Photoessay: Pitlane

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A continuation of an earlier post but with the colour removed to focus solely on the homogeneity of the actions of all team members. Fundamentally, there is very little difference in what each team does, but it doesn’t feel that way simply because of the distraction and synchronicity of color and livery. I wasn’t attending on assignment (for a change) and so had the luxury of photographing a little more stream of consciousness and focusing on what was immediately interesting/ outstanding to me… MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-120/4 VR and SOOC with my custom Z7 Picture Control profiles. I elected to go with the 24-120 on the FTZ adaptor instead of the 24-70S and 70-200/4 for a more convenient single lens solution.

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Photoessay: Livery

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Some color and geometry studies in detail from a GT3 race I attended earlier in the year; it’s been a very long time since I went to one of these things without a press pass and a long lens from the end of the field. But I did have pit garage access, which was nice; and compared to higher formulas the whole atmosphere is a bit more relaxed and nobody minds you shooting in the garages too much since the setups are all pretty much identical and there aren’t big dollars spent or at stake (relatively speaking, of course). It’s interesting just how much of the aerodynamic and mechanical details is camouflaged by the team liveries, though – just like all forms of advertising, the endless race to stand out by having ever more striking colours has resulted in a surprisingly homogeneous field where it isn’t easy to distinguish between some teams. It’s even worse when you have to cram a huge number of smaller sponsors on the car instead of one or two large ones. More than once, I had the feeling that I was watching some rather exotic birds of paradise – which I suppose is not a bad analogy for race cars in general… MT

This series was shot with a Nikon Z7, 24-120/4 VR and SOOC with my custom Z7 Picture Control profiles. I elected to go with the 24-120 on the FTZ adaptor instead of the 24-70S and 70-200/4 for a more convenient single lens solution.

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Compact challenge: Live from Sepang Circuit

I thought I’d give my students a bit of a challenge this time: during one of my recent workshops, we covered a bit of motorsport and documentary photography at the VW Scirocco Cup at the Sepang International Circuit. The assignment was to tell the story of race weekend in 10 images with a compact – with the exception of the moving cars, of course. Of course there was some serious equipment involved, but I’m a big fan of teaching with compact cameras for several reasons:

1. They force you to focus on composition only, and not rely on depth of field or perspective (most of the time) as a crutch;
2. The lag forces you to work on your anticipation skills; it’s impossible to capture a moment when you’re only beginning to react at the instant of the moment itself
3. Very limited dynamic range forces you to think about metering: on your subject, or the scene? What’s going to blow out, and does it matter?
4. Working the files afterwards is both a good test of your photoshop skills, as well as the opportunity to learn some new ones.

There are a number of the images which made it into the reader pool, but I thought I’d contribute a few of my own here. I think this might well become a recurring theme for future workshops…

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Forming up before the parade lap

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Well-used pitlane

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One that got away

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Game face

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Suiting up (II)

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On the grid

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Drive through

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Meanwhile, in the hospitality box…

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Spectator reflections

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On the podium*

*not the same race

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Press conference

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Taking a break after the race

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Obligatory unusual workshop group portrait

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Image review time

The observant of you will note that a) there are some key moments missing in the action, like the start and finish; b) there are no photos of moving cars; c) not all of the scenes appear to be from the same race. There’s a simple answer to all of those: race circuits are huge places to be, and pros do not aim to cover every part of the track at once, much less over a race that only lasts 10 laps.

We used the compacts to gather b-roll and documentary material around the main shooting sessions with the big guns; the start of the race and actual race itself were shot from Turn One at the end of the main straight, which tends to be where most of the action happens – both at the start of the race when everybody is jostling for position, as well as during the race when drivers use the long run to try and make up places under braking. At Sepang, Turn One is actually a right hairpin followed by a left chicane; the complex of corners means the cars both travel slowly and close to the barriers, which make it an ideal area for photography.

Note that we did have the requisite pit, paddock and circuit media passes for the event. Also, motorsports is a very dangerous environment to shoot in – plenty of fast moving objects, people rushing around, hot surfaces, spilled oil and various other hazards. Safety always comes before getting the shot – unless of course you’re a journalist on assignment 🙂 MT


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Photoessay: In the pit lane at the Super Japan GT

Shot in 2011, from the pits during the Super Japan GT500/GT300 race at Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia. Had to make do with the 28-300 VR – which was extremely challenging for moving vehicles. Since I don’t regularly shoot wildlife or sport, I also don’t have any long fast glass. Still, an interesting experience. MT

Series shot with Nikon D700, D5100 and AFS 28-300/3.5-5.6 VR

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Photoessay: The Ford GT40

This car is a bit of a legend – the weapon that Ford used to beat Ferrari at their own game at Le Mans in the late 60s and early 70s. I was lucky to find an original, still-raced example locally, and even luckier to get the chance to photograph it. MT

Series shot with the Fuji Finepix X100.

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Every special race car comes with a cute grid girl in a short skirt.