Van Life: Trentino / Val di Fassa

Jarred Elrod, photography, italy, Trentino, Mountains, Nature, Val di Fassa, Trentino, Trento-Alto-Adige

Jarred Elrod, photography, italy, Trentino, Mountains, Nature, Val di Fassa, Trentino, Trento-Alto-Adige

Jarred Elrod, photography, italy, Trentino, Mountains, Nature, Val di Fassa, Trentino, Trento-Alto-Adige

back to digital frames for a bit…

We headed back into the Trento-Alto Adige region in the van last week for a weekend trip. I decided to take the digital SLR for a change after a stint of shooting 35mm film. I have to admit, switching back to digital after awhile without immediate image feedback felt like cheating, but in a good way. Adjusting ISO on the fly and processing raw files felt nice, too 😀. The weather was uncharacteristically warm for February in the mountains, but it was still incredibly beautiful none-the-less. We made a stops at QC Terme in Val di Fassa and Rifugio Flora Alpina. The rifugio is situated in one of our favorite areas in Trento-Alto Adige—just over the border from Veneto. As you can also see, their food is excellent.

I got away from shooting digital for awhile to re-engage with analog processes. My plan is still to shoot more film—and—have an exhibition where I show work created without the aid of a computer—probably screen print + mixed media collaging using wheat paste as a binder. It’s not necessarily a protest against generative Ai, but it is an intentional move to keep my eggs in more than one basket when it comes to making things.

I remember having a conversation with visiting artist, Giles Lyon when I was at the University of Tennessee…the gist of our convo was about paintings or drawings being a more powerful form of art than prints or anything digital. At the time, I argued that any kind of work could have potential impact on an audience regardless of media as long as the context was right. While I still feel that is more or less true (in good and the worst of ways), I think the rise of generative Ai has helped me understand what he was really getting at—in particular with painting. I remember he spoke about laying paintings down in the studio on purpose so they would gather dust and grime from the floor and things that fell on them—so they become sort of a time capsule. He also had a piece where he had literally painted a collection his deceased father’s neck ties into a piece. I’m not really sure where I’m headed with this, but I think the aspect of a piece of art having the ability to literally hold time gives it an authenticity that somehow feels safe from Ai. I was lucky enough to see a collection of Egon Schiele’s work in addition to works from the Vienna Secessionists at the Leopold Museum in Vienna recently. Seeing the brush strokes and pencil marks in the work felt more powerful to me than ever. Even seeing the ink raised off the page on the prints just made me feel damn good—like I was a part of something human.

I’m certainly not sure what the future has in store for us makers, but I’m doing my best to embrace as much as I can. BUT… maintaining the ability to move slow, sit with process and make physical things that can hold time is high on my priorities list these days. I tried to bring that slow mentality into the digital space with how I shot and edited these photos. I’m not sure if that’s evident in viewing them, but even having that mindset during the process of shooting and editing somehow made the whole thing feel more enjoyable—even if I might have just been tricking myself. That’s all I have time for today. More soon—ciao.

📸 ➕ 🏔 ➕ 🚐

recent travels & thrift store treasure : 35mm Zeiss Ikon

finally found something good at a thrift shop…

I recently picked up a Zeiss Ikon 35mm camera for 30 Euro at a local thrift shop here in Friuli. About the only thing I get excited for when entering a thrift shop is the potential of finding a good film camera—like a Rolleiflex  or Hasselblad 500C (good luck, I know)—but after years of disappointment I finally found something interesting the other day. The Zeiss name is what first caught my attention, so I knew immediately there was something there. I didn’t know much about the Ziess Ikon brand, but it was a beautiful camera body with super-neat details and it appeared to be functional—very clean as a matter of fact.

Turns out it is a Zeiss Ikon “Contaflex” Super BC SLR—I think the model I have was produced in Germany in the mid-late 1960’s. I figured why not give it a shot (pun intended) for just 30 Euro? After purchasing I stupidly popped open the back without rewinding in case there was film—and of course, there was. The roll looked like it was from the 80’s or early 90’s, but I guess we’ll never know if there were unexposed images 🤔. The camera takes standard 35MM film and is fully manual. I’ve also been shooting without a meter because I need to replace the battery, but I actually like guessing on the settings based off light conditions. It forces me to be more intentional about my surroundings, which I really enjoy. The thing is like carrying a brick around, but the snap it makes with the shutter fires is so damn satisfying. It has become my camera of choice for the past several weeks for travel and play photography. I’ve mostly just been shooting cheap Kodak and Fuji 400 speed films and really like the deep, but grainy quality of the images. I’m taking the camera to Texas with me on an upcoming trip and am planning to use some higher quality 200 ASA Kodak film—we’ll see how it turns out.

