Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Dirt Crit

Last Sunday saw the Dirt Crit edition of the Cranky Monkey race series. As usual, I was out there TooFatToRace stylie, sitting on my butt in the weeds, camera in hand, sweat oozing from... well, it was pretty hot.

For those who want to cut to the chase...the photos are here. Broken down by race start time. 8am, 10am and 12pm.

The nice thing about the Crit format is that the course is relatively short, so the riders do a bunch of laps. Therefore, I had lots of opportunities to shoot each rider.

Shooting race after race at the same park (this is one this season, I think) leads to a lot of similar looking photos. Trying to find a different angle, I spent a good deal of time under the cover of the trees this week. I was shooting at a fairly large log crossing. I strategically positioned myself so I'd be able to catch the hotdogs flying/jumping...

or running over it:

...and also get the more conservative riders who went around it

The results were pretty good (IMNSF*ingHO).

I was also using my new flash mod, with my homemade battery pack mated to my high-tech Sigma flash (as opposed to my old low-tech Vivitar flash). That worked out pretty well, but the Sigma flash did crash on me a few times. This has happened in the past and was supposedly remedied by me sending the unit back to Sigma for reconditioning. Apparently, it needs some re-reconditioning.

Here's one of the shots where my Sigma let me down. My buddy JoeP showing off his mad nose-wheelie skillz:

And here he is again on the next lap, when my flash was behaving itself (but the photographer couldn't keep the subject in the friggin' viewfinder). Apparently, that nose-wheelie thing is intentional:

To end on a photography note: I'm beginning to wonder if the Canon 24-70mm lens wouldn't be a wise investment. The Sigma 24-70mm lens that I use seems to take a couple of seconds before focus-locking on the target. The Canon lens has internal motors which should alleviate this. Maybe I'll just rent the Canon for a test-drive before dropping the cash on a purchase.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Pimping a friend

My buddy Ben has posted his photos from the third W@W race. See them in all their glory at his gallery. Cool stuff!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

W@W photos posted

Got the photos from yesterday's Wednesdays at Wakefield race posted. Did I already talk about the slow-shutter speed technique I was trying? Did I mention how I'm not so good at it yet? Ok, good. So you don't have your hopes set too high, then? Great. Now that we're all ready, have a look:

I did manage to sneak in a couple of not-terrible shots. These are a couple I liked:

Gwadz in his first of two races (madman).

Mr. Happy, Butch, pre-riding the course.

I don't think the guy behind was trying to scream and scare the shit out of the guy in front...but that's how it looks to me. And it makes me laugh. (Best seen larger size).

And the gun show. Who could resist posting this one? He was nice enough to give me this pose on two laps!

W@W #3 (7-18-07)

(Crossposted from that other blog of mine, since I don't know if anybody knows that this one exists yet).

The threatening rains held off, so a friend and I were able to go out and shoot the third Wednesdays @ Wakefield race last night. He got some amazing shots using some fancy off-camera flash techniques. Really cool stuff (and depressingly better than my own stuff!). Once he gets his images posted online, I'll put a link here (and on all the usual message boards) so people can see his work.

For my shots, I was attempting something different. (Different from Ben's stuff, and different from my usual stuff). I was using a flash while shooting at a really slow shutter speed and panning along with the riders as they passed. (Called "Dragging the shutter"). 1/80s, 1/60s, even down as low as 1/30s. Consider that I usually shoot at 1/250s and wish I could go faster (and still be able to use a flash), those are some slow shutter speeds. This gives a really cool effect when you can pull it off correctly. The problem is that its really hard to pull off correctly. I shot about 450 images over the course of the evening. I've only given them a cursory going over and I can already tell that there are a lot that need to be culled. I think I got a few really nice shots. But for each nice shot, I probably have 20 or more throw-aways.

Anyway, I'll be processing/culling my images tonight, so hopefully I'll have them online by tomorrow. They'll be in their own directory here:

I'll post to all the usual places when they're up. Thanks to the riders who had nice things to say to me last night. It's always cool to hear that people are seeing and enjoying your work.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Damn weather.

So they canceled the 3rd Wednesday at Wakefield race tonight. Spotty rain throughout the day and heavy rains around the park conspired to do us in.

My buddy Ben (aka Rasmussen Photo) and I had planned on attending the race to shoot some pictures. Unfortunately by the time the organizers decided to call it we had already left work, driven to the park, and hiked to the far end of the power the rain. What are you gonna do? Sometimes the optimism just oozes forth from me. C'est la vive. Some days you're the statue.

