danesch.com | Dan Esch's blog | Archive by date Home

By date

2008 (12 posts)

July (1)

May (6)

Apr. (1)

Mar. (1)

Feb. (1)

Jan. (2)

2007 (29 posts)

Dec. (10)

Nov. (4)

Oct. (3)

July (2)

Mar. (3)

Feb. (2)

Jan. (5)

2006 (70 posts)

Oct. (1)

July (6)

June (3)

May (7)

Apr. (14)

Mar. (18)

Feb. (18)

Jan. (3)

2005 (75 posts)

Oct. (3)

Aug. (13)

July (14)

June (7)

May (4)

Apr. (7)

Mar. (10)

Feb. (10)

Jan. (7)

2004 (60 posts)

Dec. (9)

Nov. (5)

Oct. (4)

Sept. (5)

Aug. (1)

July (7)

June (7)

May (11)

Apr. (3)

Mar. (7)

Feb. (1)

2003 (18 posts)

Dec. (2)

Oct. (3)

Sept. (5)

Aug. (6)

July (2)

By category


E-mail Daniel Esch RSS feed
Tuesday, February 28, 2006


100% podium-free

Yesterday’s assignment, the unveiling of a painting in the library, seemed like it was going to be another occasion that wouldn’t yield any good pictures. Sure enough, all the shots of speakers next to the easel were downright sleep-inducing.

Fortunately, I caught a nice moment where a key figure in the proceedings turned around to speak with the Spartan Daily reporter. For a second, I was finally just seeing instead of thinking. This happens more and more often these days as the paper forces me to speed up my process. For my money, this is one of my best shots so far.

But I want to know what you, the readers, think. You can comment on this photo or any other (within the last six months) by clicking on it. Do it.

Martha Heasley Cox

Martha Heasley Cox, founder of the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies, attends the unveiling of a restored 1946 portrait of John Steinbeck Monday. The painting by Swedish artist Bo Beskow will hang in the Steinbeck Room of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Joint Library.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


A cold, wet day at Muni

I used the rain cover on my camera backpack for the first time today, and even had a baggie around the camera body for a while. The 300mm lens on the monopod felt like a sail on a mast every time the wind gusted. But dozens of fans can’t be wrong: It’s baseball season!

baseball v LMU

SJSU catcher Brett Prieto, center, prepares to hit the ball in game three against Loyola Marymount University Sunday at Municipal Stadium. The Spartans beat the Lions 6-1.

baseball v LMU

Spartans infielder Ben Agatep slides safely into first after Lions first baseman Kyle Mura attempts a pickoff in game three against LMU Sunday.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


From the not-exactly-news dept.

Two more shots in today’s paper, photos that I took days and weeks ago and then forgot about. It’s always a pleasant surprise to find them put to use on later stories.

baseball file art

Brigham Young University designated hitter Austin Carter attempts to steal second as San Jose State University shortstop John Shaffer prepares to make a tag during the sixth inning Saturday at San Jose Municipal Stadium.

WP file art

Stanford University 2-meter player Alison Grehorka attempts to shoot past San Jose State University attacker Angela Riddle during the 2006 Stanford Invitational tournament held Feb. 12.


“Demonstration at City Hall…”

“…can you send a photographer down there?”

cease-fire march

Demonstrators calling for an end to gang violence march down Santa Clara Street after gathering in front of San Jose City Hall Thursday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


“Lost boys” of Sudan


Mach Gong, a junior majoring in international business, takes an exam in his finance class Wednesday. Gong, along with two other SJSU students, fled his native Sudan after civil war erupted there.


San Jose State University junior marketing major Bol Bol, second from right, takes an exam in a finance class Wednesday. Bol fled his home in Sudan after civil war broke out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


The most physically demanding of sports

… for me, anyway.

Today’s assignment was the 2006 Amgen Tour of California, a new bike race in the style of the Tour de France. The Daily’s coverage was a team effort with four photographers at different places along the route. I volunteered to stake out Sierra Road, the “signature climb” of the tour, which rises 1800 vertical feet over about four miles.

The summit of Sierra Road is one lane and a cliff, so forget about parking. If the giant media credential around my neck got me anything today, it sure wasn’t a ride to the summit. I hoofed it with a laptop, two camera bodies, and three or four lenses. That took a couple hours. The riders arrived soon after, I got a solid two minutes of shooting in, and then it was time to hike back down. Never have I sweated so much in the name of photography.

These two made the cut:

George Hincapie

Team Discovery captain George Hincapie, right, climbs Sierra Road in San Jose Tuesday during Stage 2 of the Tour of California. Hincapie went on to win the stage and is the overall leader entering Stage 3.


A pack of racers ascends Sierra Road with Silicon Valley in the background during Stage 2 of the Tour of California Tuesday.

This would have made the cut if I had been able to identify the CSC rider on the right, but I don’t have a shot with his number visible, and all bike racers look pretty much the same. Update 2/25/06 — I’ve finally identified him as David Zabriskie, a serious American rider formerly on the USPS team, who as of tonight could well win the tour.)

