Posts Tagged ‘motocross’

I’ve seen a few of posts on my Facebook feed featuring women in action sports.  A couple of them even tie into a “Feminism in Action (Sports)” post I am planning to write.  It’s really heart-warming to see female action sports athletes get exposure and my friends championing it.

One that particularly tugged at my heartstrings was a BuzzFeed Canada story that a friend shared.  Jeanean Thomas posted a letter on Twitter to the young man who helped teach her daughter how to skate.
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This is a perfect example of what feminism is.  Jeanean get mega props for letting her daughter know that she has equal  right to be at the skatepark.  The young man was a wonderful ally by going above and beyond to help out this beginner skater even though he was made fun of.  We need to be commending guys like him, not teasing him.  This is how a girl or a boy will develop skills and a new love for skateboarding.  When I was her daughter’s age, I had the same reservations about going to the skate park and thus never went due to lack of support.  As a result, I never went and grew frustrated with learning how to skate.  Maybe others aren’t as easily discouraged, but Jeanean’s daughter got a confidence boost through a kind individual extending a helping hand and not discriminating against her age, skill, and gender.

Another skating post appeared the other day.  My co-worker shared this striking photo, and I knew it had to be the work of Skateistan.
 photo 12278839_10205313294543871_1511743250074323011_n_zpsq5zpyw8h.jpg By Jake Simkin

It’s a non-profit that uses skateboarding to empower youth in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa.  It has particularly reached out to Afghani girls who cannot ride bikes or participate in sports.  I’ll be going in depth into Skateistan in a later post, but I had to share this photo along with my co-worker’s comment that it’s evidence that “people are the same all over the world”.  It’s a message of particular importance in these recent trying times.

Finally, another friend shared a “Women in the World” feature on Iranian motocross rider Behnaz Shafiei. I’ll be writing more about her and Noora Moghaddas in a later post too, but they’re badasses for essentially breaking the law to do what they love.  Feminism often involves taking risks, and women like Behanz certainly are with the hopes that there will be more equality in the future.
 photo slack-imgs-1-com_zpsp1msdvgz.jpeg Photo from The New York Times

I was probably the only person not stoked about Metallica playing Saturday night. It’s not that I don’t like them, but they should not be your sole reason for going to the X Games. Although I have no problem with casual action sports fans or non-fans coming into the scene with an open mind, I do take issue with people talking loudly in the middle of an event or taking the good seats because James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett are playing the national anthem, only to leave before we even get to the finals. Plus there were so many people smoking in areas where it was not allowed. Although the rude individuals who didn’t care about rules or action sports made me grumpy, I still had a great full day of X Games.

RallyCar Racing

  • So much dust! VIP probably got it the worst because they were right at the first turn. The visibility was so bad that drivers were hitting each other and even missing the jump.
    XG2015 RallyCar Racing02
  • I almost want to agree with my mom about how watching this on TV would be better because you’re not choking on dirt and can see the carnage up close. However, it’s not as exciting. Also I never fully understood the joker until I saw how it affect all the different positions. TV focuses on a few cars and areas so you don’t get the big picture of the strategy that goes into rally.
  • Ken Block and Travis Pastrana had really bad luck. So did Patrick Sandell. I felt for him because he fixed whatever was leaking in his car, but they wouldn’t let him back on the track due to broadcast time limits. I thought that was a pretty lame reason.
  • Scott Speed got reckless at the end of the final, but he was gonna finish first so we don’t need a bumper anymore, right?

(more…)

Last month, World of X Games aired a special all about female action sports athletes.  It was so refreshing.  As of late, the X Games has started to give women the coverage they deserve. . .  finally.  It was so disheartening to see women’s events diminish throughout the years, and it hurts when my highlights mostly feature men (I think that’s why I started to pay more attention to the winter sports).  There is hope though.  In addition to the “Women of Action” episode, X Games held a Real Women contest to highlight the athletes who for one reason or another, don’t participate in X.  On top of that, female BMX riders were invited to hit the course during one of the practice sessions.

