Are you ready for some football?

Ashbrook High School football fans show their pride before the teams opening game agaisnt West Charlotte at home on Friday.

Are you ready for some football? These guys are!

I was sent out on behalf of The Gaston Gazette, where I continue to serve as a photography intern, to shoot Ashbrook High School's opening game against West Charlotte last night told to bring back some good shots of the fans, band and cheerleaders.

With fans like this it was an easy task. These guys tape green letters on their chests and do push-ups and other antics when the Ashbrook Greenwave scores. Their pecs didn't get much of a workout on this particular evening, however, as Ashbrook got run-over.

On a more personal note, I couldn't be happier with the way my internship is going. Well, OK, I would be a lot happier if I had a full-time staff job, but for what it is this internship is great.

Already I've learned more than I expected. My portfolio is improving, I'm getting good assignments, and even some good Clips! I picked up the paper this morning to see that all six of the images I put in from the game last night ran, and the one below (at bottom) on the front page banner!

West Charlotte running back Jalen Simmons (above) attempts to evade Ashbrook defenders. Below: Ashbrook's Darius Edwards runs the ball in the team's opening game against West Charlotte at home on Friday.

See more of my images on the Gaston Gazette website:

Life on the Wing

Dingy Hummer

Male Ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) looking a little dingy as the summer draws to a close. We like to think of these little critters as cute and beautiful, but in reality they are wild animals living a tough life.

Migratory birds typically molt twice a year; once in the spring to put on bright, flashy breeding plumage and again in the fall to replace the now worn-out feathers with the typically less flashy winter plumage.

Birds with iridescent feathers seem to show the wear more than others. The green body feathers and red bib of this bird clearly show the wear and tear of life on the wing.

Panthers Preseason Opener

Lucky Bounce
Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams fumbles the ball in second-quarter preseason game action against the Washington Redskins at Bank of America Stadium on August 23. The ball was recovered by carolina wide receiver Steve Smith for a touchdown. Panthers wide reciever Steve Smith, below, gestures to the crowd during warm ups.

Steve Smith

Summer Hummers

Another Hummingbird

Hummingbird on Black

It was photographing birds that first sparked my interest in photography way back when I was knee-high to a titmouse, and it's photographing birds that continues to be one of my favorite pastimes--when I can find the time for it, that is.

And photographing birds takes time.

And patience, timing, a little creativity… you get the picture.

Anyway, it’s been a few years since I’ve done any serious bird photography and the time has left me with a gaggle of ideas I want to try bouncing around in my head. This week I decided it was time to break out the big glass, open a can of patience, and see if I can’t bring some of these ideas to fruition.

Despite all the time I spent photographing birds over the years, for some reason I never got around to photographing hummingbirds--time to fix that.

I experimented with lighting set ups for hummingbirds a few weeks ago, and motivated by boredom and determination I spent Sunday evening and most of the day Monday sitting behind my camera waiting.

The waiting paid off. There was plenty of activity and I was able to come away with several good shots.

Four years ago I would have been perfectly happy with the "good" shots I got, but as my tastes and vision evolve I find myself continually wanting more. It’s no longer enough for me to get beautiful bird portraits—I want a little drama to kick things up a notch.

Instead of just taking a pretty bird picture, what I ultimately want is to capture an image that tells the story of the animal by capturing a peak moment in its life.

Hummingbirds, for example, often fight for access to food sources. I see one male at my feeders that attacks and chases off other birds. Sometimes when they attack, they appear to actually hit one another in mid-air.

Capturing one of these moments won’t be easy—which is probably why I have never seen it done—but that just makes me want it more. My goal is to take an image that captures the drama of daily life for a Ruby-throated Hummingbirds by the time the birds fly south for the winter. That’s my challenge, check back to see how it goes.

Uptown Crit

Charlotte Criterium

Charlotte Criterium

Cyclists make a turn at the corner of Church Street and Second Street in uptown Charlotte, top, during the men's 50-mile Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium on August 2. The pelaton in the women's 25 mile race, above, rounds a corner of the uptown course.
Katharine Carroll, left, leads the pack by a 15 second margin on her way to winning the women's 25 mile race.

Charlotte Criterium

Barbecue Showdown

Belmont Barbecue Showdown
Airline Avenue in Belmont is lined with the tents of some 25 teams competing in the Belmont Barbecue Showdown on Friday August 1, 2008.

If you’re on a diet you may want to steer well clear of Belmont today. Caravan Coffee’s Belmont Barbecue Showdown fired up last night, and the smell of pulled pork, ribs, and chicken slow cooking on dozens of grills is filling the streets of Belmont’s historic downtown with an irresistible aroma.

Those taking part in the event range from weekend warriors competing for the first time to seasoned (pun intended) veterans who own catering services and compete regularly. Some teams began cooking Friday evening, allowing their meets to slow cook all night, but for some the cooking process is both an art and a science.

With some 25 teams competing this year, the event is experiencing the greatest turn out in its three year history, according to Caravan Coffee owner and event organizer Vince Hill. The event kicked off at 6:00pm yesterday with the juried competition concluding at 11:00am this morning.

Some teams spent hours seasoning meets and pre-heating grills Friday before putting the meets on the grill sometime between 1:00am and 2:00am this morning. For many, staying up all night cooking, drinking, playing music and just hanging out is what barbecuing is all about.

A panel of twelve judges, including Belmont mayor Richard Boyce, will judge meets on taste, texture, and appearance. Contestants may enter meets in three categories: pulled pork, ribs, and chicken. According to Hill, the winner will walk away with a nice prize.

Activities will continue today with music and free food this afternoon. Competitors will be offering samples of their meets free to the public today with visitors casting votes for a people’s choice award to be given at the end of the event.

Abive right: Tracey Keuthan (L) helps Susan Biggerstaff (both from Belmont) raise a sign for their team "Bigg on the Pig" at the Belmont Barbecue Showdown on Friday August 1, 2008.

Left: Vince Hill, owner of Caravan Coffee, looks on as Chris Pears grills at the Belmont Barbecue Showdown on Friday August 1, 2008. This is the third year that Hill has put on the event which has grown from only five entries the first year to almost 25 this year.