Turnabout – YFZ

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About three weeks ago I took this photo of a nine-year-old FLDS boy at the YFZ ranch who had just been reunited with his family after spending two months in state custody. (You can read about that here.)

Yesterday we were out at the ranch and I saw him again. I didn’t photograph him this time, because if I bug him too much he says I’ll turn into a cockroach. But as we were leaving he picked up my camera and we turned the tables on each other, as he took this photograph of me:

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YFZ Grand Jury

(The Photo Gallery may or may not be working. I’m fixing it now. If you can’t wait, go here: http://tribblogs.com/fly/2008/06/yfz-grand-jury/.)

Spent the day in front of the Schleicher County Courthouse in Eldorado, Texas, where a grand jury was considering evidence from the raid on the YFZ ranch for possible criminal charges against members of the FLDS church. Several FLDS women were called in to testify. And before I go on, I must give some credit to the eye of Stephanie Sinclair. She noticed the silhouettes first and I followed her inspiration for a beautiful, symbolic image of the day’s events.
In the gallery below, photos from throughout the day, all shot with the 600mm lens. We were kept back at least 150 feet from the building, which was surrounded by yellow police tape. Worse than that tape was me leaving my monopod in the hotel room and having to handhold the 600 all day long.

Late in the afternoon, Teresa Jeffs got antsy and climbed up a tree on the courthouse grounds. The photo below (with handy red circle) shows you how high she went:

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First Place – Best Blog Entry – SPJ

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My March 2007 post, Monika, was awarded first place for best blog entry by the Society of Professional Journalists’ Utah Headliners Chapter. You can read the post by clicking on the photo above.

I won a couple of other things, too. I’ll post those shortly. The complete list of SPJ winners is here. A lot of Tribune names on that list. Congrats, friends.

Spotted in Sugar House

Young man at a freeway exit, holding a sign reading, \"Bored, wanted to try panhandling.\"

Spotted this guy in Sugar House, coming off the freeway on my way home. They say to always have your camera ready just in case you see something. I was halfway there. As I raised the camera to my eye for a quick shot (from the moving vehicle), I realized that my autofocus point was set way off to the left. That’s why he’s standing way over there.

The View From The Train

The train guy told me that it was a rare treat to be able to ride while staring out into the windowless wide open. He was right. I could have photographed the patterns of the passing world forever.

Since this is the first gallery, a little bit of instruction. Click on a thumbnail to blow it up, then click on the photo to see the next one.

Earlier, in the engine, I asked the train guys what was the craziest thing they’d ever seen along the rails. They said there wasn’t much of the crazy stuff that could be printed. They told a couple of stories, which I promised not to repeat (I know, sorry). And then one of the guys told about someone doing something really crazy and stupid. Funny thing is, I did that same thing all through the summer of ‘88.

I smiled, but kept quiet.


I was up front in the engine of a train the other day with Operation Lifesaver, a group promoting safety on the tracks and at railroad crossings. We were rolling through Utah County watching people disregard safety. Like most of us, I had only seen things from the view of the pedestrian walking across the tracks— the trespasser (enlarged at right. Anyone know this guy?)— or the driver in the car trying to rush across while it’s still somewhat safe— the idiot. The view from inside the train was a lot different. I was amazed to see car after car trying to speed across the tracks before the train got to the crossing. When a police car turned on his red and blue lights and went after one such driver that rushed across, three more drivers followed the cop across the tracks in their mad dash to get somewhere.

State Championship Rodeo

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Krystal Brown racing to the finish, above, while competing in barrel racing at the Utah High School Rodeo State Championships, Heber City.

Rodeo fans are the most patriotic. It’s only before a rodeo that you hear John Wayne recite a poem on how great America is. The shot at left is a detail of the crowd during the national anthem. I worked this scene for a while and never really got what I wanted out of it. The way that little boy was sucking down the drink, I’m hoping it was water.

They Are Watching You


Have you seen a truly awful piece of Photoshop work? Clumsy manipulation, senseless comping, lazy cloning and thoughtless retouching are our bread and butter.

That’s the description of the Photoshop Disasters blog, which has quickly become one of my favorite feeds. Page after page of Photoshop disasters submitted by readers.

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A recent post included this intriguing shot of Tiger Woods that appeared in a Washington Post publication, where Phil Mickelson (at left) looks like he’s both in front of and behind Woods. Turns out it may just be a trick of the lens rather than an unethical use of Photoshop.

As a photojournalist who strives to work with high ethical standards, I’m conflicted about the mob mentality of the site. I want the public to see how artificial commercial and celebrity imagery has become. And I certainly want to see unethical photographers exposed. I’m glad that the public is watching, and skeptical.

But let’s not hang someone who may be innocent. Of the millions who saw the Tiger Woods photograph when it was initially labelled a Photoshop job, only a handful saw the updates explaining it was most likely a legitimate photograph.

Once you’ve thrown mud at an innocent news photographer’s reputation, it is nearly impossible to clean off.

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