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The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

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!

Pizza Hut Architectural Photography

This Winter, in partnership with Pizza Hut and their architect KMBA Architecture, the newest airport Pizza Hut location.  This Pizza Hut happens to be the first airport location with a bar in existence, but will be the first of many as the pizza restaurant has updated its menu to offer a full range of items including pastas, chicken wings, salads, sandwiches, and of course pizza.

Here is a selection of some of the images of the new Pizza Hut space I captured which highlight KMBA Architecture's design expertise in a modern and welcoming restaurant atmosphere.

Exterior

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Interior

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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

Christmas in St. Louis, 2017

As many of you know, much of my family lives in St. Louis, Missouri.  As always, I took along my camera, however given my still-recovering knee I brought it with no intentions of photographing anything in particular; my plan was to sit and let it heal, and that's largely what I did.  I did, however, shoot some photos as I saw them, so I'm including some highlights of my trip here.

Before I could leave town, however, I had to find someone to care for the bonsai Alyssa gave me.  I may have decorated it beforehand though...

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Roadtripping there led to I-70 to visit with Bernie and Natalie in Indianapolis while there was clear weather along the Northern route.  First though was a stop at a West Virginia rest area with an overlook of the carved-through mountain.  This mountain pass is usually completely coated in shimmering ice by December, so it was a new sight to see its bare rock in direct sunlight.

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Next stop was seeing Bernie and Natalie at a Steak N Shake not far from their home in Indianapolis.  Interestingly, we've done this enough times that some of the wait staff recognize us now, and gave us free coffee for the road.  Can you say *you're* a regular at a restaurant 600 miles away?

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Upon arrival in St. Louis I may have decorated my hotel room...

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I've developed somewhat of a tradition of taking my cousin Carrie's kids out each year to see the latest Star Wars.  This year, however, I had been doing a bit of punking and when they asked me when we were going to see The Last Jedi I told Ryan and Alex I'd already seen it a few days earlier (true).  "But we always go!"  Sarcastically feigning pain, "Ow, my knee *really* hurts...  I don't think I can see it..."

And then I started in on the mix of spoilers:  Han Solo dies!  Luke drinks green milk fresh from a teat... then he tickles Rey's hand with a leaf!  It's just like Battlestar Galactica except there's no whiteboard!  Kylo Ren kills Han Solo, and boy oh boy do I have some bad news for you about Carrie Fisher... BOOM!!!  *feigns gasping for air*

Obviously you wouldn't know what of that is true or false unless you've seen the movie; little did they know it's all true... but with a 2 ton asterisk on the end, and none of it is central to the plot.  Also little did they know I'd already bought the tickets.  So, Christmas morning came and I'd given them a Christmas card simply signed "Han Solo dies!!!" inside, with the tickets to Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi in 3D for the next day.  The reaction of them realizing what it was was pretty worth it.

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Fast forward a few days to my mom's birthday, and we're all sitting around my grandpa's kitchen table visiting with him.  He's 98, and last year I gave him prints of some aerial photos I've taken, and pictures of me taking some of them; he's always been intrigued by flight, and is always asking what kind of aviation stuff I'm taking pictures of, so it was a fitting gift - I think he lives vicariously through me a little since I've been on some flights he didn't even get to experience in the Army.  This year I accidentally left this year's new prints at the hotel on Christmas, so I instead gave him the prints a few days later; it was for the best - he was more awake and focused than on Christmas with all the tiring activity.

This part really made my day - this is my 98 year old grandfather reading an article on AirlineGeeks.com profiling me and my marketing photography work in the aviation industry.  Here is my only remaining grandparent soaking in every word of an article about me.  His only question was "what is a Plane Pull?"  I showed him pictures and explained the charity event.

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This was almost a two week trip, but it flew right by, and as you've seen I don't have too terribly many photos to share from it due to my own preference of rehabbing my knee (12-weeks post MPFL Reconstruction surgery as of that week), and extreme caution to avoid ice and any slippery footing; St. Louis always harsher, more annoying Winters than DC - almost every day it is in the teens or single digits, accompanied by freezing rain, snow, or sleet.  There were only ~2 days of the entire stay that didn't have some kind of Winter precipitation - not a welcome sight for post-op knee safety, even if at 12 weeks my gracilis tendon has *in theory* fused with my bones and become a new ligament.

That same Winter weather was tracking North, so the I-64 Southern route was the obvious choice to return to DC.  St. Louis has a lot of decay in certain areas; I find it beautiful, although those aren't areas I would recommend going on a touristy photo-walk unless you're an experienced urban explorer (I am not).  The highway out of town takes you straight past some of these spots, so I always love seeing the decaying abandoned industrial buildings leaving St. Louis and into Illinois.

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Later, in Kentucky, one of the rest areas just a few miles from the Woodford Reserve Distillery had a display of Kentucky Whiskey memorabilia and selections from local vineyards.  I'm much more of a scotch person, but I think I'd really enjoy visiting the Woodford Reserve Distillery.

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Finally, some sights heading into Louisville, Kentucky; it's always seemed like it would be a really cool city to explore and perhaps even live in, but I've never understood why a city most famous for its baseball bats only has a AAA team which feeds into an Ohio team.

I've seen a few sitting in parking lots, but I've mostly only seen these when I visit the Infiniti dealer for service; this is the first time I've spotted a CV37 generation Infiniti Q60 driving on the road.  I do kinda like it, but it still just seems like a mashup of BMW 4 Series / Mazda 6 / Honda Accord to me; in other words, as a whole, unoriginal.  There is also the glaring omission of a manual transmission option.  I'll spare you the full car review, but I have quite a few complaints about the interior as well.  That all said, it's still a really sharp looking car.

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Hands down my favorite sight along I-64 is this oil refinery; the steam is always distinctive and visible for miles, and between the steam clouds and thousands of sodium lamps, it's roadside industrial Christmas.  This is the first time I've ever seen them burning off excess gas; the industrial candle lit the lumbering overhead plumes even brighter, adding depth with its flicker.

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That night, while editing some photos, I again felt compelled to decorate my hotel room; these AA powered Christmas lights are the best $7 I spent all of 2017!  They served as the perfect nightlight while editing that evening (the room lamps were all just too bright), and the perfect warmup in my groggy, pre-coffee state the next morning.

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By morning the band of snow in the North had swirled down and reached an arm down to the I-64 corridor; the <1" of accumulation was welcome in comparison to the >36" the same storm had dropped in a matter of hours North in Pennsylvania overnight.

West Virginia's capital building has always drawn me to visit, but I still haven't had the chance.  It looks very beautiful, from the quick glimpses you spot it passing through Charleston.

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