Need help - auto racing at night at the PIR

Discussion in 'Sports' started by jennifer valencia, Feb 2, 2006.

  1. hello all,
    I am a portrait photographer, but I'm looking for info on how to
    take good auto racing pictures. Here are my "specs":

    -Night pictures, but the track will be brightly lit

    -Will be ~40ft away, shooting through a 2'x2' cutout

    -cars going at least 200mph

    -have a Canon EOS20D and 550 EX flash; willing to rent ANY necessary

    -need info from you experts on what combo of aperture/SS/flash would
    work best to get clear, well-exposed shots

    Thanks in advance for any and all advice. Your help is greatly

  2. You can get some good ideas from studying others' photos.

    Here are some very good auto racing photos on, in Geert Vanden Wijngaert's folders:

    Be sure to click on the "Details" button under each photo to see which lens/focal length and exposure settings were used. Geert also offers some explanations about his technique on some photos.

    You'll also find several on the website.
  3. Lex, thanks for the information! :)
  4. Hi Jennifer,
    I have been to Le Mans 24 hours 8 times so far and I still have not got a night photo that would really please me. I've got a few that are ok. One problem is that when you shoot with a direct flash the light gets too much under the car and as a concequence the car looks like hovering on the tarmac (example attached). So if you got a slave, place it above the level you are shooting from.
    As you are a portrait photog I'll take you know the problematics related with the sync time and curtain gap and flash.
    If the track is strongly lit and you want to freeze the motion, you may have to switch to the fast flash mode FP (marked with the letter H). Unfortunately this about halves the power of the flash - EX550 will carry max 15 meters in FP mode.
    It will be trial and error. So variate with the technique. If you can use ISO800 or even ISO1600 with the ambient, try it. If you are going to use FP-mode try to reduce the flash to the minimum by going to a hi ISO figure.
    Remember not to base your critique on what you see on the TFT-screen at the back of the camera - as the ambient light can do a trick there. Trust only the histogram, and shoot RAW as it will give you another three stops margin.
    Also remember (if the cars have lights or glowing brake discs) that 1st curtain sync will make light trails go forwrd and 2nd curtain sync backwards. The trails are the longer the longer your exp. time is.
    If you see a ghost car in your shot, it is due to the preliminary helping flash of the E-TTL-mode (the mirror is probably up already when the 1/16 power flash is emitted for exposure level measurement). I've got quite a few shots with a ghost.
    Come to think of it, I've got some good night shots from Le Mans, but they are all taken at the pits.
    Good luck!
  5. Sorry, I forgot the lense and aperture all together. The EX550 is not going carry wonders even if it is a good product. The practical lense limit is according to my (poor)memory/experience at about 150 mm. So ideal lense would probably be EF 70-200/2.8 (IS)... I'd really like to try the EF180/1.8 in sports in poor light conditions, given it has a fast focus.<br>
    About aperture: There is probably lack of light so you want to go to an open aperture. However, this puts more weght on gettin ght efocus spot on as dof will shorten. I recall that I usually don't go bigger than f/3.5<br>
    The 10D and 20D aren't really that good in servo focus mode. I would lock on the center focus spot if the photos appear soft. The center focus point is about three times as sensitive as the others. Canon has body which is particularly designed for sports and reportage and that is the 1D (MkII, MkII N) - without the s(tudio). I've got the 1D MkII and the focus is AMAZING - fast and accurate. With the 10D I had a success rate of 15% in motorsport where as with 1D MkII it is now above 85%.<p>
    Again, good luck!
  6. And still a couple more things as I didn't quite get how experienced you are in sports shooting.<p> Exposure time: If you aren't experienced with panning start with half a stop faster than the invert value of the focal length. Example. You've got 250 mm lense, invert value would be 1/250 s and half stop faster would be then 1/350 s. Of course with a flash this would require FP-mode. ... this goes for perpendicular panning. Then you let your ambition drive towards more motion and thus slower exp. times - and ruin an increasing part of the shots;)<p>
    When the car has velocity along the optical axis (approaching or away-moving car) you have to use faster exp. times. Basically the car should not move (or more precisely the focus distance) more than 5 ..10 cm (2..4 inches) during the expsure time. So if you have a head on 200 mph car (=90 m/s) ... 1/1000 would mean 9 cm change and obviously 1/2000 4.5 cm change in distance during the exp.time. I would go for the latter one or even faster. Again with a flash remember that you have to have it with the FP-mode on.<p>
    Roger - or who ever it was, I'm out.
  7. Have you tried to get entry to the pits? A slowing down race car is going to be a better image. You can try to pan your shot, but 200mph is not ideal for night shooting. (And I'd be easy on the flash into the eyes of a driver on the course...)
  8. Besserwisser again here,<p>
    I just realized that PIR is Phoenix International Raceway and you are probably talking about a night NASCAR race - the Subway 500 or similar. This means the cars are going that 200 mph all the time. I think the servo focus is going to work only above 100..150 yards distances when shooting an approaching car. There are two achilles heels in a servo system. The turning motor, you need an USM focus motor and even it can't turn fast enough for a close range approaching 200 mph. The second thing is the focus logic. There is a massive difference between 10D and 1D. I think you should do a rehearsal by a highway to get an idea. (All the drivers believe you are a cop and you caught them speeding:)))<p>
    In my experience the best car racing photos are taken a little before sunset and just after sunrise - with the ambient light. Is this possible at the PIR race.<p>
    In Le Mans I've been told not to use flash directly against the drives eyes only in one particular hi-speed approach corner (Indy-corner) which is otherwise very dark. If there is a lot of ambient light the drivers don't mind, but of course, use your common sense. There may be a track code for journos and photogs there at PIR which states such things and has also a map of official vantage points. I suspect you are going there with a photog accreditation.<p>
    Rhozer again.
  9. If you find it difficult to autofocus switch to zone focusing. At a NASCAR race last year I realized pretty quickly that I couldn't manually adjust focusing on my 300/4.5 AI Nikkor quickly enough to keep up. So I pre-focused on two areas of the track, one, the approach to Turn 1, the second, the exit from Turn 1 where lots of drivers were losing control due to a sudden temperature variation on the pavement (Turn 1 was in the shade).

