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Old 26-08-2008, 00:00
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Erikderaaf Erikderaaf is offline
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Default Preparing for a race

I have a question for the more professional photographers who report racing events on circuits.
How do you prepare for a race? And that's not the simple story of charging (spare)batteries, formatting an checking memorycards and stuff, I mean the different conditions you can find on a circuit.
There is certainly a fair amount of stuff you will carry along, and I see a lot of backpacks, photovests and more, and i assume only the really neccesary equipment will be taken along, for example, a charger, lens cleaning stuff and things like that would only be unnessesary weight.

But how are you prepared for wheather conditions? For example, in a 24h race where it suddenly begins to rain? We all know our equipment doesn't like water, the more high end equimpent will probably have a fair amount of wheather sealing, but what about the lenses, batteries, CF cards and more?
And what about the most important equipment, the photographer him/herself? I assume you cannot carry along a complete raincover, but i know there are some emergency solutions like raincapes and camera/lenscovers that are packed in a very compact size?

I am very curious about this, as I would like to get more involved in professional photography, and not always in great sunny conditions
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Old 26-08-2008, 00:28
DJ Dirk DJ Dirk is offline
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always take extra DRY clothes & leave them in the trunk of your car, you carry only the real much needed items along, the rest stays in the pressroom, you are bound to be in there fairly often, so then you switch to other gear depending on what you plan to shoot

I for instance usually already have a plan (paper or head) on what & where i plan to stand & shoot, that also defines the equipment i take along & what can stay inside.
always take a fleece & rainjacket, personally i use chamy's to cover the lenses, they are cheap, easy to take along & are very effective
and if on a sunny days it all of a sudden changes, well, tuff luck, then me & the gear get SOAKING wet, i DON'T CARE, the shots come first, besides i just LOVE shooting in the rain, you always get such killer results

take these shots
on the one where Simon is in, it doesn't really show that hard cuz of the lighting is behind me, but it's POURING down then very HARD, i only had short pants & a polo, the car was 1 km down the road, so i didn't bother to take cover, the camera & lens where soaking wet afterwards
on the other shot you can actually see the rain that i was in
the shots came out GREAT i LOVED IT
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Old 26-08-2008, 01:21
Nuvolari Nuvolari is offline
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It all depends on the event you are at. At the bigger events you can get a locker in the press area, at other events you simply use your car.
Then you just plan where you will be for the next period (30 minutes, one hour, couple of hours) and get your gear for those corners / pitlane and the conditions. Most of the time you know more or less what the weather will be like as they also have this info in the press room or at the teams.
When it is sunny a cap and sun cream will do the trick, when it's rainy you just grap whatever is available.
Like Dirk I just love racing in the rain whether it's take pictures or behind the wheel, but I don't share his enthusiasm of getting soaking wet. I always take a large umbrella and hold the monopod and umbrella with one hand or put the umbrella between head and shoulder.
For my camera and lenses I have a special raincap from Canon and I always wear my boots from my army time (dienstplicht) and when it is really bad a raincoat.
The only problem left is a soaking wet camera bag.
In wet conditions always be careful where you position yourself (although circuits are getting safer all the time), because cars will sometimes slide forever in wet conditions.

Apart from all this, what you normally do to prepare yourself, especially as a relatively new kid on the block, is get a map of the circuit and mark the position of the sun at different times during the day. That way you will know what the best spots will be during the race. With time and experience you will do this automatically.

One other thing you might want to remember is don't get completely absorbed by the whole experience. You won't be the first photographer that'll be run over by a competitor or knocked down by a fellow photographer or team member. Sometimes you just wonder what someone is doing in the pitlane... people with a simple compact camera or camcorder, or even worse a cameraphone. Silly prats who are only there to boast to their friends.

Edwin
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Old 26-08-2008, 19:15
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These were the answers I liked, thanks.

In my opinion are the non-standard pictures the special ones, I like the action pics in the rain or at night
But in my case, I want nice pictures, and if I get wet, that's not a real problem, the tip for dry clothes is very good, but my equipment must stay dry! I do not want problems caused by water or moisture, and that's because I do not have the resources to buy a brand new camera just when I want to. So that would be a difference in priority

I have a set of optech raincovers in my bag, that is for camera and lens, works quite OK, bag has an allwheater cover. Sounds great but it is not completely protected, and when it really starts pouring it won't help.

And another question, at big races and especially at night I assume you will take a lot of pictures, and maybe a fair amount of them will be similar or will not come out great, Is it just a matter of carrying a lot of memorycards? Or does someone use other items like portable imagetanks or laptops?
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Old 26-08-2008, 19:56
DJ Dirk DJ Dirk is offline
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i got around 25gig worth of chips on me & a laptop & external drive waiting in the pressroom
so
NO STRESS
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Old 26-08-2008, 22:23
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I can only agree with Dirk and Edwin.

