Kilgore Rangers Combine

On February 4th, 2017, over 100 hopefuls came to the Kilgore College field house looking to become a Kilgore Ranger. These young men were from several different states and many different backgrounds, but they all had at least one thing in common, football.

Signup for the even began at 10am on a brisk 40 degree morning. After signup there was a lot of time spent warming up the mussels before any time was spent checking times. Of course, even during the warm-up time, they were already being evaluated on things such as following instructions and motivation.

After warming up, the men were timed on their sprinting ability. I was never that fast, even when I was young, but they guys were amazing.

Of course, in football, it’s not just about running in a straight line, but you have to have the moves as well. Making those cuts when the other team zigs and zags is the difference between winning and losing.

A test of leg strength with the standing broad jump tested everyone’s ability to fly, at least for short distances.

Passing and catching, of course, are integral to the sport, and they were tested out as well.

And what football tryout would be complete without having to run flat-out while not stepping on players on the ground.

For those wishing to be receivers and running backs, it only makes sense that you have to do the same thing, but while holding onto the ball.

There was plenty of passing and catching going on, and even the opportunity to run a few plays as the day began to wind down.

And there were also those trying out for special teams. These guys, while not always getting the glory of a quarterback, are often times the difference between winning and losing. When the chips are down, these guys have to pull it off under pressure.

If these young men are any indication, I think Kilgore College has a good year ahead of them. And not that I’ve been tapped by the Kilgore News Herald to photograph their games, you can bet that I’ll be following their progress pretty close this year!

By the way, I don’t think it ever got out of the 40s this day. I had to change coats twice, going heavier each time. These guys have much tougher skin that I do. Oh to be young again.

Get ‘Em Rangers!

A Christmas Bargin

So winter will officially be here in a little more than a week and it got me going back through a few of my autumn photos that I hadn’t posted anywhere. The weekend before Thanksgiving, Karen’s family got together in Broken Bow, OK and we went up to spend some time there.

Broken Bow is also home to the beautiful state park, Beavers Bend. Well, needless to say, we had to take a detour through the park on the way home to see the colors. As we came to the Mountain Fork River we stopped and observed two guys in a kayak and thought it made for a peaceful scene. I got out my camera and made this exposure to remember the moment.

Now for the promised bargain. This shot along with many others, are available for sale at my Fine Art America site. And between now and December 26, 2016, you can use discount code “GTUFMA” at checkout and they will reduce my markup by %50.

So go to and check out all the cool things you can get with my photos printed on: cups, towels, duvet covers, shower curtains, iPhone cases, and yes, even  prints, framed and unframed, to hang on your wall.

Another reminder to always keep your camera handy.


Road-side Attractions

Driving home from another family visit in Oklahoma with Karen in the passenger seat, she once more points out something photographic on the side of the road, proving once again her worth as a co-pilot.  🙂

It was a cloudy, drizzly, and surprisingly warm drive home here in mid-December, and about 3 hours into the trip Karen exclaims “There’s a nice looking covered bridge back there.” So, I pull over, let all the vehicles I had passed go by, and then turn around to go back and investigate. Now we have driven this route probably at least 10 times since we have moved to East Texas, but for whatever reason, just never noticed this. And with the warmth of the overcast day and the damp fallen leaves on the ground, it certainly was a photographic scene.

I stop, take out my camera and proceed to make a few photos.


Now for the interesting part. As I finish up, I see a gentleman in a 4-wheeler coming down the driveway. I decide to wait and talk with him. As he approaches I tell him how much I like his little bridge and ask if he was coming to investigate the strangers stopped in his front yard. He said he didn’t even see us down there and was just putting some fuel stabilizer in his take and getting it mixed up. He did say that people come from all over to take pictures here and even have people come to get married here, so he’s used to the attention.

I thank him and he drives off. I get back in the car and drive off. Karen mentioned to me that she’s glad I’ve started keeping a camera handy when we are traveling. And with her eyes looking out for opportunities, so am I.


Listen to your Wife!

Here is a life lesson.

