Categories
Landscapes Riverscapes Whitewater

New River Gorge Weather

– Cloud waves splash the Endless Wall of the New River Gorge, climbing up and over it, like an air-river hovering above the New.

One unique benefit to landscape photography is that it forces you to become more in tune with local weather patterns. The best time to get the dramatic clouds and sky are right before or after a storm moves through. As we all know, the beautiful colors come out during sunrises and sunsets.

The New River Gorge has carved an 800+ feet deep ravine in the Earth. It drains the largest watershed East of the Mississippi River, before eventually pouring into that river after joining forces with a few other major rivers along the way. Just East of Fayetteville it joins up with the Gauley River (also world-renowned for its powerful whitewater rapids and recreational rafting and kayaking). Those two rivers form the Kanawha River, which eventually dumps into the Ohio River.

An interesting fact about the New River is that it flows North, which is atypical of most of the other rivers in America. The headwaters are in Western North Carolina and she picks up more and more water as she cuts across the grain of the Appalachian Mountains through Virginia and Southern West Virginia.

Only 5 minutes after sunrise and you can see the colors begin to fade. Yet the cloud waves are still splashing against the endless wall.

We know that many weather patterns are effected by warm air currents in the ocean and that storms occur when they meet with cold water currents or cold air currents moving above the waves.

It seems logical that similar movements of warm air and water currents can create unique weather patterns around a geographic feature as massive as the New River Gorge.

Oftentimes in the winter, snow will fall in the New River Gorge but it won’t reach the ground near the water because the warm air above the river melts the snow before it can contact the trees, rocks or ground.

It is my personal theory that doppler radar, and other instruments that measure atmospheric pressure and other readings that effect the weather may not be sensitive enough to detect the variations of weather patterns in the New River Gorge.

A unique observation that I have witnessed multiple times takes place at a spot along the rim of the New River Gorge called Diamond Point. At this location the river has been flowing almost due North and it takes a sharp, 90-degree-angle turn to the West just downstream of the Keeneys Rapids, just before Dudley’s Dip Rapid.

As the clouds follow the river, flowing downstream, they strike the rocks in the Endless Wall at that 90-degree-angle. When they do, the clouds behave just like water on the river when it strikes a rock. The clouds climb up the rock and roll back over onto themselves in the same manner that the water in the river creates a pillow on the rock. For all of you who’ve been down the Gauley, imagine Pillow Rock but in slow-motion.

PREVAILING WINDS

The prevailing winds travel from West to East. Watch any weather forecast and the meteorologist stands in front of a giant graphic with arrows pointing East to represent wind direction. However, in this instance, the winds were traveling West. They just weren’t breezing either. These winds were gusting! I don’t have a wind measuring device. Although my watch DOES have a barometer on it. By observation alone, I can say they were probably gusting about 20 mph. They were blowing West, moving with the river, heading downstream.

CLOUDS ARE WATER

One of the coolest things I witnessed was the clouds, or fog, or condensed moisture, behaving just like the river. As it moved downstream it collided with the endless wall. The water climbed up, over and out of the New River Gorge. Then, it fell back into the Gorge. It was almost as if the fog were a light, cloudy air-river that hovered above the New River water river.

With all of these different air currents moving in different directions, we can be sure of one thing. There MUST be swirling vortexes of air and moisture in the sky above the Gorge. If this is the case, perhaps there are mini rain storms within the Gorge.

Have you ever been on the river when it’s raining and the clouds are so low in the Gorge that you can’t see the rim? I have many times. In those situations I wonder “is it raining outside the Gorge or could it possibly be sunny?” I don’t know. It’s impossible to be in two locations at the same time.

Yet, I’ve been close to witnessing this phenomenon to be true. One time it was raining steadily, before we got to the Fayette Station takeout. As we were driving up out of the Gorge, the clouds were below the bridge and it was not raining up top. However, it had stopped raining as we were driving up Fayette Station Road, so I can’t say for sure that it was raining below the bridge and not above it. Someday, maybe we will find that to be true.

Categories
Adventure Sports Photography Landscapes Whitewater

Long Exposure Photography Raft Guide Training

Long exposure of the sunrise in Thurmond, West Virginia. This is where a typical Spring rafting trip begins for the Lower New River Gorge.

Introduction to Long Exposure Photography

To achieve the unique look to this picture requires a few things. First, you’ll need a neutral density filter. An ND filter is a piece of black glass that reduces the amount of light that reaches the sensor of your camera. The advantage of this is to allow you to open the shutter for an extended period of time without overexposing the image.