However, we can hope all we want, and that doesn’t change the harsh reality.  The on-line “Women of Action” series speaks of a glass ceiling that is found in any male-dominated field, be it science or skating.  Then there’s the shameful state of women’s motocross about which I’m glad the TV episode covered.  There are many opinions about the issue, but something is wrong when top riders like Ashley Fiolek and Jessica Patterson are dropped by their sponsors because the series promoter has decided to cut pro racing for women.  We’ve seen this before, like when Cara-Beth Burnside was dropped by the company that helped her become the first female skater to have her own shoe.  Vans won’t even deign to put her on their Legends team despite how much she’s done for the sport, and they’re losing a portion of their customers because of it—and the fact that their designs for women’s shoes have become more stereotypically feminine (we’ll discuss this in part 2).

Speaking of skate legends, check out this TED Talk by Cindy Whitehead.

She highlights the day-to-day issues that women—hobbyists, amateurs, pros, and legends alike—face in doing what they love.  The hateful comments and skepticism are what pushed me away from the scene.  To this day, I feel self-conscious going to local events.  Sexism happens on multiple levels, and it’s so ingrained that the action sports community has to make a hard effort to fight it.  Otherwise it will destroy the potential that the sports have to grow while depriving girls of something wonderful.

We’ve seen women ride with the men: Peggy Oki, Fabiola da Silva, Vicki Golden, and Emma Gilmour to name a few.  They make the case for an elimination of gendered events, but here’s the problem: sexism is systemic.  Male athletes get the coverage and sponsors because they are still the main demographic of action sports fans.  As Cindy mentioned, people automatically assume that an action sports athlete is a man.  The stereotypes are that ingrained in our minds, as is the idea that women are physically less capable than men.

In the “Glass Ceiling” article, ESPN asks James Riordon if size and strength really affect how much air you get and how many spins you do.  His answer: “The discrepancy in upper-body strength isn’t enough to hinder spinning. What it comes down to is there is no physics-based reason why men and women aren’t at the same level, at least not at the top level of the sport.”  Maybe there are other physicists who want to refute his statement, but snowboard Kelly Clark, in the same piece, brings up Chloe Kim who evokes comparisons to a young Shaun White.

It is through snowboarding that we see what happens when women are given the chance to show their stuff.  The Olympics have really helped with giving them more exposure, and as a result, other events have to follow suit.  That leads to increase opportunities, which allows the women push themselves further.  Perhaps the brightest beacon comes with Elena Hight’s double backside alley-oop rodeo, the first for a woman or a man and top voted moment in the history of X.
It seems that enough people out there know what a good thing is when they see it, and I’ll hang onto that hope.

I used to think that being an action sports fan would put me at odds with being a lifetime environmentalist.  It was so hard to engage in a proper dialogue with my fellow FMX lovers because they only ever saw environmentalists as “the enemy” trying to deprive them of the opportunity to ride; it was equally difficult to bring up dirt bikes in a conversation about protecting the earth.  Once I asked my ecology teacher whether dirt bikes were really that bad, and she said the damage was in going off-course into protected land, not in pollution.

These days, I see a step forward with the shift to cleaner four-stroke engines, but motocross needs to catch up with the rest of the action sports community in embracing a greener lifestyle.  Enough about the negatives though.  Let’s properly celebrate Earth Day by focusing on how action sports enthusiasts are also environmentalists.

Surfrider Foundation began with three Malibu surfers trying to save First Point.  Now the organization works to protect coastal and ocean ecosystems in eighteen countries through research, education, and activism.  Their programs are proof that everybody who loves water can co-exist as they promote sustainable living, public beach access, gardening methods that reduce run-off pollution, and ways to improve water quality.

The Surfrider Foundation's publication

The Surfrider Foundation’s publication

This past weekend, surfers in Bali got together for the final Beach Clean Up event.  Staff members from Quiksilver, Surfer Girl, Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia, and other organizations worked with locals, journalists, and surfers to pick up over three thousand kilograms of trash over the course of the four events.

Snowboarders have shown just as much initiative with Marie-France Roy making a movie about her environmentally conscious peers and Jamie Anderson and Elena Hight promoting eco-friendly clothing.

The X Games also took to promoting REPREVE’s water bottle-made beanies.

I was a bit worried over the environmental impact of Red Bull Supernatural, but I should have known better.  Travis Rice and Red Bull actually brought in a forester and a biologist to make sure the event wouldn’t do any harm.  When concerns were raised about the local pine population, the builders made sure not to cut down any.  This is a perfect example of how to build a course without negatively impacting natural habitats.

