Tag Archives: high school band

Strike Up the Bokeh Band

Nothing up my sleeve. Presto! It’s a baton!

Need an excellent example of background blurring, aka bokeh? Just check out this series of photos I took last Saturday morning of our high school’s drum major, Courtney.

Here it comes!

I love how my Nikon D700’s total focus on her pulling her baton out of her uniform so brilliantly softened the musicians and dancers she was about to lead. My Nikon 300mm f/4 lens did a great job of providing that contrast.

Time to start the show.

It looks like Courtney is conducting an abstract painting!

Our work here is done.

Of course, I’m sure everything looked perfectly in focus for her as she led our wonderful band and Angels to another fine performance.

Marimba Music

Tanner T. plays the marimba in our high school’s marching band.

Per . . .

Josh does, too!

. . . cus . . .

And Nicholas, three!

. . . sion!

Good Luck to Our Band and Dance Team

The band and Angels walk together into the football stadium.

Regular readers know that our high school hasn’t fielded a successful football team in several years. Football being the state religion of Texas only makes it that much tougher for fans to show up and support our plucky squad.

Nick, one of our student conductors, smiles for the fans.

Fortunately, we’re blessed with a great marching band and dance team, the Angels. Many of us attend football games as much for the halftime show as the contest on the field. We know that the band and Angels are a winning combination that never lets us down. Plus they’re a great group of kids.

The Angels jump while the band plays on.

I had hoped that one of my sons would be a part of the high school marching band, particularly my older boy who didn’t have many outside interests (we figured that his younger brother would play sports in high school). But both of them were one and done with band after sixth grade with the rented clarinet and cornet, respectively, crying for mercy. At least I did have my “third son,” Chase, to cheer for as he marched all four years.

An Angel leaps among the band.

Today our band and Angels are in Indianapolis to compete in the Bands of America Grand National Championship. Their road to a hoped-for title begins tomorrow morning.

Percussionists in the pit work hard.

They have hundreds of dedicated fans—including many like me who aren’t related to them at all—who are wishing them well on their journey. We’ll be sending them good vibes when they play in the prelims at 10:30 a.m.

The Angels are a welcome contrast to the band.

Whether or not they return home with another trophy, we know that they’re already winners. They’ve brought pride to our school and a touch of class to every halftime performance.

Clarinet music fills the air.

Still, who are we to turn down some well-earned hardware? Good luck to our marching band and Angels! Be remembered!!

The Many Facets of a High School Homecoming Football Game


Our football players stream out of the mouth of a huge, inflatable bulldog (our school mascot).

When I think back to my high school’s Homecoming football games, I must admit I kind of draw a blank. Oh, I remember the pregame parade down Waukegan’s main street, and I seem to recall the downtown businesses’ windows being decorated. But as for the games? I got nothing. Could be because we had a bad football team!

Homecoming for my sons’ high school was last Saturday. Because we don’t live in a small town with only one high school, there aren’t any pregame parades. But we do have our share of traditions, which, like a diamond, has many facets.


Homecoming queen and king: Audrey and Alex

Our pregame activity featured the crowning of the Homecoming queen and king who would reign at that evening’s dance. They were Audrey, who is currently ranked #3 in my #1 son’s class and the band’s drum major, and Alex, who is an orchestra kid. Both seem like great role models.


Some of the seniors stand together.

The seniors had to be contemplating this penultimate football contest. There would only be two chances left to win a game this season.


Instruments up at kickoff!

The band was ready to cheer on the football team musically.


The Angels' pom poms are waving.

Our dance team, the Angels, had their pom poms in the air.


Flipping for our team!


Still flipping!

The cheerleaders were head over heels about leading cheers.


Michael, Reid, Cody, and Hunter

The freshman fans (who did not include the #2 son, who was disc golfing) were all smiles. Well, except for tough guy Hunter. Could that be because he knew I was cutting off part of his head?


Kevin makes a flying tackle.

