The Frame: Off-beat sports moments

BgirlsMedomak021315 014

BAGNOR, MAINE — 02/13/2015 – Hermon assistant coach Megan McCrum (right) yells instructions to her team during their Eastern Maine Basketball tournament quarterfinal basketball game against Medomak Friday at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Ashley L. Conti | BDN

Part of my job is scouting a room and finding the most expressive person in it. This doesn’t just apply to feature assignments, or spot new, but also sports.

Sometimes you can’t just rely on the action of the game to tell the story. Looking to the benches and the stands gives a different perspective of the game, and helps tell the story even better than the action.

Hermon was up during this point in the game (they ended up winning), but the coaches were still adamant on making sure they won.

I had seen the Hermon assistant coach, Megan McCrum, become very expressive before during that game and knew I wanted to capture her being so.

So, I pointed my camera at her and waited.

Sure enough something happened (I think Hermon fouled Medomak) and she started giving instructions to her team. I started shooting. I fired off 10 or so frames but didn’t really know I had what I had until I started editing.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 5.06.41 PM

Her expression was perfect.

This job is part preparation and part luck. Knowing your surroundings and putting yourself into a position where things are going to happen is key. It doesn’t always work out as planned, but it’s worth it when you are able to walk away with photos like this.

The Frame: Hurdling the competition

Lauren Stoops of Orono High School clears the last hurdle in the 55 meter finals at the Class B indoor track state meet in Lewiston on Monday. Stoops placed second. Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Lauren Stoops of Orono High School clears the last hurdle in the 55 meter finals at the Class B indoor track state meet in Lewiston on Monday. Stoops placed second. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Indoor track is not an easy assignment for me. The lighting is usually awful and not abundant. All the events overlap each other. I come with a list of students to shoot from the sports desk but they always seem to be competing at once, in different events at opposite ends of the building.

And wow, do they move fast.

When shooting the 55 meter hurdles I’ve developed a routine. I find the student I’m looking for, note their lane, pick a hurdle and prefocus. Then I wait, one eye open, one squinted, saying a silent prayer to the spirit of Barton Silverman.

On Monday, the light was as bad as ever at the Class B Finals in Lewiston. I had the ISO on my camera cranked up to 6400 so I could squeeze something like f2.8 at a 500th of a second out of it. That gave me a razor thin depth of field and just enough stopping power freeze the runner. My camera doesn’t shoot fast, either. I would get one chance at one frame where Lauren Stoops would be in the focus range.

Bang went the starter’s pistol. I heard the tramp of sneakers running at my right ear and the clank of knees on hurdles. I tried not to blink.


I got it. It felt good. I didn’t notice the other runner on the ground until later. It added a bit of drama to the frame. I wish her left hand was in the shot, but I’ll take what I can get with indoor track.

Portland Harbor iced over

PORTLAND, Maine — The Fore River and the inner part of Portland Harbor looked positively Arctic on Tuesday morning as sheets and chunks of ice carpeted the normally open water.

Sea birds rested on bobbing, miniature icebergs. A few lobster boats picked their way through the floating mess while others sat, locked-up at their moorings.

“This is more ice than we’ve seen in recent years,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Scott McCann in South Portland. “We’ve had great ice-making conditions.”

The U.S. Coast Guard ice-breaking vessel Shackle prowled up and down the harbor , tearing channels through the frozen water. Its sister ships — Tackle and Bridle — were busy breaking ice elsewhere on the coast.

McCann said records in his office indicate Portland Harbor hasn’t needed ice-breaking since 2004.

All Casco Bay ferries were running on time as of Tuesday afternoon. Passengers gathered at the bow of the Machigonne II on the noon run from Peaks Island for a better view of the ice. One woman said she hadn’t seen as much ice in the ocean since she was in Helsinki, Finland. The ferry showed no signs of trouble getting through the frozen obstacle course.

That’s just the way the Coast Guard wants it, said McCann.

“The Coast Guard wants to make sure it’s not a problem,” said McCann. “We know people want to go out and fish, and make a living.”

Ice cold dredgers

Robert F. Bukaty made photos of a dredging operation on the Royal River in Yarmouth, where they were deeming the anchorage basin and river channel. Bukaty photographed the crew (from Burnham Associates in Salem, Mass.) from shore on a morning when the temperature was minus 8 degrees, and from aboard the barge during a snow storm.