Second, you’ll need an intervalometer. An intervalometer is an apparatus which plugs into your camera and allows you to do numerous things with the various settings. In this situation, it allows you to set the shutter speed for a length of time which is more than the camera’s maximum setting of 30 seconds. This image was a 300 second-long exposure.

Another filter I recommend is a circular polarizing filter. Reflected light tends to desaturate colors, especially the blues and greens of nature. A polarizing filter allows you to eliminate reflected light from reaching your camera sensor. Much of the light in nature is reflected off the leaves in the environment, as well as the atmosphere which creates our blue sky.

Additionally, a circular polarizer reduces glare caused by sunlight reflecting upon the surface of water. Most of my photography takes place beside a river. In this situation, you’re definitely going to want that. The reason the polarizer is circular is so that it can be rotated to filter the light rays at whatever angle they are being reflected.

Finally, you’ll need the right kind of clouds. Since we have no control over that, we’ll just have to leave that up to a little bit of luck and timing. The only way to get better at that is to continually watch the weather and practice often. This is what I’m working on now.

Spring Raft Guide Training

One of the reasons this location is important to me is because it reminds me of a pivotal moment in my life.

Spring is a special time for me in the New River Gorge. This is the time of year when I trained to become a raft guide in 1997. After my accident and discharge from the Army in 1992, I was left wondering what to do with my life. When I heard about raft guide training in West Virginia, I knew that was the answer.

The year was 1994 and I was working in the summer as a lifeguard for the city of Columbus at Maryland Pool. It’s located not far from East High School, which is pretty close to Bexley, the small city where I grew up.

It was the end of summer and I was talking to my friend, Beth about her plans for college and I said: “well, I guess I’ll just see you next year.” To which she replied, “I’m not coming back next year. I’m going to West Virginia to become a raft guide.”

At that moment, the needle on the record of life made a scratching noise and came to a complete stop. Everything around me quit moving and came to a simultaneous pause. Silence fell upon the Universe.

I remembered my very first rafting trip down the Snake River in 1985 with my family on a vacation to Wyoming and asked her “So, are you just going to fly out to Wyoming and become a raft guide?”

“No. West Virginia.” She went whitewater rafting every year with her family in West Virginia. She asked her raft guide how to become a guide and he told her about training.

Photo of me raft guiding through Upper Railroad Rapid on the Lower New River Gorge in 1997. I was working for Mountain River Tours rafting company, based out of Hico, West Virginia. Photo by and courtesy of Whitewater Photography and Terry Ritterbush.

Raft Guide Living, 1997. My friend Travis and I in front of our summer homes at the Mountain River Tours campground. Living out of a tent was a great experience. Photo by my friend, Doug Ludwig, who lived in the “Tent Mahall” next door.

Raft guide training takes place in the Spring. Most people come from Virginia, West Virginia or, like myself, Ohio. Every weekend we went rafting on Saturdays and Sundays. We learned all kinds of unique skills like how to read whitewater, how to upright a flipped raft and how to get a stuck raft off of rocks.

It was a truly unique experience. Every weekend I enjoyed those rafting trips, hanging out with my new friends around the campfires and just genuinely happy about the next stage in my life.

There were a few reasons I enlisted in the Army. One was adventure and travel. I have always loved being outside and out in the natural environment. That’s where the Army trained to fight and that’s where I wanted to be. Additionally, I wanted the camaraderie or culture of a group of like-minded people. At the time I didn’t realize it, but those two things were what raft guiding replaced in the loss of my Army career.

Categories
CrossFit Events Sports Photography

CrossFit Open Photography 2019

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Lens: Canon 135mm f2.0 L. Aperture: f2.0. Shutter: 1/640. ISO: 1000. Xplorer 600 strobe to camera right

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The CrossFit Open

CrossFit Open 2019 is in the pages of history. Every year CrossFit Incorporated and Reebok host the CrossFit Games in an effort to find the “Fittest on Earth.” You can learn more about the Games here on the CrossFit Games Wikipedia page. One cool thing about the Games is that anyone can qualify. The initial qualifying rounds are held at each individual CrossFit Box. “Box” is the term for a CrossFit facility that distinguishes it from your ordinary, everyday “gym.” The Open lasts for 5 weeks, one workout per week, typically held on Friday evening.

