Tag Archives: high school track

Radar Alert: High Flyers in the Area

My #2 son sails through the air during the long jump.

The true acrobats of the track and field circus are the long jumpers. They fly through the air often with the greatest of ease. Because of that, they’re great to photograph. You’ve just got to make sure no sand gets kicked up into your lens!

My #2 son has added the long jump to his field event roster. Since he’s there at the pits, might as well leap towards one end for the triple jump and the other for the long.

Jacob focuses on the sandy landing.

For this week’s subvarsity track meet, #2 was joined by a couple other freshmen long jumpers: Jacob . . .

Otis looks forward to the sand.

. . . and Otis. The trio had their own distinct styles of launching themselves towards the sand, with Jacob being the most successful. He won the event, while #2 finished second.

Marcus displays great hang time.

Meanwhile, the junior varsity jumpers also contributed to this airborne act. Marcus looked unflappable as he sailed toward the sand.

Christian skies during his long jump.

But as good as these long jumpers were, they were just a prelude to the JV’s top competitor, Christian. This big cat could really sky!

Prepare for landing!

Christian looked impressive while in the air and about to land in the sand. Talk about high flyers—he was like a jet to his teammates’ radio-controlled airplanes.

He was so high in the sky that he might have shown up on an airport’s radar system!

A Fowl Observation: The Discus Makes Me Chicken!

Cameron gets ready to throw.

Sometimes what we put down in writing can come back to bite us.

In this recent blog post about high school baseball, I arrogantly asserted that anyone who includes a fence in their pix obviously is a rank amateur photographer. Bogus pros like myself make fences invisible in photos by shooting through the chain links.

But all too soon I was eating my words at this past Tuesday’s subvarsity high school track meet. At almost every competition, the shot put and discus events are too far from the track for me to snap photos (this meet was an exception). Tuesday, though, the weights were being thrown just past the track’s fence in a grassy area.

Cameron launches a throw.

Because I hadn’t taken any photos of the discus throwers this season, I decided to concentrate my efforts there instead of the shot put. But when I walked over to the fence to check out the action, something made me stop and choose not to walk through the gate and out onto the grass: The discus itself.

As I watched the boys throw, I couldn’t help but notice that the heavy orb (second straight day I’ve used this word!) goes all over the field. I didn’t mind standing in front of the shot putters, because they don’t toss the metal ball that far. But discus? I’ve got to admit that I was scared I’d get hit. Or, even worse, that my beloved camera equipment would get smashed.

No, thank you!

Marshal concentrates on getting off his best throw.

So, chicken that I was, I stayed not only behind the protective netting in back of the throwers but also beyond the metal fence. Cluck, cluck, cluck!

Starting his spin move

Hoping I still could get good photos for my friend Paula C., I pointed my Nikon 70-200mm lens through the fence and started snapping away at her tall, freshman son, Marshal.

Continuing to spin

Hey, I may be chicken, but I don’t shy away from a challenge.

Time for the power move!

As long as I can stay out of harm’s way!

The discus sails off!

Despite the netting, I was pleased with my photos, and I hope Paula will be, too. I think I made chicken salad out of that poultry! Got the pix without being knocked unconscious!!

Next time I have to eat my words, I plan to make them out of chocolate.

Prefocusing to New (Pole Vault) Heights

Jackson prepares to hurtle himself over the bar.

Count me in among the fans of auto focusing. My 56-year-old eyes don’t see as well as they used to, so why not use my Nikon digital SLR’s automatic features to get better photos?

He lets go of the pole.

But there are times when prefocusing on an object is a better bet when it comes to action photography. Like pole vaulting.

Over the bar!

At the #2 son’s track meet last week, I found a perfect position to shoot the pole vaulters. Except that I had trouble keeping them in focus as they planted their poles and soared over the bar.

What goes up must come down!

So I manually focused on the bar with my Nikon 70-200mm lens and let the athletes jump into the f/2.8 focal plane. Success!

Dustin is almost ready to clear the bar.

Pole vaulting looks more like a vertical photo op due to the pole.


The vertical aspect does give more of a feeling of the heights the athletes cleared.

Michael is on his way to the bar. His eyes look closed, but they're really staring at the pole.

