2016 Track Season Opener

*** Disclaimer:  This post is more of an update about where I’ve been since my last post.  Nothing earth shattering ***

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Well, it’s been over a year since I last posted.   Why?  Burn out!  2014 was super busy for my photography business.  I was shooting for 4 different track orgs, running my photo booth business, and working my normal full time job.  By the end of 2014 was just plain burnt out.  I had no time to do anything else and I mean zero.  My marriage suffered.  My work at my full time job suffered.  My passion for photography suffered.  By the end of 2014 I was ready to walk away from all my professional photography responsibilities.

For 2015 I took a step back and knew I had to cut back on my photography responsibilities if I wanted to keep my sanity.  As a result, I let go my shooting commitments to all but one track organization.  When the 2015 off season arrived, I spent some time trying to rekindle the amateur photographer in me by shooting things I had not already experienced;  bird photography.  Wow, now that is a difficult type of photography!

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Skagit Valley Eagles on January 7, 2016 at in Dening WA. Photo taken by Jason Tanaka

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Bird Photography on January 25, 2016 at in Stanwood WA. Photo taken by Jason Tanaka

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Bird Photography on January 25, 2016 at in Stanwood WA. Photo taken by Jason Tanaka

Well the 2016 track season is finally here and last Sunday was the 2-Fast season opener.  Beautiful day to be out and enjoying the sunshine!  Dusted off the ol’ cameras and got to work!

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2014 Track Season Opener

T3 at The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton WA. http://www.JasonTanaka.com


Ahh… Another track season is upon us. Time to dust off the big guy (Canon 400mm f2.8 L lens) and head out to the track. This year’s opener was a double with it being on a Saturday and Sunday. It was a bit rough getting back into the swing of things.
As with any other track season, I continue to look for new angles and locations to shoot on the track. I think I found a new angle, but it may be tough on days of variable lighting (patchy clouds). For sunny days where the lighting is consistent, I can put the camera in manual mode and set my exposure appropriately. This is new angle requires shooting against the sky and can throw off the camera’s metering. Using manual mode, I can set the camera to properly expose for the subject. Throw in mixed lighting and I can’t shoot in manual mode anymore. It’s going to be a challenge for sure!
I’ll keep looking for new angles… And saving my pennies for my next big lens…. Canon 600mm f4.0 L….

Mark of 2-Fast taking T3 at The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton WA. http://www.JasonTanaka.com

Light Balancing Act

At Myrtle Edwards park in Seattle with the old Seattle PI building as the backdrop. http://www.Jasontanaka.com

One of the things I really enjoy in photography is playing with strobes. I hear many photographers say they are ‘ambient’ photographers and I wonder why? Artificial light should be treated as another tool in a photographer’s bag of tricks. Master your strobes and master your lighting. Master your lighting and you’re one step closer to mastering photography.
Not being a master of anything yet, I try to find reasons to shoot with my strobes; little or big strobes. On Saturday, I practiced on balancing my strobe lighting against the power of the sun. Strobe vs. ambient. Since the ambient lighting is constant, there are two places where you can make adjustments to work with the ambient light; in camera and your strobes.
Generally speaking my workflow is as follows:
1. Think about how you want your photo to look. Without a target, how do you know where to aim?
2. Position the subject and evaluate the ambient light. This is the base that I work from.
3. Assuming my strobes have enough power to do what I want, I position them based on how I want the light to fall on my subject.
4. Power up the strobes at 1/2 power. This is normally my starting power level.
5. Test and calibrate the strobes. This is the tricky part.
A. With the camera in manual mode, compose my subject and set my camera settings to my desired exposure using only ambient light as the light source. Being mindful of my camera’s max sync speed, I may also use a couple different filters. Polarizers add some contrast, reduce glare, and add some pop to some colors. ND filter to knock down the strength of the ambient light. I have 2, 6, and 10 stop ND filters to play with. Generally the polarizer + 2 stop ND filter is enough to knock down the ambient lighting to a controllable level.
B. Power up your strobes, fire off a shot and evaluate. If the strobes do not provide enough light, I can either move the strobe(s), increase the strobe output or open up my aperture.
C. Repeat step 5B until I get the correct strobe exposure.

As I execute step 5, I ask myself a few things. Are my strobes to be the key light or just fill? If key, will they have enough juice to do what I want them to do? Should the expose of the ambient light be neutral or under? If underexposed, how much?

Behind the scenes, what the header images looks like as shot from the other side of the main bike. – http://www.jasontanaka.com

Behind the scenes with the big strobes. trying to overpower the sun which is opposite the strobes. – http://www.jasontanaka.com

Balancing ambient light and strobe light. – http://www.jasontanaka.com

Playing with the little strobes, I turn the crew into light stands. Why? Experimentation. – http://www.jasontanaka.com

Unintentional Twins Day

KTM Akrapovic RC8-R. – jasontanaka.com

Personal Projects; the key to keeping my photographic sanity

Ahh… With the end of spring and summer coming to a close, I finally get a chance to do some personal photography work. I just love not having the pressure to satisfy anyone but myself. No worries about making money. No concerns about making others happy. I get to work on something I enjoy doing. Personal projects reminds me of why I got into photography in the first place. These I call my amateur projects 🙂 I need to be more of an amateur…

Honda RC51 – jasontanaka.com

Aprilia RSVR Factory – jasontanaka.com

It’s Work


Shooting out at the track some days is just awesome. I get to be a part of an activity that many are so passionate about. But as time moves forward, things change. What was new is now old. What was fun becomes mundane. What was awesome is not so awesome anymore. I’m not trying to complain or anything, just telling it how it is.

At the last track day, lets just say the track wasn’t filled to capacity with riders. While shooting from the hot pit, a spectator next to me asked if I was having fun out there. Well, I’m generally an honest person, so I responded by saying, “it’s work.”

When I first got into photography and would watch pro photographers shooting big events like the Olympics and such, I would dream about what it would be like to shoot there. I still dream about being an Olympic photographer one day, but I know those pros are working. And working hard.

Cheers.

Dust from clean sweep kicks up as Mark rides through the first session. – http://www.jasontanaka.com

Grinding it out. – http://www.jasontanaka.com

Nose to the Grind Stone

Wow, it’s been one super busy week! It started with last weekend’s 2-Fast track day weekend, shooting both Saturday and Sunday. Then bring in Ducati Bellevue’s track day and it all adds up to a lot of photos! 20,212 photos to be exact 🙂 The following days were spent looking at each one of them and processing them all. With the week finally passed, I’m finally getting a breather. Sales of been steady and my eye vision is slowing getting back to normal 🙂 Doh! I shot at the track yesterday (Friday) too, back to post processing track photos…

Knowing that I’d be shooting thousands of images, for the first time, I set my camera to shoot JPEG format for Saturday. This saved a ton of memory and only used about 60 gigs of memory. During post, it reminded my why I shoot RAW, and glad I did for the rest of the days. JPEG left very little room for post work. Although most non-photographers may not notice the difference, to my eyes, there was a significant difference. No more shooting JPEG unless I have to.