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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Since I have a lot of photos and text I am going to break this post in two sections . I’m now back in Japan for 3 weeks for work and one week for vacation. Yesterdays flight was brutal, the flight itself was good, but was unable to sleep because the person sitting next to me was passed out for the entire flight and snored the entire way even overpowering my ipod.
This will be my 14th time to Japan, but I’m almost bored with Japan now, Tokyo been there done that. If I go again for vacation, I’m going to attempt to pack lite and see more of the country aside from the bid cities. I already have a 10 day trip planned, where I’ll go to see some of the World Heritage Sites, Onsens, basically more of country that’s not a big city. When I travel for fun I’m not really a be on a schedule person but this next personal trip I’m going to plan it well to get the maximum time to get images I want that I haven’t been getting in the past few trips. There are also a few photo stories I want to do. I’ll leave it at that, don’t want to give out my ideas but it has nothing to do with cars.
I arrived in Japan 3 days before my main assignment the Tokyo Auto Salon. Since I was shooting it for 4 magazines I had to try and shoot everything to give my editors as much variety as one can get from a trade show. Anyway, first couple days just had to get situated and get my sleeping pattern to Japan time.
First couple days I stayed at the Conrad in Shiodome, I like Shiodome, since its mostly office buildings Shiodome is quite a contrast to the rest of Tokyo. There are very few people in the stations and even just walking around
Oedo line at the Shiodome station. Its always this empty even at rush hour
The Breakfast bar at the Conrad, the food is great, amazing view and its quiet
On Jan 15 was the press/vip day, well not really a day it was from 8-1. Then they let the hoards of unwashed masses in. So I try to get as much of the show covered as possible before 1, then spend the next 4 hours getting whatever I could. As the models come out the crowds get insane, the problems that the pervs will clog up an aisle with dozens of people taking photos of the models. The way they react to the models one would think these Japanese guys have never seen a woman before.
press registration for Tokyo Auto Salon
Tokyo Auto Salon
One of the aisles, they get even more crowded when there are some models
It amazes me each time I go to the Auto Salon how many of these creepy “photos” are lurking around the models taking dozens of photos. its like they all have just seen their first woman.
After TAS I was scheduled for the next 4 days to shoot for Super Street, but they didn’t have any shoots for me, so I was basically on call, not really able to plan or do anything as I was waiting for the editor to assign me something. So when I didn’t get an assignment I would just do some sightseeing. Still don’t understand it, oh well…
The Tokyo subway/train map. First time I saw this I was thinking WTF
Edo Museum, this place was interesting. I want to go back and spend more time there
At the exit of every train station there is a local map with major destinations indicated. These are very helpful as long as you have the name of where you want to go.
Salarymen, slurping ramen in Shinagawa
Amazing cheap sushi, Midoria in Shibuya, near the train station there is always a line unless you go to eat at off hours
On Friday the 22nd I met my translator for next two days, Kenta from at Ueno station. First we took the Shinkansen to Boss Auto Produce in Nagano to shoot two cars, it was pretty easy but not very creative as we were limited for a location. After the Boss shoot we went took a couple more Shinkansens about two hours worth to Niigata. By the time we got to the hotel near the station it was already getting late so we went to get some food. by the time we left the Itza kaya it had been snowing and there was several inches on the ground. I know what those of you will say who have to deal with snow yearly, but Im from California where we don’t get too much of the white stuff. So we walked around for a bit then back to the hotel.
On the 23rd we had a photo-shoot to SS Works in Niigata. this was a pretty important car as it holds several records. Since it had snowed about 6 inches the night before. I already knew I was going to have to shoot this inside, in Japan that can be a challenge since most shops are very small. Luckily this one was pretty big but narrow and very cluttered at the same time. I had my lights with me, so I could light the car and underexpose the background letting it go black. All in all I’m happy with the results. One thing I hate about shooting in Japan in the Winter is that with all the extra layers of clothes, shoots take longer
After the shoot at SS Works the owner took us to a fantastic Ramen shop where I had some very spicy ramen, perfect food for a snowy day
Part 2 of the Japan trip to come in a couple days
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
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.
Off again for another assignment, destination Seattle for Super Street, and Import Tuner magazines. Two assignments this trip two models and cover Formula D and shoot a feature car.
The drifting is pretty straight forward just basic camera gear in a Domke bag. The car feature on the other hand is a little more complicated. I need to bring gear to light the car and my camera rigging. for the model its pretty simple just going to use the sunpak 120j’s in an umbrella with rim lights. Once everything is packed it all weighs in around 200 pounds. ill post a couple samples as they come.
This is supposed to be a fairly easy trip. Originally just going to Las Vegas, NV to photograph Formula D qualifying on Friday and the top 32 event the Saturday then go home. Two days before I was supposed to leave, I get a call from my Editor at Super Street Magazine asking me if I can “squeeze in” one more shoot on Thursday afternoon, Miss Formula D Miki Taka at the track then shoot a blackjack tournament that night.
Now instead of traveling lite with just my basic gear and a Canon 300 2.8 that I rented from Calumet. I now had to photograph Miki Taka Miss Formula D to shoot outdoors at a racetrack with no power and not clear plan on how and where I was going to photograph her. Now I have to bring a lot of gear because i’m not sure of the situation I will be shooting. I would have liked to shoot her on the racing circuit but the only problem was that practice was going to start around the same time I was supposed to start shooting. What to do.
With my job you can do all the planning and thought into a shoot but most of the time its go to plan B and improvise. So i saw their starting lights and decided to go to a clear area of the parking lot and setup the light, then talked to my good friend Jonathan at Falken Tires to help me get one of their sponsored cars to use in the background which was a challenge since there was practice going on, but luckily it didn’t take too much convincing once they realized a model would be in front of their car.
Once Miki arrived we didn’t have much time to shoot because the light was going away fast. She was wonderful to work with even though it was over 100 degrees and the wind was blowing Miki had a great attitude and great personality. I hope i get a chance to work with her again when we have more time to shoot. Anyway all the images came out great and the editor loved them.
Friday and Saturday were qualifying and race day. The event started later in the afternoon but it was still over 100 degrees both days. For me Friday was a pretty miserable day. I woke up at 6 am really sick, i won’t go into the details but it was a rough day. Once thing about being a photographer, you just have to work through those situations and get the job done. My editor can’t fill pages with excuses. I just moved a bit slower shot all day till about 11pm then I had it and went back to the room at the luxurious Hampton Inn to rest for the next day. Practice was like any other except insanely hot and it is worse carrying around 30 pounds of camera gear the whole day. I am just thankful the media center and Falken were there with cold drinks.
During the practice Vaughn Gitten driving the Ford Mustang hit the wall and ripped off the front suspension and wheel from the car. The caliper and strut were still attached to the HRE wheel. A couple hours later when I went to the Falken pit, I was amazed that the car was put back together and ready for qualifying. That took an amazing amount of effort to get it back together.
A big thank you goes to Nick at Falken Motorsports, for giving me a VIP pass to their hospitality area. This is always a great place to get out of the sun, sit get something to drink and get lunch and dinner and see colleagues and friends. I was surprised to see Mike Kojima wearing Falken colors, I guess he is helping with some of their chassis tuning.
Saturday, felt a lot better. Just took it easy in the room getting caught up on work. I have been shooting so much lately haven’t had time to edit. The event was the same, cars going sideways, choking tire smoke and heat. In the end Tanner Foust took top honors in the twin drifting competition and won the Formula D Las Vegas.
This is the first time that a Scion has taken the First Place trophy at Formula D. Even though they had to do an engine change replacing their E85 powered engine which would have been more favorable for the Nevada heat with the gas powered engine. Tanner’s skill and the entire Rockstar Scion TC team battled the heat to get this win. Another big thank you goes out to Fred Chang, and Chris Harrington everytime i walked by the RSR/Scion Racing trailer there was always a cold drink and a chance to sit in the air conditioning and get off my feet. ALWAYS appreciated