race

The 2014 October Challenge Swim Meet

Sometimes, the most seeming disorganized event can be the pearl in the oyster when it comes to images. Case in point, the 2014 October Challenge Swim Meet in Bellingham, Wash., at the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center on Saturday Oct. 11th.

The Bellingham Bay Swim Team sponsored meet featured over 300 swimmers in five teams from the Pacific Northwest. Swimmers in high school and below competed in many different events.

Butterfly:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Cole Avery, 17, of Bellingham, Wash., competes in the 200 yard butterfly during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hannah Aquatic Center  in Bellingham on Saturday afternoon Oct. 11, 2014. Avery ended with a time of 1:57.16 winning the event.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Cole Avery, 17, of Bellingham, Wash., competes in the 200 yard butterfly during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hanna Aquatic Center in Bellingham on Saturday afternoon Oct. 11, 2014. Avery ended with a time of 1:57.16 winning the event.

The first thing I did was find and introduce myself to one of the hosting coaches. It’s a good idea to let them know you’re there and shooting. Make sure you get a roster and list of events from the coach. You need to keep track of the races you shoot and the competitors names.

Warming Up:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Swimmers warm up during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hannah Aquatic Center  in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Oct. 11, 2014. Over 300 swimmers up to age 18 from four swimming teams in the Pacific Northwest participated in the competition.The annual event is hosted by the Bellingham Bay Swim Team.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Swimmers warm up during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hanna Aquatic Center in Bellingham, Wash.

What I usually do is take a photo of the scoring board before the event starts so I know what event and heat number is competing. Then I focus on the faster swimmers to see who is more aggressive. Those are the ones that will get you a good facial expression as they are trying harder.

Breast Stroke:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Rowan King, 15, of Bellingham, competes in the 200 yard breaststroke during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hannah Aquatic Center  in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Oct. 11, 2014. Over 300 swimmers up to age 18 from four swimming teams in the Pacific Northwest participated in the competition.The annual event is hosted by the Bellingham Bay Swim Team.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Rowan King, 15, of Bellingham, competes in the 200 yard breaststroke during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hanna Aquatic Center in Bellingham, Wash.

As I shot, I circled the name of the competitor I concentrated on then verified the name with the coach when I had a few moments. I also shot the scoring board after each event to get the time. And then when it switched I shot another. Doing that bookmarked the series of images so I could get the correct identity of the event and swimmer.

Cheering:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - As their teammate Rowan King, 15, approaches the edge, Cole Avery, 17, of Bellingham, left, and Kean Rouse, 16, of Ferndale, cheer him on as he competes in the 200 yard breaststroke during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hannah Aquatic Center  in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Oct. 11, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – As their teammate Rowan King, 15, approaches the edge, Cole Avery, 17, of Bellingham, left, and Kean Rouse, 16, of Ferndale, cheer him on as he competes in the 200 yard breaststroke/

Here’s a few tips:

Get Low: Don’t be afraid to get a little wet. Lay down at the edge of the pool where the swimmers turn around. Laying down gives you a better angle to capture the faces as they swim. Except the backstroke swimmers.

Protect Your Gear: This may sound like common sense but keep your camera bag and extra gear to the side away from the pool and away from the swimmers. Make sure your bag is closed. I inadvertently left mine open and a swimmer who had just finished, began to drip water in it. They were unaware. Luckily, just a few drops made it in. But keep it closed, covered, and on a shelf away from spectators and swimmers.

Breaking Through:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Rowan King, 15, of Bellingham, Wash., comes out of the water as he competes in the 200 yard breaststroke during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hannah Aquatic Center  in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Oct. 11, 2014. Over 300 swimmers up to age 18 from four swimming teams in the Pacific Northwest participated in the competition.The annual event is hosted by the Bellingham Bay Swim Team.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Rowan King, 15, of Bellingham, Wash., comes out of the water as he competes in the 200 yard breaststroke.

White Balance: Due to the fluctuating color balance, like in High School football stadiums, leave set it to automatic. This is to get a more correct exposure meter reading and make it easier to keep your colors “accurate” during your workflow.  When shooting, you’ll notice the color change frame to frame as you scroll through your images.

Exposure. Most my images were exposed about 1/3 to 2/3 under. I wanted a fast shutter speed and the pool was dark. It was cloudy out and the windows are on the north side of the pool so it doesn’t get direct sun. So to keep a reasonably fast shutter, I underexposed a touch.

Backstroke:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - McKenzie Pham with the Bellingham Bay Swim Team compets in the 200 yard backstroke during the 2014 October Challenge swimming competition at Arne Hannah Aquatic Center  in Bellingham, Wash., on Saturday afternoon Oct. 11, 2014. Over 300 swimmers up to age 18 from four swimming teams in the Pacific Northwest participated in the competition.The annual event is hosted by the Bellingham Bay Swim Team.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – McKenzie Pham with the Bellingham Bay Swim Team competes in the 200 yard backstroke.

Aperture: Keep it around f/4. You want a little depth of field but not too much as you want to keep your shutter speed fast. But don’t forget to get creative and play with slow shutter speeds.

Lenses: I used both my 80-200 and 17-35. The wider focal lengths for features and the longer for competition shots. With the exception of a few shots when I first arrived, I avoided using  the wide lens as that meant getting close to the pool and increasing the chance my gear will get splashed.

******  Waterproof Housing: Although I wanted to, I was not able to use my underwater housing. I have a Ewa Marine U-BFZ100 that I like to take so I can get a few underwater shots. However, as the officials don’t allow being in the pool, usually I lay on my belly, and stick the camera as far down into the water as possible. But the design of the pool dictates that and this pool’s sides were not conducive.

Example of an Underwater Shot

©Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Aspen High freshman Keely Roberts approaches the middle of her 6th lap during the 500 yard freestyle of the Tri-Met at the Aspen Recreation Center in Aspen. Roberts won with a time of 6:53.13.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Aspen High freshman Keely Roberts approaches the middle of her 6th lap during the 500 yard freestyle of the Tri-Met at the Aspen Recreation Center in Aspen. Roberts won with a time of 6:53.13.

 

 

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, and 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, feature, 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.

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.

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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The 2014 Bellingham Regatta and 31st Annual Birch Bay Sculpture Contest

In a continuing series of posts to help me catch up now that I’ve my computer back, this one is about the Bellingham Regatta and the Birch Bay Sculpture Contest.

31st Annual Birch Bay Sand Sculpture Contest:

Tools of the Trade:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  Tools of the trade lie in the sand of Birch Bay Beach during the 31st Annual Birch Bay Sand Sculpture Contest on Saturday  morning June 14, 2014, in Birch Bay, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Tools of the trade lie in the sand of Birch Bay Beach during the 31st Annual Birch Bay Sand Sculpture Contest.

On Saturday June 21st, I had two assignments for The Bellingham Herald. One was the Bellingham Regatta and the other was the 31st annual Birch Bay Sand Sculpture contest.

Touching Up:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Randy Behnke of Bellingham gingerly smoothes the sand around the base of his team's sand sculpture Pete's Dragon during The 31st Annual Birch Bay Sand Sculpture Contest  on Birch Bay Beach on Saturday  morning June 14, 2014, in Birch Bay, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Randy Behnke of Bellingham gingerly smooths the sand around the base of his team’s sand sculpture Pete’s Dragon during The 31st Annual Birch Bay Sand Sculpture Contest on Birch Bay Beach on Saturday morning June 14, 2014, in Birch Bay, Wash.

Technically, I was accidentally sent the assignment for the sand sculpture contest. I only discovered that tidbit of information an hour into shooting it when I ran into another freelancer Daniel Pickard. So I let Daniel complete the assignment without me bothering him and headed off  to the Regatta.

Gathering Supplies:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Isabell Thompson and Kalia Trent, both 8, walk past Zombies after gathering supplies for their sculpture during t he 31st Annual Birch Bay Sand Sculpture Contest  on Birch Bay Beach on Saturday  morning June 14, 2014, in Birch Bay, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Isabell Thompson and Kalia Trent, both 8, walk past Zombies after gathering supplies for their sculpture during t he 31st Annual Birch Bay Sand Sculpture Contest on Birch Bay Beach.

One of my pet peeves working for papers is when photographers are doubled-up on assignments. Unless it’s major breaking news or a super huge event, you tend to get in each other’s way and step on their toes. It was always confusing to a subject when you identified yourself and with a confused look on their face mention the other photographer.

The annual family oriented contest is sponsored by the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce. Hundreds gather to not only compete, but to observe the construction process and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Building a Turtle:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Corrine Campion, 6, works on her sculpture "Yertle the Turtle" during the 31st Annual Birch Bay Sand Sculpture Contest on Birch Bay Beach on Saturday morning June 14, 2014, in Birch Bay, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Corrine Campion, 6, works on her sculpture “Yertle the Turtle” during the 31st Annual Birch Bay Sand Sculpture Contest on Birch Bay Beach on Saturday morning June 14, 2014, in Birch Bay, Wash.

For more photos of the competition, visit 31st annual Birch Bay Sand Sculpture slide-show on The Bellingham Herald website.

Bellingham Regatta at Lake Padden:

The regatta was the Bellingham Canoe & Kayak Sprint Team‘s annual race. Teams from all over the Puget Sound were on hand to race in single, double and quad canoe and kayak sprints. The race is held at Lake Padden southeast of Bellingham on Samish Lake Road.

The annual race lengths were 100, 200, 500, and 1000 meters. The races are technically called sprints due to the short distance. Just like the 100 yard dash or 26 mile marathon.

First Place:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - (front to rear) Jonathan Branato, Jack Capper, Justin Barker, and Austin Warren with the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Club cross the finish line during the Men's 4C event of  the 2014 Bellingham Regatta hosted by the Bellingham Canoe & Kayak Sprint Team on Lake Padden on Saturday  morning June 14, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – (front to rear) Jonathan Branato, Jack Capper, Justin Barker, and Austin Warren with the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Club cross the finish line during the Men’s 4C event of the 2014 Bellingham Regatta hosted by the Bellingham Canoe & Kayak Sprint Team on Lake Padden on Saturday morning June 14, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

Shooting races is usually fun, but I really needed a 400mm or longer telephoto lens to get closer to the action. The race was in the middle of the lake with the finish line 50 to 75 yards off the shore. Not very photo friendly.

Checking Race Times:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Elana Eckert with the Bellingham Canoe & Kayak Sprint Team keeps tracks of the races and stats during 2014 Bellingham Regatta hosted by the BCKST on Lake Padden on Saturday  morning June 14, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Elana Eckert with the Bellingham Canoe & Kayak Sprint Team keeps tracks of the races and stats during 2014 Bellingham Regatta hosted by the BCKST on Lake Padden on Saturday morning June 14, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

Due to that, I stayed on the shore trying to get something good of the racers getting in and out of the water. Didn’t have a lot of luck with it though. Did get some photos of a hen and her ducklings.

Nap Time:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Helen Yip of Vancouver, B.C., naps under her umbrella during the 2014 Bellingham Regatta hosted by the Bellingham Canoe & Kayak Sprint Team on Lake Padden on Saturday  morning June 14, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Helen Yip of Vancouver, B.C., naps under her umbrella during the 2014 Bellingham Regatta hosted by the Bellingham Canoe & Kayak Sprint Team on Lake Padden on Saturday morning June 14, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

To top that off, the spectators were rather stoic. It was very hard to get any real emotion from winners as well. But I shot what I could. So I just stretched myself and got creative.

A Whole Lot of Boats:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - Spectators watch the 2014 Bellingham Regatta hosted by the Bellingham Canoe & Kayak Sprint Team on Lake Padden on Saturday  morning June 14, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Spectators watch the 2014 Bellingham Regatta hosted by the Bellingham Canoe & Kayak Sprint Team on Lake Padden on Saturday morning June 14, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

For the most part, it was a very difficult assignment to shoot. But I did what I could. I don’t think I failed, but I didn’t get what I really felt told the story of the races.

Mama!! Mama!!

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald - A mother duck and her two ducklings paddle away from competitors during the 2014 Bellingham Regatta hosted by the Bellingham Canoe & Kayak Sprint Team on Lake Padden on Saturday  morning June 14, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – A mother duck and her two ducklings paddle away from competitors during the 2014 Bellingham Regatta hosted by the Bellingham Canoe & Kayak Sprint Team on Lake Padden on Saturday morning June 14, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

For more photos of the regatta, visit 2014 Bellingham Regatta 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

Follow me on these various Social Networks:

  1. Follow Me on Google+
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