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The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

2018 Virginia Gold Cup

Another year, and another Virginia Gold Cup in the books!

This was on my second Gold Cup, and it took a bit of convincing to get me to go again after last year's disastrous first attendance; I am happy to report that I did not get assaulted and threatened with physical violence by any random attendees like I did at last year's rainy mud-fest of a horse-race.  In fact, if you watched the Kentucky Derby today, the weather at that event mirrored the Gold Cup's weather one year ago.  Although it did sprinkle off and on as the afternoon went on, it was still much drier and enjoyable than the introductory fiasco from last year.

One benefit to being a muddy mess is it makes for dramatic pictures.  I admittedly was more focused on relaxing than capturing photos this year, and my placement during the event was at the beginning of the home-stretch, not at the finish line like last year; for those reasons, I feel last year's photos turned out more dramatic, but that's no problem.

Since I presented last year's muddy photos in grungy black and white, I am sharing this year's captures in color.  If you'd like to see all the photos in color and black and white (or even make a purchase), you can do so by viewing the gallery here.

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Arterra Wines

Burnt out from last year's rain, we had a rain contingency plan this year since the weather was forecasted to be spotty; after enjoying a nice picnic lunch and spectating several of the races, the rain started rolling in and we packed up to head to a nearby winery.  Being wine people, we'd visited quite a few of the nearest ones (Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn is a unanimous favorite), so with a bit of driving around we landed on Aterra Wines; a small, modern rustic barn tasting room with a selection of varietal and blended wines.  With bold, fruity flavors and low tannins, this winery's offerings are on the sweeter side, and wine drinkers of all places on the sweet / dry spectrum will find a refreshing Summer wine to enjoy with a snack here.  This hit the spot on a warm, rainy day!

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Upon leaving The Plains, we spotted a controlled burn on the mountain opposite us; it appeared to be burning piles of branches from felled trees, with the satisfying smell to accompany this educated guess.

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Katie's Cars and Coffee: April 28th, 2018

It's been almost two years since I visited Katie's (though I thought I went last Summer, however don't have any pictures from it).  It was nice to get out to a car show again; I went to the Ferrari Club of America Spring Thaw last week, but Katie's has offerings from every make, model, era, and style, so I find it more enjoyable.

A friend of mine is borrowing a tilt-shift lens for fun to learn how they work, so this time I brought along my under-loved TS-E 90mm f/2.8; Canon's first tilt-shift lens ever, first introduced in 1991, and the world's first telephoto length 35mm tilt-shift lens - at 90mm, this lens is designed for tabletop product photography, such as foods, but I've found use for it as a portrait lens, and in my wedding photography for capturing wedding rings.  As it turns out, the lens my friend was borrowing was Nikon's 28mm f/3.5 PC, which only features a shift adjustment; no tilt - the PC stands for Perspective Correction.  Perspective adjustments via shift are useful for architectural photography; any focus plane effects you see in the photos below are tilt only, as I don't have use for shift in these types of images, plus the effect of shift on this focal length has very few useful applications.

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The RTR Mustang was a spot I almost missed.

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The heavily modified 350Z got a lot of attention.  While it's not my taste, it was well built.  I gathered that this is an example build for a local performance garage (there was a matching Ford truck also at the show).

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Algonkian Regional Park

After Katie's, we met up with Imran and decided to go to Algonkian Regional Park to at least enjoy some of the nice weather, and play with the 28mm f/3.5 PC (Great Falls was too packed).  I still have not been hiking since reconstructive knee surgery in October, and this was also a good warm-up / test, since Algonkian is just a simple dirt path.  There happened to be a 50 mile / 50K / 10K / 5K race sponsored by The North Face going on while we were there, and the thought of such a distance alone makes my knee ache.  I had pushed myself running a 5K the day before (my limit right now seems to be two 5Ks per week), so my knee was already hurting before we even got there.  Though for day-to-day I am 100%, athletically my knee is still recovering.

