Thursday, May 31, 2007

Whirlpool and flooding


Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise

A whirlpool collects oil and debris as Stanton Street floods in Beaumont on Tuesday, May 29, 2007.


Adrienne Runners watches Stanton Street flood near her home in Beaumont. She said the street floods during every rain.

Image is part of the Charlton-Pollard series.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Jasper advances


Photos by Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise

Jasper's Blake Weller-Alexander (No. 10, top) and Hudson's Daniel Musick (No. 11, bottom) collide at the plate during a regional semifinal baseball game in Jasper on Friday, May 18, 2007.


Jasper's Travis Reagan (No. 19, left) looks to throw to home as Hudson's Jeremy Murphy (No. 7, right) decides to steal the base during a regional semifinal baseball game in Jasper. Murphy was eventually tagged out in a squeeze play.


Hudson's Jake Wood (No. 15, left) dives safely to first base as Jasper's Chantz Pryor (No. 6, right) waits on the ball during a regional semifinal baseball game in Jasper.

The Bulldogs won the playoff series 18-1 over Lufkin Hudson. Jasper began with a 10-run first inning and the game ended after a mandatory five innings. Jasper advanced to the Class 3A regional final round.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Shrimp poacher hunters


A Texas game warden prepares to patrol the Texas waters of the Gulf of Mexico for shrimp fishing season violators with a U.S. Coast Guard unit from the Sabine Pass station on Wednesday, May 16, 2007. For governmental security concerns, the game warden could not be identified.


Photos by Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise


A U.S. Coast Guard unit from the Sabine Pass station gets briefed before a Texas Gulf Coast patrol. The individual members of the patrol could not be identified due to military security concerns.


U.S. Coast Guard members and a Texas game warden search Texas waters in the Gulf of Mexico for shrimp fishing season violators. If they find violators, Coast Guard crew would board the boat, arrest the captain and escort the vessel back to shore.


A U.S. Coast Guard member from the Sabine Pass station looks for shrimp fishing season violators off the Texas Gulf Coast aboard U.S. Coast Guard 41389, a 41-foot USCG utility boat. The penalty for shrimping out of season is up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.



U.S. Coast Guard members from the Sabine Pass station search for Texas shrimp fishing season violators after sunset in the Gulf of Mexico. Texas shrimp season ended May 15 to allow shrimp to recover. It will resume in mid-July.


A U.S. Coast Guard member from the Sabine Pass station searches for Texas shrimp fishing season violators after sunset in the Gulf of Mexico.


U.S. Coast Guard members from the Sabine Pass station follow a potential Texas shrimp fishing season violator after sunset in the Gulf of Mexico.

I'm not allowed to show faces or use names with this story. With this in mind, I made my first video (requires Windows Media Player). Since there was no boarding, it's not much of a video. I've also learned how much I need to learn - particularly about sound.

Please read, "Patrols are out..." by Christine Rappleye.

How to submit NPPA clips

UPDATE: Beginning with the January 2008 clips, all clip entries and judging is online. So, read this post as "how difficult it was before."

Last time, we understood the odds of winning an NPPA monthly clip contests (quarterly for students) are much better than most other head-to-head pro PJ competitions.

NPPA may move to digital submissions by the end of next month, so this entry might be a reminder of how backwards things were "back in the day" (ie. "now"). Until the new system is implemented, let's better understand how to enter clip competitions and possibly win.

While it's nice to win clip contests, NPPA awards two regional points each month a member submits anything. Although a member must be somewhat lucky and a bad ass to win several clip contests and stay in the running, it's often the 2-point monthly submission awards that separate highly-competitive regions.

Consequently, it's advantageous for all regional members to keep clip contests competitive. The regional POY is the most consistent bad-ass shooter. S/he was in the right place at the right time and made the best images the most times, but also submitted images each month.

Membership required
Competitors must be NPPA members. If they aren't, they're potentially killing awards. When winning clips are returned to the regional clip chair, s/he checks the NPPA membership of all award winners. If a winner isn't a member, the non-member won't be awarded. However, a NPPA member, who should have won, won't be awarded either because the judges don't pick 4th place. The award is wasted.

Read the rules
Read the NPPA clip contest rules. It should answer most questions. The rules also include a list of regions (including other nationalities) as well as a list of regional clip contest chairs.

The rules are specific and clear. So, I'll go over some clarity issues.