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Why I love CrossFit

Many people benefit from CrossFit in many different ways. It’s not all about the super, muscle-bound, elite athletes you see during television coverage of the Games or on YouTube videos. For me personally, I benefit from strength training to help alleviate the pain associated with osteoarthritis resulting from the surgical steel orthopedic hardware in my pelvis, femur and lower back. If you don’t know that story, you can read about it on my About Chad Foreman  page.

[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column_inner][/fusion_builder_row_inner][fusion_imageframe image_id=”3414|full” max_width=”2100px” style_type=”” blur=”” stylecolor=”” hover_type=”none” bordersize=”” bordercolor=”” borderradius=”” align=”none” lightbox=”yes” gallery_id=”crossfit-open-2019-blog” lightbox_image=”” lightbox_image_id=”” alt=”crossfit open sports photography blog 02″ link=”” linktarget=”_self” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]https://chadforeman.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/crossfit open photography blog/crossfit-open-sports-photography-blog02.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_builder_row_inner][fusion_builder_column_inner type=”1_1″ layout=”1_2″ spacing=”” center_content=”no” hover_type=”none” link=”” target=”_self” min_height=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”left top” background_repeat=”no-repeat” border_size=”0″ border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” box_shadow=”no” box_shadow_blur=”0″ box_shadow_spread=”0″ box_shadow_color=”” box_shadow_style=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=”” last=”no”][fusion_text columns=”” column_min_width=”” column_spacing=”” rule_style=”default” rule_size=”” rule_color=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=””]

Lens: Canon 85mm f1.2 L. Aperture: f1.8. Shutter: 1/640. ISO: 400. Strobes with magmods, camera right and background.

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CrossFit Contribution

As a photographer, part of my contribution to the CrossFit community and my local box, AFC CrossFit, is that I photograph the Open each year. The Open is a special time of year for the CrossFit community. It’s the time when all of the athletes push themselves to a whole new level. It’s a time to really test your progress from the year. For me, it’s a great opportunity to practice photographing athletes at their game.

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Improvements for 2019

My biggest change and improvement for 2019 was two-fold. I shot the entire Open with fixed, also called prime, lenses. Also, I used a lot of off-camera flash to create dramatic lighting.

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Lens: Canon 85mm f1.2 L. Aperture: f2.0. Shutter: 1/640. ISO: 200. Xplorer 600 to camera right and one backlighting her.

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Fixed vs. Zoom Lenses

In the world of lenses there are two main categories: zoom and fixed. Zoom lenses have an adjustable focal point that is attained by rotating the barrel of the lens. Think of the term “zoom in” when talking about getting closer to the action. Many sports photos are shot with zoom lenses because the athletes may be coming towards the photographer, like a running back charging for the end zone, and the photographer needs to change the focal length by “zooming out” in order to fit the athlete in the frame. The focal length is the distance from the rear element of the lens to the sensor. The smaller the number, the larger the field of view. Examples of two popular zoom lenses are 24-70mm and the 70-200mm. The measurement in millimeters is the focal length and the two numbers indicate the zoom range of the lens.

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Fixed Lenses

Fixed lenses have one focal length. Popular fixed lenses include the 50mm, 35mm, 85mm and 135mm. These are the four lenses in which I shot this year’s Open. You might be wondering “Chad, why would you cary 4 different lenses that you need to change in the middle of the action?” That’s a very good question that I thought you might ask. The answer is two-fold. Just like everything else in life, especially relationships, everything in photography is a compromise. A give and a take. You can have this but you must sacrifice that. There is no one, perfect lens for all things.

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Lens: Canon 50mm f1.2 L. Aperture: f2.0. Shutter: 1/640. ISO: 400. Strobe with Magmod sphere to camera right.

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Lens: Canon 50mm f1.2 L. Aperture: f2.0. Shutter: 1/640. ISO: 400. Strobe with Magmod sphere to camera left.

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Lens: Canon 85mm f1.2 L. Aperture: f1.2. Shutter: 1/500. ISO: 100. Strobe with Magmod sphere to camera left, strobe with Magmod bounce to camera right.

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Optical Image Quality

Fixed lenses are called prime lenses because they have the best image quality. There is a certain look attained with a prime lens that is very distinguished. The reason for this is that in order to change the focal length in a zoom lens, there must be multiple glass elements that slide back in forth within the lens. Any time light passes through glass, it gets a little bit distorted. Less pieces of glass equal less distortion.

