May 13, 2013 by Michael McAndrews
5.10.2013 Mystic Seaport president, Steve White, left, and director of the shipyard Quentin Snediker, right, celebrate a milestone after the last plank was nailed to the hull of the Seaport’s Charles W. Morgan 1841 whaling ship in Mystic Friday afternoon. The ship has been in the preservation shipyard since November 2008 when a complete restoration of the ship began. Restoration is to be completed in 2014.
Shipwright Matt Barnes drives home a spike into the last plank closing in the hull of the Mystic Seaport’s Charles W. Morgan.
Shipwrights and visitors applaud Mystic Seaport president Steve White during ceremonies marking an important milestone in the restoration of the Mystic’s whaling ship Charles W.Morgan. The last plank closing in the hull was nailed into place.
May 10, 2013 by Richard Messina
The Sandy Hook Building Task Force voted to tear down the old school and build a new one on the same site of the old Sandy Hook School. They received an immediate standing ovation from most of those in attendance. Lorna Szalay, of Sandy Hook, and the manager of the Sandy Hook School kitchen, was one of them.
Szalay was at Sandy Hook School the day of the shooting, and is now managing the kitchen at the Monroe school renamed Sandy Hook. Immediately after the vote she started to cry tears of joy, not only because that is what she felt was right, but because ”We now know where we’re going,” she said.
May 9, 2013 by Richard Messina
“Shots fired! Shots fired! They said shots fired!,” she screamed, while firmly grasping an infant carrier and running from the apartment building.
A dozen heavily-armed Boston police officers had entered that building minutes earlier, searching for the escaped suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, Dzhokar Tsarnaev. His brother, Tamerlan, was killed hours earlier in a shootout on a nearby street. Dzhokar escaped and was now on foot — presumably in this neighborhood.
The fleeing woman confirmed the sounds we had heard moments earlier were indeed gunshots.
Pop! Pop! PopPopPop! PopPop! PopPopPopPop! Pop! PopPopPop! Pop! PopPopPopPop!
The popping sounds were muffled, as if coming from deep inside the apartment. Now across the street with a small group of media, the woman told us the baby wasn’t hers but was handed to her by a neighbor as she ran out of her building. I was recording the distraught woman with my iPhone when my editor called. She told me NBC was reporting that the suspect was found and surrounded. “I know, I think he’s here! I need to call you back” I responded.
It had been a frustrating day up to that point. Driving around Boston and Watertown was difficult due to the fluid nature of the road closures and blockades. My unfamiliarity with the neighborhoods didn’t help. Roads that were opened one minute were closed the next. And whole sections of town that were off limits one hour, were suddenly opened the next, with new streets blocked. At least the normally congested city streets were now empty of traffic, because most Bostonians took the advise of officials and stayed at home or at work during the search.
Now, for a few seconds I thought, all the hustling and sleuthing was about to pay off in significant photos of the capture of Tsarnaev.
Events continued to happen rapidly, but now were leading me to a different conclusion. The officers on the street weren’t skirmishing nor securing the scene. The other journalists on the scene started making and receiving calls. I called my editor back and was given an address of location of Tsarnaev’s capture. It was less than a mile away from where I stood. That explained the muffled sound of the shots we heard.
The realization was quick — the images I just made would be a minor footnote to the story, and the neighborhood Tsarnaev was hiding would be secured before I could start my car.
I was standing with a group of media and spectators when my wife called and told me NBC was now reporting Tsarnaev was in police custody. The photos I made are a tiny part of the search, but do help to illustrate the dramatic, high-strung edginess that held that great American city in its grip for a day — and those moments of stress and uncertainty at the sound of gunshots too close to home will be the strong personal memories that Boston’s citizens carry with them forever.
March 22, 2013 by John Woike
Ingalls Rink in New Haven on the Yale campus was the site for the Division II boy’s hockey state championship Wednesday night. I haven’t covered a game at the “Whale” in a few years but I remembered it was a great place for a championship game, lots of energy which was evident as the East Catholic fans came prepared packing 11 buses to cheer on their Eagles.
Kevin Robinson of Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe proved to an elusive player as Liam Donohue and the East Catholic defense found out quickly in the first period as Robison scored two goals, the first 1:45 into the period and the second with 11:01 left to give the Mustangs a 2-0 lead.
Then East Catholic made it 2-1 when Alex Manner slipped the puck past goalie Kyle Greenhut with 49 seconds left in the opening period.
Brian O’Connell (L) led the celebration of Manner’s (C) goal as the Eagles fans cheer along while Conor Scharlop is left alone behind the goal as the Mustangs lead narrows to one.
Kyle Scheetz of Fairfield Warde battles for a control the puck from his knees after being checked to the ice in front of the goal during the second period.
Brian O’Connell’s goal with 9:08 remaining in the second period gave the Eagles new life as they tied the score at 2.
Griffin Casey (C) found a gap between Daniel Silvestri (L) and Charlie Meder (R) during the first period and when he scored with 6:08 remaining in the second it gave the Eagles their first lead at 3-2 which is how they ended the period.
The third period began the same way as the first two as Kevin Robinson continued to put pressure of the East Catholic defense as he skated in from the left wing.
Goalie Thomas Usseglio made the initial save on Robinson’s shot later in the period but somehow the puck got past Usseglio on the other side of the goal giving Robinson his third goal of the evening tying the score at 3 with 5:31 left.
Thomas Kryspin celebrates his goal at the end of regulation that would have given the Mustangs a 4-3 victory but…
as the East Catholic players lied on the ice in disbelief, thinking their season had come to an end a review by the goal judge ruled the shot a no goal and the game went to overtime tied at 3 apiece.
Thomas Usseglio made the save on Kyle Scheetz’s shot as the defense collapsed on the play during overtime stunting a chance for the win.
