Best of 2018 - Part 1

Dear 2018,

I must thank you for giving me the privilege to be here in your age in life. You gave me a roller-coaster of highs and lows during your 12 month stretch. I was awarded my first gray hairs and new levels of responsibility. You gave me more knowledge and at times less understanding. All of that aside you taught me more than any year of my life. I worked hard, loved deep and played the hardest. I put the focus on myself during your year. I started to learn what I do and don’t want out of life. Problems were solved during our time together.

A very intellectual friend brought it to my attention last winter that 2018 would be my last year of my 20’s. I don’t know why this stunned me the way it did but I lived the year through that lens. I got on the gas searching for things I wanted to do, searching for the way I wanted to feel. Really just searching for myself I guess. It was a great exercise and i’m getting closer. We’re all getting closer.

Let this gallery be a toast to learning, growth and development. Courage, desire and curiosity to pick up our cameras and explore the world. I visited more places and went to more concerts than I can count or recall this past year. Out of all of the days, here is what surfaces as some of my favorite images of 2018.

Also be sure to check out my personalized playlist of songs to match this year and gallery.

Joshua Tree & Mojave Desert

I can’t say anything really compares to the desert. The grand size and lack of resources really is intimidating and can be overwhelming at times. The sound of insects buzzing is as loud as the white noise from a freeway. The understanding that you’re in the middle of nowhere and completely unsupervised (lawless) is a large responsibility. The extreme heat also gets to people, makes them do things one might think twice about on a day 30 degrees cooler.

Small towns and cheap thrills. A cooler of Corona and a bag of cameras. Here are my photographs from the desert and scarce towns in between Joushua Tree and the Mojave Desert.

Austin City Limits Festival - 2018

Austin City Limits was the exact experience my mind and soul needed. Music has been the driving force behind my emotions, photography, style, attitude and life since day one. There is just something so raw, vonrable and real about telling your story with strange noises and voice. The amount of confidence to stand in front of people and display something you created from thin air has always been so captivating to me. The truth is, music is powerful and drives a whole culture of people of any age.

A couple adventurous friends and my self spent 5 days in Austin. We visited dive bars, restaurants and even a freak show. We were trying to seek the oddities Austin had to offer. Most of our search and desire was for MUSIC! I got antiquated to some really neat people in Austin (some a little closer than others) needless to say, below are some of their photos plus the spectacle that Austin City Limits Festival was!

San Francisco

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a motorsports photographer is traveling America. I love documenting how everyday people live… On the street everyone’s a star! Chance moments and scenarios that have no meaning or matter and will never be seen again. Are those boys here everyday? Was it her first time having coffee in that shop? Will they park their bike in that alley again?

I’ll be out on the street again and again, waiting for what happens next.

Portland - IndyCar

Last weeks IndyCar race in Portland, Oregon was my first time traveling to the city. Portland international Raceway at first was a great challenge with it's flat and featureless layout, I was figuring it out and finding shots I liked in no time! Check out Marco Andretti's wicked crash and more in my images below!  

The Mid-Season, Mid-West Grind

The last month has been a blur, little free time and lots of photos to sort. I've been to Toronto, Wisconson, Iowa, back to Toronto, Ohio, Kentucky (Concert), home and back to Ohio! All in the last four weeks. Here are a few of my favorites from the last four Indycar races.

1. Road America

2. Iowa

3. Streets of Toronto

4. Mid-Ohio

 

It's A Dry Heat...... IndyCar Racing in Texas

The IndyCar race in Texas sure was a warm one, but thankfully, the race itself is at night once the sun has gone down. Shooting a night race can be difficult due to the higher shutter speeds needed to clearly capture a high speed car in an image. Higher shutter speeds mean less time for light to enter the camera, and at night, this is even less ideal. You'll find most of my favorite photos from this race are during the day time practices and early evening. From a creative standpoint, it was nice to have some shooting using that "golden hour" lighting. By 8:00 PM, I'm normally leaving a track for the day, not shooting the green flag!

A weekend with Kat.

Working as a professional photographer has provided me with new subjects, concepts and assignments almost everyday. Without a doubt, my favorite subject is my girlfriend Kat. Her inspiration is the reason my blog and web page exist. Don't let Kat's small stature fool you, she's a huge motivator and large personality. Thank you Kat for always motovating me!

