Sunday, March 25, 2012

#27 - Mad Marchness

They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they'd make up their minds. - Wilt Chamberlain

First it rains, then it snows, then it's foggy, then it's sunny . . . and warm, all in the same week. The rivers are raging, the fields are flooding, and we even lose an hour on one special day to boot! Welcome to March and spring -- a time I'm really beginning to despise. Think about it: what other season requires a "break" and what other month is defined by madness? It's a period of constant change and uncertainty, it's Mad Marchness for sure! So what's there to like about it? It must be the basketball . . . and I'm not talking about the NCAA Tournament.

It's been nearly 30 years but I still can recall covering (singlehandedly) my first Iowa Boy's and Girl's State High School Basketball Tournament as a staffer for United Press International in Des Moines. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was about to witness the purest roundball I would ever see. In terms of effort, emotion, energy, and excitement, a state tournament tilt just can't be beat. Here are some of my fondest memories (in no particular order) from photographing the 1983 edition:
  • Experiencing a basketball game at Veteran's Memorial Auditorium.
  • Shooting 6 basketball games a day, for days on end, at Veteran's Memorial Auditorium.
  • Walking the 3/4 mile distance, in the elements, from the UPI Bureau to Veteran's Memorial Auditorium 11 times each day to file the photos from the 6 games that were covered.
  • Working with a Nikon FM armed with an 85mm/f1.8 lens using Tri-X film pushing it to 1600 ASA while exposing it at 1/500th at f2.8 and then souping it in Acufine developer.
  • Watching that Nikon FM and 85mm/F1.8 lens transform into an auto-focus machine after the first day on the job.
  • Surviving on a diet of hot dogs, cokes, the occasional hot pretzel with mustard, and ice cream sandwiches for days on end.
  • Asking for and receiving a receipt, written on a napkin, for the meals described above, foolishly thinking I needed one to be reimbursed for them (Hey, I just started the job).
  • Grabbing a Giant pork tenderloin after the last game of every night of the tournament.
  • Eavesdropping on a huddle while the coach orders the team's star, his son, to take and make a 3 pointer to win the game . . . and he does . . . in triple overtime!
  • Photographing the stoic coach while his team erupts from the bench after their double overtime win.
  • My shoes sticking to the floor as I exit the building after the final game of the tournament at Veteran's Memorial Auditorium.
I miss March Madness.

The only difference between a good shot and a bad shot is if it goes in or not. - Charles Barkley


Anonymous Michael Heller said...

You forgot the cutlines typed on adhesive labels or scotch-taped to the pictures. I see most of your stuff was UPI, but you probably did AP stuff too. How about the UP and AP transmitters? The portable drums, for sending prints. You couldn't send negatives except by Fed-X back then.
I worked for a daily and we were encouraged to put our 'extra' images out for AP and UPI. And AP wanted features and weather shots too. The AP machine was a money maker for my staff since the photogs got to keep what they made. For every picture you put into the photo machine a $15 check came back to you. A couple of hundred dollars a month was not unusual.
You got the tournament stuff right. Game after game and the energy of the fans is what kept you going.
For us it was Acufine at 80 degrees - turn it over once, rap the air bubbles out and let it sit - do not agitate! The negs were beautiful!
How I'd love to cary a camera the size of a FM with an 85 on it around today. My D300 with a 17-55 on it is just as big and heavy as my old 6x7 Pentax and that thing is an elephant!

7:34 AM  

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