This is the first of a blog series which will discuss the making of an image from the IndyCar.com photo gallery. This entry discusses a photo that was taken at the Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park on March 15, 2011.
The Barber Open Test was “Spring Training” for the drivers, the teams, the officials, and the photographers. Just like the teams need to get the rust out of their system, so do the photographers. Even though we shoot various assignments during the off-season, we haven’t shot cars racing at over 200 mph since early October. We also had an opportunity to get accustomed to the driver and sponsor changes.
Our goals for the Open Test included getting lots of images of each driver, each car on the track, and each team in action. These photos will be used for IndyCar.com, race programs, team PR, and other media uses. Also, since it was my first visit to Barber, it gave me a chance to learn the track layout and find good shooting locations for our return in April for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
One of the locations I liked best was between turns 8 and 9 where I shot with a 500 mm lens. The 500 mm lens is a fixed focal length lens that is the biggest and most expensive lens we regularly use (it weighs nearly 10 pounds). With the 500 mm lens at this location, I could look up the track and shoot the cars coming towards me after they took the downhill right-hand turn at turn 8. Between turns 8 and 9, there is a slight left hand turn where many of the cars were running over the curbing and getting their front tires in the air. From that turn they continued downhill past me and went through a sweeping right-hand turn.
During one of the sessions I was at that location, after Helio Castroneves passed the point I was shooting, he lost control and started spinning through the gravel sand trap. When his spin started, he was right across from me. Since the 500 mm lens has such a strong magnification, the initial shots I took of his spin show just the front quarter of his car and gravel shooting up in the air. As he continued to spin down the hill, he moved farther from me as he slid out of the sand and back on the track. He eventually got on the gas to do a partial “donut” to turn his car around. As he started the donut and lit up his tires, he was pointed right at me, and I was able to get the shot above. The picture you see has been cropped since he perfectly filled the frame.
Next up, an image from the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.