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|| News Item: Posted 2004-03-30

Leading Off: There are many questions...
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Robert Hanashiro and all three Catwomen.
There are many questions a fella growing up in the 60's and 70's had to ask himself. Things like which college. What would you do if your draft number were under 50? Beatles or the Rolling Stones. Did you want to drive a cool Mustang like Steve McQueen in "Bullitt" or the Gran Torino "Starsky & Hutch" drove.

Maryanne? Or Ginger?

Or how about … which Catwoman did you dig most: Julie Newmar? Eartha Kitt? Or Lee Meriwether?

It's not often you get to meet your boyhood idols, let alone your boyhood fantasies. But once in a while in our jobs we get to relive our youth … or maybe revisit it.

I got the chance recently when I was assigned to make a portrait of the three women that played Catwoman on the old "Batman" TV series on ABC in the mid-60's.

The trio had never appeared together before and were to make a presentation at the "TV Land Awards" … the oldies cable network's tribute to the shows they run 24-hours a day.

I set up a makeshift studio in a little room behind the press area and waited. And waited. And waited.

But in the meantime, I would peek into the press tent when I heard the name of a TV show announced that took up my misspent youth, which was being glued to the TV in the living room of my family's Fresno home.

It seemed like something out of the "Twilight Zone" episode … maybe I had fallen asleep on top of the television remote: Farrah Fawcett from "Charlie's Angels" (complete with the big teeth and micro-mini skirt); Cybill Shepherd from "Moonlighting" (sporting her trademark high-top red sneakers with a sheathy cocktail dress); Barbara Eden from "I Dream of Jeannie" and the CLASSICS: the cast of "The Andy Griffith Show", "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and yes, "Gilligan's Island".

(For the record: Maryanne.)

I go into each and every assignment, especially portrait gigs, with pretty much an open mind. But as a child of the 60's and a huge Batman fan, I wondered what the three "Catwomen" would be like after 38 years.

To be purrrfecty frank … they were all pretty much the way they played the character. Eartha Kitt gave off that sultry - bitchiness (even at 77); Julie Newmar with a dizzy vibe and Lee Meriwether a sort of mom and apple pie quality.

"Holy Three - Shot Bertman!"

After a small "disagreement" as to who should sit in the one director's I had in the small studio (Eartha won that one) the shoot went along as well as one could hope with three totally different women that played Catwoman.

After couple of dozen Dyna-lite blasts, I switched from the digital camera to the Hassleblad and asked the trio "How about putting up the 'cat claw' for a few frames?" I asked.

Eartha growled … 'Why?"

Holy Hot Flash!

But ever the professional (and nice lady) Lee coaxed Earth into the classic Catwoman clawing pose and away we went (but Julie refused).

After just a few frames Eartha put down her hands, but Julie prodded her with "Come on Eartha! We played a Catwoman! We can do this for a little longer for him!"

Holy saved the shoot!

While that campy 60's Batman series will never supplant the "Dark Knight" graphic novels as the true representation of the Batman story, the memories of that show and now meeting these three women are a sort of "TV Land" fantasy come true.

(And for the record: Lee Meriwether!)

* * *


Thank God It's Finished … contest season that is.

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin

Nikon's Ronal Taniwaki gets a good look at some of the entries in the action category at the Sports Shooter Annual Contest judging.
As we head into spring and the start of the baseball is just a few days away … it also means the last of the major photography contests are finally over.

Having spent a week judging the annual Pictures of the Year at the University of Missouri and last Friday completing our Annual Sports Shooter Contest, I have a few notes to offer and of course a few bones to pick:

* During the Sports Shooter judging we noticed many, many, many, many entries that were manipulated to the point that the colors were like looking into some kind of nuclear reactor. They were day- glow, nearly impressionistic renderings of what were once sports photographs. Things like over-saturating colors, over-sharpening, heavy-handed burning & dodging (aka "The Hand of God") and general Photoshop "magic" does NOT go unnoticed by judges. For those who like that "radiation" look in colors in their images, do yourselves a favor: leave that to your prints for the wall and not for contests. It doesn't impress the judges and actually makes Robert Beck and Brad Mangin go fumbling for their sunglasses.

