Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Barn Parts

Back in February, I contributed a post to The Backside of America blog called "The Zen of Finding a Barn and a School Bus". Some photographer friends and I roamed about Northern New Hampshire a few weeks ago and I found myself back in Jefferson, NH staring at the same weathered barn board once again. It's energizing to me that you can revisit a location and create compelling work. Life doesn't often offer second chances.
Barn Door 2

Barn Door.jpg

Thanks for the company and inspiration of my friends and amazing photographers Jeff Sinon, Kris Smith and Melissa Greenawalt-Yelle. Check out their work!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Snowshoe Racing and Telling a Story

This past weekend I took pictures at the Granite State Snowshoe Championships at Great Glen in Pinkham Notch, NH. Each time I shoot a race, I like it more and more. I started shooting these events because a good friend of mine is active in the mountain running community and directs several races a year. I haven't traditionally been a sports shooter, but it seemed like it would be interesting and I'm always up for a good day outside. Right from the start I saw amazing athletes and met great people. The love they had for the sport was inspiring and participants appreciated a photographer willing to cover the race.

Reviewing images from my last race shoot in January and now editing this batch, I'm realizing the fun in shooting these races isn't just about getting a snap of each competitor as they run by. Getting shoots of the winners and losers is just the beginning. Stories are unfolding on the course and every racer is competing against a unique competitor... a rival, their age, themselves, a team mate, their equipment, the trail conditions, the weather. And the list goes on and on. Facial expressions and body language captured at 1/500th of a second helps us see the race with-in a race.
Keeping it on time
Race Director Chris Dunn checks his watch for an on time start and ponders his own race strategy.

Warming up
Men's winner Judson Cake leads a warm up in the shadow of the Northern Presidentials.

Stretching out before taking on the last half of a difficult 5k.

Snowbank Spectator

Equipment failure marks the end of the race for some.

Grinding it out
I had never pondered the impact of facial expressions in photographing sports. Amazing.

Finish Line
I love the little girl clapping on the right in contrast to the intensity of the race.

All Smiles
Women's Winner Kristina Folcik crosses the line. She smiles through out the whole race and wins.

Hard Fought Finish
Lunging at the line as rivalry heats up.

And now a word from our sponsors
And now a word from our sponsors.

See all of my shots from the Granite State Snowshoe Championship here

Friday, March 11, 2011

Half the Appalachian Trail in Half a Day

I timed getting out of bed with the opening of the Starbucks across the street from my hotel. 5:30 a.m. I gathered my things and walked out into the dark, wet morning. After getting the proper provisions of a Venti Dark Roast, cranberry scone and a banana, I set my phone's GPS and headed east. Supposedly the Smoky Mountains were out there somewhere although I hadn't seen any sign of them in my two and a half rainy days in Knoxville.

I drove through the dark for 30 minutes on the Lamar Alexander Parkway. All the while I was haunted by his horrible presidential campaign sign slogan... Lamar! My Venti fueled sense of humor couldn't stop saying it... Lamar!

The road started to climb, eventually hitting the small town of Townsend and then the sign for Smoky Mountain National Park. Left to Gatlinburg or right to Cades Cove. I had no real plan. The Johnny Cash line from A Boy Named Sue came into my head and I sung it out loud "Well, it was Gatlinburg in mid-July And I just hit town and my throat was dry". Gatlinburg was where I wanted to go, but it was three times as far as Cades Cove and I had a schedule to keep. I turned right. In a mile, it started snowing in the predawn light.

The road gained more elevation and became a spectacular tunnel through white and black lines of trees covered with wet snow. It was still too dark to photograph, but beautiful none the less. Cades Cove was a dead end with the road still closed for the season. I turned around and when the light broke, I stopped to make a few pictures.
Redstone Quarry-67.jpg

I had told myself that I needed to start heading back to Knoxville by 8:00 a.m. Once it got light, time flew by and then was gone. Just a couple of hours later, I was in the airport and trying to get home with all the other business travel schleps.. Knoxville to Detroit. Sprinting between terminals on a Friday afternoon to make a tight connection. Detroit to Boston. A lost bag and Route 1 bumper to bumper traffic. Barely 12 hours later, here I sit editing photos and writing this post from my house in New Hampshire. Its hard not to feel like sometimes it all moves a little too fast. I just traveled half the Appalachian Trail in half a day. Where did the Smoky's go? But, I know I'm lucky to pack all of this living into a day.

Which reminds me... A great colleague of mine is retiring on March 18th. He'll fulfill one of his life's dreams when he starts the Appalachian Trail on April 1st. It will take him six months. Good luck Ray!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Special on Great Books in Aisle 2

Here's my shopping tip for the day: Book Warehouse. I've been in our local store a bunch of times and, frankly, I'm usually disappointed by stacks of titles like "Learn Windows2000 in Two Hours" and "Eloise's Guide to Cross Stitch". But, recently I decided to stop in and discovered that they are a great place to get photography books. I'm not talking about cheap, paperback "how-to" books, but beautiful hard cover monographs at ridiculous prices.

My favorite find is a really great book I had never heard of called Taking Aim: Unforgettable Rock 'n' Roll Photographs Selected by Graham Nash. It features iconic and lesser known, but striking, images by famous rock photographers like Lynn Goldsmith, Annie Leibovitz, Jim Marshall, Neal Preston, Henry Diltz, Bob Gruen, and Nash himself. After I had the book a week, I noticed a bonus on the inside back cover... a narrative CD. Best of all... it was a buck. That's right... $1. Graham Nash provides selective narrative along with the photos. So cheap, I bought one for a friend.

The Clash by Bob Gruen

I also found a book by Eve Arnold. Eve was a ground breaking photographer at one of the most famous photography agencies ever, Magnum. I picked up her Marilyn Monroe monograph for $10.

If you're like me and geek out on photography books, but usually don't buy them because of their cost, check out Book Warehouse for a dose of cheap inspiration.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Roadlife: Back to Cali

Sunset from the 10th Story of the Leamington Hotel Building. Oakland, California

5:00 am. Fairfield, California

Vincent: Want some bacon?
Jules: No man, I don't eat pork.
Vincent: Are you Jewish?
Jules: Nah, I ain't Jewish, I just don't dig on swine, that's all.
Vincent: Why not?
Jules: Pigs are filthy animals. I don't eat filthy animals.
Vincent: Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood.
Jules: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'd never know 'cause I wouldn't eat the filthy motherf----r. Pigs sleep and root in shit. That's a filthy animal. I ain't eat nothin' that ain't got sense enough to disregard its own feces.
Vincent: How about a dog? Dogs eats its own feces.
Jules: I don't eat dog either.
Vincent: Yeah, but do you consider a dog to be a filthy animal?
Jules: I wouldn't go so far as to call a dog filthy but they're definitely dirty. But, a dog's got personality. Personality goes a long way.
Vincent: Ah, so by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, he would cease to be a filthy animal. Is that true?
Jules: Well we'd have to be talkin' about one charming motherf----in' pig. I mean he'd have to be ten times more charmin' than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I'm sayin'?

Hopefully you've all seen Pulp Fiction or you think I'm one weird dude.
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