Racing

The 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon

First, sorry for the delay in blog postings. I broke my laptop screen early last week and it is now at TD Curran in Bellingham getting new life.

On Sunday morning September 28, 2014, I shot the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon for The Bellingham Herald. It is an epic race that goes from the Lummi Nation School at Gooseberry Point to downtown Bellingham, Wash.

And it started at 7:30 a.m. so I had to get up before dawn and drive the 20 miles to the school.

Leading the Pack:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Steve DeKoker, center (1), of Seattle begins the 26.2 mile run of the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon run from Lummi Nation School to downtown Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. DeKoker won the men’s division with a time of 2 hrs., 30.51 mins.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Steve DeKoker, center (1), of Seattle begins the 26.2 mile run of the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon run from Lummi Nation School to downtown Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. DeKoker won the men’s division with a time of 2 hrs., 30.51 mins.

The night before, I studied the map and planned my shoot. It was fairly simple, but I also had to negotiate around the various roadblocks while leaving myself some time to get downtown to shoot the winners as they crossed the finish line.

My plan was simple. Photograph three things to have somewhat complete coverage:

  • The Start
  • A water station
  • The Finish

Emergence:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - The first female runner approaches the 10 mile marker on Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon on Sunday morning September 28, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – The first female runner approaches the 10 mile marker on Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon on Sunday morning September 28, 2014.

I wanted to photograph the start so I could get the runners compressed together and show how many there were. To do this, I arrived about an hour early t check out all the different angles. It wasn’t that spectacular, but you work with what you’re given.

Big Sky Country:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Runners push past fog envoloped fields along Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Steve DeKoker of Seattle won the men’s category with a time of 2 hrs., 30.51 mins. Rika Hatachi of Coquitlan, B.C., won the woman’s with a time of 3 hrs., 2.24 mins.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Runners push past fog enveloped fields along Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Steve DeKoker of Seattle won the men’s category with a time of 2 hrs., 30.51 mins. Rika Hatachi of Coquitlan, B.C., won the woman’s with a time of 3 hrs., 2.24 mins.

As I wanted somewhat good coverage, I then headed to one of the 3 or 4 watering stations to photograph the volunteers as they gave runners water and snacks. I picked one about 1/2 through the marathon as I wanted to leave myself some time to negotiate the road closures downtown. The station I picked was at mile 10 in the race along Red River Road. It was hosted by volunteers from the Whatcom Football Club Rangers, a local soccer club that has a lot of teams from ages 12 up.

Supply & Demand:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - (l to r) Dylan McCoy, 10; Grace Meyer, 11;  Grace Holzer, 11, and Melissa Meyer hand water and cheer on a runner at the 10 mile marker on Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon  on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Meyers says the volunteer group is with the Whatcom Football Club Ranger soccer team.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – (l to r) Dylan McCoy, 10; Grace Meyer, 11; Grace Holzer, 11, and Melissa Meyer hand water and cheer on a runner at the 10 mile marker on Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Meyers says the volunteer group is with the Whatcom Football Club Ranger soccer team.

The fog was particularly heavy here as it sat next to a stream. So I wanted to work with that and try to capture runners as they emerged from the fog. Within 15 minutes of me arriving, the first runner, Steve DeKoker of Seattle, came through being followed by a Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputy on motorcycle. Had it not been for the flashing lights of the officer, I would have not seen him come out of the fog.

Watering Hole:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Tommy Meyer, 9, grabs more water cups while volunteering at the 10 mile marker on Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon  on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Group leader Melissa Meyers says the volunteer group is with the Whatcom Football Club Ranger soccer team.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Tommy Meyer, 9, grabs more water cups while volunteering at the 10 mile marker on Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Group leader Melissa Meyers says the volunteer group is with the Whatcom Football Club Ranger soccer team.

For me to feel that I worked the watering station properly, I shot from above, below, and worked various angles and places. Shot wide, medium, tight and then stretched. Here’s a quick tutorial of how I work a situation: Wide, Medium, Tight – Then Stretch.

Getting Low:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Volunteers from the Whatcom FC Rangers  hand water and cheer on runners at the 10 mile marker on Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon  on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Group leader Melissa Meyers says the volunteer group is with the Whatcom Football Club Ranger soccer team.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Volunteers from the Whatcom FC Rangers hand water and cheer on runners at the 10 mile marker on Red River Road in Whatcom County during the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Group leader Melissa Meyers says the volunteer group is with the Whatcom Football Club Ranger soccer team.

