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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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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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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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American Le Mans 12 Hours of Sebring w/ Falken Tire

I love Florida. I used to live there… years ago. And I don’t get back nearly as much as I would like to.
But last weekend I was back out in the Sunshine State for the 12 Hours of Sebring – the kickoff to the 2012 American Le Mans racing season. I was shooting for Falken Tire.

It’s been a month since I’ve posted a new blog. I’m so incredibly behind on updates, and I feel terrible about it. I know there are quite a few people out there who do read my blogs and are genuinely interested in my stories. Over the last month, in addition to shooting more Supercross for Falken, I have also worked with several models on different shoots as well as a full shoot with the Budweiser Girls in Orange County. I should probably create blogs with those photos for everyone, too.

But, anyway, I know thousands of people follow my work between Twitter and Facebook, and knew I was out in Sebring for a little race photography.

Ok. Let’s be real. It was a LOT of race photography. I was there to make sure that Falken had plenty of images from the race of their brand new 2012 Porsche on the track. I spent about four days with the Falken crew between traveling and shooting. I always enjoy the chances I have to work with their team. They’re amazing people. I was particularly interested in meeting their ALMS race team. I had been in loose contact with someone who handles their @FalkenALMS twitter feed. Whoever it was was someone that was very interactive – a trait you RARELY see from industry people. Turned out it was their PR Rep, Kelly. She’s awesome if you ever meet her.

I also got the chance to see two of their models again; Brittney and Melanie were both their to support the team this past weekend. I hadn’t had a chance to see Melanie since our shoot in Malibu several months ago – and this was the first opportunity I would have to get her to sign my poster. Haha! Brittney and I saw each other at Supercross. So now, after this trip, I have my poster complete! Silly things like getting signatures from models on pieces of my work mean a lot to me.

Most of my weekend was spent on foot though. I was walking around the track numerous times trying to get an idea of the corners and locations. I had never been to Sebring so I wasn’t familiar with the layout. The downside to all the walking was the 30+ pounds of gear I was carrying. On the one hand I could have left most of it in the rig at the paddocks. On the other hand I was out at two or three hours at a time and rather have all my stuff with me so I wouldn’t have to keep leaving the track.

I had an amazing time out at Sebring. I took a bit of video, too. I was hoping to do some behind the scenes type clips to show everyone what it’s like to see the race how I see it. However with all the gear I was already carrying it was too much to also try and get video and I didn’t come home with as many clips as I would have liked.

I shot over 2,500 photos over the weekend. I threw out 500 or so yesterday. And from the remaining I made a selection of about 60 to share with you guys below. So, click past the break… check out my weekend at the races.

Oh, and I promise I’ll get back on top of my blogs in the next week and have an update for you guys with other recent work of mine.

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Racing update coming soon!

I’ve been working on a major update to my Offroad portfolio.
I have a few thousand images from the Lucas Oil Off Road Race Series that I’ve spent a good part of this year shooting. Well, for those of you with a sharp eye on my Racing portfolio, you may have noticed I haven’t done a major update since the Long Beach Grand Prix.

Within the next day or so I will be adding between 10 and 20 new images from the Off Road Series. I’m actually considering creating an entire section with just dirt track images. I have more than enough work from both dirt tracks and asphalt tracks to fill two sections. It may be best that I just do that instead.

I also have a lot of images like this…

And I’m sure some of you will be excited for those, too.

So, check back soon. I have quite a few updates coming.

Another incredible off-road race, wrapped!

Last night wrapped the final day of the Lucas Oil Off Road Race Series, Lake Elsinore, event. As many of you have already read, I spent three days out there again this month covering the races. The main difference this time around, compared to last month, was that these races were held at night. And, for only one heat… we had some incredible light!

The day, overall, was slow paced for me. I spent most of it tracking down certain drivers and trying to set up some portraits for my side project I was doing during this particular weekend. Unfortunately I was only able to shoot an additional three drivers – but, that’s better than not being able to shoot any. More on that later though…

It’s really unfortunate that more of the racing couldn’t have this kind of light! How amazing would it be to have a series of race images with this kind of color? Granted, I would have needed some Alien Bees and my Pocket Wizards to REALLY play it up and take advantage of the light… but either way, I wish sunset lasted longer than one race, haha.

And check out this shot of Robby Melton… I wish I was this much of a badass at his age. Seriously. How much fun would this have been in Elementary school? I had to settle for the little go karts at the mini golf place. I feel slightly cheated out of race-driver-in-training childhood.

Now I mentioned above that I was able to do a bit more on my portraits project that I previewed in my last post. Sunday evening I had the pleasure of meeting, and photographing, Carey Hart. Here’s a guy who was not only a really chill person, but also a man of his word – which can be very rare in this industry. Carey agreed to a shoot at dusk, which as it turned out, was perfect for my lighting. And even as busy as Carey was, he still made time to meet with me – which is hugely appreciate.
Check out this portrait below..

Let me know what you think in either a comment, or shoot me an email. I would love feedback on this series of portraits I’m working on.

