A journal of my life as an editorial Photographer

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Diesel Power Challenge, Bowling Green Kentucky

This week,  I am in Bowling Green Kentucky for the Diesel Power Magazine, Diesel Power Challenge in Bowling Green Kentucky.  At the end of the event they produce a DVD for sale on the event and will be shown on the Outdoor Channel. My job this week is a departure from what I am used to doing. Instead of shooting still photographs I will be doing video. Considering I’ve never shot video before this should be interesting. I will be responsible for doing all the POV (point of view) camera work, attaching 2-3 cameras per vehicle. We will be using Go Pro cameras. I got those cameras about a week ago to get familiar with them and am still a little hazy what needs to be done to get the footage they need.

This event is an invitation only and there are 16 trucks. Each will compete in dyno testing, Drag Racing, Sled Pull, 10,o00 pound trailer pull, 150 mile efficiency drive and braking.

The day we arrived the entire region received about 14 inches of rain in 2 days, so to say the least there is flooding everywhere. In fact 2 miles from the airport the road was covered with about 2 feet of water, good thing we had a 4 wheel drive.

Today 5-3-10 we were just doing all the prep-production such as get supplies , establish data acquisition, work-flow, go to the different facilities to figure out camera angles and where to position the different camera operators. Already I am liking still photography a lot more.  Upon arriving at the Beech Bend Raceway we noticed a problem. The entire facility was covered about 17 feel of water…hmmm big problem.

This is the bridge over the staging lanes

These are the timing lights at the end of the 1/4 mile at Beech Bend Raceway.

Now back at the hotel to have a production meeting before the rest of the crew arrives. This should prove to be an interesting 3 days…Alot more work and planning goes into video shoots than stills. It is all very interesting and Ive learned a few things…off to bed and tomorrow begins the real work

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Japan 2010 Part 2

Here is part 2 of the Japan trip. My next assignment was for Honda Tuning Magazine at J’s Racing in Osaka, Japan. I would not need a translator for this as they have someone at their office who speaks English. One of the things I hate about photographing cars in Japan is that 9 out of 10 times you have to shoot the literally where it sits, they don’t move it or want to take it anywhere, so many times you have these great cars in lame locations and this shoot was no different. It sat in the service bay and it did not move just shot it where is was parked

View from the Shinkansen going to Osaka

J's Racing in Osaka, Japan

J's Racing showroom

With some post processing this will look pretty good

This was a pretty quick shoot and I was back on the Shinkansen bound for Tokyo by 3pm so at least I got back at a decent hour. Before I got on the train had some soba and tempura.

For the last 14 days I was staying at Tokyu Stay in Shibuya, nice business hotel, quiet the one nice thing was that there was a washer and dryer in the room so I didn’t have to bring so many clothes. The one thing that sucked was that each day there was at least a 15 minute walk to the main part of shibuya.

View from Tokyu Stay hotel in Shibuya, that is Shibuya station and the Yamanote line.

On the 27th it was time to change hotels, I used some points to stay at the Hilton, ah it was nice, big room comfortable bed, executive lounge access for breakfast. This was supposed to be the start of a week vacation but my editors had different plans. I had planned to spend 5 days going through my list of things to do but I had to work 3 of those days.

View from the Hilton in Shinjuku

So a couple of days before I moved into my nice hotel I was told that I had a few more shoots. So myself and my translator Kenta took the Shinkansen down to  Nagoya

When we were in Nagoya we transferred on a couple more trains and ended up in the sticks at a shop named common snapper.

We were out in the sticks, the only two passengers at the station

the warning cartoons are all over the place and always entertaining

On the way to Common Snapper, it was nice to see a different part of Japan

the farther you get away from a major city the less comforts such as escalators and elevators, it got really old carrying my gear up and down stairs

The best way to get a meal is the ever popular Bento, this was pork based and pretty good

By the time we got to the shop it was 3pm and we had 3 cars to shoot and it gets dark at 5pm. Nothing too memorable about these shoots, just wanted to work through them and get back to the hotel.

This is the luxurious room I was stayed in Nagoya instead of my over-sized comfortable bed at the Hilton

We stayed the night in Nagoya as the next day we had an NSX to shoot at Esprit in Suzuka, Japan. this was a very nice place, lots of highly tuned vehicles there along with a huge nice showroom.

