Wednesday, January 8, 2014

You're Never Too Busy

 Recently I read an on line commentary that focused on using the phrase "I am so busy". Guess what? It isn't  respectable anymore  and we all should stop using it, like a knee jerk response when someone asks us how we are. We are also supposed to try and go an ENTIRE YEAR without saying that.

 So....I won't update today saying I have been so busy and felt too overwhelmed with all I could write,  so instead, I just decided to avoid writing altogether.   You didn't just read that, ok?

I'll try and make this one short 'cause I know you're  busy too.  :-)

My Belgian friend Kris Claeye  has been nagging me to come to Belgium for over a year. He finally wore me down so I booked a flight and off I went for a week December 17th.  I crammed as much as I could in the time I was there. Home base was Brussels.  I spent 6 hours walking around Brussels on one day. I shopped, drank expresso at cozy little cafes
and drank Belgian brew.
Oh yeah.. and I shot pictures at two cyclocross races. One  in Essen and a World Cup race in Namur.   It was a treat to have a my Belgian host  pick me up in Brussels and escort me out of the city to the race venues, give me the low down on all things Flemish, while I gave him lots of practice polishing up his English.  Kris has a coveted press pass/accreditation  to shoot at the race venues which got us prime parking and no entry fee. It also got Kris entry to areas I wasn't allowed while I pouted.
 I worked it  HARD out there buttering up spectators with big smiles while pointing and giving hand signals with my main goal being: get as close to the fencing as possible so I could crouch down and sometimes just plain sit in the mud  to avoid iPhones poking out into my shots. Many times in frustration, I wanted to ask the live feed camera operators perched up high if I could come up for a visit with my camera but I  just didn't have the guts to do it. Silly American girl....

It's a trip I will not forget soon  ever. Cyclocross in Belgium is similar to cyclocross in the US but magnified 3 x over.
It's the only way I can describe it.  It's intense, the courses unbelievably technical, It's no frills and they ( the spectators, and athletes) take it seriously. You will see all ages of spectators and they appear to not be athletic or do the sport themselves.
Wouldn't she rather be baking Christmas cookies?
  It's nothing to spend 150 euros to gain a pass to  the VIP tent set up just for spectators.
Just how popular is it?
If you ask anyone here in the US on the street what cyclocross is, they would look at you like your from another planet.  But over in Belgium, it's a whole different ball of wax.   A waiter at my hotel in Brussels who was Moroccan no less, knew exactly what I meant when I said " I'm here to shoot pictures at 2 cyclocross events."  "Namur?" He asked.   "Oui!!" I said.

I am ever so grateful for my amazing host who scooped me up the night I arrived and brought  me to the Christmas Market with his family in Brussels, took a day off from work to drag the wide eyed  American girl thru the streets of Ghent and Brouge,  Punched up my skills for tack sharp shooting  in less than idea lighting conditions and has made me very thoughtful of what I will post for images now that my standards are even higher in post production.

 Thrown into a foreign environment knowing I only had 2 days to shoot pictures in a place I may never visit again, I did a mini freakout on the first day.  I let the elements,  the conditions the spectators were given to navigate through and around coupled with the lack in control of where I wanted to shoot, get the best of me.
Spectator walk thru  
You ain't in Kansas anymore I quickly figured out.  By the end of the day I was muddy, wet and cold.
My boots after day one.
   I finally understood the law of reciprocity in photography. It was gonna be sink or swim standing in dim lighting even at 12 noon without a flash trying to capture action and not have a memory card of 400 plus images all blurry. You can read all you want to learn a new skill  but to me, there's nothin' better than hands on learning all the while  referring back to what you've actually read and only then does it really make sense.  For 2 days, all I did was constantly adjust shutter speeds, apertures and iso settings while quickly learning that when you do this, it affects that. And if your gonna do that, then you better adjust this AND that. Are you with me?  All of this as the light  was fading while trying to hold a heavy camera still in wet conditions while elbowing my way through burly old Belgian men. Do I sound whiny? Honestly, I loved every minute. It wasn't easy and that's what made it even more special.

Big Burly Belgian Men Example 

Next up: Boulder Colorado for Cyclocross Nationals this weekend. I am very excited!  It was a  last minute trip and one that I couldn't pass up. I am grateful to Vinu Malik the founder of FuelBelt who graciously helped me make the trip worth while.

Thanks for checking in!

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