And then there was the action on the field. Even though we were playing an opponent that already had qualified for our district and the state playoffs, our team kept the game close.


Victor hauls in a pass for a big gain.

At one point we even were ahead, thanks to great catches like this one by Victor.


Taylor W. gets the pass off before getting clobbered.

Our sophomore quarterback, Taylor W., had the offense on the move.


Coach L high-fives Zak after a fumble recovery.

The defense also was playing mighty tough.


Both bands combine for an electric halftime show.

Some of the highlights photographically for me included, first, the halftime show when I was able to capture my “third son,” Chase, playing his bass clarinet. Our band joined with our opponents’ to put on an electric performance that featured a tribute to Michael Jackson.


Taylor J. puts the hurt on the opposing ballcarrier.

Second, I had set my goal to take lots of photos of a couple seniors whose moms are my friends. Taylor J. had an outstanding game! I was able to capture a series of shots of him tackling a ballcarrier.


Eric is ready to block.

I especially wanted to get some great shots of Eric, because he helped the #1 son get a 97 on his catapult in Physics. Photographic payback time!


Victor tries to outjump the defender for a potential winning touchdown pass.

Like that diamond, our high school Homecoming football game had a mixture of glimmering and flawed features. There were thrills and chills galore. But late in the game with our team behind 17-13 and less than a minute left, we discovered the final facet of that gem.


The ball tumbles away out of bounds.

There has to be one winner and one loser. But even though our team had the smaller number on the scoreboard, we still walked away with our heads held high. Our last chance to win a game? Saturday night! Go, Dawgs!

Before the Parade Passes By

Jonathan, whose mom Jennifer also takes photos, has a clear message for me.

Jonathan, whose mom Jennifer also takes photos, has a clear message for me.

Hmmm . . . why does this photo seem so familiar?

Move away—nothing to see here.

Move away—nothing to see here.

Oh, yeah! Remember this blog post? Seems that when I’m late to a shooting gig, I tend to miss some important action. Like the swimming part of a triathlon. Oh, and our high school band playing in a parade. Is that really such a big deal?

Our Angels dance team march ahead of our band.

Our Angels dance team march ahead of our band.

Well, it is if the whole point of going to the parade is to take photos of the band playing. Sigh!

Because this is Texas, we've got lots of big trucks around. Even in parades!

Because this is Texas, we've got lots of big trucks around. Even in parades!

Last Friday was County Fair Day in our part of Texas outside of Houston. Usually, the school districts in the county have the day off. Yes, that’s right . . . no school on County Fair Day. That’s so parents can take their young ’uns to the fair and have their wallets divested of every dollar bill and coinage to be found.

Sidebar: In the 11 years that the #1 son has been free of school on CFD, we’ve never attended the fair. We’ve never even gone to the fair. Or the parade. In fact, my sons have never even seen a parade in person! CPS, slap the cuffs on me now.

Love how the fair queen has the princess wave down!

Love how the fair queen has the princess wave down!

This year, though, our school district took away our CFD holiday. So the band and our dance team marched . . . but none of our students could see them. Kinda sad. But I wanted to take photos of them, so off to the little town of Richmond, Texas, I drove. I thought the parade started at 9 a.m. But when I got on the scene at 9:02 a.m., I was startled to find that I was late (and why would I be startled given my past history? Really?)!

There were plenty of horses in the parade.

There were plenty of horses in the parade.

As I squeezed into an open spot on the side of the road opposite the parade route, I began to wonder if I had missed our band and dance team. That would be par for the course for me. But no! I could see them playing and marching towards us. Yes! Luck was with me!!

Oh, oh!

Oh, oh!

No! Luck was not with me! The moment I spied the band coming towards our little part of the parade route, they stopped playing. Every single one of them, including my “third” son Chase.

The drumline never stops playing!

The drumline never stops playing!

All of them, except for the drumline, of course. They always like to play! Thanks, gang!

But what about the rest of our crew? How could I document their parade story without photos of them actually playing? So I hustled on down the parade route ahead of them. This was no easy feat for my feet!

