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The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

Christmas in St. Louis 2016

Not every year, but most years, my parents and I travel to St. Louis to visit our family; most of my extended family is from and lives in St. Louis, Missouri - as a result, St. Louis is something of a second home to me.  This year was no different, especially as my last remaining grandparent pushes past 96 years old.

Since this is more of a family trip, I'll be sharing some highlights of the trip.  I think the most logical way to do this is to break it up by day, since every day holds a different event.

Last Photoshoot of the Year

A lot of what I do for the Airports' concessions program is documenting events and brand activation.  This is exactly what I did for my last three photoshoots of the year... with Santa Claus.

After completing that and some photos of new retailers, I popped in to the Airport Managers Office (I used to work in this office at Dulles) to wish all my friend there a Merry Christmas before I left town the next day.  In Dennis' office (this actually used to be my physical office), I found a giant photo of Dennis' head that was apparently left over from some pranks - I had to get a picture with it.

I haven't determined yet if the head is from a picture I shot - my hunch is that it is :-)  This joke head will mean the most to folks in the Dulles aviation community

I haven't determined yet if the head is from a picture I shot - my hunch is that it is :-)  This joke head will mean the most to folks in the Dulles aviation community

Arrival

Usually the trip by car has poor weather and slow pacing, but the weather is unseasonably warm and dry, and the trip was made in 15hrs non-stop (barring gas / bathroom breaks and driver swaps), making it one of the rare time the journey was made non-stop on the way there.

In the middle of nowhere Illinois I woke up from a nap and looked out the window to see the most stars I've ever seen all at once in my entire life.  Light pollution really is a shame, and even though I travel this route almost every year, I've never seen such a clear sky - usually the sky is threatening snow this time of year.  The biggest reason I moved to a 1D X years ago (rather than the 5D Mark III at the time) is its incredible low-light abilities.  On a whim, I tried shooting the stars from a moving car.  Even though I really dislike the 24-105mm f/4 IS USM lens (for reasons I may get into in another blog post - I only purchased it to do video work earlier this year), I've found it to be the most versatile zoom lens I've used... so despite its many shortcomings and my many frustrations with it, it is a good travel lens; this is what I brought with me on this trip.

The one thing that does shine on this lens it the image stabilizer, which allowed me to shoot 1 second exposures handheld wide open at ISO 51,200 to capture the stars.  Remember, this is from the backseat of a car going 80MPH - the image stabilizer combined with the fantastic sensor of the 1D X allowed me to really push the limits of what is possible; I ended up with a pretty good picture considering I did it under the most adverse conditions for night sky photography.

1D X • EF 24-105mm f/4 IS USM • 24mm • 1s • f/4 • ISO 51,200

1D X • EF 24-105mm f/4 IS USM • 24mm • 1s • f/4 • ISO 51,200

Christmas Eve

It's been quite a few years since my family attended Christmas Eve mass; as my parents and relatives age, it's made more sense to choose an earlier vigil mass time.  Christmas (Eve) mass with my family at All Saints Catholic Church in St. Peters, Missouri is a tradition I look forward to every year because how beautiful the small church always is at Christmas.  This is the church where my parents were married, I was baptized, and most funerals in my family have taken place. The priest who celebrated this mass actually knows my family very well, since he visits my grandfather (who was a eucharistic minister for this parish until he aged to a point where he can no longer leave home).

Christmas Day

Christmas in my family always works out pretty conveniently.  My mom's side has always had Christmas in the morning (after Christmas lunch), and my Dad's side has always traditionally had Christmas in the evening (after Christmas dinner).  This works great, because it means we can attend both Christmas gatherings without missing any of the festivities from both sides of my family.

My grandfather on my mom's side has always been fascinated with flight, although he never got a pilot's license; he's like me in that sense (though I hope to one day).  He sees all the stuff I get to do with aviation and in a way lives vicariously through me.  This year, someone showed him video from my glider flights, and he's been asking for prints of the photos ever since; this Christmas I brought him prints of the glider flights, plus photos from other helicopter flights and my trip in a hot air balloon.  My cousin's kid Alex always loves to take pictures with my camera, so I asked him to get pictures of my and my grandfather together.

Fumbling Towards Ecstasy: Winter of 2017

I always let him play with my camera, so here is a small selection of ones Alex shot on my camera.  I of course edited these for color to match my own eye, but he's pretty good - no other edits were needed.

Next was Christmas for my Dad's side, at my Aunt Diane's.

My cousin Scott has a new 3 month old puppy, Danica (named after Danica Patrick, of course; Scott is a huge NASCAR fan).  She's a sweet Jack Russell Terrier with energy abound; she made friends with my cousin Sarah's dog Oliver, and the two dogs played non-stop all day.

So here is me with all my cousins on my Dad's side.

Mom's Birthday

My mom's birthday is right by Christmas, so traditionally it marks our last day in town so she can celebrate her birthday with family.  This year, like the last prior few, has been more subdued, and more-so focused spending time with my grandfather, whose age is beginning to catch up with him; that hasn't stopped his sense of humor though.

Departure

The trip back home was pretty regular, and we actually made spectacular time.  During a stop I watched one of the most beautiful sunsets I've seen in my entire life... ruined by gas station and power line sprawl.  And conditions were great until they weren't hitting a snowstorm bounding in the mountains of West Virginia; you'll have to watch the video for that.  We did make it home safely and in still in record time for the return trip... I still prefer flying this trip though.

