Category: Tour of California 2011

June 7, 2011

Tour of California 2011: Detour through the Central Valley

Like most, I was disappointed that the planned traditional route down PCH was cancelled due to the road washing out. I've driven 101 past Salinas and wasn't expecting much of the re-routed course. But I was wrong.

This may be my favorite scenic that I've taken. I'm fickle, so that's as much based on the fact it is more recent than other scenics I've taken. I like that it expresses my point of view. Darrell Parks makes fun of me for taking photos of "ants" -- whenever he catches me scrambling up a hillside, he'll ask me if I'm taking photos of ants; I'll reply that I need to climb higher. In this case, I climbed higher up the hill, setup a remote with a 70-200, then wandered down to stand on a fence post and block Darrell's shot.

Steve Anderson documented this process:

Ken & Darrell Ken Conley

I got stupidly greedy and attempted to get a shot with my 300mm before switching to the wide. As I struggled to get the 300mm off my camera body, I nearly fell off the post, recovered, and got off two other framings:

Here's another shot from earlier in the day; it doesn't quite work at web resolution, but I'm still fond of it. Steve Anderson's take works much better and has an added bonus: pink flowers.

Here are Darrell and Steve's galleries from the day:

June 5, 2011

Tour of California 2011: Zabriskie

Dave Zabriskie

I wasn't having a good day at the Solvang time trial -- fourth time on the same course and you start running out of ideas for 'new' shots. For Solvang, I alway end up somewhere along Ballard Canyon because it has the most variety of the course. You can stick around in the town itself and get two shots -- start and finish -- but I did that my first year and didn't really want to do that again.

I saw Zabriskie was coming soon and I found myself down the road in not a great spot. I rushed up the road to where a tree was and plopped myself down. I liked the spot because the riders would be in the aero bars. I was also shooting very wide as I feel that gives TT shots a different feel. You have a bigger depth-of-field to play with and the rider feels much closer to you.

Shooting wide in a TT can be a little tricky. The riders were zipping by on a slight downhill and they weren't really sticking to a particular line. On the plus side, the descent is fairly technical so the riders weren't going to be tucking their heads down and hiding their faces. The metering in my camera was really getting confused by sun coming through the shade from the tree, so I had to manually dial things in and hope for the best.

I got lucky. Zabriskie came right along the inside line of the road, so I could point my lens right up in his face and get the shot. The hardest thing is not press the shutter too soon -- you really want that moment where they fill up the wide angle.

Podium Kiss

I didn't spend much time this year shooting podiums, but you always know to stick around when Zabriskie is there. For Solvang, he brought his son on stage, which led to a very different 'podium kiss' shot.

For the final stage, Zabriskie engaged in his traditional dousing of the podium girls with champagne, which was prefaced by this Hulk-like scream:

Zabriskie Champage

Tour of California 2011: Snow!

For various reasons, I didn't end up doing galleries/posts this year at the Tour of California. If you want to see my work, you'll have to wait for some upcoming issues of Peloton Magazine, or checkout the gallery of mine they ran midway through.

Now that I have more time again, I'll share a couple of pics and say a few words.

Moto down

This first photo is the Stage 1 cancellation in a nutshell. If any of you thought the riders were wimps for pushing for protesting the stage, the photo above was taken on course, at about the same time the riders would have ridden it. The motorcycle you see on the ground is one of the photo motos, and it was one of six to crash. If there weren't so much snow falling, you'd see another motorcycle on the ground 50 yards ahead.

FYI: As much as I like the bike xing sign, Darrell Parks has a much better take. He was bold enough to get out of his car and get some shots. I was too chicken -- my car was quickly loosing traction and I was wanted to get to a safe stopping point ASAP.

May 19, 2011

Gallery up at Peloton Magazine


I'm shooting for a new client this year: Peloton Magazine. I'm enjoying the assignment because it lets me get a little more artistic than in the past. My first gallery is now up at