The mini flags were out along the parade route.

The mini flags were out along the parade route.

The roadside was packed with people waving little American flags, and I hated blocking their view as I jogged past. So I took a long, circuitous route behind the parade watchers and finally reached a point far enough ahead that I could catch my breath and then shoot when the band started to play again. Good thing my shutter speed was high enough to compensate for my labored breathing!

Our band plays on!

Our band plays on!

It would have been nicer to have gotten photos from straight on, but that just wasn’t possible on this route.

Finally got ’em!

Finally got ’em!

And most important? Before the parade passed by, I got pics of Chase! If you have a long-enough parade route and can move quickly, you never have to miss a good photo op. Good thing I’ve started my marathon training!

Obscured Band Faces and Where’s Waldo

Who's hiding behind the baritone?

Who's hiding behind the baritone?

Remember that high school football game I shot last Friday night under the lights? You didn’t think I would forget about taking pictures of the band and dance team now, did you?

Especially since the boys’ high school’s marching band and Angels dance team are worth the price of admission . . . even when our football team is struggling.

The baritone horn sounds great but reveals little of the musician!

The baritone horn sounds great but reveals little of the musician's face!

I was as excited about shooting photos of the band and Angels with the sideline pass as I was football. These kids are some of our school’s best athletes! The musicians are able to play while marching to and fro, backwards and sideways, all without knocking down any of the dancers. And the Angels are leaping about while staying out of the way of the big tubas. It’s entertainment at its very best!

But for a photographer, it can be an exercise in frustration. Take the poor lighting causing you to shoot at high ISOs (I was at ISO 2000 even wide open at f/2.8 with my Nikon D300 and Nikon 70-200mm lens). Then add to it hats pulled down so the musicians’ eyes are shaded and horn bells that can completely cover up the players’ faces. I’m not trying to take photos of musical instruments for catalogs, for goodness sake! Faces are everything.

A better shot of a baritone player

A better shot of a baritone player

It meant that I had to shoot some of the musicians a little off center in order to not have their instruments obscuring their faces. It was an interesting photography lesson in patience and timing for me.

Alex gives the baritone his all.

Alex gives the baritone his all.

And I also got a lesson in some of the different face-obscuring instruments, thanks to my “half” son Chase, who is a marching band veteran. So now I know that the first four musicians pictured are playing the baritone horn. Chase says it looks similar to the mellophone, which is a marching French horn but sounds deeper. Who am I to dispute that? I just take the photos.

The euphonium doesn't obscure faces.

The euphonium doesn't obscure faces.

Here’s the euphonium, which I like, because the bell doesn’t block faces. But look at that hat shading his eyes! Sometimes you just can’t win when it comes to snapping band photos.

Trumpeter (love that bokeh-ed background!)

Trumpeter (love that bokeh-ed background!)

As long as you don’t shoot straight on, you easily can capture the trumpeters’ faces.



Same thing for trombonists.

Love those smaller instruments!

Love those smaller instruments!

Those piccolo players? Piece of cake!

The Angels are on their toes!

The Angels are on their toes!

Our Angels dance team adds some color to the production. Plus it’s easy-peasy to see their faces!

Paige contemplates a job well done.

Paige contemplates a job well done.

Of course, I didn’t just shoot the show on the field. I also snapped some shots where the musicians were sitting in the stands.

Tuba players call it a day.

Tuba players call it a day.

And I took pics as the band was getting ready to leave with their instruments—away from their faces.

Where's Waldo?

Where's Waldo?

The real fun of shooting—and watching—the band is trying to pick out your favorite musicians. Like this character, none other than Chase. He’s fairly easy to find, because he’s tall and lanky and plays a big instrument, the bass clarinet. But sometimes in the midst of all that movement that’s the hallmark of every marching band, we lose him in the madding crowd.

Here's Chase!

Here's Chase!

There he is . . . and we can even see his face!