    I got several good sequence photos of cars losing control exiting that turn. To me, they were an interesting variation from the usual photos of the pack approaching the photographer's position, pit crews, etc.

    If your camera and lens are at least moderately fast at autofocusing you shouldn't have much trouble keeping up with cars moving directly toward or away from you. Only the fastest bodies and lenses can maintain focus while panning, and even then it's hit or miss. A lot depends on the focusing mode and contrast of the car you're following. Predominantly white or black cars will be difficult to follow. Cars with lots of colorful decals will be easier to lock focus on.
  10. A friend of mine races here in CO and asked me to come out and shoot his final race. It was a night shoot and I kept hoping that the race would start before the sun went down. I have pics posted at if you'd like to see some examples.

    I shot with the 70-200L/IS at f/2.8 no flash at ISO 1600. What I learned was that f/2.8 wasn't fast enough. I'd say 85% or more of my shots were right at or around 85mm so if I were going to do it again I'd definately pick up the 85mm f/1.8 (I can't afford the 1.4) Being right on top of the track from the stands really made zoom unecessary. Panning is huge in racing, you have to pan all the time. The cars are moving way too fast otherwise. So grab a monopod too.

    Yeah if I were gonna do it again I'd definately go with the 85mm lens, no flash, f/1.8 and ISO 1600, 800 if I could. I wouldn't bother with much of anything else. Some things to look for, check out the brakes. Some drivers ride their brakes so hard they glow bright cherry red. I got some shots of that which was cool. Also look for different spots to photo from, where I positioned myself, in turn #1 I could capture shots coming at me down the straight and passing in front of me on the turn. A different perspective sometimes goes over well. I was shooting through a fence and in most shots it didn't even show up I was so close to it.
  11. Andrew,<br>
    I looked thru your shots and I think they were very moody, filled with ambience. You mentioned the 85 mm lense. Canon does not have a f/1.4 version but an f/1.2 version which is completely uncompliant for sports shooting due to its extremely slow focusing. It's a portrait lense. The f/1.8 version is a lot faster. One thing to remember is that when you go bigger aperture than f/2.0 ... F/2.2 the dof "explodes" very rapidly. Consequence, the bigger the aperture the more demand on focus.<p>
    my experience on focusing systems is opposite to what you've told in regard with approaching vs. panning. I've never had any troubles with focus when panning (nearly) perpendicularly because the focus distance changes so slowly. I do usually position myself in the inside corner. With an approaching car there is no problem when the car is far enough, but, once it is in the range of say below 50 m focusing becomes problematic. The closer the car is the faster the focus ring has to be turned and the motor can only do a certain speed. I think the "fastest" Canon lense EF300/2.8 can focus a 50 km/h approaching car to approximately down to about 10...20 m distance (I don't recall the exact figure). So 320 km/h (200mph) is definitely going to be difficult at a close range. What you are saying about the contrast of the car I completely agree though.
  12. Juha, when I use a manual focus lens I wait until the target car enters the zone where I've prefocused. I don't try to keep up with the cars' movement by adjusting focus. If I'm at a turn I can pivot and use the same focus setting to shoot the cars exiting the turn.

