Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Always Love A Good Home Cooking

The other day I got a chance to witness a live fire training with the Chico Fire Department. The training involves testing fire scenarios in a home that has been donated for demolition. At the end of the training the home is set ablaze. This type of training provides firefighters with real life planning on how to study fire behavior and better understand tactics in fighting house fires.

A home along E. 9th St. is engulfed in flames during a "Live Fire Training Burn Operation" Saturday, March 27, 2009 in Chico, CA. (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

Flames burst out of a window on a home used as a "Live Fire Training Burn Operation" for Chico Fire. (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

I have seen several homes catch on fire. Chico firefighters have a response time of about 4 minutes. This means that when a call is made to 911 about a fire, I have 4 minutes to see any flames. There is not that much time for me to respond, especially since I do not have an sirens or lights to race to the scene. Most of the time when I arrive at a fire, firefighter have already put out the flames. This is a good thing, seeing how it is such a devastation to have homes destroyed by fires.

Chico firefighter Lani Bangay (left) and volunteer firefighter Aaron Rafe (right) hose down the fire as they conducted a "Live Fire Training Burn Operation" on a home along E. 9th St. Saturday, March 27, 2009 in Chico, CA. (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

Debris falls inside a home that is set ablaze for a training. (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

A slow exposure captures flames flowing over the home used in a "Live Fire Training Burn Operation". (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

A phone book is set ablaze as it sits on the porch of a home burn down for a training. (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

A more rare opportunity is when I get to see a house burn down. I am always reminded of the movie "Backdraft" at live fire trainings. The movie portrayed fire as having this life and personality. This personality of fire can be seen at fire trainings. When fire engulfs a home it burns at a very hot temperature. You can feel the heat burn your skin even from 50ft away. Inside the home where the flames are the strongest, the fire will whip around like a velvet cloth in the wind. Pictures don't do real justice to the movement of fire. I have always found fire very intriguing. It feels like its own element with its own behavior and rules.

Chico Fire volunteer firefighter Aaron Rafe hoses down the fire as they conducted a "Live Fire Training Burn Operation" on a home along E. 9th St. Saturday, March 27, 2009 in Chico, CA. (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

An eerie scene as flames burst out of windows on a home along E. 9th St. for a fire training. (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

Fire has always captivated me. I am not a pyro or anything. I just always remember enjoying watching a campfire. I know that if I wasn't a photographer I might have been a firefighter. I do like the fact that as a photojournalist I get to see what firefighters see without any of the risk they put their lives into everyday. This trainings help them learn so much about saving lives, and they give me a great opportunity to see some nice "home cooking".

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Don't Have A Cow, Man...Walk One.

In a major city, this sight would be unheard of. But I guess when you up in the North state in a more rural community, the chances of seeing a man taking his cow for a walk through the city would be pretty common.

Chris Polen navigates walking his cow "Daisy" with his dog "Penguin II" down Park Ave on Friday, March 27, 2009 in Chico, CA. Animal Control gave Polen a warning o turn around and walk back to his home along the Midway.(Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

The other day I received a phone call about a man being arrested for walking a cow through the city. I was having lunch with a friend at the time of the call when I raced down to the scene. I could see the flashing lights of the cop cars. I pulled over and walked over to see four officers talking to a man holding two leashes. One for his dog and one for his cow.

Chris Polen (left) is told to walk his cow back home by Chico Police Animal Control officer Cheryl Howard (right) Friday, March 27, 2009 in Chico, CA. State law prohibits animals from grazing on the roadside. This means you can't have livestock in city limits.(Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

There were two officers from the Butte County Sheriff assisting two Chico Police Animal Control officers. Fortunately for the man walking the cow, he was told to turn around and walk the cow back home.

Chris Polen (center) reacts to being stopped by Chico Police Animal Control officers Charlene Durkin (center) and Cheryl Howard (right) after they responded to him walking his cow "Daisy" with his dog "Penguin II" down Park Ave on Friday, March 27, 2009 in Chico, CA. State. Animal Control gave Polen a warning to turn around and walk back to his home along the Midway.(Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

The man couldn't believe why it would be bad for him to walk his cow through town actually stopping in the middle of Downtown Chico on Normal St. The officers tried to tell the man that there is a state law that prohibits livestock from grazing in city streets. There is a city ordinance that matches this law. This basically means you can't walk a cow through the city. The man was frustrated saying he has walked the cow several times before and had no problem. He mentioned later that he had walked the cow at 6:00am before. The early morning probably had something to do with him not getting caught the first time. This time he decided to walk the cow through town around 2:20 in the afternoon! The higher of number of people on the road calling in about a man walking his cow could have had an impact.