The photos themselves are all from a recent trip to Lisbon, Portugal except form one fromVenice (see it?). I was shocked at how many nice images came off the first roll given the camera probably hadn’t been used in 30-40 years at least. Our trip to Portugal was short, but Amazing. We absolutely loved the city and want to go back to explore more of the Portuguese coastline and maybe even take some surfing lessons. We ate very well, walked a ton, and met some really nice people along the way. If you ever go to Lisbon, try to get a table at Ponto Final (first image)—the experience of eating on the water was amazing and it goes without saying the food was insanely good. Amanda even got a Conch piercing for her birthday, which I managed to document, lol. Running short on time so that’s all for now—ciao.


fall photo check

Jarred Elrod, photography, Italy, Venezia, Prosecco Hills
Jarred Elrod, photography, Italy, Venezia, Prosecco Hills
Jarred Elrod, photography, Italy, Venezia, Prosecco Hills, Tuscany, Camper, Art
Jarred Elrod, photography, Italy, Venezia, Prosecco Hills, Tuscany, Camper, Art
Jarred Elrod, photography, Italy, Venezia, Prosecco Hills, Tuscany, Camper, Art

late summer / early fall travels:

Hi all—things have been pretty quiet on the journal these days, but I’ve still been taking the LUMIX point & shoot on trips. Photos above are from the Venice Biennale, Valdobbiadene (Prosecco Hills), Croatia, and Tuscany. Amanda and I had a wonderful time visiting the Venice Architecture Biennale this year. We even screen-printed and painted in the Japan Pavilion (top photo), which was super fun. I didn’t expect to get into that type of thing at an Architecture Biennale, but it was great. We’ve had a ton going on here. Most notably in my little corner of the world I started teaching Graphic Design again at my alma mater, West Texas A&M university—online. It feels great to teach design again and I really enjoy the students’ energy. Facilitating studio projects online is a unique challenge, but the faculty and students have been so welcoming and receptive. It’s an honor to to teach where I got my BFA. I never thought it would be possible when I was there, lol. Gotta run for now—time for Italian lessons. More soon—ciao.

📸 ➕ 🚐 ➕ 🌞 ➕ ☺︎

New Project: Moto Helmetry



Jarred Elrod, Graphic Design, Illustration, Motocross, Typography, Vintage, Open Face, Bell Magnum, JT Mouth Guard

⬆️ Project Inspiration: My uncle Todd’s Bell Magnum from when he raced motocross in the early 1980’s.

Moto Helmetry: Bell Magnum—and more!

I’ve been meaning to start this project for a long time so I’m happy to finally be posting the first helmet of what I hope will become an 8-10 part series. I’m calling the series “Moto Helmetry”— kind of a goofy spin on the word “Heraldry” from the days of knights, kings, castles, etc… It’s a for-fun project that is meant to explore the design and decoration of motocross helmets from the early 80’s through current. I’ve gone through the decades and selected some of my favorite helmet models to illustrate and to create period-appropriate designs for.

I decided to start with the Bell Magnum for a lot of reasons. Probably the most important was that I have a great piece of physical inspiration with my uncle Todd’s Bell Magnum from his racing days. Todd unfortunately passed away recently after a multi-year battle with cancer—way, way too soon. I literally grew up on / around race bikes, gear, dirt race cars, etc… and this helmet was a big part of that. I remember my uncle even having a pair of SCOTT goggles in the color scheme.

Design-wise you can see the helmet is a Bell MAGNUM open-face with a JT mouth guard for face protection and SCOTT goggles + nose guard. I took a little liberty with the nose guard, because I liked the base looks of Oakley’s guard much better than what Scott had at the time. I would absolutely never race motocross without a full face helmet, just like I’d never drive a sprint car without a role cage, but they did for many years. The mouth guard is definitely both an eclectic and interesting piece of moto history. They were mostly phased out by the mid-80’s, but there were notable hold-outs such as Jeff Ward, who stuck with the open face late into the 80’s (maybe even the early 90’s??!). I decided to add the nose guard attachment as well mainly because I think it improves the overall look of the setup. From a visual design perspective I kept it pretty conservative. I built my design around. 37 and 371 were number I used when I raced so that was a no brainer, lol. This would have been a common color scheme during this period and running the number on the side of the helmet was way more popular than it is now. I wish they would bring that trend back a little more. Heavy serif typefaces like Clarendon, used here were popular on number plates and helmets back in the day. Again, I’d like to see this trend come back around, too!

