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The Flood

Pastor Bill Van Meter locks up after checking on his church on Cumberland Road after the area flooded at Nazarene Worship Center in Hebron, Ohio on Thursday, March 15, 2012. Heavy thunderstorms compounded by hail caused Hebron, as well as other parts of Licking County, to flood. Zach Gray/The Advocate

Last month our county was flooded after four inches of rain fell in five hours. Four inches doesn’t sound like enough to flood, but in such a short amount of time the water has nowhere to go.

A town about 30 minutes from mine called Hebron got it the worst. The storm that brought the rain also produced a large amount of hail and that, along with debris, clogged several drains in Hebron and made the flood much worse.

Covering big,  breaking news is still fairly new to me. Crashes, house fires and the like are common, but things like floods, wild fires and exotic animals running wild don’t happen every day.

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Turkey Trot

2011 Granville Turkey Trot in downtown Granville, Ohio on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday. Zach Gray/The Advocate

I hate running. Unless I’m doing it to travel more quickly, or if it’s part of a game. But running for pleasure or even exercise just doesn’t appeal to me.

Thursday, I spent my first Thanksgiving outside of Oklahoma and away from my family. So the fact that I had to be up at 8 a.m. to shoot a 5K made it that much worse. Or so I thought.

Once I actually got out there and saw the 1,000+ people who showed up to run – many of whom wore silly costumes  – I started to change my mind. Read More »

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Pumpkin Season

Jayden Brennan, 3, of Zanesville tries to lift a pumpkin at Pigeon Roost Farm in Hebron, Ohio on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011. Zach Gray/The Advocate

This past Saturday I was on my way to the district cross country meet in Pataskala when I noticed a pumpkin patch I had my eye on was completely packed. I wanted to stop and shoot, but I had to get to my assignment.

When I was finished with cross country, I passed it again and this time, the light was absolutely perfect. But again I couldn’t stop as I had another assignment to shoot. I did go the next day when the light should have been perfect again, but of course it was overcast. I drove 30 minutes to get there, so I went ahead and poked around, but didn’t get anything great.

Today, I planned on visiting again, but again it was overcast. Maybe I’ll go tomorrow, but I feel a bit silly spending so much time on a cliched photo.

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Et tu, Brute?

Ohio State University’s Brutus Buckeye enters the gym at Liberty Middle School during a fall pep rally in Newark, Ohio on Friday, Sept. 30, 2011. Zach Gray/The Advocate

It’s pretty special when the mascot of the state’s (and nation’s) largest major college visits your middle school.

Growing up in Oklahoma, I was always annoyed by the amount of Sooners fans everywhere I looked. Ohio State is the OU of Ohio, but much larger. Luckily, I don’t have a tie to any local teams, so it’s not as bothersome.

In Oklahoma, there has been a big rise in the number of people pulling for that school in Stillwater, but here in Ohio, there’s hardly a close second. Everyone here loves OSU. At least, everyone who cares at all about college football.

It was fun being back at a middle school pep rally. It reminded me of when I was in junior high and wore my football jersey to school on gamedays for the pep rally. If you’re wondering, I was about as good at football as you would expect.

Click below for more pics.

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Kid commando

2-year-old Andrew Fair of Hebron tries on a military helmet inside of a helicopter at the Hebron Music and Arts Festival in Hebron, Ohio on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011. Zach Gray/The Advocate

In my previous post, I said how I always have to take photos of dogs near me for Cara. I was at a small arts festival in a nearby town the other day and to my surprise, there wasn’t a dog in sight.

So, the next best thing was to get a photo of a cute kid, right?

K. I promise my next post wont be about Cara.

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Buckeye Boxer

When I’m on assignment, I have two goals. One is to shoot the assignment. The other is to get a picture of any dogs within sight, so I can send them to Cara.

To say Cara likes dogs would be a gross understatement.