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A Wider Aperture

Fixed lenses allow for a wider aperture. The aperture is the opening in a lens that allows light through it. This opening is adjustable and measured in stops that are indicated with an f-value. The smaller the number, the more light comes through. The aforementioned zoom lenses only open up to f2.8. My prime lenses open up to f1.4 and two of them, the 50mm and 85mm open up to f1.2. That’s two additional stops of light which allow me to use a faster shutter speed, which is crucial for capturing sports action. This is also crucial because the CrossFit box is very dark with a black floor and gray walls. Not so optimal for photography.

[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column_inner][/fusion_builder_row_inner][fusion_imageframe image_id=”3419|full” max_width=”2100px” style_type=”” blur=”” stylecolor=”” hover_type=”none” bordersize=”” bordercolor=”” borderradius=”” align=”none” lightbox=”yes” gallery_id=”crossfit-open-2019-blog” lightbox_image=”” lightbox_image_id=”” alt=”George Tabit crossfit open sports photography blog 07″ link=”” linktarget=”_self” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]https://chadforeman.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/crossfit open photography blog/crossfit-open-sports-photography-blog07.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_builder_row_inner][fusion_builder_column_inner type=”1_1″ layout=”1_2″ spacing=”” center_content=”no” hover_type=”none” link=”” target=”_self” min_height=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”left top” background_repeat=”no-repeat” border_size=”0″ border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” box_shadow=”no” box_shadow_blur=”0″ box_shadow_spread=”0″ box_shadow_color=”” box_shadow_style=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=”” last=”no”][fusion_text columns=”” column_min_width=”” column_spacing=”” rule_style=”default” rule_size=”” rule_color=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=””]

Lens: Canon 50mm f1.2 L. Aperture: f1.2. Shutter: 1/800. ISO: 640. Strobe with Magmod sphere to camera right.

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Shallower Depth of Field

An additional benefit of the wider aperture achieved with prime lenses is a shallower depth of field. The depth of field is the plane of view that is in focus. A prime lens at f1.2 is going to have less in focus than the zoom lens at f2.8. The advantage of this is that it puts the focus directly on the athlete. The background is less important and therefore, out of focus. The down side of this is that it can be very easy to get your athlete out of focus. If those eyes aren’t in focus, the shot is lost. Nothing else matters.

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Off-Camera Flash

CrossFit Open 2019 was also an experiment for me to use more off-camera flash. Off-camera flash means taking your flash, or strobe light(s) off of your camera and using a remote trigger to fire them. The advantage of taking your light off-axis to the camera is that it uses shadows to create more depth. Our eyes are tricked by light and shadow to create more depth in an image. On-axis light has the effect of flattening everything out and making it look plain and dull.

I did a lot of experimenting with light by placing my strobes at different angles. Sometimes I was trying to outline a side of the figure to define muscle tone. Sometimes I backlit the subject for a dramatic appearance.

[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column_inner][/fusion_builder_row_inner][fusion_imageframe image_id=”3420|full” max_width=”2100px” style_type=”” blur=”” stylecolor=”” hover_type=”none” bordersize=”” bordercolor=”” borderradius=”” align=”none” lightbox=”yes” gallery_id=”crossfit-open-2019-blog” lightbox_image=”” lightbox_image_id=”” alt=”crossfit open sports photography blog 08″ link=”” linktarget=”_self” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]https://chadforeman.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/crossfit open photography blog/crossfit-open-sports-photography-blog08.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_builder_row_inner][fusion_builder_column_inner type=”1_1″ layout=”1_2″ spacing=”” center_content=”no” hover_type=”none” link=”” target=”_self” min_height=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”left top” background_repeat=”no-repeat” border_size=”0″ border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” box_shadow=”no” box_shadow_blur=”0″ box_shadow_spread=”0″ box_shadow_color=”” box_shadow_style=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=”” last=”no”][fusion_text columns=”” column_min_width=”” column_spacing=”” rule_style=”default” rule_size=”” rule_color=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=””]

Lens: Canon 85mm f1.2 L. Aperture: f1.2. Shutter: 1/640. ISO: 640. Strobe with Magmod sphere to camera left.

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What do you think?

Did you enjoy learning about my lens selections and why I chose them? Do you find off-camera flash fascinating? Are too  many of these pictures not tack sharp enough for your viewing pleasure?

Please let me know in the comments below.