If there's a speck of good news to come from today, it is that the gent in the Potomac Velo jersey who told us the race was canceled also mentioned that they might re-route next week's course to include the new slalom downhill section (in all its banked-turn glory). On the walk out to our shooting location today I had mentioned to Ben how that would be a cool place to get some photos. I'll have to make sure I get out there early next week and stake out my favorite turn. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

On the horizon...W@W #3

Tomorrow is the third race in the '07 Wednesdays at Wakefield race series. I'm pretty excited to go out and shoot it, since I was out of town for the last race. I've had a lot of great comments and talked to a ton of new people because of the photos I shot at race #1. Hopefully this race will provide more of the same. Ego stroking is always a good thing (in my book).

I just noticed that the race sponsors, Potomac Velo have been kind enough to link back to my pbase gallery from the official Wednesdays at Wakefield site. Thanks guys!! It's definitely appreciated!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

2007 W@W race #1 gallery up.

OK. I've gone through my shots from the race on 06/20/07, dumped the really *really* bad ones, and put everything else up online at my pbase gallery. Check 'em out.

If you want copies of the pbase-sized images, you're free to right-click and save-as. Free for blog/web/email whatever non-commercial use you want. If you want full sized digital ($10) or prints ($25 including shipping), shoot me an email and we'll work out the details. Any full sized digital or print will be far better quality than the small shots on pbase. Those shots were bulk-resized, and not tweaked at all. I'll take good care of the full-sized shots.

Here's a shot I spent some time on this afternoon. I took the shot of Camp from my earlier post and cloned out the other rider (sorry buddy). It came out pretty well (IMNSHO). Photoshop skills are coming along. Slowly.

Here's one more. This is the "oh shit" moment when the guy from my last post looks down and sees the ginormous gash in his leg. He's OK. He posted on the MORE forum that the gash was 5"x1"x1", and I believe it. It took 30 stitches to put him back together. 15 *under* the skin (effing OUCH!) and 15 *in* the skin.

I realize now that had I been a more seasoned photojournalist, I would have kept snapping detail shots of him and his injury with one hand, while dialing 911 with the other. Damn it. I guess these things come with experience.

Some people...

This guy just can't keep his friggin' tires on the ground!

W@W race, 2007

See what I mean?

WW@W race, 2006

The first photo would be so much better if that poor second rider didn't look like he was about to run face-first into Camp's ass.

Anyway. I shot the first Wednesday at Wakefield race last night. Well, most of it. Halfway through the first race, a guy (rider #707) crashes in front of me. Not badly. Just a bobble/fall/hop off the bike kinda crash. When he goes to hop back on his bike, he notices the 4-5" gash on the back of his right calf. That thing had to be 1/2" deep or more. Thankfully, I only saw it for a brief second. But it was bad. The guy says something like "Shit, that's a big hole", hops off his bike, pulls his shirt off and ties it around the gash. I tell some passing racers that we need a medic out here (back side of the power-lines, maybe a 1/2 mile from the start/finish line). I grab my cell phone, punch in 911, and look up to see dood jogging/limping/hopping down the trail towards civilization. I say something like "Er, that might not be the best way to do things" just before 911 picks up and I give them the scoop. They ask "Is he having trouble breathing?", I say "I dunno, he just took off jogging down the trail, so I guess not". When he jogged off, he left his bike, so I decide to walk it back for him. I have an 10-second-long internal debate about whether I should walk it back now, or at the end of the race, after my shooting is complete. I decide now, in case he has somebody with him who can take it. By the time I get back to the start/finish area, he's long gone in the ambulance. I leave the bike with the race organizers (it was too small for me anyway) and head back out into the field just as the second race is starting. I shoot all of that race, but have to contend with fading daylight.

So, the photos should be resized and posted tonight (not that anybody actually reads this blog (yet)). I'll post in the usual forums/blogs once they're up.

Sticking with the Creative Commons-esque give-something-back-to-the-community vibe, I'm going to give away digital copies of the small shots free for (non-commercial) blog/web/email use.

