When forced in a box, you gotta make the box work. Recently I shot the Banshee Wars at Dumont Dunes and I gotta tell you, it was a tough shoot. Imagine a location where the sun arcs and gives you bad light most of the day. The racers are always showing me their shadow. And on top of that, just when I find a decent spot, I'm either in the way or it's a restricted location. Since I can't rotate the whole track and don't have enough lighting to add, I did the best I could with what I could. So, in a nutshell, and in my opinion, not my best work. I'm my own worst critic. I have learned over the years that the masses may think differently than I. I've posted what I think is an OK shot but it generates more likes and positive comments then I ever imagined. With that thought in mind, I think I'll try something out of that box and something I can control. I'm going to give these photos away. Why not? If you don't like them, pass. If you do like them, consider a PayPal donation. Lets see how this works. You can PayPal me your donations to firstname.lastname@example.org, Thanks!
I would like to thank the Four Stroke Association for giving me the best access possible. I would also like to thank the racers, great show, fast bikes, amazing!
Here is the link to the photos. fe135.com/fsajan2017
Along with the summer heat brings a slowdown in my sand dune adventures. I’ll still get a day trip in here and there, mostly to the big dunes at night or a day’s ride in at Pismo but for the most part a general slowdown. However, summer is a great time to pursue my other interest which is checking out old mining and ghost towns around Southern California. There is so much history and many silent artifacts of this state’s history scattered around and just hidden enough to be missed by the casual observer. I love reading about the booms and busts of these old towns that in some cases had a direct impact in the formation of many cities still around.
Take Los Angeles for example. A major portion of the city’s water comes from the Owens valley over a hundred miles away. Aqueducts and pipelines bring millions of gallons of water every day. Owens valley had industries built supporting the expansion of LA back in the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s. Along with water, gold, silver, lead, zinc, and dolomite were exported from Owens. I always seem to return to Owens valley, always another town or place of interest to visit.
One such place on my list is a town high in the Inyo Mountains on the east side of the valley. Located at close to 9000 feet up is the town of Cerro Gordo. The town sprang up as the centerpiece of operations for the numerous mining camps in the area. With a hotel (still functioning), shops, brothels, bars, and a tramway to the town below (Keeler), Cerro Gordo was a thriving and prosperous town. Lead and silver were this areas prime export. Over the years, the town became privately owned and the hotel along with some of the buildings were maintained or moderately updated. A caretaker lives in the town and in the summer months, a volunteer caretaker/tour guide also lives there.
Cerro Gordo is a well preserved town with a great history and an awesome visit spot. The internet has much information on the area. The road in is about eight miles, steep and 4 wheel drive is recommended. A winter visit is not recommended as the snow can get pretty high. The road in is dirt and if wet, can make conditions treacherous. Please enjoy some of the photos I took of the town and the area at this link. Or, just click on the photo. http://www.nealrideoutphotography.com/cerro_gordo
This pic I ripped off from Facebook gets your attention. Maybe not the way you think. It is funny, cracked me up, but from my perspective it demonstrates perfectly my number one rule of photography. Light is everything. Film, digital, phone, GoPro, anything, lighting or the availability for it to reach the camera is what makes the shot. Ever see those awesome sunset shots with the couple standing in front of it and the resulting photo looks like a sunset with two silhouettes of people standing in front? In a way it’s sad since what could be a great shot cherished forever isn’t because all you needed to do was force your flash to fire. Cameras set to auto will do their best to give you a great shot based on the lighting conditions but still aren’t smart enough to know what you want. So basically, turn on your flash. Even in daytime. If the sun is anywhere behind your subject, turn it on, unless, the silhouette look is what you want. Hopefully this simple tip helps create some awesome family photos.
About to get a little busy soon. This coming weekend I’ll be going to Pismo for a magazine shoot. Should be fun as it is a new model rail the manufacturer is bringing out. While there, I’ll be getting some race trucks that will be testing their rigs for an upcoming race. It will be nice being able to get some good shots from whatever angle I choose instead of being restricted by the limiting rules during a competitive event. No little box to stand in. As a double bonus, I’ll be getting some shots for a potential book deal for a customer. A series of novels that have off roading as part of the theme. Should be interesting as I learn more about this project.
Then it’s on to Glamis for Presidents day weekend. Originally I was going to Dumont but not all of my normal crew was attending, however, many of the friends I've made up in Idaho dunes were going to be at Glamis. That and the fact that I haven’t been there in almost a year, it just made sense to go. I like Glamis, vastness and a photographers dream with great action and cool rides all around. Glamis breaks up my normal routines, perhaps allowing me to get creative since I don’t know all the good spots to shoot from and can find my own hopefully original ideas. Since it is a big weekend, I have a project I’ve wanted to try. Nothing never seen before but new to me. Call it an experiment that has potential use later. Really hoping to get some night photography in while there. I think I hold an edge on this in the sand world but need to stay current and develop it further. I’ve had some great success in night action but want to tweak on it a little.
Then a week later, back to Glamis. But this time it's for work. 3rd annual UTV Industry ride. I went last year as a guest of the online magazine, UTV guide. They invited me back. Don't tell them, but I probably would have showed up anyway. After all, the aftermarket makers of all things UTV will be there with their latest greatest products installed and in action. Just can't resist. Last year I captured big air and mega roosts from these guys and there was some serious competitiveness between them. Looking forward to it.
I get called a professional photographer often. Funny thing is, I don’t consider myself one. Like most, I have those in the photography world I consider professionals and look up to their work. They amaze me and inspire. True masters of which I wish I had the capability to absorb their knowledge. They are pros. They create photographic art for a living. They don’t have another job.
I on the other hand, consider myself a hobbyist, perhaps a hobbyist plus. I do have my work published often and do have clients and some income from my “hobby” but in the end, I have a day job. Photography is not my primary income. To me, photography is fun, something I have been doing for many years but decided several years ago to see if it could be something more. Turns out, it did.
The key thing for me is the fun part. I have this fear that if I push too hard to reach some magical level of success, the fun will fade as the workload and business aspects increase. I’m scratching on that precipice now. As in the movie, “The Matrix”, which pill do I take? My decision right now is to place myself in a holding pattern. The fun will continue! I scrutinize potential jobs that may be work, not fun. When it’s fun, I experiment, can be artistic and enjoy the experience. Customers benefit from this. It translates and inserts itself in the prints they buy. When its work, you have a job to do, costs to consider, no time for creativity, just do what works, the standards, no fun. I don’t want my HR department telling me to push the bigger packages, “Would you like to supersize your order”. I’m content in the profession that I have been in for so many years. Aviation related work has been my life, pays the mortgage, puts food on the table.
What does this mean to you? From my perspective, you as a potential customer, should I accept the job, get someone unhindered by external forces that suck the life out creativity. You get what you want and perhaps a bit more. Why,,,, I’m having fun!
Did you notice the inherent contradiction I inserted from the first paragraph? “They create photographic art for a living”. At some point, when you’re so good that you have customers begging for your products, you can have fun again. That’s life at the top. That’s one big mountain to climb just to enjoy again. Perhaps I’ll hang out here in my holding pattern a little longer. What a fun hobby this is!
Disclaimer: Like most, I’m attracted to shiny objects and wads of cash so I reserve the right to change my mind at any time.