The images show rising sea smoke basking in the orange glow of morning light and a view into of the hard way of working a dredging crew during Maine’s harsh winter.

20% of World Press Photo contest finalists disqualified

World Press Photo is one of the pinnacles of photojournalism contests.

” The 2015 Contest drew entries from around the world: 97,912 images were submitted by 5,692 press photographers, photojournalists, and documentary photographers from 131 countries. The jury gave prizes in 8 themed categories to 42 photographers of 17 nationalities from: Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, China, Denmark, Eritrea, France, Germany, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, UK and USA.” reads the World Press Photo website.

The unfortunate news, however, 20% of the images that made it through the final stages of judging were disqualified due to manipulation. ran a piece by Oliver Laurent and Ye Ming, examining the disqualifications.

The World Press Photo website makes their rules on digital manipulation of photos very clear. It states in rule number 12, “The content of an image must not be altered. Only retouching that conforms to currently accepted standards in the industry is allowed. The jury is the ultimate arbiter of these standards.”

11 rules above and at the very top is rule number 1, which states, “The World Press Photo contest is only open to professional photographers and photojournalists.* The photographer’s professional status must be established by providing a document of verification (press card, union membership card, letter of reference or other official document).”

In my opinion, having worked in news industry for decades, there is no need for rule #12 if you have rule #1.

Bottom line, if you are a professional photojournalist telling stories that are presented in the realm of news and documentary coverage you should never be altering your work to change the content of the image.

At the BDN we take ethics very seriously. Using a clone tool or healing brush to erase out an ugly water bottle from a table or moving an airborne football closer to a receiver are just a couple examples of behavior that is strictly prohibited.

Image enhancement also has its limits. While some dodging, burning and sharpening is used to get the image closer to what the photographer saw in the moment, changing it too much inherently changes the content of the image and is also  prohibited.

As a photo editor, it’s sad to see that so many photographers think it’s OK to do this type of manipulation. The worst part is that it can be performed so well now that even the most sensitive eyes can’t see the manipulation without examining the original. And with hundreds of images coming across the screen every week, that task is nearly impossible.

In an already distrustful world of web users, the last thing we as photographers need to do is propel that distrust.

If I have any plea for modern photojournalism, it’s this. Please do not extensively alter your images. It will catch up with you and damage your career. Millions of people in the world wish they could have this job and would give almost anything become great at it. Honor our tradition of ethical visual journalism to keep it a sustainable career. You are not just hurting yourself, you’re hurting me, my colleagues and people who’ve dedicated their lives to sharing the truth.

Here is a link to a gallery of winning work from the competition. 


Pownal man faces blizzard while living in his tent during winter

by Robert F. Bukaty

POWNAL, Maine — The fierce winds, 2 feet of snow and frigid temperatures that came with last week’s blizzard paralyzed much of the northeast – but it barely fazed one Mainer who is spending the winter living in a tent.

If anything, the brutal storm did little more than cause Ed Warden to lose some sleep.

“I was up like every hour at night getting the snow off my tent, keeping it off the awnings,” said Warden, 67. “But other than that it was fine.”

Warden is the volunteer camp host at Bradbury Mountain State Park. He doesn’t get paid to live in a tent.  He does it because the camping lifestyle is something he’s been in love with for 45 years.

“When I got out of the military in 1970 I got the bug to just go camping and traveling. I had a Volkswagen minivan and drove up to Alaska. I’ve camped in Hawaii…”

“I just like the outdoor life. I think communing with nature is the key to health and serenity, so that’s what I do. I hang out with nature a lot,” he said.

Warden lives in a heavy-duty 12 x 20-foot outfitter’s tent with 8-foot vestibules attached at either end. At the peak the ceiling is 9-feet high. A small wood stove keeps it comfortably warm inside, consuming about one cord of wood per month.

His site is the only one at the campground that has electricity. He uses it to power a small refrigerator and an old TV someone recently brought him. Warden  hasn’t been able to find a digital converter so only uses the television to watch DVDs.

“I try to keep a balance between the old and the new,” said Warden. “I like modern conveniences but I also like my wood stove.”

The camping lifestyle has taught him to simplify things and learn to make do with what he has and get by with what he doesn’t have – like running water.

“I try not to dirty a whole bunch of pots because it’s harder to clean that up,” said Warden, who gets his water across the street at the ranger’s house.

