Ok… so if you have read the “About” page of this photo blog you will know that only about 60-70% of the material is dedicated to homes or older homes in the Oak Park/River Forest Area. All topics will touch upon photography but there will be times when the subject matter of the photography is random… or another interest of mine. And today’s “other interest of mine” is… car racing!! Yes, I am a huge fan but not just of any racing. I am a huge fan of the annual 24 Hours of Le Mans in France and the cars that race there… the world’s oldest active sports car race of endurance racing. The race has so many different classes of cars and so many drivers and involves so much effort. It is really an amazing event. Well, I currently have no plans to be able to go to France to see this beautiful event but we can all head to our own little racing oasis, Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. This historic racing venue is a four mile road course sitting on 525 acres of beautiful Wisconsin rolling hills.
Every year my good friend, Rich Drab, and I travel north to see the American (ALMS) version of the race at Le Mans. Many of the cars that we actually see in Wisconsin did race earlier in the year in France. This year the ALMS race was on Sunday and there was a Grand-Am race Saturday… PERFECT! It is this year that I decided I would photograph the race for my photo blog and the concentration is on… things in motion or photographing things in motion.
I can tell you now this is one of the hardest “explores” or “projects” I have yet to tackle. For me… getting a perfect shot of something in motion does not mean I want to shoot at the highest shutter speed and stop the subject matter. For me the perfect shot is capturing the subject in motion so vividly and clearly but at the same time… letting my viewer see that the subject is indeed… IN MOTION!!
The Alpina in the P2 category.
The shot of this 551 Siemens Alpina is one of my favorite. The car and driver a so clear and detailed but the scenery and road are blurred with pure speed. And getting this exact combination is what was absolutely the hardest part of this project and the two days of photography.
Katherine Legge brings the DeltaWing out of Canada Corner and up Thunder Valley.
And what am I trying to capture here? The Miata that just lost it’s nose? I don’t think so.
The BMW Z4 replaced the M3.
I used the NEX 7 and the Sony SEL 18200 lens. This lens has a 35mm equivalent of about 27-300mm. The challenge in shooting these subjects in motion is to while keeping the shutter speed low enough to have all but the car blurred and on a sunny day this is not easy. So you are constantly holding the camera up to your eye and capturing the car and moving your whole body with the zooming speed of the car as it goes by. The shutter setting is so that when you depress the shutter release button it will continuously shoot photos while you have depressed. The NEX can shoot 10 frames per second. 10!! That is fast. After watching a lot of the pro’s out on the track I learned that next time I will need a monopod to help steady the camera as I turn thus reducing the chance that at that slow shutter speed of 1/50 or 1/60 the subject (car) will be blurred as well as the stationary setting. OH!!! And for this project the best part about using the NEX 7 was!!!… The cameras built-in electronic viewfinder. Absolutely amazing! After I would take a series of shots I could go to “play” mode and out in the sunlight just look in the viewfinder to see how the shots turned out. It is like a tiny HD TV you can look at to see how you’re doing immediately after taking the photo. The camera is… the best.
Duct Tape is awesome!
One of the GT3 Porches
DeltaWing driver, Katherine Legge, after her stint in the car.
A side-note about Katherine Legge, professional race car driver and one of the Delta Wing Co-Drivers. So Rich and I look forward to this event every year. We actually have lost count of how many years we have been taking in a race together at RA. We go for the cars, the sounds, the fans, the spectacle… Rich is a race driver himself and has spent so much time on this track for various club events so between the two of us we know the track well. We are open to all kinds of racing. We are NOT race groupies and rarely do we really pay attention to the drivers and say… “Oh, I hope this guy is here this year.” We don’t stand in line for autographs nor make a point to try and see if any specific driver will be at the meet and greet on the paddock before the race. But there is one driver Rich and I have an attachment to and that is Katherine Legge of Great Britain. See, the last time Rich and I saw Katherine at Road America she was doing about 180mph down the track… in her safety roll cage. For it was on that warm September 24th day in 2006 that Katherine, at age 26, would literally walk away from what will most likely go down in history as one of motorsport’s most visually violent single car accidents. Yes, it is her job and it is entertainment and exhilarating and… But accidents are not what we are there for. And when you sit for more than 20 minutes wondering if this driver is going to be OK it is an event you always remember. It is one thing to be on your couch and see the race accident on TV. It is another to actually be at the race and have to sit through the silence in between the announcers updates over the PA. I’m sure if Katherine is reading this she is going, “Really, Steve!… Try being the one in the cage!” Obviously… she is the one who remembers every time she exits the “Kink” and heads down “Kettle Bottoms” toward “Canada Corner”. So Rich and I always reminisce that day and this weekend we were thrilled to learn Katherine would be co-driving the beautiful Delta Wing #0 car!!! Oh… and we got an autograph.