I’ve posted a few times about my experience with the drag racing at Pacific Raceway. One of the things that I particularly was fascinated by was the surface of the strip itself. I mentioned before the machines that they used for conditioning this surface to ensure that there was maximum traction between the tires and ground. Periodically, the staff would come on to the track to take samples and measurements to understand exactly how it was performing. What photos don’t show you, but video can, is just how anything on the surface would stick. Only when you heard people walking along the track could you get the sound of their shoes sticking to the ground. Here is a video to explain what I mean.
The Canadian Forces SkyHawks parachute display team opened the Abbotsford Air Show evening display. One of the jumpers had a line of smoke canisters that hung beneath them as they descended under their canopy. Some tight turns allowed the line to swing out and create some nice smoke trail patterns. Here are some shots of the results.
Since I got a smart trainer for cycling, I have been using Zwift as my app for training rides. I have been very happy with the way it works and find it a great tool for training as I can do some pretty long rides on it without getting bored. I have done up to two hours which would have been inconceivable on older trainers. I did see a video recently of a new software tool that could provide similar functionality called Rolla. It is free for the time being, so I decided to try it out. Will it be a suitable replacement for Zwift?
One of the things I did like the look of was the graphics output. Zwift has a slightly cartoonish styling which doesn’t bother me at all – indeed, I quite like the odd things that they throw in like a bear falling out of a tree or a stag by the road – but having more realistic scenery was of interest. Rolla looked like it would be more like riding in real locations. As a new app, I knew it wouldn’t have extensive scenery databases yet, but they could be useful to try out.Having used it a few times, now, I have come across a bunch of things I didn’t like. First, the software doesn’t pick up my cadence from the trainer. I can come across the top of a climb and start speeding down the other side but my cadence on the trainer doesn’t change. It isn’t reading the cadence either so the data on screen and my data download has nothing of use. This is not helpful for training my cadence nor for having a realistic riding experience. I also had issues uploading to Strava. It now works but there is no way to get it to recognize rides already completed. The gradient is not connected so my trainer does not respond to changes in slope like it does on Zwift. That physical feedback of gradient change is very helpful, particularly as slope changes are not very visually obvious. The rider symbol looks weird too with an odd rolling motion of the hips. It’s not as bad as the runners I pass, though. They look like the T1000 from Terminator! Lastly, sometimes it just seems to have you riding off the side of the road for no obvious reason.All of this is to say it is a long way from being a replacement for Zwift. It is not going to be something I use for training for now but, with some time to develop it and implement new functionality (plus clean up some of the buggier elements) might make that change. I would also prefer to just use it on the iPad rather than having to have the phone app open along with the iPad to control things. We shall see. In the meantime, Zwift will remain my go to.
I was asked back to cover a soccer tournament between different regions of WSDOT. I went to the tournament last year when it took place on a very hot day with smoke in the air. This year there was no smoke but it did turn out to be a warm and sunny day. I was pretty worn out pacing the sidelines to get shots so I imagine the competitors were done by the end of things. My goal was to try and get shots of most of the participants in reasonably interesting actions. Not always possible but people want to see a shot of themselves so hopefully most of them will find themselves in there somewhere.
There is a web gallery I made for them which you can check out below should you be interested. However, unless you know the people, you probably won’t be. However, I did get a few shots that I thought were not bad as stand alone images and they are included here. Shooting footie is not my specialty but it was a reasonable way to spend a day.
The Canadian Forces parachute display team, The SkyHawks, were performing at the Abbotsford Airshow. With their Canadian flag parachutes, they carried American and Canadian flags for the show opening as well as undertaking a few formation demonstrations. I was working my way through the images from the show and was cropping in on the shots to see which were the sharpest. It gave me a better view of how the team members link together for some of the configurations that they use.
One of the positions involved one guy’s foot being hooked between the legs of his partner. This looked like a pretty tough position to hold. In a three-person formation, the middle individual was holding the other two in place. I imagine that there is a fair bit of strength involved in making this work. These soldiers are undoubtedly tough individuals. I suspect you practice these positions a little further from the ground for the first few times!
In a recent post, I shared some shots of an evening at the Jerry Baker Velodrome in Marymoor Park, Redmond. We had a good time enjoying the racing, the food and the beer and, a couple of weeks later, they were holding a large meet with many international riders taking part. This seemed like it would be worth a follow up visit. That proved to be a good choice. The size of the field made for much interesting racing and some drama.
Getting there proved a touch more difficult because a concert was also on at Marymoor Park but we made it in before the events got underway, so all was good. The quality of some of the athletes was impressive. In one race, a breakaway was well established for a large part of the race and I thought there was no way that they would be pulled back. However, I was mistaken. With only a couple of laps to go, a few broke away from the pack and bridged the gap to overhaul the breakaway with what seemed like ridiculous ease. Most impressive.
