Living the dream…

Over the course of the last several years, I’ve had the opportunity to shoot a number of amazing cars and cool drivers.  There are a couple who really stand out – one of whom is currently recovering from a broken hip after a nasty accident drifting last week (Joe Tardiff, aka @Trailer_Joe on Instagram)  – but I’m sure he’ll be back out on the track in no time with his trademark smile and attitude.

Another driver who impresses the hell out of me time and time again is Dominic Martinez. This kid has been driving for just ONE YEAR, and his dad – Eric, has handed over the keys to his Pro-Am drift car to allow Dom to follow his dreams. Dom at Stockton Dom has proven himself in terms of driving skill, ability to react quickly and appropriately in sketchy situations, and his ability to maintain a positive, professional demeanor and presence.  All of that is great – and may not stand out a ton on it’s own… BUT .. when you consider that Dom is just 13 years old – that changes things.  This kid has a gift.  His talent has not gone unrecognized – he’s been fortunate enough to get hooked up with Formula Drift Pro driver and the man behind Drift Cave –  Matt Field, who has taken Dom under his wing and provided him with mentoring and coaching – not just on the track, but off the track as well. Additionally, with the support of Drift Cave Motorsports, Dom has a solid support team to help him refine his skills and learn the sport.

Many people in the Northern CA drift scene are aware of Dom, and the fact that he’s doing such an amazing job, but despite the fact that he has proven himself on a number of local skid pad events, he was still limited in terms of what events he could participate in due to his age (understandably).  Specifically, he wanted to enter into the Pro-Am circuit – but Formula Drift (the sanctioning body behind the Pro-Am series) states that drivers must be at least 16 years of age. MJB_7191

Throughout this year, I’ve captured thousands of photos of Dom racing at various events in Stockton, Willows and Sonoma, as well as numerous video clips, all showing his aptitude behind the wheel – so when Matt Field from Drift Cave contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to provide some content to help with the proposal to Formula Drift, requesting that they allow Dom to drive – I was happy to oblige.  That was just a couple months ago – and things obviously worked out.

The news broke about a week ago, and Matt Field posted it on his Facebook page – an article from Wrecked Mag announcing that Dom would be competing in the Golden Gate Drift Series.MJB_6181

Dom was able to participate in his first Pro-Am event this past weekend at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, CA.  A great track for drifting, with some nice tight technical turns as well as nice sweepers too.  He ended up having a successful outing for his first official Pro-Am event – Dominic qualified 9th out of 16 drivers. He had some issues with fluctuating fuel pressure from the end of practice through qualifying resulting in some inconsistency in how the car drove. He went up against Joe Freeman in the top 16. The battle was fierce, resulting in 2 “One More Time” runs, his crew resolved the fuel problem for the 3rd OMT and Dom won that battle. In the next battle (Top 8), Dom battled Travis Ragona. Dom chased first and had a strong chase run with great proximity exiting the course. On Dom’s lead run he dropped a tire in the dirt causing him to spin, giving Travis the win.  Travis end up taking 3rd place for the day.

Matt Field, providing some words of advice

Formula D Pro Matt Field, providing some words of advice

Dom and his dad Eric packed up the car – but they weren’t done for the weekend.  They went on to go to an event at Stockton 99 Speedway – the final round of Boost Drift Series.  This is a grass roots series that is often held at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds parking lot, and gives many new drivers an opportunity to hone their skills and learn the sport.  Driving at the speedway however, is a slightly different beast – the banks and walls have been known to chew up cars (including FD driver Matt Coffman’s car last year) without prejudice.  The day started as most comp days – with the first part of the day being practice runs – Dom came out and made a strong showing, had some solid leads and follow runs, playing it conservatively with the wall, but progressively getting closer throughout the morning. Around noon, there was a little bit of contact with another driver – Andrew Maglaya (who went on to win the Boost Series Season, 1st place!), and then a subsequent interaction with a pothole on the track.  Between these two incidents, the front subframe was weakened, causing the steering rack to become problematic.

This is the incident that weakened the front subframe

This is the incident that weakened the front subframe

Dom thought he was done for the day.  As is the case in the local drift scene here in Northern CA, these guys help each other out quite a bit.  Within a little while, Joe Freeman (the same Joe Freeman Dom had battled and knocked out of the running the day before at Golden Gate Drift) helped out with some on the spot welding, and got Dom back on the track.  Dom continued with practice and had some solid runs.

Dominic leading, Andrew following

Dominic leading, Andrew following

When it was time for the drivers meeting before qualifying and competition – the organizer (Rob Pascua) had to inform all the drivers that Dom was now competing in Pro-Am, and as the rules for Boost Series indicate – Pro Am drivers are not allowed to compete in Boost – UNLESS the drivers agree.  So, they agreed to hold a vote, which would be “majority rules”, to see if they wanted to allow Dom to compete with them in their series on Sunday. The vote ended up being a “no”, but in typical Dom fashion, he handled it like a pro, with a smile.  He was gracious for the opportunity to drive on the track with his friends and get some good seat time.  At the end of the day, Dom did get to go back on the track for some exhibition runs – with none other than Joe Freeman.

Exhibition run with Joe Freeman

Exhibition run with Joe Freeman

Having been around Dom and Eric at a number of events, I’m always impressed with the amazing bond, and incredible level of support Eric has for Dom – it’s inspiring.  I can’t wait to see what this kid ends up doing – he’s got a bright future ahead of him, and sponsors will likely be lining up at his doorstep in a short time.  Be sure to follow Dominic on Instagram – .. don’t take your eyes off this kid – he’s moving fast.

