Monday, June 16, 2014

Best of the Day--Ken McGagh--June 11, 2014

Best of the Day: How sleuthing, patience and a big lens will get you a photo of the president

By Nicole Simmons/regional digital editor after interviewing Ken McGagh
 GateHouse Media New England 
  • FEATURED   »
Obama and Patrick
Ken McGagh/for Daily News and Wicked Local
President Barack Obama walks to his limousine with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick after landing at Weston Middle School June 11, 2014.

See that guy above? Yup, that's the president of the United States. Find out how MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, Mass.) photographer Ken McGagh snapped this photo of the POTUS landing in Marine One in a field at the Weston Middle School last week.

McGagh read in another newspaper last week that President Barack Obama would be attending a private fundraiser Wednesday in Weston, a Massachusetts town covered by MetroWest Daily. Obama was in Massachusetts to speak at Worcester Technical High School's graduation ceremony.

McGagh told the editor of the sister paper, the Weston Town Crier, who recalled that a reader had sent a photo of a helicopter landing at the middle school the day before. They put two-and-two together to figure out that must have been a practice run for the president's landing the next day. Instead of covering a softball tournament game, McGagh chose to go to Weston last Wednesday.

McGagh arrived at about 3 p.m., assuming the helicopter would be landing a few hours later, based on the timing of the fundraiser.

"The waiting was horrible!" McGagh said. He didn't have any credentials or assurance he would get a good photo. Federal law enforcement told him and other onlookers that they could stay but they had to remain on the other side of Wellesley Street. Because of the topography, McGagh said they could barely see the field from their spot.

Fortunately, McGagh came prepared.

Nikon lens
A Nikon 300mm with a 2x extender
He had two camera bodies and three lenses, including a Nikon 300mm with a 2x extender, resulting in a focal length of 600mm.

At about 6:30 p.m., about five helicopters landed on the field with two limousines waiting. McGagh started snapping photos of the people around him watching and taking photos. He recalls someone saying to him,
"Hey, maybe you should turn around."

He did, and eventually through his lens recognized someone walking by on the field - Pete Souza, the White House photographer (according to his website, Souza hails from Massachusetts!). "OK," McGagh thought, "Obama must be appearing shortly."

McGagh snapped away. And then he got the money shot.

"I saw him. It was fleeting; it really was," he said. McGagh didn't think anyone else in his crowd was able to actually see Obama as he walked from the helicopter to the limo with Gov. Deval Patrick.

The motorcade passed by them, however, and the crowd waved as the two limos passed. McGagh knew from the advice of his photo chief, Art Illman, who has also photographed a visiting president, to focus not only on the first car, which most would assume the president was in, but also the second car, because that's usually where he actually is.

McGagh didn't know until he called the photos up on his computer that he had caught an image of the president waving back!

Obama wave
Daily News Staff Photo/Ken McGagh
President Barack Obama can be seen waving to a small group of onlookers from the rear of his limousine as his entourage leaves Weston Middle School after landing on a field June 11, 2014. President Obama traveled a short distance to the Weston home of Joanne and Paul Egerman for a benefit for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Earlier in the day, President Obama gave the graduation address at Worcester Technical High School.
After the cars left, the group was allowed to go on the field and gawk at the helicopters. McGagh snapped some photos there and then headed home to file his work. He created an online photo gallery. He also tweeted out some photos. Normally, he would have done that from the field, but in this case he said he didn't have time.

If he had looked away for a few seconds, he may not have seen the president at all!

"And now you know 'The Rest of the Story.' "

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