Category Archives: sport

Windermere Cup at UW

The University of Washington has a long history of competitive rowing.  A few years ago, we accidentally came across a regatta underway when visiting the campus.  The racing was just concluding when we got there and the crews were getting ready to head out.  I had paid a little attention to the schedule for the rowing earlier in the year but almost forgot about it until recently when I took another look at the schedule.  The last big event of the year was coming up – the Windermere Cup.  I decided to head along.

The racing takes place along Montlake Cut.  The starting point is out in Lake Washington beyond Foster Point. I decided to park up at the arboretum and walk out to Foster Point to see some of the racing from there and then follow the trail along the south side of the cut to end up at the Montlake Bridge.  This is a popular viewing location and is closed to traffic during the races.  It is still a bit short of the finish line but I didn’t think going any further would be worthwhile.  Besides, I had to backtrack to the car at the end of all of this.

The weather forecast was not favorable.  I decided to prepare for anything and took full waterproofs with me.  When I left home, it was raining very heavily and I was skeptical about how things would turn out but the rain was very localized and it was significantly better near the city.  However, it did start raining again so I put the waterproofs on when I got out of the car.  This proved to be a mistake.  It did think about raining a few times but it was quite warm and sunny near the end of the racing and I was rather overdressed.

The other thing I hadn’t accounted for was the condition of the trail.  It is a combination of boardwalk, trails and some metal planking.  However, the lake water level is quite high and sections were under water while parts of the trail were very soggy.  I had worn my hiking boots and I was glad that I had as I was able to walk through the watery sections without too much trouble.  I was constantly wondering whether it would get worse and how far I was prepared to go before turning back.  As it turned out, I made it through without a problem but I did walk back via the roads to make things simpler.

There were loads of large boats out along the course.  They were all moored with the sterns towards the course to give the rear decks the view of the racing.  Lots of people with plenty of cash judging by the size of some of them.  The parties looked like they were in full swing on a Saturday morning.  There were two smaller boats on the south side of the course that could not master mooring up and were drifting on to the course which resulted in much shouting from the officials.

There were good spots to watch from all along the cut.  I made my way progressively along the course shooting both stills and video as I went.  Plenty of students were out to cheer on the home team.  They seemed to be winning a lot of the races.  However, UW does take its rowing very seriously unlike some of the other schools in the area so not a great surprise.  The final events were the men’s and women’s Windermere Cup races and these had attracted some international competition.  In the women’s race, the GB national team won while the men’s race was won by the Netherlands national team.  The racing was still tight but the UW team does include a number of the US national team so not such an unbalanced race.

The Montlake Cut is a narrow waterway and the races happen in quick succession.  With the length of the course, the next race has started before the previous one has finished.  This means there is no space for crews to row back out from Portage Bay after their race is over.  They have to wait in the Bay until all racing is complete.  Then there is a mass exodus of crews back through the Cut.  It makes for a neat spectacle to round off the racing.  Then it is time to get off the bridge because they open it up for a few hours and you don’t want to be on the wrong side!

SOVREN Spring Sprints

It wasn’t terribly long ago that I became away of a motor racing circuit not too far from home.  The Pacific Raceway is down near Kent and is about 40 minutes from home if the traffic is moving normally (by which I mean moving and not bogged down with traffic which might seem normal sometimes).  With one of the early events of the year coming up, I decided to pay it a visit.  I was planning on shooting for a friend’s website but they limited media credentials to those that had shot there before due to a shortage of staff.

No matter.  I figured I would go down anyway and shoot from the public viewing areas.  As it happened, this suited the friend as he needed some material for an article on anyone shooting motor racing for the first time.  The event was the SOVREN Spring Sprints.  I got down there at lunchtime on the Saturday after visiting the opening event of Exotics@RTC.  There was nothing happening when I got there and it turned out that there had been a fatal accident during one of the sessions.  After a little waiting around, it was announced that there would be nothing further that day and they would start the following day.

I headed home and came back the following morning.  A few of the competitors had gone home after the Saturday so the field was a bit reduced but there was still plenty to see.  There were very few spectators so it was easy to go wherever I wanted in the public areas.  The best shooting locations are on the south side of the course but that is only accessible with credentials.

The variety of vehicles was great.  Plenty of single seaters but also lots of road cars modified for track racing.  I am not familiar with all of the classes of car racing but I just get to enjoy watching them blasting around the course.  I wandered from place to place to try different shots.  The light was not ideal with backlighting for a large part of the day.  I was messing around with low shutter speeds which, with the speeds they are at and how close you can be to the track, resulted in a lot of blurry images.  You get parallax issues that close as well so deciding which bit of the car is sharp to be an acceptable shot is a bit of a taste issue.

The entry to the track from the paddock area is by a stand so I would often sit on the ground but the entry point as the cars drove in.  It made for a slightly different view of the cars but the backgrounds can get pretty busy.  I also went up in to the stands to get some shots looking down.  The barriers could sometimes be a hindrance but they do have some platforms at ground level to get you close to the track which is handy.

I probably was being too aggressive on the shutter speeds which meant lots of useless shots but, to be fair, it was a day for playing around and, as long as you get some shots out of it, does it matter?  I was getting a little tired in the afternoon and then realized, I wasn’t shooting for anyone else so I was free to leave if I wanted.  Therefore, I decided to head off home.  I took one more pass through the paddock area shooting people working on their cars or just hanging out and then I called it a day.  I will aim to be back for some of the upcoming events, though.