    My Nikon D2H can autofocus quickly enough to track approaching or receeding movement as well as panning. It can even recover focus during panning if some object comes betweeen the camera and the target. That's one of the main reasons I got that particular model - it can autofocus faster than I can manually focus. But it still depends on subject contrast and focus mode. There are many options and it took a lot of practice to figure out what works.
  13. Pan with motion on a tripod and go for 3/4 front shots or 3/4 rear shots. Pre-focus to a point on the pan. Short telephoto for the 3/4 shots ? ISO 400, 1.8, 1/60 ...

    Flash ? How could flash be allowed ?
  14. Also, meter on a pavement bright spot and open up one stop from that...
  15. Haven't shot races myself, but can't help to mention that available light, non-flash shots are a lot more aesthetically pleasing than flash shot I've seen. If using flash, I'd imagine taking flash way off the camera, either one or multiple, would be more pleasing than on-camera flash.

    As for focusing goes, perhaps zone focus a turn and wait for a car to reach its apex where movement is kept to minimal (especially for road courses.)

    Post some when you're done, Jennifer.
  16. Wilson, come to think of it. I'd love the idea that you would go and shoot motorsport because from your basketball, baseball, football and soccer photos it is evident that you represent the absolute elite in sports photography. The general problem with worn out motorsport shooting is that there is lack of originality. New blood is needed. Show us some way, please. I am sure I could learn from you.
  17. Jennifer, I shoot NCTS and (Occasionally now) IndyCar at various tracks in the east, and I can tell you that shooting night races at an ISC (International Speedway Corp.) race track, as Phoenix is, is a bear. I also re-crunched the numbers for RaceFax on the attempt to light the Cleveland Champ Car race (at Burke Lakefront Airport on Saturday night July 5, 2003) with 22 mobile light trucks, correctly predicting the lighting levels in the 30 to 35 footcandle range, not nearly enough for the CBS broadcast, which had horrible picture quality.

    First and foremost, do NOT change lenses on a dSLR except inside the media center -- You'll get dust on your CCD, which is a NIGHTMARE. Also, be SURE you use a UV filter if you're shooting at the fence, since (especially) for NASCAR events the track is filthy. In fact, be prepared to throw it out, as I've actually had filters (literally) sandblasted, though it's worse on concrete tracks. BUT, you'll need to use a coated UV filter, else lens flare from the lights -- Especially when shooting at the outside fence -- will kill you.

    Anyway, let's start with the fundamentals of track lighting, from information I received from an engineer at Musco. Basically, the track's lighting design spec is to the 60-70 footcandle level on both the horizontal and vertical planes, to accomodate national telecasts (See: 2003 Cleveland). To put this in perspective, "Sunny 16" (f/16 @1/125th w/ISO 100 film) conditions is 1000 footcandles (~11,000 lux for you Europeans), so 60 footcandles is four full stops slower than daylight shooting. If you don't have enough light to make a proper exposure on the given film or CCD, all else is moot. Period.

    Juha wrote "...shoot RAW as it will give you another three stops margin." That sounds nice in theory; but in practice you are already in "salvage mode" when you're two stops under. Worse, CCD-RAW writes large files, so you as soon as you fill the frame buffer -- 6 shots in the 20D IIRC -- you have to wait until the buffer flushes enough to the CF card to take an additional shot: No good in a wreck sequence.
    So, that means you'll need to shoot JPEG, which is OK for daytime but poor for nighttime, since chrominance noise is accentuated in the JPEG algorithms if you underexpose. Also, because of the speed, I would recommend investing in a high speed (80x or higher) CF card, to reduce the wait & increase your overall shooting speed.