At this time I've visited most of the tracks often before so now you try to learn from mistakes made before and try to improve and find new or different spots. I always try to look at my own series or visit websites from other photographers to see what's possible.

When I'm on a new track I also look at what other shooters did there and try to find out in the pressroom in which corners you are allowed and how to get there.

I'm wearing a photovest to carry my gear and always have a poncho in one of the pockets to protect me from rain. In the morning I look at the weather forecast and decide if I need to take extra rain protection, I've made a raincover for my 500mm from an raintrouser "regenbroek" and my other lenses are protected with an zem "zeem", or warm clothes to the track, they are ALWAYS in my car so I can always go to the parking lot and put them on if needed by weather changes.

I also carry some water and candybars with me so I can eat and drink in between. On warm days I carry even up to 2 liters of water/powerdrink with me.

Memorycards? I've 8 cf-cards with a total of 19 GB memory. I don't like the big cards as it's risky to lose to many images when a card gets broken or lost. they are from Sandisk and Lexar, 2 reliable brands. This is enough memory for me to get through a weekend, even shooting in RAW. A big advantage of digital is you can see what you're doing so if I don't like it I stop and search for an other spot. When for example at a 24 hrs race the night shots don't work I'll simple quit, when you go on you're only waisting memory because at home you'll delete them all. That's my opinion. I learned it in the "old" days to be secure when to press the release button because I only got money to buy 15 slide films (540 images) for a complete weekend of racing. Now some photographers shoot these amount of pictures in a single session!

Security? at the track I'm concentrated on what's happening on the track and look for escape routes. In the pits you've got to have eyes front and back and you have to look closely for signals mechanics and marshalls make. Even when shooting have an eye open for everything that's hapening around you. In modern GT racing the pitstops are F1 look-a-likes, it's going very fast and tyres, airguns, mechanics and fuel can be dangerous and harmful. The cars drive with speeds up to 60 km/h to their pit and break at the last and they don't stop for a crossing photographer!

Have fun at the track Erik!



Hugo
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Old 26-08-2008, 22:43
DJ Dirk DJ Dirk is offline
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personally i don't like the photo vest since i always sweat hard in them especially on sunny days
i hate the backbacks, i use waistpouches & belt by Lowepro
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Old 26-08-2008, 23:14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugo View Post
..... Even when shooting have an eye open for everything that's hapening around you. !
I don't have much experience in track-photographing, but i have been a few times in pitlanes now, and what i noticed was that you have to feel yourself 'accomodated'. Don't think; what i am doing here? and don't think that everyone is looking at you; who is he, and what is he doing here. Feel yourself at home and concentrate on your work; the cars. Act 'decisive', and not 'insecure', let driver and stewards see, that you see them. You can let hem see that sometimes in the way you walk, body-language, etc. Moreover: I was astonished that drivers see everything around them when they leave a pitbox and even have the time sometimes to greet you with their hand, even when my head is behind a camera.
I especially quoted that line from hugo, as i often have trainees in my work who want to look through the 'searcher' with their left eye. the right eye is than behind the other half of the body; so than they are completely 'blind' for what happens around them. if you look with your right eye, your left eye is beside the body in open space and when you open it sometimes you cán see what is around you. important in pitlanes, life-resqueing in war-territory...
But if you are left, than there is nothing you can do i guess.. Maybe a bit off-topic, but not that off-topic, as hugo says it right, watch out, around you, in pitlanes.
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Old 26-08-2008, 23:43
DJ Dirk DJ Dirk is offline
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very correct
the ptilane is one of the greatest places for action shots but defenitly the most dangerous one
i have been pulled out of the way a few times by marschalls, mechanics & other photographers & i have pulled other photographers out of the way myself aswell

always keep both eyes open while beeing in there, keep listening to the engine notes very carefully & keep in mind those tyres are HOT & fuel is nothing to joke about
i've already had bleeding noses & small burn wounds on arms & legs, bruised ribs, stitched up chin, etc... from beeing in the pitlane
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Old 26-08-2008, 23:50
Nuvolari Nuvolari is offline
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Funny to read what Hugo wrote. I sometimes wonder how much satisfaction one gets from shooting hundreds of similar photos. As a photographer you like to get the best out of every moment and every shot.
I also learnt my skills in the old days before we all went digital and only bought something like 20 films for a weekend with different iso rates for different weather conditions (100 and 400 asa) or even covers (the loverly Fuji Velvia 50 asa). Believe me you only wanted to get the most out of your material. Nowadays with the digital cameras it seems like some photographers simply shoot like mad and only look at what they did at home. For me that equals working on a conveyor belt and has little to do with photography. More with registrating the occasion.