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2018 Ferrari Club of America Spring Thaw

Spring has sprung (hopefully for good; no more freak April snow events please!) and that means cars and coffee events are about to pick up.  Kicking things off for the year is the Ferrari Club of America's Spring Thaw; a chance to get the cars hidden away in the garage over Winter out and stretch their legs some.

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The Testarossa was one of the cars that got me into cars; as a child, I had a 1:18 size red Testarossa toy car - this is my earliest memory of a specific childhood toy.

The Ferrari Testarossa is one of the most iconic cars for both Italian sports cars and the 80s as a decade.  Although it wasn't the only Ferrari in the show, many people remember the Testarossa from Miami Vice (although I am slightly too young to fall into this demographic).

Like most cars, the Testarossa underwent updates every few years; these small incremental changes can drastically change the value and desirability of a given example.  The very first Testarossas only had one mirror (distinctively mounted on the driver's side roofline), but this changed to a standard two-mirror design a few years into production.

The 512TR was the first major update to the Testarossa, and is often the most sought after model of Testarossa due to the increased power output and usability upgrades, such as improved clutch and shifter engagements.  The 512TR can readily be identified by spotting the facelift front foglights, updated wheels design, and black engine cover / third brake light (US spec).  You can see some of these design differences between the standard Testarossa and the 512TR, including the changes to its flat-12 engine, with the two versions parked side-by-side below.

(I still have never seen an F512M (the Testarossa's final version) in person.)

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I am by no means a die-hard Ferrari fan-boy, but the 599 with its flying buttresses has also always been a favorite; it's a direct successor to another favorite of mine, the 550 Maranello, and going back a few more generations, the Testarossa again (I like grand tourers, if you haven't figured this out yet).  Originally an aesthetic feature with the bonus of aerodynamics, the flying buttress introduced by the 599's design is now an element included in almost all modern supercars, such as the new Ford GT, BMW i8, and numerous McLarens, to name a few.

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Of course the F40 is another icon of racing history; I arrived past the start time and missed a second F40 parked next to it.

Fun fact; even though there were almost 10,000 Testarossas produced and only 1,315 F40s, I have seen more F40s in my lifetime than Testarossas.

Like most kids, I had an F40 Hot Wheels as a kid.

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Somehow a few other cars made it into the Ferrari show; a Maserati GranTurismo, a Porsche 911 GT2, a McLaren MP4-12C Spider, and a... Miata?

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Proof nature says it's Spring:

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The Kia Stinger Experience Tour

This weekend I participated in the Kia Stinger Experience Tour; Washington, DC is Kia's third stop along a nine city tour across the country.

The Kia Stinger Experience Tour allows the new Kia Stinger's performance be explored in an autocross setting. I've attended several other similar brand experience events, but Kia made a notable addition of pitting their product head-to-head against three competitor models.

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This would actually mark the second time I've driven a Stinger, although the previous occasion was in DC traffic that disallowed truly opening up the vehicle's 365 twin-turboed horsepower.  After a brief brand introduction and event overview, the group went outside to get a tour of the 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 from outside to inside.

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Next was the main event; autocross!  At 5,605 feet, the mile-long course was comprised of a mix of slalom, chicanes, and hairpins allowing drivers to test the Stinger's acceleration, speed, and handling characteristics, comparing them to an Audi A5, BMW 640i GranCoupe, and a Porsche Panamera 4.

Each lap included direction from a professional racing instructor whose goal is to help you fully experience each car's abilities, and improve your own skill.  I've had the range from great to piss-poor instructors in other driving events, so I was very happy when I quickly determined that my instructor at the Kia event is the best I've driven with.  With 25 years experience teaching performance and tactical driving for the FBI, military, and law enforcement, he gave my driving lots of praise, leaving me with only one minor piece of advice to tweak my performance driving.