With 5:18 left in the extra frame, Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe was awarded a penalty shot after the referees ruled that East Catholic had fallen on the puck inside the crease. “It is a tough call for an official,” East Catholic coach Drew Clarkin said. “Clearly he was in position. From our vantage point you can’t tell a heck of a lot. We have to live with the call and live with the result.”
“I almost I had it and I was about to put my glove on it but [someone] knocked it away,” Usseglio said. “Someone’s stick came in and it went to the far post. I stuck my pad out and I don’t know what happened after that.”
“I saw him coming down and I saw it in his eyes he was going to deke,” Usseglio said. “I wanted to get him before he could come down and deke. I wanted to get him with poke check. … I missed the poke check and I slid and I didn’t get far enough.” Robinson scored all four goals giving the Mustangs their first ever title.
Brian O’Connell (L) and Sean Keleher (R) were the first ones to reach Usseglio to console the junior who made 31 saves on the night as the Eagles season came to a close.
It was one of the best hockey games I’ve had the pleasure to cover in a very long time. I had been reading Courant reporter Matt Conyers stories and Tweets throughout the tournament which seemed to have so many games in OT but even he said afterward it was one of his most memorable games.
Pro Tip: Shooting ice hockey can present plenty of obstacles. Some arenas provide little holes in the plexiglass to stick your camera lens through which gives you a cleaner image and your camera has an easier time focusing on the fast paced action as the players come flying down ice. The down side of that is limited swing from side to side in the small hole and switching between focal lengths with a separate body can be tricky and you will miss some shots. Shooting through the glass can create a distortion if you are not shooting straight on and can cause all kinds of interference for your auto-focus which will drive you crazy as the lens searches for its subject. The trouble here is finding a piece of glass that hasn’t been to scared from pucks and sticks. Some arenas have areas on the concourse level that afford you a nice overhead shot but I didn’t like the fact the glass was the same height all around the rink. Many, like the XL Center, will be higher behind the goal and extend around the corners slightly then drop down a couple feet to give a clean view of the goal area without the top of the glass in the frame. If you look at the photo of the East Catholic players lying on the ice at the end of regulation you can make out the top of the glass.
The problem with shooting from ice level is that you limit yourself to one goal and the hope the scores happen on your end. The first period I chose the Eagles scoring end since they are the home team for our readership so I need to focus more on their action. It burned me on Robinson’s first two goals which happened on the other side but then Alex Manner scored on my end to give me a nice reaction photo. I stayed at the same end for the second period so I could shoot goalie Thomas Usseglio. I always like to have something of both sides, offense and defense, just in case we need something of a certain player. The third period I chose to stay at ice level, a lot of times I will go up so that I can get both ends (the safe route), but I figured I would take a chance. I settled into the East Catholic bench side behind the goal which gave me a clean line of sight to their bench. I thought that if they scored on the other end the odds are the players will head to the bench for jubilation. I switched to the other side of the goal midway through the period since a lot of the Fairfield players seemed to come down their bench side. That proved to be fortuitous since Thomas Kryspin’s goal and reaction at the end of regulation was right in front of me.
For the overtime period I decided to stay put and hope for the best. When the controversial call was made and the penalty shot was awarded to Fairfield I was in perfect position for the winning shot as Robinson deked my direction and shot around Usseglio as the bench looked on behind them. I was lucky that my camera didn’t decide to have a focusing issue at that moment. After Robinson skated away to celebrate with his teammates at the other end I was able to capture one of my favorite photos as the East Catholic players came off the bench to console their goalie. These kids played their hearts out and left everything on the ice with nothing to be ashamed of.
Camera settings: Nikon D300s, 1/500th shutter, 17-55mm f2.8 set to 40 mm at 2.8 and auto white balance.
November 8, 2012 by Patrick Raycraft
Mendonsa describes sailors breaking showcase windows in Times Square, reaching in and taking fur coats for their dates. He was in New York City on his first date with his future wife and scheduled to fly back to his ship in San Francisco that night. They were watching the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall when it was announced that the Japanese had surrendered. The couple headed to the streets and eventually to Childs Bar.
Stepping back from the celebration, Mendosa describes a Japanese airstrike five months earlier in which hundreds of sailors aboard a ship in his fleet, the USS Bunker Hill, were injured or killed. “They jumped off by the hundreds and we loaded our ship up with men that we pulled out of the water. Later in the day we met with the hospital ship the Solace and we transferred the wounded. I always remember that. I saw (what) those nurses did that day… and I saw that nurse in Times Square so I grabbed her and I kissed her. I honestly believe that if that girl did not have a nurses’ uniform on that day I never would have done that.”
November 5, 2012 by Stephen Dunn
Having covered many hurricanes, blizzards and natural disasters for decades, I was ready for Sandy but I was still nervous. The hype was incredible.
“This is the largest threat to human life that our state has experienced in anyone’s lifetime,” said Gov. Malloy.
Whoa, that’s enough to make anyone nervous. While everyone in the state prepared and headed home to hunker down, the Courant photo staff headed out to their assignments along the shoreline. I was assigned to New London and got photos of the powerful storm surge by late afternoon. Once it was dark, I tried to hunker down at my hotel but then the power went off there so I headed out to try and document the storm as it happened. Not an easy task. The next morning, the devastation was huge in certain areas of the state and our photogs in Milford, Fairfield and Old Saybrook made incredible images. This was not the killer storm of our lifetime, however. Not by a long shot.
October 23, 2012 by Cloe Poisson
“My fundamental belief is that we are all the same as human beings. We don’t need an introduction when we meet because we are mentally, physically, emotionally the same. I find this is a very helpful way of thinking. Whether I’m speaking to 1000 people or 100,000, there are no barriers between us.” The Dalai Lama.
