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Posts tagged ‘Blair Bunting’

Bb: Nikon Ambassador

If you think there is a chance that I typed the title of this blog without laughing with excitement like a child, you couldn’t be further from the truth. Just reading it draws strong emotion… it is an honor, it is a privilege, it is not deserved and I will forever be humbled to announce that I have been chosen as an ambassador to Nikon. With all the composure I have to have on sets of great responsibility, I had none when I got the call with the formal request to be a part of the Nikon family. I was choked up in the brief conversation that proceeded, and after I hung up I just sat on the couch staring blankly out the window.

Being an ambassador to Nikon means so much more than having my name and picture on their site. It represents validity that what I am doing has been enjoyed by others, and for that I am grateful. Money removed, I would still do this job because it excites those around me, it gives us something to talk about. Recently I learned that the father of a man, for whom I have great respect, is going through a very tough health struggle. The father, in the hospital, asked that one of the photos I took be displayed above his bed. This man, is the reason why I create. He and the many of you like him are my pride and my inspiration.

It is for this reason that congratulations to you all is in order. For without you I would not be a Nikon Ambassador. This honor rests on the shoulders of you that wrote me an email, tweet, text and said you enjoyed a photo. It is because of the people that picked up a magazine that had my imagery on it or showed a friend my website because it had a cool car or famous person on it.

For all that you guys do, Thank You so much.

How to Photograph an Atomic Bomb

Catchy title, huh?  That’s exactly what I thought when I saw a short review on the book by Peter Kuran titled, wait for it…. “How to Photograph an Atomic Bomb

To understand me, you must first know that I have a lot of free time, whether it be on planes or just sitting around the house, I try and spend at least a day each week reading about random hobbies/interests.  One such interest is nukes… go ahead and say it, “Blair has lost his damn mind.”

I promise I haven’t, but rather find them and how they were created thoroughly interesting.  Then I happened upon Mr. Kuran’s book and the world of nukes and photography collided, I was smitten.

Images such as this one captivated me:

Which brings me to my reason of this post…  I have only one piece of art on my walls where I edit (painting of Michael Schumacher), and need to spruce up the place.  When I saw this print of the men who built the bombs, lit by a nuclear bomb, I decided I must have it!

So with that said, if anyone can help me find where to order a print of this, I will get a print (of one of my photos) out to you…

Congrats Bubba…. Again

While enjoying my last weekend off for a while, I took some time to relax and watch some golf. While golf isn’t my most photographed sport, I have photographed one player in particular….. Bubba Watson. He was one of those guys on a photoshoot that you have to remind yourself of his accomplishments, because he would never tell you. We talked about video games, cars, and video games again, but never about golf. In all reality I know very little about the sport and if there wasn’t beer carts, would probably never attempt to play. However, I will still take time out to cheer for Bubba as he was just that cool of a person. So in celebration of yet another big win for an insanely humble man, here’s a toast and a pic from the Sports Illustrated cover I shot of Bubba Watson. I know this will definitely not be the last time we see him grace the cover of a magazine, but every one is well deserved. He is a soft-spoken man that lives with a constant state of gratefulness, and he has made the sport better from his sheer presence. Here’s to winning Master’s number two of many….

Congrats Bubba!

Bubba Watson

1 of 1 Maserati

Today’s post is a truly special one. Before we chat about the specs of the Maserati Birdcage 75, let’s break down how rare this car is… For comparison, the Michael Schumacher Ferrari I photographed was one of almost 20 that he used in 1998 alone. The McLaren F1 GTR, like the F1 car was one of about 5 that exist from that team. Heck even the > $30,000,000 Ferrari GTO has at least 15 brothers and sisters. There are not many cars from Ferrari, McLaren and Maserati that can be preceded by the word “THE”… this is The Maserati Birdcage 75

Maserati Birdcage

Pretty, isn’t she?