First was a lap in the Kia Stinger, beginning with a 0-60-0 run to feel the acceleration and braking abilities.

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Following a lap in the Stinger was a lap in one of the three competitor cars on hand.  Unfortunately drivers only got a chance to drive one of the three.  Hands down the Panamera was the popular kid in the class, with almost everyone requesting wheel time in the Porsche.  Due to timing this was not possible, but I was still lucky enough to get a lap behind the wheel of the Panamera.  Although it wasn't the 911 I dream of one day owning, it was still my first experience getting wheel-time in a Porsche.

At 330 horsepower, the Panamera 4 was the weakest car in the foursome, while also the most expensive at $108,000 as equipped, however I thought it outperformed the Stinger on this course despite the 35hp deficit and 300lbs of weight.  I attribute this to Porsche's highly praised PDK gearbox and heritage of handling perfection.  By the numbers the Stinger is ½ a second faster thank the Panamera 4 in 0-60 runs, and near equal to the Porsche in timed course runs.  My observations are purely impressional, and may also have been influenced by the course familiarization I'd gained in the Stinger, and subsequent ability to push the vehicle's limits further with that knowledge.

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The final lap was back in the Stinger, but with the racing instructor behind the wheel to demonstrate the Stinger's full potential.  This lap was clearly the quickest - I am by no means a professional driver, and again, I stand by that a little more course familiarization would have gone a long way.  My instructor used this lap to demonstrate and explain the slight tweak to my steering technique for hard turns he had advised.  I am so very happy I drove and rode with the instructor I did; he was by far the most helpful instructor I've driven with, despite the fact that most of his comments were affirmation that I was following correct lines and traversing corners properly.

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Check here to see if your city is next for the Kia Stinger Experience Tour, and sign up today, especially if you've not yet driven this fantastic performing car!

Air Line Pilot, April, 2017

Today I have some exciting news to share with you dating back almost a year ago!

Early March of last year, in partnership with the Air Line Pilots Association, I helped commemorate Captain John Prater's final commercial flight before retiring by photographing his arrival landing to Dulles from Paris.  Captain Prater began his aviation career in 1978, going on to be elected President of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) in 2006.

This was an event photoshoot I coordinated with Dulles Airport Operations to capture several key shots desired for the article being written in Air Line Pilot magazine about Captain Prater's retirement; OPS ensured I had speedy access to the airfield to capture the planned shots of the United 787 Dreamliner's landing on R/W 1C, ceremonial water arch in front of the historic Main Terminal Building, and subsequent ceremonial events in anticipation of capturing a cover image.  Unfortunately, even though it was a scene I've captured at previous photoshoots, I wasn't able to capture the image planned for the cover this time due to weather interference; since that was the case, and I never heard any other information after the photoshoot, I thought I'd missed the cover shot and my images would just be included in the article, and didn't think much more about it, moving on to new projects.

Flash forward to December, while assembling my annual "Best of" for 2017, I decided to check for a press release on ALPA's website after coming across my portraits of Captain Prater in the 787's cockpit.  I found the article which included some of my pictures, and on a whim decided to check if there was online access to the magazine so I could see how it looked in a print layout.  What I found caught me completely by surprise.

Air Line Pilot magazine's April, 2017 issue features my photograph of Captain John Prater landing his United 787 at Dulles.  I had my first-ever magazine cover and didn't even know about it until nine months later!

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When I found this, I reached out to my contacts at ALPA to see if I could get any paper copies of the magazine.  I was worried it would be impossible 9 months after publication, but sure enough, they sent me a whole stack of them a week later!

Air Line Pilot has a circulation size of 78,000; that is a lot of magazines and a lot of people who saw my photograph!  I couldn't be happier or more honored!  I say go grab a cup of coffee and enjoy some some aviation!  Thank you so much to my friends at ALPA, and at Dulles Airport Operations who helped make my first-ever cover image possible.

Warmer in the Winter: Winter of 2017