Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Still More Film

Antiques - rural Virginia.

This time, a roll of Kodak 400TX. This is not what I expected from this film, but I think I could work with it, now that I know what it does. It's very grainy - which could be very cool - and prone to blowing out highlights. This is the identical camera and lens that I used to get such great results with the Portra this was unexpected.

The Yellow House.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kodak Portra 160 NC

More film. Last month I bought two rolls of Kodak's Portra 160 NC film. Then, I spent the month shooting the old-fashioned way: a film SLR, a lens that lets in lots of light, and manual focus. Wow. This film is great. Great skin tones, not hyper saturated, but also really natural landscape colors. Almost every one of the shots came out in tack sharp focus, with beautiful colors. I'm hooked.

Monday, December 07, 2009


Out here on the Right Coast, we don't get as many stunning sunsets or sunrises as you tend to in, say San Diego.

So, when I drove out of the garage this morning and saw this, I had to stop and snap some photos.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Snow Before Halloween

A few weekends ago I took a day trip out to Virginia's Skyline Drive. As we approached the entrance, you could see glimpses of what looked like snow on the upper meadows, and sure enough, when we got to the gate, we were informed that the road was closed 4 miles in.

The views were great and there was a nice contrast between the lush green grass and the light dusting of snow.

We wanted more, though, so we backtracked and drove 30 miles south to the next entrance.

**UPDATE** Ever since I picked up the camera again about 3 years ago, I've wondered how the "pros" get shots like this to look as good as they do. I mean, look at my's flat, boring and washed out. In person, it was intense and beautiful. do they do it? Is it pure patience, or luck? That's how I got my favorite shot (the title of the blog)...I was in the right place at the right time and I waited until the scene was perfect? Is it really that simple?

Well, no. To make the sky look more like what I saw, I've since discovered I should have been using a Neutral Gradient filter, or a "grad". Rockwell, as usual has the goods: Go there, search for ND Grad or Grad filter and marvel at his shots with/without the grad filter.


This is what we came for! The wind was howling over the ridges and you could tell there snow had been much more intense, with a nice 3-4 inch layer of snow blanketing the mountainsides, the road and the trees. It was still melting, but there were pockets of ice and icicles hanging from some trees!

I'm holding out hope that this winter will be long and dark and snowy and cold. I can't wait to be able to skate on the pond across from our house, and to make a whole lot more of these fun winter drives!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Cyclocross Challenge Race #2 of the MABRA Cyclocross Series

For anyone paying attention to my race coverage schedule, I'll be at the MABRA #2 event this weekend. Unlike last week when I missed the Cat 4 event, I will not have any scheduling conflicts, so I'll be there for the whole day! That means coverage of the Cat 4's from start to finish!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

2009 Ed Sanders Memorial Cyclocross Event

After a long summer delay, I'm back attending races and shooting pictures. This Sunday, September 27th, I attended the 2009 Ed Sanders Memorial Cyclocross Event in Maryland.

This is the first race of the 2009 Mid-Atlantic Bike Racing Association (MABRA) annual cyclocross series. After it rained all day on Saturday and most of Saturday night, I knew this race was going to be sloppy, muddy, and spectacular for cross. And it was. When I got there in the morning, the course was brutally muddy, but most racers could ride the whole thing. As the day wore on, however, the sun came out and turned the slop into thick, clingy mud that was more like peanut butter than anything else. Peanut butter with long, nasty strands of wild grass in it.

But then, after another two hours of sunshine the course started getting tacky and fast - just in time for the Women's 1/2/3 race, and then the Men's 1/2/3.

The shots turned out really well, minus the first 30 or so that I wasted because my race-photography muscle were so out of shape. Two things about that: 1. I'm surprised that my skills atrophied so fast. It really hasn't been that long since my last shoot..., and 2. it's nice that everything snapped back into shape as fast as it did. For a while there, I was worried it was going to be a long, frustrating day. Thankfully, everything worked out.

If you're at all interested, head on over to and click on "Go To The Galleries" for some big preview shots in the "Ed Sanders" Gallery (and subgalleries).

Friday, July 31, 2009

2009 Cranky Monkey MTB Series - Fountainhead

The few people who read this blog know that I have recently found a creative outlet that combines two of my favorite hobbies: bike racing and photography. Over the last several months I've discovered that I really love photographing bike races, and, in the course of doing that, I started selling some of my shots. The feedback I've received from racers has been overwhelmingly positive. And while the money I've earned has been nice, I've also found that when people place an order with me, the greatest joy I have is delivering a cool photo to someone who truly appreciates it.