    Next is that you need to set your white point (white balance) [and do it often if it's a twilight start!]: The specially designed proprietary 2,000 watt Sylvania bulbs used on the top of the grandstands as well as the 1,500 watt GE bulbs used inside the racing surface have a white point of 3700K and a CRI (color rendering index, used by illumination engineers) of 0.82 towards green. This means that for an afternoon start you're looking at over 5000K and neutral; with the lights mixing in and shifting the white point all over the place. Worse, you can't just shoot the wall, since at PIR it's a light-medium blue (like Homestead), not the clean white walls at most tracks, so you have to bring a white card in your bag. If you don't white balance when you shoot JPEG, you'll be chasing your tail afterwards trying to re-balance the shots in Photoshop.

    Shooting a night race at a NASCAR track from the outside poses additional challenges: First is the grit, rubber "marbles" and dust thrown at your optics (See my admonition to use a UV protector!); second is the lens flare from the infield lights that you'll be shooting into; and third is that as the cars get closer to you, the light level on the horizontal plane drops even further, well below the 60 footcandle design spec, as the lights atop the grandstands fall off, especially on a flat oval like PIR. As long as the drivers can see the outside wall, which is lit by the infield lights, that's all Bubba Helton really cares about.

    [By the way, if you've never shot a NASCAR race, but have shot an IRL or CART (now OWRS) race, you'll cringe as to how inept NASCAR runs races in comparison to the professional job the open wheel racing stewards do; but I digress...]

    Going back to exposure, the problem with shooting digital is that you need a zoom lens, (that is, if you don't have several primes screwed into separate bodies!): Zoom lenses are OK for daytime, but you may find yourself giving away too many precious stops with a zoom.

    Lastly, if you are not on a deadline, and (especially) if this is your first race (and a night one at that!), consider shooting Fuji Press 800 or Pro800 (formerly NPH) film instead: You'll get a solid ISO 800 (which buys you back 3 of the 4 stops you lose from daylight), and more importantly, Fuji's 4th layer technology, designed for to handle the green cast from fluorescent lights, also works well with Musco's spec bulbs.

    Cheers! Dan

  18. Oops! I forgot the track map! :(
  19. Dan, excellent info on the lighting levels.<p>
    Good arguments for jpg too. However, I'd still advice to shoot RAW at dark since it will have 4096 intensity levels compared to 256 of jpg - for each channel. It is crucial to consider the last jpg bit at both ends (dark and light), RAW will still split them into 16 values and it is these extreme values that will actually give the huge latitude of RAW. In PRACTISE there is a HUGE difference in latitude compared to jpg. At day time, if you get a perfect exposure and there is no extreme contrast - there is no practical difference, especially if you work for media which will use a poor dynamics final print anyway. <p>
    Shooting speed with jpg and RAW. Remember that every jpg file starts its life as a raw file. The camera will convert and package the raw into a jpg - and this takes time too. Yes, with a slow CF the writing takes most time. I've noticed that with my 1D MkII I shoot more reliably with fast exactly constant interwalls with RAW than with JPG. 20D is capable of 5 fps both with RAW and jpg-large/fine with the difference that with RAW the buffer will take 6 shots and with jpg up to 24..25 shots. However, the question remains whether the jpg-interwalls are constant - not necesasrily.<p>
    The dynamics of a good CMOS with 12-bit RAW will outperform any film in practise. 20D has about 12..14 stops dynamic range, the slide-film has typically about 10..11 stops, but moreover printed, from any media, it will have only about 8..9 stops at best. Thus, both medias are good enough dynamics-wise but IMO CMOS will have more latitude in practise. However, film may easily give better ambience feeling than digital. It's not such a big deal to take both analog and digital body to the track When I got the first digital body i carried the film body too to the tracks but very soon I ended up using only the digital for its convenience. Until I learned to use RAW I had often some hi-contrast problems with digital, but never since. If Jennifer can't make up her mind, she can go and have try at a nearby, well lit highway.<p>
  20. Juha, thanks for the compliment on the speedway lighting in the United States... In fact, I'm basing an article for RaceFax that makes the case for certain Formula 1 races to be held on Saturday night. HINT: It involves the live TV broadcast burying the overnight hours in the middle of the Pacific! :)

    Every point you make about RAW files vs in-camera JPEG processing is 100% correct... In fact, at the professional lab I moonlight at, I constantly admonish the wedding & portrait shooters to use CCD-RAW workflow -- Especially for the shots in the reception, where the lighting is often dodgy and the dSLR's white balance stinks.

