With a free Friday night and an itch to shoot and ride, I sent out a couple texts looking for riders to come along. Daylight savings was in effect and I assumed we would have 3 hours or so after work if we got busy right away. As the time to shoot and ride crept closer the clouds increased. I had counted on it being sunny and as often happens…plans change. There are many things photographers can be in control of…we cannot do anything about the weather. In this case you deal with a smaller window of time to shoot.
In this case that smaller window of time led to some limitations on locations to choose from…we would shoot and then rush to our next spot….I could not have done that with out being mobile and having one of the riders become the human light stand while the other rode his bike. With the clouds increasing and sun setting…I was continually changing settings on the fly….I often get asked if I feel limited or challenged shooting flash since I have to stick to 1/250th sync speed. No….ever since switching to the newer PocketWizards it’s never been an issue. HyperSync has been a game changer in the way I shoot allowing me to pretty much shoot and fire my strobes at any shutter speed. Again having someone hold the strobe and have them move when I do allows for super quick location changes. So far these images have been some of my most popular on social media and one ran as a two page spread in a mountain bike magazine. So much for planning!
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It almost seems silly to spend a day and a half in a national park..sure it’s better than nothing, but as a photographer its just a tease. I’d love to go back and spend a week in the park with time to really soak more of it in. The photos below represent my short time in the park.
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It’s always nice to get a photo in print and for me it’s even better when it’s one of my favorite images. The current issue of Practical Photography Magazine is featuring various flash techniques and chose one of my mountain bike images to showcase. A lot of effort went into getting this image and if you missed the back story on the shot you can find it in one of my previous posts here.Details
I’ve had my share of dirt/dust/roost from BMX, motocross and mountain bikes, but off road trucks take the cake. I was able to spend some time shooting drivers Myan Spaccarelli, Jeremy McGrath and Casey Currie of the Lucas Oil Off Road series during a practice day….and got my full days worth of dirt.
If the trucks don’t quite look like trucks in these shots it’s because they don’t always run the body panels during practice. It’s easier to work on/make adjustments with out having to remove the body panels each time.
A HUGE thanks to Myan for the invite.
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The image below is in issue 178 of Dirt Rag magazine. This image was from an impromptu shoot I put together a while back. I blogged about that here if you missed it.Details
This isn’t a photography related post other than I’m a photographer….my story of being a living donor below.
Almost two years ago John came into my life by way of an email. That email was sent out asking a few people at my church if we would be willing to take John to his dialysis appointments. You see John is blind and getting to those appointments was impossible without a little help. Since I didn’t have a valid excuse, (yes I tried to think of something) I signed up to be a part of a team that rotated picking John up at home and dropping him off for his appointments. Right away I had already givin myself a pat on the back for taking a blind guy to dialysis…not knowing something much larger was in the works for me.
The first time I picked up John I quickly learned that the blind guy with the failed kidneys had an amazing attitude and a great sense of humor. Our conversation wasn’t about how it sucked to be blind and have to go to dialysis three times a week for hours at a time, but John asking about my family and him making me laugh. Our drive was short and I helped him to his appointment as planned.
Our second trip turned out to be a bit different with me accidentally parking at the wrong medical building. My excuse is that it’s dark at 5am, all the buildings look the same and in this case my co pilot cant see. Knowing that I was in the wrong spot I turned to John and said “I guess you aren’t going to be able to help me find the right building” we both laughed at my first blind joke. I knew we were close so we got out and I helped John into his wheel chair. I forgot to mention John being blind, with failed kidneys also was in a wheelchair after his guide dog messed up and walked him off a ledge…the fall causing a pretty bad knee injury to John. You can see why I say he has an amazing attitude for his current situation.
So I pushed John in his chair to the correct building and we had to wait a few minutes until someone at the facility let us in the dialysis room. While waiting John heard the familiar voice of a fellow dialysis patient and they began talking. I half listened and honestly wanted the door to open so I could be on my way. Their conversation turned to the topic of each of their time on the kidney donor waiting list. I don’t remember what the other man said his wait was, but I clearly remember John saying seven years. I remember thinking seven years? He cant do dialysis for 7 more years! Then John told the guy his blood type…A +…It was then that I got what was like a push in the back saying “you’re A+…you can donate a kidney to John”. Certain people will dismiss all this up to chance or being in the right place at the right time (or wrong time?), but as a Christian I know it was God’s spirit giving me a path to follow. I know if it was up to me sure I’d give John a ride to his appointments, but give him a major part of my body? Face the chance of dying….leaving a wife and kids behind? Come on…God had a plan! Wasn’t my mine.
