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Formula Drift, Round 7, Irwindale Speedway 2013

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Last weekend was the 2013 Formula Drift Finals in Irwindale.
I was out shooting for Falken Tire unexpectedly, which is always a great thing. They’re a fun to team to shoot for and work around. Unfortunately though we didn’t have a strong weekend. All three drivers qualified Top 32, however both Justin and Dai were knocked out before top 16.

Saturday was my only actual day there to shoot. However I showed up on Friday to get my media vest early. The biggest problem with the Drift Finals is that there are a TON of people that apply for media passes. And I’ll be completely honest, most of them have no business being there. They’re un-experienced and represent no major company, no team, nor driver. There are people that I’ve met at these events that simply have their own auto blog and were able to get credentialed in.
To be clear, I’m all for people learning and working hard to advance in a competitive industry. However these inexperienced people tend to be rude, don’t follow rules, and have no common curtesy nor professional respect I find when I shoot a series like American Le Mans.

So rather than deal with a ton of people in the media meeting on Saturday, I showed up on Friday to check in early and then spent most of the afternoon seeing a few friends on other teams and with various vendors.

Race day was busy, as is every Irwindale race.
So, read on, check out a bunch of the shots I’ve selected to upload, and maybe I’ll see you guys out during the 2014 season!

Click the break to read on:

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Formula Drift Round 5 – Seattle

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Another Drift race of the season for the books – and a disappointing turn of events for Team Falken.

I just got back from Seattle a few days ago where I was out shooting for Falken once again for Formula Drift. This time around I was on my own covering the weekend’s events since the the rest of the creative staff was in Canada for the ALMS race. And while I got plenty of great photos from the weekend, the actual race itself didn’t go all too well for the team.

I arrived much earlier than I normally would for a race. I selected a super-early flight for some reason… I was trying to remember why I chose a 630a flight when I was just going up north to Seattle versus cross-country. Typically I seem to handle a lot of the far-away races for Falken. So that means long flights, and lots of travel on my part.
But for the life of me and I can not remember why I chose an early flight that put me in Seattle an entire day early.

No bother though, it was a chance to test out the extra Sony camera gear I brought along.

Thursday for me was a long day… not because I was busy, but because I wasn’t. I wasn’t there to work, so I was just hanging out. I didn’t bring my rental car since I rode with the team. Which left me plenty of time to do whatever I wanted. So, I shot around and took a ton of Behind the Scenes kind of photos of the guys setting up. Getting to know the crew is honestly one of the best parts of my job. Sure, taking pictures is great, but meeting and talking to everyone is seriously the best part. Whether it’s BS’ing with the crew during setup, asking the mechanics about what they’re doing and hearing them explain their job, or sitting at dinner talking with Dai about racing (his job), photography (my job), or fitness (mutual interest), it’s just plain amazing that this is what I get to do for a living.

But anyway, you came here for photos… so, read on!
Tons of images after the break from Setup, Practice, and Race Day. Also, Falken said “go ahead and play with lighting”… so, the photos are a bit different than I normally take.

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Formula Drift Round 4: New Jersey

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Just got back from New Jersey Formula Drift Round 4, where I was out shooting for Falken Tire again!

I wasn’t originally planning on being in Jersey for Round 4, but after contacting Falken on a whim it turned out they needed additional support that weekend. So that worked out great for me since I still had that weekend of June open and am always down to fly to a race to photograph.
So after what will likely be my last direct-flight to an East Coast race (you’d be surprised how many tracks I can fly to direct from San Diego) I met up with the video guys and headed out to grab a bite. This was actually the first time I’d really seen the Falken video crew this season. The other races I had be on, Le Mans Sebring, Atlanta Drift, Long Beach, etc, were all for other clients or Falken bookings where I was the only media support.

It’s always a blast being out with the team. They’re such a busy company that I don’t always get to see many people from their crew, which makes catching up on life less frequent. Plus, BS’ing with the video guys is fun since we can nerd it up and talk about cameras, software, hardware, and debate all the stupid things that none of my family or friends in SoCal really care about. Creative Cloud for Adobe?! Ripofffffff, what do you guys think? lol

The race weekend was great, and went by pretty quickly. Overall Falken did pretty well. Justin took second place. Darren barely missed third place, finishing fourth.

Next up I’ll be heading out to Seattle for Round 5 in Monroe, Washington. Looking forward to that since Falken has said I can go ahead and start being as artsy as I’d like with my imagery from the races. That “they have plenty of action shots” so I can feel free to be more creative with everything. So I’m stoked for that.