David Zabriskie

CSC’s David Zabriskie pedals up Sierra Road during Stage 2 of the Tour of California Tuesday. Zabriskie finished the stage in 9th place.

This shot made no cut of any kind, but I like it.

Nicolas Jalabert

Frenchman Nicolas Jalabert, riding for Phonak, ascends San Jose’s Sierra Road Tuesday during Stage 2 of the Tour of California. Jalabert finished 36th in the stage.

On the way back down the hill, I was surprised to see a few stragglers. I still had a camera ready, so I got some good shots of the … how you say … less famous pro cyclists.

Jesus Zarate

Jesus Zarate, riding for the KB Home Mexican National Team, struggles up Sierra Road during Stage 2 of the Tour of California Tuesday in San Jose. Zarate finished the stage in 116th place, nearly 18 minutes behind stage winner George Hincapie.

Martin Gilbert

Canada’s Martin Gilbert of the Kodak Gallery.com/Sierra Nevada team tackles the Sierra Road climb. Gilbert finished the stage in 113th place.

More photos, video, and the full story at the Spartan Daily.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Thaw me out, coach

It’s late February, and the snow on the peaks around here has persisted for three days now. That can mean only one thing: Baseball!

This was the first baseball game I’ve covered, so I had a few things to learn. Like, bring the winter gloves.

baseball v BYU

Spartans outfielder Sam Hall advances to second off a hit by John Shaffer in the fourth inning against Brigham Young University Saturday at San Jose Municipal Stadium.


Also ran

Also in the paper today: a really weak feature I shot last week on no sleep.

baseball v BYU

San Jose State University students celebrate Black Thursday with some informal stepping in the Student Union Amphitheater.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


There’s no I in feature

The occasional solo shot is nice, but mainly it’s all about the timeless interaction between two human faces. Or, failing that, between two human faces and a computer screen.

Comp sci front

Lei Li, left, and Kelly Lu, both computer science students working on their second bachelor’s degrees, collaborate on a classroom project Wednesday.

Someone over my shoulder at the paper liked the above shot because of the repetition of form — one pair of people with a laptop in the foreground, and a matching set in the background. I hadn’t even noticed that, but he was right. Is it possible that I’ve finally internalized this basic tenet of good photography, so that I do it without even thinking about it? Nah. I got lucky.

Comp sci jump

Kelley Cartwright, left, a graduate student of mathematics, and Bruce Langdon, a junior math major, work together on a computer science project Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Mo’ file art

One of the shots from Sunday’s water polo tournament made it into a story on the two goalkeepers for today’s edition. Just a crop of the head ran in print, but the whole thing showed up online. Considering this wasn’t even a shot that had been put aside as file art, I was pretty surprised to see it run.

A further note on captioning these pictures: Differentiating the players is difficult at best — height, hair color and hairstyle go out the window as identifying characteristics. The players in the pool don’t really resemble their dry, swim cap–free portraits on the team web site. Worse yet, any full-face portrait of a player doesn’t show her number, forcing me to go back and forth through the take looking for a shot of the same player with her head turned. Maybe in time I’ll actually learn to recognize their faces.

Krissy Hansell

Krissy Hansell, SJSU goalkeeper, sets up a pass during a game at Stanford Sunday.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Love is in the quad

Got a text message from my photo editor last night around 12:30 — could I find a Valentine’s Day feature for Wednesday’s issue?

I assaulted three couples with my camera this morning, including the young lovers below. I shot first, asked questions later: “Are you guys, like, boyfriend and girlfriend?” They were totally cool with me and the camera, so I moved in closer for this shot. Their coolness will be rewarded with an appearance tomorrow’s paper.

Valentine's Day feature

Junior biology major Julie Sullivan, left, and her boyfriend Jason Martin, a junior mechanical engineering major, work a crossword puzzle together outside the Student Union Tuesday.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Neither here nor there

Take that, Hallmark

In the spirit of the impending day, here’s a sweet little love note I got today. It really deserves to be set to music. Who wants to have a go?

“Fucking St. Valentine”
Words by Carol Tidwell

What are you to do if you have bad erection?
Especially in the forthcoming Saint Valentines Day???
Don’t worry, it is not the last
of pea-time...The most simple way
is to visit our site, order the medication
and that is all you are to do!

Do not kill the clock!

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Mo’ polo

Today I covered a water polo tournament at Stanford, about a half hour away. The SJSU game began at 8:30 this morning, while a heavy fog hung over the steam rising from the pool. It finished around 10, so I went home and ended up getting a couple hours of much-needed sleep. Then it was back to Stanford for a 2:30 match. As soon as that was done, I had to head straight for the Daily to have the photos edited, write the captions, get those copyedited, and put everything on the paper’s servers. I made it home by 8.

Am I complaining? Not at all; I know it’s more of a job than a class, and jobs tend to involve lots of time and effort. I intend only to clarify things for those who find them unclear: This is a very time-consuming course.

