Friday, March 11, 2011

Photo of the Week (POW) - Racer Nicole Pilkington

Nicole Pilkington in the pits waiting to get on the track at Shannonville
Nikon D80 with 18-200mm VR.
Motorcycle racing is cool. But women racing motorcycles is really cool. And a 17 year old woman motorcycle racer? That's really cool + awesome + sweet!

In 2010 Nicole Pilkington raced in the CBR Cup (her best result, finishing 3rd overall), AM 125 GP, and AM 250 GP classes in R.A.C.E. In SOAR she raced in Formula Femme, and Formula 2 Stroke, and in the National series she ran in the CBR Cup. That's 6 different divisions across 3 series! Most teenage girls would rather go to 6 stores in 3 different malls. So why does she do it? By her own words, "The one thing I love most about racing is the escape. The track is like therapy to me. It relieves all my stress. Just getting on track and putting all your concentration into what you need to do to improve on track and nothing else." So that tells me that in her "normal" life she's either really stressed out, or super relaxed like Jello.

Nic Pilk grew up at the racetrack. Her father Stuart started road racing in 1989 and Nicole spent every summer of her life at racetracks across Canada and the U.S. with him. He was her inspiration to get into the sport. But first she had to prove herself so at 13 years of age, a determined Nicole hopped on a motocross. The deal was she had to show she could crash and get back up before being allowed to road race. Now that's tough love! Nicole's first road race was 2 years later at Shannonville in 2009 when she was 15.

(Read more after the jump)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Photo of the Week (POW) - Emma

Emma in a peach tree during sunset. May 8, 2009.
Nikon D80 with 18-200mm VR and SB-800 to camera left using CLS*.
IS0 320, 1/200 sec, F3.5 at 28 mm
(Click on the photo for a larger version)

Emma is a Senegal parrot (Poicephalus senegalus) who lives in my house. We have a pear tree on our front lawn that blooms for only 2 weeks each spring and the house faces west. The weather was warm and dry, the sunset was pretty, the flowers on the tree were blooming -- everything was lining up for the perfect photo. If I took a shot of  the tree and sunset, it would've been a good photo ... but not a great photo. Enter Emma. (skip the next paragraph if you don't want to read the technical details).

I put Emma on the lowest branch and took a reading in aperture priority mode using F3.5 (the minimum for this lens) for the shallowest depth of field. I then put my camera in manual mode and underexposed by about a stop and a half by increasing the shutter speed to 1/200. I put my SB-800 flash in remote mode and then put the commander mode in my camera to TTL for this flash. All this while standing on a milk crate on my front lawn with Emma crawling around on the branch. I did a few test shots while holding the flash in my left hand just above Emma to make sure I was happy with the exposure. I popped off about 10 - 15 shots and had to stop a couple times to make sure Emma didn't crawl to the top of the tree while holding the flash in my left armpit. I'm sure I looked quite stupid to my neighbours, but you gotta do whatever it takes to get the shot, right?

I know some of you will have some questions about Emma so I'll try to answer them proactively:

(More after the jump)