* There is a huge difference between sports ACTION and sports feature. It's why we have four different categories in the Sports Shooter Contest. While the "No Ball" category started off as something I came up with for fun (see first year winner Dan MacMedan's photograph of tennis player Thomas Muster: to see what I had in mind) it has turned into a catch-all for everything non-action. Portraits, dejection, jube, monks walking on the sides of walls, a kid playing cowboy on a sawhorse … you get my drift. I hope that I can help Missouri see the distinction as well and they split their sports category into "action" and feature" sometime in the near future.

* If you enter contests and come to observe a judging session with the right frame of mind, you can learn more from the selections by the judges and extrapolations from their comments than maybe two semesters in a classroom (or a crappy internship). I advise all of you to take the time to look at your own work and also the winning images in any contest and LEARN … but not COPY. There is a big difference between emulating a style and ripping off someone's work.

* Taking the photograph is literally HALF the work. At both contests I saw a lot of laziness. Bad crops. Chopped off limbs. Bad crops. Tilted horizon lines. Bad crops. Weak and uninformative captions. Bad crops. And did I say bad crops?

* You don't have to cover major sports and major news events to win … this is something that is said over and over and while it's proven at the Sports Shooter Contest and maybe it's not at the "biggie" the three initial ones. I love the fact that Francis Gardler won POYi's Best Sports Portfolio with a collection of photographs shot at local community events. He didn't have to shoot the Miami Dolphins. Or the Atlanta Braves. Or the Duke Blue Devils. Or for that matter, the Connecticut Sun! This is a tribute to just plain good photography. No matter where it was taken. On the other hand, the winning Newspaper Photographer of the Year portfolios all contained big doses of foreign assignments, wars, dead bodies, heavy on picture stories and stark imagery. I guess my roots are showing … 13 years at small, community newspapers. maybe what's needed is a category for those of us that shoot "dog-of-the-week" assignments and cover communities and daily life here in the U.S. I hope one day we can consistently reward those shooters that have to carry 5 or 6 assignments a day and make the proverbial chicken salad out of chicken shit. I hate to say this, but it's a helluva of a lot harder to make that businessman of the week feature sing than an insane asylum with starving, bug-eyed patients rolling around on insect-covered floors. I think maybe it's time to separate domestic news coverage and world news.

* And lastly: Do not over emphasize contests. And don't let them run your career and your life. You can make some of the most wonderful images in the world, but sometimes the chemistry (or not enough caffeine) in the judging room does some strange things. As I always say, contests are very subjective and if you ever wonder about what wins (or why you didn't), always look at who the judges. I try to make it a point not to come into any judging with a chip on my shoulder, an agenda to push (well, except maybe to make sure a wall - walking - monk doesn't ever win a sports contest again!) or to "prove a point". It's all about good photography. And learning from good photography.

* * *

Sports Shooter v. 65 features a look behind the scenes at the annual Academy Awards Show by the Los Angeles Times' Anacleto Rapping, who has been doing this the past couple of years. Rick Rickman takes to task the New York Times freelance agreement in his regular "Let's Talk Business" column.

Rod Mar gives us another behind the scenes view … this one at the NCAA Men's Basketball Regional in Seattle. We get not one but TWO pieces from Sports Illustrated's Peter Read Miller: a first-hand look at Athens just 6 months before the Summer Olympics and a hands on report on the as yet released Canon D1 Mark II.

We also officially announce the winners of the Annual Sports Shooter Contest; give up more details on the Sports Shooter Workshop & Luau 2004; Photodude checks in with the winner of HIS contest and Tom Braid finishes up his opus on digital interpolation.

So sit back. Adjust the contrast on your monitor. Turn down Aerosmith's "Honkin' On Bobo" and enjoy Sports Shooter v.65.

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