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Saturday Shred

Kids skateboarding everywhere!!!! And they aren’t breaking rules, defacing the church rails, or trying to land the “gnarliest” trick in your backyard pool bowl. They are at the Perkins Road Skatepark which holds the states largest skate park at 32 thousand square feet of cemented slopes, polished rails, and 80 degree angle pool bowls that allow the novice to the pro enjoy the area. The park is open until midnights on the weekend and on week nights the vibrantly lit area is open until 9.

If the specks of the place aren’t enough, events like Saturday Shred attract nearly a thousand kids out for a night of competition. Regular weekends also attract a crowd of about a thousand kids between Friday and Saturday.

If skateboarding isn’t your thing this 56 acre park has a rock wall, a BMX track, and a velodrome. The park took nearly two years to be renovated. Originally the area had a BMX track, but the people of Baton Rouge voiced their want for a skatepark as well, and BREC has delivered.

Kerrie Sully, a parent, enjoys coming to the park not only for her two kids enjoyment but also for herself. While she works out she enjoys the fact that this park allows her kids to try multiple activities. “I can watch my kids while their exploring their different interests.”

Susie Skaggs, the park director, came up with the idea of Saturday Shred. She wanted a place for kids to enjoy a Saturday night, while being able to do the activities they love. With the sun down but the aesthetic lighting of the park on, the park turns into a venue at night with all activities available including spots for local bands to play as the night carries into the late evening.

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My new Tamron!!! (Here’s to Tina)

So Tina Phan has been my inspiration for photography since I started shooting this past year. For all questions I turn to her for advice technically, philosophically, or otherwise.

When shooting with her, her lenses are always better! ha But that is because she has been doing this longer and knows what she needs to take great images. Her most frequently used lens is the Tamron 2.8 28-75. I was lucky enough that she has let me use it when we shoot together. It’s a great lens due to the fixed aperture of 2.8. So, I decided I would get one. I saved and saved and was deterred a few times but yesterday, IT FINALLY ARRIVED! Below is are some of the first images I took with it on campus yesterday. I’m sure there are more to come!

So here’s to Tina! My journo buddy/photo adventure connoisseur!

Bike racks on campus.

Cafeteria?


Pickleball

“Whack, whack, whack.” The sounds hits you before the sight; a group of 50 and older playing a sport called pickleball. The game follows the rules of ping-pong and tennis in that there is a court, a ball, and a net between them. The main difference is the type of ball, a whiffle ball; and the racket, a fiberglass paddle larger than a ping-pong pad and smaller than a tennis racquet.

Pickle Ball was a sport invented by a Washington Congressman named Joel Pritchard. The story goes that he wanted a game that both he and his kids could play. After fabricating some paddles and slapping around a whiffle ball the sport was born. The name, however, comes from the family dog, Pickles. When the ball was hit loose, Pickles loved to chase the ball, thus Pickleball.

The sport is enjoyed by all, but in the Baton Rouge area, the 50 and older crowd of Cedar Ridge especially loves their pickleball. Tom Burkhardt, a member of the United States of America Pickleball Association, not only plays locally but in regional tournaments. The night I covered this story they had a pickleball player drive all the way in from Lafayette just to get some playing time in. Dana Lewczyk, another avid player, plays about 4 times a week. She even gets up at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesdays for their Wednesday game.

The sport has gotten so popular in the community that one player decided to introduce it to his workplace, Hunt Correctional Institute, a prison in St. Gabriel Parish. Robert Kelly began seeing that the older prisoners at his prison had trouble finding activities that suited their needs. “Some of these guys have been in prison so long that they’re burnt out on the gym, and sports like basketball and football are just too much for them.” So Kelly decided to introduce pickleball to the prison.

Since last April the prison has had 6 tournaments and Kelly plans on introducing it to Angola Prison in hopes of tournaments between the two down the road. “This is a sport for everyone,” said Kelly, “young and old, no matter where you are in life.”


Gone Fishin’

Over the break a good friend of mine, Trey, took me fishing at Pointe des Chiens south of Houma. Trey’s girlfriend, Emily, and our good friend and captain Dave joined as we ventured out of Hammond, Louisiana well before sunrise. On probably one of the coldest days of the year, when we hit the water the temperature had just rose above freezing. Dave said he was uncertain if the fish would be biting due to the cold weather, but at about 9 a.m. the fish began biting…..they didn’t stop!

