In all of our travels throughout the last twelve months, a handful of photos stands out from the rest. Many end up as wallpapers. A few never make it into posts. But when digging through a hard drive, they’re the ones you keep coming across that make you say “Damn! This one is awesome!” These are those photos.
December 2010: On the remote northwestern tip of Maui, I waited in a light, warm drizzle for local drifter Jason Ney to come swinging around the turn. The scene was super moody with the sun breaking through the thin rain clouds and lighting up the slick pavement.
Hawaii in general offers some amazing sunsets. I caught this one from Kamaole Beach in Kihei, also on Maui.
January: Back to work. When Luke Lonberger had his stripped down C6 Corvette painted, it looked like a brand new car was being built. Paint booths have four-foot fluorescent lights all over the ceilings and walls to minimize shadows and it makes for some really interesting photography.
February: I shot the entire Wek’fest show at 300mm on a crop body. That really forces you to reevaluate how you look at things. I found myself looking for groups of similar cars that created patterns I could shoot from a ways away. The main problem with shooting car shows is the crowds always getting in the way. That problem is exponentially greater when shooting from halfway across a warehouse.
March: Gabe Stone and Adam Swan blasted off from the starting line in the first round of TD ProAm. At the time, no one expected that Gabe would earn his pro license. I love the heat waves on the track surface and colors of the clouds in the background.
April: Fresh out of shoulder surgery and under orders to take it easy, I shot the Sea Otter Classic anyway. This was my first experience using strobes for action sports. I hope the riders didn’t mind getting flashed as they came around the berm leaned way beyond 45º.
May: On the year’s first cross-country trip, I got the classic “Atlanta Shot” of soon-to-be champion Daijiro Yoshihara. I was borrowing Larry Chen’s 400mm lens.
You can never see too many sunsets. The Grove of Fine Knocks on the Northern California coast also offers a Fine Sunset. The coast is foggiest in the summer months, so a summer sunset shot is super rare.
My friend Nan called me up the day before his wedding to see if I was available. Luckily I was. The wedding was at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. While the staff was dealing with the gusty wind blowing all the decorations around, I was catching the bride and groom in some wonderful candid moments.
I moved back to my college town, so I visited my old teammates and watched some taekwondo sparring. Unlike racing where the subjects take a fairly predictable path, fighting sports offer no such convenience. You never know when something will happen or what direction the fighters will be facing when it does. You just have to be lucky.
June: On cross country trip number three, I found out what it feels like to be shooting for the guy who wins the event. Shooting into the sun is usually considered unconventional but it can have a pleasing look if done right. I tend to do it a lot.
I visited New York for the first time. The whole city is amazing. It’s like eight San Franciscos all next to each other. It’s exactly a mile down Park Avenue from where we were on 34th Street to those buildings in the distance, where Park intersects Broadway and 14th Street. And all green lights, how about that?
It was an hour wait to go to the top of the Empire State Building, so I shot up from the street instead. I took a few shots perfectly aligned with the building and perfectly centered, but this rotated one had a lot more energy behind it.
July: Wandering around downtown Seattle, this building caught my eye. The long focal length compression works well with the repeating but staggered pattern along the roof slope, keeping everything parallel.
At Blu808’s summer barbeque, I captured this photo of Fabian Fernandez’s daughter Tailyr, who was named after Nexen model Tailyr Monette. This photo blew up on Facebook and Tumblr for a few weeks, getting reblogged and reposted several times.
August: At my sister-in-law’s pre-wedding hangout and photo-session, my nephew’s girlfriend and I chilled in the other room while everyone else was getting told to smile over and over again. Candid photos like this are one of the perks of not being the official photographer at a wedding.
Later that day at the reception, I pulled out the 300. The people around me had never seen a lens that big before. That’s what happens when you invite a motorsports photographer to a wedding though.
I was heading out to a model shoot only a few miles north of the Grove of Fine Knocks, I came around a turn on Highway 1 and was blown away by this scene. The massive wall of fog was making its way inland on an otherwise sunny day. We had to scrap the shoot because of the fog, but this photo made the day a success anyway.
The subject doesn’t always have to dominate the photo, even if it’s the dominant feature in the area. Cal State East Bay’s 13-story Warren Hall can be seen from miles around but here it easily fits in the Science Building’s walkway.
The subject doesn’t have to be in focus either. The ultra-tight depth of field cause by using a tilt-shift lens incorrectly makes everything in Yosemite Valley appear miniature.
October: It was an almost cloudless sky in Irwindale during the Friday open practice session. Then a single cloud moved in front of the sun, softened all the shadows, and made it just dark enough to see the reflections of Rhys Millen’s headlights as he transitioned over the start-finish line.
Julian Jacobs was the only licensee from TD ProAm to come to Irwinale for the ProAm All Stars competition. Eyes can tell a lot about a person, but as the only exposed part of a fully-suited driver, they become even more descriptive. After his main rival, Dave Briggs, took himself out with a spin, Julian was determined to win it all. With a failing engine, Julian would have to settle for second place.
As the Occupy movement took hold across the country, I naturally had to go see what was going on. Sighting San Francisco’s Ferry Building down Market Street is common enough, but there’s not always a protest march to go along with it.
As soon as the Formula D season ends, many teams immediately start on the next season, if they hadn’t started already. Luke Lonberger got his Corvette all freshened up and repainted in time for SEMA so I did a last-minute photoshoot before he loaded the cars up to head off to Vegas again. Luke was concerned that the shop was too messy after a whirlwind of preparations to the cars, but that’s part of the magic of photography. You’d never guess what was behind me.
November: Normally the time attack season would have ended by now too, but GTA had an opportunity to run at Infineon Raceway along with a larger NASA weekend event involving Formula Mazdas, and a few other races. Rain had cleaned the air on the first day, and Saturday was warm with amazing cloud formations to the north, which the sun lit up as it got low in the sky during the last session.
There’s something peaceful about a lone GT-R jamming around Buttonwillow Raceway early in the morning.
December: And what better way to end the year than with the checkered flag from the longest race in the world: the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. The Mercer Motorsports GT3 Cup car won the race with 741 laps. The crazy thing is, even with 25 hours to get into position, I almost missed the shot!