Thursday, June 21, 2007

Click!

They say that when it comes to motorcycling, it just "clicks". One day you're nervous, the next it feels natural. One day you barely creep through the turns, the next you're zipping through them like a graceful ballerina. Well, I finally got my "click".


I've been riding for about 5 years now. But with all the traveling at my previous job, I was lucky to ride once a month. It seemed as though every time I rode, I had to relearn what I'd learned the last time. Now that I'm no longer traveling, I've been able to ride on a more consistent basis. I generally ride to work a couple of days a week, and play some on the weekends. Well, a couple of weeks ago, I just clicked. I was riding to work, and all of the sudden the cloverleafs (leaves? interstate exit/entrance ramps) just seemed to flow for me. I didn't even realize my speed was up until I happened to glance at the speedo. When I got to work, my tires indicated that I had leaned the bike considerably farther than I had been. That afternoon on the way home, my tires showed even more signs of comfort and improved riding.


Last Sunday I headed up to the Gap for a little riding and photography. I met Mike (going opposite directions), and he swears he thought someone else was riding my bike. Here is the story that my tires tell:





Here is a shot Craig took. I honestly think that I tensed up for the photo, thus getting a little stiff and upright. However, it's still a much more respectable picture than my normal shots. I think riding is going to be getting fun in a whole new way...

New Toy

Against my better judgement, I decided to search my local craigslist.com for Canon camera equipment. For those of you not familiar with craigslist, it's a free Internet board for posting things for sale.

The first result was a great deal on a Canon Digital Rebel XT, a one step upgrade from my current Digital Rebel. The Digital Rebel was Canon's first entry level digital SLR camera. Apparently they learned alot in the process, and the Rebel XT is a serious upgrade. I'm very excited about it, and look forward to seeing what it will do this weekend. In the mean time...

More Pictures

I decided to go hang out with Craig again last Sunday. I learned alot the first time hanging out with him and wanted to keep going. I think you'll find that the pictures are just getting better. It's nice being back in the swing of things. Landscapes are very pretty, but the action shots are very rewarding.

These are just the highlights. Remember that while they seem crappy here, you can click on them to see them in decent resolution. To see all the shots from Sunday, click here.

First let me start by introducing everyone to Craig.

We're trying to get him to loosen up. You know how it is with those "serious" types. *Sarcasm Alert!*

We'll start with a few cruiser shots. They're usually moving pretty slow, so they're easy targets.


She doesn't seem very happy about riding. Pretty bike though.

Craig showed me how to make even cruisers look fast. Check it out.

Here are a few random sport bikes that I thought turned out nice.





I don't know this guy, but I'd like to! Spanky new Ducati 1098, Ducati helmet, Ducati leathers... His pocket change would buy me cool toys!


I'm told that this guy is an older Japanese gentleman that speaks very little English. I'd guess that he probably works at Denso. If anyone can identify him (are you reading this Stan?) I'd really like to get these shots to him.

Anyway, he's really wringing the piss out of this old CB900F!



This guy looks REALLY comfortable on the big BMW 1200GS.

A "motard", or "supermoto" is a dirt bike that has been converted to a street bike. This is how you ride one.

While I know that I'm not riding my bike to its full potential, I was under the assumption that it was really too big and bulky to really ride like a super sport. Unfortunately, this guy has proved me wrong.

This is a local guy named Jim. Most people just call him Lake Trash (yes, to his face). This is what a Kawasaki ZX6R can do.

This is Phil from ETR, a.k.a. Itchybro. He's riding his new to him Buell Lightning, which he lovingly refers to as a tractor.

Knowing that Craig and I were shooting in this turn, Mike decided to come in low for a photo pass. Sorry for the crappy picture man.

Right behind him was Noah. You might remember him from last week.

And bringing up the rear was Petie Pie.

Weight Watch Week, uh, It Doesn't Matter

Same ol' same ol'. I have at least realized a pattern, thus pointing to my problem. I weigh the least on Tuesday, the most on Friday. This means (to me at least) that I'm eating/exercising right on the weekends, and doing the opposite on weekdays. Part of the solution is identifying the problem, right?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The suspense is over

Well for those of you that are sitting out there biting your nails (and I'm guesing that's a lot of you), I have finally purchased a car. After long deliberation (that almost killed Christal), I decided to go with the Mazdaspeed 6. It's a 4 door sedan based on the Mazda 6, only with a big-ass turbo. The 4 cylinder engine makes 274 hp, driving a 6 speed transmission that feeds an all-wheel-drive system. So far, it is a blast to drive. Plus I got the GT model, which has leather seats, sunroof, DVD navigation, and a cool keyless entry system that just knows my wallet is in the car and lets me drive with no key.

I bought it at Carmax, and I have to say that it was a pretty pleasurable experience. I found the car I wanted at another Carmax. They had it transfered to the Knoxville store (for a fee), and there were no headaches involved. I would definitely buy from them again.

Here are a few pictures.







Ok, so this one isn't mine, but it's a picture I took of a VERY similar one (see below).



Fun with Cameras

This past Sunday I decided to head up to Deals Gap to brush up on my fast action photography. A friend of mine named Craig shoots for Zee Foto up there, so I took the Mazdaspeed 6 on it's maiden voyage into Deals Gap in search of him.

For those of you not familiar with the area, Deals Gap is the local motorcycle playground. For those that are into are leaning and (semi-) fast riding, it's the perfect place. The turns are tight, the surface is new, and there are no intersecting roads. There are several photography companies that send photographers out to hang out in turns and take pictures of the passing motorcycles, which they sell on the Internet.