Trey showing off a catch

Here's the spread

The Speckled Trout were more prevelent but we did catch about 6 Red Fish


My Trip to Grand Isle

Last week my internship with the Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries brought me to Grand Isle, La. to photograph the release of some turtles back into the Gulf. Arriving in Grand Isle I soon found out that there weren’t enough spots on the boat due to the late arrival of an AP member. Being an intern and the low man on the totem pole, I would not be going out to the release, instead I would photograph the boats heading out to the release from Grand Isle State Park.

Not letting this bother me, I decided to walk the beach of the State Park and observe the clean up efforts that are still taking place. 6 months and a day since the oil spill there were smaller clean up crews shoveling up the top layers of sand, and meanwhile large tractors shuffling sand through some type of filtration system.

I talked to the two in the picture cleaning up about their work. Apparently they are contracted through someone who is contracted, though someone who is contracted through BP. (and no that’s not a typo) They told me work was slow, and they find a tar ball here and there. I asked them while they were only shoveling up the surface of the sand and they told me that they have been instructed to do so, because there is oil underneath the surface. Our conversation only lasted a few minutes because it was time for them to head back to their clean up tent, now six month after the spill on a nice sunny day, they still only work in 30 minute shifts at a time.

Confused as to why the workers would not dig up the subsurface oil I decided to dig down into the sand with my hand, from what I could see about 8 inches down, there was NO oil. Coarse sand was all I found in the shallow hole I dug, but soon after this I would spot my first tar ball. Unlike the slimy tar balls they may have washed up on the shores in the weeks following the spill, these harden clumps blended in like part of the beach. It wasn’t until I spotted this large tar ball that I knew what they looked like.

I soon began to see smaller dime sized tar balls all around me. As I said before if you didn’t know what you were looking for you would miss them. I decided to break up a tar “clump” to see what the consistency of them was now 6 months later, although not slimy I found myself struggling to get the sandy film off of my fingers as you can see in this short video.

Here is a picture of the slimy stuff on my fingers. As you can see in the video it WOULDN’T wash off, so finally I used my extra t-shirt to wipe off the sludge. I can only imagine what the animals go through when they get in this stuff, and don’t have opposable thumbs or a mental capacity to understand what oil is, or where it came from. I am not trying to rant, or cast an ultra negative light, I am just saying it’s hard not to think that when you hear the birds around you as you wipe off your tar balled fingers.

Seeing these smaller tar balls all around me I decided to see how many I could pick up just in the radius around me in a matter of a few seconds. This pic has roughly 10 little tar balls…

The day started as a celebration of turtles being released back into the Gulf however, I would soon see that we have a long way to go. I am optimistic of the future for the Gulf, but it is a long road to recovery.


Windfarm Sunrise

A few weeks back I visited my friend Tina Phan who was doing an internship in Abilene, TX. I will post up some more stuff about our weekend but on the morning I was heading out, Tina and I rose very early so we could watch the sunrise among hundreds of windmills on a local wind farm there. The sights were pretty breath taking and for a weirdo green freak like myself, stumbling on one windmill they forgot to lock up was pretty D-A-M cool as well!!!┬áIt’s hard to explain or show how big these things are until your up close on one of them…

Thanks to Tina I was able to use her wide angle lens to capture just how big one of these suckers are.

I wasn’t expecting to see this out there, but just a good image of the now and the future.

This was the first shot I took once the sun was starting to fully show, it was a pretty sight out there.

I think Toyota might have a pretty good ad campaign with this pic.

And last is a slideshow of just some of the other views from a brave new world…

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They ALL leave, but not for the same destination…

Coincidentally on the day that we removed the last of our combat troops from Iraq, I was sent out to Port Hudson today to cover a national cemetery that has begun to fill up. The cemetery is on the same grounds of a huge battle at this port during the Civil War. Many of the soldiers buried there are from past wars with only a few from the current struggle were in. Regardless, it caused me to stop and think about the troops of today leaving Iraq with a different destination then some of their brothers who went before them.

On your way out to the cemetery you come around a big bend and are met with your first sight of Port Hudson and it is eerie to see this immediately.

Port Hudson National Cemetery

Mark Loser was one of the nine full-time ground keepers at the cemetery, he is a veteran like many of the other people working at this site. Mark told me that he feels privileged to see soldiers off to their final resting place.

The cemetery is in the process of buying new land, however, it takes years to get through all the red tape of buying land for government use of burial. Right now the cemetery has enough space for about two more years. The most recent burials don’t have proper headstones yet, each headstone is purchased by the U.S. Government made off site and delivered.