I was thrilled to be assigned to cover His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet when he spoke last week at Western Connecticut State University. Presented by WCSU and Do Ngak Kunphen Ling Tibetan Buddhist Center for Universal Peace in nearby Redding, the Dalai Lama spoke on “The Art of Compassion.”
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, the Dalai Lama’s teachings on compassion, religious tolerance and peace serve as a beacon of hope in our chaotic, combative world. The 77-year-old Buddhist monk has lived in exile in India since 1959 after fleeing China’s military occupation of Tibet. The Tibetan spiritual and temporal leader travels the globe promoting a range of human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline.
Reporter Kathy Megan and I were assigned to cover the first of two talks His Holiness gave at the school. After applying for credentials, we were emailed detailed instructions about parking, time of arrival, restrictions on food and drink and general protocol. When we arrived, we were subjected to a security screening that rivaled a presidential visit, with an arrival deadline a full four hours prior to the speech and a sweep of our equipment by a Ct. state police bomb-sniffing dog prior to entering the arena.
Once inside, the media were corralled into an area in a corner of the arena far from the stage. There was no riser, as is normally provided for such events, so we were forced to shoot from floor level, frequently blocked by latecomers heading to their seats.
After a few minutes of chanting by a group of Buddhist monks, the Dalai Lama – which means “Ocean of Wisdom” – emerged from a curtain behind the stage draped in crimson and saffron-colored robes, and took a seat in a large throne-like chair in the center of the stage. After welcoming remarks from WCSU president James Schmotter, and an introduction by actor Richard Gere, a long-time disciple, the Dalai Lama began his talk at a plexi-glass podium – sporting a WCSU visor – with his interpreter by his side.
The still photographers and videographers were split into two groups, and escorted in turn up to the stage for one minute – yes, only one minute! – at the start of the Dalai Lama’s talk to get some close-ups. Then we were returned to the “corral” for the duration. With limited shooting opportunities, I took comfort in at least being able to hear the talk, but the acoustics in our corner of the room were such that the Dalai Lama was difficult to hear.
After his talk, His Holiness took pre-recorded questions from WCSU students for a few minutes before exiting through the blue curtain.
But difficulties and restrictions aside, It was an amazing experience to have even a brief close encounter with such a revered and awe-inspiring man.
To read more about the Dalai Lama’s visit to WCSU go to:
September 12, 2012 by John Woike
Once upon a time I used to enjoy water skiing. Not competitive skiing, just first drag me behind my uncles’ 14 footer with a 40 hp Johnson outboard on a peaceful lake in New Hampshire. On a good day I could take off from the dock on two skis, drop one and then slalom around the lake until we came back to the cottage. If I wiped out, it would be a long haul, and I mean haul, back to the cottage because the boat just didn’t have the power, or I the technique, to get up on one ski. Those were the good “old” days.
I began photographing good skiers on the Farmington River in Collinsville where a slalom course was setup. I was struck by the power and grace the skiers displayed slashing back and forth across the wake then stretching to make it around a set of buoys along the course. There was a ramp in the river as well which the skiers would launch themselves off. The people I met there told me about the Avon Old Farms Ski Club, which has a history of turning out national champion skiers.
That first visit in 2000 to “The Pond”, as most members call it, I met the Haines family. Haley Haines, then 7, was ready to take the next step up as waits for her turn behind the boat at the Connecticut Old Farms Water Ski Club in Avon. Her father Hutch, an accomplished skier, owns the land where the club is located and trains his children.
(L to R) In 2005 Julian, 8, Wyatt, 10, and Haley, 11, all competed last week at the Goode National Waterski Championships in West Palm Beach, FL. Wyatt took first place in the Boys 1 dividion, ages 10 and under, in the slalom. Julian competed for the first time and Haley competed in the Girls 2 division.
Wyatt showed his winning form during a practice run on his home course after he took first place in the Boys 1 division, ages 10 and under, at the 2005 Goode National Waterski Championships.
I got a call from Hutch just before the Labor Day weekend to tell his kids had done very well at this years Nationals and wondered if I would be interested in coming out for some photos. Seven years later Wyatt’s form is a little more polished and aggressive which helped him finish in second place during the 2012 Goode Water Ski National Championships in West Palm Beach, Florida August 14-18th. His best run was 3.25 buoys at a rope length of 39.5 ft off. More than 600 water ski athletes from across the United States competed for national titles in slalom, tricks, jumping and overall in respective age divisions and two Open divisions during the five-day tournament.
Quinn Haines, 13, placed high enough in the final standings of the 2012 Goode Water Ski National Championships in West Palm Beach, Florida, during the week of August 14-18th that he made the U-13 USA Team. He is headed to the Malibu Pan American Water Ski Championships in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, September 12-15th.
During the preliminary heat today Quinn placed first with a jump of 37.1 meters or 121.7192 feet.
I shot a couple of videos of Wyatt and Quinn as well as a couple photos. Wyatt takes you on a wild run through the slalom course and Quinn takes you on a flight off the ramp as he practiced his jumping.
Hope you enjoy.
Pro Tip: I used a variety of cameras for this video shoot. Two GoPros in waterproof cases, a Contour GPS in a waterproof case and a JVC pro video camera from on board the boat. I was able to mount two cameras on the ramp, the Contour was on the side using a magic arm and one of the GoPros under the ramp where Quinn would be launching from. I made sure that both were in a safe location so that if Quinn were to enter the ramp early he would not get injured by hitting the camera off to the side. Dad approved both locations and was psyched with the prospects these spots could produce. I put other GoPro on Quinns’ helmet. This allowed me to get two different angles of him approaching the ramp and two as he flew through the air and then landing. I got some help editing from Mike Piskorski and Scott Vargas of FOXCT which helped a lot in matching and blending sound from all those sources.
