Earth Shaker – Monster Jam freestyle competition.
Few things are as quintessentially American as Monster Trucks. While I have always seen video, photos and all manner of media featuring Monster Trucks, up until this past weekend, I had never witnessed a Monster Truck show in person. I got to see the Monster Jam show at the Golden1 Center downtown. It did not disappoint. Photos cannot convey the powerful sensory experience – even more-so as an Engineer and Artist, I found every last detail of the performance extremely impressive from a technical, engineering, artistic and athletic perspective all at once.
Earth Shaker in his penultimate freestyle act.
The forces at play in these Monster vehicles are tremendous, yet they make the most outlandish of feats look effortless. The stresses on both vehicle and driver are constantly riding a fine line between complete self destruction and a well choreographed ballet. The more skilled the driver, the tighter they ride that line. One driver/athlete in particular stood out or a field of very talented, young and capable individuals – Earth Shaker. I watched him clutch, power and brake his way through wheelies, jumps, and stoppies one demand. No one else came close to his level of mastery of these machine. It was a real treat. Earth Shaker in his penultimate freestyle act, drove his Monster Truck on both front wheels. It was amazing, terrifying, and hilarious all at once. What a treat.
What camera did I use. Well, since this was my first time experiencing it, I thought I should just kick back, focus on the show, take it all in and perhaps get a better sense for the subjects from a photography perspective so I may return next time around and give it a proper photographic treatment. My compromise this time was my advanced point-and-shoot – the Canon G15. I had not taken it out in over a year. Surprisingly the battery still had a full charge which was impressive in itself. The wide aperture f/1.8 zoom lens really helped keep a fast shutter under the artificial low light situations. Shutter lag and AF were of course a problem as would be the case with any point-and-shoot. I did however manage to compensate for the lag most of the time. The OVF was a huge help while tracking fast moving subjects. Being able to shoot RAW was also a huge bonus. The resulting images came out much better than I expected. I shot Manual Mode at 1/100s to preserve some wheel spin motion but still freeze the vehicles as I tracked them. ISO ranged from 400-800. What a little gem of a camera. I definitely look forward to covering the next Monster Jam with my 7D Mark II and 5DsR.
Below are some highlights from the show. I hope you enjoy them. Have you ever been to a Monster Truck show. Share your thoughts.
Seattle Skyline from Alki Beach / Duwamish Head, Luna Park
Seattle skyline after sunset from Hamilton ViewPoint Park
It’s been a really busy year. Unfortunately the first thing to take a hit has been my blog posting. I have not been able post as consistently as previously. However I’m happy to say my photography has not taken a hit. I have pretty much dedicated whatever free time I can find to actually doing photography and traveling whenever I can. This means it’s just a matter of catching up and sharing. If you follow me on Instagram (@bryanallo), you will catch more frequent glimpses of my photographic exploits.
I recently returned from a trip to Vancouver via Seattle a little over a week ago. It dawned on me that I had visited Seattle about a year ago as well. I did a lot of Photography but never got around to posting about that trip. I suppose the main reason was I never got around to composing the large panoramic shots I had painstakingly captured. This one was captured just after Sunset, from Duwamish Head at Luna Park, in the Alki Beach area. I scouted this shot all afternoon with my brother who had just moved to Seattle at the time. After scouting the shot, we walked to the burger joint down the street for a late lunch. We returned to Luna Park and camped out there through the sunset. Fortunately Seattle revealed herself. It was quite windy though. This was only compounded by the long 400mm focal length required to get a good framing. My first choice location was Hamilton ViewPoint Park but alas there was what looked like an Ore Ship painstakingly offloading it’s cargo all weekend long right in the middle of my shot. So I went with plan B which did not disappoint at all.
I shot this with the 50 MegaPixel Canon 5DsR and the EF 100-400mm L IS II. I’m not sure I could have done it otherwise. The resulting panorama is half a GigaPixel with boat loads of detail and color. I am very much looking forward to taking this to Limited Edition print. Only 10 signed numbered copies will every be made.
Have you ever visited Seattle? What was your favorite view on the city?
2017 Solar Eclipse start
2017 Solar Eclipse peak
Well as the saying goes, “better late than never”. I did make some kind of effort to capture the solar eclipse a few weeks ago. There was a lot of hype about this eclipse here in the US particularly because it presented an opportunity to many across the country to witness a full solar eclipse. I wasn’t however as motivated or hyped-up as some. I just didn’t think it was worth the hassle this time around considering my work schedule and the travel to an obscure location and deal with the gridlock and traffic jam. This especially considering that there are anywhere from 2 to 5 solar eclipses around the world each year. I simply do not think it is as rare (or special) an occasion as it is made out to be. I would sooner chase the eclipse at a destination that offers interesting and exciting possibilities for photography.
Canon 7D mark II + EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM + EF Extender 2x III
Nonetheless, I did at least take out my gear for the occasion. The view from Sacramento was of a partial eclipse as we were not in the line of the full shadow. I used my Canon 7D Mark II and Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II super telephoto lens. I also used the EF 2X Extender III, albeit begrudgingly. I say this because it softens an otherwise perfect lens but I had no choice given that for solar observation you really need 600mm at a bare minimum. Of course I did not forget to use a solar filter. Originally designed for my telescope, it fits perfectly on my canon lens. I would have liked to setup my Computerized German Equatorial Mount for tracking, time lapse and also use my 1000mm telescope. However I really had more pressing things to get to that morning. So I threw my kit in the truck and headed into my morning commute. I managed to step out of my office a couple times throughout the eclipse to capture a few key shots. Here they are.
Did you capture the eclipse? Did you view it?