There were some riders that were clearly in a league above. You could see them managing their performance through the races, coming to the front for a while, biding their time for much of the race and then turning on the power when it was required to come home with the win. Other riders went off on solo breaks which got them some time at the front but, by the end of the race, it was clear that they had burned themselves out. It made for a lot of fun to watch so I am grateful for the effort that they all made.
I had seen images from drag racing which showed how the tires get distorted as the immense amounts of torque are transferred through them. A tire is at its most effective when it isn’t sliding but is in static contact with the ground. You might recognize this from your own experience. If you push something across a surface, the resistance reduces once the item starts moving. The same thing happens with tires. To get the best out of them spinning is not good. With the tire gripping the surface but the axle rotating, the sidewall is the area that has to compensate which it does by distorting and then unloading as it drives the vehicle forwards. I wanted to try and catch this so took a bunch of shots focused on trying to catch this moment.
I have had the chance to photograph a variety of motorsports over the years but I recently got a chance to try something new. I went to see some drag racing at Pacific Raceways in Kent, south of where we live. I have seen drag racing on TV in the past but have not ever been in person. I was covering this for Speed and Sport Journal, a website run by my friend Joel in Chicago. I won’t rewrite the piece I put together for him but will, instead, include the link here to that work.
The focus on that article was not on the results and individual performances but instead what the experience was like going to my first drag racing. It was a very intense thing to be so close to. Incredibly loud and physically imposing stuff and quite unlike anything I had done before and that includes standing beside fast jets as they take off. Joel used a number of my images for the article so here I shall include some that didn’t make it in but that I liked for whatever reasons my brain may have.
I persuaded Nancy that a fun Friday evening could be had in Marymoor Park if we went to watch some track cycle racing. Not sure how I managed that, but the food trucks and beer garden might have swung it for me. Jerry Baker Memorial Velodrome is located in the park and is the last velodrome available in the Pacific Northwest of the US. It attracts lots of riders as a result. It is ages since I last went to a velodrome to watch racing, so I was looking forward to it. The Nationals were on in California, so some of the regular racers were away but there were still plenty of competitors out.
I shall share some examples of the wider view of the arena, the competitors and the spectators for now. Some more racing specific shots will come in a separate post. It was a great evening with lovely weather (and great food and beer), and I think we both enjoyed it. The racing was well structured to keep it entertaining, and they even had races for the kids. The star of that show was a kid with a big wheel! It was all I could do not to reference respecting my “authoritie”.
I did a little filming on a bike ride with an old GoPro Hero 5 of mine. The current generation of action cameras has all sorts of clever tech built in which can deal with rotation of the camera and stabilizing the image. The Hero 5 doesn’t have any of that and I ended up spending a lot of time stabilizing the images in post processing to try and get something usable out of it. I was surprised how badly it came out and started thinking about an upgrade to incorporate all of the newer capabilities. It was at this point that I got a little silly. I had seen videos before about the Insta360 cameras and had found them intriguing but not so much that I wanted to get one. Now I was looking for a new camera, the capabilities that they have seemed like it could be a good step forward.
For those that haven’t seen one, the Insta360 in its current X3 form has two cameras on opposite sides of the body with fisheye lenses with over 180 degrees of coverage. The sensors are 5.7K resolution and the camera can stitch the two outputs together to give spherical coverage. It also has a stick on which you can mount it which the camera will recognize the location of and take both images to effectively remove the stick from the video. With the high resolution of the original files, you can then use their software – either on your phone or using the desktop app – to pan and zoom around the original files and generate video output of whatever you want.
What this means is that you don’t have to frame a shot when you are shooting. The only thing you have to do is have the camera in the right place. You can worry about where it is pointing later on which is great when you are already doing something else. The removal of the stick is very impressive, only slightly undermined but the fact your hand that is holding it now looks a little odd. Also, if the shadow of the stick is in shot, the software doesn’t know to do anything about that! (As an aside, there is a mode where you only shoot with one side like a normal action camera if you want.)
What is the downside to all of this? Big files! You are shooting a lot of data on two cameras simultaneously so you can fill up cards fast. You do also have to then review each clip and pick your angles for the shots, but you would have had to do that beforehand otherwise so no great loss. Other than that, not a lot to complain about. I have tried it on a few occasions so far. The length of the stick makes it seem like you have a drone flying above you if you put it up there. A cool result. I took it out on a bike ride to see how things came out and I have a short video below that shows you the result. No great cinematography here but an introduction to what can be done. Remember that each shot is only moving the camera around and the panning and zooming is all done back at home. Amazing tech!