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Categories
Kayaking Sports Photography Whitewater

Freestyle Whitewater Kayaking the New River Dries

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Josh Collins performs an Air Screw: @contsquashua

[/fusion_title][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container][fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”no” hundred_percent_height=”no” hundred_percent_height_scroll=”no” hundred_percent_height_center_content=”yes” equal_height_columns=”yes” menu_anchor=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”center center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” fade=”no” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ video_mp4=”” video_webm=”” video_ogv=”” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_loop=”yes” video_mute=”yes” video_preview_image=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=””][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”2_3″ layout=”2_3″ spacing=”yes” center_content=”yes” link=”” target=”_self” min_height=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”center center” undefined=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” hover_type=”none” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=”” last=”no”][fusion_imageframe image_id=”2161″ style_type=”none” stylecolor=”” hover_type=”none” bordersize=”” bordercolor=”” borderradius=”” align=”none” lightbox=”no” gallery_id=”” lightbox_image=”” alt=”” link=”” linktarget=”_self” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]https://chadforeman.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/kayaking-corey-lilly.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_title margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” size=”3″ content_align=”center” style_type=”default” sep_color=””]

Corey Lilly @clillyvisuals performs an Aerial Blunt

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Rains Make Waves

Heavy rains along the East Coast of the United States in the first week of August, 2018 brought a surprise spike to the rivers and a special treat to the freestyle whitewater kayaking boaters of Fayetteville, West Virginia. Typically these volumes of water are reserved for the heavy rains of the late Winter and early Spring but heavy rains storms thought otherwise. Normally this section of river is dry, which is why it is called “The Dries.” It is my personal belief that climate change is the reason storms are becoming more sporadic, unseasonable and intense.

The New River is the largest watershed East of the Mississippi. It begins in North Carolina and flows North through Virginia and West Virginia, merging with the Gauley to form the Kanawha, into the Ohio river and eventually the Mississippi. As it travels through West Virginia, elevation drops created by centuries of mountain growth and erosion form large, standing waves which are ideal for whitewater surfing.

Freestyle Whitewater Kayaking is probably the least understood of all the “extreme sports.” Most people without a background in whitewater have no idea what those kayakers are doing in those little, tiny boats. They’re bobbing and bouncing and flipping around and diving down into the water. A person on their very first whitewater rafting trip will gasp “are they in trouble?” The answer is no, they are not in trouble. Quite the opposite in fact, that person is having the time of their life.

[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container][fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”no” hundred_percent_height=”no” hundred_percent_height_scroll=”no” hundred_percent_height_center_content=”yes” equal_height_columns=”yes” menu_anchor=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”center center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” fade=”no” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ video_mp4=”” video_webm=”” video_ogv=”” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_loop=”yes” video_mute=”yes” video_preview_image=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=””][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_3″ layout=”1_3″ spacing=”yes” center_content=”yes” link=”” target=”_self” min_height=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”left top” undefined=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” hover_type=”none” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=”” last=”no”][fusion_imageframe image_id=”2156″ style_type=”none” stylecolor=”” hover_type=”none” bordersize=”” bordercolor=”” borderradius=”” align=”none” lightbox=”no” gallery_id=”” lightbox_image=”” alt=”” link=”” linktarget=”_self” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]https://chadforeman.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/whitewater-kayaking-shane-groves.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_title margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” size=”1″ content_align=”left” style_type=”default” sep_color=””]

Shane Groves performs an Aerial Blunt: @shanegrooves

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Kayaking Evolution

Whitewater kayaking has evolved immensely from its recreational birth in the mid 1970s. I find it refreshing to know that some of those kayakers are still paddling the New and Gauley rivers of West Virginia, today in 2018. However, most of them are not out on the enormous waves of the New River Dries in today’s lighter, smaller and more agile freestyle kayaks. Most of the freestyle kayakers are the young guns of today’s whitewater generation. They are taking whitewater kayaking to the next level.

When I started kayaking in 1997, freestyle kayaking was just about to explode. People were discovering acrobatic moves that could be performed in a whitewater kayak. Vertical rotations, known as cartwheels, were the hottest moves of the day. Kayaks evolved in design at a staggering pace. Designers and manufacturers discovered knew ways of making advanced moves easier and more impressive.

[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_3″ layout=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” center_content=”no” last=”no” min_height=”” hover_type=”none” link=””][fusion_imageframe image_id=”2157″ style_type=”none” stylecolor=”” hover_type=”none” bordersize=”” bordercolor=”” borderradius=”” align=”none” lightbox=”no” gallery_id=”” lightbox_image=”” alt=”” link=”” linktarget=”_self” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]https://chadforeman.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/whitewater-kayaking-paul-griffin.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_title margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” size=”1″ content_align=”left” style_type=”default” sep_color=””]

Paul Griffin performs an Aerial Blunt

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Video Boaters at Play

At that time I was a full-time video kayaker and my goals in life were to see how many cartwheels I could link together in one ride. Lines formed at the surf spots and could be in excess of 20 people long. There were 18 rafting companies and almost all of them employed 3-7 full-time video kayakers. People went back to the river after they worked on the river just to go to the local play spot and “throw ends.” (Kayaker jargon for doing cartwheels.”

