That’s Not A Light – THIS Is A Light

That’s A Light from RHED Pixel on Vimeo.

My pal Rich Harrington did some more behind the scenes video of a commercial shoot we worked on using a 50″ LED light bar from Rigid Industries as a main source of light. While Rigid isn’t known for its contributions to the photography industry, more than one photographer has borrowed this idea from me and several have even contacted my installer asking for help building a similar rig.

LED lighting is becoming very popular and as you can see here, it did a great job lighting the Jag. My work truck is making itself pay in the bargain. Enjoy.

NOTE: Cross-posted at Photofocus.com

Photography – Wallpaper – Jaguar Style

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Thanks to my pal Rich Harrington (@RhedPixel) for walking around my Jaguar XJL with an IceLight from Jerry Ghionis – shot at the Dry Lake Bed, near Henderson, NV (Although due to seasonal monsoons here there is a lake in the dry lake bed – rare.)

A Day At The Drag Races

Copyright Scott Bourne 2011 - All Rights Reserved

NOTE: Cross-posted at Photofocus.com

What’s the fastest accelerating car on the planet? A top fuel dragster. Nothing comes close. 0-100 in 0.7 seconds. These 8,000 to 10,000 horsepower beasts are something to behold. The speeds and the stresses involved in drag racing at this level are so tremendous that the engines have to be rebuilt after each and every run.

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I recently photographed the NHRA event at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Not only did the event feature top-fuel cars, there were funny cars, motorcycles and a candy truck that one-quarter mile wheelstands! I had unfettered access to the cars and drivers and came away mightily impressed. It’s tough to imagine what it’s like to sit in a car going 325 miles per hour in just a few seconds. I thought my Corvette had some torque but these babies pump out 14,000 foot pounds of torque. Makes my Corvette look like a Hot Wheels car.

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The top-fuel cars use a special fuel called Nitromethane. Each run takes about 15 gallons of this very expensive concoction. The pressure put on the tires on take off literally causes them to distort!

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But no matter how many words I write or how much I talk about the experience, standing at the start line 10-feet from these cars is a life-changing experience. The concussion from the exhaust is so powerful that it blew me off a small footstool I was using to get a better angle at the start. Each run literally caused my bones to rattle. And the noise – I was wearing my usual -24db noise-canceling Racing Electronic Platinum Headset. Let’s just put it this way. I wish it were -48db because my ears are still ringing from the noise.

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In addition to cars, this event also featured motorcycles traveling at speeds in the 200 miles per hour club. I got the chance to talk to some of the young riders. To a man and woman – they were all friendly, approachable and full of joy at getting to go fast.

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Before each round, the vehicles need to warm up their tires so they do bur outs. Here’s a fun fact – when you’re 10 feet from cars doing a burnout, you get covered in oil and rubber. I was digging bits of tire out of my teeth for days after shooting these photos.

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The crews, race officials, team owners and even spectators are downright close to the action at an NHRA race. REALLY close. You could probably get some great images without credentials at these events.

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Photographing these cars takes a very high-speed, high-end DSLR if you want to really capture all the action. I used a Canon 1D MK IV with a 70-200 F/2.8 lens and a 400mm F/5.6 lens for most of the action. Most of the time I was using the 70-200 since I was allowed to stand so close. But you have to be quick. Within seconds of the start – the cars are literally a mile away. This is no place for slow pokes.

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With any race you have to figure out how you want your photographs to convey motion. Fortunately, when cars are doing wheel stands, it’s pretty obvious, even to the very casual observer, that the car isn’t parked.

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I love cars, racing, speed, and everything that goes with it. Decades ago, I did some super stock drag racing. I was never good enough at it to seriously compete, but enjoyed it. I can tell you after being this close to these cars this weekend, I think I’ll stick to the Corvette. My 11-second quarter mile times seem turtle-slow compared to these guys but I can keep IT on the track.

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One last thing to ponder – the top fuel car drivers are saner than the funny car drivers. The funny car engines that are almost as powerful as the top-fuel cars sit IN FRONT of the driver!

If you get a chance to go to a drag race, with or without your camera, it’s a good time. Bring some ear plugs and relax. I can’t wait for my next drag race!

______________________

Sponsored by:
Helmet Cameras @ GoPro.com

Professional Car Racing Photography – A Personal Diary Part II Behind The Scenes

Copyright Scott Bourne 2011 - All Rights Reserved - Danica Patrick at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway

In this second installment of my Professional Car Racing Photography – A Personal Diary, I’ll cover behind the scenes shooting. (Read part one here.) I got my start in photography as a race shooter and this was always my favorite part. You never know what you’re going to run into. This can be the most fun and the most rewarding stuff to shoot at a race. The track, the people, the equipment and the surrounding area provides a cornucopia of subject matter with which to work.

Copyright Scott Bourne 2011 - All Rights Reserved - It was hot this day.

Sorry to sound like a broken record but I have to mention safety – even here. It’s important to remember that walking through the garages and pits is still very dangerous. Even though there are no race speeds involved, you can be killed or injured by something as small as a golf cart carrying tires from one garage to another. I like to keep my head on a swivel when I am in the pits or the garage. You never know when something will be coming at you so first things first – be safe.

Copyright Scott Bourne 2011 - All Rights Reserved - Love the ear muffs as noise protection :)

The routine I like is to first walk the garages and become familiar with where each driver is assigned. Then I have the option of waiting for drivers to show up at the garage or I can content myself with simple shots of pre-race mechanics.

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The subject list here is incredibly long. You are limited only by your imagination, access and time. Let’s start with access. Depending on the track, the race, etc., you may or may not have unfettered access to the garage area and the pits. At LVMS we have unusually good access to the garage. The pits are harder only because they are even more dangerous.

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One important thing to remember when in the garage is that you cannot actually cross the threshold of any particular garage space without team permission – in advance. Do NOT assume because you see a photographer in the garage that it’s also okay for you to go in. That photographer may be a team or sponsor photographer and most certainly has advance permission. When in doubt ask. The rough and tough folks that work on these cars for a living may unceremoniously escort you from the premises if you disobey this rule.

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I try to focus on all the details. I shoot steering wheels, tire racks, fuel canisters, people, their pets, logos, and anything else that catches my attention. Try to think of this from the following perspective. Imagine that your pictures of the behind the scenes activities are the only record anyone will have of what happened there. Try to tell a story. Document as much as you can. Pay attention to detail. Think like you are about to explain this setup to someone who’s never seen it and all you have to work with are your photos.

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The garage is one environment where you have time to be creative. Things are moving quickly, but not 200 miles per hour. I tend to work with smaller cameras like the Olympus EP3 or the D7000 in this environment. There’s no need for the blazing speed of the D3s here. You can set up your angles, wait for light and get the shot the way you want it many times. There are moments where you have to grab and go, such as when a driver walks in or you catch a fun moment like the pit crew resting while their car goes through tech, but most of the time you have a few seconds to think before you shoot. During the race, a few seconds is a lifetime.

Copyright Scott Bourne 2011 - All Rights Reserved - This guy looks happy to see me - NOT!

Remember to change up your angles. Try to spend as much time shooting from a low angle as you can. Shooting up on something gives it power and when you’re photographing race cars in the garage, you want to express the power that permeates the area any way you can. The more often you do this sort of work, the better and more instinctual you will become at catching the right moment.

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For inspiration, look at lots of race photography. See what other photographers have done and are doing. This will give you ideas that you can make your own when it’s your turn to work the pre-race.

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In the third and final episode of this diary I’ll talk about actually shooting the race.

______________________

Sponsored by:
Helmet Cameras @ GoPro.com