Friday, July 13, 2007

Bowie Youth Street Hockey

It's been 12 days since my last post, and I've been itching to get back behind the glass.

With the Fourth of July, work, some server outages, and some work on our house going on it's been difficult to find the time to work, much less to shoot. I've also been spending a lot of time thinking about the DC Sports Box and how I can help make it successful.

I finally wrote some gallery software using Flash and had a helluva time working with it. I've been writing software for over 10 years now, and each programming language has a different flavor to it. Over time you tend to get a sense for what was important to the language designers when they developed the language.

Flash is most definitely a language written by graphic artists and website developers. When writing Flash you comingle ActionScript and layout components, and Flash takes care of a lot of the hidden details of wiring the two things together. There are reserved variable names you have to use when working with some of the Flash components. It's very tricky, implicit, and definitely geared towards the "go out and buy our IDE and click through it to make things work" rather than "go and write your Flex, ActionScript, and explicitly link the two together.

There's also a total disregard for separation of concerns between programming logic and visual layout (something that Java has really embraced in the past 5 years) - you have to be both an ActionScript and Flex "programmer" as well as somebody that knows how to lay components out on a page in an aestheticly pleasing way. Blech! I'd rather take care of the coding and let a graphic artist who is severals orders of magnitude better than me take care of laying down tokens (data) that I produce from my code in different areas on the screen.

Anyhow... Back to photography... I've been having a lot of email conversations with Al about the DC Sports Box and how we can make it a success. I'm very happy to hear that the organization is truly in it's infancy, having only been "live" for just over 2 months now. It's exciting to become involved with an effort that is so young and new because at this stage everyone is hungry, excited, and anxious to push things along. In contrast, if you go to an established organization that has been successfully getting credentials to every event for decades I imagine it's pretty stagnant and uninteresting. I'd much rather build something rather than attach myself to an existing organization, and that's why I'm looking forward to the DC Sports Box. It's going to be a lot of fun to build it up and see where it goes.

The gallery software I'm writing is the first step in this process. I'm pretty close to a point where I'm comfortable with distributed the software. As a result, I've registered a new domain for myself named Please cruise over there and take a look at some of the games I've covered. I'd appreciate any feedback on the software or on the photos. I'm of course joking and speaking to myself (I have very few readers: my wife, and my brother. Hi Julie, and Hi Andrew).

A problem that Al is having is managing the growing organization and coordinating resources for events. He's having trouble keeping track of events and photographer/writer assignments. He's also having trouble staying on top of requesting credentials pretty far in advance of an event. Fortunately I think I can help him with this by setting up a WebDAV server. Al uses iCal and that software has the ability to publish calendar information, as well as subscribe to calendar feeds (similar to RSS). Using a WebDAV server Al (or any other person in our organization) can maintain calendars for various sport agencies and publish them to the server. As they make changes (including assignments notes), those changes will be published automatically. Once the files are published up on the server other people can subscribe to them. It's not as good as synchronized calendars, but the master-slave model will work in this case.

So the calendar is the first step that I'm really pushing to help makes things better at the DC Sports Box. I'm also planning on pushing out a Trac server so that we have a Wiki we can use to collaborate on notes and planning for the company.

In summary... things are moving forward with the Sports Box in quite a positive way. We had our first all-hands meeting this week that I was a part of, and it was a very good one. Everyone got together at Mike Busada's studio at the corner of 50 and 495, and we shared pizza and wings while comparing ideas on the Sports Box. Afterwards we took some photos in Mike's studio for our badges and for the website.

That's the news from the Sports Box. I'm still shooting for Jake at the Bowie Blade, and this evening I covered a Youth Street Hockey event. I wasn't looking forward to this event after shooting the basketball game inside of Bowie High School several weeks ago. I was anticipating very poor lighting and having to dial up the ISO to north of 1600. When I arrived I was pleased to see that the facility was pretty recently refurbished and bright lights were installed.

I took a few test shots with my 50/1.8 prime lens and although I can't meter with it my inspection of the photos revealed that there was ample light at 400 ISO and 1/50th of a second. I increased the ISO to 1250 and was able to shoot at f1.8 at about 1/200th of a second without any noticeable problems. Given those settings I went to my 70-200/2.8 for increased range. I had to reduce the speed to about 1/100th of a second but the shots were still reasonable.

Tomorrow I'll be covering the Alan Iverson Softball Classic out at Baysox Stadium. I'm looking forward to that event because it sounds like it will be really busy. Plus it will be outdoors and I love shooting in the evening when the sun is throwing lots of deep reds and oranges on my subjects. The photos just look so good in that light!

It was a tough choice for Saturday night's activities. I have a pass to shoot the Washington Freedom, and they have a game tomorrow night at the same time. And, I've only covered 1 Freedom game. I'd like very much to shoot a couple more of them before their season ends. I also have a pass to cover the Majestics and Royals, both of which are playing tomorrow evening.

If I had my way I'd spread the games out over the entire day and cover them all. But I guess I don't control the schedules yet. This upcoming week I'll be covering a Mystics game on Wednesday evening, and the following week I'll be covering part of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. So hopefully things will be picking up again after the July 4th break. And who knows, maybe I'll get a few more visits!


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