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Petit Le Mans Race at Road Atlanta

Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta

These images are from the Petit Le Mans Race at Road Atlanta. They are outtakes from a shoot for the online gaming company Simraceway. If you are a gamer or race fan check out their product. They are very passionate about auto racing and have worked with some of the best drivers in the world in order to develop their game.

The camera work for Petit Le Mans involved hiking with an overloaded backpack full of gear over the race course for 12 hours. It’s another example of how some of my assignments are more similar to a construction worker’s job as opposed to the preconceived vision of a photographer working in a plush studio. Photography always seems to involve some level of sweat. If I am not building a studio set on location then I’m probably lying in the dirt somewhere with a camera. It’s not always pretty. Shooting auto racing is loud and somewhat physical work. It has given me a glimpse into the sleep deprived world of sports journalists. The air travel, early location scouting, and race schedule lead to a full weekend of work, but a few preparations can help make it more comfortable.

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Entering turn 2 at Road Atlanta. Petit Le Mans

How To Survive Long Shooting Days On Location. What’s In My Camera Bag?

Items that get me through long shooting days include: trail mix, chap stick, suntan lotion, Cliff bars, ear plugs, Tic Tacs (has to be mint flavor), Advil, and 5-Hour Energy drinks. All this stuff goes in my camera bag and I wouldn’t be caught without these life savers. If it’s over 85 degrees, skip the sandwich.

A Tank Worth Carrying:

The Nikon 400mm F2.8 lens. This monster weighs 16lbs and requires an extra carrying case, designated backpack, or it has to be carried over your shoulder while mounted to a monopod. Well worth the haul. Even with good access to the course the 400 opened up some creative doors.

In the image below of cars racing in a line, the Nikon 400mm F2.8 allowed me to shoot directly through a fence without it being noticeable in the final image. The fence is still there, but it so blurred out that it becomes invisible. This would not have been possible with a standard 70-200 F2.8 zoom lens.

Turn 4. Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta

Dusk laps at Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta

Since Le Mans races are either 12 or 24 hour sporting events, I had the opportunity to shoot motor sport racing at dusk. This is also a time when the track is considered faster for several reasons. Tires have good traction since the course is still warm, visibility is better than overhead mid day sun, drivers are familiar with their lines, and as the air cools engines run a little quicker. The headlights also became highly noticeable. They’re moving at laser speed. This unexpected light show overtop of the pounding engines was not a sensory overload. It was Petit Le Mans, and unlike any other experience I’ve had on the job.

Porsche Teams. Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta

The “Esses” at Road Atlanta

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Jay Watson
San Francisco Bay Area based lifestyle and people photographer Jay Watson shoots editorial, apparel, automotive, corporate, and sports subjects for commercial clients. Published in over 70 magazines.

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