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Concours Chaos

September 28, 2011

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   First, to my reader(s), an apology for the one month gap in bloggerism (new word). It has been a chaotic month of car shows (one of my favorite subjects). It seems when it rains it pours. September was a full calendar of various car shows and since I would rather shoot than type ..there ya go. This post marks a shifting of gears for my blog, from posts about learning photography and exposing newcomers to new techniques, to the actual practice of photography.

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T h e   S h o o t

   The Concours d’Elegance, an invitation only (for the cars) car show in Kirkland Wa. The Concours is a benefit for Children’s Hospital here in Seattle to fund cancer treatment for children whose families are unable to afford it. So far the Concours has raised 1.2 million, and the money raised this year (the 9th annual) will add to that. 100% of the ($25.00 per) cost of admission goes to charity. Everyone involved with the show volunteers their time.

 Each year features different makes, so it is a once in a lifetime chance to see many of these cars. This year the roster included the rarely seen in public original Aston Martin DB5 from the James Bond movies. Pierce Arrow is the featured make.

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T h e   G o o d

   The chance to see and photograph rare multi-million $ cars and benefit sick kids at the same time. The location, the upscale grounds of Carillon Point on the eastern shore of Lake Washington looking west to the Seattle skyline. (A Carillon is a set of bells that when rung play a tune). The weather, not rain for a change.

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T h e   B a d

   The weather, not a cloud in the sky. This means harsh light, strong reflections (these babies are shiny) and deep shadows. the dynamic range even of my 7D don’t stand a chance. The time (9:30 am – 4 pm) the worst time for photography. The crowd, a butt-load of people. The staging, in a parking lot (at least it’s a nicely landscaped one). The Edmonds Hot Rod show (400 Hot Rods) is the same day 10 miles away.

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T h e   U g l y

Me

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(mouse over photos for a description)

   Here is a shot of the crowd during the National Anthem. The show was Sep 11 (10th anniversary of 9-11). A touching 60 seconds of silence to remember victims of the 9-11 attacks followed the Anthem, you could hear a pin drop.

   The high contrast means I would need to use a flash to fill in the shadows and bring down the contrast. To control reflections, the flash needs to be off camera. You can see from the crowd shot that setting up light stands for the flash is right out of the question. Lucky for me my lovely wife volunteered (reluctantly agreed) to be a voice operated light stand. Good, so now I put a radio trigger on the flash give it to her and hope she doesn’t drop it.

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   So we hit the ground a-runnin. Up at 7 am on the weekend, drink a bunch of coffee (so I’ll have to pee all day) and get to Kirkland by 9. Hopefully I can get some shots before the sun and crowd are at their worst. My strategy for hiding the throngs of people is to shoot low and obscure them with the car itself. This strategy does nothing for the certain people at these events who seem to wait until you lift a camera to your eye to stroll right into the frame directly in front of you, but it is a benefit car show not a photo shoot so I just have to wait and be ready to strike when the coast is clear. All this crouching and laying about means people won’t see me very easily and I don’t want anyone to trip over me..these people have serious lawyers.

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   Pediatric patients from Children’s Hospital and Evergreen hospital as well as local elementary and junior high kids make up the Junior Judges who decide the winner of the Junior Judges Award each year. Notice the guy in the bright orange shirt and the other guy in the bright pink. (note to self… wear neutral colors to heavily photographed events).

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   One of my favorites, a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster. This shot took about 25 minuets to get and was taken the split second one spectator had left the frame and before another entered it. I have to rattle off the shots whenever I can and the opportunity seems to come in waves. With the flash at full power to combat the sun and the shots closely spaced that thing gets hot. I forgot to tell my wife / light stand this may happen, she found out. After 175 frames or so the batteries are toast (spares in pocket?…check), time to change them out and shoot solo for a while because my light stand has to pee.

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   All my combat photography in ‘nam is paying off, it’s see an opening, tuck and roll and come up shooting. It’s hot out (80 deg.) for Seattle and I’ve only managed about 200 frames in 3 hours waiting for people to clear the shots (I want shots of the cars not just detail shots or abstracts).  6% is about my keeper rate so I’ve probably got about 12 – 15 good shots and now it’s time to go. Got to race off to Edmonds because that show is ending in 4 hours. (And by race off, I mean sit in the one and only way out of here line for 45 min). But not before I get a dash shot to convert to black and white, you know I love those !

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   Next time ..Hot Rods…..Thanks for reading.

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