Also, I just talked and met with Sony Digital Imaging, I’m going to be testing some of their gear! This is pretty exciting. I was given a bunch of gear to test during the month of July! So I’m currently working with Black Flys sunglasses to set things up with their athletes for some awesome shoots with their athletes. Stay tuned. July is going to a lot of fun with all this new gear….

Anyway… on to the Drift photos!
There’s a bunch for you guys that just want to see a lot of photos of cars/etc. You will be able to tell the images that are straight from camera and don’t really have any heavy editing applied to them.

Oh, also, I’m trying something different for this blog and all the photos that follow are going to be 800 pixels at the longest edge… I’m trying it out to see if I prefer photos a bit larger than my typical 650 pixels at the longest edge. Let me know what you think in the comments about the size change. I’ll need to adjust the right column links though I realize.

More photos after the break

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Formula Drift Round 2: Atlanta

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So I’m finally getting around to uploading the action shots that I took at Formula Drift Round 2: Atlanta.

I was out in Georgia two weeks ago or so for the race shooting for Falken Tire this time around. I was the only creative staff sent by Falken, which meant I would likely be on my own the majority of the time wandering the track and getting images out to the Falken team back home on the west coast for them to upload.
My flight to the east coast came just two days after my return from the east coast where I was attending my friends Aaron and Danielle’s wedding in Clearwater, Florida. I suppose I could have spoken to Falken about flying me direct from Orlando, but, that would have meant that I would need to bring even more gear with me to Florida on that trip since I would need different things at the race than I had brought to Florida for that trip.

Anyway, back in Georgia again, and it really didn’t seem as though it had already been over six months since I was there for Petit Le Mans at the end of the 2012 season.

This race I would be focussed on three drivers: Dai Yoshihara, Darren McNamara, and Justin Pawlak.
I was also able to continue my ongoing portrait series while out there, as you guys may have already caught in my last blog post.

Overall it was a great weekend. The weather was overcast and a bit rainy… which unfortunately makes for less-interesting Drift photos in my opinion. Colder track temperatures means colder tires means less smoke…. means boring photos. Hahaha

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But… Vaughn DID run over a car on the track… that happened.

Haha, click past the break a ton of photos from the weekend. I decided to just upload a ton from the weekend. Enjoy. But sheer numbers alone you’re bound to at least dig one or two of them.

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Portrait shots of Dai Yoshihara, Darren McNamara, Justin Pawlak, & Pat Mordaunt

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Two weeks ago I was in Atlanta at Formula Drift Round 2. This time I was out shooting for Falken Tire. But between my shooting out on the field I was able to find a bit of time to meet up with four additional drivers to photograph and add to my driver’s portrait series that I started at Long Beach in March.

I had already been in touch with Dai Yoshihara a bit about shooting with him this round. And I knew that Justin Pawlak and Darren McNamara wouldn’t be too terribly difficult to meet up with since I was shooting for Falken Tire. Meeting up with Pat Mordaunt was unexpected, but great since I was hoping to try and get at least one additional driver beyond the Falken Team.
Funny story about Pat and when I first met him at Long Beach this season. I was introduced to him through my friend, and fellow photographer, Narisa Masermsim. Pat was just driving around chatting with people during the morning of Long Beach practice. After a few minutes of typical chit-chat (ie: who are you shooting for, etc) I asked Pat which team he was with. “I’m with APEXi” he said, pointing to the trailer off to the side of us. “Oh, cool, what do you do for them?” “I’m the driver.” Ha! In my defense I’m not familiar with Drift beyond the Falken Team. And typically I handle American Le Mans for Falken and I haven’t photographed Drift much since my days working for K&N Filters and AEM Intakes. Pat just laughed it off. Honestly I forget the the Drift drivers are all very socialable and it’s not uncommon for them to be out chatting with people, versus Le Mans where most drivers stay in their paddocks and rigs.

Anyway, click past the break for the various portraits that I shot of everyone in Atlanta. A couple varations of course, a tight crop alongside a wider one.

Hopefully I can continue this series in Seattle – which at the moment is the last of the Drift races that I’m booked for.
Also, you can check my portfolio here online for a gallery of larger images: Driver Portraits

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12 Hours of Sebring 2013 – Le Mans

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I’ve been putting off and putting off posting up photos from my experience at The 12 Hours of Sebring this year.
Mostly because my photos were so screwed up that I simply didn’t (and still don’t) want to edit the majority of them… I’m guessing that many of you read my blog post titled: “My New, Damaged, Canon 1D-X. And Canon USA’s refusal to help” If not, click the link and you’ll immediately see why I haven’t edited much from that trip. And you read the whole thing it will be sure to piss you off at the lack of customer service I dealt with.

