Friday, November 16, 2012

My photo published for an ad for LifeProof™ in Lava Magazine.

Wow. Wow. Wow. I'm wildly excited and can't contain myself.
I feel like a little kid who discovers that you can jump up and down, up and down, up and down on a bed loaded with springs!!!!

My photo (on two pages, double-spread)  got published
 for the LifeProof™ ad,
on the inside cover of  the
Dec/Jan 2013 issue of Lava Magazine. 
(The 2012 Hawaii Ironman Commemorative Issue)

I took this photo during the 2012 Kona Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.  

Pictured here is triathlete Andy Potts, the 1st American to cross the finish line at this year's Kona Ironman.  
Andy is sponsored by LIFEPROOF™ 
Click HERE for LIFEPROOF's Website

        Above the arrow is my name. 
        Shiggy Ichinomiya
        Yipppppeee thank you for including a photo credit in this ad. 

(Above: Wow, a double page ad for LifeProof™.  
I love the ad copy: 
"Without Challenge, There is No Victory."
(Lovin' the word "challenge." Reminds me of a certain GSG 30 Challenge!! he hee!!) 

(Above: Here is a screenshot of the photo that I took from

Lava's Digital Magazine.)

(Above: The cover of the issue that my photo is in. 
Flip this cover to the next page and voila.)
Cover Photo Credit: ????

Yay, finally found a copy of Lava Magazine at Barnes & Noble!!

How did I get the shot? 

The many "challenges:"

1) Getting a photograph of Andy Potts on his bicycle whizzing by you at speeds in excess of 25 plus miles per hour.

The challenge: To capture a photo that isn't blurry.

Technique used: I panned with Andy as he went by and took multiple photos while making sure that "I" was tracking the subject and not allowing the camera to do so.

I didn't just hold down the shutter and machine gun fire away. I shot each shot, one by one, frame by frame,  so that within those split seconds, I could adjust the focus so that the camera's focus was tracking the subject that I was zooming in on versus allowing  the camera to automatically track something irrelevant for me.   (I learned my lesson from shooting Mirinda Carfrae during Kona Ironman  last year.  My camera's focus was aimed at Rinny, however, a spectator appeared in the background and the camera locked onto him, and I didn't make the re-adjustments intime and by the time I checked, the opportunity was missed. Result: a few of Rinny's initials shots were blurry,  however, the spectator was picture perfect. I learned from this mistake. This time around, I was ready. 

My result: Razor sharp, tack sharp photo of Andy!! 

2) Getting a photograph of LifeProof™ sponsored triathlete, Andy Potts that is free of distractions---->>People.

The challenge: People get in the way of photos. Other triathletes and competitors and competing brands get in the picture frame thereby corrupting  the photo rendering them useless.

I had two opportunities to take a photo of Andy Potts riding his tri bike during the race.  Two opportunities seems like a lot, but so many things can go wrong. And you guessed it, like Murphy's Law dictates, if it can go will go wrong.   The first time Andy Potts rode by me, I had the perfect shot of him. Just like a sniper. Crystal clear. Great background. Great facial expression. Great lighting. (It was around 7:45am when the sun was giving the athletes a nice "golden" look to them.) And BAM, you guessed it, right when I saw Andy sandwiched between two other riders and it was my opportunity to nail the shot, an NBC camera crew on a motorcycle pulled next to Andy, right, smack-dab in the very middle of my shot, rendering my photo, null, void, zero, useless, a goner.  Yikes, I only have one opportunity left. I had to now wait until he rode all the way to Havi and back to my destination (over 3 or so looooooooong hour wait in the baking sun, until I had my next and final chance.)

An additional challenge:  The waiting game. How will I know when Andy would return and go past me?  What if I accidentally looked down for a split-second and zoom, zoom, zoom, he flies past me?  

Technique: Listen for the sound of the helicopter and look up.  When I saw the helicopter, I knew that the first triathlete would be close. Why? Because the camera crew in the helicopter tracks the first triathlete on the bike. The first, second, third triathlete jammed by me and still no Andy.

Result: And then from far away, out of the corner of my hazel eye, I could make out Andy's blue uniform and got myself ready.  I did some test shots of exactly where I wanted to shoot. I checked the exposure, the composition, and fired some test shots, just like a golfer would when she swings a couple of times before actually swinging her club and making contact with the ball. I was ready. And then, click, click, click. Three shots as Andy was going from my right side. Click, click, click, as Andy was crossing my chest area directly infront of me. And then click, click, click, click, click as I focused on Andy's back and rear of his uniform that had LifeProof emblazoned on it.

3) Getting a photograph of LifeProof™ sponsored triathlete, Andy Potts, that is free of distractions---->>Things

The challenge:  Not only do people get in the way of photos, so do cars, motorcycles, competing sponsor's signs and those hideous grey guardrails on the side of the street.  I've seen many photos captured by both amateurs and professionals with horrible distractions in the backgrounds. Lamposts. Traffic signals.  Buildings that are bland and not unique. Shops. Restaurants. Malls.  

that get in the way of the black lava, indigenous to Hawaii. (Not necessarily "indigenous" per-se, but indicative of Hawaii versus another location, say Florida, or Wisconsin.) 

Before leaving for Hawaii, I went to 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica and I happened upon palm trees. Then I went to Venice and saw palm trees. Around LAX airport are, you guessed it, palm trees. There are palm trees in Arizona, palm trees in Florida, palm trees in Jamaica, palm trees in, aloha, Hawaii. Essentially, if I took a photo of an athlete next to a palm tree, the location could be pretty much "anywhere."

What separates Kona from Santa Monica, Venice or Florida and makes it very unique? The black lava fields. Though not "indigenous" to Hawaii per-se, the black lava fields, the hot and baking death black lava fields are well known to the Ironman triathletes and make the race what it is--molten lava, IRON and Steel, hot, hot, hot!!!

The challenge: Taking a photograph of LifeProof™ sponsored triathlete, Andy Potts, that looks like it was taken in Hawaii. 

In order to get out to an area that is free of distractions, without spectators around, without a bland background behind the triathlete. you have to either drive there, ride on a motorcycle there, or bike there.  Sure, you can walk or run there, however, with 2 camera bodies, a flash, a couple of GoPros, a wide angle lens, a heavy 70-200mm lens and a 24-70mm lens, and liquids just in case,  the walking or running doesn't really become feasible.

Additional challenge: Motorcycle and bicycle rentals were completely rented out months and months in advance. 

What to do? What to do?  Finding excuses, one part of me said why bother?  Oh what the heck, I'll just compromise and settle for any old photo of Andy on a bike, when suddenly I remembered what the cab driver told me. When I arrived in Kona I got in a cab. I noticed that "lava"  around the airport was a good location to take photos. I asked the cab driver how far it would be from the airport to the bike start at the Kona Ironman transition area.

He said about 5-6 miles. I instantly started whining and complaining about how far it was.  Ahh, woe is me. Poor me. I have to walk that. And this is when the cab driver started to get angry with me.  He said, "how badly do YOU want it? If you want it bad enough, you'd walk, 5, 10, 15, 20 miles to get the shot."  In my head I started to hear the Rocky Balboa theme song. Dan, dan, dan, dan, dan, dan, dan....eye of the tiger........

How badly do YOU want it?  I recalled a viral YouTube video that said: "When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, THEN you'll be successful."

Game on. Mission accepted. Bond, Shiggy Bond. Captain Shiggyemerica!!!

Quick thinking solution: Just two days before the start of Kona Ironman I happened to grab a quick coffee and some wifi service at Starbucks.  Even though I knew the bike rentals were sold out, I was persistent and asked the Starbucks barrista where I could get a bike.  She nonchalantly said, "hey, why don't you try Walmart?" Bingo. Solutions baby!!!  I asked her where one was, and she pointed towards Walmarts direction and told me that it was approximately a mile away.

I hoofed it to Walmart. The bike area was almost completely stripped. Other adventurers like me had already cleaned out the place. What was left was a pink girly bike a couple of bikes with training wheels and one bright orange boys BMX bike. You guessed it, THAT is the bike I bought.  $68 bucks. Since it was a kids bike, I didn't have to pay the additional $15 dollars for registering it with the police in case it got stolen. I also purchased a lock for $12-15 bucks. 

