Wednesday, September 28, 2011

MotoGP Phillip Island Exclusive! AutoMotoPhoto seminar and dinner!

AutoMotoPhoto Seminar Poster
Many people have asked me if I would run a seminar. I have gotten together with a good friend who lives on the Island and we're going to be putting on the inaugural AutoMotoPhoto Photography Seminar and Dinner in San Remo. Wednesday (10/12) before the race weekend is when it's going to happen.

Also!!! After a long day of instruction, critique and big thinking, Paul and I will be cooking dinner for those who will be attending.

This seminar is designed for amateurs who have a solid understanding of the principles of photography but want to develop their skills in this one day intensive class.  We'll cover subjects such as your goals, peer reviews and to make do with the equipment you already have and how to think outside the box...we'll also go into how to sell or market your images using current methods including social media tools...and how to approach the mystical world of getting published...I can't teach you how to have a "style", but I will hopefully impart enough information to fuel that desire to enable you to think differently and to feel confident about your work.

Seating is limited due to the nature of this class.

For pricing and further information simply send an email to me, Andrew Wheeler here and by return I will send you the schedule and a link for you to sign up and pay for your seat! To download the poster click here

I look forward to hearing from you and we'll see you there....

Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner...from Misano to Aragon. The Renaissance, castles and the countryside...

Valentino Rossi at his "home" race wearing his special liveried Misano special helmet
I love castles.
So it's rather interesting that we go from the Adriatic and the home of Lucrezia Borgia (and all that lovely warmth and kindness as the perfect dinner host she was) to Aragon, where the two regions are actually loosely connected by families marrying one off to the other.  I love this region of Italy, the coastline that becomes extremely dramatic not too far inland with huge outcrops of rocks topped with castles.
Last years trip to Misano started out tinged with sadness  of the loss during the race weekend prior at Indianapolis. Little did we know that the race weekend at Misanowould also end in sadness (see the previous blog entry).  Fortunately, this years events ended with no tragedies but with an excellent showing of racecraft by Jorge Lorenzo...
Jorge Lorenzo and his crew celebrate his crossing the finish line
A side trip was in order to Valentino Rossi's village, Tavulia, although the mood in the village did seem a little a little quieter than last.  
Valentino Rossi's hometown
The banner that shows his 100 victories has faded somewhat, but in many of the windows as before, there are cardboard cutouts of the maestro himself watching over the visitors.  One thing that was different from last year was the video booth.  This appeared so as fans visiting to send Valentino a personal message if support.  
the VR46 video box in Tavulia
Gone was the life-size cardboard Yamaha team cutout and garage that was very popular with folks who wanted to have a picture of themselves taken with whoever works in the garage.  Maybe next year there'll be a Ducati version.

This year I stayed at a fabulous little flat in the city of Cattolica with Ben Spies Fan Club creators Luca Ottolini and his fabulous wife Chiara.  We had a great week of good food, laughter, Jesus ducks and of course being less than 3 minutes from a gelateria, gelato.
The fan club!
Lots of gelato....thanks again to Simone for being such a help in having the apartment for us....looks like next year we're all set for Misano too!
Ben Spies rounds turn 9 at Misano
With that, it was back home for a few days before heading off (again) to Barcelona for the Motorland Aragon experience!  Arriving late into Barcelona it was then a solid 2-3hour drive to the lovely little village of Beceite. 
Beceite, Teruel
I stayed here last year and we loved it so much not only did we come back, but we rented the entire building to avoid the racket we suffered at the hands of a rather large group of excitable motorcyclists who were upstairs.  

Base camp Beceite!
This year, I shared the upstairs apartment with Andrew Northcott, Jules Cisek and his wife Bernadette.  Mr Motomatters, David Emmett, Jarno from Holland, Abraham (from Spain) and his friend occupied the floor we stayed on last year.That meant we had normality and tranquility upon our return from a busy day at the track.
Quite the dramatic scenery commute to work...
As before the drive to the track winds through some seriously spectacular scenery.  Jules Cisek ran his Go-Pro during one of our morning drives and hopefully, when he has edited the footage, we'll have something to share here...we'll just back track a bit.
Motorland Aragon race day
Motorland Aragon, as I explained last year, is out in the middle of nowhere, not far from the town of Alcaniz, which is also, out in the middle of nowhere.  That said, this area is chock full of history, especially related to The Renaissance, the invasions by the Moors, and long before that, the Romans and Greek.  Evidence in the forms of minarets, aqueducts and castles show the various cultural influences in the area.  It is well worth visit and a stay.
Race weekend came, sadly Friday was a morning only job.  A local transformer blew up and caught fire and that killed the power to the race track.  In the afternoon, because there was no timing and scoring, or power for anything it was decided to abandon the afternoons sessions.  Personally I felt the riders could've gone out and done some fan laps on scooters because there were an awful to of very disappointed fans in the stands who'd stuck out the heat and winds waiting for something to happen.  
The Great Wall of Aragon - dramatic and the perfect backdrop
But that's me I guess.  Someone was so miffed off that they threw their sandwich at ME!!  I thought that was funny, but still.  I do feel something should be on hand for moments like this.  After all, this is all about entertainment IMO.
Hayden rounding the mini-corkscrew
Race day rolls around, the factory Honda's roll out a rather interesting race day livery in some shocking orange colour (which initially I wasn't too keen on - but it looked good in photos).  
MotoGP Aragon race winner Casey Stoner
The race wasn't exactly earth shattering, and Casey Stoner didn't surprise anyone by winning...with Aragon in the bag, it was back to the house.
A cava moment with Casey Stoner
With my flights to Barcelona that would take me to Amsterdam leaving on Tuesday afternoon, I had all day Monday to futz around and take it easy.  So, I left the house about 1pm and drove over a huge range of mountains to coast and the seaside town of Peñíscola.  It was just a zip trip to snag some photos of the castle on the Mediterranean (and I was reliably informed that this was the location for the making of the film El Cid by David Emmett) and so with some images captured I took the long route back to the house.  
The castle at Peniscola
Returning in time to finish up dinner and celebrate Jules and Bernadettes wedding anniversary.  Which was a rather nice way to cap off a wonderful week in the Spanish interior.
The view from room 503 at CitizenM
Tuesday, I would drive to airport.  Eventually find my good friend Abel, have lunch, board my flight to Amsterdam and then spend a nice evening in my favourite hip-hotel at Schipol, CitizenM. The next day it would be an easy walk to the airport and eventually home.
Padron peppers - happy anniversary to Jules and Bernadette
Next up, Australia, Malaysia...but for now, I am enjoying my time at home.