    Here's some photos in an abandoned Motel 6 a few weeks back. The smokey sunset photos are from the elaborate studio that is my bedroom. 

Photographing the Detroit Grand Prix

Another weekend of Indycar racing is in the books. The Detroit GP double header weekend is one of my favorites of the season. Having the race on Belle Isle makes for some really nice vantage points, any opportunity to use trees and water in racing images is always super cool to me. Here are some of my favorites from this race weekend!

 

Comment and let me know what you think!

After the Indianapolis 500 with Will Power

Winning the Indianapolis 500 is more than just fighting through a 3 hour race. It's slogging through a thousand interviews and photo shoots in Indy, all the way to the big stage in New York City. Having covered the Indy 500 media tour for a number of years, I can say Will Power held up better than most drivers do the day after winning. 

Even now, it hasn't seemed to have sunk in for Will. "I still can't believe I won the 500," he kept repeating on our visits. Growing up, Will's father was a huge F1 fan. They would watch F1 races together, and his father would tell him stories about the Indy 500 and how only the bravest F1 drivers would travel to Indy and run there. "I never thought I'd race there, let alone win." Will also talked about how he overheard a drunk fan yelling at him, "Will Power, you suck!" After his big win, Will was very proud to reply with, "Obviously not."

The 500 is always a long, but rewarding experience. I think Will Power is a deserving winner who fully understands the significance of, and will cherish, his victory.

I'll leave you with Will's words after crossing the finish line and taking the checkered flag at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: "YES, YES, SHOW ME RESPECT MOTHERFUCKER!"

 

Indianapolis 500 Practice

The lengthy practice schedule for the Indianapolis 500 makes for plenty of time to experiment with new techniques. I've been shooting, editing and talking about photography from 7am-10pm every day for the last two weeks. Here are a few of my favorite images captured thus far!

St Pete / Phoenix - Indycar Races

St Pete and Phoenix Indycar Races are very different but follow each other in the 2018 Indycar season. These two races could not be any different from a photographic stand point. St Pete - shorter lenses, trees, winding turns, street lights, buildings, water. Phoenix - Big lenses, pavement, walls, left turns.

You'll see the difference! Here are a handfull of my favorites from the first two races of the 2018 Indycar season.   

Photographing Iceland - Part 2

Now that a month has passed, I find myself really missing the time I spent in Iceland. My passion for photography was fueled by the never ending landscape and the thought that I could be the one to share something that many people have never seen. I love my current job, but it has me shooting the same people and objects in different settings every day. Iceland was nothing like that. 

I was a complete amateur in Iceland, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I would run into other photographers and look at their gear; I felt so unprepared! Some days, I miss that. 

I often refrain from shooting or I overwork simple images while on the job. I fight to turn something I've seen 100,000 times into something new. While in the process, I ruin the simple task I was working on. Sometimes I get so damn picky I sort things down until I have almost nothing to turn in.  Been there, done that, I've already shot it.

This wasn't the case in Iceland. I shot like crazy, everything in front of my lens looked like a shot to me. 

I can't wait to go back! 

   

Photographing Iceland - Part 1

I want to say my life has changed but that just sounds so dramatic. My life has changed. This other worldly planet that is Iceland is like no place I've been or seen. It's like earth's science experiment. The whole time, all I could think about is the people of this beautiful country. How do their surroundings affect their psyches? I grew up with street lights, sidewalks, sirens. Can you imagine a volcano, waterfall, and horses all in a 3 mi radius from your home? 

Photographing during the winter in Iceland was actually a little more difficult than I imagined, I had plenty of warm gear but maybe a little to much on the gloves. They were so bulky I found myself often taking them off exposing them to the elements which resulted in a lot of pain at times. On two occasions while shooting waterfalls I experienced mist from the waterfall that turned to ice on the camera lens! I would say I defiantly missed a few shots based on the fact that I couldn't face the elements. We found ourselves a few times facing some pretty wild weather, at one point Kat found herself needing to sit because the wind was so strong! In another instance my drone bag blew off a small clif into a creek that i had to dive in and chase.

This was just trip number one to Iceland, just to get the lay of the land. I'll be back one day!

35mm Snapshots Forever

Growing up, some of my favorite toys were viewmasters and disposable cameras. Film was photography. Before digital, that's just the way things were back then. Baby photos of myself, early photos of my parents and grandparents, everything was shot on film. It's what I knew and enjoyed, and it continues to be a passion today.

