President’s Ranch - Crawford Texas

Monday, November 12, 2007

The opportunity presented itself to cover the arrival of the German Chancellor to the Bush Ranch, and while I had a tight schedule with commitments the day before and the day after outside of Texas, this was something that had just the right timing that lent itself to being covered.


Assignment ConstructThe objective was to capture a nice image of the President and German Chancellor during their visit to the Bush ranch in Crawford Texas. The Chancellor and her husband came to see the President in a much more informal setting than would be at the White House, but it was important to me that there be something that places them there. A ranch house would have been nice, so too, livestock, or something “ranch-y”. Yet, I was on hand to document what happened, so my ability to control anything was limited to my position.


As one of the lower people on the totem pole, and thus, arriving in the last van, I got to a rope line that was already full. To the left were television cameras, to the right, the other still photographers. That left me being able to stand anywhere, as long as it was behind the front line.
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Key for me was the position of the “boom mics” - the microphones on long poles that are extended out from the rope line to capture whatever remarks might be made (note them to the bottom left of the handshake frame). The boom mics were infront of the camera to the far right - all of them. This created, essentially, an “air podium”. All the mics were on the ground and when the President and Chancellor approached, they would raise the mics.

Knowing that those speaking would “come to the mics” as they approached, I took my position right behind the two wire service photographers, and made my images in between their heads. I also checked the angle from where I expected them to stand, to the location in the center of the helipad. When the first staff helicopters turned up, I checked where they would appear in the background, and felt comfortable that I had my background element where I wanted it.


The entire assignment was just a few minutes. Unfortunately, the Chancellor disembarked on the opposite side of the helicopter, meaning that we would not have a nice image of her coming off, which was frustrating, because I had wanted to make that image.

They walked over, and as they did, the mics raised up, and they aligned themselves just where I expected them to, and began their remarks. I got a few ok images of that, but I wanted the handshake. It has been my experience on photo-ops that they almost always will shake hands at the end, and frequently (but not as often) when they first get to the mics. More often than not, it’s the objective of the wire photographers to capture their head-on images, and then try to get a cut-away image from the side. I hoped that they would do that, however, I couldn’t be sure. Knowing the remarks would be brief, I set up for a nice vertical, including their legs and the helicopter. When the handshake happened, those to the left of me had the Chancellor’s husband and Mrs. Bush in the background, those to the right of me had the german/english translator (wearing orange) as a background distraction, with blue sky. Below is the photograph taken with the wire photographers still infront of me at the beginning of their remarks. You can also see the boom mics there as well.Assignment Construct
As they departed in the President’s pickup, I wanted to use the helicopter as a backdrop as well. As they rounded the bend, the sun was low, and the rear-view mirror cast a shadow across the Chancellor’s face, however, just as they passed infront of the helicopter, while the shadow did cross her eyes, her smile was in full sun, and ear to ear, and the President was just finishing his wave, so it made for a nice closing image of the arrival coverage.
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We immediately returned to the Press Filing Center at Crawford Middle School. I reviewed my images on the ride back, and tagged, in camera, those that I thought were best.  For the vertical, while I also included sky in my frame, incase it needed to be a place for type that a publication might run over it, I cropped it tighter in the final analysis, as shown.  Also, the Chancellor’s husband, as shown in the photo, would have thrown off the balance of the image, so I cropped him out as well. As the images were processing from RAW to JPEG, I drafted captions, and logged onto my internet service with my cellular card to get prepared to transmit. When the post production processing was done, I was able to immediately apply my pre-written captions, and transmit the files out to my agency, and call them to let them know they were successfully sent, and that I had a few images I really liked.

Final Analysis:

I was glad to be able to apply some of my “event arrivals” experience to this, my first time doing an arrival at the President’s ranch. Knowing how TV would operate, and thus, those who would end up on camera allowed me to maximize the likelihood that I would have a great image. I really enjoy the up close and personal nature of the photo with it’s informal elements of wardrobe and grass, set against the formality of the Marine One helicopter.

Posted by John Harrington on 11/12
EventsHard NewsPeopleIn ActionPlacesThe White House
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