Dodger Stadium

The approach to Los Angeles International from the north brings you in from the coast heading east almost directly over downtown before turning south and then west to make the approach to the north complex.  This approach gives you a very good view of Dodger Stadium.  I had the camera to hand as we came in so grabbed a few quick shots of the park.  With the MLB dispute now solved, there should be crowds showing up here before too long (if they haven’t already depending on when I post this).

Chilly Hilly 2022

The Cascade Bicycle Club organizes a few large rides throughout the year and March is the time for the Chilly Hilly.  This is a ride around Bainbridge Island which means taking the ferry from Seattle across to the island.  I was going to do the ride with a friend of mine but he got injured prior to the ride so I ended up doing it alone.  Not many photos from the ride but I did record some video on a GoPro and that result of that is below.  It wasn’t too chilly but it was definitely hilly!  No video from the big climbs.  Too much effort went in to not grinding to a halt!

Kite Surfing on Puget Sound

One weekend afternoon, we took a walk through Discovery Park in Seattle.  We started up near to the top of the park and then took a trail that brought us down to the shore.  The trail continued along to the lighthouse at which point we started back to our origination point.  As we walked along the shore, the wind was quite brisk and it was proving to be fun for some guy that was out kite surfing.  Not only was he enjoying the conditions but I think he quite liked the attention.  He was very close in to the shore so was being watched by a lot of people doing the same thing as us.  I shot a little video of him before moving on and here is what I saw.

Victoria Watersports

Victoria residents like to make use of the water for their activities.  While we were there – and despite the weather being far from friendly – there were plenty of people out on the water.  Their choice of activities varied.  We had some stand up paddle boarders, there were kayakers, canoes and what looked like dragon boat teams but maybe that isn’t the right term for this type of boat.  Wherever I was wandering, there was always someone out on the water.  They managed to avoid the ferries and floatplanes without too much trouble!

Climate Pledge Arena Opening

The arrival of an NHL franchise in Seattle has prompted the rebuild of the Key Arena.  Part of Seattle Center, Key Arena is a pyramid structure.  It did not have the capacity for supporting an NHL franchise so a major rebuild was undertaken.  The roof structure was kept but everything else was rebuilt.  They gutted the place and dug down into the ground to effectively double the capacity of the facility.

It opened in mid October.  There was a pre-opening event with the Foo Fighter playing but the official opening was a Coldplay concert on the Friday followed by the Seattle Kraken home opener on the Saturday.  On the Sunday, they had an open house for people to come and check out the arena.  There was no likelihood of me missing something like that.  However, the weather was not looking great.  They had a market and some bands outside but the rain also decided it wanted to be there.  This was not a problem inside the arena but it did make the outside a bit less appealing.  Still, it was fun to check out the new event space.

The ice hockey arena was open to view rather than covered up for other events.  There were a couple of players working on the ice for a while but it was mostly empty.  The Zamboni machines did come out to polish the ice though.  There are plenty of interesting food and drink spaces around the venue.  Pricing will be what you expect of a sports arena but they did look a lot nicer than you might see at older venues.  The structure of the building has been preserved to some extent and you can see interesting shapes in the roof line.  Outside it is easier to appreciate the old roof structure.  Inside they have all sort of space for lighting and show installations and there is acoustic treatment for the roof to make it work as a concert venue.

It is now renamed the Climate Pledge Arena.  The group that is supporting it is significantly backed by Amazon.  They have designed the location to make use of renewable resources as much as possible and it is supposed to be incredibly environmentally sound.  No doubt that will annoy some people – if you are annoyed by somewhere not polluting somewhere, have a think about your priorities.  The venue already provided good income to the city and the new operators have to provide that income to the city whatever they achieve.  This is a nice change from the usual approach of cities subsidizing major sports franchises.  We shall see how they get on.

Electric Surfboard Off Bellingham

After our hike around Whatcom Falls Park, we headed down to Boulevard Park between Fairhaven and Bellingham to have our lunch.  We sat by the water watching the activities out on the water.  While we sat eating our sandwiches, someone came zipping along the shore on an electric surfboard with a hydrofoil.  They were certainly pretty quick and headed off in to the distance.  It was a while before they came back the other way which leads me to believe these things must have a pretty decent battery capacity.  To any surfers reading this, have you given one of these things a go?

Popping Wheelies – On Purpose and Inadvertently

Back to my time shooting bike racing at Shelton for this post.  Today I am focusing on wheelies.  Powerful bikes are able to pull wheelies without any trouble but, while racing, that is not something that people try to do.  However, while accelerating away from the start or from a slow corner, it is not unusual for the riders to get the front wheel off the ground.  It is usually pretty brief so you aim to get it quickly.

When the races are over, it is a different story.  As the riders run a final lap after the checkered flag, if they see you watching or holding a camera, it is not unusual for them to pull the front wheel up for an extended period.  It makes for a cool shot if you are ready.  These shots are a selection of wheelies O got during my (exceedingly hot) day out shooting the racing.

Minor League Baseball at Victory Field

Having looked through the catalog of images after finding the elevated view of Victory Field, I came across the shots I took when I went with some work colleagues to a minor league game there.  It was a lot of fun although I have no idea how the game was.  Watching baseball at a stadium is an enjoyable experience that happens alongside a baseball game as far as I am concerned.

The sun was setting as the game got underway and we had some nice light in the sky.  I took some HDR and panoramic shots which I have been able to reprocess using the latest versions of Lightroom as opposed to the one available at that time.  I also got a few shots of the players at work and had a wander around the perimeter of the field to see how it looked from different angles.  Looks like I was using a rather wide angle lens at some point too.