Tuesday, October 2, 2007

On-the-spot news - Auto accidents

Hello everyone,

It is wise to keep your news information flowing to you at all times. First thing I do in the morning is to log onto the California Highway Patrol website for accident reports that are updated instantly all the time.

( It would be wise for all of you to bookmark this link: http://cad.chp.ca.gov/ ).

This way, I am up on all accidents throughout the L.A. area and can head out when bad ones come up in our coverage area. Lets face it, people like to see the worst accidents and this is verified by the hits on our newspaper's website. Accidents, fires, murders, anything that is hard news gets the most hits by far, along with high school sports.

So I hear about a big accident shortly after 8 am and head out there to the 605 Southbound just north of the 60 freeway. I am going north very slowly as I approach and thankfully, there are two fire engines and a highway patrol on the northbound HOV lane (carpool). I park IN FRONT of the emergency vehicles and jump over the center divider. I would have never gotten to the accident on time if I'd gone around to the Valley Blvd. onramp and headed south. It was all a mess already sicne the freeway south was completely closed and only the right lane was open for all to go east and west on the 60 fwy.

This is the photo that I was waiting for. The injured party, rescued and on his way to medical attnetion.

With this photo, I set the scene so people see familiar landmarks (signage) and recognize the accident scene.

The fire dept from Pico Rivera, South El Monte and El Monte (engines 40, 90 and 166) are feverishly working on getting a driver out of a van that is on its side with a pick up truck stuck into the roof.

There are another six or seven cars behind this mess, all in a wide state of damage, from small dents to entire axles broken off. So, I click away, always giving the paramedics and fire dept. their distance because I do not want to be thrown out of the scene for being in the way.

As they work on the guy with the JAWS OF LIFE, I walk carefully north of the freeway always looking at traffic and photograph the rest of the mayhem. I get back to the rescue and get the fire dept as they pull out the guy. He is put on a stretcher and is wheeled off to a nearby ambulance. This is when I get as close as possible to get a good shot off. When action is fluid you have more leeway to get closer and pop off some nice pics. Anyway, as soon as the guy was taken away, one of the fire trucks parked on the northbound lanes took off, so that was my cue to exit myself. I do not want to be stuck on the other side of the freeway, on the carpool lane, stopped when all the traffic begins to flow again. I had what I needed and this time, the tow truck clean up was not as good as what I had (the rescue) so I did not mind having to leave.

Here, you want to set the scene of the accident. You want to have your viewer be in the scene. A CHP officer fills out a report as the fire dept. rescues a driver.

Another way to show the scene, from a different angle.

By using an interesting foreground (the truck), you lead the viewer into the action, i.e. the officer taking a report from the driver.

I stood away from the rescue as to be unobtrusive. Notice that I popped the flash to expose properly shooting into the sun.

Tech notes: Manual settings using 2.8 16-35mm & 2.8 70-200mm. Keep it around a f5.6 for depth of field and go with the sunny 16 rule on 200 ISO for sunny light (figure out the shutter speed, to get into the manual mode you need to be in). I popped gthe strobe (flash) on because when the sun is lower on the horizon, extreme shadows will kill your exposures or when shooting into the sun will also wreak havoc on the exposures.

Until next time, keep clicking.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Just found your site, love your photos and commentary. And yes, I did bookmark the chp site!