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Archive for Sunday, February 28, 2010

Behind the Lens: Spot news calls for versatile equipment, quick thinking

Journal-World photographer Richard Gwin photographed the scene of a pileup on Interstate 70 after a sudden snowstorm Feb. 14.

Journal-World photographer Richard Gwin photographed the scene of a pileup on Interstate 70 after a sudden snowstorm Feb. 14.

February 28, 2010

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Around the Journal-World, I'm probably known most for my hustle on breaking news.

A J-W editor was on his way to visit some relatives Feb. 14 when he ran into a freak snowstorm in Bonner Springs. He called in because it was a very unusual sight as cars were piled up in two different places west of the interchange in a blinding snowstorm.

I'm fairly close to Bonner and, knowing the backroads, I headed out. It took 20 minutes to arrive, and trying to figure out the best place to get out was slow because traffic was jammed up at the interchange. So I found a parking lot close to the accident scene.

One has to quickly figure out what equipment is needed to cover an event and not be bogged down, but still be safe. The photo staff is equipped with Canon Mark 5 Ds, which shoot high-def video and a good-size frame. But you can also grab a frame from the video, which I did on several pics. The camera also has a good sound capture, as I used a Sennheiser microphone atop the 5 D to enhance the sound. I had two lenses: a 24-105 and 70-200. And for the cold, a face mask and gloves were important.

The half-mile walk on a slick turnpike road made the approach sluggish, and I wondered if the cold would slow the camera down, but it didn't.

As I approached, it was an awesome sight to see so many cars piled up on a bridge yet none had gone over. You just start composing pics and finding angles to tell the story. I climbed on the wall between lanes, but it wasn't high enough to see much, so I found a tall truck and asked the owner who was still there if I could stand on it. It was a perfect angle to get a lot of cars in; you have to be very safety-conscious of sharp metal and a bad fall. I walked from car to car, taking several angles to tell the story and finding a subject to interview for video.

I headed back to J-W to process and get stuff up on our Web site and in the paper. A lot of people thought I was in the accident because of the detail of the pictures.

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