(Above: Sunburned. Rock lobster face!!) 

 (Above: Yikes, don't hit my precious bike please Mr. Helicopter!
 Notice: Nothing for miles around. Just vultures ready to pick my bones when I collapse from heat exhaustion!!  Hey, the heat does funny things to the mind.)

RACE DAY morning:

I was at the swim start when the canon exploded with a bang 6:30am for the pros.  I took a couple of pics (one of my friend Angi Greene and Josh Cox on the huge TV monitor---they were reporting live for Ironman™) and then walked between triathletes, spectators, fans, friend, family and dogs and made my way a mile or so uphill to where I had locked my bike. (At the Starbucks.)

Then I got on my tiny little bike and started pedaling. And pedaling. And pedaling. My butt got more sore the further I went. (It still hurt, over 3 weeks after because it wasn't used to sitting on a tiny bike, with tiny wheels and ridiculously uncomfortable saddle!!! Plus, I hadn't ridden a bike for over 6 months.  I raised the post as high as it could go without it coming out from the frame. Yes, believe me it was wobbly!! I probably looked like one of those circus clowns that ride those miniature bikes!! ha haa!!)

I remembered and will NEVER forget.....

 COMFORT ZONE--------------->>> MAGIC

 COMFORT ZONE--------------->>> MAGIC

I had to go beyond my comfort zone for the MAGIC to happen.

(Above: Actual VIDEO of me riding my flaming orange $68 dollar BMX bike from Walmart being passed by triathletes on bikes upwards of $16,000.
Please watch.)

I pedaled and pedaled. I stopped a few times to access the location, the rising of the sun, the shadows. I took my camera out and did some mock test shots. I wasn't satisfied and pedaled some more.  Boy, it's getting hotter. Man, the farther I go means that's the same distance I have to pedal back!!! Should I stop now? Is this location "good enough" or was I being lazy and just settling for mediocrity.  Or should I pedal far and like the national bestselling books states: From Good to Great?  What happens if I get a flat? I would have to walk back.  What happens if I run out of water? Would I perish and have vultures pick at my bones?  Crazy thoughts go through your mind, even though you have a cell phone in your hand,  aid stations are around, and medical cars go by!! I laugh now, but seriously, it's amazing what the mind can think about.....if you let it. If not, let it FOCUS on the MAGIC!!! FOCUS on the MAGIC!!

4 miles. Not happy. 5 miles. Better. Past the airport. 6 miles. Perfect. No guard rails. Airport in the background could make for a unique photo.....if a plane landed.   So at the 6-7 mile marker, I set up my gear.

I attached a GoPro to a Gorillapod (a flexible and bendy, wrap around tripod)  and wrapped that around the BMX handlebar. I pointed it to the street to where I anticipated the bikes to come.  I pulled out both of my cameras and had them around my neck and on my shoulder.  I was ready. Race ready!! lol

Ladies and gentlemen, now you know why I went through what I did to get the shot that I wanted.  I planned that shot before leaving to Hawaii. I pre-visualized it.  In my mind's eye I had already shot it.  The only thing I had to do was execute and follow through. Whatever is necessary, whatever it takes? Yes, a BMX is what it took. Yes, a kick in the butt from the cab driver is what it took. And yes, I'm incredibly thankful for LifeProof™.

(Above: The family at this aid station was so kind, friendly and nice to me. Though I wasn't a triathlete participating in the Ironman they offered me water, Coca-Cola,  pretzels and orange slices.  

They didn't ask for anything in return. Just a bunch of nice volunteers who want to keep the tradition of volunteering for the Kona Ironman going.  The kids have been volunteering or coming to support pretty much since they were born. The mum (coincidentally in the orange like my bike) has volunteered all her life because her mum volunteered almost at the inception of Ironman some 30 years ago. 

Just as I was about to call it a wrap, I pulled the mum aside and asked her permission if she would accept a bicycle. She was beaming with happiness. And you should have seen the look on the kiddos faces when I donated my bike to them.......Priceless!!!

.....and that's my magical story......Magic!!! Pass it on!!!!

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