Craig seemed happy for the company, and I was happy with the camera practise and tips (as well as the company). The next few posts are some of my choice shots of the couple hours I was there.

My favorite photos

Here are some of my favorite photos from my outing, based strictly on content, framing, etc. Feel free to tell me I suck.










Hi!


This is by far my favorite shot.

A few friends that happened by

I suppose I'm beginning to be a regular at the Gap. I can't seem to go up there without seeing at least a handful of people that I know. Here are some shots of people that I know that happened by.

Noah, looking good on the Z1000.





PJ, embarrassing the big boys on the 500.



PJ's girl Paige, showing the boys how it's done.

Just good riding

I wanted to throw these photos in too. They aren't necessarily evidence of photographic genius, but they are examples of great motorcycle riding. In the future, should I post pictures of myself, be sure to refer back to these pictures for a reference as to what I SHOULD be riding like.






Ok, I'm going to admit to cropping this last picture, but I wanted to show the detail of what happens when a peg drags the pavement.

Weight Watch (or Lack There of) Week 10

I'm not sure why I keep posting this.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Makeup Posts

I'm not being very timely on my posts lately. I'm not sure why. I know I haven't been sleeping much lately, so I suppose I just don't feel like sitting down and commiting to 2-3 hours on Thursday nights. I did get out and play with the camera yesterday though, and there is good news (and an exciting finale) on the car front. So this Thursday should be a moderately entertaining post.

Extreme Handicapped Sports

I came across this story in the news this week. Click Me To summarize, they claim that a 21-year-old handicapped guy was innocently crossing the street in a wheelchair when the traffic light turned green. He happened to be in front of a tractor-trailer and of course, the driver didn't see him. This resulted in a 4 mile, 50 mph ride before someone was able to convince the police to come pull this guy over because he had a handicapped guy stuck to the grill.

Now call me a doubting-Thomas, but I just have trouble believing this was an "accident" on the part of the handicapped guy. I know that when I'm crossing the street and need to quickly get out of the way of on-coming traffic, I usually quicken my pace perpendicular to traffic. I do NOT turn and try to out run them. The guy's wheelchair had to have been facing the right direction for the truck to push it instead of just turning it over and plowing the guy. Second, have you ever been around someone that is permanently bound to a wheelchair? They've got all kinds of stuff stuck in pockets that they can reach. If he really wanted the guy to stop, he had all kinds of shit to throw at the windshield. But the most damaging evidence is the interview with the guy on the scene. "Yeah, I'm fine. I just went for a little ride." The state trooper even said, "He was surprisingly normal." Now the driver of the truck on the other hand...

I just have to believe that we've reached a new era where everyone wants more excitement. We live in a world where people will actually tie a rubber band to their feet and jump off a bridge. I personally live in a world where it's not abnormal to ride a motorcycle at 50 mph while dragging your knee on the ground. (Well, I don't, because I suck. But my friends do.) Hell, I've even plopped my big ass on a big wheel and road it down a mountain. Is it all that far-fetched to think that this 21-year-old guy wasn't just out looking for his own little thrill ride? I can see it. You're young, your friends are all out driving sporty cars or dragging motorcycle parts on the ground, and you're stuck in a wheelchair. What do you do? You come up with something to make them all say, "Dude! My turn!"

Weight Watch Week 9

Virtual stagnation.

Monday, June 04, 2007

New Camera Toys

In an effort to advance my limited photography skills, I've recently sold my Sigma lenses and picked up Canon replacements. For those of you that aren't photographically enthused, Canon optics are second to none. Of course, Canon prices reflect that as well.

My previous lenses were a Sigma 28-80mm lens and a Sigma 70-300mm lens. I sold them both on eBay, and picked up a Canon 28-105mm USM Macro lens from eBay. Then after shopping around, I found a website called http://www.jr.com/ that has some pretty good prices. I bought a Canon 75-300mm USM lens and a Canon 250D Close Up lens as well.

The "USM" in the two lenses indicates that the lenses use the Canon Ultrasonic Focus system. The lenses focus quicker and much more quietly than standard motor-operated lenses. The close up lens isn't really a traditional camera lens. It screws onto an existing camera lens somewhat like a filter would, but it has curved optical glass that allows for much closer focusing distances. You know those pictures where the entire frame is taken up by, say, a bee? That's what those are for.

I haven't really had a chance to play with the 75-300mm lens yet. I have played with the other two a little bit though. Here are some examples. They're generally just things I found in the yard to take pictures of. Remember that you can click on any picture to make it larger.

This first one is of a butterfly that was hanging out. This was taken with the 28-105mm lens.


This next one is a rose, taken with the 28-105 mm lens at minimum focusing distance.


This is the same rose, taken with the 28-105mm lens with the 250 D close up lens at minimum focusing distance.


This is a flower on a clematis, taken with the 28-105mm lens at minimum focusing distance.


This is the same clematis, taken with the 28-105mm lens with the 250D close up at minimum focusing distance.


This is a lily, taken with the 28-105mm lens at minimum focusing distance.


The lily is a deep flower, so I when I added the 250D close up lens to the 28-105mm, I had to choose between focusing on the petals or the center part. (I sucked at biology, can you tell?) So here is the minimum focusing distance on the petals.


And here is the minimum focusing distance on the center. I really liked this one, even if the majority of the photo is blurred.