© 2014 Ashley Landis Xgames Action

XGames in ATX!

Months ago when I found out that the XGames were coming to Austin, I got excited with visions of high-flying daredevils doing flips in front of my camera.

I contacted their media people immediately, wanting to know what I had to do to get a credential.  They told me to be patient and that they’d start accepting credential requests on April 14.  I wrote it on my calendar.

Then I called the Austin American-Statesman, where my conversation was something like the following:

DOP:  “Hi Ashley, how are you?”
Me:  “I’m good, how are you?”
DOP:  “Fine, what’s up?”
Me:  “XGames.”
DOP:  “XGames?”
Me:  “XGames…”
DOP:  “XGames!”

(Isn’t it great when the people you work with just get you?)

Anyway, I looked forward to it for months, and finally it came!

It was probably the most fun week I’ve ever had professionally.  I shot 4 baseball games for the UIL state championship tournament on Wed., shot game 1 of the NBA Finals for EPA on Thurs., shot XGames Fri. and Sat., then back to San Antonio for game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sun.  I was so happy I cried.

More on baseball and NBA Finals later, but this post is about the XGames.

I had the photo day shift for the Statesman, which meant I was out at the Circuit of the Americas around 10 a.m. on Fri.  I brought my two D700 camera bodies, my 200-400mm f4 lens, my 70-200mm f2.8 lens and my 24-70mm f2.8 lens.  I also had a backpack with my laptop and various accessories that I had to lug from parking lot T.

When I arrived at the media work area, I set up to my laptop and Brien Aho, the local Nikon rep, approached me to say hello.  I jokingly asked if he had anything I could borrow.  He said yes!  So I borrowed a D4s camera body and a 16mm f2.8 for the weekend.

I only had two events to cover on Fri. – BMX Street and Skateboard Street – and I tried to get a few feature photos while I walked around.

There were designated photo spots on either end of the event setup, and also at the top of the bleachers facing the grand stand.  It was really tough to get a clean background since the street competition was set up on the road of the race track.  There were fences and scaffolding and people all over the place.

Since I had two events in the same place, I experimented a lot with where to shoot from.  I stood where ever they’d let me, even climbed the stairs to the very top of the grand stands to shoot down.  The clean background was worth the effort.

I finished editing and transmitting at about 6:30 p.m. on Fri. and went home to wash away the full-body layer of sweat and grime I had earned.  Did I mention I had a big fat smile on my face?

On Sat. I arrived about 9:30 a.m. and happily got on the parking shuttle, where an enthusiastic bus driver (the same one I had the day before) pumped me up for the day.  Most of the people I ran in to at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) were like that.  Full of positive energy.

I had three events on Sat. – BMX Dirt, RallyCross and Skateboard Park.  I also talked the XGames people in to letting me up in the COTA tower to get some overview shots.

Again, I got creative with shooting positions.  I’m not sure I ever once stood in the designated media areas on Saturday.  If I did, it wasn’t for long.  I found that XGames fans actually get the best view, which I suppose is the right thing to do – give the paying folk the best seats.

I walked around all over and tried to get the cleanest shots I could.  That was especially difficult with RallyCross, mostly due to lots of fences and having to shoot from far away.

Anyway, when I saw the print editions of the Statesman, I was pretty surprised.  It’s not every day that I get to see my pictures printed full page, double truck.

The whole experience, even shaking from my fear of heights while standing on the glass floor on the tower, was just awesome.  I had a blast!  I felt like some kind of rock star or super hero.  And incredibly thankful that I have the best job in the world!

Click here to see an awesome wrap-up video by the Statesman team!!!


One Comment

  1. jp Thomas
    Posted June 12, 2014 at 10:02 am | #

    So very very happy for you Ashley , wonderful photography , glad you made it to #1 ,you deserve the best for being the best ….

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