Monday, May 25, 2009

Rolling Thunder – Fairfax

This past Sunday was Rolling Thunder XXII. Living near Washington D.C. it is not possible for one to be oblivious to this annual event. A few days earlier motorcycles start arriving from all over the country. Many of the bikes have American Flags attached and other displays of patriotism. Two years ago I went to Nutley Street in Vienna to photograph the group from Patriot HD. For some reason I missed last year’s event and really did not want to miss this tremendous event 2 years in a row. I think this year’s group from Patriot was the largest I had seen, it took over 30 minutes for all the riders to pass by. Not visible in my shots are the crowd that comes out to watch the rides go by. Just on my section of Nutley there must have been close to 100 people.

I really wanted to go downtown this year, but I had been out all day yesterday at the Patuxent River Air Show and had a lot of yard work at home. So the compromise was to shoot the group from Patriot and try for downtown next year.

Shooting this type of event is a lot different than my normal work. My typical shooting platform is from a tripod and usually I take time to fine tune the composition. I was shooting today handheld with fill-flash from the curb. Bikes were going by 5 feet away at 15-20 mph. They’re close range and moving. Now the last thing I want to do is take static snapshots. So I’m using shutter speeds from 1/20 to 1/250 of a second. I’m panning and zooming. In the current setting there is only so much you can do to be creative. Perhaps if this was a more frequent event I could think up something else to try. Bottom line is many of the shots end up in the digital trash can. Another thing I noticed was that some riders really did not like having their picture taken. Some turned away, some gave me a very unhappy look and others really loved it.

Click here for a gallery.


BillG said...

Great series - I really love the enthusiasm of the riders!

Don Rosenberger said...

It's a wonderful event. You should mark your calendar and do it next year.