Two weeks ago I attended the Motorsport Photography Workshop at the Lime Rock Park. It was a 2-days workshop with professional instructors (Rick Dole, George Tiedemann and Robert Laberge) leading a class of around 40 students. I actually learnt of it last year but the date clashed with our weekend at the US Open Tennis. This year I signed up for the workshop the moment I received the email alert. I, however, did not sign up for the full 2-days course, only attending the first day. The workshop used the Ferrari Challenge weekend as the source of racing action to teach us how to take action photography, involving head-on shots, panning sideways, compositions, interacting with mechanics and drivers in the pit lane/paddock, etc.
We started the morning with a safety briefing and some pointers on how to shot head-on shots and panning. We were divided into 3 groups and my group headed straight to Turn 2, 3, and 4 complex to practice what we’ve learnt so far. Our group instructor, Rick, made sure we each tried different positions, type of shots, and not stuck shooting one photos with different cars.
Before we started, one of the organizer suggested that we put on ear plugs due to the loud Ferrari engine. I was skeptical from my experience of a Formula 1 V8 engine driving pass me less than 30 feet in full throttle. That. Was. Loud. (Here is a video from 2008. It doesn’t do it full justice.) In contrast, these Ferrari F430 and F458 were quiet and did not need any ear protection at all!
As well as the modern Ferraris, there were also couple of vintage Alfa Romeo on the track (not at the same time, mind you). The open cockpit made for much more interesting composition and the slower speed meant panning shots were easier. Rick reminded me about the one-third composition rule and I tried to put the Alfa Romeo in either the left third or the right third of the frame.
For me, personally, my favorite was the F40 LM. The F40 was one of the first sport car model I made when I was a kid in Hong Kong. The Le Mans race tuned twin-turbo V8 somehow sounds louder and definitely better than the modern F458 and F430.
Just before lunch, Rick took us to the paddock and instructed us on how to photography the drivers and the mechanics. He showed us how to use off-camera flashes to ensure we did not blind the drivers just before they got into the car for practice! Other things he showed us include the type of stock photography we could take to improve the chance of being pay by teams or sponsors. That was interesting to me but not important, unlike some in the group who were striving to make motorsport photography their profession.
After lunch, it was more shooting at different part of the circuit. My critique session with Rick did not happen until the end of the day which was unfortunate as he pointed out a few obviously flaw in my compositions and techniques which I did not have a chance to remedy because I would not be there for the second day.
I really enjoy the workshop and met some great photographers. I seriously consider signing up for the next year if Lime Rock runs it again, probably for the full 2 days so I can take full advantage of the experience of the instructors.
You can see the rest of my photos on Flickr.