The boxer mix (I’m guessing) above was shot at Buckeye Lake, which is about half an hour from Newark. Oh yeah. For those who don’t know, I moved to Newark, Ohio and have started my first full-time job with The Advocate here in town. I’m sure you’ll hear more about that in future posts.

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Photo Bombers

Left: Linebacker Zeke Lewis and quarterback Ronnie Davis pose for portraits in the Midwest City High School locker room on Tuesday, June 21, 2011.

Tuesday I was able to shoot a few sportraits will Midwest City’s best players.

As far as taking photos goes, portraits is the category that makes me the most uncomfortable. I usually like to be in control of situations, but when it comes to shooting, I prefer to observe and document.

So when there is a person or group of people watching me and waiting for my direction, I get nervous. And most portraits I do aren’t in studio or even a place that I’ve been to before.

So that leaves me to figure out where on the location to shoot, how to pose the people, where to put the lights, how to expose for the ambient and the flash, how to position the people and the background within the frame, etc. all at once. It usually makes me feel rushed and awkward.

This time, however, I decided to fake confidence and not worry. It helped a lot. Really, in any situation it’s good to fake confidence and pretend you aren’t worried. And if you can fool yourself as well as your audience, you have it made.

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Endeavor diver

Anil Gurung from the UK dives off the blocks during a practice for the Endeavor Games at UCO’s Hamilton Field House in Edmond on Thursday, June 9, 2011.

An assignment from my first week at The Oklahoman was to shoot competitors in the Endeavor Games as they got warmed up the day before the start of the games.

I was happy to hear that I was being sent out to Edmond to cover the games because I actually shot the same event two years ago while I was at the Edmond Sun.

It never ceases to encourage me when I see people overcoming obstacles that I can’t imagine and doing it with great spirit. Anything that can remind me to be thankful is a good thing and the people working in and for the Endeavor Games were certainly great reminders.

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Mary’s minis

Mary Shellhammer feeds her miniature horses at her home in Coyle, Okla. Saturday, June 18, 2011.

I drove around for a while, but when the temperature is more than 100 degrees, there aren’t a lot of people who stay outside. So with my gas gauge drooping, I decided I had better leave town.

My last-ditch effort was to take a route that goes between Perkins to Guthrie instead of heading straight for I-35. Every time I go this way, I notice all of the mini horses and desperately want to stop.

It would turn out to be my lucky day as I noticed a woman out and about around horses. I quickly pulled in and introduced myself to Mary Shellhammer.

Mary has lived in the same house since she was a child. After retiring from a 38-year-long teaching career, Mary returned to stay full-time at her house in Coyle and raise miniature horse.

After following her around for a few minutes, she invited me inside to share about her life and her love for horses.

It was wonderful talking to her. She is truly an inspired person. She told that me that she had always wanted to be a photojournalist, which I thought was wonderful. I’ve always dreamt of being a teacher. Maybe there’s a correlation there.

Also, there are a few more photos from my trip here.

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Explosions in the water

Officer Richard Painter, a bomb technician from Allegheny County in Pennsylvania, adorns his scuba gear before diving into Arcadia Lake in Edmond for the Underwater Explosive Recovery Specialist Course put on by Rockie Yardley of the Edmond Police Department on Wednesday, June 8, 2011.

Day two at The Oklahoman had me driving to Edmond/Arcadia to Arcadia Lake. I’m familiar with both the town and the lake from my first internship two years ago at The Edmond Sun, so it was no trouble at all.

When I first heard that the assignment was for underwater explosives, I got pretty excited. I soon learned that I wouldn’t be shooting any explosives and I wouldn’t be shooting underwater, which made sense because Arcadia Lake’s water is about as transparent as I am.

The training that’s done by a member of the Edmond police teaches police officers and military from around the world how recover explosives in the water with no visibility.

So, while nothing too exciting happened, I did have a good time hanging out by the water with some pretty interesting guys.

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