In Focus – Be Different

Sebastien Bourdais Barber Motorsports

For this fourth entry in our photographers’ series of insights into motorsports photography, while watching on television a rainy IndyCar race in Toronto, I thought that I’d offer a late-April photo from wet Barber Motorsports Park, whose IndyCar race had been delayed more than two hours due to raining thunderstorms.

Simon Pagenaud chasing race leaders Will Power and Scott Dixon

Simon Pagenaud chasing race leaders Will Power and Scott Dixon (Nikon D3, cloudy white balance, ISO 500, 1/1000 second at f/5.6)

This isn’t one of my favorite photos from that rainy day. I share this only to illustrate one of several ideals that I keep in mind when photographing racers in paddocks, pit lane, or on-track — ‘Try for something different.’

I don’t favor photographing the rears of formula cars. They’re not the most flattering views, and they don’t depict the drivers. This was not my first choice of a rainy-day photo for In Focus.

I had photographed much racing from various vantages around Turn 5 and beside the straight between Turns 11 and 12, beside other photographers, and alone in a few places. After trying to ‘capture’ cars that were nearing 160 mph on the straightaway, I thought that I’d walk about 90 meters toward Turn 12 and then see if I could make any decent photos of the guys braking, zooming through the kink, descending, and then powering uphill and right. I didn’t think that I had been there previously.

I knelt beside the guard-rails, prefocused on the painted curb, and then waited for cars to come into view (fast) from the left. I made a dozen photos in a couple of minutes and assumed that some were ‘keepers’ and differed from others that I – and other photographers – made that day.

This isn’t one of the typical photos of racing side-by-side in Turns 17, 5, and 2. It is rather a ‘different’ view which complements the other, commonly-seen views of those competitors and that beautiful road course.

One comment

  • I love the “Try for something different.” motto! I need to make that into a little sticker I can put on my lens hood for this weekend. Nice job, Brian.