Allowance money as a young boy and as a teenager were often spent on disposable cameras. I'd shoot my toys, life experiences and friends. Why did I do this? I did it because I loved the subjects and knew they would one day change. I knew that by taking a photo of them, I could keep them just the way they were, forever.

The imperfections are what drew me to film: the dust marks, scratches, light leaks, and grain all add a creative element to photography that I cannot and do not wish to reproduce or alter. Growing up, my best friend's grandfather Jimbo gave me his Canon AE1. This camera is beat to shit. He shot with it for 30 years, then gave it to me. I've been shooting with it since 2006; it has light leaks and only half the photos actually turn out. Why do I keep using it? Because it has character! The images it produces are one-of-a-kind and unique to this camera. This camera also has a story, it's special.  I get so damn tired of taking perfectly exposed, bright, shiny and sharp photos. In the past, this was a skill and today every phone in our pocket can produce an amazing photograph. To hell with it! I need a challenge here people. Give me a camera with all manual settings, no screen and a viewfinder. That sounds much more rewarding! And don't label me as one of those Fountain Square, Indiana delusional "film makes better art" snobs either. I know for a fact it's not better. At least, the kinds of photos I shoot on film are not better.

My relationship with film has always been the same "snapshots" just like when I was a kid. The photos are about people I care about, and the things we do together. Unlike photos I take for work, I make no money from these. The photos are for me, alone. There are no expectations, nor am I critiqued on them. I follow no rules, nor briefs, and they are not meant to be critiqued. I love the excitement of not knowing what will develop. To me, there is nothing cooler than developing a roll of film six months to a year after it was shot. It makes it so much more fun to look back and see what I was doing. It makes them feel vintage-like, even when they're new!   Shooting film reminds me of taking photos as a young boy. Dad would say, "Ya only got 24 to 36 (photos)," "Don't shoot too many on the same thing," and "Save some for later."

I have 170 rolls of unused Fuji Superia 100 (expiration date March of 2004) Even with all this film and everything that I've learned, I still can't break that "save some for later," mindset.

Here are some of my favorite 35mm images from 2006 to today.

Cameras

  • Canon AE-1 Silver (Jimbo)
  • Canon AE-1 Black (Bret Kelly)
  • Nikon N90
  • Lomography-Fisheye 2
  • Lomography-Octomat 
  • Lomography-Action Sampler
  • Various Disposable Cameras

 

 

VIEW THE WHOLE GALLERY OF MY FAVORITE 35MM PHOTOGRAPHS IN THE LINK POSTED BELOW.

https://www.chrisowensphotography.com/blog/2018/2/22/35mm-snapshots-forever-extended

 

 

35mm Snapshots Forever (Gallery)

The way I see it.

Test out West

This year's Phoenix Indycar test and media day was packed with more action than normal, from a photographer's perspective. Indycar split the drivers across two days of studio photography, instead of one. This kept me indoors from sunrise to sunset for two straight days. I felt a lot of excitement thinking about getting out of the studio and shooting our first all-series test of the year.

On Friday morning I woke up early, had a great breakfast and was off to the track. Hitting the road early made sure I was eligible for life's "early bird gets the worm" award (Bullshit. More on that later.) I get in the van, buckle up my belt and wait for the others. Now we're off to the track and hitting the 40mph mark, and we're well on our way! Suddenly, I hear rustling in the last row of the van, so I turn and there is my life (my camera bag) rolling down the street with cars swerving around it. I scream and the car stops. So here I am first thing in the morning, sprinting for more than a city block, chasing my life and dreams just as I always do. My friends are late out of the car, eating their McBreakfast and sugar drink as I'm scared like a mother running out in the street with her child in the road. So much for that "early bird gets the worm" bullshit! Maybe I didn't shut the gate, maybe someone else flubbed, maybe it was a vehicle malfunction, maybe I should have stayed in bed! Either way, if you're going to be dumb, you gotta be tough. Luckily, I'm solid as a rock! Thankfully, my computer took most of the hit from the drop and roll. Unfortunately, I also broke a Nikon 70-200, the lens that I do 95% of all of my photography with. I had about 5 lenses and two cameras in that bag, I can't believe more wasn't damaged.  Missing the 70-200 lens definitely forced me to change up my style for the test. Here are the photographs I captured under the circumstances.