I had a blast making this first piece and hope to crank these out semi-regularly. I was a little concerned about pulling off the open face given I don’t actually have a rider wearing the helmet, but overall I’m happy with how it turned out. My next selection will be a full face helmet—most likely the Bell Moto III or the JT ALS 2. What do you think? More soon—ciao.

UPDATE: I decided to keep adding new helmets I design to this post instead of making a new post for each helmet. I think it’s neat seeing them all together in one post like this in order to see the technical progression—starting from oldest down to newest.

Summer Climb: Ferrata Degli Alpini

⬆️ remnants of a military hospital, barbed wire and wood from World War I where the Italians fought the Austro-Hungarian Empire can be seen throughout the climb. Mind blowing.

Jarred Elrod, Photography, Italy, Ferrata Degli Alpini, World War I

it’s me 😀

epic views + history + exercise = fun

Amanda and I recently traveled through Cortina to Climb the Ferrata Degli Alpini for a second time. We had great weather and a fantastic overall experience. I still can’t get over the tunnels in the solid rock faces and debris, such as barbed wire and wood left behind from the First World War. During WWI, the contested border between the Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire ran right through this area. It’s impossible for me to imagine how people survived, let alone fought and built fighting positions in these extreme locations—especially in winter conditions. The suffering that must have went on is unimaginable. As I’ve mentioned in previous ferrata posts, WWI was the primary reason the Via Ferrata networks exist in Italy. If you are a person who likes exercise, heights, and history I recommend getting some ferrata gear and trying it without hesitation. Anyway, lots of photos and just a few words to share for today… more soon—a dopo


spring photo check: Tuscany + more Via Ferrata

cameras still active…

While we’ve been outdoors a ton this Spring, I haven’t been great documenting things with my camera. That said, I have managed to squeeze off a few nice frames here and there. These photos are from a van trip we took into Tuscany (La Pievuccia Winery / Agriturismo, Castiglion Fiorentino) and a Via Ferrata (La Ferrata della Memoria) we recently climbed with friends. Both experiences were incredible!

It has been a much needed rainy and mild Spring / Early Summer here—I’m super thankful for this after the extremely dry and hot Spring / Summer we had last year that totally drained many rivers and lakes. Unfortunately, some areas of Italy a bit south of us have had too much rain and dangerous flooding. I hope we have some stability moving forward, but who knows with how crazy weather patterns are these days.

I have some toy camera film in waiting I need to scan, but unfortunately my 10+ year old epson V500 scanner / negative scanner finally bit the dust. I’m in the market for a V700 when budget allows. The film will just have to wait until then. Enough for now…ciao!

show & screenprint!

printing in the home studio…

I’ve been hard at work getting my home screenprinting (it’s one word for me) setup dialed in for another exhibition here in Polcenigo with the awesome people at La Taverna Slow Shop & Bar. I dropped some photo samples above, but if you’d like to see a much more extensive process of how everything was done check out my stories in evidence on instagram. I broke everything into 8 “chapters” from the first test print through the exhibition installation.

Documenting was tedious at first, but it quickly became baked into my printing process. Getting a setup dialed at home took some time, but overall I really enjoyed the process of making adjustments to get the best results possible using the minimal equipment I have here. If I show again I think I’ll just totally eliminate using the computer for anything. I’ve done some tests with sharpie and things like tape direct to transparency and I really love the feel.

The large prints are A2 size—and I used CMYK for everything just to keep it simple. I did darken the process yellow just a tad for one print. I also cut many of the test prints into a variety of v-fold cards and bookmarks to sell. I wrote an informal statement for the space, which I’ll paste below. I’ll probably make another post with documentation from inside the exhibition space, but for now here is the statement:

This exhibition came as the result of anxious hours spent considering the role of individuals who make images, sound, and write in our shifting technological landscape. I’m speaking particularly about impacts Ai image and text generation platforms such as Chat GPT and DALL•E 2 are already having on our collective creative landscape. disclaimer: I don’t have answers as to what the future holds or how we should proceed—and this work isn’t an overt attempt to propose solutions. Sorry!

I’m a graphic designer with a passion for printmaking. I’ve always been drawn to creative processes that are analog and require movement of the body to perform. These processes can be broken down into steps and understood logically at a single human scale. Film photography and screenprinting (as you see here) are great examples. For me, there is a deeply calming satisfaction that comes as a result of breaking down a process, physically working with what is in front of you, and improving proficiency over time through repetition. In fact, this show is a greedy exploration of repetition just to see what kind of creative outcome would naturally be revealed—hence the name, Reiterations.

As we become more estranged from understanding how the tools we use to run our lives work, I find myself (as a maker at least) mourning the potential loss of process as we currently know it. This kind of process is a journey filled with messiness, unexpected interactions, difficulties, imperfections, slowness, and pleasant surprises that arise along the way. What you see here is the full documentation of a process that spanned two months. I worked steadily with the processing power of one human brain and two hands. You’ll probably notice the prints aren’t perfect—this is a direct result of the physical limitations navigated to produce large-scale, hand-printed work at home. There were many compromises, hacks, and work-arounds that give this work its own unique voice.

Now that I’ve sufficiently bashed technology, let me be a hypocrite and suggest you go to my instagram page @jarrederraj to see videos of how each print was made in my DIY garage studio! Thanks for reading and happy making, everyone.

—all prossima

PHOTO-ESSAY: Creativity, Motocross, & Really Big Mountains | MXGP Trentino, Italy 2023

NOTE: a shortened version of this article was posted over on VURB moto. Huge thanks guys to Chase and Brent for doing that!

MXGP with one hell of a view:

Moto Club Arco is located in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Northern Italy and his host to an MXGP race every year. I know there are lots of famous motocross tracks out there, but I think anyone would be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful location for a track than this! The track itself is nestled right at the foot of the Brenta Dolimites—it’s a sprawling layout with dark, rocky soil and tons of elevation change. There are two triples on the track and one of them is famously gnarly.

I went this year as a spectator, but also to photo-document and connect with friends I’ve made in the creative community situated around moto here in Italy (more on that later). When I was living in the U.S. I didn’t really follow MXGP, but since being here for around two years now I’ve definitely become a fan. I follow what’s going on with MXGP the same as I follow American moto and supercross. Not unlike Formula One or MotoGP, these guys travel all over the world to race—a season is a grueling hustle to say the least. That said, motocross in general is a big deal in Italy and this track is a popular stop not only because of its layout and natural beauty, but also because of its relatively central location in Europe.

I camped with a buddy walking distance from the track and roamed all over the place like a kid in a candy store taking photos Saturday and Sunday. I was totally wiped out Monday morning. The racing was of course, awesome. You can head over to the MXGP website or instagram to check results or see recaps, but that’s not really what I’ll cover here. I also think the culture around moto in Europe has been pretty well documented at this point with the smoke flares and eardrum shattering chainsaws. We had plenty of that in Trentino, too. Instead, I want to share a glimpse of the show behind the show. There’s a vibrant community of independent creative practitioners hustling their asses off here in Italy—and I’d like to share that. I’ve gotten to know two guys pretty well over the past few years that exemplify this hustle—so much so that it motivates this old guy to grab his camera and do whatever it takes to get the shot.

A media guy photographing media guys photographing professional athletes:

Flash back to the Motocross of Nations 2021…the race was in Italy and I had just moved here. Even though the American team couldn’t come (bummer) I was still pumped to go experience the event. The Italian team won with Tony Cairoli, Mattia Guadagnini, and Alessandro Lupino. On the way out, my buddy and I grabbed two large Monster Energy MXoN banners that were being taken down. Once I got this thing home I realized it was waaaay too big for me to do anything with it.

At the time, I had just followed an instagram account called AstroClub. I vaguely knew these guys had connections to the Italian team—specifically Mattia Guadagnini. So, I shot them a message on instagram to see if they wanted this big-ass banner to commemorate their MXoN title. To my surprise, a guy named Tommy answered almost immediately and said they’d love to have it for their studio. I thought that was super cool—so, I drove South for around an hour to meet up with Tommy in a small town called Dolo just to the West of Venice.

I had no idea what to expect, but in walks this super young and hip guy dressed in all black. I learned that he raced moto for several years when he was younger, but now he was getting ready to graduate from university with a degree in fashion design. At first I was confounded by this unique combination of skills / interests. But then I thought of my own background—former open wheel dirt track racer with an MFA in Graphic Design. Sadly for me though, learning how to intersect/reconcile my creative and racing worlds took more than a decade. I thought damn, here’s a guy that’s fully prepared to hustle. We talked about all kinds of stuff—I learned that he’s leveraging his background in fashion design by making and sourcing material for Mattia’s merchandise. He gave me one of his hoodies in exchange for the MXoN banner and we’ve been in pretty regular contact since.

📸 ⬆️ ⬇️ I had the pleasure of connecting with Tommy (above, white ASTRO shirt) at the Arco GP even though he was insanely busy working with Mattia Guadagnini (above in red) for media appearances, social media, and his youtube series, “Behind,”which Tommy and Mattia Dallapiccola (photographed with Tommy below) fully produce pretty much by themselves.

