During the March 2012 NASCAR visit to Phoenix, I was on this “trying something different” theme, and if you remember the images I posted from the Nationwide practice session here: NASCAR Nationwide Series – Trying something completely different you will see a bit of a continuation of that “something different” theme. In the past I would get tons of shots of cars-on-track and for the most part I would spend my time outside the track shooting cars with long glass. These images from the race aren’t different from anything you’ve seen before, but somewhat different for me, in that the style is a bit different from what I normally shoot and my shooting position is different. I tried to look for a different perspective with this race, but in many cases during the heat of the moment and all the excitement of the race I tended to slip back into my old habits of getting “traditional” style images.
I realized I use the word “different” about a thousand times in that first paragraph so maybe I should just stop typing and show you the images.
During the race I tried some slow shutter speed panning like this shot of Elliot Sadler and Kyle Busch but I can’t say I was really excited with the results so I didn’t spend a whole lot of time shooting panning shots.
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I tried to look for the faces and personalities of drivers and the event before the race as the drivers and people all milled around on pit road.
I have always liked Kasey Kahne, he seems like a real personable guy and doesn’t seem to get all bent out of shape when the media photographers try to get shots of him so I grabbed a few frames as he was waiting for the race to start. When you look at the full-sized shot you can see another scene in the reflection in his glasses.
Trevor Bayne is another popular young driver so I went searching for a few shots of him as well.
The things you see along pit road just before the race starts can range from typical to completely off the charts strange, this shot of a fan with a sweat stained hat and a pack of Marlboro in his pocket is almost as traditional as the “skool” ring in the back picket of most NASCAR fans.
This NASCAR race official was standing there with a “slow” sign as the cars left pit road for their warm up laps, and I found the image interesting.
I did get a few panning shots that I liked and some were more interesting that others, but the truth is I have never had much luck with shooting from pit road during the race so for this race I was really trying to change my luck.
I always like the pit stop shots, but sometimes the lighting can be a real challenge.
It looks cool when you see all the extra fuel splashing around and the car pealing out of the pit box, but I’m not sure how exactly to capture and compress all that detail and action into one tiny photo.
OK, back to some blurry super slow shutter speed panning shots. After a while I wasn’t sure if it was a great abstract shot or just a really bad blurry shot. I think the jury is still out on this kind of shots.
Trying to find that line between just the right amount of blur and just the right amount of in focus was getting difficult for me and the shots were not exciting me very much.
I tried to get some more traditional wide pit stop shots from the front but in some cases they just looked “cluttered” and lacked the “pop” I was trying to get.
I was kinda liking the lighting on this wide panning shot but didn’t want to overdo it so I didn’t work to many of these into my set.
Some of the pit stop shots just seemed like there were just too many guys in the way and it made the shot look goofy.
Maybe if I get some detail shots or just the bright colors, yeah that’s what I should do . . .
The details of all the tire rubber from when the cars peal out of the pit box and all the lug nuts on the ground after the pit stop is sort of like the “calm after the storm” shot.
As if there is some story in the amount of tire wear and tire technology under all that scuffed-rubber and wear indications marked by the pit crews.
How about a splash of fuel and go shot? Maybe there is a real nice photo in there somewhere just waiting to be captured.
Last of the panning shots, still couldn’t get the frame I really wanted but maybe I will have better luck with the Sprint Cup Race.
One of these days I am going to get the perfect burnout shot after someone wins a race, but sadly this wasn’t the day for the perfect burnout shot.
You can shoot really wide and have lots of clutter in your background or really tight and crop parts of the image out, either way I just feel these are nice but not the perfect shot.
Elliot Sadler won the Nationwide race and gave us some good emotion as he climbs out of his car to celebrate.
When the winning driver emerges in victory lane all the photographers are clicking away like mad to get just the right shot, zooming in and out or switching cameras in hopes that they will get the “one” shot that is so different from the shots of the 100 other photographers standing all around them that their shot will be used on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Like that’s going to happen. Oh well, we all still click away like there is some possibility of it anyway.
You have to make sure you get the shot of the winning driver, the trophy and his team/crew.
It’s often tough to get the car in the shot when most of the car is in the shade and everybody is in the bright sunlight, but you try anyway.
I hope I was able to bring you a little bit of an inside look at the March 2012 NASCAR Nationwide race from Phoenix International Raceway and spark your interest in seeing the images from the NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Stay tuned, it’s coming.