In reaction to the impact of climate change on winter sports, Jeremy Jones, one of the riders featured in Roy’s film, created Protect Our Winters (POW).  Last year, the non-profit petition for President Obama to abandon the Keystone XL pipeline in favor of more renewable energy sources.  Various winter sports athletes banned together via POW to form the Riders Alliance, and their activism caught the attention of The Sierra Club, just in time for the Olympics.  POW actually utilized the publicity generated by the Olympics to raise awareness on climate change, and they’ve partnered with North Face to educate students.

Also featured in Sierra Club publications is Bob Burnquist.  He’s the co-founder of the Action Sports Environmental Coalition, which played a role in the X Games’ early efforts to go green.  He has worked with Chipotle, Whole Foods, and Oakley to promote sustainable living.

The ASEC site hadn’t been updated in a couple of years, but I hope they’re still active.  Regardless of where you choose to practice your sport, it’s important to consider the environment and protect the earth.  If even it’s something small like picking up after ourselves (and our friends) and not using plastic bottles, we as a community can help make a difference.  Happy Earth Day!

I’m back! Just in time to begin a new season of winter action sports (I’m all signed up for Fantasy Freeride League, are you?). Before we begin with that, I have to share the post that never made it up prior to my hiatus. It’s a comprehensive recap of all four summer events.

The “global” (I put that in quotes because what happened to Asia?) X Games initiative was ambitious and a great way to reach out to the international community, but I think we can all agree that it was exhausting. Not to mention unfair to certain sports and parts of the world. Having just one summer and one winter event makes the X Games more special and easier to manage although I would like to see smaller events like the Asian X Games were previously. I could write essay on my thoughts, but instead, let’s focus on the sick action we saw in Foz do Iguaçu, Barcelona, Munich, and Los Angeles with my eXponential Awards.

Best Female Athlete – Vicki Golden (Moto X)
Vicki Golden is no stranger to breaking barriers. The first woman to qualify for an Arenacross race became the first female rider to compete in a FMX event, something I had hoped to see in my lifetime since I got into action sports. She snagged the bronze in Best Whip and then went on to grab her third gold in Women’s Moto-X Racing.
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From Trevor Brown, Jr. / ESPN

Best Male Athlete – Bob Burnquist (Skateboard)
At Foz, Bob Burnquist became the X Games athlete with the most medals, and he followed it up with two more Big Air golds for a record of 27 total. Although he didn’t get the grand slam, he still continued to compete with a broken nose.

Newcomer to Watch – Scott Speed (Rally)

How many people can say they won the first big race they entered? Scott Speed did just that at the RallyCross event in Foz. While he still has a learning curve, his Formula One and NASCAR experience make him a force to be reckoned with.

Most Dramatic Finals – BMX Freestyle Street in L.A.

There had been only one BMX Street champion in the X Games, and that was Garrett Reynolds. Everything changed in L.A. though when Chad Kerley got the day’s top score. It was close—Garrett actually match Chad’s 45—but it was time for a new king of street.

Best Trick – Zack Warden’s Iron Lotus to late tailwhip plus triple tailwhip (BMX)
Although I’ve already awarded the backflip bike flip, a.k.a. the Iron Lotus, best trick last year, Zach Warden deserves recognition for giving us a prime example of progression in the Big Air contest at Barcelona.  Just how many tricks can a guy cram into one jump and still have enough momentum to do a triple whip on the quarterpipe.

Picture Perfect Moment – Colton Satterfield and Jake Brown share the MegaRamp at Foz do Iguaçu (BMX and Skateboard)
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From Brett Wilhelm / ESPN
Skaters and BMXers have a reputation of not getting along, but this photo, in addition to being a stunning sunset shot, highlights the camaraderie that transcends sports and nationalities at the X Games.

Best Moment Outside of Competition – Tony Hawk’s kids clean the vert ramp.
The heavy rains in Barcelona were a big downer, but at least Tony Hawk’s kids managed to have some fun sliding on the vert ramp to mop it up. I bet Tony wishes they showed the same enthusiasm for household chores.

