Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race

I love bicycle racing. I used to do quite a bit of it when I was younger — I managed a bike shop, ran a club, raced myself as a Category 3 racer back in the day. I’ve forgotten more about bikes than most people ever know, so when it comes time for the racing season to start up here in Arizona I try to go out and hit a couple of races to stir the blood again. I’ve been riding my bike to work on occasion as well, and it REALLY feels good to be back on two wheels. Or rather, it really feels good now that my butt is once again used to the saddle. It hurt a LOT for a couple of days until that happened.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I went out to the Avondale Criterium in Avondale, AZ and shot some of the early races, and had a lot of fun. Bikes haven’t changed that much since I was riding seriously, but there sure are some good riders out there. There’s another race on the 26th that I may try to hit as well, just for fun.

Shooting cycling is a great way to practice a number of photography skills. First and foremost, it helps with controlling motion. The shutter’s function on the camera (as part of basic exposure) is to control motion. Shooting with a fast shutter speed will stop motion, while shooting with a slow shutter speed will allow the motion to register on the image. It’s the photographer’s job to decide what the final output needs to be, and in order to determine this it’s vital that the photographer understands the camera. So shooting bike racing is a good predictable way to experiment with shutter speed choice and control. Second, cycling is a great way to practice focus control and panning, meaning experimenting with the continuous focusing function of the camera and also following the rider with the lens as he zips by. See if you can figure out what my settings were in these photos!

Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race

BLOONS!!

With the windows and doors open in the beautiful weather, we heard what sounded like small jets overhead. I grabbed a camera and went out to find three hot-air balloons overhead! The people in the gondolas were waving at me as I pointed my long lens at them, and one friendly soul called out “Howdy, Neighbor!” as she floated overhead. These balloons were so low that I we could see the flames from the burners. And then they drifted out of sight.

Hot Air Balloons
Hot Air Balloons
Hot Air Balloons

New Camera and Lovely Birds

Last week I upgraded my camera bag to include a new Canon 7D camera body. As with any new piece of equipment, I had to take it out immediately and start working with it to learn its ins and outs, so we went to the Gilbert Water Ranch for a BEAUTIFUL walk among the trees and birds. Hummingbirds were everywhere, and there were blue herons, egrets, ducks, and zillions of other kinds of birds that I haven’t the first clue what they are. I can’t wait to go back, now that I’ve figured out how to set the focus points and the autofocus modes on this camera.

Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch
Birds at Gilbert Water Ranch

Summer Storms

I just LOVE summer storms. I’ve been known to hang around lightning storms for hours to get the perfect photo — something about the power of a big storm is edifying and cathartic. And getting cool lightning photos is very satisfying. Of course, getting cool photos is satisfying anyway, but I just like lightning.

We had a couple of series of storms come through in the last couple of weeks, and I chased them and got some really fun stuff. Taking good lightning photos isn’t that difficult; you just need a camera that you can set to manual mode and shoot with a long shutter speed. For these I used ISO 200, 30 seconds of shutter and an aperture that varied between f/6.3 and 7.1 or so. The camera was on a tripod and I used my 70-200L lens. Enjoy!

Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning
Summer Lightning

Snow in Phoenix!

The weirdest thing happened last Saturday night. We woke up to cold weather, and when we saw that there was snow on the McDowell Mountains, we decided to go for a drive up Cave Creek Road towards Carefree. The further we got through Carefree, the more snow was on the ground. Crazy! I’ve not seen this in years. But boy was it pretty. And I think my little red car looks really nice against the white and the blue.

Snow in Phoenix!
Snow in Phoenix!
Snow in Phoenix!
Snow in Phoenix!
Snow in Phoenix!
Snow in Phoenix!
Snow in Phoenix!
Snow in Phoenix!

Just walking around

So whenever I go out, I usually take a camera with me. Recently, I joined a group of other photographers for a photo walk around Litchfield Park, AZ. Though it may seem at first glance that there’s not much to see in a small town like Litchfield, there’s always a lot to photograph. A tip for budding photographers is to look closely at things for patterns, repeating designs, contrasting colors, and shapes. It’s not necessary to photograph a whole building; rather, photographing parts of a building can be far more interesting and graphically pleasing.

Here are a few of my shots from the photo walk in Litchfield. Enjoy!

Taking a camera with me at all times
Taking a camera with me at all times
Taking a camera with me at all times
Taking a camera with me at all times
Taking a camera with me at all times
Taking a camera with me at all times
Taking a camera with me at all times

Summer Lightning Storms

I LOVE summer storms in the desert. There’s nothing like them — the hot wind starts to pick up and the thunderheads start building off in the distance. Local pilots call them “Thunderbumpers” because they make the air extremely bumpy, which is an adventure in a small airplane. By the evening, the temperature, wind, and humidity are just right and the clouds unleash an electric light show that has to be seen to be believed.

We didn’t get as many of these this year as we have in years past, but the times I was able to get out and photograph the lightning I got some great stuff. Check these out!

Ka-POW

Ka-POW

Ka-POW

Ka-POW

Ka-POW

Ka-POW

Ka-POW

Ka-POW

CCV Stars – Congratulations!

Congratulations to the CCV Stars soccer team on their tournament win last weekend in Flagstaff, AZ! We went up on Saturday and although it was raining, watched a great game in the afternoon. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for these young men from the Valley to play soccer in the rarefied air of Flagstaff, not to mention the rain and lightning storms.

The whole gallery may be viewed here.

CCV Soccer

CCV Soccer

CCV Soccer

CCV Soccer

CCV Soccer

CCV Soccer

CCV Soccer

CCV Soccer

CCV Soccer

CCV Soccer

CCV Soccer

Fiesta Septembre, Wickenburg, AZ

Saturday, 5 September. The West Valley Photo Club went to Wickenburg, Arizona to the Fiesta Septembre to shoot the events. It was absolutely sheeting down rain in the morning in Phoenix, but I had high hopes we would get some dry weather 50 miles out of town. No such luck. Oscar’s van had a wiper malfunction on the way, so we were a little behind, but it wasn’t quite raining when we got there. That changed, and it started a steady drizzle of large drops of rain, forcing cancellation of some of the events and reducing the numbers of the people who attended. The fiesta was still quite well attended, though, and the food was good and the people were nice. There was great Mexican music and dancing, and the talented young dancers of the Ballet Folklorico De Santa Maria were delightful to watch.

Here are a few select shots. You can see the rest of the images on my website here.

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

Fiesta Septembre

True or Pfalz? Either Way, It’s a Beautiful Airplane

So I got to see the rollout of a magnificent replica Pfalz D.XII World War I fighter plane. This airplane is a 16-year labor of love, built by a father and son out at Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. From the outside, it is virtually indistinguishable from the original, and as far as anyone knows this is the first time this airplane has ever been built in replica. A number of originals still exist, but this is the only replica.

Congratulations to the people who created this beautiful machine. I would love to see it fly, though at the present time that doesn’t look likely.

The entire gallery can be seen here.

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII