Evolution Of The Photo: Bathurst 12 Hour Start
As a motorsport photographer, I go back to a lot of the same events each year. The Bathurst 12 Hour at Mt Panorama is one I’ve attended many times now. So I thought I’d share with you the evolution in my photography over that time, to how I got this shot during last years Bathurst 12 Hour.
Side Note: Quickly before I get into all of that. I just wanted to let you know about this new format for my blog posts in 2017. Now that I’ve rebranded the business side of my photography and media. I’m going to take a different tack with blog posts this my personal website.
I’m still going to share my best work with you. However instead of sharing a bunch of photos from all the events that I cover during the year (Those sort of posts will now end up on the business website). On this website I’m going to pick out a couple of key photos and give you the stories behind those particular shots or the evolution in my photography over the years to achieve that shot. Something a little more personal than I can express in a business format.
So to kick off this new format, I thought I’d go back and revisit a shot from the start of last years Bathurst 12 Hour. Which was one of my favourite photos from all of the shots I took during 2016.
It’s been a bit of journey to get to that shot. Both my photography and the Bathurst 12 Hour have grown and changed significantly over that time (Isn’t it fun to look back?). When I first started to take my motorsport photography seriously, I didn’t have all the contacts and connections in motorsport that I have now.
So for the 2013 edition of the Bathurst 12 Hour I rocked up as a paying spectator. Luckily for me, that was before the catch fencing was installed down the main straight.
Back then the race started a little later in the day than it does now. The sun was well in the sky, before the race was scheduled to start. This is the shot that I took in preparation for the start of that 2013 race.
Obviously it was shot from the spectator side of the fence, as the cars gridded up behind the safety car. At the time I was extremely happy with how the shot turned out. The sun rising over the mountains, the silhouette of the crowd on top of the pit garages. Everything came together as I imagined it. Well… Ideally I wouldn’t have wanted the lamp posts there (they’re gone now) but it’s the best I could do at the time given the access.
In 2014, I was accredited media for the first time at the Bathurst 12 Hour. The start of the race had been moved slightly earlier in the day so that it would finish before the sunset. I knew I was a bit limited with the camera gear I had at the time, so I was going to struggle to capture any of the action at the start of the race.
So I took a different approach. As the sun was just starting to rise of the horizon (still hidden behind the mountains) the sky turned bright orange. I used that as my key focus of the shot, under exposing the shot to capture the sky. Then letting headlights of the cars showcase the track and any action that might unfold at the start of the race. Resulting in the shot below. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s an improvement over the shot I took in 2013.
Then in 2015 the Bathurst 12 Hour was televised live on free to air TV for the first time. As a result the start time start time was moved forward, yet again, so the race would finish before the news. I knew it would be too dark to get a decent start shot, particularly with the gear I had at the time (the same gear from 2014). So it was time to get even more creative.
Instead of sitting down at turn one for the start of the race, I gambled on missing the grid and I headed straight to the top of the mountain. I was actually the first person up through the gate that morning. So to create something rather unique, I sat up the top, setting up my camera and tripod in the dark so that I could capture the light trails of the cars during the opening laps of the race. Resulting in this shot.
While that was a good shot, and one of my favourites from 2015. I knew I could improve upon it in 2016. I’d picked up some new gear during the off-season and I knew I could overcome some of the challenges from the previous year. So it was back to the top of Mt Panorama for the start of the 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour.
A better wide-angle lens, a camera with more dynamic range and a bit of luck with the weather to create some interesting clouds on the horizon. I exceeded my own expectations to create this shot. An improvement on the shot I captured in 2015, and a significant improvement over where I started as a serious photographer back in 2013.
How will I shoot the start of the 2017 edition of the Bathurst 12 Hour? You’ll have to watch this space to find out.
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