Tag: Harley-Davidson

Self Portrait with the Devilhog

This self portrait was taken a couple of years ago at the entrance to the Bonneville Salt Flats International Speedway. I used Topaz Adjust bring out the details and colors in the scene.

I’m still feeling my way through this startup of the Speeddemon2 blog and trying to wrap my head around the WordPress analytics that show how many visitors the blog gets each day. There have been days where over 200 people viewed the blog and there have been days when as few as 30 people have stopped by. I’m trying to correlate those numbers with the posts from those days to better understand how I can deliver photos and information that will lead people to return each day or each week. I truly want to be a resource for photographers and ordinary folks to learn more about the work I produce and to find help, or inspiration, to further their artistic vision.

I would really appreciate hearing from you, the visitors, about what worked over the past few weeks and what didn’t. I studied fine art in a school that valued critiques as a way to grow and expand an artist’s thinking and inform his or her work. I’m asking anyone who has something constructive to say to post it in the comment section. I’m sitting here writing these word though and I’m wondering how I’ll deal with the possibility that no one will say anything. Oh well I can’t control the universe so I’ll take my chances with this post.

BUB International Motorcycle Speed Trials

This week I’m going to start sharing some of the images I have taken at the BUB International Motorcycle Speed Trials. I have been attending this event since 2006; even going so far as to run my Harley Road Glide “Devilhog” in 2006 and 2007. After that experience I decided to become a volunteer course worker and help make sure that this event continues into the future. Volunteers are the lifeblood of the event, without them there couldn’t be land speed racing, and I’m proud to be part of the volunteer team. Unfortunately I won’t be able to go this year but I’ll be there in spirit. Hopefully I’ll be able to return in 2013.

For the past three years I have been privileged to be the one of the starters at the 3 Mile International Course Start Line. My task has been to organize the riders when they come to the starting gate and to brief them on the safety rules for making their Land Speed Record attempt. I am responsible for making sure that all safety equipment is present and that the rider and bike are cleared through tech inspection for racing. Every once in a while someone will show up at the start gate without proper equipment or other safety problems. I must make sure that these types of situations are corrected before I can allow the racer to enter the race course. It’s a great responsibility which I take very seriously because no one wants to see  something catastrophic happen which could lead to injury or death. Another aspect of our job is to monitor the radio channel and communicate with the timing tower which controls the race course. A rider can only be released to the start line after the timing tower has assured that the course is clear of the last racer.

Toady’s shot is of John Yeats riding out from the start gate to the starting line where the flagman will give him the green flag to go. John’s Dad, John Senior, built the bike and I chose this shot because this motorcycle epitomizes the level of craftsmanship and beauty that John, and the entire Land Speed Racing community, is known for. This engine in this motorcycle is over 3000 CCs which is nearly twice the displacement of most Harley-Davidson engines. John has been piloting Land Speed Racing bikes for many years but it still takes a lot of nerve to climb on a bike that will rocket down the course at well over 175 mph.

I took this image into Topaz Adjust 4 for initial processing and then returned it to Aperture 3 where I finished adjusting the color, vibrancy and sharpening. I especially like the negative space at the left side of the frame which for me accentuates the vastness of the Bonneville Salt Flats and the unknown.

My Former Travelling Studio

I love to use my motorcycle to travel and take me to the sites I like to photograph. There is nothing like being able to sit there and see all around you the grandeur of the west as the smells and sounds of the road caress your senses.

This is a shot of my 2003 Road Glide I named Devilhog. I gave it that name because it was assembled on April 1, 2003 and had a VIN number that ended in 666. I rode this bike over 90,000 miles until I had a rear tire blow out on I-80 just east of Bonneville at the east bound 26.5 mile marker. I was cruising along at 80 miles an hour when suddenly the bike started shaking violently. I fisrt thought it was a tank slapper coming on but then I realized it was a blown rear tire. I had just passed a string of vehicles and was slightly ahead of an 18 wheeler when it went down on it’s right side. Fortunately for me the engine and saddlebag guards kept me from being caught under the bike and we both slid down the highway separately.

I was wearing my leather jacket and full face helmet which I’m certain saved my life. The helmet was scraping along on the face shield as I was sliding on my right side. I remember thinking this isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be; then I started thinking “damn I’m broken down on the interstate with a flat tire”. LOL … Little did I know that my bike was destroyed and I was lucky to be alive. I sprained my left wrist and had a small cut on the back of my right hand where my glove had ripped but otherwise I was OK. Some wonderful ladies who were ahead of me and saw the crash in their mirrors came back and helped me gather all my gear from the highway. They stayed with me until the EMTs and Police were on the scene and I was in safe hands.

I was amazed to find that all my stuff was intact, though my luggage was pretty tattered, and my camera, lens and laptop were unharmed. I’ve since replaced the Devilhog with a 2007 Road Glide and switched from Michellin brand tires to Metzlers. Michellin discontinued the series of tires for Harleys I was using and I suspect it was because they were not safe to ride on. I didn’t have the presence of mind to get the rear tire back so that I could find out why it blew so I probably passed up a chance to be compensated for my loss. My consolation is that I walked away from what could have been a catastrophic event because I chose to ride wearing the proper safety gear and because luck was with me that day.

This photo was taken the year before my crash; in Canyonlands National Park. I processed it using Aperture 3 and Topaz Adjust Spicify preset. Compositionally I like the way the bike’s position accentuates the perspective in the scene as the road itself leads your eye from the foreground to the horizon and the amazing rock formations of Canyonlands.

Canyonlands Sunset

I was riding in Canyonlands National Park in Utah a couple of years ago when I came upon this scene. I had been down this road earlier in the day and was returning to my hotel when I came around a bend in the road and saw this vista. I immediately knew I wanted to capture the vista that was before me.

I had already met the Park Ranger back at the end of the road and knew that I was the only person on the road as the sun was going down behind me. I decided to ease my bike off the shoulder of the road  but when I put my front wheel onto what looked like a solid sand flat spot it tipped over instantly. I wasn’t going fast so I wasn’t hurt at all but I was still concerned. You see a Harley-Davidson Roadglide weighs nearly 900 pounds and there was nobody there to help me get it back up on it’s wheels. I learned long ago how to use leverage to right a motorcycle but even at that I knew I was in a pickle. I had to unload all my luggage, remove the saddlebag that I could reach, take off my rear Tour Pak and then dig the sand out under the bike’s wheels with my hands before I could lift it up and get it back onto the blacktop.

By that time I was exhausted and the sun was rapidly setting. I had used up almost 30 minutes and was concerned about riding alone in the dark as I exited the park. Once I had the bike back on the road; I still had to reinstall everything I had taken off before I could get going again. I finished that and then I saw that the original shot I had stopped to take had morphed into this gorgeous scene.

To this day I think the gods of photography tipped that motorcycle over so that I would be there to shoot this image.