While it looks like a current car, or even a future model, the Birdcage 75 was made in 2005 by Pininfarina (the company responsible for many of Ferrari’s greatest cars ever made). It resembles autos seen on the Jetson’s more than those we see on the road. If your asking yourself the same question I did, the answer is no, it does not have any doors. But why should it? I mean if you are going to make a car that is batshit crazy, it only makes sense that the top should lift off like a fighter jet for it’s pilot to enter. Speaking of drivers, the guy sitting behind the wheel better know his driving before giving it the beans. Like the insane styling, it also has an insane engine, a v12 that produces 700 horsepower… making it ever so easy to be the owner and the guy that wadded it up while telling the passenger, “hey, look, no doors.”

Which brings me to my general thesis, “at what point does the line between car and art get crossed?”

At some point the photographer of such automobiles becomes close to an old school art reproduction shooter. I mean there is a definite skill in lighting one of these beauties, but so often I walk on set with a car like this or the F1 sitting in the middle of the studio thinking, “damn, my life is going to be easy today.” What is ironic is how tough a shoot of one of these cars is, not out of technical challenge, but from pressure and responsibility that I tend to put on myself. I feel that I need to show the car’s absolute beauty, and anything less means that I will have let the car and its creators down. Perhaps it is unneeded stress, but it has to exist for a shoot to come together.

Life is perhaps an existence of controlled stresses, and the ability to use self imposed pressure to drive creativity. If you could only see how nervous I am sitting in the passenger seat on the way to a big shoot. Headphones on, I am not thinking about lighting or the image that I need to create, as all of that was planned far in advance. In all honesty, my mind is blank, focusing more on the music from my headphones than the world that exists around me. The drive to set is the last moment that I will exist as myself, and not the photographer.

Graphis Advertising Annual 2014

Just a quick post today while I try my utmost to adjust back to my regular work routine after one crazy weekend.

I wanted to say a big congratulations to the team at Mekanism, Cytosport and the crew guys and gals that helped us create the Muscle Milk campaign. I got the call this morning that they were featured in the 2014 Graphis Advertising Annual. The imagery only exists because of the planning and support of the entire team, and I am grateful to be the person to have pressed the shutter button.

For the behind the scenes (including RAW images) from some of the shoots, click the link here

Congrats again guys!

Graphis 1

Graphis 2

The ML Tradition: A new class of Retro

I sat at a bar in Las Vegas with Sandro Reginelli, lead designer of Maurice Lacroix. We had just had the watch conversation to end all watch conversations, and decided to celebrate it over a glass of scotch. As is the case with every modern meeting about watches, we immediately started going through watch pics on our phones of timepieces we either owned or admired. One image that he showed stayed with me, and to this day I haven’t been able to source it. The watch was of a very early Panerai that was probably one of the companies’ first. What struck me about the image wasn’t the design or the complication, it was the weathered look that it existed in. The watch was obviously worn quite a bit and was in no way the “safe queen” that many expensive timepieces live their lives as. It’s leather strap barely held the body of the watch any more, it’s case was so worn that the brushing marks on it had begun to resemble a modern day matte finish. It was a beautiful watch for what it was and what it meant. It was the past that still lived in the current.

For those that know my affinity of watches, you most likely know my love of modern watches that respect the designs of their predecessors. From the remake of the McQueen Monaco to the Sapphire Sandwich Speedmaster, I crave living in the past with the protection of the modern. Being able to wear a modern retro-styled watch is the embodiment of Ferris Bueller taking out the Ferrari and not worrying about chucking it through the window. While I don’t condone abuse of a watch, I do support wearing one with confidence and not worry. If you are going to invest in a cool watch, why only wear it to nice dinner?

Enter the Maurice Lacroix Pontos Chrono Retro

ML Pontos Retro 1

The first time that I saw this watch I was in love. It looked so good on the internet that I was worried there was no chance it could hold up to such appeal in real life. Fortunately, this was not the case. If anything, the watch was even better looking in person as small details revealed themselves. At certain angles the blue chrono second hand shines, while at others it goes flush to dial. The texture of the black subdials exists at some angles but disappears at others. It has so much hidden detail that I am finding this blog getting tough to write while looking at the watches… distracted by my own muse

ML Pontos Retro 2

Being very fortunate to have a relationship with Maurice Lacroix, I had the luxury of getting both versions of the watch sent to me to spend some time with. I can say that if there were ever watches that would get “lost” on their way back to ML, these are them. From the first outing with the Chrono Retro, I got comments from friends and strangers alike (especially on the white dial model). They are very catchy pieces and had me smitten.

