Lahore Lightning

One of the many frustrating things about living in a heightened security situation with limited travel is that my camera is gathering dust in the closet.  I’ve been in Lahore for over a month and have not had the opportunity to make any photos.  Tonight, I was prepping the gear for my first such opportunity coming up later this week.  It just so happened that we were having a big lightning storm.  I wandered out on the balcony and started shooting.  Getting a decent image of lightning takes some serious patience, and a little good luck.

I used an approach similar to the fireworks in Ottawa, except lightning is much less predictable and I didn’t bring a tripod to Pakistan.  Got a couple of keepers anyway….

If you want to see more, click here:  Lahore Lightning Storm.

Surviving the G8 and Canada Day

Tom McEvoy describes the game of poker as “Hours of boredom followed by moments of sheer terror.” While that description could well apply to any number of activities, it fit quite well for those of us working on the G8 advance team.  There was actually a fair bit going on behind the scenes in and around Huntsville, Ontario, leading up to the G8 meeting.  I had the honor/privilege/burden of wearing several different hats for the Embassy’s support team:  site officer, thank you officer, gifts officer, and control officer for two Under Secretaries.

It was a kick to spend a couple of weeks in new surroundings.  For two weeks, we lived out of rustic cabins just down the road from Algonquin Park, 7500 square kilometers of amazing hiking and canoeing, about 4 hours west of Ottawa and 3 hours north of Toronto.  We shared the environment with chipmunks, fish, ducks, lots of bugs, moose, and a bear.  During my daily commute from our cabin to the control room, I came perilously close to hitting a deer.  Twice.

Without going into any detail, however, supporting a POTUS visit was a great assignment.  The Embassy Ottawa team is a very experienced crew so I learned a lot from people who had been through the drill dozens of times around the world.  Some days were pretty quiet, interacting with the White House advance teams and getting things set up.  Other days had more than their share of sheer terror moments, juggling resources and making sure everything was covered.

In the end, everything went off as planned.  The President arrived.  The meetings took place.  Many bilateral meetings took place.  The President left.  My Under Secretaries arrived, met their counterparts, received seamless support, and left.

Upon return to Ottawa, we (E and G are joining me for the summer) had the pleasure of seeing our first Canada Day up close.  July 1st was the 143rd anniversary of Canadian Confederation.  Nationalism here seems to be at an all-time high after the Vancouver Olympics.  In addition, Queen Elizaveth and Prince Philip were in town.  There were free concerts and activities set up all over town and hundreds of thousands descended on downtown Ottawa.  Where else can you find a free double-bill of Bare Naked Ladies and the Queen?

After dark, we headed over to the Embassy and staked out a great spot on the roof to catch the fireworks.  Promptly at 10:00pm, they started.  We were so close, we could feel the explosions and feel the ash falling from the sky.  I took advantage of the great spot by trying my hand at some fireworks photography.  Here are a few:

For those who can’t get enough of fireworks pics, you can find the full set here:  Happy Birthday, Canada!

Wrapping up photo assignments

It’s hard to believe that I’m less than six weeks away from leaving for DC.  Given all there is to do, I’m trying to scale back the number of photo assignments.     The sporting gods, however, are conspiring against me.  The Giants are playing meaningful baseball games in September for the first time since cutting ties with Barry Bonds.  The college football season just started.  And Tiger Woods is coming to San Francisco to lead the best U.S. golfers against the best of the rest in the President’s Cup.  Right now, the ramp-down schedule looks like this:

9/11:  Giants v. Dodgers baseball

9/12:  Utah (#17) v. San Jose St. football

9/14:  Giants v. Rockies baseball

9/19:  San Jose St. v. Stanford football

9/26:  Washington v. Stanford football

10/6-10/11:  President’s Cup golf during the day and, fingers crossed, Giants in the National League Divisional Series

I’ve enjoyed shooting an incredible variety of sporting events and have been lucky enough not only to see my work appear online and in print, but also to get paid for it.  There is something about baseball, perhaps because it was the first sport I truly loved as a kid.  Every once in awhile, routine becomes ballet and a combination of an educated guess, timing, and blind luck results in an image that’s fun for me to look at more than once.  Here are a couple of pics from Monday’s game:

07 September 2009:  San Francisco Giants first baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) makes a leaping throw during the Giants' 9-4 win over the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park in San Francisco, CA.

07 September 2009:  San Francisco Giants center fielder Aaron Rowand (33) dives head first into second base after a second inning double during the Giants' 9-4 win over the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park in San Francisco, CA.

As much as I’m looking forward to the foreign service and the challenges it will bring, I’m going to miss the dugouts and sidelines.