Posts Tagged ‘auto racing

21
Jun
11

Favorite Le Mans image

I began my photographic career as a motorsport photographer.  It was only a couple of years into it that I got bit by the photojournalism bug and jumped ship to tailor a portfolio suited to get a job as a newspaper shooter.

However, a few times a year I freelance for motorsport.com and Zuma Press at endurance sportscar races, most notably at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France.  It’s always fun to return to my ‘roots’ so to speak and see old friends.  I’m back in my environment, I know what to do, and I’m comfortable.  Motorsports photography has everything: speed, obviously, but also people, colors, a need for a sense of timing.  At the end of the day, it’s a sporting event, and covering it does require a certain amount of photojournalism-ism.

So it’s obvious that as I’ve evolved as a pj, I’ve also evolved as a motorsports photog.  And when one of the Zuma editors asked me to shoot some behind the scenes/spectator stuff in order to give a variety other than sports photography, it added a new challenge to my coverage.

So as the race continued on and the sun started to get low on the horizon on Saturday evening, I took a few moments to leave track side and the paddock to join the spectators enjoying the fun.  It had been a long time since I’d been on the other side of the fence, looking at cars several yards away through reinforced fencing.  The view sucks, but the culture doesn’t.

I borrowed a 24mm 1.4 lens from Nikon France who were providing service for credentialed photographers on site.  This was the time to use the hell out of it.  The amazing thing about that lens, other than the insanely cool look that depth of field gives, is the incredibly rich colors and crispness it gives.  When it’s sharp it’s tack, and when the light’s flat, it’s contrasty beyond belief.  It’s the perfect photojournalism lens, period.  The lens’ biggest virtue is how it makes any boring scene look interesting because of the mood it sets.  There’s nothing like setting a mood with a photograph.

So, all that to say that my favorite image from an auto race contains no cars, no drivers, or racing personalities.  Not even an inch of track or tire barrier.  Instead, it’s a scene you could find at any county fair, or amusement park.  It’s more photojournalist than straight sports photographer.  Maybe I’ve evolved past that.  Maybe.

Or maybe it’s just the lens.

June 11, 2011 - Le Mans, France. A fan watches as a couple enjoy a carnival ride during the 24 Hours of Le Mans auto race.

 

And another just cuz.  It’s a photo blog afterall.

 

June 10, 2011 - Le Mans, France Audi Sport driver Tom Kristensen, center, of Denmark, during the 24 Hours of Le Mans drivers' parade.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

 

22
Mar
11

Sebring

No matter how hard I try to fight it, I’m a motorsports photographer at heart.  Always have been, always will be.  Sure I work at a newspaper to pay the bills, but in a perfect world I’d be out shooting cars and the people who make them go.

Last weekend was the 59th Sebring 12 Hours in Sebring, Florida.  It’s run on an old WWII airfield using two cement runways connected by 11 or so corners paved sometime in the 50s.  To say that it’s bumpy is an understatement, and I’m convinced it’s (only) 12 hours and not 24, like its Le Mans counterpart, because of how grueling it really is.  It’s always been said that if a team, driver, car can make it at Sebring, it can make it at Le Mans.

Below are a few of my favorite images from the weekend.  Oddly enough, the French team I translate press releases for won the whole thing.  Their first overall victory at Sebring and it was great fun to see them celebrate so much.

This year, I was big into using other people’s flashes to my advantage.  We were also lucky enough to get the famous sunset on the front straight.  And since we were two photographers for Motorsport.com, it gave me the freedom to do something different rather than play it safe.  I think this might be my best take from a race so far in my 11 year motorsport career.  Enjoy.

Over 190 American Le Mans Series drivers pose for a photoshoot before the 12 Hours of Sebring, Tuesday, March 15, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

Oreca driver NICOLAS LAPIERRE drives the Peugeot 908 during practice for the 12 Hours of Sebring, Thursday, March 17, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

Rebellion Toyota Racing driver NICOLAS PROST looks on during testing for the 12 Hours of Sebring, Monday, March 14, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

Corvette driver JAN MAGNUSSEN, of Denmark, looks on during practice for the 12 Hours of Sebring, Thursday, March 17, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

BMW Motorsport BMW M3 GT: ANDY PRIAULX, DIRK MULLER, JOEY HAND during night practice for the 12 Hours of Sebring, Thursday, March 17, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

Audi Sport driver MIKE ROCKENFELLER, of Germany, drives the R15 Plus during night practice for the 12 Hours of Sebring, Thursday, March 17, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

Mar 18, 2011 - Sebring, Florida, U.S. Patron Ferrari driver DOMINIK FARNBACHER, of Germany, poses with a drawing of his F458 during an autograph session for the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Mar 19, 2011 - Sebring, Florida, U.S. Peugeot driver ANTHONY DAVIDSON, of England, drives the 908 during warmup for the 12 Hours of Sebring.

The infamous cracks in the cement during testing for the 12 Hours of Sebring, Monday, March 14, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

Oreca driver NICOLAS LAPIERRE, of France, drives the Peugeot 908 during night practice for the 12 Hours of Sebring, Thursday, March 17, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

Mar 19, 2011 - Sebring, Florida, U.S. Peugeot driver FRANCK MONTAGNY, of France, leads the field at the start of the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Peugeot driver PEDRO LAMY, of Portugal, waits during practice for the 12 Hours of Sebring, Thursday, March 17, 2011, in Sebring, Florida.

Mar 19, 2011 - Sebring, Florida, U.S. The sun sets on the front straight during the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Mar 19, 2011 - Sebring, Florida, U.S. Oreca Peugeot driver LOIC DUVAL, of France, waits for the team's final pit stop during the 12 Hours of Sebring.

From left, Oreca technical director DAVID FLOURY, team principal HUGUES DE CHAUNAC, and driver OLIVIER PANIS, celebrate after winning the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Mar 19, 2011 - Sebring, Florida, U.S. Oreca Peugeot driver LOIC DUVAL is carried away from his car after winning the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Mar 19, 2011 - Sebring, Florida, U.S. Overall winners, from left, NICOLAS LAPIERRE, team principal HUGUES DE CHAUNAC, OLIVIER PANIS and LOIC DUVAL celebrate during podium celebrations at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

 

03
May
10

Talladega debrief

While sitting in the AP darkroom for 18 hours waiting for tornados to maybe or maybe not hit Talladega Superspeedway, I calculated how many race weekends I’ve spent at the place.  This was my 19th race weekend, so if you average out three races in the spring and two in the fall, that’s 95 actual races I’ve shot since 2001.  That’s just enough to be kind of impressive, but not enough to be any sort of record, or cool for that matter.  I’m in Dega experience no man’s land.

All that said, there’s always the small possibility of getting an interesting shot, made smaller by the fact I’m usually placed in the pits, where you see the least amount of the track.  My day consists of trying to wrestle my way between an angry tire changer from the team in front of me and an angry fuel man from the team behind me to get a picture of Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson in a 14 second pitstop.  And between pitstops, I pan with the cars as they pass in front of me in case this happens:

Carl Edwards (60) goes airborne as he crashes with Mike Wallce (01) James Buescher (1) and Jason Leffier (38) during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron's 312 auto race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., Sunday, April 25, 2010. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

That’s twice in one year he’s performed so ‘well.’  Got some air but no flips.  This is becoming a pattern. Catch you next time Carl!

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

24
Apr
10

Me and 200,000 of my closest redneck friends

It’s that time of year again.  I get a farmer’s tan, smell like a bonfire for three days and jostle for position with four tv camera men and 12 photographers just to take a lame picture of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s pitstop.  Yeah.  Why do I still come here.

Carl Edwards flips into the catch fence on the last lap of the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, Sunday, April 26, 2009. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

Well, every once in a while you get a “big one.” I’ve been coming to Talladega since 2001, and it only took 8 years and 15 races (they run two a year here) to get a decent wreck picture.   Like it or not, it’s what people expect to see when they see NASCAR photos.  It’s a luck of the draw kind of thing, and since I’ve always been the pit guy shooting for the Associated Press, I rarely saw any death and mayhem, so to speak (because lets face it, 100% of the fans are there to see carnage.)

Without getting into too much specifics, let’s just say it was the last lap, last corner, one guy moved down on the other to cut him off and they touched.  Then one went careening upside-down into the catch fence.  That’s classified as a big one in my book.

I’ll likely never top this photo.  So again, why do I still come here?

CUZ I’M A REDNECK AT HEART! YEEHAW!

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com