Must be "published"
The idea of "publication" has changed much since I started. Traditionally, this meant a clipping from a newspaper, magazine or similar printed publication or a wire transmission. Now, it means clips, transmissions and the Internet. The clip chair has discretion about what's acceptable.

Generally speaking, these are acceptable: newspaper and magazine clips, wire transmissions, editorial (multi-contributor) Web sites and personal blogs.

What about ads? Yup, they're OK too. I've seen a PJ win with an image that didn't run as an editorial image, instead it was used in an ad promoting the newspaper. Since it was finally "published," he attached a cutline, submitted and won. It was shot as an editorial image. How it eventually got published wasn't his fault.

Books? If PJs have tear sheets from published books (or cuts pages from books - sacrilege), they can submit those images for the month the book was published.

With the current changes pending, the "publication" rule may get tossed altogether.

Consequently, I think photo stories of editorial significance published on personal Web sites might also be acceptable since the BOP annual contest includes this as a category now.

Until there's firm clarification, it needs to be separated from the portfolio area of a PJ's site. Typically, these are listed as "projects." To establish publication date on non-date-stamped pages, print the "proof" pages (see Alt submissions below) on the date the story is added.

The rules specifically state "Simple database postings are not eligible." This means extra images published for sale (like these) aren't sufficient. However, images in a "Photos of the Day/Week/Month" editorial slideshow are.

Clip preparation
The entire front page is not a CLIP. In the old days, this was an image eliminator. Now, it still reduces an image's chance of winning. If two images are equally good, the PJ who followed the rules should win.

The judges only want to see images and cutlines. Headlines and other clarifying text can be included for context, but only if it relates directly to the submitted image.

A scissors is all that's needed. However, most papers still have a paste-up table in the composing department with tools to make the submission unnecessarily neat.

Remove IDs
Again, failure to do this formerly killed submissions. No names or publication credits should appear on the front of the submission. The contest is about the images and the cutlines. Judges don't want to be influenced by who made the images or which publications printed them.

Simply take a dark black marker and mark through the credit line. The affiliation should've been cut away during clip preparation. Magazine covers are trickier because of the text, but it isn't a common problem, and judges generally understand.

Captions required
Each submitted image must have a caption. It can be the original cutline or one can be added. If there's some cutline problem (typo or otherwise), type a correct cutline, print it, and tape it to the image where the previous cutline was. If the image ran without a cutline, add one before submitting. This is still an entry killer.

Tape stories together
This isn't a specific "rule" as much as it's understood by experienced PJs. When submitting a multiple-photo entry, tape the pieces together to make the judges' lives easier. It shows a PJ's professionalism and is often rewarded.

Ideally, a submission moves from the PJ's submission envelop to the clip chair, to the judges, back to the regional chair, to the national chair, to the national judges and back to the national chair. This creates many opportunities for loose images to get lost or separated (and possibly judged as singles - then eliminated for missing contact info) if they aren't taped together.

For multi-page entries, tape them together side-by-side. For multi-photo entries scattered around by layout, cut out the images and cutlines and tape them together in a semi-logical order.

When submitting multi-photo stories with plain-paper prints, tape as many as four images side by side (from left to right). For stories with more than four images, divide them equally into rows to make one solid block of images with cutlines (9 = 3 rows, 3 columns). They're read from left to right by row from top to bottom.

Once the entry is taped together, fold it in the most logical manner to fit inside a standard 8.5 x 11 envelope. The entry will be shoved into one eventually. It's better for the PJ to determine the fold locations rather than a clip chair or judge.

Contact information
The contest requires specific contact and identification information to be placed on the back of each submission. Either make prints of the official entry form or include a smaller label with the same information.

Having judged clip contests, I can't overemphasize the importance of this freaking form. After the contest, a judge physically types and submits a spreadsheet of winners to the regional chair. This is used to accumulate regional points.

It's not the judge's job to search the Web to find out what paper employs "Bob" in "Anytown." Even if the judge does, is Bob certain he's the only "Bob" in every "Anytown" on the planet? The wrong person could be named as the winner (and get the points). This isn't the judge's fault - it's the PJ's.

Additionally, complete information keeps the image(s) competing. A clip chair can eliminate any entry s/he deems "invalid" - even after it has an award. Additionally, other problems may cause the clip chair to need a second submission.

