Category Archives: Photography

Ironman Switzerland 2012: Conquering Europe


Despite a half dozen very chilly 20-minute rain storms, and despite more steep hills on the bike course than the brochures might have led one to believe, Scott Humphries can officially check Ironman Switzerland off his list.  I know he was nervous jumping into the swim.  He had to be, given his prior experience triathloning in a European lake (story here).  You can see from the picture below what an Ironman start looks like.  And just like the race in Frankfurt in 2010, half the field seemed to be 6’4” German guys.  But his swim couldn’t have gone more smoothly.  In fact, he finished the race with a personal record – beating his prior best time by about five minutes.







Judging from the looks of him, though, there were some very low moments during the bike section.  We saw him after one chilly shower, and I swear his eye sockets were powder blue.  I’d stuck an extra rain jacket in my pocket for him, but initially he had refused to him take it.  The second time around (the time with the blue eye sockets), he eagerly asked if I still had it.  After the race was over, I heard someone ask him what was the most memorable moment of the day, and his only-half-serious response was “When Cotner pulled that white jacket out of his pocket!”  Unfortunately, he later left the jacket with his bike and wound up shivering again on the marathon run.

But he’s tough.  And he puts it all out there when he races.  The outcome was never really in doubt.   I love that first picture above – taken just seconds after he crossed the finish line as he first hugged his wife Stacy over the railing.  It’s worth comparing the prerace pictures (including the ones in my last post), with those two finish line pictures with Stacy:  obviously the Ironman can be a humbling experience.  That funny Swiss-cross muscle-flexing shot (below, at bottom) was about 20 minutes later after his swagger had recovered – humility can be a fleeting thing, apparently.




As usual, the picture that includes me was taken by a random stranger willing to dedicate 20 seconds to doing us a favor.  There are a couple of shots of total strangers in the grid above (e.g., flag carrier at the finish, girl on lakshore).  I spent the day driving the “chase” car with Shane, Michele and Stacy.  We intercepted Scott about 20 times during the course of the race, including sightings in several small towns 20+ miles from Zurich.  We got wet, tired, and hungry, but we never got lost.  For reasons I cannot possibly explain, Stacy asked me to take her picture “in the corn.”  So I did.  If you want to see a couple of pictures of Stacy in Corn, click here

Zurich: The Swiss Just Call it an “Army Knife”

In July 2010, in a lake just south of Frankfurt, Scott Humphries, Shane Merz and I joined about 1800 others and jumped into the water for the start of Ironman Germany.  About 25 minutes after the start of the swim, at the first turn buoy in the water, Scott got an inadvertent swift kick in the head from another swimmer.  Long story short:  within minutes he was in a rescue boat, then an ambulance, then the Intensive Care Unit at Waldsee Hospital.  Shane and I never saw any of that; we learned what had happened hours later as we finished (and by then Scott was stable).

But the German Ironman was part of a group quest:  Two years earlier, I had popped off that “we” (Scott, Shane and I) had to complete an Ironman on every continent.  (We did South America in 2008; North America in 2011).  So Scott still hadn’t finished one in Europe.  He decided to remedy that with a solo performance this week in Switzerland.   Mercifully, Shane and I already crossed Europe off our IronList, so we just came along to Zurich to watch, clap and cheer.

And to sightsee a little.  The race will be today (Sunday).  With any luck, my next blog post will have lots of happy finish line pictures.  For now, here are a few pics from Zurich and from along the race course.  That’s Scott hanging out the window of the SUV on a bike course scouting mission, Scott getting suited up for a practice swim, and of course Scott with his lovely wife Stacy, alongside Lake Zurich.

photocrati gallery




Florida 2012: My Glamorous Nieces

There are several nice family/vacation pictures from my trip to the Destin / Panama City area with my sister and her clan (plus a couple of great guests).   But I thought these shots of my lovely nieces (Caitlin, 20, in brown stripes; Grace, 15 in blue) deserved a page of their own.  They were taken on the balcony of our rented condo.  Behind each picture is an ongoing debate about optimal smiling techniques, which side they felt (strongly) was their “best” side, and how they were going to keep their hair out of their faces.



For the photography folks:  Nikon D800 (rocks), natural light on a shaded, open balcony.  Evening sun on the beach behind.   No tricks.  100mm or so, at f4 to blur the background.   

Florida 2012: Coastal Dune Lakes


Right behind some of the stunning beaches of Florida’s Walton County are some small lakes called “coastal dune lakes.”  Apparently, this type of lake –- created by natural coastal sand dunes that act as dams to hold back freshwater streams – exists in only a handful of places in the world.  They have partial and intermittent connections to the Gulf, so they’re a mix of salt and fresh water.  Surrounding the Florida lakes (and covering thousands of square miles of the panhandle) are tall, spindly “tropical” pine trees (slash and longleaf pines).  Around the lakeshore and in just the right light, they somehow look like a taller, watery version of the African acacia trees on the Serengeti.

Last week, I found myself wandering around some of these lakes a couple of mornings in the twilight before a 5:45a.m. sunrise (I’m great fun to vacation with!).  Yes, my feet did get wet.  I kept wishing for a boat or fisherman or animal of some sort (or even one of my still-sleeping nieces) to provide a real focal point for these pictures, but alas I had to make do with the striking views of the lakes, trees and morning sky.


Ironman Texas 2012: Just Spectating

 IM Texas swim leader Brandon Marsh approaching swim finish

IM Texas lead group “drafting” behind Marsh near swim finish

I got up early to drive to the Woodlands to watch some of Ironman Texas today.  A year ago, a group of friends and I were among the swim-capped throng out there in that icky lake at sunrise, but with IM Texas already crossed off our lists, this year I was thrilled to be just a spectator.  The outing today was mostly another chance to try to figure out my cameras.  I only watched the swim — I started home when the racers headed out for their five-plus-hour bike ride.  Like all full Ironman events, the swim is 2.4 miles long, but the IM Texas swim course has a unique finish up a canal (that’s what you see in most of the pictures — taken overhead from a bridge) that leads to the Woodlands Town Center area.  Don’t ask what’s on the shallow bottom.


 The water seems a lot less peaceful when you’re back in the pack:

The start: