web analytics
Menu
menu

2015 was an interesting year. I had the opportunity to tell some great stories, both as an editor and as a photographer, and made a few images I liked along the way.


 

January

1
An icy, wet, shiny walk home from the newsroom on a January evening

February

A tourist performs a handstand at the Lincoln Memorial during a February snowstorm

March

3
Got to travel to Colorado to celebrate my Dad’s 70th birthday, but more importantly, to spend time spoiling my niece

April

I had the pleasure of working with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and their clients, including Drs. Jesty and Tanco, as they awaited the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.

May

5
Sara had a long stretch at a remote helicopter base in southern Maryland, so I went down to hang out a bit. We flew a kite on the beach. It was grand.

June

The American Spectator’s mascot stuffed turkey sits on a table in the exhibition hall at the 2015 International Conference on Climate Change sponsored by The Heartland Institute in Washington, DC on Thursday, June 11, 2015. (Greg Kendall-Ball for Mashable)
Photographed this turkey, and some others, during the 2015 International Conference on Climate Change (spoiler: they don’t think it’s real) for Mashable.

July

A Fireworks display over the National Mall in the nation's capitol marks the highlight of July Fourth festivities in Washington, DC, USA, 04 July 2015. The celebration commemorates America's independence from Britain in 1776.
Met a French man with patriotic toenails celebrating the American Independence Day near Arlington National Cemetery while photographing the 4th of July fireworks for EPA.

August

8
Sara and I took a nice break on the beach in the Dominican Republic. I read a ton of books. She took a ton of naps. It was grand.

September

Pope Francis performs a canonization mass for Father Junipero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015.
Pope-a-palooza came to town. I had the privilege of covering a mass he performed here in D.C., and had the privilege of having Homeland Security time my bathroom breaks all day.

October

The Rotan Yellowhammer Band from Rotan High School in Rotan, TX.
I got to spend a few incredible weeks following around one of the smallest marching bands in Texas for Texas Monthly. Some great kids and a fun story, and an excuse to eat at my favorite West Texas Chinese restaurant a few dozen times.

November

Students at the University of Missouri in Columbia on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. (Greg Kendall-Ball for The Chronicle)
Went back to Columbia, Missouri to defend my master’s thesis so I could finally finish graduate school. But then a little national news broke out on campus and I wound up working for two days for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

December

12
Convinced my whole family I would be alone on Christmas Day because Sara was working far away, but in reality I hopped on a couple of flights and walked through their door on Christmas Eve, which had the desired effect of making my mom cry a lot.
Students at the University of Missouri in Columbia celebrate in Traditions Plaza after learning that UM System President Tim Wolfe would resign on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015.
Students at the University of Missouri in Columbia celebrate in Traditions Plaza after learning that UM System President Tim Wolfe would resign on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015.

Last week I traveled back to Columbia, Missouri to complete the final step in my Master’s degree in Journalism.

While I was en route I emailed a few editors to let them know I’d be in town, and wound up spending two days on assignment for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

You’ve probably already read a ton about what happened at Mizzou last week. The MU football team said they would boycott team activities until UM System President Tim Wolfe either resigned or was removed from office. That got people’s attention, moreso than the graduate student who had been on a week-long hunger strike.

But in the midst of the celebration and with more than a few national media outlets on hand (me being one of them), at the behest of a few perhaps over-zealous faculty and staff, students created a human cordon around the protestor’s camp site. And then they started shoving us. And calling us names. And threatening to call the cops on us. You’ve probably seen the video of a student photojournalist in a confrontation with students and others.

In the moment, it didn’t make sense at all. This group had been clamoring for national media attention for days, and when it finally arrived, they wanted to shut everything out. My first impulse, upon seeing their hand-made “NO MEDIA, SAFE SPACE” signs was to think how cute it was that these people believed they could keep media away from a public protest, on public property, just by declaring it so. But as a journalist, my desire is to understand what is happening, and why it is happening, so when the infamous communication professor started yelling and recruiting people to build a wall (before she actually called for “muscle” to kick someone out of their circle), I took a step back and tried to ask protestors and students why they were trying to keep us out. I tried to ask for their reaction to the news Wolfe had stepped down. Every inquiry was met with “No Comment” or some insult to my person and profession. A friend and fellow graduate student said he was shoved and called a “spiky-haired f*****” by one of the students, while working as a stringer for USA Today.

Eventually, I decided there was nothing to be gained by pressing the issue, so I took the wider view and tried to include the “meat wall” (as one video journalist described it) as part of the story.

The next day, the protestors had a change of heart thanks to a memo circulated throughout the camp saying media were allowed to “occupy the campsite,” and that this was a teachable moment. I don’t like their choice of wording there because it frames the journalistic endeavor in terms of conquest, and while some of my colleagues may work that way, it’s not my M.O. I know I fired off some Tweets and some Facebook comments that expressed my frustration at the situation, and while I was upset that I had been physically prevented from doing my job, my main frustration was at the complete lack of communication. I felt I had failed as a journalist because I didn’t come away from the quad with any greater understanding of the issues at hand. That came later thanks to helpful, patient friends in offline conversations. It was a teachable moment, indeed, and I hope we continue to have discussions about how we cover our communities and the important issues facing our nation. And hopefully next time, there’ll be less shouting involved.

Students at the University of Missouri in Columbia celebrate in Traditions Plaza after learning that UM System President Tim Wolfe would resign on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015.
At the urging of a professor in the communication department (NOT the School of Journalism), students began to make a human barricade around the Concerned Student 1950 camp site. They would eventually link arms and march forward, physically removing anyone standing in their way.
Students at the University of Missouri in Columbia celebrate in Traditions Plaza after learning that UM System President Tim Wolfe would resign on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015.
Students began chanting “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Reporters have got to go!”
Students at the University of Missouri in Columbia celebrate in Traditions Plaza after learning that UM System President Tim Wolfe would resign on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015.
Yeah.
Protestors confront members of the media while trying to create a media-free zone near the protestors campsite. ----- Students at the University of Missouri in Columbia celebrate in Traditions Plaza after learning that UM System President Tim Wolfe would resign on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. (Greg Kendall-Ball for The Chronicle)
A student photojournalist gets shouted down by protestors and the director of Greek Life at Mizzou. It was later reported the women in sunglasses had been placed on administrative leave and relieved of her duties while her actions were investigated.
Missouri students for a barricade around the #ConcernedStudent1950 makeshift campsite to create a no-media "safe space." ---- Students at the University of Missouri in Columbia celebrate in Traditions Plaza after learning that UM System President Tim Wolfe would resign on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. (Greg Kendall-Ball for The Chronicle)
The students forming the wall decided it was easier to turn their backs on all the media instead of repeating “No Comment” ad infinitum
Hundreds of MU students turned out at Traditions Plaza to celebrate with the #ConcernedStudent1950 protestors after it was announced Wolfe would resign. ---- Students at the University of Missouri in Columbia celebrate in Traditions Plaza after learning that UM System President Tim Wolfe would resign on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. (Greg Kendall-Ball for The Chronicle)
The wall got pretty large at one point, with several hundred students joining in.
Students at the University of Missouri in Columbia celebrate in Traditions Plaza after learning that UM System President Tim Wolfe would resign on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015.
An unnamed woman leads a chant while running around the camp site.
Protestors with the #ConcernedStudent1950 group escort graduate student Jonathan Butler (center, with raised fist) into a building near Traditions Plaza after it was announced UM System President Tim Wolfe would resign. Butler was undergoing a hunger strike until Wolfe resigned or was removed from office. ---- Students at the University of Missouri in Columbia celebrate in Traditions Plaza after learning that UM System President Tim Wolfe would resign on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. (Greg Kendall-Ball for The Chronicle)
Protestors with the #ConcernedStudent1950 group escort graduate student Jonathan Butler (center, with raised fist) into a building near the quad.
Mizzou_10
A chalk inscription at Speaker’s Circle near Ellis Library on the MU Campus.
Mizzou_11
MU football players Ian Simon and Charles Harris arrive at the protestor’s campsite.
Mizzou_12
MU football players Ian Simon and J’Mon Moore speak while touring the protestor’s camp site.
Mizzou_13
Ian Simon reads a statement from the MU football team after members toured the protestor’s camp site. It was the football team’s boycott that brought national media attention to the ongoing protests.
Mizzou_14
J’Mon Moore and Ian Simon speak with members of the media after delivering a statement from the MU football team.
Students at the University of Missouri in Columbia on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. (Greg Kendall-Ball for The Chronicle)
The dome of Jesse Hall is seen above the tents of the protestor’s camp site the day after media were prevented from photographing the site
Students at the University of Missouri in Columbia on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. (Greg Kendall-Ball for The Chronicle)
An elevated view of the protestor’s camp site on the Carnahan Quad
Students at the University of Missouri in Columbia on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. (Greg Kendall-Ball for The Chronicle)
Maxwell Little, an original member of #ConcernedStudent1950 and a graduate student in educational leadership and policy analysis from Chicago, leads a graduate student rally in a chant after speaking.
Students at the University of Missouri in Columbia on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. (Greg Kendall-Ball for The Chronicle)
Participants in a graduate student rally shake hands in front of a portrait of R. Bowen Loftin, the former chancellor who also stepped down
Students at the University of Missouri in Columbia on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. (Greg Kendall-Ball for The Chronicle)
The iconic columns on Francis Quad
PopeBlog_1
Finger-Puppet Kurt Vonnegut and Bobblehead Pope Francis hang out on the roof before Mass