Recently, there was a problem with Region 8's winning clips. The national chair had to request resubmission by regional winners because something happened to the submissions. The chair could only contact winners from the info on the spreadsheet. If info was missing, those winners wouldn't have resubmitted by deadline and couldn't compete at national. Luckily, everything got resolved, but it could've been a problem.

If using the official form, make a print, neatly fill out the standard contact information and make copies of this form. Then, only the image-specific sections need to be filled out before affixing and entering each month.

I prefer to use a Word template. The label is smaller (for one column images), and I keep a record of each month's submissions for end-of-year contests. With the template, I keep the same standard information and only need to update the category and publication date. I also add a title to make it easier for myself during submission and for judges after-the-fact. The title also lets me know which images I submitted at the end of the year.

Alt submissions
For Web entries, here's the unambiguous submission guideline again:

"For electronically published photos, entries must be in the form of a hard copy print (traditional or electronically-generated) no larger than 8X10, with a screen shot of the picture's online publication on the back showing its commercial enterprise context."

Only plain paper prints (B&W or color) are needed. The judges are supposed to ignore reproduction quality and judge the image by itself. While an image may look better on high-gloss paper, there's no wiggle room. Judges can easily spot errors on an F-surface print and may give the benefit of the doubt to the printed-on-pulp images.

Deadlines
The deadline is the 7th of the month following publication. While this is fairly absolute for U.S. entries, it has much flexibility for international entries. The rule states, "Because of the inconsistencies of international mail, international members' entries will be included in the next available contest following their reception."

I'm guessing this is interpreted to mean as long as it's received during the following month, it still gets to play.

Good luck to all. :-)

Enough for now,

Monday, May 28, 2007

Bolivar batteries

A tour bus passes the retired Bolivar Lighthouse on Wednesday, May 23, 2007. The lighthouse is made of iron and was completed in 1872. During the Great Storm of 1900, the lighthouse saved keeper Harry Claiborne, his family and 125 people who took shelter in it. More than 6,000 people died across the bay in Galveston during the storm.

Photos by Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise


Battery 236 remains chained shut to Fort Travis Park visitors at the tip of the Bolivar Peninsula. The batteries prevented Union forces from entering the Galveston bay system.


Battery Ernst remains off limits to Fort Travis Park visitors at the tip of the Bolivar Peninsula. The first military structure was built on the site in 1820 to protect the Galveston bay system from invaders.


The north entrance to Battery 236 remains chained shut to Fort Travis Park visitors at the tip of the Bolivar Peninsula. The batteries were available for residents needing shelter from hurricanes during the first half of the last century.


This is the final set of a three-part series on the Bolivar Peninsula preparing for its summer season. Please also see Bolivar beaches and Bolivar business. Please also watch the entire slide show. It lasts one minute.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bolivar business


Photos by Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise

James Burch of Conroe Golf Carts delivers a shipment of carts to Gulf Coast Golf Carts on Wednesday, May 23, 2007. Businesses and residents along the Bolivar Peninsula are ready for Memorial Day weekend and the traditional start of the summer tourist season.


Chainsaw artist Kevin Kavanaugh works on one of his signature pieces at Tiki Loco in Crystal Beach. Kavanaugh sells his work from coast to coast.



Chainsaw artist Kevin Kavanaugh works on one of his signature pieces at Tiki Loco. Locally, his tikis are featured at the Beaumont Botanical Gardens in Tyrrell Park and at the Bolivar Peninsula Cultural Foundation art gallery.


Chainsaw artist Kevin Kavanaugh works on one of his signature pieces at Tiki Loco. Kavanaugh said most of his raw materials would have gone in a landfill if he hadn't rescued them for his tikis.


Chainsaw artist Kevin Kavanaugh works on one of his signature pieces at Tiki Loco in Crystal Beach. He's made and displayed hie art at the roadside location more than a year. Business has been good for Kavanaugh in Crystal Beach.



Latitude 29.2 owner Russell Standridge moves a box at the store in Crystal Beach. The store recently expanded an additional 4,100 square feet.


Kimberly Voigt (left) and Kim Hebert (right) prepare Latitude 29.2 for this weekend's business. Businesses and residents along the Bolivar Peninsula are ready for Memorial Day weekend and the traditional start of the summer tourist season.


Sarah Terry hangs clothes at Latitude 29.2 in Crystal Beach. The store earns 75 percent of its annual business during the summer.


Beach-themed items in all price ranges greet customers at Latitude 29.2 in Crystal Beach. The store carries items in all price ranges for all kinds of visitors.

