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Sports, Deer, and Video Tape

By LC Van Savage

Sports, I hear, are supposedly good for you. They keep you healthy, teach you good sportsmanship which has something to do with your showing sincere delight when your opponent wins a competition youíd gladly have sold a kidney to win, they prepare you for life if pole vaulting over traffic on oneís way to and from work is what you enjoy, and of course you make lifetime friends, some of whom you secretly pray youíll never see again.

I do not think sports are good for you. Well, for me. They hurt. But one part of sports really impresses me, and thatís sports video photography. Take professional hockey for example, that huge American embarrassment where the skaters are encouraged to behave like violent, Neanderthal thugs on international TV, thus confirming the worldís opinion that we are violent, Neanderthal thugs.

I think the most impressive people in ice hockey are not the players, but the folks who so adroitly follow that puck around with their video cams. I mean, that camera is right there focused on that tiny black speck as it flies around the ice at about 600 MPH, occasionally embedding deeply into the bridges of playersí noses or upper jaws. Thatís a real gift, keeping their cameras on that speeding black dot for a gameís duration. Those guys donít get nearly the praise they should. And there are loads of other sports where photographers keep the focus for the viewing audience on things moving way too fast, such as airborne golf balls and javelins.

I know multiple cameras are used in professional sporting events, else how could we get to see from 16 different angles a playerís brains being sprayed like Redi-Whip on the playing field from flying missiles such as bats, helmets, fists, or cleats with the feet still in them. Yeah, sports photographers are the really important people in professional sports. They move their cameras fast enough to follow lightning, all for our viewing satisfaction, and they get no credit at all.

OK, so youíre asking where Iím going with all this, right? Iíll tell you. It has to do with a tiny fawn and its mother I saw last week. I was at a TV shoot at the old Pownalborough Courthouse with a man named Dick and two women named Peg and Constance. The shoot went very well and when it was done, Constance and I decided to go to a nearby graveyard where some family members connected with the old courthouse are buried.

Constance started filming the gravestones, when suddenly from the center of this mini necropolis, hidden deep in the overgrowth, a beautiful, healthy fawn popped up and ran madly away from us. Apparently breaking all the rules about fawn freeze to keep him safe from predators, he galloped fiercely and zigzagged, as well he should making it very difficult for us to capture him were that our intention which it was not. He vanished, reappeared and vanished again, a streak of reddish-brown-tan, white spotted beauty running like a gazelle.

Constance desperately tried to film him, but he was moving so fast she could not. We stood in silence for a minute when suddenly with a tremendous thud, the mother appeared, leaping over the wall and gravestones, slamming around, frantic to find her fawn. She was magnificent, ears and head turning wildly, white tail flashing. What a sound as she thundered and thrashed around in the underbrush looking for her child. Leaping high over another wall she disappeared, crashing into the forest and I hope, to the side of her baby.

Constance just could not move that camera in her hands fast enough to capture this drama, proving again to me how truly difficult it is to film rapidly moving, unpredictable things such as deer or pucks. I salute those who can and who do it so well. Do they too get trophies?  

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