So at this point I’d known John for a total of about 15 minutes…and I’d decided to give him a kidney. Really having zero idea what that ment for me. I went home and discussed the idea with my wife and she was good with the idea. So I called John to let him know. His reaction was more subdued than I thought it would be and now I understand why. To say you’ll donate is one thing, but actually having all of the pieces come together on both sides is another. John understood this at the time as he had had someone else want to donate in the past but that person wasn’t a match for him.
Step one was a simple blood test to see if John and I were a match. I don’t remember the exact timeline, but the results came back and the nurse told me we couldn’t be a better match unless we were brothers. For me one of the more difficult things about the process of being a living donor is the time it takes to donate. There were a large number of tests that I had to go through in order for me to get the green light. All of this taking place over a ten month period. Ten months where only a few people knew what I was going through and ten months where a bit of doubt began to creep in. You’d be amazed at some of the things people say to you and honestly it seems like they think you are crazy. For the most part I had an amazing amount of support, but the doubters did make me do a bit a second guessing. When the doctors lay out the list of what can go wrong with a major surgury like this I think anyone would get a bit nervous. I even had one doctor spend some time trying to talk me out of it with out saying it directly.
Again I knew this was God’s plan and not mine. As each test I went through came back as passed I knew that at some point I’d be donating to John. Even with the doctors telling me that I might wake up for surgery and find out that John’s body had rejected my kidney. It felt like all the pieces were falling in to place and it would be successful.
With ten months gone by and all our tests passed we got a surgery date of June 18th 2013. An important month in my household and in Johns. June 19th was my 20th wedding anniversary and is John’s wife Colleen’s birthday. So Colleen got to spend her birthday at UCLA with us and my wife got to spend her 20th anniversary with me in recovery. Our surgery was a success with me waking up to the news that my kidney began to work in John’s body right away. John waking up to the same great news. The next morning I was able to very slowly walk down the hallway at UCLA and see John for the first time since surgery. It was great to see his always smiling face.
One of the reasons for writing/posting this is for me to do my part as an advocate for being a living donor. I went home the day after surgery..in pain? Yeah. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns after this type of surgery. It takes a couple weeks to really get moving again. But we are now a year out of surgery and I’m able to do all of the things I did prior to donating. I was back on the mountain bike after four weeks of recovery and back at the gym around the same time. Life for me as donor is completly back to normal. On the other side is John. Who no longer has to endure 3 full days a week of dialysis. He is no longer limited to what he can and how much he can drink. No more nights of going to the bathroom 10 times a night. He can travel now. No more 7 year waiting list. Every update I get from him is more positive news.
I read that 18,000 people die a year waiting for kidney donors. It’s possible that might be a member of your family or someone you work with. It might even be someone you’ve only known for 15 minutes like me. There are thousands of living donors each year and I’m just one of them. I’m writing to spread the news and hope someone reads this and might concider donating. AND if you think you can’t donate because you aren’t a match that isnt true. UCLA has a program where you can donate to another person and the person you originally wanted to donate to moves to the top of the list and gets a needed kidney.
I’ve posted a few times about my love for the Flipboard app. and I’ve been putting together a magazine there for a while now. All that flipping got me added to their main menu.Details
It seems I often run into the same dilemma …I want photos but I don’t want to stop riding to shoot them. When visiting places with grand views like Sedona and Flagstaff it makes sense to want to shoot photos to capture the beauty of these places…but then they also offer amazing mountain bike riding. If you shoot only a few shots you get home and wish you had shot more. Or if you stop and take too many shots you wish you were keeping your “flow” going like the other riders you are with. I did my best to find a good balance this time. Not many shots from Flagstaff as we were shuttling to the top and “racing” down. Couple cell phone shots in here and I’ll let you sniff them out.
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