Some of you know that I used to race competitively. Unfortunately, I have a grand total of 3 photos from all 6 years I raced. So, with that in mind, I can't tell you how happy it makes me to be able to give a racer a great photo they will enjoy for years to come.

So....all that to say, that I recently had a very interesting conversation with an individual that has caused me to rethink my motivations for taking photos at bike races. The next race I attend, I thought I'd try something entirely new. I'm going to give away as many of my photos as I can, to as many people as want them. That's right, FREE digital downloads of everything I capture with my camera.

I will see you all at Race #2 of the Cranky Monkey MTB series at Fountainhead Regional Park!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Recipe

The ideal day at the beach starts with picking up boards at the local surf truck.

Then heads to the lovely crystal clear water of Hanalei's beautiful crescent beach...

...for some tasty, ankle-slapper waves shared with friends.

and a lot of humor;

Followed by chow at Bubba's - where they clearly have their priorities in order.

Not a bad idea, eh?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Shenandoah Hike

It has been such a great summer for low humidity, that we haven't needed to escape to the mountains. But, it is really nice to be able to get out for a hike.

As much as I would have liked to stay longer, this little guy was causing enough of a traffic jam. And with a little guy this small, I was actually worried his presumably bigger mother would be around somewhere.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

12 Hours of Quantico pictures

I attended the 12 Hours of Quantico MTB race this weekend and tried some new stuff while I was walking around the course. If I told you what I tried out, you'd laugh. But it worked. Really well.

All I will say is that I'm finding that photography (cycling photography at least) is a bit like makeup. I know that sounds strange, so let me explain. Women who wear makeup "right" use it to make themselves look "natural." Strange, no? Applying makeup to make yourself look like you're not wearing makeup. Because, no woman wants to look like she's wearing makeup.

So, when I set out to take a picture of a bike racer, I want to make the shot look as "natural" as possible. To get a shot to look natural, it helps to apply some photographic "makeup." But it has to look like there's no makeup in my shots. Get it? And, no, I'm not talking about Photoshop,or cropping, or shooting raw files and manipulating them to death. I really dislike the over-processed look that Photoshop produces. I want to get it right in the camera, the way photographers used to do when they shot 35mm film...before the days of Photoshop. Anybody can use a computer. Not anybody can get it right in the field. Plus, getting it right means I can work faster once the event is over. Nobody wants to wait a week to see pictures of themselves racing.

All in all, it was a great weekend for racing and for pictures. The weather was spectacular, the course was mostly rideable (not too much rain) and the shots are turning out to be fantastic. This one, in particular, looks great! Natural light, a sense of action, crisp focus, and when you blow it up you can see his eyes intensely focused on the trail. In fact, I doubt this guy even saw me sitting right next to the trail as he zoomed by.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Wow! The US beats Spain 2-0! and moves to the final.

Watching soccer at this level of intensity and this level of skill is almost like watching a different sport. I love that the US team won, but the highlight of this video recap is the ball-handling footwork of the Spanish forward with his sublime behind-his-own-feet pass and shot right in front of the net. This guy is more talented at passing a soccer ball with his feet than many, many people would be with a basketball and their hands.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Tuesday, June 02, 2009


B&W print film. Nikon N90s, 50mm f/1.4, with Kodak print film. Scanned at Costco. Lots of fun. I really love the B&W.

More than anything, shooting with B&W film made me think a lot more about what I wanted in the picture, and how to make things interesting with fewer tools. Or maybe, simpler tools is a better way to phrase it. You really have to try to make pictures with good "bones", because if you don't there's less to distract you from the fact that your subject or composition is boring.

The other thing it's teaching me is how much I like a good lens. I prefer a $250.00 used manual focus 50mm f/1.4 shooting good film on an old film camera than almost any digital camera. The pictures just look better. I can't explain it, really. Fun stuff.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

It's a Small World...

Although more of a technical feat than anything else, these were a whole lot of fun to create.

About 30 minutes of set up time, another 30 to really dial in the remote flash set-up and the camera, and voila, some cool water shots. After the first several shots, I decided that cool colors would really make these different, so I lined the edge of the bucket with colored construction paper and aimed the flash at the paper, instead of at the droplet. Once I covered the bottom with black, and the sides with red and purple the colors really started popping out.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ahead of His Time

"How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?

Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.

- Abraham Lincoln

Spoken at least 150 years ago, but never more applicable than in these strange times.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

This year was the first Mother's Day since my Mom passed away. As overwhelmingly sad as that felt at points in the day, there is so much to be thankful for, I can hardly consider being sad for too long.

Sometimes in life, things happen that are so far beyond our human ability to explain them, that I find the only thing left to do is leave these things in God's hands. I don't know why Alzheimer's took my Mom just as she was beginning to fulfill her dream of being a Nana, and to have daughters-in-law to love, and grandkids to adore! I can only tell you it profoundly hurts. But along with the sadness, there was celebration as well.

Hey Mom! Your namesake learned to ride a bike today! It only took a couple of tries, before she worked up the determination to ride around on the driveway, and then up and down the street! Right before she did it for the first time, she got this look in her eye that reminded me so much of you. She had bobbled a few times, but gotten really, really close. And I asked her, "Are you going to do this?" She looked right at me and put on this mischievously determined little grin that told me she knew she was going to do it, as if to say, "Are you kidding me, Dad? I've got this!" and off she went. Wow, you would be SO PROUD!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

12 Hours of Lodi Farm - May 2, 2009

Hey! I'll be at the 12 Hours of Lodi Farm mountain bike event this Saturday May 2, 2009. I will be pulling double-duty, taking pictures, and riding in the Duo Category with the excellent Mr. Mead.

Pictures of riders/racers should start appearing during the event, assuming I can find a WiFi connection. If not, they'll be posted Sunday morning in the 12 Hours of Lodi Farm gallery at

See you there!

UPDATE: Well, that was tough. Double-duty proved almost impossible. The racing itself was extremely challenging. Instead of the planned 5 laps at 10 miles per lap, I could only manage 3. With roughly an hour between laps, I had no time to take pictures. Between resting, refueling, changing clothes, and laying everything out for the next lap, there was no time. Plus, none of the racers had numbers identifiable on the front of their bikes, so the gallery is a mish-mash of 250+ pictures. All in all, a big challenge.

As for the, it was tough. In a 10 mile loop, there was literally nowhere to rest. Over 1,200 ft. of climbing per lap, but without any sustained climbs meant constant small, technical grunters, requiring gobs of power in short bursts. There was no cruising up a steady incline at 250 watts for 15 minutes. Nope, it was 30 seconds at 6-700 watts, or you were walking. Repeat 20+ times per lap, all while navigating tight trees, heavily rooted sections, downed trees, narrow bridges, and low hanging trees. I knew I was in trouble at about halfway through the first lap. I realized that I couldn't find a time to take my hands off the bars to get a drink of water. And not from a bottle, either. I couldn't get the tube from my Camelbak from the clip on my jersey up to my mouth, a matter of mere inches. I literally couldn't find time to take my hands off the bars to move the tube to my mouth. Anyways, what pictures I did manage to take are at the link above. I did manage at least one cool picture, though.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Leesburg Baker's Dozen 2009 Event Pictures

There is a full gallery of the event HERE. I think I managed to take at least one picture of every rider who was on the course between 2 and 5:30. The fill flash worked really well, illuminating faces and eliminating helmet shadows, and preserving well lit backgrounds.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Sparrow

This reminds me of my Mom, and how wise she was and what a wonderful blessing she was and continues to be.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Kodachrome 64 versus Velvia 50

Well. I finally got around to shooting and developing a roll of Kodachrome 64 slide film on the N90s. When I was out in San Diego in February, I took several rolls of Velvia 50 and one roll of Kodachrome. I just got the Kodachrome back from the only lab left in America that processes the stuff. Let me tell you there's a reason no one shoots Kodachrome any longer.

This stuff is awful. Worse than awful, it's dreadful. It makes beautiful scenery and makes it look worse than it really is. That's an achievement, especially in La Jolla's tidepools during a winter sunset.

Let's just say, I originally bought 2 rolls of Kodachrome. I'm going to process the second roll as B&W. It's a waste to try to shoot anything in color with this film. Especially compared to Velvia. Good grief.

Here's a Kodachrome sunset:

Compare that to the sunset on the header of the blog. That shot was taken with the same camera and the same lens, on Velvia 50.

Here's Windansea on Kodachrome:

Here's the same beach on a similar winter day with a D200.

What a huge difference.