Sunday, September 30, 2012

Shooting for perfection

Tom Gillispie's resume
I don't know what came over me that day. Back in the early 1980s, I was bashful even when I wrote a story or took a picture. But I wasn't bashful this particular day. Taking photos at a high-school track meet, I wanted to get a photo of Tim Robinson, a standout triple jumper at Easley (S.C.) High School who would go on to the University of Tennessee.

Normally, I would shoot from the side and stay as invisible as possible. That day, for some reason, I requested permission to sit in the back of the triple-jump pit and take pictures. Surprisingly, they said yes, and I jumped in there.


One by one, the jumpers raced down the ramp, hit the board and leaped upward and forward. I realized that the higher you went, the farther you went. I'd lift the camera so far for each jumper and snap the shot, and the jumper would land in front of me. When Robinson's turn came, I lifted the camera, then had to lift it some more; Robinson was flying high and had a bead on me. I snapped the shot; he hit the sand and literally felt forward in my lap, sand flying everywhere.


I didn't expect much, though. The old SLR camera I was using didn't have a light meter, and I just set it at 2000 speed at F4 and prayed. I wouldn't have any depth of field, I thought, but I was hoping I'd get SOMETHING.


I did. Dozens of people lined each side of the jumper's ramp, and you could see every face clearly. Robinson was sharp, and the only things about him out-of-focus were his windmilling hands. That picture told a story, and the cutline below it explained that Robinson easily won the triple jump.


It was more than I could have hoped for, much less expect. I never knew if Robinson liked it; to me, it was perfect.


CONTACT: Email me at tgilli52@gmail.com or nc3022@yahoo.com. Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

More blog entries by Tom Gillispie
• Advice for be and would-be novelists

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie


EDITOR@WORK blog entries

Entries from The Dog Blog

Blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bullseye at the rodeo school

Tom Gillispie's resume
I was working at a tiny newspaper in 1983, and everyone kept telling me that I was a lousy photographer; all of my shots were fuzzy.

Turns out, though, that it wasn't me. I was using a camera with a long zoom lens, and I eventually learned that, if you zoomed all the way in or all the way out, the photos were slightly out of focus. I also learned that they weren't that great somewhere in the middle. It wasn't a great camera (or lens), period.


Then one of the news reporters moved to another newspaper, and for a day I inherited the Nikon that she'd been using to take mug shots at town meetings.


My first time out, I did a story on a rodeo school, and I used the Nikon. The result? The photos were so sharp that our artist cut a bull's tail into the Lifestyle logo, and the page was beautiful. The page won the South Carolina Press Association's award for best lifestyle page that year, and my photography skills got a reprieve.


But I don't remember using the Nikon again. Rats!


EMAIL: tgilli52@gmail.com TWITTER: EDITORatWORK

More blog entries by Tom Gillispie
• Advice for be and would-be novelists

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie


EDITOR@WORK blog entries

Entries from The Dog Blog

Blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)