For the slalom video I put a GoPro in a harness strapped to Wyatt’s chest and let him make a couple passes. I shot from the boat with the JVC and then cut the two clips trying to match the sequences as he sped through the course. Then I just added a high voltage guitar track to give it a little splash.
Working with people that are willing to try a few tricks made it all worth while.
Good luck this week Quinn!
August 31, 2012 by John Woike
Where did the summer go? That question seems to always arise once Labor Day, the “unofficial – End of Summer”, arrives. The summer seems to go quicker each year as I get older, a week at the shore in the middle of it all is my greatest respite from the daily grind of life.
As the next season approaches I felt it was worth a look back on the summer and some of my favorite images.
The “Transit of Venus”.
I was sent to cover the transit of Venus, a once in a lifetime event at the Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium in New Haven. It had been cloudy all day and there was little hope when I left Hartford that the sun would be visible as the tiny planet made its pass across. But with some patience and a little luck the clouds began to breakup around 6 o’clock and by 6:30 the grand event began.
The planetarium provided me with a large neutral density filter that knocks out 99.999% of the sun’s harmful rays to allow me to capture the photo of the sun. As I was shooting the crowd that had gathered for the show, Jason Archer picked up the filter and used it to look at the transit as other used special glasses to catch a glimpse. I like the effect the filter gave, almost like a portal looking out into space as the the overcast clouds are reflected on the surface.
Hartford Courant reporter Hillary Federico took a “shot” with Dom Basile, a certified firearms instructor, as he gave her pointers and a little backup while test firing a M16 machine gun at the Metacon Gun Club in Simsbury. Basile talked about the recent spike in female gun use in advance of the “Women on Target” program which will be held at the club later this month.
Assault rifles are a hot buzzer topic, love or hate them, in the right hands – like a trained instructor, police or military officer, they are a weapon used to “keep the peace”. But in the wrong hands, they are a merciless machine that devastates lives. On July 20, 2012, a little less than a month after this photo and article were published a man in full body tactical armor entered a movie theater in Aurora, CO., for a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” killing 12 people and injuring 58 others, the highest number of casualties in an American mass shooting. One of the weapons he used was an assault rifle.
The Travelers Championship had to be one of the hottest golf tournaments I’ve covered at the TPC at River Highlands in Cromwell. Chris Stroud tries to keep cool with a wet towel over his head during the second round of the 2012 Travelers Championship golf tournament at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell Friday. Stroud shot a 68 and finished the day at -1.I think I got heat stroke after the Pro-Am Wednesday. The heat and humidity also took a toll on UConn women’s head coach Geno Auriemma as he had to be removed from the course after 13 holes on a golf cart and received I.V. fluids at the medical station back near the clubhouse.
One other thing you can usually count on during the week of the tournament is rain. Jon Martel of Bristol heads for the parking lot after play was officially suspended for the day during the second round of the 2012 Travelers Championship golf tournament at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell Friday. Martel is a volunteer with Webster Bank and is the Hole Captain on the 2nd hole during the tournament, he and the players will be back on course at 7 am to complete the second round and the cut will be made.
Another thing you can count on, is a first time tour winner hoisting the trophy on Sunday. Marc Leishman kept the streak going after posting a score of -14 as the leaders were still out on the course. But the final four holes proved to be disastrous as each that held the lead squandered their opportunity leaving Leishman with his first tour victory.
Leslie Gordon, an instructor at the Yoga Center of Collinsville, helps lead a new class that incorporates yoga and paddle boards. It is based on paddle boarding, which is a very hot new water sport. Paddle boards look like big surfboards, but you stand atop them with a paddle and paddle around. They are selling like crazy. And now people are doing yoga on the paddle board. A yoga studio in Collinsville has a teacher who leads yoga sessions on paddle boards on a calm section of the Farmington River in Collinsville.
Andrew Haraghey, 16, is a rising star in the sports world as he claimed 5 gold medals in the 2011-2012 Disabled Sports USA Ski Tour this past winter. Haraghey, of Enfield, has cerebral palsy and is training to compete in the 2014 Paralympics which will be held in Russia. He’ll be heading off to Mount Hood in Oregon on July 10 to begin on slope training.
I used a stencil template that Andrew and his mom had made from cardboard to cut out stars that they would sell in his fundraising efforts.
C.J. Martin takes a shot as he passes a guest watching a chucker at Giant Valley Polo Club in Hamden Thursday evening. Matches are held every Sunday afternoon and sometimes spectators are treated to live music as a backdrop to the action. The shoot was for the “Parting Shot” feature in Hartford Magazine, which is now under the CT1 Media umbrella of publications.
Vernon resident Andrew Badecker, 25 (as of July 28), quit his last ordinary job in 2007 after winning $7000 playing online poker. Having already dropped out of college, his parents kicked him out of their house. Since then, he’s gone on to win more than $2 million playing poker in professional tournaments and online. He lives a suitcase life, always traveling and never in one place for more than a couple of months, while consistently confronting the challenges of being a so-called gambler and the realization that he doesn’t have a “normal” life.
When I walked into the house of Andrew he was wearing a tank top and ironing a yellow shirt on the kitchen table.As we talked he explained he normally wore loud colors and bold sunglasses so when I saw his yellow shirt and the color scheme of the living room I knew where I wanted to take his portrait. Two lights, one with a softbox a grid to direct the light and another behind him to illuminate the colors of the two walls behind him. I bold and brash portrait for a guy that likes to make a statement.
This was one of those “Bad ideas gone worse” situations. After torrential rains caused flash flooding in Naugatuck this pickup truck was resting on the edge of a parking lot that had be eroded away by the rain.