Esprit where I shot a nsx for Honda Tuning

Showroom of Esprit

This was a really nice car just with I could have taken it to a better location. That is one of the hardest things about doing photo-shoots in Japan are the limitations. Before I even went to  Japan for my first time, I saw Wes Allisons photos in Super Street and always wondered why his choice of locations were so bad when he was in a country with such diverse locations.  On my first photo-shoot at a company in Japan I quickly learned why. The shops we visit  won’t go anywhere and in some cases want the car shot literally where it sits, also the time of day usually isn’t optimal for great photos. So I do the best I can with the locations given to me.

About halfway through the shoot my translator Kenta told me that the Shinkansens were not running due to a problem on the tracks. Since we were not due to catch a train for another 3 hours we were hoping it would be resolved by then. Wishful thinking on our part. Once we got to Nagoya we found out that nothing was running, the train guys thought maybe in another couple of hours. We talked about it and came to the conclusion that when the trains do start they will be packed for a few hours to work through the backlog of stranded passengers. So we went to an itsakaya to kill time.

Once on the train we were making good time but that soon ended as we approached Yokohama station. We stopped for a while before getting to the station, because the trains ahead of us had to unload. Once at the station we were stuck there for 45 minutes for the same reason. After finally getting underway we had the same issues once we approached Shinagawa station, they told us that there were 5 trains ahead of us, a little before midnight we finally got to the Shinagawa station. I was so done with trains and hauling my gear around that I opted to take a taxi to my hotel at the Hilton in Shinjuku

i was pretty amazed to find a large sized locker at the Nagoya station. We left our gear while going to an itzakaya waiting for the Shinkansens to start running

At this point the Shinkansens were down for about 4 hours, this photo does not capture the madness and noise from the bull horns with announcements and a lot of frustrated people...time to go to the itzakaya

Nagoya station

After the Nagoya trip I was really hoping to get at least  three uninterrupted days to see some sites Ive been wanting to see. Well that all ended when I got an email from my editor at Super Street Magazine. They wanted me to go down to Fuji Speedway to cover the HKS Premium Day.  As usual was only given partial information and a contact name. One thing I did know was that the event started pretty early in the morning so I had to spend the night near the track. Once again I was to leave my comfortable surroundings at the Hilton and stay in a business hotel.  I spent most of the morning figuring out how I was going to get down to where Fuji speedway was, getting a hotel and packing minimal clothing and gear for a one day trip.

Here is the plan, get bus ticket, dinner, get on bus where no one speaks English, hopefully get off at the correct stop, check in to hotel, wake up around 6am, take taxi (30 minute ride) to Fuji Speedway, attempt to get credentials from media person who doesn’t speak english and I don’t speak Japanese, walk uphill about a mile to the track pulling 30 pounds of gear, luckily get pickup by someone who recognized me, shoot event, walk about 10 miles of stairs, walk back down hill, return media vest, have the office people get me a cab which they did not want to do but realized that the only way they are going to get this gaijin out of their office is to get a taxi, get to train station, get ticket get on train and relax for the next hour and a half having a few pints of Sapporo while on my way to Tokyo.  That in a nutshell was the Fuji trip.

Before leaving for Fuji speedway had some unique shabu shabu, instead of dipping the meat in boiling water , the meat is dipped in one of 3 sauces. really good

the meat for shabu

the view from my hotel was pretty cool except for the prison like wire in the windows

From this point it was about a mile walk up hill to the pits at Fuji, it was brutal until i got picked up by someone I knew

Fuji Speedway, I really want to come back even as a spectator

Fuji Speedway

HKS Premium Day

HKS Premium Day at Fuji Speedway

The media center at FUJI, I was in awe I really want to shoot real Motorsports again

The next day and a half were spent in Tokyo just taking it easy which I really needed then back home on Feb 2. On my last night in Tokyo  We had Sh it was cold enough to snow, while this is no big deal for those live in show areas it is for me and was interesting giving the city a different feel with a few inches of snow.

the morning after it snowed in Tokyo in a few hours I would head to the airport not knowing when ill be back


Blog Update #4 October—Formula D Canon Failure

The early part of October was pretty quiet, just a few local shoots and getting content to my editors. The later part of the month was another story swamped from October 16 to November 2.

October 16 and 17 was the final round of the 2009 Formula D season at Irwindale Raceway. I always look forward to this event number one its close to my house and its a track that I always get some of my best drifting images.  I always like to get to the track early, its easier to park, most of the security isn’t in place yet so you don’t have a bunch of douches in yellow jackets saying where you can or cannot go.  I get there at my usual time when the participant gates open around 8am to find out that the first practice isn’t until 2pm, and since it starts so late virtually no one is there. so I went to the Scion trailer where I knew Chris Harrington would be, he drives the truck and does all of Scions photography at the events. Pretty much hung out there for a couple hours till it was time to go to work For most of the day nothing too eventful just shooting the normal drifting and pit photos.