Chris Polen walks back home along the Midway after he was stopped by Chico Police Animal Control and Butte County Sheriffs after they caught him walking his cow "Daisy" with his dog "Penguin II" down Park Ave on Friday, March 27, 2009 in Chico, CA. State. (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

The man though disagreed with officers wishes, obeyed them. He walked his dog "Penguin II" and cow "Daisy" back home. I know you are all wondering "Why would he be even walking his cow to begin with?!" It was actually a custody dispute with the cow. After a while of taking care of it he decided he could no longer house the cow. But when trying to give it back to the other party, they would not come pick it up. After several week of the cow being left with him, he decided to walk the cow back to the rightful owner. I don't really have a problem with a man walking his cow, seeing how a little later I caught up with him heading home on the Midway heading to the more rural town of Durham, Calif. Out of city limits it didn't seem quite as odd. But the laws are the laws unless they are changed, so don't have a cow, just walk one.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

No Boredom at Board Meeting

City Council, County and School "Board" meeting have the potential to be just that...boring. The photos usually lead to a individual seated behind a desk sitting talking into a microphone. The dialogue can be very enticing, but visually it leads itself to a unexciting image. Most of the time mugshots of the councilors work best.

Ever so often the press is treated with a gem of a photo opportunity. These opportunities don't come with great assurance in that those board meetings are the most controversial. They contain some big of decision that will lead to a group, big or small, unhappy with the outcome.

Music parent Colleen Kavanagh holds a sign during a Chico Unified School District meeting Wednesday. (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

This strong visual with hardship story is the type that happened the other day. Wednesday the Chico Unified School District Board was faced with a tough decision on whether to face running out of funding in the fall semester or make disturbing cuts in layoff and programs to the district. Parents, teachers and other school and community representatives came out to show their support to keep the funding intact. The images show the controversy that followed.

I wasn't initially assigned to cover the school board meeting as for the aforementioned reason. The meeting was thought to be another insightful, yet visually dull meeting. I received a call from the reporter about the number of community members who came out to voice their opinion of the subject. After receiving the call, I talked with the editors and a conclusion was drawn that we had not allocated enough room in the print paper to give adequate coverage for the story. I told the reporter, "Not unless someone busts out a #2 pencils and starts stabbing people, are we going to have room for any art."

Parents, students and community members holds a sign during a Chico Unified School District meeting that discussed budget cuts Wednesday. (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

This brings a huge part of what newspapers and journalism as a whole faces everyday with the decline of the economy (more on that later). My night was looking pretty open, and I decided to see what the commotion looked like for myself. The reporter had stressed the need for a photo request from the scene. I drove down to the City Council Chambers and found a packed room full of supporters of school funding. I began to take pictures of the children and parents who created signs for the occasion. This was the visual impact I was needing.

Brian Corbit, parent of a Chico High student, holds a sign during a Chico Unified School District meeting Wednesday.(Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

During the meeting I was able to listen to the discussion of what the city was making their decisions on. The was a presentation by Assistant superintendent Jan Combes about the school budget, or should I say lack of budget. The district faced a deficit of $9.7 million unless the cuts were made. Those cuts only would shrink the budget deficit to about half down to $4.8 million. Thought not enough to gain a positive, pushing for the cuts would give the district help in obtaining a cash-flow loan to assist with funding the budget.

School Board member Andrea L. Thompson holds her hands to her mouth as she looks over the presentation on the cuts being addressed to the district during a Chico Unified School District meeting Wednesday. (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

The community came out to say no to the cuts. But the controversy was the fact that the district without these cuts would allow the government to step in. With the government taking control of the district, all local decisions wouldn't be allowed to be heard. This would cause much hardship for the schools in the future.

Evan Goodson, 13, of Chico Junior High, addresses the Chico Unified School District board on why he loves music in school.(Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)
There were many photographic opportunities for me at the meeting with parents holding signs in opposition to the cuts. After returning from the meeting, I came back to the office were there were no news holes to place any artwork. Though I created a photo gallery and placed several photos with the story online, the news print suffered. The story was lost in the pages of the print. This is the effects the economy has had on the newspapers across the country. With our funding being hindered by other Internet sales and with decreased business support, the newspaper is unable to provide its readerships with...well, with the news. This huge story that effects the whole community isn't giving the proper coverage it needs in order to get the story out to the public. There are so many sides of the story that are being missed because we don't have the space.

I was glad to have the opportunity to take it upon myself to give this issue the coverage that it deserves. Hopefully someone will see the images and be impacted to do something to help. This is the bond the newspapers serve to the community and why we as journalist never are bored with our job, no matter how dim the outlook.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm Back from Writer's Block

Well it has been quite a while since my last post. I will admit, I have been distracted lately. Not because of the economy, or the journalism industry or even because of some new camera toy. On March 7th, 2009, I married my love. Her name was CassAndra Dutton. I have been dating her since college. And now we will share our lives together. I am very happy. I haven't talked much about her on this site because it was to mainly focus on my photography work. But now that I have pictures from the wedding, I can post them.