So after assessing the situation these guys figured they had a plan to get the truck off the egde and safely onto the parking lot above. Things don’t always ended up like you planned as these men found, once the truck started going forward the weight shifted and over the side it went. Now they had a real problem.
Juan Morrero of New Haven holds onto his nine year old daughter Anysha (L) as her twin Tenysha enjoys the cool water at Wadsworth Falls in Middlefield rush over her Monday afternoon. Morrero said he hadn’t been to the Falls in about 14 years but thought of it as the family was looking for someplace different to cool off.
Mike Roberge of M&M tennis court company in Bristol spreads the red paint that will outline the courts at Plainville High School Thursday morning. Roberge, of Bristol, was working with Joe Foran of Farmington on the project that will be finished in time for school. I climbed the fence surrounding the courts to get a high angle, much to the amusement of the workers.
After a micro-burst ripped through South Glastonbury August 10th knocking power at the Glastonbury Hill Country Club, Tim Smith waits with his daughter Colleen Elizabeth Smith, her flower girls and bridesmaids for the start of her wedding. Severe weather delay the ceremony for over an hour and a half as the bridal party and guests had to navigate through back roads to get to the country club due to downed power lines and trees all around the area. Since the storm had knocked out the power the reception was moved to the Inn at Middletown which was able to help out the newlyweds on short notice.
Diana Benza of Bristol grabs a handful of balloons from Bob Irvine as they set up for an engagement party for Benza’s brother Alex Irvine’s daughter Annie at Elizabeth Park Wednesday evening. The happy couple thinks they are attending a birthday party for Letitia Benza, the grooms mother. Annie and Alex are from Wethersfield.
The sun set on top seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland during second round action Tuesday evening at the New Haven Open at Yale tennis tournament after she retired during the the second set due to a right shoulder injury. Radwanska lost the first set 6-0 to Olga Govortsova of Belarus and was down 2-1 in the second before retiring.
I’ve never covered the US Open and likely never will but I’ve enjoyed covering the tennis tournament in New Haven throughout its history. I’ve been able to shoot the stars of my generation, Becker, Lendl, McEnroe, Aggasi, Blake, Monica, Lindsay, Steffi, Venus and many more. There are certain times of the day that I like the best, late afternoon and the very beginning of the night match, especially when the sunsets.
Twenty seven teams from across the country and Canada pushed their limits of endurance and strength during the final day of the 2012 Connecticut SWAT Challenge at Reservoir #6 in West Hartford Thursday afternoon. Members of CSP #1 (Connecticut State Police) run with a few tires chained together during one obstacle on the course.
Actor Kevin Cottle works the fly rod during filming of Connecticut “Still Revolutionary”, the second TV spot for its tourism campaign. This time, instead of going to the shoreline/Connecticut River valley, they’re going to Litchfield County. The iconic West Cornwall Covered bridge over the Housatonic provides the backdrop for this scene.
Being a native of Connecticut I love to take rides into Litchfield County. My dad would pack my mom and brother into the car and we would take road trips to People’s Forest, Kent Falls and other places in the northwest part of the state. It is a wonderful place to take a “Sunday drive” when the foliage is in full display.
With matching “Barbie” backpacks, dresses and shoes, twins Raelin and Aubrae Oporto, 7, are led down the hall by mom Tricia Dunn as the new Bristol West Elementary School opened Thursday as students arrived for the first day of class.
First day of school, that goes back a long way.
Tonight my assignment fell through in Rocky Hill so I took a little ride along the Connecticut River. If you venture off the beaten path there is a dirt road that follows the river from Wethersfield south to Rocky Hill through corn fields and grass lands. I used to water ski on the Connecticut with a cousin or old friend years ago so I sometimes search for someone out enjoying the evening. As Labor Day begins, take a few moments to relax, enjoy a cold one, spend time with family and most of all be grateful for the little things in life…
…because before you know it, you’ll be saying, I can’t believe its Christmas already. Just 115 shopping days to go.
As I was driving home I decided to take a drive to a place I like to stop once in a while to watch the moon or sun rise. Tonight a Blue Moon rose above the city of Hartford.
Good night cow jumping over the moon
And the red balloon
And goodnight mittens
And goodnight socks
Goodnight little house
And goodnight mouse
And goodnight brush
And goodnight to the old lady
Goodnight noises everywhere
–”Goodnight Moon”, text by Margret Wise Brown
Have a safe and enjoyable weekend!
June 5, 2012 by John Woike
All photos and text by John Woike / The Hartford Courant
I spent most of May on the Picture Desk at the Courant, a job we all share as our duties get spread among those that remain at the oldest continuously newspaper in the country. It sure feels good to be back in the field.
Today was a transit of Venus, a rare astronomical event that will not happen again until December 11, 2117. Overcast skies across the state caused the website at the Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium at Yale to post a message stating the likelihood of viewing the transit would be poor. That didn’t stop over three hundred people who came out to witness the event, they were not disappointed when the clouds broke. I’m grateful for being able to have witnessed this since I’m sure I won’t be around the next time it passes Earth.
When I arrived the clouds were packed in and greyish but there was a buzz as the crowd began to gather around 4pm. The staff at the observatory were kind enough to loan me an 8″ neutral density filter that they use on some of their telescopes, it worked perfect. Not sure what my exposure was since I was rapidly changing the shutter as the clouds rolled past but my best guess is around 2000 ISO, f2.8 @ 1/1000th shutter. I used shutter priority as the camera setting. This image was shot with a 400/f2.8, on a tripod and then cropped in Photoshop afterward.