Most Educational Moment – Mike Schultz’s prosthetic leg (Moto X)
This is not exactly part of the X Games, but we got to see science benefit action sports. Mike Schultz was recognized this summer by Popular Science for engineering his own prosthetic to fit the dynamic action sports lifestyle. In addition to helping him win the Invention Award this year, his Versa Foot played a key role in his Adaptive Moto X gold.

Greatest Comeback – Bucky Lasek (Skateboard)
To use his words, Bucky Lasek hasn’t really gone anywhere, but he’s been missing the top of the podium for nine years. That changed with Foz, then Barcelona, Munich, and finally L.A.—a grand slam in Skateboard Vert.

Most Inspirational – Nyjah Huston (Skateboard)
Most people know Nyjah Huston as the street phenom. X Games aired a feature that showed the behind-the-scenes struggles with his family and how he was able to overcome it. I definitely see him in a new light.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Kevin Robinson (BMX)
The BMX Freestyle Big Air finals in L.A. felt like the end of an era. Longtime advocate and champion of the event, Kevin Robinson, was retiring from competition. I remember the first time I saw him ride on TV fourteen years ago and then meeting him three years later. Since then, I’ve followed his career with my brother and even my mom. It’s been an amazing run, and I’m glad he is happy with the choice that he’s made. Kevin, you’ll always been my family’s favorite rider.
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From Christian Pondella / Red Bull Content Pool

It’s been a great eleven years in L.A. So much history was made in the Staple Center, and so much heart was on display. However, I’m super stoked for Austin even if I happen to be out of state when the X Games are rolling out.

Saturday at the X Games was just crazy. There were so many events going on (half of which were competing with what was apparently the second longest Wimbledon match for airtime). Among them was the Hot Wheels Double Loop Dare. It was a short one-shot event, which almost seemed like a waste considering how much space the loop took up. However, the feat was impressive, and it’s now in the record books.

BMX thoughts

  • Park was like a trip down memory lane. Familiar names like Ryan Nyquist and Scotty Cranmer were in the finals, and I was watching alongside my brother (who has fallen out of the scene). Good times.
  • Patrick Casey did flair whip in such a small space. It was shocking.
  • Brett “Banana Sandwich” Banasiewicz (actually his nickname is “Mad Dog”) had some HUGE tricks, like a triple whip and a 900, but he didn’t even medal. That’s how stiff the competition is and how important picking the right lines is.
  • Scotty was a great example of just having it all: technical tricks, use of the entire course, and smooth riding. XG18 Day3-1, From X Games Tumblr Photo from official X Game Tumblr
  • I panicked for a minute when I saw the Vert results on Twitter because I thought it would be broadcast live on TV. Who knew that the X Games could have spoilers?
  • Dennis McCoy is the only BMXer among the four athletes who have competed in all 18 X Games.
  • Jamie Bestwick was the first rider to break 40 points in the finals, and there was no stopping him after that.
  • Steve McCann had great amplitude but took a hard crash in one of the early runs.
  • All the guys rode well, but Jamie just has much more variation. It also helped that he didn’t have set-up airs (though I noticed that many more riders are now packing in the tricks).
  • Vince Byron made tailwhips look easy. He also attempted a decade air.
  • Both Steve McCann and Simon Tabron opted out their last runs probably due to the pain they were feeling from the crashes. Best save your body when you know that unless you’re at 100%, you’re probably not going to beat Jamie.