Mattia G. is a factory rider for team RedBull GasGas. He’s also a creative guy that likes to dabble in film photography among other things that exist independently from his motocross career. It’s nice to see a professional athlete that isn’t afraid to show other facets of their personalities online, albeit I’m sure this is a double-edged sword for him. He’s a very popular man at every GP—but he’s basically a celebrity in Italy. It was overwhelming to see just how many people he had orbiting around him at all times more or less wanting stuff. So much so that I have to admit I felt guilty harassing him and Tommy with my camera, but they were as accommodating as ever.

I think the photograph below captures why the AstroClub collaboration is truly impressive and inspiring—it’s literally three guys running a media hub with a few cameras and phones in real time from the infield of a racetrack—oh, and one of them happens to be knocking out top 5s in the premier MXGP class. A-hem…as an old cantankerous man in his thirties, it’s a little shocking to see how fast they work. I hadn’t even taken anything off my camera’s memory cards yet and they had already shot, processed and posted a mountain of pertinent race content.

📸 ⬆️ ⬇️ Another friend I met later though AstroClub is Federico Cunial (Fede). Fede also has strong connections with Mattia Guadagnini and is currently in independent practice. He’s insanely talented with a camera and demonstrates a ton of range within his scope of practice—shooting everything from moto to crossfit. He was working with Factory Beta rider Allessandro Lupino (photographed above) at Arco and let me tag along to grab a few frames of him in action. Again, I felt guilty interjecting with my camera, but Fede was happy to accommodate by throwing me his trademark Shaka. After getting to know Fede he invited my wife and I to spend a day with him in his home town of Bassano Del Grappa— I could ramble on about our experience there and Fede’s hospitality, but long story short it was amazing!

Motocross & creativity are universal languages:

Both Tommy and Fede are multi-lingual. I more or less feel like a jackass around both of them because I can only speak English fluently. My Italian is coming along, but actual proficiency is sadly still a long way off. Thankfully, our shared love of motocross and creativity is also a kind of nuanced language…and it seems to bridge any sort of gap in formal understanding of spoken languages. It has been so cool to see how far both of these guys have progressed in the short time I’ve known them. They have definitely inspired me to not only up my own game, but also to get serious about actively using my creative skills to explore my passion for racing. Thanks guys!

Taking it all in through my own lens:

I’ll wind down by sharing some of my favorite frames from the weekend. I didn’t have a media pass and definitely wasn’t set up to shoot from long distances, but I was able to worm my way close enough to the track in a few choice spots to capture some solid action. It really is crazy how effortless these riders make ripping berms and sending hundred foot triples look.

⬆️ Sights, sounds, smells, silence—damn, it just felt good to be at the race track. The group of guys in the photo above were our neighbors in the campground. Our grill broke Saturday night and they let us use theirs and offered us beers. There it is again—moto—the universal language! We talked American Supercross with them and it was really interesting hearing European perspectives on what’s going on in the U.S. Eli Tomac and James Stewart came up over and over again when we asked about their favorite riders of all time. I randomly bumped into them in the sea of thousands of people at the races the next day. I had to document their recycled one-liter water bottle approach to beer drinking. Smart move, guys. They offered me one in another suspect looking unmarked bottle, but I had to say no thanks—I was on the job.

If you’re living in the U.S. and a fan of moto, hitting a GP in person or even planning to make the trip across the pond for a MXoN when it’s in Europe is something I cannot recommend enough. I’ve been to a MXoN and two GPs now and I would say just the races alone would make the trip worth it, but when the track is surrounded by spectacular mountains or right outside an ancient medieval city (catch Fede throwing the Shaka at the beginning of the Fried video in that link) it definitely sweetens the deal. MXoN is in France this year…just sayin.’ Maybe I’ll see you there—ciao!

📸 I follow moto, moto follows me—Fanna Regional Enduro

Last weekend I headed over to the small town of Fanna, PN to see an FIM regional Italian Enduro event. I had a blast walking around grabbing shots of the action. The atmosphere was super laid back—the town of Fanna basically became the pits for the races. Everyone we super friendly and they had no issues with me roaming around with my camera. I was able to get close enough to get some pretty detailed shots with my 70-200mm lens (no press pass needed 😀). I don’t shoot action like this often, but it was a nice challenge. I’d love to go try shooting some more events. I grew up going to local / regional circle track races like this. It’s a vibe I really enjoy—and it feels the same in Italy as it does in the U.S. Just a short blurb for today—alla prossima.