After taking a few shots of the Sun and Venus I turned my attention to the crowd that was in amazement as the sun went in and out of the clouds. While I was packing up my lens Jason Archer had picked up the neutral density filter I was using and began to view the transit. I first met Jason on another assignment at the planetarium at the Connecticut Children’s Museum in West Hartford a few years ago. I love how the sky is reflected in the filter, a group of people wearing eclipse or neutral density glasses leaned in while trying to get a view and the clouds behind them are dark and ominous. The contrast works beautifully.
Rabbi Avi Hack holds his son Tzvi Yehuda Hack, 5, up to the telescope so he can get a better view while a line of people wait their turn.
Scott Bombroski of Wallingford, a member of the Astronomical Society of New Haven, demonstrates how a “Sunspotter” works to a small group of people. The image of the Sun and Venus past through a lens on the front then get reflected off a series of mirrors until it shows on a piece of paper at the bottom of the triangular device.
(L to R) Simon Jacobs of New Haven and Laurie Guenther of Meriden stood outside one of the observation telescope rooms at the Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium in New Haven to get a better view of the transit. The two didn’t know one another before tonight but they, like many that attended the event, started talking about the beauty of the night and how lucky they were to have witnessed it.
Pro Tip: It paid off getting to the assignment early, even though the weather forecast was not cloudy skies, it gave me a chance to talk with the staff at the observatory which eventually led to me being able to use a neutral density filter they had, it proved to be very fruitful. Patience, patience, patience. Waiting can be frustrating but when you hold out hope for a break, sometimes your wishes are answered.
Cameras used – Nikon D300s and D300. Lens – 17-55/f2.8, 70-200/f2.8 and a 400/f2.8. Metering set Matrix and camera set on shutter priority.
April 4, 2012 by John Woike
When I heard I would be covering the UConn women’s basketball team during the post season I was excited at the prospect of them making it to the Final Four.
For selfish reasons I was looking forward to hooking up with my brother Jeff who has lived in Denver for 22 years and I haven’t been able to visit him as often as I would like. We would get together every other year to do a little skiing but I haven’t strapped my boards to my feet in a couple years now. I also have former colleagues from the Hartford Courant living in Boulder and Golden and really wanted to see them as well.
Kia Stokes is serenaded by her teammates for her 19th birthday Saturday afternoon after the UConn women finished their practice, tradition calls for the birthday girl to skip around the court afterward.
There are always photos you wish you had at an event like this. One photo I wish I had been in a position to take was a meeting between UConn head coach Geno Auriemma and Tennessee head coach Pat Summit. I was on one end of the court when I saw a commotion at the other side, I wasn’t sure what it was but a small group of reporters and photographers had gathered off the baseline. By the time I realized what was going on and made my way there it was over and I missed the two coaches greeting and hugging one another. The once bitter rivals and titans of the women’s game have recently begun to mend their relationship after it was announced Summit is dealing with the effects of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
I used to beat myself up over missing a shot like that but today I realize you can’t be everywhere all the time. Be grateful for the ones you are able to capture and hope the next time you’re in the right place at the right time. I was able to follow her around for a few moments as she stopped to sign autographs for fans.
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma, associate head coach Chris Dailey, and assitant coaches Shea Ralph and Marisa Moseley know they have a tough task at hand as they face Big East rival Notre Dame for the 8th time in 15 months.
Freshmen Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis of UConn drives through Brittany Mallory of Notre Dame during the first half of the 2012 Women’s Final Four. at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, Sunday afternoon. KML played with assertiveness and scored 6 points in 13 minutes in the first half.
Stefanie Dolson of UConn is double teamed by Devereaux Peters (L) and Natalie Achonwa (R) of Notre Dame in the first half but Dolson scored 12 points to help the Huskies take a 36-33 lead at the half.
When Stefanie Dolson picked up her fourth foul at the 17:19 mark of the second half UConn had to put sit their starting center and play a four guard line-up and use freshmen Kia Stokes until Dolson returned with 10:09 remaining.
Freshmen Kia Stokes is triple teamed as she takes a shot during the second half. Stokes only scored 2 points and grabbed 2 rebounds in the second half but gave Uconn a presence inside while Dolson sat with four fouls.
(L to R) Kia Stokes and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis are pumped after Mosqueda-Lewis scored a basket and drew the foul late in the second half against Notre Dame. After hitting the free throw the Huskies trailed by two with 12:48 remaining.
She hit them both to give UConn a 67-65 lead with :11 remaining in the game, UConn head coach Geno Auriemma had this to say about the end of regulation. “I made a huge mistake of taking Kia Stokes out of the game at that point. We went with five guards so that we could switch all their screens. And in the end one defensive rebound would have won it for us. That’s the part I’m going home with.”
With five guards on the floor the Huskies pressed and Skylar Diggins missed layup bounced off the backboard as Caroline Doty lies on the floor and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis tries to keep Natalie Novosel from the rebound…
I used a remote mounted along the catwalk high above the basket. With all the commotion in the closing seconds of the game I didn’t have time to pick up my camera with a long lens for the far side of the court so I reached over to the remote and just pushed the trigger hoping for something. When I got the card and started to edit the images I was happier than a pig in you know what at the results. With Doty on the floor and the sequence of players streaming into the frame it captured the what ended up being the play of the game.
“The game sometimes hangs on one play,” Auriemma said. “Kelly Faris steals the ball, misses the layup and gets two free throws. If she gets the layup and the foul shot, we’re up three instead of two.”
“As most games do, the game turned on one great play by a great player,” Auriemma said of Novosel. “And once we got into overtime, we just didn’t have enough. Brittany Mallory made two shots and that’s who we wanted to take them. God bless her, she stepped up and made them.”
Stefanie Dolson tries to compose herself as reporters ask her questions in the locker room after the 83-75 defeat. “It just sucks” she said trailing off into tears. “We worked so hard all season, and to end just end it this way, it doesn’t feel good.”
