The 35W Bridge Collapse 5 Years Later

Before we moved to the D.C. area we spent a year in Minneapolis, and it happened to be the year of the 35W bridge collapse. Today marks the 5th anniversary of the tragedy and it brings back a lot of personal memories of life in the Twin Cities during that season. David Mathis looks back on the event on the DG blog here.

Every year the anniversary resurfaces haunting memories of the scene, and the silent disbelief of the hundreds of onlookers wandering around speechless trying to see the bridge from various vantage points. It was as if nobody believed that it really happened.

It was under clouded skies a few days later (August 4, 2007) that President Bush flew into the Twin Cities to survey the damage. I, being the journalist, grabbed my camera (a Digital Rebel XT) and “Big Sig,” my Sigma 400mm telephoto lens. From high atop the campus of the University of Minnesota I captured the following photos of the President’s visit. Three helicopters – two smaller and one large one – all landed near the river, downstream about 1/4 mile from the collapsed bridge. The perimeter boundary around the scene was enormous and provide only a few areas where the collapsed bridge was viewable. But I did have a good location high above the valley to photograph the departure of the three presidential helicopters (and the unit of sharpshooters).

On days like today, these memories and these images come flooding back.

Swim Meet #2

This weekend my daughter (6) competed in her second swim meet. Water has always been a favorite subject of mine, and with a little girl who loves to compete in the pool these meets provide a thousand photo ops, ops that pass almost faster than a shutter. And while I’m still not totally synced to the rhythm of swimming, nor how to best shoot particular stroke styles, this weekend afforded me another opportunity to take some practice shots.

For this meet I grabbed my camera (Digital Rebel XT) and Big Sig (Sigma 80-400mm telescoping lens). It was partly cloudy for the outdoor meet so I kept the shutter speed around 2500 and the ISO at 400. The variable aperture stayed near or at 7.1, which is about as low as Big Sig can go while still giving me clear shots fully telescoped at 400mm.

Here are a few selected detail crops from the meet:






Weekend Baseball Tournament

This past weekend my son’s team traveled to Charlottesville, VA for the Cove Creek baseball tournament. We got beat around pretty good, but it was a beautiful park, the kind of park you can still enjoy while being beaten into the dirt. Legend has it the Cove Creek facility was built by novelist John Grisham for his own son back in the mid 1990s. It sits south of Charlottesville in a rural area nestled by beautiful hills:

Here are some pics:




I’ll spare you the scores, but you could sum up our tournament play with this shot:

Swim Meet

My daughter’s (6) swim meet last night gave me another good excuse to bring out “Big Sig.” She raced three times: freestyle, backstroke, and kickboard. Given my wife’s success at the sport and my daughter’s love for swimming (and her competitive determination), I think there will be many future opportunities to shoot meets. This was my first, although I’ve admired good swim photographers for a number of years. To my knowledge no other sport requires a photographer to sync with the repetitive movements of the athlete. I look forward to doing more of this. Here are a few shots from last night (click for larger):



Big Sig (Pics)

Wednesday night my son (9) and his baseball team won the league baseball championship–a three-peat! Before the game I was persuaded by my wife and some other parents of players on the team that it was time to break out my digital SLR camera (Canon Digital Rebel XT) and “Big Sig,” the affectionate name for my Sigma 400mm telephoto lens. It has been a while since I’ve shot with it and the conditions that night were not perfect for taking pictures, but I did manage a few shots that I wanted to pass along. Click images for larger versions.


Last night my son’s baseball team won the league championship for the second time in two years. Combined over those two years the team’s record is 29-1-1. It’s been a lot of fun to play with such a great group of coaches, parents, and players.

I brought ‘BigSig’ out to the park again. Here are a few pictures: