Our latest Sound Off subject is photographer Dennis Vos, of HTD-Photography, who specialises in snapping aircraft, cars, tractors, trucks and other things with engines that make a lot of noise! Most of his photographic work is as a volunteer for the Nederlandse Truck- en Tractorpulling Organisatie (NTTO), which - you won’t need Google Translate to tell you - is the Dutch Truck and Tractor Pulling Organisation.

Tractor pulling is a motor sport in which the drivers of modified tractors or trucks compete to drag a weighted metal sled along a pulling track that is a minimum of 30 feet wide by 320 feet long. The sled is mechanically winched forward so that the load increases the further along the course as a tractor progresses.

FA: Tell us a bit about your photography.

DV: My photography is a passion that comes from my love of aviation, tractors and trucks, so it’s very noisy! It is a long lost hobby: I came to these events with my dad when I was younger. I lost track for a while, but then I got reattached to this sport - and I discovered it really is a lifestyle. A big bonus is that you also gain a sort of family as well, because as you take care of each other on and off the track.

The NTTO asked me if I would join them to provide photography and writing. It’s a hobby I do it on a voluntary basis that grew a bit out of proportion. Although it’s not full-time work, it can sometimes feel like it, which is definitely not a bad thing if you work with these beasts. I’m involved in a lot of projects helping with posters, artwork, pictures for sponsors and other things.

My day job is very different: entering and documenting car parts on a computer system, so it has a bit to do with the same sort of mechanical things but at the same time it’s 180° in the opposite direction.

What sort of conditions are you shooting in?

Competitions vary from afternoon until after dark or morning to late-afternoon. Either way, it is a long day and there will be a wide variety of tractors and engines making a lot of noise for 8 hours, so ISOLATE® helps me getting the job done, without any discomfort. 

How did you hear about Flare Audio?

I first heard about Flare through the Kickstarter. I was searching for ear protection that was not very expensive but could deliver the quality of some of the very expensive models. So my decision to buy ISOLATE® was a budget decision, but one that paid off!

I use the ISOLATE® Pro Titanium, which keeps out a bit more noise. I’ve been very happy with how they work. They keep out the noise; you can still hear, but it’s not deafening. You can still talk to people around you and have contact with your surroundings, which is a big plus point and useful when you’re working because you need a certain situational awareness because I can only see my world through a viewfinder. It helps when people are still able to communicate with you if something happens on the track.

I’ve been using them for over a year now. I started using them at Zwolle [indoor tractor pulling show], which is basically a former cattle hall. It has an oval shape with a slope and the sound can’t get out so you’re constantly surrounded by noise. It was surprising how much ISOLATE® could really isolate the sound. It was a bit of an experiment because the sounds keeps very close together, so you’re constantly dealing with the sound and I wasn’t sure how effective they would be. With ISOLATE®, you can ignore the noise levels and focus on photography, which improves your concentration and helps you take better photos. 

You can follow Dennis on Instagram @htdphotography.