However, now that we’re approaching the THIRD Le Mans race of the 2013 season, I wanted to share my images from Florida before people simply didn’t care anymore… if they don’t already. Haha!

My original plan at Sebring was to freelance and attempt to sell my services to various teams at the race that weekend. But that hope was dashed as soon as it was clear my camera was damaged and all my photos would require serious editing.

I did do a bit of work for John Edwards Racing though. So, my focus was the M-Power BMW you see up top.

Go ahead and click the break for a large assortment of shots from Sebring. The majority will be dusk and night photos since those are the images I was able to edit quickly and without much editing because the damage to the sensor was not visible as wide-open apertures.

Enjoy!

I’m currently on my way to Atlanta for Formula Drift this weekend and not Monterey for Le Mans. So, this is very likely my only American Le Mans Series post of the year unfortunately.

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Formula Drift, Round 1, Long Beach 2013

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Three incredible drivers took the podium at Formula Drift Long Beach this past weekend.
Daijiro “Dai” Yoshihara , Vaughn Gittin Jr., and Chris Forsberg took first, second and third respectively. And despite the dreary weather it was an awesome race weekend – but I do feel bad for poor Randyl Dawn who was stuck standing in the middle fo this champagne fight… she ran away shortly after this photo. haha!

I was out at Drift this past weekend shooting for my old employer, K&N Filters. Some of you who have been following my work for several years remember when I was on staff for K&N Filters and AEM Intakes. It actually wasn’t all that long ago – about three years. While on staff with them these were some of the guys I had to focus on the majority of the time I was at the track.
Well, on a whim I randomly hit up my old boss to see if they were in need of coverage for Long Beach. I’ll be working for Falken Tire on part of the season for Drift this year, however for the season opener at Long Beach I was not yet booked. Turns out my timing was perfect since K&N was just looking at what their options were for Long Beach images. And with Vaughn having a new tire sponsor, new livery on his Mustang, and new logos on his race suit, K&N definitely needed photos and headshots.

Perfect! I was now booked for the weekend, and I already had a good idea of the types of shots that K&N would be looking for.

But I was most looking forward to the headshots I was going to be required to shoot…

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Portraits! This was an awesome opportunity to create portraits of some of the drivers for Formula Drift! And, of course, Bil Baldwin “The Bearded Man of Drift”! But, I’ll post that in a couple days in a new blog post. I have additional photos of the portraits and a couple BTS shots to share too. I rather that be it’s own post.

So we’re going to keep this post simple… Just a ton of photos, and a few captions here and there for good measure.
But keep in mind I was shooting for photos to be used in magazine ads (like this), so, they’re fairly cut and dry. Not as “artsy” as I might get with my Le Mans work. haha Specific clients need specific things.

Click to read on!

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Behind the Scenes on Wildpeak Ad Campaign

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Blazing desert heat, cold streams, and windy mountain roads… all just part of the Falken Tire Wildpeak Off Road ad campaign I shot at the end of 2012.

Among many of the projects I was part of with Falken Tire last year one of the most fun was the Wildpeak Off Road campaign. This was a project that was planned, assembled, and shot all within a very short amount of time compared to other projects I’ve worked with Falken on. Falken’s newest tire line, Wildpeak, needed a variety of images created for upcoming ads and media in 2013. So several days were selected, along with several vehicles, to shoot many different images in different locations. I would be handling a large majority of the shooting alongside the video crew, who would be shooting for commercials at the same time.

The entire first day was spent in the desert, under the hot sun and, at times, very high winds. We had a selection of cars: Ford Raptor, Toyota FJ Cruiser, Toyota 4Runner, and the custom built Falken Jeep JK. We also had a few support vehicles with us, a Chevy Tahoe with 22’s for what would essentially be “beauty shots”, a Toyota Tacoma, our tow vehicle/rig, and a total crew of 10 people. This was not a small job by any means.

The second day was the longest by far. We were in the mountains. All. Day. But we were able to capture a ton of different images varying from water/splash photos to “climbing” photos. The video guys also did the majority of their filming the second day as well.
Day 3 was the shortest, and was cut even shorter after the first location we planned to shoot at didn’t work out.

Click below the break to read on and see over 100 images of what goes into a multi-day photoshoot of this size.