When I dropped down, I got up close to one of the kids as they were holding a cup and worked it so you could see her hand holding the cup with runners as they passed. I was hoping for someone to pick her cup as I wanted a runner’s hand getting it with the layers of others in the background. I got something, but it’s one of the “Almost” photos.

Celebration:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Women's winner Rika Hatachi of Coquitlan, B.C., celebrates her victory at the finish line of the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon at Depot Market Square in downtown Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Hatachi won the women's category with a time of 3 hrs., 2.24 mins.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Women’s winner Rika Hatachi of Coquitlan, B.C., celebrates her victory at the finish line of the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon at Depot Market Square in downtown Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. Hatachi won the women’s category with a time of 3 hrs., 2.24 mins.

After the first 50 or so runners went through, I decided to make my way to the finish line. Along the way, I stopped to photograph the runners as they passed freshly harvested fields. The Sun was peeking through the thick fog and made for some nice photos.

Exhausted:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Men's winner Steve DeKoker pauses for a rest at the finish line of the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon at Depot Market Square in downtown Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. DeKoker won the event with a time of 2 hrs., 30.51 minutes.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Men’s winner Steve DeKoker pauses for a rest at the finish line of the 2014 Bellingham Bay Marathon at Depot Market Square in downtown Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday morning September 28, 2014. DeKoker won the event with a time of 2 hrs., 30.51 minutes.

Overall, I feel that I did a pretty decent job. I got some nice creative shots as well as what I like to call “Cover Your Butt” photos. The basic ones you should really make sure you get.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on these various Social Networks:

  1. Follow Me on Google+
  2. “Like” my Page on Facebook
  3. Follow me on Twitter
  4. Follow me on Pinterest

Paul is a Seattle-based photojournalist specializing in news, sports, travel, and portraiture. He also photographs weddings and portraits in Bellingham, Whatcom County, and Skagit County.

He is available for assignments in the Pacific Northwest. Contact him at paulconradphotography@gmail.com or (206) 450-8632 for availability.

Dirty Girls & Boys: Whatcom County’s Most Fun Mud Run

I had to write a catchy headline to get folks onto my blog. After all, sex does sell.

This past weekend the local chapter of Muds to Suds held their 3rd annual Muds to Suds Race at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Almost 2000 people participated in the fund-raiser. This year, the recipient was the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. It was an assignment for The Bellingham Herald.

Slated as “Whatcom County’s Most Fun Mud Run,” just observing and documenting it made me chuckle. It was an awesome event to cover.

Splish Splash!!!

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Hannah Scarth of Arlington, Wash., dives head first into the Holee Kow mud pit during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Hannah Scarth of Arlington, Wash., dives head first into the Holee Kow mud pit during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

For large events like this, I like to do some research. I focus on the course and what other elements are planned. There was to be a food court area, a kids mud pit, and a bouncy castle.

Naptime:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Ty Warner, 9, of Ferndale, Wash., lies in foam at the Suds Box obstacle during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Ty Warner, 9, of Ferndale, Wash., lies in foam at the Suds Box obstacle.

One of the things I paid particular attention to was the course map. I needed to find know where the good obstacles were so I can capture the best images. Certain ones were boring, others hinted of great photo opportunities.

Many of the racers were there for fun. Dressed in some form of costume or outfit. There was multiple Wonder Women, The Flash, a drove of pigs, men and women in tutus, and even one dressed as the Heinz Ketchup bottle.

Wonder Women:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Racers climb out of the Holee Kow mud pit during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – A team of Wonder Women climb out of the Holee Kow mud pit.

And as per my modus operandi, I follow the old axiom: Arrive Early, Stay late. This gives me time to survey the scene, find out who’s in charge so I can ask questions, and a time to decompress a little so I can put my game face on.

Crown of Foam:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Nympha Evans (cq) of Oak Harbor, Wash., plunges into the Mud Pit Swim & Slide during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Nympha Evans of Oak Harbor, Wash., plunges into the Swim & Slide.

I talked with asst. race coordinator Sara Buchanan about the course, how many participants, who is the recipient of the raised funds, average time to complete the course, and any other questions that arose.