This is the second of a three-part series on the Bolivar Peninsula preparing for its summer season. Please also see Bolivar beaches and Bolivar batteries (historical military). Please also watch the entire slide show. It lasts one minute.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bolivar beaches


Photos by Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise

Pete Gregory of Aurora, Colo. feeds scraps to gulls on the beach in Crystal Beach on Wednesday, May 23, 2007. Gregory, who graduated from Nederland High School and Lamar University, returned to camp on the beach while in town for his daughter's graduation.


Gulls watch for fish atop piers near High Island. Businesses and residents along the Bolivar Peninsula are ready for Memorial Day weekend and the traditional start of the summer tourist season.


Jared Dilley (left to right) looks for shells while his grandmother Dorothy Bishop gives Kevin Peach a hug near High Island. The Arkansas residents visited the coast while on vacation.


Dorothy Bishop of Ashland, Ark. shows shark teeth she found on the beach near High Island.



Ben Wauhop, 15, of Deer Park skimboards in the Gulf waters in Crystal Beach. Almost all rental properties have been leased for Memorial Weekend.



Homes and rental properties are prepared for summertime use in Crystal Beach. Some properties are already being reserved for 2008.


Darryl Jones works on the deck of his home in Gilcrest. Businesses and residents along the Bolivar Peninsula are ready for Memorial Day weekend and the traditional start of the summer tourist season.

This is the first of a three-part series on the Bolivar Peninsula preparing for its summer season. Please also see Bolivar business and Bolivar batteries (historical military).

Please also see "Summer begins at land's end" by Christine Rappleye.



Friday, May 25, 2007

Splashing at Rogers Park


Photos by Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise

Celesti'al O'Quinn, 3, (left) and Ezekiel Vargas, 5, (right) play in the splash playground at Rogers Park in Beaumont on Tuesday, May 22, 2007.


Ezekiel Vargas, 5, (center) and Celesti'al O'Quinn, 3, (left) play in the splash playground at Rogers Park.

Please help me "beat death"

Please see my slideshow about Bolivar Peninsula's beach communities preparing for Memorial Weekend and the summer season.

On the newspaper's Web site, the most popular page is the obituaries. It's so popular that it typically crushes every other news story. Consequently, someone made this nifty little black trophy with a skeleton holding a pencil. The trophy proclaims, "I beat death." It's awarded to whichever story gets the most hits over the obituaries.

We get to keep the trophy until someone else beats the obits - it takes a while. Since today's slideshow has only my images, I respectfully request y'all go see it and help me beat death. If we can do it, I'll post a photo of the trophy on the blog for everyone to see. :-)

I'll break down the story on the blog over the weekend, but y'all can get a sneak peek of the 20-frame photo slideshow today. It's exactly one minute long.

Enough for now,

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Beaumont's new mayor

Mayor Becky Ames hugs her husband Rodney Ames during a city council reception at the Beaumont Civic Center in Beaumont on Tuesday, May 22, 2007. Most newly-elected council members took their oath of office during the council meeting.

Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Spinning stars


Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise

Members of the Stars drill team practice at West Brook High School in Beaumont on Wednesday, March 7, 2007. Many team members and their parents will travel to New York City during spring break for dance lessons, Broadway shows and sightseeing.

Enter NPPA monthly clip contests

Many pro PJs only enter the big annual contests. They face crushing competition and almost certain defeat. Consequently, they may be in the biz more than 10 years and only have some state, circulation-specific competition awards to show for their effort.

In the 2007 World Press Photo (WPP) competition, a total of 78,083 images were entered by 4,460 pro photographers from 124 countries. There were 63 winning entries. Need I say more?

Regional NPPA contests are also very difficult to win, but the odds of winning are much better for solid, disciplined shooters. First, the numbers are better. Each region is required to present all awards if there are enough entries. This means each NPPA region should present 192 individual awards each year (15 each month plus three illustrations per quarter).

Additionally, regional contests only include a few states and a few countries. Again, this is a more level playing field than competing internationally against thousands of other pros.

I live in Region 8. Competition is difficult here. Our region includes all of Mexico, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas. Think about how many major cities, how much geographic turf, how many residents and how many pro shooters (mags and papers) are in this region and y'all can understand why it's a bit difficult to win here. It's still much better odds than WPP.