However, it must be said that "Beer ain't free". So if people want full size, printable digital images, it's gonna cost them $10. If they want 8x12" photo prints, it'll be $25. Contact me via email (gmr2048 at yahoo dot com) and we'll arrange things.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Quiet around here

Things have been pretty quiet around here lately, but that will soon change. The Wednesdays at Wakefield race series is starting up next week. The full schedule is:

Race #1 - June 20
Race #2 - June 27
Race #3 - July 11
Race #4 - July 18

Make-up dates (in the event of bad weather) are scheduled for July and Aug. I'll be outta town for the race on the 27th, so let's all do a little rain-dance for that one and try to get it pushed back, shall we? Ok, thanks. Much obliged.

Also on the horizon is the Cranky Monkey race series. Starting the season off this year is a new "12 Hours of Cranky Monkey" on June 24th. Unfortunately I'll be outta town for that one too (keep on rain-dancin'!). The rest of the series kicks off in late July and goes on into August:

Race #1 - July 29 - Wakefield Park - Annandale, VA
Race #2 - August 5 - Wakefield Park - Annandale, VA
Race #3 - August 19 - Fountainhead Regional Park- Fairfax Station, VA
Race #4 - August 26 - Quantico Marine Corps Base - Quantico, VA

I'm still short my preferred lens. I called Sigma a couple of days back and they claim the repaired lens will be shipped out early next week. I'll be holding my breath. If I have to, I'll rent a similar length lens for a race or two, but I'd rather keep my $35 in my pocket and use the lens I already own. Or maybe use the money to rent a nice fish-eye, or ultra-wide lens and get some new and exciting angles.

Hopefully I'll see you on the trail. If you do see me, pull some sick moves, so I can get some interesting photos of you and use you as a resume filler, k? Thanks again. You're too good to me.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Good news, good news, not-so-good news

A couple of weeks ago, I sent my Sigma 24-70mm lens in to manufacturer for repair. It was having problems auto-focusing. Today I placed a call to Sigma to see where things stand. The word is...

Good news: Yes, there is a problem (aside from the photographer!).

Good news: Yes, it's fixable. Even better, the lens is still under warranty, so there should be no charge.

Not so good news: They're waiting on a part for the lens. It will be another two weeks before they expect to ship it home. If I had to guess, I'd say they'll have it even longer. Nobody ever meets the time-to-repair estimate in this world.

This is gonna be cutting things close. The Wednesday @ Wakefield race series starts a few days after the lens' estimated (and anticipated) return. I had a great time shooting these races last year and I'm really looking forward to this year. I guess worst-case, I could drop some cash and rent another lens for the first race. Guess we'll have to wing it and see where we are as race-day approaches.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

12 Hours of Lodi homepage updated

The fine folks at have updated their homepage with "12 Hours of Lodi" race info. Once again this year, they feature one of my images, and give me a link back to my gallery (where -new for 2007- I'm trying to sell my wares instead of giving them away). Hopefully this will prove fruitful.

This year's image is of local rider Becky cranking up a hill on her NINER singlespeed. The only problem is that the image file on their site is god-awful if you view it in Firefox of Safari. If you view it in IE, it looks fine.

(Nasty GIF image removed)

I tweaked a copy of the image myself and sent it to them asking that they replace the existing image with the better looking one (for both our sake).

They wrote back quickly and said they'd try to get it fixed ASAP.

Update: TeamBikeWorks replaced the image with a better-looking JPG, but it's about 25% of the size.

Oh well. I'm done trying. Maybe I can get a job with them as their web developer. I'm no pro, but I've got basic skillz.

Friday, May 11, 2007

More Lodi

Here are a couple more shots from the 12 Hours of Lodi race last weekend. Just random people that I happened to catch in (what I think are) cool photos.

Ooh, and a little snake dood that I found hanging out in the woods.

Most likely and Eastern Garter snake, if you were wondering.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Lodi, 2k7

Third time's a charm.

For the third year running, I made the trek down to the 12 Hours of Lodi Farm in Fredricksburg, VA this past Sunday. I had hoped to get an early start, but a late night Saturday kept me in bed until 7:30am on race day. By the time I hit the trail with camera in hand it was nearly 9am.

Hometown favorites "The Big Meats" put in a decent showing this year, as usual:

D(Did somebody say 'fatBOY!'?)T:


(No, really...he races, too!)

and returning prodigal-Meat, Butch:

Also seen on the course was the pink fury M.C. RickyD:

And the mighty Gwadz:

The rest of the cast of characters, friends and strangers alike, can be seen in my pbase gallery. Spread the word far and wide. The images in the pbase gallery were dumped straight from the camera to the web. I didn't spend the time to tweak each one. Just so you know.

