What the F-stop: Event coverage from behind the camera lens



With hot-lapping or time attack events, the track is a few miles long with many good corners to photograph and lots of runoff space. Car crashes don't usually end up in a photog’s personal space. Covering drift events is a different story. The course is more confined and photographers are often in the thick of the action.  

I love Wall Speedway in NJ- it's a helluva place to take photos with a guardrail against the steep bank that has a gravitational pull and exciting corners that allow you to catch the action from pretty much any spot in the bowl.


wall speedwayThe interesting thing about Wall Speedway is media has two locations in the middle of the bowl, with guard rails between the photogs and the cars on only the inside halves. Both banks on the outside are fully exposed to the 1,000+ horsepower monsters tearing around the track.


“Pan-dem”, or tandem panning.

Always keep your eye on the action. I've seen a car shoot straight towards the media pit and only because these drivers have an insane amount of car control have they kept from taking out a few magazines' worth of photographers.

Road Atlanta is also a good time. GTA and FD events run the same weekend so you're constantly getting chances to photograph the track in different capacities.


They try to keep us caged up but vying for a photo often produces rogue elbows beyond the fence. The course is pretty confined but hills allow the photogs to sit on top of each other and still have a shot.
Smile, you're on candid camera.
FD atl
The best place at Road Atlanta to shoot the drifting cars is this 8×8 foot wood platform just past a short straight into the first clipping point of the horseshoe. The cars tend to get one wheel off prior to making this transition and directly in front of this wooden platform is a expanse of sand and kitty litter. Shooting here is something like “photo-photo-photo DUCK!” to protect you and the camera from the onslaught of dirt, debris, and rocks launched your way.  
Parsons ATLThis years FD ATL event, Forrest Wang rolls into the corner creaming a cone or three, and slides towards the platform. The debris shower commences and we all scurry back a foot, turn our heads and cover the cameras like we're protecting a baby. We all have to stand and shake off like recently bathed chihauhaus. From the number of subsequent passes that ended this way, I swear the drifters had a side bet going to see how many of us they could coat in sand. Even better, minutes later the sky that had been threatening all day unloads on us. I later found wet sand in places we only joke about it being when I'm in a bad mood.
FD Atlanta debris trailA drift car's nature trail can be a great picture or a misplaced rock to an expensive camera lens.

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