ML Pontos Retro 3

I guess that is the appeal of their retro styling to me. It takes me back to a time when I first discovered my passion for watches. Just the act of keeping time felt like an historic event was happening on my wrist. Wearing a watch was a document of the history it kept on its dial, and you function as both participant and observer. The interaction of the textures became a study of light itself, and watching the second hand could silence even the busiest of worlds around. Wearing a watch that inspires quiet confidence is a journey into self realization where pride and humility coexist.

ML Pontos Retro 4


T minus 72 hours…..

A couple years back I wrote a blog similar to this one and I was positive that it would be the one and only time I ever would… I was wrong.

As some of those close to me know, I have been working on a personal project that is very important to me over the last few years. However, by “working” I mean planning, as this project was cancelled last March by a government sequester. No longer in threat of that, I figured I would give you guys a little heads up on what is to come.

While I never served in the armed forces, I have a very profound respect for the men and women that do. I have been fortunate to be a part of what they do in my time as the honorary commander for the 425 Fighter Squadron (Singaporean Air Force) at Luke AFB. During that period I was honored to spend time with the squad and see the day to day lives of fighter pilots. All this was capped off with a flight in an F-16, something I will never forget.

This entire experience was so inspiring that I decided I would figure out a way to help the Air Force using what talent I had behind the camera. From making great images of their aircraft that they could give to kids, to helping teach the Air Force photojournalists about lighting and how to start a career once their service was done. Heck, I’d even give camera advice to guys in the squad looking to buy their wives their first camera (always Nikon!).

Three years ago at an airshow like the one coming up this weekend, I went with Larry Fitzgerald to go watch and photograph the planes for fun. Mostly I wanted to watch and he wanted to see if he could handhold a 400 f/2.8, which he did easily. The big event at the show was the USAF Thunderbirds. As always they performed beautifully and left us very inspired. By the time they were done, Larry and I had made our way to the front of the crowd and cheered them as they landed. Well someone with the Thunderbirds took notice.

The next morning I received a phone call from the Thunderbirds asking if I could help them get Larry to fly with them. I explained to them that no matter the situation, (age, job, anything), convincing a guy to fly in an F-16 is NOT hard. The sentence is usually not finished before the guy says YES. So I then asked them if there was any chance that I could shoot some photos of them and donate them back as a thank you for what they did.

Over the coming year we planned out timing and when we could photograph the jets and pilots and how we could make some really great imagery. And then the call came…..

USAF Thunderbirds: “Hey Blair, would you like to fly with us?”

Me: “…………..”

I would give anything to fly with them, but felt that there were many other people that deserved it more. I told them I would, but if they needed to give my seat to anyone that would be a better candidate, I would not take any offense. After all, my goal from the get go was to help the AF, and if I took the seat of someone else that could get more attention for them, I would be going against everything I set out to do.

Long story short, they felt that I would be a great person to fly, and so this Friday I will be flying with the USAF Thunderbirds.

It is an opportunity that I have the utmost respect for and I have been rescheduling photoshoots in order to make sure that I am in the best physical condition possible for it. I will be doing a photoshoot of their pilots before the flight and one of the planes after, so any attempt to condition myself to not be an unconscious mess will make the images better.

There will be quite a bit of coverage of these next few days, from behind the scenes of the photoshoot, to tips on how to light a plane, and of course a video of this photographer trying to stay conscious while flying with the world’s best.

Details of a Ferrari F1

A few weeks ago I did a post on the photoshoot of Michael Schumacher’s 1998 Ferrari F300 Formula One car. The images were very broad as I wanted to encompass the experience of seeing the car for the first time. In essence I wanted the viewer to see what I did the first time I walked into the studio and it was sitting there under the light. Its angles and intakes, the aggressive lines and raised nose that looks like few cars before it… beauty in form and function.