Almond blossoms were blooming outside the Neighborhood Church where Cassie and I married. (photo by Bill Husa)

The wedding was wonderful, but a lot of planning. I had to take time away from this blog to focus on getting the plans done for the wedding. And I am glad I did. The wedding went perfect according to all of our guests. I want to thank them all for making that day very special for the both of us.

There was a lot of planning from the flowers, to the ceremony site, to the drink and food, oh yeah, and what about the photographer? I couldn't possibly take my own wedding pictures? I had ran into an old wedding photographer friend Jacquie Van Tichelt who I asked if she could take our wedding pictures. She was wonderful in accepting my request. She did a really great job.

But I just can't go a day without taking pictures, can I? Yes, I did it. I took a photograph of our own wedding. But before you scold me, I did set the camera up on a remote timer that I started two hours before the wedding. This meant that I would not have to worry about the camera at all during the wedding. At first I thought about putting a pocketwizard in my pocket to fire a remote camera, but then realized Cassie might notice every time I put my hand in my pocket to take a picture. I didn't know how I was going to take pictures of my own wedding, but then I realized a way that I could take pictures without "taking pictures" during the ceremony. I decided to connect an intervalometer up to the camera and place it in a secured location. I set the timer to go off every five seconds taking a picture until the card ran out. I set the timer to go off 15 minutes before the ceremony started. And then like Ron Popeil, I"Set it and forget it". Wow, did I just quote an infomerical? Anyway, it worked. I forgot to expose for the center stage, so we a a little overexposed, but it wasn't something that I was going to worry about. I think overall the picture is something that can be used for memories. And besides, who can say they photographed their own wedding. Although I don't know who would gloat about photographing their own wedding either. I also was able to use the images for a photo sequence of the whole wedding.

A remote camera set up in the balcony captures the wedding ceremony. (Jason Halley/Pro Pixelographer)

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Cassie surrounded by her bridesmaids Caylan, Kim, Michelle, Alysha, and Toni. (photo by Jacquie Van Tichelt)

Jason the groom surrounded by his groomsmen Matt, Matt, Sean, Aveed, Steve, and ring bearer nephew Cameron. (photo by Jacquie Van Tichelt)

My beautiful bride, CassAndra. (photo by Jacquie Van Tichelt)

I also had a second shooter there. Bill Husa popped from the crowd to snap several pictures...well several isn't really the word. He snapped a ton of pictures, draining two batteries. These pictures combined with full coverage from an excellent videographer captured the whole night for us. And what a night it was.

I place the ring on her hand during the ceremony. (photo by Jacquie Van Tichelt)

We walk out of the church as the new Mr. and Mrs. Halley. (photo by Jacquie Van Tichelt)

Yeah, I am pretty lucky. (photo by Jacquie Van Tichelt)

The wedding was great. When it started I was only focused on one thing, my bride, that I didn't even know who was watching the ceremony. It seemed to go real fast and before you know it, we were married. After the wedding we had to help clean up the church for services the next day. This causes us a little delay (about an hour) on getting to the reception. We thought that we would be bad hosts making everyone wait. To our surprise, everyone was very comfortable and in high spirits. Everyone continued to enjoy themselves and knew nothing of the delay. The night turned out to be very special. Our first dance was very memorable.

Dancing begins and continues well into the night. (photo by Bill Husa)

My groomsmen Matt and Sean acted as Timon and Pumba in our first dance that was choreographed to Lion King's "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" . (photo by Bill Husa)

Showing those Lion teeth during our first dance. (photo by Bill Husa)

Yum, cutting the cake made by my brother. (photo by Bill Husa)

Cassie and I had wanted to do something very special for the first dance. We had many discussions about starting our song, then switching into a funny routine and musical number. But with our busy schedules and chaotic planning, the agenda didn't just quite match up. Until the night before when we decided to cut into our song with the Lion King's "Can You Feel The Love Tonight". The night before I edited the music and created a video for it. I gave it to Cassie and the day of the wedding I was creating the costumes for the dance. It was very last minute but very great. Everyone loved it.

This is Cassie's favorite (she likes the tight grip on me). (photo by Jacquie Van Tichelt)

After a little more dancing and fun the night was ending and everything was great. Even the fact that Cassie and I left early to not clean up. With all this planning and enjoying the married life, this blog has been put on hold. I kept saying I need to start it up again, I should do it now. But as anything I need to make sure I have plenty of time to devote to it. So now as we begin our lives together, I continue to catalog my photographic journey. We will be having a honeymoon in Hawaii, so that should bring back some exciting pictures for the blog. But from now on, I should not have a writer's block anymore.