E. Smith Productions

Road Trippin’

05.25.09 | 10:07 PM CDT

There are just some times in your life when a road trip seems like the right medicine.  For me, the loss of my job and a general feeling of being down in the dumps were my symptoms.  Drastic measures were needed to cure me.

A few weeks back I was talking to my friend Chris and he mentioned his upcoming trip to California for a supermoto race he was competing in.  I though that he was crazy for driving out with his truck and trailer just for one race.  After some talk about the race, he suggested I come along with him and shoot photos.  I suddenly had some extra time on my hands and this sounded like a great trip and a really neat opportunity to do some more photography.  That and Chris’s equipment wasn’t half bad either.

Come Tuesday morning we were all packed up and ready for our 30-plus hour trek to Sonoma, California.  The land of grapes and racing.  Well, mostly known for the former, but the old Sears Pointe raceway has been known to draw a crowd also.  The drive out was really an experience for me.  Sure I’ve taken long road trips, but nothing this long.  We took a leisurely time getting out there, spending a night in Nebraska and then just across the border in California before reaching Sonoma.  Driving the truck with the trailer was tough in a couple of places.  Wyoming had some really nasty wind that embattled us in many areas.  At one point we were getting approximately 6.5 miles per gallon.  Not exactly economical, but hey, blame it on the wind!  The scenery was amazing.  Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and of course California.  Nebraska and Iowa had their moments, but to be honest, I had seen all of that kind of landscape growing up. 

So the weekend revolved around Chris racing, and me helping him with his bike.  Oh, yeah, and there was some photography.  Chris was able to obtain some handy press credentials for me and I was able to get closer than anyone should be allowed to get to a rider doing 100 miles an hour on the straightaway.  I had to relearn how to do action photography, namely shooting racing.  I had some experience under my belt shooting motocross some time ago, but I was using a much different camera and some faster subjects.  The D3 made life easy for me I will say.  It would blaze through some shots as a rider would round the corner.  With absolutely zero lag to write to the cards, the D3 was a dream to shoot with.  The insanely accurate 51 point autofocus system made tracking the riders so much fun.  I shot on three separate days and found that the images that turned out the best were with the D3 and a f/2.8 300mm lens.  With that lens I could stand in one spot on the track and get any one of nearly 5 different key points of the race.  I could get some shots like this, showing some intense action.  Keeping your crossing the track to a minimum is a good thing, believe me!

The races were a lot of fun to watch.  Chris did well in his final race and as he says, “It’s all about having fun.”  All of the riders out there were just doing it to have some fun.  Sure there were guys out there winning week after week, but from the ones I talked to, they really had a passion to ride and didn’t care how they did it, they were going to be out there on the track on any given Sunday.  I got some photo and video contacts from guys who had been shooting supermoto and motocross for quite some time.  They seemed impressed with my work and I’m eager to follow up with them.  I was also able to get some attention of some of the riders who liked some of the shots I got of them.  Some digital comps sent their way could mean some quick money for me.

Chris was a good friend to have on the road and out on the track.  As a seasoned photographer himself, he has been my mentor for several years.  He gave me a lot of thinking points in regards to my pending new job choice.  It was certainly some good quality time spend out on the road.  The trip back was awesome.  We decided to drive the trip non stop from Novato, CA back to LeRoy.  We took turns driving and sleeping and were able to make the drive back in great time.  So many sights to see out on the road that you wouldn’t see if you were in a plane.  The mountains, interesting vehicles, sunsets, sunrises.  Life was good out on the lonely, open road.

Everything worked out like I hoped it would.  I came back refreshed, eager to start new projects and most importantly start editing the nearly two-thousand images that were shot during the course of the trip.  I’m glad to be home, but my bags can be packed on a moments notice.  You know, in case you need another driver!  This summer take some time and do a road trip.  A long one.  You won’t be disappointed.  Oh, and bring your camera!


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