Superwomen:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Lexi Warnke, left, and her mother Jessica Warnke of Mt. Vernon, slide through the Suds Box during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Lexi Warnke, left, and her mother Jessica Warnke of Mt. Vernon, slide through the Suds Box at the end of the course.

As the racers were started every 20 minutes, I had a chance to get different starts. But those tended to be boring so I walked the course backwards. This allowed me time to find an obstacle that would get me good visuals. Plus, with starts every 20 minutes, I didn’t have to wait long to photograph a group of competitors splashing in the mud.

FLASH!!!

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - The Flash runs the obstacle course during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – The Flash runs the obstacle course. His time was too fast to record.

It took photographing one group of people for me to realized the toughest part of this job will be to get names. As I shot the participants, they would run past me on their way towards the finish line.

Big Splash:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - A competitor plunges into the deep foam of the  Mud Pit Slip & Slide during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – A competitor plunges into the deep foam of the Slip & Slide. This is one instance where I didn’t get a name due to the number of people I was photographing. However, it’s still a pretty good image for an online gallery.

As these were for publication, I needed to get names. You can publish photos of people without using their names, papers do it all the time. However, I believe it’s not only ethical, but just plain polite to get names. After all, if you saw your photo in the newspaper and your name was missing, wouldn’t you be a little upset?

So I’d photograph a few people then chase them down, write a quick description of what they were wearing, and then their name. For multiple people, I’d line them up in the order I wrote the names.

Anticipation:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - A competitor dives into a mud pit during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – A competitor dives into the Slime Time mud pit. Another instance where there were som many people it was difficult getting names. I heard him whooping and hollering as he was running up before the dive in.

That’s the beauty of digital: you can shoot a quick photo of them to make sure you can correlate the name with the correct people. No ambiguity.

Not only that, you can quickly preview what you shot to see if you even want to use the photo. It sorta goes against what I believe in not editing in camera nor during a shoot. But in circumstances such as this, it’s almost a necessity.

Leader of the Pack:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Ty Warner, 9, of Ferndale, Wash., leads his team , USTA Martial Arts, out of the Holee Kow (cq) mud pit during the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Ty Warner, 9, leads his team , USTA Martial Arts, through the Holee Kow mud pit.

Unfortunately, upon editing the photos, there’s always a few that you missed. Those can be reserved for the online use in slide shows with creative captions.

With so much going on, it’s best to focus on only one aspect. Concentrate on just one obstacle. Another reason it’s important to arrive early to an event. Get your bearings and make a plan. If you go in blind, you will shoot haphazardly and will end up missing some great shots.

End of the Line:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Tonia Altinger, left, and Caelyn Pfarc, both from Camono Island, celebrate completing the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Tonia Altinger, left, and Caelyn Pfarc, both from Camano Island, celebrate completing the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race.

What are some of you tricks or techniques you do to make shooting an event easy? Do you pre plan? Or wing it when the time arrives?

Resolution of Endurance:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Images from the 3rd annual Mud to Suds race on Saturday morning August 16, 2014, at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Nearly 2000 people ran the 2.5 mile course negotiating 22 obstacles including mud-filled pits, hay bales, and a soap foam tunnel. The event raised funds for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – A competitor celebrates with oy at the end of the line in the Foam Box.

For more Muds to Suds photos, visit my gallery 3rd annual Muds to Suds

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on these various Social Networks:

  1. Follow Me on Google+
  2. “Like” my Page on Facebook
  3. Follow me on Twitter
  4. Follow me on Pinterest

Paul Conrad is an award-winning, nationally published freelance photographer living in Bellingham, Wash., in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazine throughout the United States and in Europe.

His specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings. He is available for short-term and long-term assignments.

Anchor’s Aweigh: The Bellingham Youth Regatta

Saturday was a fun day. I hit the road for a shoot down in Lake Samish south of Bellingham, Wash. The 34th annual Lake Samish Swim. It’s not a big crowd draw but it was fun to shoot. Challenging, yet fun. I’ll post something Thursday about it.

Then after that, I headed to Squalicum Harbor to meet with the organizers of the 2014 Bellingham Youth Regatta. I called on Friday to secure a place on a boat. This was so I didn’t shoot from shore and get a lot of relatively lame, distant photos. Both assignments for The Bellingham Herald.