Also keep an eye on my Facebook Page and Instagram Feed for more photos of Dom!



The Batmobile will ride again…

A fun job I’ve been working on for a while – documenting the restoration of one of the first Batmobiles ever created.  This car was originally built back in the early 1960’s as a home-built project – which was then rented by All-Star Dairies to promote their line of Batman-themed ice cream and beverages.  The car was built on an Oldsmobile chassis, with a totally custom fiberglass body.

The car sat for a number of years until 2013 when it was purchased by a collector who is committed to restoring it to it’s original glory.  The restoration is being completed in Sacramento by a fabricator who’s done work on a number of cars, including the convertible Buick driven by Tom Cruise in “Rain Man”.

They are hoping to have the car completed for the Sacramento Autorama show at Cal-Expo the weekend of Feb 14-16.

Here are some links to more info on the story:


And of course – some photos!

Batmobile-1-2 Batmobile-1-3 Batmobile-1-4 Batmobile-1-5 Batmobile-1-6 Batmobile-1-7 Batmobile-1-8 Batmobile-1


After playing with the G1X a bit..

I’ve had the new Canon G1X for a little over a week now, and have had some time to play with it and check out the images..

To give a little background, my main camera is a Canon 7D DSLR with a couple of L Lenses (24-70 and 70-300),… I bought the G1X from the great folks at Mike Crivellos Camera to use for traveling and as something a little easier to carry around than my big DSLR setup. I have high standards for image quality after using the 7D for a year and a half now… and the G1X has exceeded my expectations with the quality of images I get out of it. It is a full-featured camera and is definitely aimed towards someone who wants Digital SLR features, functions and quality in a camera that is a little bit smaller and easier to carry around. There are only a couple downsides to the camera as far as I can tell:

  • Focal distance doesn’t go as far as some people might like
  • Aperture is variable as focal length increases, and it is f/2.8 at the widest aperture (many people are complaining that it should have been f/2.0)
  • It is a little heavy and bulky, it’s certainly not as easily pocketed as an S100 or something like that.
  • It’s a little slow to focus, so for action shots, it won’t be ideal. .but for travel (landscapes, buildings, portraits, etc), it will be great.
  • Finally, it’s not cheap. At $799, it is an expensive compact camera… but I believe you get what you pay for.

But it’s still much smaller than a DSLR, provides nearly the same image quality as a DSLR with kit lens, and you don’t have to fumble with lenses. Overall, I am VERY happy with my purchase, and so far have been exceptionally happy with the image quality.  Part of the reason the IQ is so high, is that it has a sensor that is nearly as large as what is in my 7D.. much bigger than what’s found in most compact cameras.

Pontiac Firebird

Backlit Firebird - taken with Canon G1X

Could use a new car for carrying around camera gear

I love my 94 Mazda Miata .. it’s a blast to drive, gets decent gas mileage, but doesn’t have a huge trunk. I think this would be a great ride to use for traveling to photo shoots with my camera gear… just need to take some collections from friends and family..

56 Benz wagon

how cool would this be?

I would be happy with any of the cars on this page, actually.

The Power of the Print

As a photographer, I find myself taking anywhere between 500-1500 photos at a given event, depending on how long I’m there, and what’s going on.  I usually have no reason to get prints of my work, because they would just sit around in an envelope or a box somewhere.  I prefer to show my digital images on line (Facebook, Flickr, Smugmug, etc)..

However, prior to a recent shoot where I tagged along with some great muscle cars, I printed up a bunch of 8×10 prints and put them in an easy-to-carry portfolio.  When I committed to the shoot, I had one client who had committed to pay me for shots of his car.  When I arrived and met the other car owners, I introduced myself as a photographer.. I didn’t get an overwhelming response.. however, when I showed them my portfolio of 8×10 prints of other cars (primarily shots from a car show I had recently attended and from Sacramento Raceway), they were VERY interested.  I ended up getting 3 additional clients that day.

This past weekend, I went back to Sacramento Raceway to shoot the ‘NorCal Invasion‘.  Prior to getting all my gear set up, I walked around the pit area with my portfolio and a bunch of business cards.  I recognized one car from a shoot I did at Infineon Raceway last year and approached the owner.  I didn’t have a print of his car, but I did have my iPhone, and quick access to one of my online galleries.  I showed him my print portfolio that I was carrying around, and while he was looking at that, I pulled up an image of his car from Infineon on my phone and showed it to him.  He nearly fell over – he must have commented 3 or 4 times about how much he loved that shot of his car, and would want to order it.  By showing him what my final print products looked like, and an iPhone-sized image of his car – he could tell that a print of his car would look great.  That night at the racetrack, I made sure I got plenty of pictures of his car to add to my gallery for him… after speaking with him tonight, he’s very excited to order a bunch of prints in various sizes.

It just goes to show – that while our lives are becoming more and more digital every day (and I LOVE it!), there is still something VERY compelling about the power of a printed image that has much more impact than a picture on a computer screen.

This is the image of the guys’ car from Infineon that he loved so much.  It was one of my favorite photos from that weekend as well.. I was really happy to be able to find the owner of the car so I could show him the image I created… and then to see his reaction – priceless.  This is what being a photographer is all about!