lesson to learn. See, it's experiences like this that make you smarter and I really hope I learn enough to keep from getting myself beaten up and my gear stolen from me.

Because I'm pretty sure I haven't learned enough to keep me from going back.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Good Fire? Bad Fire?

There's no such thing as a good fire. Property damage and the potential for pain and suffering make it very difficult to see any fire as being "good".


That being said, the fire a couple of weeks ago in Agua Dulce was pretty "good".

See, this is the delicate objective balance I try to maintain in my attitude towards the stories I cover.
I'd never wish for something bad to happen. I've seen my share of tragic events and wouldn't miss that part of my job.


But bad things are a part of life and they will happen whether I'm there to cover them or not.


So, as I drove up the 14 Freeway towards Agua Dulce, I was feeling a little conflicted, but mostly upbeat.


It was the early afternoon on a hot summer day. The fire was still burning. I had plenty of water and I had stopped at In & Out to grab a couple of burgers. That would see me through the live shots that might happen through our 11pm newscasts.


I was assigned to take a hand off of one of our satellite trucks. It was being driven to the fire by another crew. We might be able to get live by microwave from some spots, but it was still likely that we'd need to go satellite from some areas.



Without really looking for them I stumbled across one of the dayside crews out covering the story.

They'd managed to find a good spot to go live (by microwave) and were doing hits for the early afternoon shows.


I've been in worse heat (hey, I've worked in Bakersfield), but the day was still hot enough to be dangerous.


We managed to get interviews with residents and had a front row seat to the action.

It's never a good idea to set up for live shots too close to the path of wildfire, so it was more of a front row balcony seat.


We were a safe distance away, but had a good view of firemen working on the ground and aerial units attacking from the sky.


So, it was a good fire in that we had good coverage of the story as it happened. We got good visuals for the live shots and I had plenty of time between shooting and editing to snap a few still shots.


The firemen got a handle on it quickly. I've seen what happens when they don't. This one was contained and the only concern by evening was the possibility of hot spots flaring up.

With the fire out for the most part, the night crew had fewer options for their live shots and would have to rely on visuals from the daytime crews.


But, with no injuries or property damage, it's difficult to not look at this fire as being "good". At some point, I guess this fire stopped being "good", but our coverage continued because people still needed to be informed about the events of the day.

A "bad" fire includes a loss of life or property. This wasn't what you would call a "bad" fire and I'm actually thankful it wasn't a "bad" fire.



Hey, you know, I guess a bad fire would also be one that's out before I get a chance to shoot it.