Night fell pretty quick, and that’s when things started to get really serious… Trophy Kart was done, UTV was done, and Buggy had long since been over… It was time for the trucks.
Lighting, was harsh… I’m not going to lie. But, I love a challenge, and even if I don’t come back with a ton of images, I can usually create something cool.

Above is Rodrigo Ampudia driving the Papa’s & Beer truck, being chased by the KMC truck – which is quite obviously rocket-powered.

Rodrigo was one of my favorite drivers to photograph all weekend. He was realllly pushing his trucks to the limits – sometimes a bit too far actually. And again, the fun part about night shots is capturing the flames that shoot out of the exhaust. I would have loved to do some dusk drag-racing shots when I was in Nevada a few months ago, but the weather didn’t permit it.

This shot of Carl Renezeter is among my favorites from that night too. This shot is pretty much straight out of camera. Let’s hear it for the 1D Mark III, L glass and some serious hand-held panning skills huh? To be fair, panning at 1/100 of a second is not difficult at all. This was shot at 1/100, f/2.8, ISO800 at 80mm with my 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM and 1D Mark III with available light from the track floods – no additional speedlites/etc used.

Another example I wanted to share. Number 99, Robby Woods – a really cool guy who actually wrenches on his own truck. I don’t care who you are, it’s impressive to walk into a pit and see the driver hunched over his rig making repairs on his own.
The above image hasn’t been altered in any way. No color correction or toning – nothing at all.
It’s shot, completely handheld, at 1/60 of a second, f/3.5, ISO800 at 70mm with my 1D Mark III and 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens.
I really wanted to share with everyone what my images look like, uncropped, straight from camera.

Here’s another quick shot of KMC’s rocket truck! Haha, seriously though… there were quite a few trucks spittin’ flames last night. KMC and Papa’s & Beer just happened to be in front of my lens most of those times.

I thought this might be a nice image to end on.
It feels a bit serene… Like it’s all quiet on the track and this lone truck is out there by himself in the moonlight. Of course that’s not actually the case, but it’s fun to make up little stories in your head, right?

Overall, I’m thrilled with the images I came back with this weekend. I shot quite a bit less than previous races – but, I was aiming for more variety and trying some new things. Some of those new things worked, and some didn’t. I have more ideas for what I’d like to try in the future and will hopefully get some opportunities to do other shoots with various drivers or teams directly in the future for other projects.

In the mean time however I have quite a few photos to edit still and some major updates to my portfolio to do at some point. But I’m also still editing previous wedding shoots from this month.

I’m still busy as hell, and will continue on like that the next six weeks.

But when you’re doing something you love, it’s hard to call it work.
I haven’t had a day off in a month – but I barely notice.

Good night everyone!

Back in Lake Elsinore, shooting LOORRS once again.

Today was the first of another three days of off road racing at Lake Elsinore for the Lucas Oil Off Road Race Series. I was out at this track a month ago covering the same race/series. Today wasn’t quite as hot, but I would say it was MUCH more dry, and MUCH more dusty… All around, a pretty miserable day.

I was incredibly frustrated with how many issues there were on the track – I have no idea what they were, I just know that I sat out on the track for an hour waiting for whatever the delay was to end. I came home with VERY few images in general, let alone many good ones.

I did, however, decide that I’m going to do a portrait series on our sponsored racers…

This is how I intend to shoot this series… very dramatic lighting… harsh, sharp shadows… The races are in the desert, these photos will pretty much demand this style I feel.
This is a portrait of Malcolm Pointon, from New Zealand. I actually have shared a few shots of him in previous posts. Today I had the pleasure of meeting him.

This is a shot I did of Malcolm last month as the previous race. It’s one of my favorites from that weekend.
Speaking of that weekend, I need to update my portfolio still with those images. I’m not behind by off road racing, flat track racing, two weddings, and an engagement shoot…

Too much to do, and too much edit.

I’m staying incredibly busy though… and honestly, I may hire someone to start assisting with editing.

Good night all, see you on the track tomorrow.

Long Beach Grand Prix

I just spent four days shooting the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix… it rocked.

I’m not going to lie… it was damn hot, fairly crowded at times, loud of course, somewhat disorganized, and at times it was even boring… But it was a lot of fun overall.
I was there to cover various race teams and some drivers that we sponsor, and as it was my first time out to the Grand Prix I tried to meet some photographers that have shot there to give me a few pointers about what to and not to do.
Actually, I even bumped into one of my favorite photographers there, Dustin Snipes, who does incredible work with lighting and sport portraiture. Check him out at www.dustinsnipes.com

I’m currently uploading nine different images to my portfolio. I’m going to continue to go through the rest and possibly swap out some images in the week ahead.

And check out this shot… come on, that’s fun, right? Haha, I think I just like the reflection of the fire in the wing…

I also have the AMA Motocross races coming up this weekend to shoot. So, I’ll be busy for another couple weeks. I’m hoping that next month I’ll be able to start back on my fashion projects. I had a number of things lined up before all the race seasons kicked off.
Although it is pretty amazing to be too busy right now… not many people can say that.

So, go check out the Racing section of my portfolio.

And check back this weekend for Motocross…