A hiking trail just a few feet from Warden’s tent sees plenty of day-users who come in the wintertime to snowshoe or walk dogs dog – but few people come to camp this time of year. The last camper at the park departed a few weeks ago. He told Warden that he decided to buy a small trailer and was heading for Arizona.

Warden’s duties as camp host are minimal during the winter.  His primary job is to keep the paths the park’s outhouses shoveled out.

Warden once worked for 10 years as a certified nursing assistant. The experience helped convince him to get back to nature.

“I saw the elderly when they start to go downhill.  It was just too depressing.  I just thought [camping] is what I really wanted to do.”

This is his second winter in a tent at Bradbury.

“My whole goal in life is to be self-reliant on my own piece of land. I’d love to have a greenhouse, my own little garden, and [live in] this tent,” he said.

“I survived 17 degrees below zero before and now I’ve survived 26, 27 inches of snow.  [Last week’s blizzard] was the worst storm I’ve been through.  Then we got more snow on Friday. ”

But winter weather is no big deal to Warden.

“Even if I had to pay I would do it just to camp here,” he said while looking around at the high snow banks.

“I call it my ‘Poor Man’s Paradise’.”

Hermon Pond Ice Shacks

After seeing a New York Times post on different ice shacks in Canada, I was inspired to document some found in Maine.

I headed out to Hermon Pond, a pretty quick drive from the office, to see if I could find any.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a good amount of all different shapes and sizes spread throughout the pond. I threw on my micro-spikes and started the long walk down the plowed runway.  No, I wasn’t a real Mainer and didn’t drive my Jetta on the ice.

I’ve never been on that large of a frozen body of water. To be honest, it kind of freaked me out. Every time the ice released pressure, I jumped a little, even though I knew the ice was over a foot deep.

By the time I started shooting, the sun was starting to set. Some of the shacks were illuminated by a golden light, while others were cast in a blue shadow. I played with both lighting situations and seemed to like the deep blue better. To me, it almost lets you feel the cold in the photos.

After about 30 minutes of shooting, I started my haul back to my car and was pleased with what I came away with.

Any day where I can spend most of it outside making photos is a good day.

Sports photography from different angles

This past Saturday I was assigned to shoot three classes of the high school cheerleading competition at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

I’ve never shot any sort of cheerleading before, but knew that after a few routines it would become a little visually boring.

So, I wanted to do something different.

Cheerleading is all about being in formation and all about being synchronized, so I wanted to capture that in a unique way.

Cue the overhead camera.

After getting approval from the Maine Principals Association and the Cross Insurance Center, I overcame my fear of heights and headed up to the catwalk to mount my camera.

I used a 5D Mark III with a 70-200 at 70mm attached to a Manfrotto magic arm and a Manfrotto super clamp. I pre-focused the camera and set my exposure. Everything was safety cabled to the arm rail just incase the clamps failed.  My camera was triggered by PocketWizard Plus II’s.

The scary thing about remote cameras, besides the risk of things falling and breaking, is that you could set everything up and still not get a single usable photo. Sometimes your remote trigger won’t fire, or you didn’t focus the camera correctly. But when it does work, it’s worth it.

I walked away with some cool images and a really interesting perspective that you couldn’t see from the floor. It allowed our viewers an even more unique way to view the event.

I hope to be able to do more remote cameras in the future.


S.I. Says Goodbye to Photo Staff


Sports Illustrated announced that they fired their entire staff of 6 remaining photographers on Friday.

Bottom line, bad idea. By putting good photographers out of work in the name of saving money from cutting things like benefits and a steady revenue stream, S.I. is hurting the same industry that made them a publishing icon.  When photographers have to start worrying about where there next pay check is coming from, their images will ultimately suffer.

Materially, there are a lot of costs behind the production of the stunning sports photographs we’ve all ogled at. Expensive lenses, lighting, digital workflow equipment, etc. doesn’t just pay for itself and putting that cost onto freelancers that maybe will get work this week is a catch 22.

For a while,the editorial industry was at rock bottom and situations like this made more sense. Over the last decade, because of the advances of how our photos and video can be displayed cross-platform it’s hard to believe that cutting staffers is a smart decision.

S.I., like all the other printed and digital media out there, should be thinking of how they can hire more staffers, or some alternative solution, instead of heading in this direction.

A BDN Maine blog about visual storytelling in Maine

This blog has been archived

This blog has been archived and is no longer being updated.