    In fact, I use RAW for almost everything in my Fuji S2 Pro (except for on-the-spot exposure checks when I need a quick check of the histogram to verify exposure, before I switch back to RAW): For example, I'm selling one of my Mamiys 645AF kits, and the shots I took to post on eBay were shot RAW, too:

    Now, on to shooting at the track: I also shoot RAW when I'm in the paddock on the day before the race, and on race day before the green flag drops, where I have time for the 6 shot buffer to flush to the CF card. Alas, from the time the green flag drops until the winner's burnouts, I have to switch to "fine quality" JPEG (~4MB file size for the 12 megapixel image file), because the 17 MB RAW file just can't write fast enough to the card.

    Not that I didn't try, at one race: I had to keep my N90s at the ready to finish up after wrecks, because I had to wait too long to shoot again... Which defeats the purpose of digital to begin with :(
  21. Dan, it's definitely horses for the courses. My two most important motorsport events are the Le Mans 24 and Rally Finland. Both offer variations in scenery. When I get to the vantage point I asses the situation and decide whether it is an ordinary track shot or an opening shot for a story. I also asses the light and contrast. Then I make the decision which RAW, jpg/large..small I use. It's worth noticing that 2400 wide produces 8 inch wide = one page wide with 300 dpi. So already that size covers about 90% of demand.<p>
    In rallying the competitors come one by one. So I usually use RAW for the 10..15 top names and then switch to use jpg to save disc volumes and download times.<p>
    RAW or JPG - asses the situ and use common sense.
  22. Dan, by the way, how much does the RaceFax-subscription cost? I only find the the free 30 day trial, but how much is the normal subscription? Quite weird that the price is not told - or am I just blind?
  23. Juha,

    We are definitely on the same page when it comes to shooting RAW vs JPEG at auto races. The difference is that Jennifer is shooting at a 1.0 mile flat oval, with average lap times in the (IIRC) 25 second range (speeds on the order of of 140 MPH (200 feet per second))... and the track is crowded with 43 cars.

    Basically, although you have almost constant action; because it's so difficult to pass you end up with Formula 1 -style "parades" as cars stack up. This means if Jennifer is in the right spot, every 25 second the same attempt to pass will come by, and she'll be taking at least one shot as she thinks they are about to wreck ...Because they often DO look like they will wreck, and can fool even seasoned photogs! :)

    Here is the track map, this time marked with red spots where Jennifer can station herself.


    Dan Schwartz
    Note: All links open in a new window
  24. Juha, I looked at your portfolio... Nice stuff!

    Question: For your great shot at:
    did you shoot it in CCD-RAW? Also, please take a look at my critique as to the PS editing.

    Cheers! Dan
  25. Juha, you asked a valid question about the lack of a subscription price for RaceFax
    on the website, and here is the reply I just got from editor Forrest Bond:

    "No need to have your eyesight checked; it isn't on the site. The reason RaceFax DotCom doesn't publish the cost is that, until readers have had exposure to the present and archived content, we suspect it seems unreasonably high, though it hasn't increased since we moved to the Internet at the beginning of 1997. The cost is $50 US for six months, or $90 US for one year. Try the free trial, and examine the archives, and we think you'll find the exclusive content and unique perspective worth the cost."

    >>> Personally, I suggest signing up for the 30 day free trial and perusing the archives; though only paid subscribers get access to the Formula 1 Concorde.

    Cheers! Dan
  26. wow....what great information. Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful replies!

  27. hi all,
    I just wanted to thank you all again for your detailed responses. Unfortunately I myself do not have a press pass to get down and photograph the race.