At the end of the day, I had two photos for tomorrow’s story and two for file art. Of those, I like one from the first game, even though it’s flawed (the Stanford player and the ball shouldn’t be cut off like that). The facial expressions, the jazz hands, the magic-show fog… you can’t stage stuff like this.

SJSU vs. Stanford

Here’s what’s running in the paper:

SJSU vs. Stanford

Spartans defender Katie Morgan, left, reacts after failing to block a shot by Cardinal driver Katie Hansen, center, during the 2006 Stanford Invitational Sunday. Spartans goalkeeper Kendra Adama, right, made the save.

SJSU vs. Hawai'i

San Jose State University defender Brianna Lindsey, left, prepares to set up a play as University of Hawai’i 2-meter player Sabrina Cook attempts a block at the 2006 Stanford Invitational Sunday.

Friday, February 10, 2006


1. Hang head in boredom 2. Hang head in shame

I spent four hours tonight at an awards ceremony. It was a good-hearted thing done by good people honoring other good people, so the last thing I want to do is bad-mouth it. But it was not even slightly fun. As far as work goes, it wasn’t bad — I’ve definitely had worse jobs — but by college standards, it was pretty darn tedious.

On top of that, I did a lousy job. The best I could hope for was a couple decent podium shots, but instead I got some horrible compositions with bad flash effects. Of all the moments in the subject’s 50-year coaching career, I’m sure he’ll remember this one as the most harshly lit.

Yoshihiro Uchida

I will not dignify this shot with a caption.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006


File art! Whoo!

Didn’t expect to have a photo in today’s paper, but there you go.

Water polo file art

San Jose State University utility Julia Moruza, center, blocks a shot by Santa Clara University utility Kendra Betke in a Jan. 28 match at the SJSU Aquatics Center.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006


The continuing search for compostion and artistry

Yesterday I had the pleasure of photographing SJSU’s new director of Student Life and Leadership, Richard Kelley. He was a more than affable subject, and profusely apologetic for the emptiness of the office he hadn’t yet had a chance to settle into. All the same, the static nature of a behind-the-desk portrait seemed at odds with my goal of taking good photographs. At least now I understand why photographers lug those big lights around.

Richard Kelley, take 4

Richard Kelley, director of San Jose State University Student Life and Leadership, poses in his new office Monday. Kelley joined the staff Jan. 30.

(The final shot is from today’s Spartan Daily.)

Monday, February 6, 2006


Not quite ready for prime time

Today was a day to get feature photos, that is, those without any news story attached.

Today’s entry is to show that most of my photos, simply put, bite. The ideas might be good, but it’ll take some more shooting before they’re ready for the paper.

Returns line

The line for returns at the Spartan Bookstore was two people thick Monday afternoon at the Student Union.


Graduate art student Bryan Yerian, left, and art major Shaun Griffiths work together in the glassblowing studio at the Industrial Studies building Monday.

(Neither of these were published anywhere. And rightly so.)

Wednesday, February 1, 2006


The challenge of antiphotogenic news

I always knew newspaper photography would be challenging, but the thing I used to worry about most was capturing a really big event, like a riot or a neighborhood on fire, in a frame. Photography boils down to selection and subtraction, so what do you choose to symbolize everything that’s going on around you?

This just shows how little I know about photojournalism. Riots and wildfires are at least exciting in some way. Even Rush Week and water polo provide interpersonal connections and a certain amount of action to look at. But what about a press conference? Or a gallery opening without a reception? The dreaded grip-and-grin? They might make good news stories, but getting a good picture in the dullest of circumstances? Now that’s hard.

Don’t get me wrong — I consider myself quite fortunate to live in a part of the world where things are largely stable, peaceful, and not on fire. I’m glad, both as a human and as a photographer, that I get to witness far more beauty than horror. It’s just that there’s a big gray area in between. I hadn’t given much thought to it, but that’s where most stuff happens.

That gray area, I now understand, is the daily newspaper.

Leap exhibit

Valerie Kiadeh, a linguistics student at San Jose State University, reacts to a photograph in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Joint Library Wednesday. “People with Disabilities in Our Community,” a show by photographer Misako Akimoto, is on display in the library’s second-floor exhibit area through March 1.

Dick Tomey press conference

Spartans football head coach Dick Tomey answers a reporter’s question about national signing day during a press conference Wednesday at the Simpkins Stadium Center.

(Both for tomorrow’s Spartan Daily.)

Now, to end things on an upper, I’d like to point out that the Spartan Daily is far from a gray place. It’s an exciting ongoing project populated with some of the brightest people I’ve met in college. Some of them have blogs and web portfolios. Some, like Dr. Dennis Dunleavy, are no longer in the building, but the magical interweb keeps their work and wisdom close at hand. (And then there’s Edy Moreno — not at the Daily, but a fellow sunrise/sunset photographer from my landscape class last fall, and one of the best photographers I’ve shot with.) When I get around to making a sidebar for links, all these people will be up there.

Dennis DunleavyThe Big Picture?

Daniel SatoPhotojournalism from a Student’s Eye

Shaminder DulaiS(urrender) L(aughter) R(egularly)

Edy Moreno — Flickr page