Forgive me if I get the sailing nomenclature wrong. I was in the Navy, but my ship was huge and we used different terms. I was also an electrician, not a boatswain’s mate.

Every Other One:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Racers in the FJ class turn towards the second marker after completing their turn from the first during the annual Bellingham Youth Regatta on Saturday afternoon August 9, 2014, on Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Wash. Dozens of youth from ages 6 and up raced in 5 categories.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Racers in the FJ class turn towards the second marker after completing their turn from the first during the annual Bellingham Youth Regatta on Saturday afternoon August 9, 2014, on Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Wash.

From the shore, I wouldn’t have been able to get any good images. Especially close-ups showing the faces of the competitors. The regatta was held pretty much in the middle of Bellingham Bay. I would’ve needed a super-telephoto lens to even get close. I’m glad I took the initiative.

Ahead of the Pack:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Will Beckman and Cale Simms lead the course toward the last marker in the second race of the FJ division of the annual Bellingham Youth Regatta on Saturday afternoon August 9, 2014, on Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Wash. Dozens of youth from ages 6 and up raced in 5 categories.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Will Beckman and Cale Simms lead the course toward the last marker in the second race of the FJ division of the annual Bellingham Youth Regatta on Saturday afternoon August 9, 2014, on Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Wash.

Another fortunate thing: I was placed on a boat with “The Two Bruces.” They were hilarious and gave me a few laughs. Their camaraderie was refreshing. The pilot Bruce made sure I was in the spot to get the shots I needed. Because of this I was able to get those tacking shots where the sailors really leaned over the side to make sure they didn’t tip over.

Really Leaning:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Eliza Dawson of Port Townsend leans hard while tacking during the second race of the Laser class during the annual Bellingham Youth Regatta on Saturday afternoon August 9, 2014, on Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Wash. Dozens of youth from ages 6 and up raced in 5 categories.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Eliza Dawson of Port Townsend leans hard while tacking during the second race of the Laser class during the annual Bellingham Youth Regatta on Saturday afternoon August 9, 2014, on Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Wash.

During the races, I noticed on sailer on a Laser Radial really able to complete a rolling tack by flopping to the other side of his boat. I paid close attention to him as he tacked his way towards the finish line.

Sailor Drew Bennett really pushed hard to turn his boat. He went from one side to the other like a rabbit being chased by a fox. His technique was flawless. At one point, we all thought he may go a bit too far and end up over the side.

Really Leaning Two:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Drew Bennett leans hard while tacking as he competes in the second race in the laser category of the annual Bellingham Youth Regatta on Saturday afternoon August 9, 2014, on Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Wash. Dozens of youth from ages 6 and up raced in 5 categories.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Drew Bennett leans hard while tacking as he competes in the second race in the laser class of the annual Bellingham Youth Regatta on Saturday afternoon August 9, 2014, on Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Wash.

It wasn’t until I downloaded my images back at the herald that I noticed some shots I hadn’t before. I didn’t feel comfortable chimping through my images in a small rocking boat. My mind was more focused on shooting frames and staying steady. Plus the glare off the water made it impossible.

Finding His Spot:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Casey Pickett looks for an open spot as he finishes a rolling tack during the annual Bellingham Youth Regatta on Saturday afternoon August 9, 2014, on Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Wash. Dozens of youth from ages 6 and up raced in 5 categories.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Casey Pickett looks for an open spot as he finishes a rolling tack during the annual Bellingham Youth Regatta on Saturday afternoon August 9, 2014, on Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Wash.

I think the hardest thing to do was not only get in a spot, but also get a good exposure. It is the main reason in general why I shoot in RAW. I know the old, tired argument, but the reality is, RAW gives you more latitude and for all intents and purposes, you just get a more workable file.

Against the Harbor:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Youth in the Opti racing division begin their approach to the finish line during the first race of the annual Bellingham Youth Regatta on Saturday afternoon August 9, 2014, on Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Wash. Dozens of youth from ages 6 and up raced in 5 categories.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Youth in the Opti racing division begin their approach to the finish line during the first race of the annual Bellingham Youth Regatta on Saturday afternoon August 9, 2014, on Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Wash.