Motocross thoughts

  • Ashley Fiolek was absent from Women’s Moto-X Racing due to concerns about concussion effects. She hit her seven times this past year, the latest being three weeks ago (where she didn’t even remember finishing).
  • Vicki Golden got the holeshot, and that was it. By the end of the race, she led by 7 seconds.
  • They should have Vicki in Best Whip next year.
    xgamesday3-3, Photo by Brown Dog Wilson.  From viceversamx.com Photo by Brown Dog Wilson (viceversamx.com)
  • The camera angle for Speed and Style sucked for showing tricks over the big jump.
  • Robbie Maddison had a bad crash over the whoops in practice. ESPN first reported that he broke his tibia and fibia, but apparently that was a prior injury that confused the hospital staff. He did suffer from a collapsed lung and lacerations on his leg.
  • Matt Buyten was apparently “pleasantly surprised” at not being sore from the previous night’s Step-Up marathon.
  • This was Carey Hart’s X Games swan song. He put up a really good fight against Edgar Torrenteras in the quarterfinals.
  • It looked really scary whenever riders were going bar-to-bar up the ramp, especially when they were both planning to flip. One slight bobble and it would be ugly.
  • ET didn’t have enough speeding going into a backflip and crashed hard. He was lucky to have gotten the bike all the way around, but it was a rough landing. He was carried out on the stretcher while throwing the horns.
  • The finals was between Nate Adams and Mike Mason. Both looked incredibly comfortable with course, and their jerseys were similar in color so “yellow” and “black” was a very good way to distinguish them from afar.
  • Mase’s arenacross background definitely helped him win. He was the smoothest on the whoops the entire night.
  • So many motocross injuries seem to have happened these past couple of days. Get well soon to all the riders!

Skateboard thoughts

  • Park started off slow, but everyone really brought out the big tricks in the finals.
  • It was cool seeing vets Andy MacDonald and Rune Glifberg in the finals. I tend to forget that they are park skaters too.
  • Kevin Kowalski saved himself from a fall (they can only have two before the run is over) with a nice revert.
  • Pedro Barros lost his hat doing a trick and then came back around to grab it in the middle of his run. Talk about cool under pressure.
  • It was a big battle for first between Pedro, Rune, and Ben Hatchell.
  • Ben put up a really good fight. His tech tricks got him the highest scoring run.
  • Three of the four X Games super vets (that’s what I’m calling the guys who have been in all 18 comps) were competing in Vert: Andy MacDonald, Bob Burnquist, and Rune Glifberg.
  • Rob Lorifice and Adam Taylor looked sunburned. Wonder if they forgot their sunscreen during Big Air.
  • Body varial = body doing a 540 + board doing a 360.
  • There appeared to be some strategic skating during the heats, as competitors refrained from throwing their biggest tricks (according to Tony Hawk, it might get scored lower later).
  • Skateboard Vert had the most pottymouths. The TV would go silent for a couple seconds around the times guys who bail from a trick. I finally put two-and-two together when Sandro Dias had an “oops” expression on his face after saying something.
  • Pierre-Luc Gagnon trains for skateboarding by boxing.
  • 12-year-old Tom Schaar brought back memories of a young Shaun White. Even though they were low, his 900s were so smooth. Can’t wait to see more from him.
  • Last year it was Shaun versus PLG. This year, it was Bucky Lasek versus PLG.
  • Apparently Andy barely makes 720s when he’s practicing with Tony, but he always stomps them in contests. That sounds like good luck or efficient skating.
  • Both Bucky and PLG scored a 91, but Bucky had to work to break the tie since PLG had the higher average of five runs (normally they average three).
    XG18 Day3-3, From X Games Tumblr Photo from official X Game Tumblr
  • Double grab are good in FMX due to difficulty. In skateboarding, it often means you’re desperate to not fall.
  • PLG fell on his last run so that gave Bucky a chance to take the gold away. It looked like he was about to with the way he barely stayed on the board (working some Bob Burnquist magic). It was close but not enough.

Congratulations to Scotty Cranmer (BMX Park), Ryan Decenzo (Game of SK8) Pedro Barros (Skateboard Park), Jamie Bestwick (BMX Vert), Vicki Golden (Women’s Moto-X Racing), Mike Mason (Moto-X Speed and Style), and Pierre-Luc Gagnon (Skateboard Vert) on their victories!

Prediction Status: 6/12
Quote of the Day: Sal Masekela – “Why do I keep saying 500?”
Tony Hawk – “Well, he didn’t make it all the way around so it’s a 500.”
Trick of the Day: Scotty Cranmer’s double tailwhip backflip
Inspiration of the Day: Jono Schwan – At 15, he already has his own charity, and he’s helping raise money for the people who lost their homes in the Colorado Springs fires.
Question of the Day: What is your favorite Carey Hart X Games moment?

