When my son turned 8 years old he / we discovered the world of BMX racing. For 13 years our family was submerged in this hidden society that at times resembles a traveling circus. Making friends across the country while watching people come and go, we transformed from the lost novices to the experienced veterans. In the earliest times 100 plus races per year was not uncommon. We absorbed gear ratios, race strategies, equipment quirks and proper nutrition with equal zealousness as we were a BMX family.
My son raced, I was the pit dad and photographer, my wife was team mom, road manager and 1st aid technician. I started photographing my son’s races documenting this new journey in his life but as we became accepted into the group I became the track photographer then began photographing about 6 national races per year.
When college rolled around my son put racing on hold. I relive the adventures by visiting the tracks from time to time and through the thousands of photos I have captured over the years.
My son Alex is in the yellow uniform in the top two photos. Bottom is an earlier image of him.
Somethings you just can’t bring up without knowing there will be a discussion or argument; politics, religion, whether or not RUSH is the greatest rock band of all times…. and one more with photographers: Should images be manipulated or left alone.
I have some friends that think whatever the camera captures is final. The only manipulation allowed is what the camera or the photographer can do.
Others believe capturing a photo is nothing more than a canvas, ready to be worked on.
I believe both are right… to a point. I different in that I believe no two photos or photo opportunities are the same. Much like a snowflake or fingerprint. Some you take and say… well that’s done. Others not so much. If you look at the two photos above, the blue woods photo as you might imagine was manipulated just a bit. The original shot was boring and rather than just deleting it I decided to play with it… the finished image is somewhat a “fantasy” image and I like it. Done.
The second image is exactly what came out the camera. I did a global exposure adjustment for this site but no retouching or manipulation was done otherwise. I like it. It’s done.
I tell my students that unless the image is for a paying customer, then really the only person to please is yourself. If you like it, then you’ve achieved that goal.
And “yes” to that Rush thing.
Two photos from one of my last trips to New York City. The bird was photographed from the Ellis Island Ferry out on the bay and the buildings from “some street”corner near Trump Plaza.
NYC has always had a love/hate relationship with me, I can’t wait to go, then when I get there I can’t wait to leave. The history attracts me, the shear number of humans fascinates me, the architectural sites boggle the mind. The photographer in me screams to take photos, while the sane person hidden inside me screams to leave.
This is a hidden gem for me. I found this image while digging through thousands of photos last night. At first glance it’s just a kid riding a motorcycle, but for me it’s what is behind the photo. First, it’s my kid… Alex, who is now 21.5 years of age and rapidly growing into adulthood. This photo was taken when he was 13, at least that’s what the time stamp on the file says, he might be even a year younger.
Alex grew up in this house we still live in, the one out in the woods on the lake. Camping out, climbing trees, fishing, playing with snakes and whatever else he found in the woods was just a normal summer day. But somehow in the middle of that life he experimented with sports, first it was baseball, then soccer finally settling in on BMX which he raced in for 13 years. I should note here that BMX is Bicycle Moto Cross — not motorcycles, bicycles, but more on that later. He also is pretty good with a skate board, in fact when I took this photo I was standing on top of his half-pipe leaning waaaaaayyyyy out with my camera as he zoomed underneath me. So no, the image was not reversed in Photoshop.
Back to the story, what I do remember about this day is that we had just returned from a long weekend trip to a BMX race that took place in south Georgia. In August. It gets pretty hot that time of the year and the track is located outdoors in a field with no trees for shade, only pop up canopies provide any relief. Heat exhaustion is a major concern with the riders. We had arrived on Friday for practice and a pre-race. The main events were Saturday (all day) and Sunday morning. We arrived home Sunday afternoon just before dark.
And that is when this photo was taken. While my wife and I unloaded our personal effects, Alex decided he wasn’t tired at all… after 3 days of peddling a bike in 90+ degree heat he decided a few rounds on the motorcycle would be fun. We have 8 acres of land, my Dad lives next door and has another 17 acres so winding trails become motorcycle / bicycle / horse / go kart / walking trails in no time at all.
Of course the “Dad” in me had to grab a camera and get just a few shots before the sun completely went down… you never know when a photo will capture a special moment in your life, so when I teach I always reiterate to the students- keep a camera close and don’t forget to actually use it, take the shot… don’t wait.
I warned you these images would be random and wouldn’t follow a theme. I saw today that the actress Donna Douglas passed away on New Years day at the age of 81. Of course to anyone from my generation that was “Elly May Clampett” that passed away. That would be Elly May from the Beverly Hillbillies if you still haven’t caught on. In honor of Ms Douglas I have posted one of my photos that contains an animal.
I grew up watching that and many other shows of the time, Elly May of course had the attention of all the boys and many moons later when I married my wife I jokingly called her “Elly May” due to her love of animals. I can’t count how many different “critters” we have had in and around my house for the last 31 years. In the image above, the curious cat peering at you is “Grrrrrr” named for a particular sound she made as a kitten.
This was a fun shoot, it only required a box, one light, a camera, a pinch of catnip and a cat. I cut the hole in the side of a cardboard box to emulate the traditional Hollywood style “mouse hole”. I placed a single light above the box shining down on the hole and turned everything else off in the room. I then got down and put my camera and upper body into the box from the opposite side. I place the catnip into the box with me. Next my wife brought in a cat, sat it down in front of the hole and moved back. The natural curiosity of the cat did the rest and I only had to focus and click the shutter.
So… on the site my ID is “the htrn” which is short for “the high tech red neck”. Don’t get offended by the redneck comment,I’m really a nice guy. I was given that title years and years ago because of what I did for a living, the title was a tongue-in-the-cheek nickname for me.
The photo above is my current back yard as seen from a boat. I live in the woods on a lake. My house is back in the trees, hard to see from the water, it’s a rural area. Yet while living out in the countryside, fishing and boating right from the backyard I have been involved with the technical side of photography for 25+ years.
Back in 1991 I was hired by a California company named MegaVision to do tech support for the emerging digital photography field. The company I worked for had just purchased two hi tech digital camera systems from them at a price tag of $250,000 each. I was the studio manager and was given the task of “making those things work” by the company owner. MegaVision’s President flew out to train me on the systems, then I trained my staff. Later when other people bought the same systems out here on the east coast, I was tagged to help train them. Within a few short years I was hired by MegaVision to do all the installations, training and support on the equipment if it was being shipped east side of the country.
I no longer work for that company but still live out in the woods while doing photography with “high tech” equipment.
BTW — this photo was taken after the sun set back in the summer a few years ago, the street light in the tree and the fading light from the darkening sky provide the only illumination for the image.