Tiffany Hayes said she was proud of her team and teammates after suffering an 83-75 loss in overtime. Many didn’t think the Huskies would make back to the Final Four but Hayes was happy they were able to be there but wished the season hadn’t ended this way.
Pro Tip: I’ve been fortunate enough to have attended a few Final Four championships. I worked as an editor/technician for staffers Rich Messina and Bradley Clift in 1999 when the men won their first title. I was in Philly and San Antonio for the women when they won in the mid 2000′s. I went to Detroit for the men’s Final Four when they lost to Michigan State in 2005. Each time I’ve gone I have had the privilege to work with some outstanding people from the Courant, the NCAA and other newspapers and wire services. Each time time I’ve come away with new friendships and knowledge.
Tim Rasmussen, Director of Photography at the Denver Post, hooked me up with his chief photographer John Ledya. He gave me advice as to what lens to use for the overhead shots at the end of regulation. He also was able to secure a spot for me on the catwalk so I could mount my camera, next to probably 8 others from various papers and wires services. I owe a lot to them and Jamie Schwaberow ?of NCAA photos, who I met through Jay L. Clendenin, a former Courant photog. Contacts, experience and a little luck helped me to achieve the results I hoped for. I wish I could have stayed longer but hey, there’s always next year, and listening to Geno after the game, I would love to be in New Orleans next year for another go round. Until then…
March 1, 2012 by Rick Hartford
I’ve come to think of it as the Dead Man’s Float.
I’ve come to think of it as the Dead Man’s Float.
All other options exhausted,
You just lie face down in the water,
And blow bubbles.
The assignment was:
The Most Dangerous Intersection in the City.
It revolved around a pay phone at Sterling and Albany,
Where the 911 phone calls were made.
A normal place, at daytime.
But at dusk “an aura of menace” descends,
As the zombies of the drug trade are born again,
And the night is ruled by violence.
I was told to go to that intersection
With a camera and a tripod,
And wait for something to happen.
At that point in the newsroom,
I began to understand it:
The usefulness of the thousand yard stare.
You appear to be pondering the situation,
But the reality is,
There’s nothing much going on in there.
But how could one refuse?
Could’ve been the most
Dangerous intersection of my career,
For all I knew.
So here we go as the sun sets low,
Toward somewhere in the suburbs,
Where lawns are being mowed,
And cocktails clink with ice.
And the camera is on the tripod,
At the most dangerous intersection in the city.
At first the people who pass by are interested, amused.
A woman gently ponders my explanation,
And smiles and down the street she moves,
Wheeling a baby carriage.
Some people slow in cars as they drive by,
With puzzled looks…
Was this was some kind of performance art?
Or was I was selling something.
Windows buzz down.
Windows whine up.
Now, as darkness sets in,
The boys on bikes wheel by,
Their black coats flapping,
Like bats, with perfect sonar.
They zoom ever closer and faster,
Uttering things that shall not be repeated,
But mean, and ultimately heeded:
Leave the most dangerous Intersection in the city.
March 1, 2012 by John Woike
One of the things I love about shooting sports is the ebb and flow of a game. This season the reigning national champion UConn men’s basketball team has seen more “ebbs” than “flows”. Even when you think they might have the flow going an ebb seems to find a way to step in a overtake them.
When I get assigned to cover a game I make sure to get there a couple hours early so that I can set up a remote camera. I mount one on the basket stanchion or under the reporters table on the sideline. I do this for two reasons. One, to get an angle on the play for a different point of view. Or…
…when you’re point of view from the floor is completely obscured by either other players or a referee. When Roscoe Smith took the final shot against Syracuse last Saturday night that would have tied the game and likely put it into overtime, he drove the far side of the lane and was nowhere to be seen from my spot. But you fire the camera and hope that somewhere in the crowd you get a glimpse of him in case he makes the shot or, in this case, is rejected by C.J. Fair (wearing orange headband) with about 2.2 seconds on the game clock.
A quick preview of the play on my camera told me I didn’t have a clean shot so I hoped that my remote camera was working properly. With a 9pm start time and the game ending after eleven I needed to send a few game ending photos quickly to meet deadline.
This was the first image I sent because it had the two elements that best spoke about the outcome of the game. A dejected Ryan Boatright of UConn in the foreground while the Syracuse players congratulated C.J. Fair, #5, for his last second block. The Huskies had “flowed” back from a 14 point halftime deficit but in the end the game was taken over by yet another “ebb” and UConn fell 71-69. When I did get a chance to edit my remote camera I was pleasantly surprise with the result…
…I couldn’t have asked for a better shot to sum up the conclusion of the game than this image! The wide angle view gives a nice separation of the players, their faces watching the play and the entire arena on its feet hoping the shot falls pushing the game into OT. In the end it was just another gut wrenching loss for the team and their fans. Perhaps this team will live up to their pre-season billing – next year – if all these young players decide to return for a season of “flows’ instead of this seasons “ebbs”
Pro Tip: Preparation and pre-thought are good habits to have when covering an assignment, whether it is sports, a news event or an environmental portrait.
Camera – Nikon D300, 17-55mm lens set at 20mm, f/3.5, ISO 1250, shutter 1/640th, auto white balance. Pocket Wizard remote transceiver.
February 8, 2012 by John Woike
I’ve had the pleasure of photographing dress rehearsal at the Playhouse on Park a few times and each time I’m amazed at the talent and performance of the actors and crew.
The latest show was the production “The Mystery of Irma Vep” which required the two characters, Sean Harris and Rich Hollman, to play 8 different roles and make 39 quick costume changes. Tori Mintzer (C) applies makeup to Harris while Hollman slicks his hair down in preparation of wearing a variety of wigs.
