Posts Tagged ‘racing

18
Mar
14

another 12 hours of sebring done

Sebring grows on me every year I travel down to that old airfield-turned-racetrack in central Florida. At first sight, the circuit is flat, gray and characterless. When fans start to arrive and camp, the backgrounds get cluttered with flags and campers. It’s usually oppressively hot and the cement slabs that used to be runways for WWII bombers only reflect the brightness and heat back up to your eyes and face.

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As I’ve noticed in my years covering the 12 Hours, Sebring is indeed a very picky place photographically, but at the same time when you get it right, you can get it epically right (weather permitting).

In fact, Rick Dole, an outstanding photographer who has been doing this longer than I’ve been alive (sorry Rick!), and I decided that of the 12 Hours, you really only need to cover 4 of them (start and last 3.5 hours) because the light and heat waves during the rest of the time makes for terrible photography.

I wouldn’t say I love the place just yet, but I don’t hate it as much as in 2003…

 

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As always, thanks for looking.

-RAE

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21
Jun
13

Looking back at recent NASCAR work

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I feel like these blog posts are getting too few and too far between. Like I’m failing at promoting myself or something.  All I can say is that I’ve been very busy shooting for Getty, XPB and the Associated Press as well as my ‘day’ job as photo editor for Motorsport.com…and I have a three-year-old. That should cover it for any excuses I could get away with.

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May started off busy with Darlington NASCAR and continued with two straight weekends of Charlotte NASCAR (All-Star race and Coca Cola 600). Then it was on to Montréal for F1 (that will be a separate blog post) then on to Michigan for more NASCAR.

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There is a certain familiarity now with NASCAR, which is both good and bad. You can easily fall victim to the same ole’ thing and being safe, but you can also use that familiarity to challenge yourself and do something different. I’m probably guilty of doing both.

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Working with the Getty crew(s) who show up every weekend is pretty fantastic. It’s an opportunity to learn (you never stop the learning process, or the inspiration process for that matter). It’s also an opportunity to look at everyone’s take that day and say, well, once again we kicked ass. The standards are high and we strive to meet them.

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I enjoy finding moments during a race. Because, admittedly it can get a little boring at times. Coach Joe Gibbs was inadvertently working it during the Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington (in deep south S.C.).

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Then there are the super rare moments when you can isolate a driver for a clean image.

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And scene-setters.

ImageAnd working the garage…to me a great and fun challenge to make something totally different.

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Now I’m off to Pikes Peak on Monday for the hill climbing race. This will be my second time, and I’ll know what to expect, which should help. I’m both dreading and excited about the 3am call times (they practice every day from sun up to about 10am, because it’s a public road). The light is stunning at that time, and there’s something about being at that altitude (14,000 ft.) that changes things. Really looking forward to it.

Oh, and for the record the Coca Cola 600 is about 100 miles too long. Someone should look into that.

-RAE

http://www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

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

 

04
Oct
10

Dindo Capello B&W

I’m not usually one to convert my images to black and white.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t find a good B&W photograph striking in its own way.

When you get right down to it, I just don’t think about it.  I see the world in color, my camera sees the world in color, so my images are in color.  It was different when you loaded B&W film.  You were locked in with no choice.  That’s what the film saw – shades of gray.

Of course, nowadays, with the ability to go back and forth, there is a tendency to turn color images  into B&W to make up for the fact that it’s not a strong picture to begin with.  The photographer hoping the grayscale will add another dimension to an otherwise mediocre photo.  The way I see things, turning an image to B&W actually removes something from the picture.  The eye is no longer distracted by splotches of color in the background or the pink in a person’s skin tone.  In this respect, I believe a photo has to be good enough to start with in order to withstand this stripping away effect.

All that to say, there’s something special about a veteran racing driver from Italy waiting to take the wheel and the look on his face as he focuses.  I hope you agree that this deserved to be converted.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com




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