Case in point: the ability of the camera to record detail is greater than what it will write in a jpg format. This shoot made it necessary as the Sun glinting off the waves would trick the meter.  And for me to combat the tricky light, I shot on manual using the good ol’ Sunny 16 and underexposed by one stop.

For the images, I used my 80-200 exclusively. There was no need for me to bring my 17-35, but I had it in case. I really should have shot a few photos of The Two Bruces for this blog at least. Without their help, the shoot would’ve been impossible.

Full On Racing:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Will Beckman and Cale Simms lead the course in the second race of the FJ division of the annual Bellingham Youth Regatta on Saturday afternoon August 9, 2014, on Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Wash. Dozens of youth from ages 6 and up raced in 5 categories.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – A plane takes off from Bellingham Airports as Will Beckman and Cale Simms (hid by sail) lead the course in the second race of the FJ division of the annual Bellingham Youth Regatta on Saturday afternoon August 9, 2014, on Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Wash.

More images can be found on The Bellingham Herald’s website at 2014 Bellingham Youth Regatta.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on these various Social Networks:

  1. Follow Me on Google+
  2. “Like” my Page on Facebook
  3. Follow me on Twitter
  4. Follow me on Pinterest

Sprint Car Racing!!! The 2104 Clay Cup Nationals in Deming, Wash.

The smell of gasoline and odor of burnt rubber permeated my nostrils. The roar of the engines deafened me as the midsummer heat bore down.

Sprint car racing. I had an idea what it was, but actually had to go online to look at a few races to get a feel for it.

On of my assignments this week for The Bellingham Herald was to cover the first night of the night of the annual Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Deming, Wash.

At the Wheel:

Spencer Constance, 16. of Snohomish, Wash., prepares for his time on the track during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash.,  on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. Constance races in the 600-Restricted divsion in the races.  The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint  races continue through Saturday July 19th.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Spencer Constance, 16. of Snohomish, Wash., prepares for his time on the track during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. Constance races in the 600-Restricted division in the races. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint races continue through Saturday July 19th.

Sprint car racing is different from NASCAR or Formula 1 in that the track is much shorter, the races are held in heats of 6 to 8 cars, and the winner based on best lap times.

Losing Control:

Michael Faccinto (7J) leads the pack around turn 1 as Spud Allen (right) begins to lose control during the 600 division race of the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash.,  on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014.  The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint  races continue through Saturday July 19th.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Michael Faccinto (7J) leads the pack around turn 1 as Spud Allen (right) begins to lose control during the 600 division race of the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint races continue through Saturday July 19th.

So honoring the old photojournalist adage “Arrive Early, Stay Late,” I got there about 5:45 or so about an hour before the main races. I had no contact at the course and didn’t have a pass, but using honesty and charm, I was able to get a pit pass for access in the center of the track.

Tire Change:

Kurt Erickson of Port Orchard, Wash., struggles to change a tire during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint  races continue through Saturday July 19th.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Kurt Erickson of Port Orchard, Wash., struggles to change a tire during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint races continue through Saturday July 19th.

I wanted more than just “cars going around a track” photos. I wanted some personal, intimate images of people working in the pits fixing cars, drivers preparing for the race, and general activity.

The Stands:

The crowds watch the qualifying races during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash.,  on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint  races continue through Saturday July 19th.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – The crowds watch the qualifying races during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint races continue through Saturday July 19th.

A shot I tried to get was the cars as they pass in front of the stands, I wanted the stands sharp but the cars blurred to show how fast they were going.

I tried various shutter speeds, but the cars were so fast, that even at 1/500th, they were really blurred.

 

One word of advice: Pay Attention To Your Surroundings.

While shooting the portrait of the kid in the cockpit, when he started his car, it was still in gear and it jumped hitting my shin. Yep, I have a slight bruise. But it was a little wake-up call, so to speak, for me to pay attention.

Line-Up:

Scenes from the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash.,  on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint  races continue through Saturday July 19th.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Scenes from the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint races continue through Saturday July 19th.

While in the pits, I also worked the cars on the track. They were running time trials so only 2 cars at a time were racing.

Using panning to accentuate speed, I spent about 20 minutes shooting cars. It quickly got boring and in reality, how many shots of cars do you really need? As I had no specific subject, I paid attention to who the leaders were and made sure I had images of them as backup.

