Sunday, January 26, 2014

Photo Finished

For thoroughbred horse enthusiasts like me, this time of year is when we begin to think about the 3-year-olds.  Having just had their birthday on January 1st, the fantasy turns to the ultimate dream: the Kentucky Derby.  Of course only 20 of the thousands foaled three years ago will ever get the chance to run for the roses, but the dream will flourish until it becomes final who will enter the gate and who will not.  That's why I focused on a colt named Cairo Prince who was heavily favored to hit the Derby trail after his run in the Holy Bull Stakes yesterday.  He certainly looked the part.  He ran like it too.  A fairly easy win that left his rivals in his wake.  OK that's where this takes a departure.  Hopefully Cairo Prince will stay healthy and continue to improve.  I hope he gets his shot at the triple Crown.  But at the end of the day, when I Googled the name Cairo Prince I was struck with how quickly his winning photo appeared online.  And why would this be such a shock?  Here's why.  The technology makes a beautiful color photo available and suitable for publication instantly.

     25 years ago, as a working turf writer, getting a photo for publication in a weekly magazine took at least 2 days.  It was a 48 hour process on a good day.  The photo had to actually be flown on an airplane to its destination.  Hard to believe we've come that far in so little a time.
     When I covered a Saturday stakes race for The Blood-Horse, the article was written Saturday and the accompanying photo was taken the the airport first thing Sunday morning.  My beat was Northern California, so we're talking Bay Area to Lexington Kentucky.  I don't think the photo, safely tucked in a mailing envelope, actually sat on a seat in the Delta jet.  That's no so outrageous because the price of the flight was $125. back then.  The astonishing thing was how the editors readied magazine for publication all on a Monday.  Photos from the four corners of the globe...by Monday evening, that weeks edition went to press.
Computers changed the writing and digital photography changed the publication of photos.  48 hours turned into 1 or 2 hours.  And the magazine...it turned into an online publication.  Nobody waits for news anymore.  They don't have to.  But as I cut and pasted the photo of Cairo Prince last night, I couldn't help thinking about all those rainy mornings I hit the freeway at 5:00 a.m. in order to get a photo to Kentucky in time for publication.  I certainly don't miss it, but that process actually served to enhance the sense of satisfaction when the work was done.  There was a bit of satisfaction when I saw the article and photo in print a week later.  All the pieces came together and the miles were actually traveled.

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