When traveling on a turnpike at 75+ MPH and your wife suddenly says, “STOP!! PULL OVER!! I SAW A BALD EAGLE!!”, the smart thing to do is to stop, pull over, and ask her to clarify. This is exactly what happened this weekend as we were traveling to Oklahoma for our yearly Thanksgiving family get-together.

For some reason, let’s just call it providence, I had decided to leave my camera out in the back seat on this trip. Usually, nothing happens so it is safely stored away in the back with the rest of the luggage on these trips. The drive to family is about 4 hours and we were at about the 3 hour mark, making good time when the aforementioned actions took place. I pulled over.

After discussing the fact that what she likely was was just some exposed broken branch in a tree, she finally convinced me to back up. So here I am, backing up on the shoulder while traffic is whizzing by, narrowly missing a mile-marker sign (oops) when Karen declared, “I see it!” It was quite a distance away, and I still could not see it. So I hand her the camera. Of course, my camera settings are completely different than hers so she has a hard time getting a shot but once she does and shows me the proof, well, I hop out of the vehicle with the camera and head toward the field.

There were a line of trees between the and the great bird, but I was able to get a couple of clear shots before it flew off.

So, listen to your life and you may just see something amazing!

Oh, and here are a couple of shots of the Bald Eagle! Quite a distance away, and shooting through a stand of trees, but still a magnificent bird.



Kilgore Football: Part 2

Welcome to Kilgore College vs Tyler Junior College, part 2. Thanks to the KC win over TJC of 50-29 the previous week, these two teams, with a long history, had the opportunity to meet up once again the very next Saturday in the first round of the SWJCFC playoffs. So sit back and enjoy along with me as I had the opportunity to shoot this game from the field level rather than from the stands! So, while this post may seem one-sided, remember I was there at the courtesy of Kilgore College, so they were my focus.



The Kilgore band was in place and ready to go as the teams came onto the field.


KC Special Teams coach Gary Wade stands with his players as the game gets underway.


#6 Joe Lewis, was seen making quite a few big plays during the game. Once he got the ball he was off!


As the teams line up, eye-to-eye and nose-to-nose, you can almost feel the tension from the years of rivalry between these two schools.


#32 Alvin Kenworthy and #41 Dillon Hall stand on the sidelines, ready to jump in at a moments notice.


Another play maker for KC, #15 Kyle McBride, runs for another first down.


The Kilgore crown was certainly appreciative of their Rangers as they continued to score over TJC.


Hard working guys resting before being put back into play.


Celebration after another first down.


Being an old band member myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the performance from the TJC Band. If I understood the announcement correctly, this is the professor of woodwinds at the school, jazzing-out with his students during halftime.


The TJC band leader caught my eye as she directed from atop a ladder.


Go brass section!


TJC’s percussion section was equally impressive.


Kilgore’s band is smaller, but performed quite well. Marching up and down the field sure brought back memories of friday nights from my youth.


And of course, you can’t have Kilgore football without the world famous Rangerettes!


Back to the game.  #2 Chandler Eiland looks to pass the ball before the approaching Apaches make contact.


Playmaker #7 Tyreik Gray, light on his feet making yardage before being brought down.


#3 Hasan Deense takes control of the ball for yet more yardage.


Sometimes there is just no stopping #7 Tyreik Gray as he hurdles over an attempted tackle and continues on for yet another touchdown!


Coach Wade had a discussion with one of the Refs


But once the game is complete, all harsh moments are put aside and congratulations all around are shared from both sides.


As the Rangers celebrate their 58-51 win over TJC with singing their school song


And closing for a word or prayer, thanking God for the victory and safety of both teams. The next week KC lost to Trinity Valley Community College in overtime, but they have been invited to play at the Mississippi Bowl in Perkinston MS on Dec 4th. We with them good luck in their game against East Mississippi Community College.

So, that’s it. My first chance shooing a game from the sidelines. It was a great opportunity and one I’m hoping to continue into the future. Defiantly as unpredictable as wildlife but certainly more action packed into a shorter amount of time.

Hope you enjoyed. Looking for my next adventure!



All photos copyright of Michael Hampton 2016 and taken with the Canon 5DS-R or Canon 7D Mark II