I prefer the horizontal perspective, though, because it makes it easier to see the pole vaulters’ faces.

About to clear the height

Unfortunately, sometimes those faces gets obscured by the pole . . .


. . . or the athlete’s hands.

At least Michael’s face is in focus . . . what you can see of it!

Tripling the #2 Son’s Track Fun!

The triple jump starts with a sprint down the runway.

Some busybody (cough *his mom* cough) tattled on my #2 son after his first high school track meet. She told his coach that he used to triple jump in middle school. The freshmen boys only had one triple jumper, Kenton (who now isn’t jumping due to knee pain), so guess who got to add a field event to his running events for the third meet?

Maybe I’ll get thanked when he’s triple jumping in the Olympics some day . . . or maybe I’ll be blamed for how it ruined his life when he’s on Dr. Phil!

The triple jump hop

When you tell non-trackies that your son is a triple jumper, they invariably look confused. So then you have to explain that it’s like the long jump but with a hop, step/skip, and a jump before the athlete lands in the sand pit.

The step

For a photographer, the whole process makes for a great sports photo; however, it happens very quickly. Once again, burst mode is your BFF in trying to capture all the action.

On his way to the jump phase

It’s also a challenge to keep the triple jumper in focus, because the athlete literally jumps from one focus point (in the middle) to another (high) and finally to another (back to the middle on the landing).

Houston, we’re cleared for liftoff!

While I was snapping away, I wanted to yell to my #2 son to keep his hands away from his face! Don’t ruin my photo!

I didn’t, because I didn’t want to meddle (ha ha!).

Raise your hands if you’re Sure!

The top triple and long jumpers seem to hang in the air for the longest time. #2’s hang time isn’t quite as impressive, but he does get a lot of air.

Preparing for a pinpoint landing

Of course, what goes up must come down. You just hope it’s further than any of your competitors.

The Bulldog has landed!

The #2 son was hesitant to tell his coach that he could triple jump, because he wasn’t very successful in middle school and didn’t think he had improved. However, in his first two meets, he placed third and then second! More importantly, he increased the length of his jumps since he was an eighth-grader by about three feet (his best now is 35 feet 7 inches).

Good thing he has a meddling mom in his corner!

The 4 x 400-Meter Relay . . . the Fat Lady Sings!

#2 warms up for the 4 x 400-meter relay by getting some air.

When the #2 son told me how well he had run a 400-meter time trial, finishing as the second-fastest freshman, I really tried to be happy for him. Really.

I slapped on my best fake smile and told him how proud I was of him. Then I turned away and rolled my eyes. Because I knew what breaking a minute in the open 400 meant: The boy would be put on the 4 x 400-meter relay team. As in the final event of the high school track meet. As in the Mister and I would have to freeze until that fat lady sings. Well, if opera was a track event, of course.

Last night was another cold, blustery junior varsity track meet. For a change, there wasn’t any security keeping the momarazzi away. Which meant I could be next to the track for the 4 x 400 relay. Hey, if I’m stuck at a meet until the bitter end, I at least should be able to get some good photos. Of course, by this time it was 7 p.m. and dark. I had switched from my Nikon 70-200mm lens to the 85mm to let in as much light as possible. Still, my ISO was set at 2000 in order to keep a fast-enough shutter speed to avoid blur.

My strategy was to snap pics of the #2 son in and out of the blocks and then hustle my considerable bustle to the exchange zone to try to capture the handoff to his teammate Nick. In less than a minute. Here’s the result:

#2 is in the blocks and eyes the starter.

The gun is up, and the runners are ready.

Out of the blocks and ready to rumble down the track!

Leg #1 is underway!

#2 stretches out and gets the baton to Nick.

Is that singing I hear?!?

Got Air?

Cody (left) sails through the air during the 3200 meters.

Need air? It’s everywhere at your local high school track meet.

Jordan speeds along during the 3200.

Running? Yep, there’s air. Photographers love to capture runners when both feet are off the track.

Reid goes airborne in the 1600 meters.

Makes it look like they’re floating on air!

While Tim runs in the air, one of his competitors comes down to earth during the 100 meters.

Air is apparent whether it’s a longer event, like the 1600 and 3200 meters, or the 100-meter dash.