Around 5pm I got myself into a good position to shoot some late afternoon opposite lock drift pan photos. its a nice shot.

Unlike the newby wanna be photographers I rarely look at the back of my camera to see what I got, Im more concerned with what is going on at the track. After a couple frames my camera made a couple strange sounds so I checked the back and this is what I saw. I took a couple more frames and then the camera locked up. Below is when i first noticed there was a problem.

Normally not a big deal, but in two days I was going on a 14 day trip and had a lot of shoots to do. After slightly panicking I emailed two of my supervisors telling them about what happened and about the pending trip. I told them we could do 1 of 3 things 1st I cancel my trip, 2nd we rent a camera which for that length of time would be about $2k or buy a camera. Well the two later suggestions were out of the question as they would not approve that kind of expense. On Sunday when I finally reached my other boss he told me that there was a spare camera from the recent layoffs and he would get it for me that afternoon…that made my day alth0ugh I missed the final round of the Formula D event. But at least I was ready for my next 14 days on the road. First stop Texas


Blog Update #3 Japan

After about 5 months of solid shooting I was getting quite burned out. I needed a break. For me there was only one choice Japan. I wanted to do some self assigned  photoshoots, shoot the kind of material that I like to do, eat some great food and hang out with some friends that live there. Here are just a few of the photos. Thanks again to Chris, Satoko and Eric for good times. It was a much needed break


Blog Update #2 September—Winnipeg, Calgary

Ok, back from Toronto for 2 days then off to Winnipeg, then Calgary, Canada. I’ve never been to Winnipeg, even though im only going to be there for just one day I’m still looking forward to the trip. One thing I was not looking forward to was the flight. for the most part I fly American Airlines everywhere I travel in the US mostly out of convenience since my carry-on bags don’t really conform to weight guidelines, having elite status they don’t look quite as close. With that being said i didn’t want to have to check my bag and when i found out that I was flying on an Embraer 190, my experience with Embraer are the small planes that go from Orange County to San Francisco which is small, my backpack barely fits aboard.

So as I am boarding I ask the gate agent if I need a gate check, she says no it will fit under the seat in front of you…I questioned her a few times she assured me it would. Skeptically I boarded, the configuration was 2 seats on each side and I couldn’t believe it it actually fit under the seat. their policy is to have the heavy bags on the floor and the lighter ones in the overhead. Why can’t Boeing figure this out.

Winnipeg, I was there just a short time about 24 hours, my impressions of Winnipeg kinda reminds me of a Soviet era Eastern block city. The roads were the worst that I have ever experienced and the architecture was well just grim.  I arrived late staying near the airport, was hoping to catch a bite to eat but this was an industrial area which at night is shut down and so are the restaurants, couldn’t even get food in the hotel, speaking of the hotel here is the scenic view from my room.

As far as work, Winnipeg was great, shot two very nice Hondas for Honda Tuning Magazine The one shown was one of the best detailed cars Ive shot in a long time. The bodywork that was done in the engine and interior was flawless. Its nice to shoot a car where the owner thinks the project through and shows attention to detail.

On Sept 5 I left for Calgary for 4 days, nice uneventful flight, checked in to my hotel and basically just did editing all day. It was nice not to have a shoot so I could get a little caught up.

As far as work goes this was a fairly easy trip. I was able  to shoot the 3 cars for Honda Tuning Magazine in the same industrial area which is nice. Nothing too interesting to note on this trip, I am starting to feel a little burned out on travel so each day i just stayed in the room and worked till my shoot and did the same in the evenings, yeh I know i should go out and  see some new things, but just didn’t feel like it.

The next couple weeks , did a couple shoot for Import Tuner, European Car and Super Street

The only thing I was looking forward to was my vacation at the end of the month when I was going to Japan for a week. I’ll do a separate post for Japan.


Canon 1d Mark 2N shutter failure

A couple months ago while shooting the Formula D finals in Irwindale, Ca my Canon 1d Mark IIn started to make some strange noises each time I fired the shutter. I shot a couple images and looked at the screen and  noticed this diagonal black bar going across the frame. all I could think of was great not again, see this isn’t the first time the shutter has failed on this camera. It has happened 2 other times and both well under the 250k that Canon says they say they should last. Each time this has been repaired, Canon has not charged for completely replacing the shutter…I guess this is a known issue with these cameras.

Shutter on Canon 1d Mark IIn