Rescue:

Carson Trigueiro is helped out of his wrecked racer by rescue personnel during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash.,  on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint  races continue through Saturday July 19th.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Carson Trigueiro is helped out of his wrecked racer by rescue personnel during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint races continue through Saturday July 19th.

My deadline also prevented me from staying the entire race. It’s a 45 minute drive from Deming to downtown Bellingham. I had to leave by 8:30 to leave me plenty of time to download, edit, caption, and input the photos.

I barely made deadline. But I made it.

Stacked Up:

Kris Labree (13), left, and Dahnelynn McKay (79M) lead the pack as they come down the track during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash.,  on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint  races continue through Saturday July 19th.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Kris Labree (13), left, and Dahnelynn McKay (79M) lead the pack as they come down the track during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint races continue through Saturday July 19th.

After spending most of the time in the pits, at about 8:00 I crossed over during a pause in the racing. I also wanted to get a few photos of racers sliding around the far corner, stacked up after restart, and any other action not visible from the pits.

The pit is surrounded by a 7 foot chain-link fence and according to safety rules, you can’t get on the blocks to get a clear view. There were a few spots you can stand on to get over, but the safety officials were adamant you didn’t lean on the fence.

Sun Beams:

The Sun filters through trees while a racer rounds the course during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash.,  on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint  races continue through Saturday July 19th.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – The Sun filters through trees while a racer rounds the course during the 2014 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway in Everson, Wash., on Thursday evening July 17 , 2014. The Clay Cup Nationals mini sprint races continue through Saturday July 19th.

At about the time I was leaving, the Sun began shining through the trees at the other end of the track. I worked a few frames and as I was shooting, the sun began to reflect off the track itself. It was rather cool looking.

To view more images of the race, visit the gallery 2014 Clay Cup Nationals on The Bellingham Herald’s website.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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Ski to Sea: A Challenge to Cover the Cross Country Biking Segment

I was cold, muddy, sweaty, and exhausted when I walked into The Bellingham Herald’s newsroom. My feet were soaked, my pants from my knees to my boots slathered in mud, and every bone in my body ached.

It was a good day. A very good day. Shooting the Ski to Sea endurance race with hugely satisfying.

Energizing For His Turn

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Ian Murray of Canmore, Alberta, hydrates prior to the start of the mountain biking leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday, May 25, 2014 in Ferndale, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Ian Murray of Canmore, Alberta, hydrates before the start of the mountain biking leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday afternoon May 25, 2014 in Ferndale, Wash.

It began about 10ish when I arrive at Hovender Homestead Park in Ferndale. My job is to cover the sixth leg, cross-country biking, of the race. I was so early, only volunteers and a few hardy racers were there. Although the race was officially underway, there was an expected wait of nearly two hours before even the fastest racers would arrive.

Free Inspections and Tune-ups:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Josh Poulsen with Brown Dog Bikes of Belligham adjusts the front derailleur of a bike while giving courtesy inspections during the mountain biking leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday, May 25, 2014 in Ferndale, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Josh Poulsen with Brown Dog Bikes of Bellingham adjusts the front derailleur of a bike while giving courtesy inspections during the mountain biking leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday afternoon May 25, 2014 in Ferndale, Wash.

While waiting, I chatted with race officials and volunteers. One of the topics of conversations was how high the river is. Usually, the canoers had at least 100 yards of a sandbar to land on for the exchange to take place. However, this year the landing spot was less than 10 yards of shoreline which would make it a tough challenge when more than two or three canoes arrived at one time.

Age is NOT a Barrier:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Nick Bauer, left, and Jim Bauer carry their canoe out of the Nooksack River to begin the cross country 3biking leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday, May 25, 2014 in Ferndale, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Nick Bauer and Jim Bauer carry their canoe out of the Nooksack River to begin the cross-country biking leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday afternoon May 25, 2014 in Ferndale, Wash.

Although I’ve shot many endurance races and competitions when I worked at The Aspen Times in Colorado, Ski to Sea was a completely new thing for me. So the day before the race, I talked with Andy who gave me a few tips on shooting that particular leg:

Up & Over The Bars:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Larson Loeb of OOO-UM-GOW-AH flies over his handlebars as he attempts to ride over obstacles at Hovender Park during the mountain biking leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday, May 25, 2014 in Ferndale, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Larson Loeb of OOO-UM-GOW-AH flies over his handlebars as he attempts to ride over obstacles at Hovender Park during the mountain biking leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday afternoon May 25, 2014 in Ferndale, Wash.

