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The new job: Rockford

I’ve just about rounded out my first month at the Rockford Register Star in Rockford, Ill. This month has flown by. I love that I’m busy shooting again.

The first day on the job was a little sluggish. Paperwork. And lots of it. That is until a vehicle rolled over on a snow-covered bypass. I rushed out there and got photos of the firefighters using the jaws of life to free the man stuck inside.

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2010 Blackhawk firefighters work to free a man trapped in a gray Chevrolet Malibu Monday night on US Bypass 20 at near Simpson Road. Fire Chief Harry Tallacksen said the driver's injuries weren't critical.

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2010 Blackhawk firefighters work to free a man trapped in a gray Chevrolet Malibu Monday night on US Bypass 20 at near Simpson Road. Fire Chief Harry Tallacksen said the driver's injuries weren't critical.

And yes, that is snow still falling. I had to brush off my car after my brief time there shooting.

While that was a little bit of excitement on my first day, this time of year can be slow. Assignments have been thin. That has left plenty of time to explore the town and search for stand-alone art. I drove into a state park and found ice fisherman. For the first time in my life, I stepped out onto a frozen over lake and treaded softly.

MAX GERSH | ROCKOFRD REGISTER STAR ©2010 Nick Lashock of Machesney Park fishes through the snow and ice Thursday, Dec. 27, 2010, on Pierce Lake at Rock Cut State Park in Loves Park. Lashock caught 8 crappie and tossed them all back.

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2010 Nick Lashock of Machesney Park fishes through the snow and ice Thursday, Dec. 27, 2010, on Pierce Lake at Rock Cut State Park in Loves Park. Lashock caught 8 crappie and tossed them all back.

As the new year approached, they wanted art to go with a story about how law enforcement would be stepping up their patrols. I met up with a sheriff’s deputy to get photos of him shooting radar.

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2010 Senior Deputy John Parry shoots a radar gun Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010, on South Main Street near the US 20 Bypass in Rockford.

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2010 Senior Deputy John Parry shoots a radar gun Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010, on South Main Street near the US 20 Bypass in Rockford.

Early in January, my editor called me while I was driving into work to divert me to the scene of a morning house fire. The flames were out long before I got there. However, the arson dog made for a decent frame.

ellie fire dog

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2011 State Fire Marshal Kenny Arnold walks out of a burnt Wren Circle home Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011, with his dog, Ellie, who is trained to smell for accelerants. Rockford District Fire Chief Steve Bishop (not pictured) said the home was not currently being lived in and was undergoing renovations.

The next evening, I responded to a shooting at a shop in the city. Again, there was no “action” to get so a little bit of patience yielded a decent frame of police leaving the scene.

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2011 Police officers leave The Happy Shop Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011,  after responding to a shooting on the 1500 block of Broadway in Rockford.

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2011 Police officers leave The Happy Shop Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011, after responding to a shooting on the 1500 block of Broadway in Rockford.

Working with the police and firefighters becomes routine for photojournalists. However, one of them helped me live out a dream while on assignment. I was photographing the firefighters training on a ladder truck at the fire station. Before I could finish thinking it, they invited me to go up the ladder. They didn’t have to ask me twice.

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2011 Firefighter Marcus Owens trains on an extended ladder truck Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011, at fire station 2 in Rockford.

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2011 Firefighter Marcus Owens trains on an extended ladder truck Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011, at fire station 2 in Rockford.

It’s not every day that you get to spend a portion of your day at a liquor store. But I did when I was getting shots for a story on a “lucky” place to buy lottery tickets. This proved to be a challenge. A lot of people don’t want to be photographed while buying lottery tickets. This took a lot of patience and a little bit of sweet talking.

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2011 Barbara Kirchner (left) checks Angie Jackson's lottery tickets Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011, at Central Park Tap in Rockford. Jackson has been buying lottery tickets there twice a week for about 15 years, playing the same numbers every time. She won $150 on her Mega Millions ticket. "You can't win if you don't play," Jackson said.

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2011 Barbara Kirchner (left) checks Angie Jackson's lottery tickets Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011, at Central Park Tap in Rockford. Jackson has been buying lottery tickets there twice a week for about 15 years, playing the same numbers every time. She won $150 on her Mega Millions ticket. "You can't win if you don't play," Jackson said.

Along the same lines, I had to get shots at an off-track-betting facility in town. I’m from Louisville, KY and everyone talks about gambling at “the track” (Churchill Downs). Apparently outside of Kentucky, many people like to keep their betting vices private.

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2011 Clarence Holmes watches horse races Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, at the off track betting facility at Don Carter Lanes in Rockford.

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2011 Clarence Holmes watches horse races Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, at the off track betting facility at Don Carter Lanes in Rockford.

Many newspapers have pool lenses (no swimming pun intended) for the photographers, meaning a variety of lenses any shooter can take for the day when they need it. I decided to try out a lens I had never even seen in real life during a recent swim meet. Canon’s 200mm L f/1.8 lens. This lens isn’t even made anymore. The closest current lens is a 200 f/2. The aquatics center I was shooting in was incredibly dark. My camera was set to 1600 ISO and f/1.8 at 1/250th sec. That lens rocks.

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2011 Max Saichek of Jefferson High School competes in the 100 yard butterfly event Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011, at the Jefferson High School boys swim invitational in Rockford.

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR ©2011 Max Saichek of Jefferson High School competes in the 100 yard butterfly event Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011, at the Jefferson High School boys swim invitational in Rockford.

I look forward to a long career in Rockford. Many more things to come.

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