I think the time has come for a different tactic on my image distribution. In the past, I've freely given away my shots: low-rez, high-rez, it made no difference. My thinking was always "One day, when I'm more comfortable with my skillz, I'll start charging a little something for my efforts". Well friends, the day has come. As a pro-shooter buddy said to me recently "Your camera was expensive. Lenses are expensive. Gas to get to these races is expensive. Your time is valuable. You should charge something for your work". This fact was driven home as I filled my truck's gas tank to the tune of $53 on the way to the race.

So, in the spirit of open-source/creative commons/help-a-brother-biker-out, if you want only the small, low-rez copy of the pbase image for non-commerical use, feel free. Right-click, 'save image as', done. I'd appreciate a link back to the gallery if you use the image on your website, blog or whatever. At some point I'll put a CreativeCommons notice here (and in the gallery) so you'll know what you can (and can't) do with the images. For now, let's just say no commercial use unless you talk to me first. gmr2048 at yahoo dot com. I'm easy.

If you're interested in a full size, ~300dpi image, suitable for printing 8x10" (maybe bigger), that I've spent some time tweaking and perfecting. I'm gonna charge $10. Shoot me an email and we'll talk.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


Here's another shot from Greenbrier. This one was a bit overblown, but I liked the way it came out. Not your (or "my") standard shot. The rider is Elsie Torresan. (Sshhh...she's Canadian). We'll never tell. We promise.

(Click the photo to see a larger copy)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Greenbrier photos posted

...and there was much rejoicing...


I batch-processed* and posted all of my Greenbrier race photos over in my pbase gallery. Feel free to go over and look through them. I edited out the most hideous shots (lucky you!).

I was only there for the Elite/Pro race and the start of the SS/clydesdale/expert/everybodyandtheirbrother race, so there are few, if any, shots of people who actually may read this blog (sorry Gwadz, I missed you totally).

*="batch processed" means I didn't give each photo my undivided attention. I set rough parameters in my image editor and ran the whole bunch of them through. So the original images look better than the ones posted to pbase. Not that you particularly care...I'm just sayin'.

Monday, April 30, 2007

But for the tire, the race was won.

The story of frustration, as told in four images.

Local fave Jeremiah Bishop after just having limped across the Greenbrier finish line with a flat tire. Coming in 4th place.

A couple more from Greenbrier

(Click the images for larger versions)

Another in my series "No idea who this guy is, but I liked the shot". I foresee this being a long and interesting series.

"Sponsored by..."

The rest of the top 4 riders in UCI points (if I understand the race numbering scheme correctly). From left to right:

2 Jeremiah Bishop
3 Chris Eatough
4 Jeff Schalk

Pictured below (in my earlier post), the #1 UCI points guy, Todd Wells.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Before and after

I shot the Greenbrier Challenge Mountain Bike Race in WayTheHellUpThere, MD today. Actually, I shot only the UCI Elite/Pro race, and the start of the SS/Clydesdale/Expert group. I had planned to stay longer, but by the time the pros race was over, I'd had enough standing-around-in-the-sun time.

Todd Wells managed to pull out a win despite flatting about a kilometer from the finish line. The gods must have been smiling on him, because Jeremiah Bishop, the racer who had been in the #2 position, flatted at nearly the same moment. They both decided to ride in on the flats. Todd managed to keep up the pace and win. Jeremiah came in over 8 minutes back (in 4th place). Full results here.

As they lined up before the race start, I snapped a decent "before" shot (click the images for the slightly larger versions):

At the end of the race, I was at the finish line and caught him coming in for the win on his new prototype "airless tire" system. It promises to be all the rage in the '08 season:

More shots of the race to come. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Another Lodi '05

Here's a shot where I got a cool background blur. I desaturated the image, and decided I liked that even more than the original.

Lodi 2005

Here's another one of those "I have no idea who this guys is, but..." shots.

The "but" here is that he looked like he was having a damn good time. That goes a long way in my book. This is early morning. Maybe 8-8:30am. If you're enjoying yourself at that hour, you're doing OK.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

12 hours of Lodi 2005

Here's a shot I took at the 12 Hours of Lodi race back in 2005. I forget why I processed this shot, but the guy is a local. He may have written me asking for a better copy than the unprocessed (and god-awful) original I had posted to pbase.

Anyway, here's the end result after a little love and attention.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

More Leesburg

Two more shots from Leesburg. I liked this shooting location because it told the whole story in a sentence: "You're in a mountain bike race on a farm. The end."