There are noticeably less and less freestyle kayakers on the river today. Fewer and fewer people are coming rafting every year and therefore fewer and fewer people are developing an interest in whitewater kayaking. As there are fewer and fewer kayakers, the ability levels of these kayakers continues to grow to unprecedented levels. There may only be 5 or 6 kayakers at the wave, but these boaters are making big moves. Nowadays it is not uncommon to see these kayakers performing vertical aerial moves on the wave. Moves like the “air screw,” “aerial blunt” and “space Godzillas” (I don’t even know what a Space Godzilla is) are the hot ticket items of today.

I must say I’m proud to be friends with the pioneer kayakers of the 1970’s, the Gen-X video boaters of the early 2000’s as well as the young guns boaters of today. The world of kayaking is a small world after all.

[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”2_3″ layout=”2_3″ spacing=”yes” center_content=”yes” link=”” target=”_self” min_height=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”center center” undefined=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” hover_type=”none” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=”” last=”no”][fusion_imageframe image_id=”2162″ style_type=”none” stylecolor=”” hover_type=”none” bordersize=”” bordercolor=”” borderradius=”” align=”none” lightbox=”no” gallery_id=”” lightbox_image=”” alt=”” link=”” linktarget=”_self” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=””]https://chadforeman.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/air-screw-michael-buechler.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_title margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” size=”3″ content_align=”center” style_type=”default” sep_color=””]

Michael Buechler performs an Air Screw: @littlemike304

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Categories
Football Sports Photography

Photography Blog Kickoff

It’s that time of year again. The evenings are a little bit cooler, the days aren’t quite as hot. The school busses are running. Kids are in school. It’s a nostalgic time of year. A fresh start. Everyone’s ok with hitting the books because they’ve had a nice break.

It’s also time for football. Football means a lot of different things to different people. For me, it represents a growing up, a coming of age. Experiencing strength and a competitive spirit as a young man. The feeling of a desire to annihilate your opponent. It’s been there since the dawn of humankind. Football also makes me think of my dad. He loved football. It was something that brought us together, even though I didn’t like it when he coached me. I just wanted him to watch me play and tell me good job. He just wanted me to be the best I could be.

sports football patriots newspaper
It’s an honor to have my picture chosen to be on the front page of the Sports section of the Beckley Register-Herald.

There’s school spirit and a uniting of community. There’s a special feeling that comes from seeing the school parking lot full of cars, lined up to get in and get a good seat before kickoff. The high school kids, hanging out with all of their friends. The young kids tossing footballs back and forth in the grassy areas behind the grandstands.

The smell of popcorn in the air. The play-by-play announcer’s voice over the loudspeakers. The Dolby surround sound effect of a group of referees all blowing their whistles at the same time.

The smell of grass this time of year. I’m very thankful that most of the schools in Fayette County play on natural grass fields. It might be cheaper in the long run to use that new artificial surface, but nothing compares to that true bond with nature that comes from getting your face mask buried in the dirt.

sports football patriots mud
sports football patriots mud

It’s an honor for me to have the privilege of photographing high school football for the Beckley Register-Herald. It’s game time again for me, but in a different sense. My favorite part is feeling the pre-game excitement. People in this area love their high school football and I want to deliver quality images for them. I gotta have my game face on.

Before the play starts, I focus in on the quarterback. I have to read the play, just like I was playing outside linebacker for the Bexley Lions in 1992. If that play turns into a sweep in my direction, if the running back or quarterback are coming around the end, I’m getting a little rush of adrenaline. It’s almost as if a hole opened up in front of me in the line and I know, I get to make the tackle.

sports football patriots dash
sports football patriots dash

I may not get to crash into that running back, but if I get a good shot of that young man who just did, I’m excited. I’m almost as jacked up as if I just made the tackle myself! Well, maybe not. No, definitely not, but at this age, it’s the best I can get and I’ll take it.

I’m excited to start blogging again. There’s a lot more I could say about football and blogging and photography, but hey, it’s only the first quarter!

sports football patriots
sports football patriots