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Tempus has yet again fugited away from updating this particular bit of space, but here we are again.
So – a couple of relatively large photo-related news items.
Number one: I’m going back to Utah in 2016, on another of James Kay Photography’s awesome workshops. We’re going to be exploring the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument for a week in early May.
I’ve written before about my good experiences with Jim and Susie Kay, and I’ve got nothing but the highest recommendations of their workshops. I can’t wait to see what this one holds. Side note: If no one sees me in early 2016, try the gym – this workshop is going to involve a significant amount of hiking.
Number two: The coolest thing that’s happened lately has got to be the recent opportunity I had to photograph the X Games in Austin.
I’ve been writing and shooting about a lot of outdoor sports in recent years – some of which are borderline extreme – but they were mostly smaller events. This was my first time shooting anything quite so large, and it was an interesting experience.
Some thoughts about shooting it:
ESPN urges shooters to get to events early to shoot practices, and I completely agree with that. Some of the best photos I got were during practice runs, particularly skateboarding.
Hydrate and eating is key. It was 90-95 in Austin, which people said was significantly lower than 2014. I had media center access, but didn’t use it much until late in the day because I wanted to shoot as much as possible. I was paying for that by the end, with a small mountain of empty Monster drinks to show for it, but the effort was worth it.
Having a media pass, I got closer-than-usual access to the events – particularly the skateboarding. Since it is an ESPN event, the ESPN shooters got to stay on the course during the events, while the rest of us were shooed off about 20 minutes before showtime, but there was still plenty of good access to go around. If I had been there without any added access, skateboarding would still have been the best bet for good photos – mostly likely at the half-pipes in the middle of the park.
Access at BMX and skateboarding was excellent. Motocross was solid – we got to go up in the blue tower on the far side of the track from the fans – but the big jumps might have been captured better if I was shooting from the stands toward the open sky with a longer lens. Shooting from the rickety tower, the riders occasionally got lost in the crowd.
Photographing the rally cars – which were earlier in the day, in the same area as motocross - was the only thing that was mildly disappointing. Access wasn’t handled well early in the day at the tower, and I walked completely around the track looking for a good sightline. I finally settled in near the top of the bleachers, which got me a clean look at the first turn. The end of the day Big Air event is cool, but challenging to photograph from the ground.
Gearwise, I shot mostly with my 70-200, occasionally pulling out the 24-70 for wide angles. I had my 300 with me, but only needed it for the rally cars.
After some negotiation, I was allowed to photograph the end of the day musical act: Metallica. This is one of the times when you can tell you are working with pros, and the X Game reps – especially Brittany from Fresh & Clean Media – were complete professionals and a pleasure to work with.
I got to the Circuit of the Americas around 8:30 in the morning. After carrying my 40-pound bag of gear around all day, I was exhausted by the time 11 p.m. rolled around and Metallica got on stage.
By the time the three songs we were allowed to shoot – Fuel, For Whom the Bell Tolls and Metal Militia – were over, I was revved up and ready to go do it all over again. Nothing like in-front-of-the-front-row Metallica to give you some extra adrenaline.