Normally when you think of doing a cool bike photograph, most people don’t think of a Kawasaki KLR as “cool”. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the venerable KLR has developed a cult following of riders who love their bikes. We did a story in Adventure Rider magazine about the “Ultimate KLR” – a bike that was tricked out with all kinds of add-on’s and trick adventure riding parts. I brought the bike into the studio with the owner Gary Miller and model/mechanic Talor Reasin from Dallas. I wanted to create a fun photo shoot of Talor working on the KLR, showing off the various parts and add-ons. I wanted the photo to be sexy but quite appropriate for any age group. Talor was perfect and was very funny for the photos. She did an excellent job and Gary had a blast watching and participating. Its not often you see a KLR get the “movie star” treatment!
Eighteen year old Dustin Dominguez of Newalla is an up and coming force in CMRA and national level road racing. His father was a fast racer in his own right, and has passed this love of speed to his son. I had an assignment to photograph Dustin at Hallett Raceway during track day. House of Kawasaki told me about Dustin and sponsored his motorcycles. His ZX-10 was nearly a stock bike and he rode that thing like a toy. I have ridden track days at Hallett and know how scary a liter bike can be at such a short track. Dustin could barely keep the front wheel on the ground, and would “back it into” the corners by drifting his rear end out on braking. I photographed the portrait of Dustin on the front straight during the lunch break. The cloudy day was perfect, providing a nice overcast light. My SB-800’s on stands with umbrellas provide the key lighting for Dustin.
For the action photos I used a variety of long lenses, including my Nikkor AFS-600 F4, to capture the action. I had to really work on my timing since he was quite a bit faster than the other racers at the track. I wish I could ride like Dustin! Here is Dustin backing his Kawasaki ZX-6 into the “bus stop” at Hallett.
Dustin could barely keep the front end of his stock ZX-10 on the ground on the short straights of Halllet.
In the spring of 2007 we were just getting our new magazine Ride Oklahoma kicked off. Needing stories, I had heard about a great riding area owned by the City of Davis called Crossbar Ranch. Nestled in the heart of the Arbuckle Mountains in south Central Oklahoma, Crossbar was known as some great single track riding.
I teamed up with writer Bill Dragoo to spend the day blasting along the trails. Our friend Chris Johnson from Lawton met us there, and ranch manager Brad Black would lead the group on his Kawasaki KDX-200. Knowing the ride was going to be challlenging single track with some wet water crossing, I chose to bring my son’s KTM 250 motocross bike for the trip. It was much lighter and more nimble than my Suzuki DRZ-400.
Of course my job was to photograph the ride. When you are riding challenging single track trails, the last thing you want to carry around is a heavy camera, lens, and flash. Not only do you have to worry about the weight, but also the expense of the camera in case you crash and bang it up, or fall over and dump all that expensive gear in the water. For this trip I brought along minimal equipment – just my Nikon D300 and my Canon G9 point and shoot.
While we were getting ready Bill and Brad were chatting about riding in a beautiful spring field full of wildflowers. It was a high contrast day with the sun bright overhead, so I wanted to knock down some of the contrast and fill in the shadows for this key shot. I had it in my mind to use it for a double truck spread. I seldom use on camera flash, but in this case it was the fastest, safest option to fill in the shadows and lower the contrast of the image.
Later as we hit the trail and rode hard through the woods, I used both the D300 and the G9 for photos. The G9 was much faster to shoot with, while the D300 offered a better lens. I was unable to use flash on most of the remaining photos, primarily because I just didn’t have time to set up. You can tell higher contrast in these later photos. I got some great action shots, especially of Chris Johnson, who rides with a prosthetic leg. He ended up being one of the most skilled riders for the day on a worn out 1998 KLR enduro bike.