However, even though it was a short shoot, the images don’t stop at just the overall shots. This week I want you guys to see the details and art that make up an F1 car. Be it significantly more abstract that the previous collection, they are every bit as relevant to telling the story in its entirety. The thought that constantly ran through my mind it how this car sitting peacefully in the studio created the most incredible chaos on a track… from the pure scream of its V10 engine at 17,500 rpm to its ability to brake from 60 – 0 in under 50 feet (think about that for a second).

Some details presented themselves immediately, while others were seen only while walking around the car with very angular light. I was amazed at how seeming flat surfaces hid bumps and folds that were there for aerodynamic reasons. These details were hidden completely by the bright red of the car in most circumstances and I can imagine that is part of the purpose race cars carry such loud paint schemes. Nonetheless, take a couple minutes to enjoy some of the art that is an F1 car.

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher

McLaren F1 GTR

There are fast cars and then there are fast cars, this is the latter.

Today’s car is part two of what looks to be a 30 part series of photographs of cars that I love. One thing that you will probably notice that they have in common is that they are fast, loud and rare. Many of the cars in the series are one of a kind and or specific race cars. Today’s is no exception.

As a high schooler, I remember watching Le Mans at my parent’s house and thinking how insane it would be in the presence of the speed and noise of the cars as they screamed down the back straight even when rain made visibility minimal. In car footage from the cars made it very apparent, even at a young age, that I did not have the guts it took to race at that level, but damn did I enjoy watching it.

McLaren F1

One of the big hitters at the 1998 race was the McLaren F1 GTR Longtail. It was an insane development of an already insane car, achieving the fastest speed ever recorded on the Mulsanne straight of 236.7 mph.

However, pure technical specs aside, I loved it because I thought it was a piece of aerodynamic art. Even if it never raced, I would have still been on my list of cars to photograph sheerly because of it’s beauty. The aggressive angles, an excess of vents, and the centrally mounted cockpit made it an design in symmetry and texture that would stun even the casual car enthusiast.

photographed by Blair Bunting

Along with the Michael Schumacher Ferrari F1 from a couple weeks back, this car represents a return to true passion in photography. It has always been my dream to photograph the cars I loved and I hope that in time the collection will show many the beauty of the history of racing through my eyes. The aim is to compliment the form that is in front of the camera while not upstaging the art from its designer in any way. With the angles and surfaces that these cars present, it makes for a true test in lighting skill. However, when you get it right, the picture of the car shows the soul of its heritage.

Danica Patrick

Anxiety, perhaps even call it nerves, has always been a part of my workflow. I thrive on it and, oddly enough, even dread the shoots that don’t stress me to a certain degree. Sometimes it is the worry of failure, the worry of safety, the worry that Murphy and his law will show up on set. However, on rare occasions, the anxiety is born out of the possibility that the subject might be … less than accommodating.

There are always going to be athletes, CEO’s and celebrities that can make even the best photographer’s life a living hell. I have been witness to it on many occasions and it is sad when it happens, because the art is instantly killed for conformity to the norm. What’s worse is that the arrival of the superego on set is unannounced, and no matter the preparation or research that goes into the shoot, many campaigns have collapsed from it.

Now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “this preface is exactly what I expected for Danica, she seems like “that type”.”

I have to admit, going into the shoot, I felt the same way. She is a strong female in a male dominated sport, she has to put up with endless appearance requests, photoshoots and interviews. Heck, if there is anyone I have photographed that “deserved” to be a diva, it would be her.

Danica Patrick

During set prep I was trying to play it cool, but inside I was running through every scenario that could happen, from the “I only want to be photographed from this angle,” to a complete walk off.

And then she showed up…

Beyond the initial observations of her racing suit, physical appearance and how firm her handshake was, I was completely taken back by how damn cool she was. In the first 30 seconds of talking to her about life in general I can consciously remember thinking how stupid I was to have worried so much. While there were a couple requests for the shoot, they were completely reasonable and made it clear that she knows what she’s doing.

Photographing Danica is surprisingly simple. I would say that her driving ability is on par with her experience as a model. You could shoot thirty frames and get thirty different looks, each unique and strong in its own right. Once we talked over where the key light was and what angle I was shooting from I let her take it from there and she was a rockstar.

Behind the wheel or in front of the camera, she knows what she’s doing. Here’s to wishing I had even half of her driving skill.