    I teach photography classes, and one of my students DOES have a press pass, and he's a racing fan who's taken race photos before. He asked for advice on how to get the best possible pictures at the PIR.

    Since I've never done racing shots, I figured that there would be experts here on who have (and wow, was I ever right!)

    I'm going to forward this link to him, as I believe the information here is extremely helpful. I wish I DID have a press pass and that I was able to get down there myself. After reading all of your advice and responses, I really want to try taking race pictures. Maybe in the future.

    thanks again!
  28. Jennifer, there's no such thing as a "press pass" for NASCAR: It's either a "Media" or "Photo" credential, with the Photo cred getting you access to places (like the photographers' stands and outside fence cuts) the Media cred won't. Also, ISC and NASCAR credentials will have a 2-digit number on them (like 33 or 66) which gives you access to specific areas and bars you from others, which the guards at the entrances to the various places can quickly check against a poster next to them.

    In addition, your credential may have additional sticker "endorsements" on it, typically "MC" for media center access; and "VL" for Victory Lane access.

    Beyond that, please see the email I sent you privately... We'll get you hitched up with creds, at least through the Friday Busch race!

    Cheers! Dan
  29. Dan, spot on, it was the Concorde agreement that I was interested in. I am writing an article about Rob Walker,FOCA , Ecclestone, Mosley and the Concorde paper. May be I'll get the mag pay it for me. We'll see.
  30. Jennifer, other places you might keep an eye on for slipping and sliding action are turns with transition from sunlit to shaded to sunlit pavement. On sunny days during the early spring and late fall the ambient temperature can be fairly cool, which means the shaded areas will be cool, while the sunlit areas will be warmer. The sudden changes in track surface temperature can trip up drivers, depending on how their cars are set up (tires, etc.) and how heavy-handed and -footed they are. Lots of wrecks at turn 1 at the Texas Motor Speedway during the November 2005 Busch Series O'Reilly Challenge. Kevin Harvick won by playing possum, tucked within the top 10 but safely out of harm's way while each leader took turns crashing. Apparently his car was set up right for the conditions because I never saw him skitter sideways in the shaded areas like most other drivers did. He also worked harder to keep his tires warmed up during the cautions.
  31. Whoops ... I forgot Jennifer would be shooting at night. So the track will be pretty much the same temperature all around.
  32. Lex, if you read closely, it is one of her students that is shooting, not her.

    Also, they start at twilight for east coast prime time... IIRC, it's ~5PM green flag.

    Jennifer, you want your student to shoot cars coming at him, not going away like you see in the photo above. When they wreck, you take what you can get -- Especialy if there's a fire! -- but in general you want the wreck coming at you, not going away from you:





    Dan Schwartz
    Note: All links open in a new window
  33. Jennifer,

    Note in the photos above, I was at ground level (and, there were no other photogs within a couple hundred yards, either!). You can see where I was on the satellite photo below. [Note that this image was shot before the "Monster Bridge" (BLECCHHH!) was built.]


    Dan Schwartz
    Note: All links open in a new window
  34. Nice pix, Dan, definitely a cut above what I see in most magazines. I get the impression that most online and paper racing publications prefer not to emphasize the wrecks, but there's no denying it's an exciting challenge for the photographer.

    I was shooting from a pretty high angle hoping to get some interesting shots of cars dueling for position into Turn 1, but nothing interesting happened. All the good stuff was coming out of Turn 1 and, being unfamiliar with TMS, I was in the wrong position. Live and learn.
  35. This brings up a big difference you can see on TV as well as here: Open wheel photographers, like Juha Kivekäs, like to shoot low, even when shooting rally sedans running in the muck. :)

    On the other hand, photographers who shoot taxicabs (and NASCAR TV producers) like to get up high, with stadium shots so the viewers can see the cars skate around.

    Each style has its advantages & disadvantages: In fact at most IndyCar races you'll find photographers on the grandstand roof; while you'll see a few shooters at the fence for NASCAR circle-jerks.

