Top Shots 2013: Intro

We come to that time of year when everybody looks back at what transpired during the previous eleven and a half months. Some make list of the most important, or their favorite moments of the year. Photographers are no different. I started about a month ago trying to figure out how I would do this, and immediately ran into a problem. The first thing that comes to mind is a best of list. Therein lies the problem. What determines a best shot, technical excellence, subject matter, or overall appeal. A technically excellent shot may not be an exciting shot, while an exciting shot may be a bit flawed technically. What may qualify as a best shot to the photographer may not be to the general public, and vice versa.

Jason Farrell through turn five during AMA Superbike qualifying.

Jason Farrell through turn five during AMA Superbike qualifying.

I decided to take a different approach to the subject by using a bit of reasoning from both sides. So what I will be presenting over the next few weeks are what I consider my Top Shots from the 2013 season.  Here are some samples of what’s to come from the different type of speed events I shoot. The shots here are good ones, but not quite up to what I consider a top shot. They were judged on the criteria mentioned above, and came very close. However when you have several hundred to choose from, some really good ones just miss making it. with that said I hope you enjoy these, and the ones to come.

Hawthorn Park

Hawthorn Park

Jeff Kaney at Thunder on the Lakeshore.

Jeff Kaney at Thunder on the Lakeshore.

SCCA Blackhawk Valley Regional.

SCCA Blackhawk Valley Regional.

Michigan City Grand Prix.

Michigan City Grand Prix.

The JATO

Everyone’s excited about the return of the military jet demonstration teams to the airshow circuit for the 2014 season. After a years absence, most photographers I know are ready for their return. Some are already planning their schedules around shows they will perform at.

I personally welcome the return, however having shot them so many times over the years, they will not be a deciding factor as to what events I attend.

Excitement aside, there is one element of the of the military teams performance that is gone forever never to return. That is the JATO performed by the Blue Angels C130 Fat Albert. jato-1

For those of you who never got to see this, here is a brief explanation. The acronym (JATO) stands for jet assisted takeoff. This is a means of lifting aircraft off of very short air strips in the minimum amount of distance. It is accomplished by attaching canisters containing rocket propellant to racks mounted on the sides of the planes fuselage. These canisters known as JATO bottles are triggered by the pilot when the correct takeoff speed is reached. Once fired the bottles provide jet force lift to turboprop and heavy jet aircraft. They remain on for a short time until they exhaust their fuel.jato-2

It is a truly amazing site to see as heavy aircraft are launched into the air in this manner. It would be nice to see it once again, but the cost, logistics, and lack of serviceable JATO bottles makes this a near impossibility.

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Photo Stories: Used Bikes

When you shoot pro motorcycle racing, you are use to seeing shiny new bikes in pristine condition. At the pro level teams have spare parts to replace any that are damaged in practice or qualifying. At the semi pro and amateur ranks however, things are quite different. Small teams on small budgets don’t have the resources the pro’s have. Improvisation is the name of the game for them, and duct tape is there best friend. It makes for some very creative looking bikes.

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This second shot is one of the most creative uses of duct tape I have ever seen. See if you can spot all the pieces applied to various parts of this bike.

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