Monday, September 05, 2011


Shoya Tomizawa - Qatar 2010

Racing is dangerous. The week before 'we" lost the lovely Peter Lenz at Indianapolis, the sadness continued at Misano when "we" lost Shoya Tomizawa.  It was too much really.  When there's a death at a race track the air changes, the velocity at which things happen slows down to where you feel you're in some weird time warp. We're made painfully aware in a very short space of time how fragile life is.  For me, I think it wasn't a bad idea not to have a memorial at the race track.  Racing is about going forward, an optimistic sport where one is always looking to get to the front to win.  Everyone who enters or partakes in this sport, or any motorsport where high speed and hard objectives fly together knows the risks.

As I mentioned way back when the incident happened (on this blog).  I met Shoya when I had to shoot some images for Motorcycle Racer Magazine.  Polite, kind and with a permagrin on his face.  Although I can't say I knew him well, but from that point onwards there was always a good morning and a nod when you passed him in the paddock.  Anyways, if someone comes across this post then it's worth remembering that it's always a good point to leave people with good memories of oneself, when that day comes it would be nice to know that people missed "you" in the same way as people miss this talented and rather pleasant young man.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Indianapolis, Spies, Stoner, Rossi, AC and the flu

It was hot.
Casey Stoner
I thought the flu would be done and gone by the time the trip to Indy rolled around.  I guess I was wrong.  In fact the flu I contracted during the weekend at Brno, simply got worse.  The high temperatures and never ending air conditioning (AC) everywhere only served to cause me to think that I had actually spent my whole life working in a mine and had gone down with emphysema.  Every time I started to cough it never stopped, and never stopped, and never stopped and then only finally stopped when my lungs had completely expelled all the air contained within and I was dizzy from lack of oxygen. Fortunately for me Bob Starr at Yamaha had very kindly arranged for me to have a scooter.
Dani Pedrosa coming at me during the first lap
This was the first time in as long as I could remember that Emily would not be joining me for the race weekend due to school and work obligations.  So this would be the trip where I would not get to see her in over two weeks.  Something that does not fill me with joy.  However, I would spend the weekend with a good friend Nic Coury who is a journalist at the Monterey County Weekly.  So the company was more than welcome, and also it does help keep the costs down by being able to split the cost of food, accommodations and transportation.
Colin Edwards
I may have mentioned it somewhere else before, but Indy is a very challenging location to shoot racing.  The lack of service roads, having to negotiate crowds whilst on a scooter and lack of locations to shoot the track from can make for rather repetitive imagery. So there's a need to really test ones creative skills when working there.  
So the weekend was hot.  The surface of infield section of the track had been repaved and was subsequently rather greasy for the riders.  The weather being so hot made me almost wish for the rain we had the year before, only because it adds another dimension to the imagery, and it does make life a little more tolerable, even if one has to deal with wet weather gear, protective covers and the lack of convenience that dry weather allows.  
Once again all eyes were on Ben Spies, but also on Hayden and the other American Colin Edwards. This is the second home race of the season and as we remember, both Hayden and Spies have done well here in the past.  Did I mention it was hot over the weekend?  One thing you always forget about when you visit this huge concrete and steel structures is the residual heat that is reradiated back up from the concrete.
Tom, Greg and Ben, parc ferme
But it would turn out to be a weekend that neither Nicky Hayden or Valentino Rossi will want to remember...especially when it came to race day.....
Valentino Rossi
As I mentioned above, good friend Nic Coury was joining me for the weekend and was having a blast.  having never seen all three classes at one race (Laguna only has the GP class) it was a firs for him.  But boy howdy did that guy not need a scooter.  He walked everywhere and I was suitably impressed by the energy output!  Plus, he captured some really different images.Race day came, and even though it was dominated by Casey Stoner, with Dani Pedrosa coming in second, it was good to see Ben made it to the podium again for his home race.
The Pagoda and pitlane, race day morning
After getting up at 4am to run Nic to the airport for his trip back to California, I went back to the hotel, back to bed for a couple of hours and then packed up the car, headed to the airport and left for Italy and the next round from Misano on the Adriatic which is where I am writing this from now.
Italian country spicy sausage and vegetable soup, Indy style
However, even though I wasn't feeling too chipper, I still managed to crank out some fine dinners for us over the weekend in Indianapolis...however, I might just add, the blueberry bagels do not go too well with a country style sausage and vegetable soup, but they worked somewhat.  

Thanks for reading..