Not long before we left the UK, I finally got around to doing something I had meant to do many times and always forgot about until it was too late. A visit to the Good Friday meet at the velodrome in Herne Hill. Since it was south London, it was a pretty easy place to get to by train so no need to fight the traffic in to Town. It was a big deal in those days – maybe it still is – and it attracted a great selection of riders. Some pros showed up to race or to be seen. David Millar was there being interviewed but didn’t race. I was really pleased to see Stuart O’Grady, I rider I really enjoyed watching race.
The track scene had a selection of established stars and up and comers that I new about vaguely from reading Cycling Weekly. Chris Newton was a big deal in those days although he never became a widely known cyclist. However, there were two young guys competing that day that I knew were pretty good. I didn’t know they would go on to better things. One was a chubby young sprinter called Chris Hoy. The other was a good pursuiter called Bradley Wiggins. Olympic and Tour de France glory awaited them later in their careers. I was very tempted by one of the t-shirts on sale that day. It said “I’m not fat, I’m a sprinter!”. If you’ve ever seen the physique of some of the fastest sprinters, you would find this funny.
Sitting on the pier at Log Boom Park in Kenmore gives me a plentiful supply of things to photograph. This guy was out on what I can only assume is a powered surfboard of some sort. I couldn’t work out what powered it exactly but he seemed to have a hand controller to manage his speed. He was happily cruising around the north end of Lake Washington. For those of you that are surfers, is this a good alternative when you can’t access good surf or is such a thing heretical in your eyes?
It was a nice evening after work and Nancy was on a trip that meant she would be home later than me so I figured I would go and hang out at Log Boom Park and see what was going on at the top of Lake Washington. It might be wildlife and it might be floatplanes so I have a chance of something. I actually ended up seeing a bunch of crews in training. I don’t know whether they are from the university or a local club but there were plenty of them.
They appeared one time in the distance and then paused before heading back down the lake. A while later they reappeared and did the same thing again. They were a fair distance away although I did wonder whether they would be in the path of the floatplanes that were taking off. However, they were probably too far for them to be in conflict. I will have to check out when the regattas are due to take place as I would like to see it with more planning unlike last year when we saw some races by accident.
I’m not sure what is was that prompted this but something made me think about shooting action sports and I remembered a time I was visiting my friends Jon and Charlie in the UK. Charlie has always been an active horsewoman and has raised many horses, some of which she has jumped competitively. They have a jumping area in one of the fields of their farm and she was interested in getting some photos of her jumping this horse. (Something makes me think this was Grace but I am probably mistaken.)
I was keen to give it a go and was also interested in what angles would be most interesting/dramatic. Of course, they couldn’t just keep jumping all the time to allow me to try different things so we had to give some ideas a go and move on. I would like to have had some remotes with me to have set the camera up in some dramatic spots. Maybe I can come back guys and have another go sometime?
An interesting part of this was seeing what things are of interest for different people. The shots Charlie liked the best were the ones as the horse is coming down to the ground again. Apparently that works well for her and is popular with other horse people. For me it made for an awkward looking shot. (Maybe it is good for evaluating technique?). I liked the ones when the horse is just coming up over the fence as it looks more dynamic and elegant. It’s strange how different things make a shot good for different people.
This hydroplane was due to compete at Oak Harbor. They pulled off the jetty and headed towards the track but, for some reason, they broke down. They were left drifting just outside the jetty for a while. The driver climbed out of the cockpit and was left to wait for a tow to come along. It took a while for a boat to come to their aid. They weren’t drifting fast but they were slowly heading away from the shore and towards the course. They were taken care of long before they got anywhere risky, though.
The hydroplane races at Oak Harbor had a variety of classes of contenders. Many of the boats appeared on course from a marina across the harbor but the most exotic of the boats were operated from alongside the spectator area. A pit area was set up on the shore. Here the crews were busy preparing the boats to race – occasionally carrying out engine runs. There was no slip so the way boats were put in the water involved a crane lifting them up and depositing them alongside a jetty close by. The initial lifts seemed to be a bit slow and inaccurate but a little practice and they were soon moving them across and back after the races with ease.
Some colleagues arranged for us to buy some tickets for a baseball game while we were in Tokyo. The Giants were the home team playing another local team called the Swallows. The game was played inside Tokyo Dome, an inflatable structure and thankfully one with air conditioning! Here is a panorama of the interior of the dome during the game. Baseball games in Japan have some notable differences from those in the US, mainly relating to crowd behavior. That may get a separate post so I will leave it for now.
We recently had the 40th anniversary of the Fastnet race that ended up with a significant loss of life and boats. Weather forecasting technology and the methods of communicating were very different forty years ago and some of the boats were ill-suited to open water racing of that nature. Growing up in Cowes, the Fastnet race was always a big deal. It was every other year as part of the Admiral’s Cup. Some of my school friends got to crew on it. I watched the start of one of the races when we still lived in the UK and I scanned in some of the shots I got that day. The start was always frantic. Boats are jockeying for position, often very close to shore. Lots of shouting goes on. With a good wind, big sailing boats look so cool to me.
During my exercise to scan old negatives, I came across some photos of a company cricket match I took part in. It got me thinking about cricket and whether anyone plays the game in the Seattle region. I figured that the large Indian population in the area might have brought cricket with it. A quick Google showed a local league with plenty of teams and a game taking place the following day up in Everett. I figured this was worth a look.
I took a drive up for what was a 40 overs match. (For those that don’t know cricket, be prepared to be baffled for this post.) I wasn’t intending to watch the whole game but I wanted to see a bit of the play, get some photos having never photographed cricket in any depth, see what the standard was and have a bit of a flashback to my youth when cricket was a big part of my spare time in the summer. The Saturday had been a gloriously sunny day but the sunny was cool and overcast so not the good weather for cricket but certainly not unknown in a British summer!
Something about the field that they were playing on meant that they weren’t changing ends at the end of each over. They just swapped the batsmen over and changed bowlers. This frustrated me a touch as I was hoping for different views without having to walk all the way around the boundary. However, I guess the exercise is good for me.
Having never photographed cricket in detail, it was interesting trying to find good angles to shoot from. I liked trying to have the bowler and batsman in the same shot and switching focus from one to the other was trickier than I anticipated. I also found that some of the more dynamic poses of the players were reached when the ball was long gone. I was hoping to have the ball be a feature of the shots so it became a choice of ball position or player position.
I had a chat to some of the players from the batting side. One asked me if I wanted to join. It is a long time since I last played and I wasn’t much good even then. These guys were not professionals but I would not be setting the world on fire if I joined. Still, I might look out some other games at some point – preferably on days with a bit nicer weather. Sitting and watching a game in the sun sounds pretty good.
The races at the rowing meet I covered in this post tend to overlap from what we saw. The length of the course and the time to complete it is such that the next race was started before the last was finished. Consequently, there is not a way for the crews to return up the cut as the next boats are heading towards them. Apparently, they all wait in the next bay. Then, when it is clear, they all row back up together. The cut was full of crews rowing back to take their boats out of the water. It made for an impressive sight!