From the archives
Since I got my first camera a "very powerful" Canon PowerShot A530 I have enjoyed capturing everything around me. While I learned and graduated to better equipment over the years it will be fun to look back through some of my first and most favorite photos from the archives.
One of the first photos I ever took on that camera was this blurry shot of a sunset over my house. The colors were beautiful and at the time, I considered a great shot
This is a photo of my sister Helanna right after my birthday when she bought me my first camera.
The first race I got to take a camera to was the NASCAR race here in Phoenix in 2006. The only way I could get a photo was either if the cars were going slow, or stopped.
The first ever NHRA race I got to attend was the 2007 CSK Nationals. It set the hook deep for my love of drag racing. As fast and loud I thought NASCAR was the NHRA blew that away by tenfold.
This is a photo of the late Eric Medlen who was sadly killed about a month after the race here.
The more I got to take the camera out the better photos I started to take. However I still needed a little bit of luck like with this photo of Dale Jr. I didnt know anything about ISO or shutter speed or any of that so I need luck to get a shot
As I got "better" I actually started trying to take photos of cars as they were actually moving. Burnouts are one of my favorite things to take photos of as I feel like there is so much going on in one photo
By this time anywhere I went I brought my camera with me. Even to spring training games. This is a photo of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero hitting a grand slam against the A's.
One thing I use to do when I was bored and broke was hop on the bus and take the camera to the airport and take pictures of airplanes and especially helicopters.
Here is Channel 3's helicopter with Bruce Haffner flying it out at Scottsdale Airpark
In July of 2009 before my senior year in high school I got to take a weekend off of work and drive up to Denver to see the NHRA at Bandimere Speedway. After driving most of the night and nearly driving off the cliff from being tired I got this beautiful sunrise shot outside the old Pikes Peak Raceway
This trip to Denver was also the first chance I got to use my new camera a Canon PowerShot A590 IS. It was also here where I learned that it is easier to follow an object through a viewfinder than to use the screen and hope you get a 300 mph object. I almost succeeded at getting the car in the whole frame
At the NASCAR race that November I was so excited to be able to finally get pit passes since I had just turned 18. While I was expecting more since I had been spoiled by the access at NHRA races i was able to get a few cool photos like this one of Ron Hornaday on pit road. This was also in a restricted area because I was asked (yelled) to get back.
More and more I started discovering new and exciting functions on my camera like shooting in manual. I remember the first thing learning about was ISO and changing the light going into the camera sensor. I was finally able to try low light shooting. I caught this shot of Steve Chrisman in 2010 that was my favorite at the time.......still didnt know much about image noise obviously.
It was also at that infamous Phoenix 2010 race that I got my first fireball shot. This was of Terry Haddock and even though a pole was in the way it was one of my favorite shots at the time
The best road trips are when you are young, broke and dumb. Only a few hours after getting pulled over by CHP a buddy and I snuck into Sears Point the day before the NHRA race there and drove around the track and even crashed a sponsor party held in one of the hospitality areas. I always joked at any one time when I was younger my camera contained numerous images of raunchy, stupid or possibly felonious acts.
Like the time when I convinced my good friend Anthony to do a John Force size burnout in his truck in front of my house. I had just gotten a tripod and wanted to try night action shots. A neighbor threatened to call the cops on us but I got the shot.
At that trip to Sears Point it was the first time I got to use my latest camera a Canon PowerShot S3. I also started shooting mostly in manual and adjusting shutter speeds, ISO & aperture. While I had not learned to adjust those in relation to each other the quality started getting better.
Here is Doug Kalitta vs. Brandon Bernstein from 2010
I spent most of that summer/fall going to as many races as I could when I was not working. This was from the PSCA race at Firebird in the fall of 2010
I also started looking for new spots to take photos from. One of my favorites at PIR was from the infield bridge overlooking turn 4.
This is of Mark Martin in 2010
One place I found was the top end at Firebird on a stack of old tires. After talking to a few folks at Toyota Racing I was able to stand on their trailer. While nothing crazy happened it was fun seeing a different side of a drag race.