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Petit Le Mans – The ALMS Finals with Falken Tire

What an awesome year spent with Falken Tire.
The 2012 American Le Mans season was a blast! I was very lucky to be able to cover half of it for Falken Tire – in addition to many other projects that they brought me in for throughout the year. By far my favorite was ALMS, though. There is an incredible team of people out at Walker Racing that I was lucky to be welcomed in to. Through many events and long days/nights of work I also had the chance to work closely and get to know much more of the Falken Tire team, too.

The season wrapped up in Atlanta, at Petit Le Mans. Another endurance race but this time only ten hours instead of twelve like in Sebring. Haha! Even one of the managers at Falken, when he asked me the next race I’d be at and I told him “Petit”, laughed and just said “We send you to all the long ones, don’t we?”

Since it was my last race of the season I brought a bunch of gear out Road Atlanta with me. Instead of a 300mm like I had at Sebring, I brought a 400mm since this was a large track. And since there was a lot less access than at Sebring it’s a good thing that I did. I also carried a brand new Canon 1D-X with me – I was definitely excited to see how the sensor and tracking system performs over my 1D-3 that I’ve been using for years for sports.

I’m not going to go on and on about my weekend. I’ll keep it short and say that it has been a blast being part of Falken’s season and part of their team. With a bit of luck I’ll be doing some more work with them next year, but I won’t know that for sure for quite some time.
Until next race season starts up it’s going to be back to model photography and smaller projects for me! So keep checking back for updates on those – one of my next shoots is for April O’Neil and my ongoing Ninja Turtles project.

And to comment briefly on my opening image up top… I felt this was definitely a great closing image to contrast my opening image at Sebring for the season…
Here’s a comparison:

Nice, right?

Anyway.. click past the break for over 150 images of Team Falken, and several other teams/cars at Road Atlanta this past weekend.

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Road America – American Le Mans with Falken Tire

Road America, with the Falken Tire racing team.. and what a beautiful weekend it was out in Wisconsin!

Yes. We crashed. Let me start with first saying that I don’t know any details about the crash beyond this: Whatever the end cause was, it sent Bryan into a wall at an incredibly high speed. It wasn’t head-on, so, Bryan escaped with a few bumps and was cleared quickly by medical. As for the cause or crazy photos – I don’t know, nor do I have any. I was at a different location on the track when it happened. And the cause is being investigated so changes (if needed) can be made before Baltimore in 11 days.

Now, onto to details of the rest of the weekend..

Any sort of East Coast travel always means very little sleep the night before. Going to bed early doesn’t really work well for me, and first-flight-out typically means leaving the house at 5am. So I only got about four hours of sleep that evening. The travel day went surprisingly smooth. Funny that with all the flying that I do the best service I have is consistently “budget-airline” Southwest.

That first afternoon in Wisconsin was spent with Cale and Qazi, two of Falken’s video team. We were going around town doing some filming and shooting of the city for b-roll type footage that they could use for their final piece on the Road America race. We found a couple cool locations and the guys did their thing as I wandered around on my own. I didn’t really have much use for any of the shots I would have taken, so I pretty much just took behind the scenes stuff.
Later that evening we checked into our hotel to get ready for a busy Saturday at the track. Oh, and we stayed at the Osthoff Resort which was incredible. I was in an awesome two-bedroom suite on the top floor with a view of the pools and lake.

Practice day for me started early. The photographer meeting was at 730am. So, I was up early to get ready and get out of the hotel in time. Plus it was a new track so making sure I figured out my way around was important, too.
Overall the practice day went really well. I was able to check about half the track during the various practice sessions. Road America is a 4 mile track, so that’s either a LOT of walking… or a lot of driving if you are lucky enough to have a golf cart. Our video crew used the golf cart the majority of the time, which means I was on foot. Qazi, one of the videographers, actually joked “You’re in the best shape out of all of us, John. So you get to walk.” Hahaha!

Race day was a different story… as we arrived at the track the first GT practice of the day was getting started. So, I had the guys drop me off so I could start shooting right then. I rather have every opportunity I can to get shots of the car on the track than risk not getting enough images. The rest of the day was whirlwind of bouncing around the paddocks, grabbing breakfast/lunch at whatever point I had a few minutes to do so, and hiking pretty much the entire track to check out possible new areas to shoot.

And as everyone is aware, our race day was cut short due to a crash – a very disappointing end of the race for us when Falken was bouncing between 3rd and 5th place at the time.

Anyway, I’ll stop typing. Read on for a ton of images and captions from my weekend with Falken’s ALMS team at Elkhart Lake.

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