Summer X Games 18 comes a month earlier this year, and now it’s going by a different name to reflect the global expansion of the Games.  L.A. is still the place to be for summer action sports athletes though.  This year promises to bring lots of repeat medal attempts, new challengers (and boy, are they young), never-before-seen tricks, and dramatic moments guaranteed to make a highlight reel.  I’ve got my pen and paper ready, and this year I’m hoping to do better on my predictions

BMX Street – Garrett Reynolds
BMX Park – Daniel Dhers
BMX Vert – Jamie Bestwick
BMX Big Air – Chad Kagy
Moto X Freestyle – Levi Sherwood
Moto X Step-Up – Matt Buyten
Moto X Best Trick – Clinton Moore
Moto X Racing Women’s – Vicki Golden
Moto X Speed and Style – Nate Adams
RallyCross – Brian Deegan
Skateboard Street Women’s – Alexis Sablone
Skateboard Big Air – Mitchie Brusco
Skateboard Park – Pedro Barros
Skateboard Vert – Pierre Luc-Gagnon
Skateboard Street Men’s – Chaz Ortiz

While you’re waiting for Summer X to officially begin, go vote for ESPY’s Best Female and Male Action Sports Athletes.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer  (excluding  non-melanoma skin cancer) among women in the U.S.  One in eight women will be diagnosed with it at some point in their lives.  October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the women of action sports have dedicated themselves to raise awareness and support the fight against breast cancer.

After losing her mom to the disease, motocross racer Laurie Cary started MX Ride for the Cause.  This annual event takes place in Cahuilla Creek and features much more than just riding and demos.  There’s a bra parade, an auction, a raffle, food, and a dance floor.  Proceeds go to Michelle’s Place, a breast cancer resource center in California.  This year’s MX Ride for the Cause takes place on Saturday, October 1.

Another California-based organization, Boarding for Breast Cancer, is raising awareness in the snow, skate, and surf communities.  It was founded by snowboarders Tina Basic and Shannon Dunn, video game producer Lisa Hudson, and writer Kathleen Gasperini, all of whom had a friend battling breast cancer.  B4BC makes appearances at many events, including the X Games and the Warped Tour.  It also sponsors some of the top boarders in the world: Hannah Teter, Tara Dakides, Lyn-z Adams Hawkins, and Mary Osbourne.  Be sure to check out the B4BC website for information on future events, survivor stories, and how to protect yourself and get involved in the fight against breast cancer.

Remember: check your breasts monthly (at around the same time) because no one else, not even your doctor, knows your body like you do.  If you’re 40 or older, be sure to get an annual mammogram.  Guys, keep an eye out for suspicious lumps on your body too because men get breast cancer too.  The key to winning the battle is early detection.

It seems like action sports photography has been catching the eyes of WordPress staff members recently. Ever since I got a D-SLR for my birthday, I have been studying photography and enjoying it. These Freshly Pressed entries make me think that I can integrate another love of mine into this blog.

The last (and only) time I attempted action sports photography was in 2005 at an IFMA event. It was with a digital camera that was twice as large as my current digital camera (a Nikon Coolpix S700). The best picture I got is of Latin teacher-turned-superbike stunt rider Chris “Teach” McNeil:
Teach
Ah, the days of low res digital photos. Now onto some much better shots with more high tech cameras.

The first Freshly Pressed entry that caught my eye belonged to photographer Olivia Bush. She received recognition of her X Games skate practice shots. Now she’s got pictures of the motocross riders upside down, right side up, letting go of the bike, soaring through the obstacles, and resting comfortably on the bike. Check out her post, “Mucho Moto“.

Another Freshly Pressed photographer is the Skateorialist. His Freshly Pressed post, “Freezin’ on Wabash“, doesn’t quite fall under the category of action sports photography, but his blog provides a skater’s point of view. I’m assuming his blog name was inspired by the Sartorialist who is a fashion photographer-blogger interested in street styles around the world. The Skateorialist covers more than just people and clothes though; he’s got pictures of murals and food and videos of concerts and local BMXers.

A couple days ago, a photographer in South Africa named Robin was featured with her post about some motocross riders she happened to drive by and shoot (what good fortune!). Even though there are no death-defying tricks or bar-to-bar moments, the pictures are wonderful. They capture the riders in their most natural state: just out on the track having fun. You can see the photos at “I see pictures everywhere…

Now I’m itching to see what I can capture with my Nikon.