Thursday, October 29, 2015

Photographing the World Rally Championship (WRC) in Barcelona, Spain last week

If you are following along on Facebook or Instagram, you probably know that I was in Barcelona last week. Part of the time that I was there, I was photographing the World Rally Championship. I have numerous blog posts coming up from Spain, with this first post dedicated to the rally photos.

I have photographed 4 of these rallies before, but this is the first time that I was able to capture the ceremonial start in any type of light. This was a real treat, since the last 3 rallies all started well after the sun had gone down, and this venue was beautiful.

I took this wide photo to include not only the rally car, but also the amazing architecture and the moon in the late afternoon sky.

I moved to numerous shooting positions to get different vantage points of the cars racing through the streets of the city. I was using my Canon 5D Mark III with the Canon 28-300mm lens. This lens gives me the ability to capture a wide zoom range without changing lenses.

This is what I refer to as a "safe shot".  The camera was set to servo focus and I froze the action at 1/200th sec.

After capturing a bunch of safe shots, I then switched to a slower shutter speed (1/40th sec) and panned along with the cars. My take rate is lower with this slower shutter speed, but the photos show more motion and are generally more interesting.

A good pan shot will have the car perfectly clear while the foreground and background show the motion, as you see here.

As the light dropped, I did something I usually do not do. I grabbed my Gitzo tripod and set up for a night sports shot. I changed the ISO to 2000 and had a shutter speed of 1/80 sec. Normally this would not freeze the action, but because I was using a flash on the camera, that froze the action for me.

The next day I made a visit to the WRC service park. This is where the cars come in for a short (timed) repair and servicing stop before heading off on the next stage of the rally.

I was positioned by the VW area and photographed the drivers during this break in the action.

I saw Andreas Mikkelsen showing his nephews his car. I asked him if I could get some photos of him and the kids.

Too cute.

And then it was off the races again, on the following day.

Unlike the previous rallies that I have covered, most of this rally was on asphalt, making it much less interesting to photograph. I like it better when there is dirt and debris flying from under the tires.  I did catch this car catching air after cutting the turn a little too close.

You can see a little more action here with the driver locking up his brakes and drifting through the turn.

I was shooting from this spot when I heard a loud crash not too far off.

I hesitated for a couple of seconds, trying to decided if I should make a run for it and try to photograph the accident. After 5 long seconds, I hopped the wall and made a run for it. I was able to grab 3 or 4 shots before the police and security came and moved us away.

Then I went back to photographing the rally from a different position, once again panning with the cars at a slow shutter speed (this time at 1/20 sec since the cars were slowing down to enter the turn).

I really like this motion pan shot because the slow shutter speed shows how the back wheels are locked up and the front ones are moving fast to whip the car around the upcoming turn.

As you can see, I move positions quite often to get a variety of looks.

This photos was a bit of a happy accident. I had turned the shutter speed down to 1/15th sec to try and show even more motion in the cars. In this photo I happened to zoom the 28-300mm lens during that 1/15th exposure. This created a pretty cool effect. Not planned, but pretty cool.

As I was leaving this part of the rally, I turned back and saw this shot of all the photographers. This shows you a little bit of the "behind the scenes" of the rally.

On my third day of shooting the WRC, I positioned myself high up on a hill to grab photos of the cars coming down an "S curve".  I thought that I would use a faster shutter speed from this vantage point, but as it turned out, I liked the slow panning shots here too.

I took a variety of photos, from very wide (28mm) to a tighter zoom (200mm).

Like the other happy accident, this last shot was not planned. I was panning along with this rally car when it went behind the trees in front of me. Most of the time, I stopper shooting as the cars entered the tree covered area. But this time, I kept shooting. I really like the effect. I was really impressed that the Canon 5D Mark III held focus on the car even with all the distractions coming between me and my subject.

The upcoming blog posts will show you different parts of the city of Barcelona. Stay tuned for those!


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Mike B said...

interesting post, as always.

Jeff, I just realized that two of my favorite photograohers shoot the San Jose Sharks. Do you know Matt Cohen from Big Lens Fast Shutter?

Jeff Cable Photography Blog said...

Michael - I don't think I know Matt. I have probably seen him at some of the games though. :)