Josh and his competitors fly through the 100 meters.

It does seem like the sprinters are up in the air more than they are on the track!

Derrick glides along during the first leg of the 4 x 100-meter relay.

There’s no shortage of air during the relays. Either while running . . .

Owen soars as he prepares to hand off to an airborne Justin in the 4 x 200-meter relay.

. . . or about to hand off. If only style points could be awarded!

Kenton flies over land and sand!

Some of our competitors fly above a couple of surfaces. Kenton’s personal air show was in the 4 x 400-meter relay and the long jump.

Kmal sends the shot flying.

Sometimes an athlete stays on the ground only to hurtle an object into space. Like the shot put. Lots of air there!

Of course, for me as a mom photographer, the best feat of the feet . . .

The #2 son airs it out during the 800 meters.

. . . are centered around the 10 toes of my #2 son. Especially when they’re flying through the air with the greatest of ease!

Wimps, Whiners, and Weenies, Oh My!

The weekly Houston weather forecast

This has been a brutal winter in the Houston area, and I’ve hated it. Hate, hate, hate the cold! Hate, hate, hate the north winds! Wind chill is for northerners, not southerners!

The weekly Chicago weather forecast

I lived in the Chicago area for the first 30 years of my life, and I had to put up with the cold and wind chill, not to mention the ice and snow. That’s just part of the Midwestern winter package. I didn’t like it, but I accepted it, because, hey, it’s cold up north!

But now I’ve lived in the south for the last 26 years, and mild winters are the best part of the weather experience (which almost make up for our sometimes unbearable summers). I’ve loved our temperate southeast Texas climate. I look forward to those nice temps while sweating through the summer and early fall.

But this year something has changed. For the worse! It seems that the Houston area has been mired in damp, chilly weather this entire winter . . . and it’s not about to end any time soon.

According to the “Houston Chronicle’s” science writer, Eric Berger, I’m not imagining things. Here’s what he had to say in his blog:

Consider last February in Houston, when 21 of the month’s 28 days had high temperatures of 70 degrees or above, and there was not one night of freezing temperatures. On three days temperatures topped out in the 80s.

Contrast that with this February, when we’ve had just one—just one!—day when temperatures reached 70 degrees. And so far there have been four freezes.

For people who know Houston weather, this winter has felt really cold.

The #2 son (second from the left) and his teammates keep warm at last night’s track meet.

My friends and family from up north have scoffed at our cold-weather complaints on Facebook. They think we’re just wimps, whiners, and weenies. Hey, I’m not arguing! Yes, we are! Of course, they’d feel the same way during August here.

It all means that, like it or not, we’ve had to adapt and pull on our warmer clothes . . . lots of them! Take last night’s high school junior varsity track meet. As I said in Tuesday’s blog post, I would learn from freezing at the first meet and dress more warmly. Which I did! I layered my warm Cuddl Duds under my sweatpants and sweatshirt. Added my warmest jacket, complete with a stylish hood, and I felt pretty toasty once the sun went down.

Except for my hands. I can’t use gloves when I shoot, so I mostly suffered in silence. Except when someone came close enough. Then I complained. A lot.

Tori stays warmer than her teammates.

Meanwhile, our athletes tried to stay as warm as possible before having to brave the wind-chilled 40ish temps in their shorts and singlets.

Jasmine rocks the Bratz girls blanket.

At least the kids were on the move, which helped them keep warmer.

Terry keeps his ears warm as he watches through the fence.

The parents were mostly huddled together along the fence . . .

Jimmy and Karen join the Mister on the cold bleachers.

. . . or on those frosty cold aluminum bleachers. Doesn’t the Mister look thrilled? I didn’t dare attempt a thought bubble!

Unfortunately for us, the track meet dragged on and on and on, because there were 13 teams. With all those freshmen boys and junior varsity girls and boys, that made for at least five heats for most of the events. And we had to stay until the end, because our #2 son was running in the 4 x 400-meter relay . . . the very last race. Weren’t we lucky? No, we didn’t think so either.

The meet wasn’t over until almost 10 p.m. On a school night!

By the end of the evening . . .

. . . we all felt like curling up in a blanket in the fetal position! Whining all the way!!