I chose to buy more smaller cards instead of only a few large memory cards for the exact reason Hugo explained. If a memory card brakes down you loose all your work. I also do bring a laptop with me so I can always empty my cards and since I shoot everything in RAW I also need to. At the 24 hours for instance I always start the race with all my cards emptied and mostly I can stay out till about 23.00 - 24.00 just after I did the pitstops before I have to empty them again for the next day.
After that I'll try to get 3-4 hours of sleep before it's off again to enjoy the sunrise.

Edwin
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Old 26-08-2008, 23:53
Nuvolari Nuvolari is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJ Dirk View Post
very correct
the ptilane is one of the greatest places for action shots but defenitly the most dangerous one
i have been pulled out of the way a few times by marschalls, mechanics & other photographers & i have pulled other photographers out of the way myself aswell
I was very lucky in 1994 in Hockenheim...

Edwin
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Old 26-08-2008, 23:55
DJ Dirk DJ Dirk is offline
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Jos?
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Old 27-08-2008, 00:17
Nuvolari Nuvolari is offline
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Yep! Believe me, you'll run.

Edwin
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Old 27-08-2008, 00:20
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Erikderaaf Erikderaaf is offline
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Dangerous Job, a photographer I have walked around in pitlanes, not as many but still to know a lot of things go on in there Quite exciting to see a car entering at high speed to stop right in front of you. FYI, was standing more than four steps behind the mechanic, try to be safe I love it, hope to get more opportunities to 'get there'.

Shooting like mad, I know it. At the beginning that was indeed so. But I am hoping to say for myself I can get settings more or less 'spot on' in most circumstances so that will be a lot less of wasted memoryspace. And yes, I have learned a lot with just testing, the thing I like is that you can directly see the effects of another setting (no full auto or sports settings here ) on digital. I did shoot a lot of years ago with an Pentax SF7 SLR (film) from my dad and that was always exciting to see the results when the film was processed and printed Some photos were all dark or white because of screwed up settings Digital is so much better in that point. I like to tinker about in the settings, and sometimes that results in a bunch of wasted memoryspace, but when getting just that one or two images right, that counts, not? And more important, another lesson learned

I am at this moment still thinking about the bags story. I have seen those photo vests. handy, but I do not see myself wearing one... I now have a slingbag, when I bought it I thought it could be handy to get the cam and lenses out soon, sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn't and I would preffer a normal backpack, which has an advantage because the weight is mostly supported by more buckles, after a time a slingbag gets very heavy with all that equipment in it, which is supported by a shoulder and a belt band..
And for other occasions I would like a less 'conspicious' bag, I now have a Lowepro bag, brilliant quality but it has 'Photographer' on it, written in capitals...
Now looking for a more normal bag, have seen examples from Crumpler which look more like a 'normal' bag, and do not scream out that there is expensive stuff in it...

And the belts with pouches, are nice, at this moment I think I would preffer to get the more normal pants-belt like one, not the wrestle-champ-trophy-type. Those are so wide!

No ideal one for me, I think it will mean to get some more different types and choose the one for the occasion.
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Old 27-08-2008, 00:22
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Erikderaaf Erikderaaf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuvolari View Post
Yep! Believe me, you'll run.

Edwin
Were you there? At TV it was completely unbelievable! Was looking at the race at then 10 years of age! Seen it a few months back, when converting the video of season 2004 I got to DVD! Still truly terrifieing!
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Old 28-08-2008, 23:11
Nuvolari Nuvolari is offline
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And at Spa a couple of years later (1996)... I hate fire!!! It's so bloody quick and made me very alert while in the pit lane.

Edwin
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Old 08-09-2008, 16:13
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Originally Posted by Erikderaaf View Post
...., I like the action pics in the rain.....
But in my case, I want nice pictures, and if I get wet, that's not a real problem, the tip for dry clothes is very good, but my equipment must stay dry! I do not want problems caused by water or moisture, and that's because I do not have the resources to buy a brand new camera just when I want to. So that would be a difference in priority ?
in dutch erik:

.
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Old 08-09-2008, 16:53
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I've got those already, exactly the same! But that keeps the electronics dry, have to get some of those raincoats in a small bag, that will be for the photographer
But the camera bag should also be dry.
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Old 08-09-2008, 17:44
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I've got those already, exactly the same! But that keeps the electronics dry, have to get some of those raincoats in a small bag, that will be for the photographer
But the camera bag should also be dry.
Come on; the photographer is not important, only the stuff is...!
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