    That being said, (RaceFax editor) Forrest Bond admonished me to go somewhere else if I see a gaggle of photographers: He told me he can easily buy from Getty, AP or LAT the shots the "gaggle of photographers" capture; and that he wants to offer subscribers a unique view:

    Yes, you're reading the magazine caption right: Not only did I get the photo credit, the editor actually told the reader that it was captured with an unusual camera! :) Alas, there were better shots; but Forrest wanted one with a car in it, blur be damned. Incidentally, the camera is my Horizon 202, and the EPP chrome was scanned on a drum scanner.
    In short, ask yourself this question: If I'm a fan, what would I want to see? Where it gets interesting is when you see a race at the track; then see the newspaper or view the videotape when you get back home. Oftentimes there's a disconnect, especially with IndyCar broadcasts on ABC/ESPN; but oftentimes there's a disconnect with publications, too. Fortunately, with the advent of the Web, there's now a plethora of photos available for the fans from each event... Of highly variable quality, though.
    Dan Schwartz
    Note: All links open in a new window
  36. Dan, I'd like to add one more piece of info to your good analysis on vantage points. When I do articles I take actively part to the lay out design of the mag. But obviously there are pros who finish my work. The guys at the lay out room always complain that there are too few vertical shots available. The verticals often solve a lay out "lock". Therefore at almost all vantage points I remind myself to turn the camera for vertical format.<p>
    Another thing they say is that cars in all photos in a page opening should point to the same direction, and most preferably, to the direction of the text flow (i.e. left to right) - especially the article opening shot. At circuit tracks or in rallies this is usually no problem because there are so many sceneries to choose from. I'll point out that the left to right is not a must, just a preference. At speedways left to right would require being outside the track... I don't know. When I think of CART or NASCAR the image that forms in my head is from right to left.<p>
    It may be worth thinking about the backgound for a moment. At a speedway being inside means that the backgound is going to be allways some concrete wall and grandstands. Being outside shooting in may mean some other sceneries, but most likely again quite nervous backgrounds. It would be nice if the track owners in general thought a little more about the "photogenickness" of the sceneries.
  37. Juha wrote:
    "The guys at the lay out room always complain that there are too few vertical shots available. The verticals often solve a lay out "lock". Therefore at almost all vantage points I remind myself to turn the camera for vertical format."​
    I've never had THAT request before -- In fact, the NCTS agency I shoot for prefers horizontal in most all cases.
    That being said, RaceFax prefers shots that are zoomed out enough to get the context of the track... In other words, if you look at most of the (especially F1!) "professional" shots, you'll be hard pressed to tell which course the car is on. In the case of PIR with the blue walls (& SAFER barriers), there are no big, bold markings like there are on white ones; but a shot of a stock car on a flat track with the blue wall is PIR.
    Going back to your vertical shot requirement, this dovetails nicely with zooming back out: Today's hi-res dSLR's give you so much detail that the photo editor can "zoom by cropping" to either horizontal or vertical.
    Jennifer, this brings up a point I'm glad Juha originally raised: Talk to the photo editor before the race and ask him if there are any special shots he wants; or any particular drivers he wants you to focus on. For example, the start of the 2002 Indy 500 was very ragged with the writer complaining about it; but because there were no photos illustrating the problem, only words could convey the disappointment. However, I decided to rectify the situation for 2003, by climbing up the T1 grandstand upper deck and shooting a sequence of photos for the start...

    ...Which lead to this full-page photo getting published.

    Dan Schwartz
    Note: All links open in a new window
  38. Don't forget to document other things, too! This classic has been circulating around the `net for 2-3 years now...

    >>> Note how the photographer captured "Sharpie 500" in the upper left corner of the frame: This instantly gives the photo the "context" of Bristol Motor Speedway. This is why a few photo editors tell their stringers to zoom back a bit, and they'll do the cropping. This is especially so when the camera has 6 million pixels .AND. the optics are sharp enough, i.e. no 28-200mm Tamron zoom lenses.
  39. Don't forget to document other things, too! This classic has been circulating around the `net by an anonymous photographer for 2-3 years now... >>> Note how the photographer captured "Sharpie 500" in the upper left corner of the frame: This instantly gives the photo the "context" of Bristol Motor Speedway. This is why a few photo editors tell their stringers to zoom back a bit, and they'll do the cropping. This is especially so when the camera has 6 million pixels .AND. the optics are sharp enough, i.e. no 28-200mm Tamron zoom lenses.
  40. NOTE TO MODERATOR: Please delete the first of the two posts above, and this one. Thanks! Dan

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