Sunrise over Eagle Falls
After chasing sunsets all day over Glen Alpine Falls and Lilly Lake I retired to my room in a little motel on the outskirts of the City of South Lake Tahoe. Yes I did consider just sleeping in my truck as I sometimes do, since I only planned on sleeping a few hours. However, after hiking and standing on my feet all afternoon till after dark, I knew I would need a shower and a good night’s sleep; well 5-6 hours of sleep at least.
Just me, and the Sunrise
I have photographed Eagle Falls several times before. Most recently I visited the falls this past winter and made a daring hike down to the lower falls. I just realized I never posted about that excursion. It was quite and experience to say the least. I’m not sure I want to do that again. None-the-less, there had been one item on my Bucket List and that was to photograph the falls at sunrise. Sunset here is much less dramatic if not drab and unremarkable.
I woke up at 3:30am, showered, put on my winter clothes, prepped my camera gear, loaded up the truck and was on the road just after 4:00am. I arrived at the trail head around 4:30am. I was the only soul at the falls. Sunrise was around 5:30am. This gave me enough time to scout my shot. It was dark, with clear skies. After a few minutes my eyes adjusted and could see the stars. It was beautiful. I used Google SkyMap to determine where on the horizon the sun would appear so I can frame my shot to center it’s radiance. I was all setup and ready to go with so much time to spare that I actually took the time to photograph myself. I always forget to do this and thus have no record of ever being there.
Sunrise piercing through the trees
Nothing could have prepared me for the sunrise over Eagle Falls. Nothing. As the sun started to rise the breathtaking beauty all around me just kept intensifying. It was surreal. One thing I love about sunrises is that they tend to last much longer than sunsets. I reflected back to the previous day as I lay on my sofa just before noon and decided all of a sudden that was NOT now I wanted to spend my weekend. Now there I was the following morning, my soul overflowing. My passion fulfilled. I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.
I hope you enjoyed the photos and they inspire you to dare to venture out and explore. The shots are unedited and straight out of the camera, as I tend to do these days. This explains the halos and ghosting typical of in-camera HDR images. The camera has less elaborate HDR algorithms. Who has time to tinker with image editors when you could be out there? I typically only edit/process when I’m taking a photo to limited edition print. The two panoramas here will definitely be available in very limited edition print.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing.
Several weekends ago while Chasing the Sunset over Glen Alpine Falls, I took a break for a late lunch snack a little further upstream at Lily Lake. It was so relaxing to just sit there and take it all in, all of this magnificence, all to myself. No cell phone reception forced me to unplug from technology that has so much invaded every aspect of our lives.
Taking a break from chasing the sunset at Little Lake.
We’ve had record rain and snowfall this year so I wondered what this lake would look like with a little less water – perhaps more like a bog?? I made a note to revisit it later in the summer. Maybe with waders on? An inflatable dingy/boat? A shot from the middle would be beautiful.
I did take a fem moments to give the scene a good photographic treatment. I have yet to process the ultra high resolution panorama, but judging from the looks of these quick and rough shots, it should be a real treat to look at when it is ready. It will most likely be available in very Limited Edition print.
Glen Alpine Falls at Sunset
This time of year my calendar just seems to spontaneously fill up. However several weekends ago I found myself lazying around on the couch all Saturday morning. By noon, I thought to myself “how did this happen” and “why aren’t I out there stealing a piece of beauty to keep for myself?”. Lately I have been on a bit of a waterfall kick. So I grabbed my phone and started searching for waterfalls around Lake Tahoe. Eagle Falls came to mind, but I have shot it during the day and very much wanted to shoot the sunrise there.
Scouting my shot for sunset.
Driving up in the middle of the night just for the sunrise didn’t sound too enticing so I figured I’d look for another good waterfall to capture on that day, spend the night in Tahoe and then capture the sunrise over Eagle Falls. As soon as Glen Alpine Falls popped up on the phone, I knew that was where I would be chasing the sunset.
Glen Alpine Falls
I hurriedly packed for an overnight visit, scoured the internet for a cheap, decent room where I could lay down for a several hours before casing the sunrise. I was on the road within an hour and made it to Glen Alpine around 3:00pm – just the way I like it. I had ample time to explore the general area and plan my sunset shots. It was far more majestic than I had hoped.
With time to spare, I went up to Lily Lake to explore and have a late lunch snack before heading back down for the sunset at the falls. It was a very relaxing day well worth the effort to get out there. I highly recommend it and will be going back to explore the Glen Alpine Trail soon.
City of Angels from Hollywood Hills
Last weekend I took a quick trip down to LA for the weekend to vacation with family for the Memorial Day weekend. It was a nice escape. My brother picked out a villa in the Hollywood Hills for us to stay. One of the nice things about this particular home was the unobstructed view of the Downtown LA Skyline. Perched at the top of the hill, with three levels and a rooftop terrace, it was only too easy. After everyone had finally retired for the night, I grabbed my camera and stepped out into the cool evening breeze. The LA smog was a bit of a challenge but nothing too challenging. I have captured the city from various other vantage points you can read more about here.
I traveled light for this trip. I brought just my go-to-in-a-pinch camera, the Canon 7D Mark II and Canon EF-S 17-55mm. Fortunately my brother also has the same setup but he also brought his Canon EF 100-400mm L II lens. Without it, this shot wouldn’t have been possible. This panoramic was taken at 400mm. The hills are quite far from Downtown LA.
This is a rough draft of the panorama. I’m undecided if this shot should make it to limited edition print. If it does, it will require some editing. Do you have any favorite angles on the city to share? Thanks for stopping by.