What a great way to finish the season. Em was one of only 3 level 8 gymnasts from her gym to qualify for Region Championships. But, of course, because of the differences in their ages, they each competed by themselves at each session throughout the day. Em started open warm-up at noon, by 3:30 she was getting medals and what happened in between was fantastic.

I discovered that I am more nervous than I realized during these things. My photography skills were WAY better on Friday when I was taking test shots of her teammates. My attention to detail and my ability to match my camera settings to my desired outcome both are practically non-existent when I’m nervous. But I still managed to get extra “behind-the-scenes” shots for her memory book, since it’s a big deal to get to Regionals.

So since her coaches had just finished up with the younger level 8, they were trying to grab some lunch while my little one waited for the next session. She didn’t know where they were but she just started warming up when open warm-up started. But because she was in B flight, they were able to catch up to her before she started her timed warm-up. She even made a friend in her flight, before she even competed on her first event.

The whole flight of gymnasts had to go over and salute the judges before each event. I thought it would be cool to get a shot of that each time but I forgot for bars because everyone’s warm-ups were so bad and I was getting even more nervous.

She said it was fun to do the salute because every judge congratulated them on making it to regionals and every judge said, “You’ll do great since this is your favorite event.”

Cute.

Get it?

Every judge on every event said, “This is your favorite.”

I got her salute to the floor judges. That was her first event, and really is her favorite event, this year. I got SOME good pictures of her but I had set myself up too far away from the floor and I had people between her and me so I ran into trouble with focus for some sections, because my camera focused on the crowd in front of her.

She started off with a statement: 9.525 – which would, eventually, get her 4th place.

Vault comes next. I got a photo of her and her coach watching some of the other girls. I did not realize, at the time, that I had bumped a toggle on my camera and the shutter speed was now 1/800 instead of 1/500, like I tested on Friday. I did remember to get their salute.

Em got a 9.150 on this vault, which got her into the medals – 8th place.

And she was, temporarily, in first place (for quite a while, actually) after this rotation.

When she went to bars, my photos were getting darker and darker. I still didn’t know what was going on, but at this point my shutter speed was at 1/1250. After some work with PaintShop Pro, I have salvaged some photos.

She had a good routine but stumbled on the landing. She got a 9.150 but that was not enough for a medal.

When I was over by beam, in almost the exact same spot I was on Friday, I finally realized that I had been hitting that toggle that changed my shutter speed, after I took a photo of Em and her coach and it was still super dark. I knew I had taken great photos there on Friday and I finally noticed the different settings on the screen. So I fixed my shutter speed and got much better pictures…

But I was super nervous for her because all of the girls in her flight were falling off the beam. One of our level 10s and our level 8 All-Star had fallen off the beam on Friday. I was sitting in the stands, “Dear Lord and Lady, please let her be the one girl that stays on. I don’t care about her score, just let her have this one victory of staying on the beam at regionals.”

Well, she stayed on, and got an 8.900, not just a season high, a career high. And even though she didn’t medal, she placed in the middle third of the girls, she’s usually last or second to last on beam. She actually placed better on beam than on bars. She was 13th for bars, but she tied for 12th on beam. (Medals went out to 8th place, but MeetScoresOnline shows all the rankings.)

All-around score for this was a 36.725 – almost a 37 – if she hadn’t stumbled on her landing on bars – just 3 tenths from a 37… believe me, I heard all about it that evening and the next day… :)

I think she has a new goal for next season.

And I need to calm down, focus, and pay attention to my camera settings. Oh, and get closer, I was close to the action on Friday but I picked spots farther away on Sunday so I “could get everything in the frame.” I need to shake that habit.

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