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100 Acre Woods

I made a mistake last weekend.

That mistake was finding a new hobby that will inevitably cause me to buy more car parts that I probably don’t need.

That mistake was rally.

Rally (noun) : a form of motorsport that takes place on public or private roads with modified production or specially built road-legal cars. It is distinguished by running not on a circuit, but instead in a point-to-point format in which participants and their co-drivers drive between set control points (special stages), leaving at regular intervals from one or more start points.

In the small, quiet, and often cell-service-less towns of Salem, Potosi, and Steelville, Missouri there comes a time during every spring when the air is filled with gravel, rev limiters, and exuberant cheering along many backroads. A closer look will show fearless drivers throwing their cars throw corners at insane speeds and seemingly sprouting wings over crests, all surrounded by exuberant (and often times relatively drunk) fans standing on the side of the road amongst the towering trees of the Mark Twain National Forest. This was 100 Acre Woods Rally. And it was exhilarating.

A handful of us had the privilege to tour the Subaru Rally Team’s staging area with a private tour the day before the entire rally, giving us an up close look at their cars and a chance to speak with their techs to learn more about the half-million dollar (PER) machines in front of us.

Day 2 had us at the Parc Expose as each team arrived, offering fans the opportunity to spend some time with both the teams and cars. Among the familiar faces at the event were drivers and teams like Ken Block with Hoonigan; David Higgins, Craig Drew, Oliver Solberg, and Aaron Johnston with Subaru Rally Team; and a surprising appearance from Mike Lovejoy who I had a chance to meet at the 2017 Subaru National Business Conference in Denver. At the end of the Parc Expose was the Special Stage that highlighted the
general spirit of what rally is and gave the teams a chance to show off their vehicles for all the fans, from which they departed off to the stages for the day.

Heading out from the Parc Expose – our group decided on Stage 3, which consisted of a long straight followed by a sweeping upwards right hand turn into a tunnel of trees. As this was my first rally to shoot, I experimented between capturing frozen motion along with some tracking and panning shots. Throughout the weekend, I wanted to experiment with the panning, both during the day and night stages. This resulted in some more artistic shots than I usually shoot, but am relatively excited about the results.

The last portion of the day had us at an amazing night stage. We arrived a few hours early and after a few drinks and a chance to finally get some food in our systems, we patiently waited for the sun to drop below the horizon and the safety cars make their way through the stage. As soon as the safety cars made their way through the stage and it was hot, the sounds of “CARRRRR!” from the fans radiated through the stage as each car lit up the long approach into a tight lefthand hairpin turn. This was a challenging stage to shoot at night, so I took some liberties with shooting a little less traditionally.

After a long, exhausting day, we all hit the sack relatively early as soon as we got back to our cabin (albeit, “early” being midnight or just slightly past). Our earliest, and last, morning offered one of the most exciting stages that has made a name for itself as a result of both amazing footage AND potential crashes. Thankfully, all we had this time was the former. The Cattle Guard Jump. The name is pretty self explanatory.

And now, after only a little after 48 hours of experience… I want a rally car.

Should I do it? Road to Rally on Youtube? 😉

Fostech 2018

Had the chance to work with Fostech Inc. again this year on their yearly catalog creating some badass images – went a little bigger this year than last, and I’m very pleased with how the results have turned out…

This year we had access to an empty warehouse with some really interesting piping fixtures and industrial looks that we utilized to bring some of the images and scenes to life, which also meant setting off significant amounts of smoke bombs inside… I feel bad that the new tenants will have a lingering sulfur smell, but also not really because it made for some amazing images.

This year I wanted to stretch my legs and dive a little more into some composite work, so I modeled a few of these off of some Call of Duty style images and was pleasantly surprised with how they turned out! Definitely want to work more on these and learn as much as I can about making these as seamless and perfect as possible…

Ended up having a few of my friends come down from Indy to help with this shoot, and I couldn’t have done it without the direction from my Marine friend Nich, my coworker Andrew, and Shane for providing the badass Jeep below…

Last but, definitely not least, the main selling images for all of their products…

We’re going to go bigger next year…

// never judge a book by its cover

I want to touch on something tonight that’s been on my mind and my heart for a while in a community that’s brought a lot of joy into my life, but recently has seemed SO toxic and cancerous that it makes me just want to step back and be done with it for good. Most of you reading this post will be reading it with the subject of cars in mind, so by this point, you’ve figured out that the communities that I’m talking about are the car communities… the car enthusiasts of today’s day and age. The car enthusiasts that grew up getting hyped about cars in the Fast and Furious movies. The car enthusiasts that were immersed in the golden era of some of the best advances in automotive engineering we’ve seen. But that seems to be about the only thing that’s moving forward and improving – the cars. Everything else… the shit talking, the hate, the bashing left and right… it gets worse and worse every day. You know… I’m sitting here at my computer, both my dogs laying at my feet, mindlessly watching How I Met Your Mother re-runs on the tv for background noise, and I really am confused and baffled by the ridiculous opinions and hate formed in these “enthusiast” based communities. All I see is people making digs at each other left and right just for a cheap thrill. But for what? Does it serve a purpose?

For those of you reading this that fit the bill, for those of you who wear this shoe proudly, let me ask you something – what good are the things you’re saying and the way you’re talking about others doing anyone? Do you feel fulfilled as you spew this bullshit left and right about people you don’t know, or maybe haven’t given the chance to get to know? Now I ask you this not because I’m a saint in this area, because I sure as hell am not. There are people in this car community that I disliked and hated on for reasons that seem petty and childish now… I was that person. I was you. And then I gave people a chance. I met people that for so long had been nothing more than annoyances in my eyes, and in the last few years, while I’ll still joke around with friends, have realized that maybe… just maybe… giving people a chance before judging who they APPEAR to be, and in many cases who OTHERS make them out to be, is the right thing.

“I’ve tried to race him so many times but no dice.”

“He’s all show, no go.”

“Pussy. Won’t race.”

Just a few of the choice words I’ve seen from the car “community” here in Indianapolis when people talk about seeing Shawn and his beautiful Evo out and about in Indy. How did we get to this point? How did we come to be a community that hates and looks down on people that don’t put themselves and their cars in danger just for a cheap thrill?

I get it… street racing in fun. It’s in our DNA as car enthusiasts for God’s sake. It’s an adrenaline rush to hear the rush of blood in your ears as you’re shoved backwards into your seat as the accelerator slams to the floor after that third honk… but do we so easily forget the family that lost their lives not long ago due to the carelessness and recklessness of “one of our own” who, in the grand scheme of things, got off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist? Do we continue craving more and more adrenaline that we get to the point where we’re bashing people for NOT joining in on that adrenaline high? At the end of the day, it’s a drug for some people, but if it’s your drug don’t get mad at others when they choose not to partake.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Shawn for a short while, and it comes without saying that he epitomizes the true car enthusiasts. The enthusiast working tirelessly on his car AND his friends cars to see dreams come true. He works incredibly hard at a hospital changing peoples’ lives with a many times thankless job. He keeps his head down, works hard, stays humble, and above all else, he’s respectful and kind to people.

You want to be a better person tomorrow than the person you’re looking in the mirror at right now? Take a page out of Shawn’s book and stop judging others by what you perceive as the cover.