Video Footage

Something I've done a bit more work with over the last year, as you may know, is video; as a result, I've been incorporating video into my personal work a little bit more as well.  Some pretty cool footage of the West Virginia snowstorm at the tail end!

Regular Car Reviews - October, 2016 Car Meet

If you've never heard of Regular Car Reviews, well, first we need to get you up to speed.  RCR, as it's affectionately called, is a YouTube channel that started four short years ago, quickly gaining popularity in the car enthusiast blog circuit communities, namely Jalopnik.  Mr. Regular, the faceless (until last year) voice behind the reviews, along with music and filming assistant Roman, release a new "regular" car review each week, broken into seasons.

Regular has multiple meanings all used at once: RCR reviews "regular" cars for "regular" folks in a way a "regular" guy would see it.  In other words, RCR reviews pedestrian cars by means of pop culture references and fart jokes.  It's very popular.

Neither of my cars have been reviewed despite offering my 2001 Sebring Coupe (which DEFINITELY would have fit in perfectly) before I got rid of it, nor my G37S 6MT or Jake's Jaguar XF or Ford Cougar, but my friend Patrick's 2004 VW Phaeton was reviewed, and at the time Mr. Regular said it was a tie between the Phaeton and the Tesla Model S for the nicest "regular" car he's reviewed.  Here is the Phaeton video as an introduction.  The most iconic RCR video, however, is of modern motoring's most loved little sportscar, the answer to all questions, the Miata.

Headlights go up, headlights go down! Track day bro!

So, now you should understand RCR and the international following it's gathered.  While there have been two previous meetups, both at the same combination rec-center-and-bar (huh? small town) in Mr. Regular's hometown in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, those were both just pub nights - grab a few drinks and talk cars - I went to the first meetup this past January.  Mr. Regular is in fact in the picture below.

January, 2016 Regular Car Reviews meetup, posed with Silicone Sally.

January, 2016 Regular Car Reviews meetup, posed with Silicone Sally.

This weekend was special though, because it was the first time Mr. Regular has organized a car meet.  I wouldn't miss it.

The meet started at 9AM, and Orwigsburg is ~3hrs away, so Jake and I hit the road before sunrise to get there on time, even stopping for breakfast at the same Sheetz we hit every time we make the trip.

As it turns out, I was the 2nd G37 at the meet - the other was a 2013 7AT xS.  Andrew, the owner, was a really chill guy I wish I'd gotten to chat with longer.  For full disclosure, there wasn't much chatter and I didn't shoot many pictures because I was so tired - I am *not* a morning person.  I've always liked the facelifted front bumper with lower foglights (my fogs are built into the headlights), but they didn't start using that bumper until 2011MY, and my 2010 was an incredible, unheard of deal for a 6MT in black with 33K miles.  No regrets.

A fun fact some DMV residents may not know; Pennsylvania does not require front plates, which is why many of the cars at this meet lack front plates without fear of a ticket.  My car was a former lease car in Allentown, PA, so when I bought it it had no front plate mount.  I actually am running an aftermarket mount that mounts under the bumper, so if I ever wanted to remove the front plate I don't have any unsightly holes.

The PugCityRacing bagged Mustang attracted a lot of attention thanks to its lowrider status and stripped interior - simplify and add lightness.

There were plenty of other regular cars on hand, including a few TDIs awaiting refund checks.

I was informed that caffeine adds +25HP.

You can never go wrong with a W10 or W20 MR2; I am wondering if they are undergoing some kind of revival, because this is the 2nd one I've seen in the last two weeks.

For me, the AE86s were the most interesting "regular" cars on hand... until the Infiniti M30 Convertible rolled in at the end of the show.  Apparently it shares engine, suspension, and electronic bits with the Maxima of the time, but has the frame of the previous generation Maxima (even though it looks like the equal gen Maxima).  I actually didn't know this car was made in drop-top form until this weekend.  The car was only produced for 3 years, and Nissan contracted American Sunroof Corporation to convert half of the M30s into convertibles brand new.  The 1992 M30 was Infiniti's only convertible until the G37 convertible was introduced in 2009 (one year after the G37 coupe and sedan were introduced to replace the G35 / 350Z platform).  I totally fan-girled over this car.  This is a car from the late 80s with an electronically adjustable suspension (Comfort / Sport switch on center console).

The star of the show of course was Mr. Regular's very own Vagabond Falcon, which if you follow Regular Car Reviews on YouTube, you've watched Mr. Regular complete a full restoration to the car.  Silicone Sally, the 2007 Honda Fit funded by RCR viewers was not on hand this time around.

I love Instagram Stories (hate Snapchat though), so here is my Story from the day; check out the crazy amount of play in the stick of this Ford... Fox Body(?)... ...Mustang???

Sorry for the long post; have a corgi!!!

Rachel and Andrew: Engaged

Rachel and Andrew are a fun couple that loves wine tasting, the outdoors, and their animals; two dogs and two horses.

Not so secretly I've been excited for this shoot for months... it was just a waiting game with Mother Nature.  Finally, after months of bitter cold, the DC area actually got a snowstorm perfect for Rachel and Andrew's snowy engagement session.

As an outgoing couple, naturally it was no surprise a snowball fight quickly broke out.

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Even the dogs got in on the action!

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While Rachel and Andrew have energy abound, things really got crazy when they brought their horses out to play in the snow.  First was Tori, who is a Section D Welsh Cob.

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Next to join the fun was Anakin, Tori's energetic son.  Anakin is a mix of a Section D Welsh Cob and a Section B Welsh Mountain Pony.

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