Courtney Force at the 2012 Arizona Nationals
It was at that race I snapped one of my all time favorite photos. Morgan Lucas had this monster fireball which is still one of the largest I have ever seen. What made this more interesting was I had to photoshop out a pole that was going right through the front of the dragster. I was not going to let a stupid pole beat me this time
Another thing that made this shot challenging was that the PowerShot S3 had a digital viewfinder so once I had the first frame it went blank for every frame after that. I was lucky to follow the flaming engine for this shot
Probably one of my more special photos was a spur of the moment shot of Gordie Rivera in his racecar. Gordie was one of the last of dying breed in Pro Stock. He built his own engine parts and ran his car with his family as his crew. He was the nicest person I have ever met at a racetrack and was always welcoming with a great big smile at the track or at his speed shop in Yuma. Unfortunately Gordie passed a few years ago and I presented this photo to his family at the funeral
Sonoma is the only track Ive been to where the shutdown area is viewable from the pits. Whenever I go I always go there for at least one session to try and get cool shots. One shot was of Dale Creasy Jr. having a pretty big fire after a qualifying run. Once again I got lucky as this was the only frame I got as the car was still going pretty fast for my slow camera. Also ended up getting choked out pretty good by the smoke from the fire when the car stopped about 100 feet from where I was.
Although I never did much black and white I remember being bored during some down time at a offroad race and shot a black and white of Firebird Lake & the racetrack towers
One of the wildest forms of racing are the Top Fuel boats. They run the same engines as they do in the dragsters and hit upwards of 250+ mph.
Multi time champion Daryl Ehrlich in the Problem Child boat
In 2013 I finally graduated to my first DSLR camera a Nikon D3100. It was fun learning new things and learning other things all over again. My first test subject was my wonderful dog Sarah.
Here she is with my sister in the middle of a wild winter storm that dumped a slush/hail mix but to us in Phoenix we will go ahead and call it snow because that is as close as we will get.
Late afternoon is one of my favorite times to shoot photos because the colors are so rich and make for good lighting. I also like shooting photos of people backlit by the sun at this time of day.
Here are the pro winners from the 2013 Phoenix race
Walking around the races you never know when a cool shot might present itself. I noticed the legend Connie Kalitta watching pre race intros on his scooter so I got down on one knee and took this shot of him. I think its a great representation of the man
Some of the best photos can be captured long after a race is finished. One of my favorites was of Antron Brown after winning the 2014 race. After the winner circle photos he took a long stroll down the track by himself to collect his thoughts. What also makes this so poignant is this track has hosted some of his best and worst days in his career.
Some photos don't really have a story behind them. They are just cool. Like this one of Matt Hagan from 2014
Chase Field & Talking Stick Resort Arena from the summer of 2014.
Camelback Mountain as seen from the airport terminal train. The tempered glass on the train provided an interesting filter
Former Dbacks pitcher David Hernandez pitching against my second favorite team, the Pittsburgh Pirates
Rodger Brogdon and his wife after winning Pro Stock here in Phoenix in 2015
While it may not be the best image it was the first time I got successful night shots. This was from Sonoma in 2015 and multi time champions Antron Brown & Tony Schumacher
Normally I would have my 55-300mm lens on my camera at the track however while at the track the lens kept malfunctioning so I had to use my only other lens, the kit 18-55. However if you get thrown a curveball, might as well try something different. This is a wide angle shot of Jeff Diehl with parachutes in tow
When I went and saw the USAF Thunderbirds I was not near prepared to shoot (who knew shooting planes going hundreds of miles per hour in the sky would be so tough). But even with marginal photos there was still this shot that looks alright in a artsy way.
I dont remember why I was standing on the corner with a camera & tripod but at least it was a cool shot
One of the reasons I really look forward to the annual preseason test is because an average Joe like me can go places I cant go during the actual national events, like the staging lanes. Here is a cool shot of Brittany Force getting in her dragster to make a test pass. I really like the focus and determination in her eyes
Also the crowds are not as huge and the pace isnt as frantic so the pace in the pits are not as frantic. The beautiful Arizona background make for a great backdrop of Terry McMillen's pit
I have not been to a NASCAR race in a long time but it is still my first love in racing. One of my favorite NASCAR pics is of my favorite driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. He would actually go on to win the rain shortened race later that weekend. It would be his final cup victory
A couple years ago I finally got the chance to see the legendary Blue Angels perform. I was a little better prepared this time after learning a lot shooting the Thunderbirds.
A Few years ago at the World FInals I caught a pretty cool sequence of Kim Davidson having a big fire on his licensing pass.
Standing next to me was Kim's wife jumping up and down excited that her husband completed his Top Fuel licensing. We joked around that I was more worried about the fire than she was.
This concludes a look back through the archives. It was fun preparing for this blog and looking through old photos, some of which I have not seen in many years. I also believe that to know where you are going you have to know where you came from and hopefully I will continue learning and having fun through the lens of my camera.