It looks like Region 2 is potentially the most difficult. It includes New York and most other countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Region 7 looks sweet because it only has Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Another limitation is competitors must be NPPA members. Once upon a time, newspapers paid for staff memberships. Now, it's rare. So, again, there are less people competing. The best shooter in a region may not be an NPPA member for whatever reason. Good. More awards for you.

Even if the greatest shooter in the history of photography is working on the most compelling photo story ever told, s/he may be too busy to enter the monthly clip contest. Or, s/he may not have squat in the Sports, Illustration or General News categories.

Even if s/he does have every category covered each month, what happens when s/he is overseas collecting images for the next great story? S/he must still return to the paper, clip entries, and submit them to the clip chair by the 7th of the month. Sometimes, this isn't possible or s/he's too tired to do it. After all "it's just a monthly clip contest."

Additionally, some of the real greats have so many awards that they don't compete anymore. Unless they're testing an image for international competition (for prize money), they don't submit.

Finally, there's an entry limitation. Shooters can enter a maximum of nine entries per month. Even if a shooter is the living personification of a perfect PJ, this means there's still six or nine awards available each month for the rest of us humans.

Consequently, as mentioned above, the odds of winning are much better in regional NPPA clip contests than almost any other significant pro competition.

In a worst-case scenario, it also means an out-of-focus, improperly exposed, poorly reproduced image of a tree root could win 3rd place in Spot News if nobody else enters. But we won't let this happen will we?

Next time, we'll discuss the ins-and-outs of how to enter NPPA clip contests to keep the bar high while possibly clearing it a few times.

UPDATE: Beginning with the January 2008 clips, all clip entries and judging is online. So, read the referenced post above as "how difficult it was before."


Enough for now,

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Exploration rigs


Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise

The sun sets behind off-shore rigs under construction near Sabine Pass on Wednesday, May 16, 2007.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Nederland Power Surge


Riders scream as the Power Surge turns them upside down during the Nederland Heritage Festival in Nederland on Saturday, March 17, 2007.

Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bridge City RV park ordinance


Photos by Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise

An single-family property lot remains unused at the corner of Shady and Forest drives in Bridge City on Tuesday, April 3, 2007. It could become an RV Park.


Barbara Riley gardens at her home on Shady Drive in Bridge City. She said her and her husband may move from the city if the council passes the ordinance change, which could place an RV park on property on both sides of their home.


A dog guards Terrell's Tree Service at the corner of Texas Avenue and Shady Drive in Bridge City. Both commercial and formerly residential properties could become RV Parks.


A school bus passes waterfront property for sale on Forest Drive in Bridge City. While undeveloped waterfront property is for sale, the council wants to allow former residential properties to become RV parks as hurricane-damaged structures are removed.




(Above) John Banken addresses the Bridge City council about his opposition to proposed relaxing of RV park ordinances in the city. Many local residents are upset about the council's decision to allow RV parks to operate on small properties within the city.

(Right) Sue Elam addresses the Bridge City council about her opposition to proposed relaxing of RV park ordinances in Bridge City.



Bridge City mayor Kirk Roccaforte (left) signs a document while council member David Rutledge (top) and city attorney Paul Fukuda (right) shake hands after a council meeting in Bridge City. The council unanimously passed the ordinance.

Please read "Bridge City clears way for RV parks" by Ryan Myers.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Lamar beats Northwestern


Lamar's Erick Kanaby (No. 20) hits a home run against Northwestern State during a college baseball game at Vincent-Beck Stadium at Lamar University in Beaumont on Saturday, May 12, 2007. Kanaby graduated cum laude in the morning before the game. He celebrated by hitting his first homerun since he was a boy.


Photos by Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise


Lamar's Keith Towne (No. 39, right) gets a piece of the ball as Northwestern's Knox McCorquodale (No. 25, left) waits to catch during a college baseball game at Vincent-Beck Stadium.


Lamar's Collin DeLome (No. 24, left) skids safely across the plate before Northwestern's Knox McCorquodale (No. 25, right) can make a tag during a college baseball game at Vincent-Beck Stadium. Lamar won the game.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Memorial multiculturalism


Serena Nguyen chats with friends before performing a dance during Multicultural Night at the Memorial High School 9th Grade Center in Port Arthur on Tuesday, May 15, 2007.

Photos by Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise



Lakiera Mouton and Michael Perez dance together during Multicultural Night at the Memorial High School 9th Grade Center in Port Arthur.