High School football playoffs

The Virginia High School Football playoffs are down to their 6 championship games next weekend. I had the opportunity to shoot a couple of games last Saturday. These were region finals, or in other words, state semi-final games.

Thomas Dale vs. Oscar Smith

The first game I shot was the Group 6A South Region final between Thomas Dale Knights (9-4) of Chester and the Oscar Smith Tigers (12-0) of Chesapeake. Thomas Dale had defeated Woodbridge 26-0, C.D. Hylton 17-14 and Cosby  13-7 to reach the 6A region final. Oscar Smith had defeated Kellam 48-13, Grassfield 20-19, and the defending 6A state champs and nationally ranked Ocean Lakes 29-19 the previous week.

Tigers ready to take the field

Coin flip

Thomas Dale opened the scoring with a field goal in the first quarter.

Thomas Dale field goal

Defenses dominated the first quarter.

Oscar Smith defender knocks down pass

Thomas Dale defender pressures quarterback

Oscar Smith had two passes for touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 14-3 lead into halftime.

Oscar Smith long touchdown pass

Oscar Smith touchdown pass

Oscar Smith added another touchdown in the second half and won 21-3 to capture the Class 6A South Region championship. They will now play Westfield (13-1) for the Class 6A state championship next Saturday at the University of Virginia.

Oscar Smith victory celebration

Courtland vs. Lake Taylor

The other game I caught, although for only about one quarter, was the Group 4A South Region final between the defending 4A state champion Lake Taylor Titans (13-0) of Norfolk and the Courtland Cougars (11-2).

Courtland reached the 4A region final by defeating King George 42-0, Eastern View 48-20, and Lafayette 27-6. Lake Taylor defeated Denbigh 55-14, King’s Fork 52-39 and Hanover 37-22.

Lake Taylor jumped out to a huge halftime lead and Courtland was never able to overcome it as Lake Taylor won 47-33. They now face Salem (13-0) next Saturday in a rematch of their 4A state championship game last year.

Lake Taylor defense

Virginia Tech commit Victor Greene carrying the rock

Definition of team defense

Costly fumble

Fumble return for touchdown

Sturgill Simpson

I had the privilege of attending a Sturgill Simpson concert at The Norva in Norfolk, Virginia this week. What an amazing concert! Sturgill is an incredible musician and performer.

I haven’t been a big country music fan, especially the modern country scene. I find it to be nothing more than pop with a bit of twang to it. I’ll take Johnny Cash over what’s being played on country radio all day long.

But there’s been a movement in country music the last 10 years or so. As country radio becomes more pop-oriented, artists like Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, Zac Brown Band, The Avett Brothers, Wilco, and Old Crow Medicine Show are bringing us back to the roots of country music. Since they aren’t played on country radio, people are calling this musical genre Alternative Country or Americana.

Sturgill Simpson’s latest album is Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. It’s a fantastic follow-up to his debut album, High Top Mountain.

Sturgill and his band played for nearly two hours straight. There was no encore, but I’m pretty sure the crowd definitely got their money’s worth. I was exhausted. The energy that Sturgill and his band put into their music was insane. Nearly every song became a 6 minute jam session. I will definitely see him again.

Now for my photographs.

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Pittsburgh

While returning from my son’s baseball tournament in Cooperstown, NY, we stopped in Pittsburgh to catch a Pirates game. I’ve heard nothing but great things about PNC Park. And it’s all true! What a great stadium. And the view of downtown Pittsburgh beyond the outfield is amazing.

But I was completely surprised at how beautiful downtown Pittsburgh is. The old buildings mixed in with all the new skyscrapers makes for a wonderful downtown skyline.

I will definitely come back to Pittsburgh in the future and tour the city more.

Looking at downtown Pittsburgh

Downtown Pittsburgh

Downtown Pittsburgh from PNC Park

PNC Park

Evening at PNC Park

Las Vegas

I’ve been to Las Vegas, Nevada one time. I’m not a gambler, or I should say, I’m too stingy to give away my money. But there’s a lot of stuff to do outside the casinos in Las Vegas. Like make photographs!

I spent a long weekend there in February, 2014. One of those days was spent visiting Bryce Canyon. I’ll be sure to post some photographs from that visit in the future.

Here’s a photograph of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel and Casino.

I really preferred visiting Old Las Vegas, otherwise known as the Fremont Street Experience or Downtown Las Vegas. This is the Vegas I remember seeing on television as a kid.

Here’s the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino. Who doesn’t remember seeing this on television whenever there was a show set in Las Vegas?
Golden Nugget

The Fremont Street Experience is definitely an experience. Lots of people dressed in costume ready to have their photograph taken, for a tip.

And the signs. Lots of neon signs. I love this place! Who doesn’t love a neon cowboy riding a horse?
Fremont Street Experience

I thought about eating at the Heart Attack Grill. Maybe next time!
Fremont Street Experience

I ran into this charming little newsstand on the way back to the car. Good idea to offer liquor. Helps when reading the news today.

The new New York

This is not your granddad’s New York. New York City is changing. The skyline looks very different today than it did 50 years ago. It’s becoming shinier, for lack of a better word. Modern looking skyscrapers are dwarfing the old buildings of New York City. The city never sleeps.

Here’s what the New York City skyline looked like in 1966:

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Contrast that to what the skyline looked like in this photograph I made in 2014:

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Introducing Jeff Self Photography

2015 has brought a lot of new resolutions and adventures for me. I am now seriously pursuing a photography career and I have hopes of doing this full-time in the near future.

I have shot a lot of high school sports this past Spring and I have now begun shooting senior portraits. I am shooting with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 and now have a full arsenal of lenses to shoot with.

So how will I make a living doing this? I’m going to try anything and everything. Hopefully, I’ll find a niche that will work for me. I plan to do family portraits, art shows, high school and college sports, concerts, real estate, events, and anything else I can think of.

My professional website has been created and I have prints available for sale right now. On this blog, I plan to post an image a day that links to images on my professional site.

So stay tuned. It’s going to be a fun ride!