Clicking on the photos takes you to the unedited, slightly larger versions.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Leesburg Baker's Dozen

Another one where the colors really stand out.

Last cross-post (hopefully)

Here's another shot from this past weekend's Leesburg Baker's Dozen race. Originally posted on my other blog. Now that this blog is up and running, I don't expect to do this cross-post nonsense anymore. Nothing but fresh content, evermore.

"Some Guy Dropping In"
oil on canvas
(just kidding)

Monday, April 23, 2007

New photos

Here are a couple of my favorite race photos from this past weekend's Leesburg Baker's Dozen. Click on the photos for the full web-sized image.

Rider Mike Buchness (thanks for the ID, Lee!). I like the way the photo came out, with him riding right out of the frame.

Don't know who this guy is either, but I love how the bright blue of his jersey/shorts compliments the bright orange of his bike. No saturation enhancement on this shot, either. It's straight out of the camera.

That's it for tonight. Look for more favorite photos in the future.

Oh, and I've migrated all (I think) of my old bike/racing posts from Rant-o-riffic at this point. So this is *the* place to check out the best of my race photos from now on.

Master plan for TooFatToRace

The plan for this blog is...

To be a place where I can direct people (usually mountain bike racers) when I post hundreds of new race images to my pbase site. Racers can come here, then jump directly to the most recent series of photos I have online.


To be a place where I can highlight my best/favorite race photos, so as to isolate them from the hundred of other race photos that I don't necessarily like so much...or that are just run-o'-the-mill shots.

Kinda like a portfolio of strictly mountain bike race photos. Who knows, maybe one day Sports Illustrated will happen across my little collection and the phone will ring. Maybe.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Leesburg Baker's Dozen

I spent a few hours yesterday (4/20/07) out in Leesburg, VA shooting the Leesburg Baker's Dozen 13 hour endurance mountain bike race. It was a beautiful day and I'd have been happy to spend all 13 hours shooting. Unfortunately prior commitments left me only a couple hours of shooting time. Luckily, many of the friend's I had in the race were running solo, so I had plenty of chances to catch them in action.

My pbase gallery of the photos (straight out of the camera and ham-handedly resized) can be found here:

If you see a shot you like/want, let me know and I'll get you a full sized version. Some shots may look better smaller. If I can (and if necessary), I'll clean up the photo too. If you want to use the shots anywhere non-commercial (message boards, blogs, whatever), I'd appreciate a link back to the gallery and a photo credit. If you want to use the image commercially, contact me. I'm cheap and easy ;)

And finally, please feel free to cross-post the gallery link to the all of the usual MTB sites so people can see themselves in action.


Since I do a fair amount of mountain bike racing photos, I decided to consolidate them under a single blog banner. Welcome to TooFatToRace.

To email me, use toofattorace at gmail dot com.

I'll post my most recent set/links shortly (from the Leesburg Baker's Dozen race on 4.21.07). As time permits, I may even go back and migrate older bike racing posts from my other blog to this one.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Feel the Love

I received an email from a buddy pointing out that Team Bike Works, organizers of the "12 Hours of Lodi Farm" race, have updated their web page for this year's event and have used one of my photos from the '06 race on the home page.

Pretty cool. I'm fairly sure I told them last year that they were free to use my shots on their page as long as they gave me a photo credit and a link back to the gallery. Both of which they did. I just kinda wished they'd have shot me an email mentioning the usage. Here's the shot they used after last year's race:

Anyway, this year's race is the same weekend as another event at which I'm volunteering my photography...err...skillz: The American Red Cross of the National Capital Area's Fire & Ice Ball (The National Capital Area Chapter's Annual Gala).

So a busy weekend is planned, but hopefully I'll come away with a bunch more MTB race photos, as well as a bunch of formal shots of Gala attendees. I've never shot an uber-formal event like this. Here's hoping it goes well. Oh, yeah. I'll be sporting a tux, too.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Almost famous

A couple of weeks back, I submitted my second photo (shown above in ultra-crap quality, click on the image to see a BIG, ultra-crappy quality version! I know you can hardly contain yourself. It's ok, go ahead. Click it.) to the "Rider's Eye" section of Dirt Rag Magazine. By the comments in this thread over on the MORE forum, it sounds like it was published. The rider with the mad skillz is Larry Camp who rides (used to ride?) for local VA bike shop The Bike Lane.

So it ain't National Geographic (or Sports Illustrated, for that matter). But I dig it.

(Edited to add link to the Bike Lane)