  1.  Arrive Early
  2.  Shoot the first men’s and woman’s teams as they handed off the timer
  3.  Drive along the bike route and look for angles
  4. Go to Squalicum Park where there is some good vantage points and compositions

Incoming Canoers:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - "Boats & Hose" team members Collin Murphy and Andy Millard paddle towards the end of the canoe leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday, May 25, 2014 in Ferndale, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – “Boats & Hose” team members Collin Murphy and Andy Millard paddle towards the end of the canoe leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday, May 25, 2014 in Ferndale, Wash.

So, I arrived early. While there talked with people and figured out what was going on. Shot what I could of the begging leg of this segment.

Next, I drove along the route finding fields to photograph as the riders went through. I stopped along several spots but found only one that resembled them biking something that looked “cross-country.”

Easy Riding:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham - Dan Garrison of Team Mandelbaums traverses on open field along Labounty Road in the mountain biking leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday, May 25, 2014 in Ferndale, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham – Dan Garrison of “Team Mandelbaums” traverses on open field along Labounty Road in the mountain biking leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday afternoon May 25, 2014, outside of Ferndale, Wash.

After half an hour of that, I went to Squalicum Park. Unfortunately, the winding trails usually ridden by the bikers were closed due to construction of new baseball/softball diamonds. But I was able to find a corner they came around at a pretty good speed, so as they rode past me, I used panning to capture that sense of speed.

Speed Demon:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Stephanie Ludlow with Team Anteverted Hipsters screams around a corner in Squalicum Park during the mountain biking leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday, May 25, 2014 in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Stephanie Ludlow with the team “Anteverted Hipsters” screams around a corner in Squalicum Park during the mountain biking leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday afternoon May 25, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

A few tips on panning:

  • Panning takes a bit of practice, but it’s easy to do. First, plant your feet parallel of the direction of travel that your subject is going. Next, use a slow shutter speed and tiny aperture. The key is you want the subject sharp with the background/foreground blurred.
  • You begin following your subject and then when the subject is almost directly in front of you, begin firing off a few frames. The reason you wait is so you can center your subject in the frame and judge its speed better so you get a good image.

After leaving the park, I was driving along Squalicum Parkway and noticed the bikers riding an abandoned set of railroad tracks. As there was nowhere I could park, I drove slow to see if I could find a trail that led to them.

Huffing Up the Last Hill:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Kevin Bowman, right, with 676-GARY crests a hill as Emily Hirsch-Burdick with SFH-GET TO DA DOCTAA! begins her climb along Squalicum Parkway during  the mountain biking leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday, May 25, 2014 in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Kevin Bowman, right, with “676-GARY” crests a hill as Emily Hirsch-Burdick with “SFH-GET TO DA DOCTAA!” begins her climb along Squalicum Parkway during the mountain biking leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday afternoon May 25, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

At the end, I noticed the bikers coming up a small hill pushing their bikes. I parked just before that spot and checked it out. I then went to check it out and noticed the long tree tunnel the riders went through.

Tunnel Vision:

©Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Megan Struther with Gates Of Hell, right, rides past Christie Duque of Aint No Mountain High Enough as she carries her bike along Squalicum Parkway during the cross country biking leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday, May 25, 2014 in Bellingham, Wash. Duque broke her chain riding the rough railroad tracks along the road.

©Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Megan Struther with “Gates Of Hell,” right, rides past Christie Duque of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” as she carries her bike along Squalicum Parkway during the cross-country biking leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea Race on Sunday afternoon May 25, 2014 in Bellingham, Wash. Duque broke her chain riding the rough railroad tracks along the road.

So I spent a few minutes shooting this beautiful composition of the bikers riding through this section of trail and then pushing their bikes up the muddy hill. While shooting it, I noticed one of the riders carrying her bike. Her chain came off the front sprocket due to the rough trail.

It was an incredibly fun and satisfying day. Which probably explains why I was so tired at the end of the day. That or the 5 miles my pedometer says I walked.

For more photos from this section of Ski to Sea, view this slide show on The Bellingham Herald website: Ski to Sea Cross-Country Biking.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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