Harris and Hollman get help from Sarah Smith (L) and Shushrusha Lamsal (R) fitting into their first costumes of the night. Velcro is sewed into the back of the outfits so the actors can quickly go back stage and change from one costume to the next with minimal delay.
Hollman, as Lord Edgar, proudly shows off the supposed werewolf he killed that haunts the grounds but is later informed he has killed just a wolf. The play involves ghosts, mummies, vampires and werewolves.
Harris, as Lady Enid, is comforted by Lord Edgar, Hollman, after she was attacked by a vampire. Hollman had to rush back stage to get out of the vampire costume and back into Lord Edgar, all along he carries on a conversation with Lady Enid from backstage while she tries to compose herself.
In the closing scene Harris emerges through a frame that usually holds a painting of Irma Vep, the former lady of the house and first wife to Lord Edgar, and screams hysterically towards the audience. Lights go down and act one ends.
Unfortunately I was unable to stay for the remainder of the show but from what I did encounter, the audience that saw the shows during January were treated to a great comedy as the two men masterfully portrayed their numerous parts.
Pro Tip: Theater lighting can be very challenging to say the least but the results can be dramatic if patient and the stage is well lit. Working backstage was the most difficult since where the actors were changing costumes was right behind a black curtain at the back of the set and the only lighting used was a dim blue light so the stagehands could find the props and next outfit.
Cameras used: Nikon D300s and D300
Lenses: 17-55/2.8 and 70-200/2.8
Shutter speeds varied from 1/4 of a sec. to 250th and ISO’s of 400 to 2500.
February 2, 2012 by Rick Hartford
They want pictures of “Evil.”
And with a Holga.
Find Satan’s image hiding in plain sight.
And capture it with a toy camera.
(I remember the line in a movie:
We are errand boys sent by clerks.)
So to Enfield Street,
Where the shattered windshield of a car
Frames a man furtively walking away.
Then over to Albany Avenue next to the auto parts shop,
The one with the graffiti on the wall,
Where the poems of the dead, carved into stones,
Cry out in mute agony among the trash and the weeds.
Then to the apartments on Vine,
Where the police and the gangsters circle each other in an endless loop.
Sitting in the car by the curb, engine running, waiting for something.
Somebody calls my name.
He waves from up there on the stoop.
It takes a moment.
Did I know that he had been shot?
There was a parade. So many pretty colors and happy faces.
Pulling up his shirt, he shows the map of the pain.
Scars and sewn flesh, the slugs still inside him.
Sensitive to the cold.
We draw a little crowd, some bringing smiles, some blank stares.
A kid on a bike glides up with a baseball cap and an RIP tee,
Like wearing a tombstone.
He looks away, a bird ready to fly, detached from us.
Yet listening, monitoring, absorbing everything.
An old lady pulls groceries in a cart,
Head down as a patrol car swings to the curb.
Two policemen walk up easy in the summer night.
Got a call, one of them says.
The landlord says you are causing a disturbance.
We need you to leave.
January 27, 2012 by Stephen Dunn
by Stephen Dunn
Maturo has been at the center of a controversy since WPIX-TV reporter Mario Diaz asked him what he was going to do for East Haven’s Latino community in the wake of the arrest of four police officers on harassment and intimidation charges.
“I might have tacos when I go home. I’m not quite sure yet,” he said.
The media and the public jumped on his “flippant” statement and the public relations firestorm began for the mayor. Soon the arrests of four of his police officers who were arrested Tuesday after a long federal investigation, were all but forgotten. They were charged with crimes against members of the town’s Latino community ranging from beating handcuffed suspects to obstructing justice.
Mayor Joseph Maturo insisted he would not resign on Thursday, even while an immigration reform group brought 500 tacos to his office in response to his comment.
When I met the mayor in his office Wednesday, he seemed like a very nice guy who likes to tell jokes and kid around. I think from now on, he may have to pre-edit what comes out of his mouth.
This is the photo that told the story on the front page on Thursday.
PRO TIP: Keep your head down and do your job. The mayor invited us into his office to read a statement of apology. He planned on standing behind his lecturn and reading his notes. This, of course, is boring for photos. My job is to subtley photograph the mayor anywhere but the lecturn and hope to capture a “real” moment, not a rehearsed one.
January 13, 2012 by Richard Messina
John Schurman and his son, Jeremiah, 9, stand by the stump of a tree that fell into power lines during the October snowstorm. CL&P incorrectly restored power to their house and destroyed nearly all their appliances. The company not only devalued their claim, but had Schurman arrested for threatening one of their customer service representatives.
When power was restored to the Schurman’s home after the freakish October snowstorm, lights popped, a vacuum exploded and both of the families’ television sets were toasted. Crews had inadvertently mixed the lines causing 220 volts of power to pulsate through their 1932-built home frying almost all their appliances.
Connecticut Light & Power admitted the mistake, and promised to make amends by sending them a check for their damage. However nearly six weeks later had not acted. Almost daily the John Schurman and his wife called the company for updates. Not flush with cash these days, Schurman said they really needed the money to replace what they had lost. When the company finaly sent the family a check, they had subtracted about $1,000 for devaluation, and had had Schurman arrested for threatening one of customer service representatives.
Schurman said in better times, he might have used a lawyer in his court appearance, but having never been arrested before, and being told it was a minor offense, he thought the case would probably get thrown out. He was wrong however, and Schurman was given Accelerated Probation, by the judge.
Schurman said he is talking to the media because he wants to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen to anyone else. “It was a nightmare,” he said.
Please read Dan Haar’s column on this by clicking here. As it turns out, CL&P made good with Schurman, giving him a check for $3,000 and giving him their apologies.