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Derby Development

It's hard to measure your progress when you're constantly shooting. Like the proverbial frog in the frying pan, sometimes it doesn't seem like you're improving at all. While it can get tedious to photograph the same event in consecutive years, the bonus is having a chance to compare how you saw it both times.

Last year's demolition derby was my first ever and the unfamiliarity shows. I stuck mostly with the elevated shooting angle, afraid to get too close or that I'd miss out on something spectacular. What I ended up with was a lot of lame photos from the same vantage point, but did get a few snaps I liked:

Being stuck up above was the most detrimental during the show when people solicit applause for their creatively decorated cars:


This year, I utilized my press pass and got closer to the action. I skipped the time trials and wandered in the back and hung as close to the barrier as I felt comfortable during the heat races, only taking a step back after some flying dirt peppered my eyes.

One downside from being so close is that you're so hyper aware of what's going on nearby (for safety's sake) that you miss out on what's going on elsewhere. The crowd's reaction and some frantic red flag waving let me know something went wrong, but it took some running around and asking before I saw that a car had been turned on its side. I snapped a shot to toss in the gallery, but missed any of the causal action.

And when I did get some action, I didn't really care for the angle that much:

I shouldn't have been so stodgy in avoiding last year's elevated position. This rigidity has unfortunately stood out in my shooting lately, as I spend more time working the angles and compositions I like at the expense of experimentation. I'm not sure what the cure to this oft-lamented shortfall of my work is, and it's a shame I had to slide into this creative funk in the middle of colorful fair and rodeo season. And though I think I could have done better, it's nice to look back and see some improvement over last year.

Speaking of demolition...

Maybe the most ubiquitous image from Tuesday's east coast tremor is this cheeky image of a tipped picnic set. A more sophisticated look at the actual impact this mini quake had can be found over at the NY Times Lens blog, which features a collection of Washington Monument photos by Stephen Crowley. It's a neat look at finding clever ways to shoot a structure that frequently photographed.

An already troubled Tribune Company has more to worry about than tablet design, as photographer David Strick has alleged more than 500 copyright violations by the L.A. Times. Each infringement could come with up to a $150,000 award.

Sorry rabbit, 2011 may become the year of the unfortunate Photoshop jobs with ESPN the Magazine's unfortunate illustration of a white Michael Vick.

And if you loved the photo-themed rube goldberg machine I linked last month, you might like this behind-the-scenes feature on the project.


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