We continued down A1A, beachfront avenue! We arrived at the Bahia Mar Hotel around 7:30am to grab our credentials. As we arrived at the credential room, it would appear that all the other media outlets had the same idea. There was a decent sized line, so we signed the waiver and waited. Once we checked in, we went next door and set up our command center. Since we had a lot of gear on hand, we chose the back corner, so we could unleash the beast. Luckily, I got to spend some time with the 400 the previous evening. It’s unwieldy, to say the least. I’m used to carrying around my 70-200 f2.8, but it was a workout even with the monopod setup. After the 8:30am media safety meeting and obtaining our vests, we set out for adventure.
We walked the track to get a sense of what had changed from the day before. Most of it remained the same, but the fencing was a little bit tighter around the paddock edges, meaning we’d have to get creative in order to get up close to the action. As we moved through the pit areas, we stopped to form a game plan. While Minus, Joaquin and I plotted shoot locations, a guy approached us. His name was Adam from River Racing & Rothenberg Ventures. He asked us if we’d be interested in helping him out with coverage for Collete Davis, driver of the #07 River Racing GRC Lite Car. He was shooting video and helping to tell the story of one of the few females in the sport. We thought, “This is great! Now we have content to focus on!” We exchanged info and went on to do our thing.
After making a lap around the track, we wound up back at the media center. I had a spot I wanted to check out. Joaquin and I went through another banquet hall with a door out onto a ledge that overlooked the dirt portion of the track. Just as we found our spots, we saw Ken Block taking a tour of the track by bicycle. The vantage point looked good so we stuck around for a bit.
I was actually able to catch the cars coming around the last turn before the finish line and the turn after the jump. The 400 put me right on top of the action.
After a while I decided to see if I could get closer to the track. I left for the dirt area that I could see from higher vantage point. After some talk with the security guard I was laying down on the sidewalk past the k-rail and hanging out right next to the track ambulance.
It was a decent spot but then I noticed a whole bunch of media in the bushes facing west towards the ramp. I had to find a way in. I saw an opening in the k-rail and waded through a sea of shrubbery towards the cut out in the fence. It was positioned just right.
Now I had a decent straight on shot of the cars coming off the ramp and into the dirt, drifting out onto the straight away. The 400 put me right on top of the action, maybe a little too on top of the action.
I switched to my 135mm to see what I could get out of it. I was very pleased. Normally, I use it for range in low light, but this time around, I didn’t want to put the 70-200 on because of the fence. The 135 fit through just right.
The 16-35mm worked perfectly to catch the cars coming out of the dirt turn.
Then I thought, “I wonder how it would look from where I was standing before?” I went back to the sidewalk, but this time, I went right up to the edge where the k-rail ended. I stayed low and waited for the cars to come sliding by. Again, the 16-35 impressed me.
Minus radioed me to meet back up for another location. We walked around the whole track to get to the hairpin. There we had straight on shots of all the cars coming into the turn. And once again, the 16-35 shined.
I switched back to the 400 when the Supercars came back out. Seeing the cars so close, yet so far away at 400mm, is really interesting. It really messes with your depth perception. I would see a car off in the distance, take a few shots, and within seconds, pull my face from the camera only to be sprayed with sand. It took a little finessing, but after a while, I was able to get my timing right and avoid finding myself with sand in my eyes every time.
The Lites came back out just as the sun was turning that oh-so-golden hue. The combination of sunset and dust in the air was quite beautiful. I’m just glad it wasn’t in my eyes! After the Lites finished, the day was over.The network camera ops were closing up shop, and that was our sign to head out and get some rest. Day 2 was only twelve hours away.