I was very excited when, a few months ago, my buddy Ed Pfueller wrote and asked if I was available to help photograph Pope Francis at the Canonization Mass for Father Junipero Serra for the Catholic University of America. Whatever else I had going on that day could be rearranged – I was going to be available.

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and other religious were expected to arrive in DC for the Holy Father’s visit, and an estimated 30,000 would attend the canonization mass, the first ever held in the United States. Security was, to put it lightly, very tight. I heard one news outlet say it was perhaps the largest, most complex national security event in the nation’s history.

Anyway, I was asked to cover the mass from the roof of a nearby building and get photos that captured the scope of the event, the crowds, the campus, and so on. I also wandered around a little bit to see what I could see. Here’s some of what I saw.

PopeBlog_2
Pope Francis, the Popemobile and the PopeSecretService. I really wish I had gotten something a little longer than my 200mm lens…
PopeBlog_3
The sound from the assembled faithful was intense, even seven stories up on a roof. This guy is a rockstar, and people love “the People’s Pope.”
PopeBlog_4
Yeah, there were a few people there…
PopeBlog_5
Papal memorabilia for sale…everywhere…
PopeBlog_6
The rooftop position I was assigned was in a building built in 1800. There was no elevator.
PopeBlog_7
I couldn’t help but smile as this woman and her Kentucky Derby-esque hat passed by the Missionaries of Charity. I guess “Sunday best” is contextual.
PopeBlog_8
Just some priests having a group picture made. Thankfully the Secret Service banned selfie sticks.
PopeBlog_9
These three novice nuns grabbed a sandwich before the Mass. They gave me a prayer card and said “God bless you.” I got blessed a lot that day.
PopeBlog_10
These nuns traveled from Ohio. It was hard keeping all the orders and groups and houses and whatnots. I just smiled a lot and called everyone a nun and let them correct me if I was wrong.
PopeBlog_11
The Pope spoke earlier to all the American bishops at St. Matthews. These nuns watched on a big screen.
PopeBlog_12
Who wouldn’t want a selfie with the Pope? That guy, apparently.
PopeBlog_13
I spotted this nun who had a very plain crucifix, and stopped to ask if I could take a picture. Sometimes you get lucky- she was from a group of nuns at the last mission founded in California by Father Serra. I guess that’s Saint Serra now.
PopeBlog_14
A Franciscan rosary
PopeBlog_15
A Missionary of Charity’s rosary
PopeBlog_16
A man from a town in the area said a woman at his church, originally from Togo, made him this Pope Francis shirt.
PopeBlog_17
At the Mass they provided eucharist (communion for my low church friends) to more than 20,000 people. They had hundreds of deacons and eucharistic ministers serving people all over the place.
PopeBlog_18
A large banner of Father Junipero Serra hung on an outer wall of the Basilica.

Earlier this week I saw a Facebook post about a “Save the Confederate Flag” rally to be held at the Lincoln Memorial. I hadn’t photographed anything in a while, so I thought I’d head out to get some practice.

Only problem was, the group couldn’t get a permit for their rally at the memorial, so they moved it to a park near the Capitol. Facebook said some 900 or so participants would be there. I counted maybe 75.

And then there were some folks who exercised their rights to free speech while expressing their opinions of the Confederate flag fans.

Here are some pictures from the rally, the counter-protest, and a wedding photo session that got interrupted by the whole thing.

Air & Space Museum

 

I took a quick trip through the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center out near Dulles International Airport this afternoon. I wanted to check out the larger aircraft on display, like the SR-71 Blackbird, the Concord, and of course, the Space Shuttle Discovery…and I was doing more testing of a Fuji X100S I’m thinking about buying.

Here are some rectangles.

Air & Space Museum Air & Space Museum Air & Space Museum Air & Space Museum Air & Space Museum Air & Space Museum Air & Space Museum Air & Space Museum Air & Space MuseumAir & Space Museum