I got an assignment from Southcreek Global to shoot the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Indy Race (my 2nd time for Southcreek, and my third time shooting the race over-all. The first being for the Indy Racing league itself).

The race was this past Sunday. and I thought I share a few of the shots I uploaded to Southcreek here (the image above is one of my shots featured on their home page). Here are a few more, but I also uploaded some extras to a gallery on my Facebook page (here’s the link).

Above: That’s fan favorite Danica Patrick, just after she climbed into her car right before the race. I got to shoot a for just a few more minutes before the race, but they cut down the time the drivers have in their car before they start ‘em up in half this year, so they hustled us out of there after just a few minutes.

Above: I had a special pit access pass (only a limited number of them are given out on race day, to keep from having too many photographers in the pits during the actual race), and even then, to shoot near the wall like this, you have to ask permission from the pit crew first. Every crew I asked let me shoot, but during the press briefing (at 7:15 am) they let us know which teams don’t allow photographers due to safety issues, so I stayed clear of those.

Above: Here’s a slow-shutter speed panning shot of what turned out to be the winner—Dario Franchitti, heading into the straightaway. I kept trying different shutter speeds from 1/30 of a second up to 1/125 of a second. I had to lower my ISO to a setting called L01 (which is lower than Nikon’s native ISO of 200), to let me leave the shutter open that long in direct sunlight.

Above: I don’t know how they drive all tilted like that, and still stay on the track. ;-)

Above: Before the race all the drivers got together to show their support for the people of Japan, and I got this shot of them, despite the fact that I didn’t have a flash with me. I just shot in High Speed Continuous mode and about every three or four shots, another photographer’s flash was going off, so I was all set.

Above: I liked this shot taken just a split second after a pit stop, while the driver’s tires are smoking as he pulls out into the Pit lane.

Above: This is another one I liked, probably because they look like they’re on the deck of a carrier.

Above: Another pit shot—dig the drill in mid air in front of the car, and the pit crewman signaling the driver not to leave yet.

Above: Here’s the first and third place finishers coming out of a turn.

Above: The bubbly goes flying in the winner’s circle.

Above: Race winner Dario Franchitti grins after his big win.

Above: This was another of my favorites, of driver Will Power, and as luck would have it, he came in 2nd. :)

Camera Specs (and some bad lens decisions)
I don’t know what I was thinking. I took my 400mm f/2.8, which works great for football, because you’re shooting more than you’re walking. Not at an Indy race. It’s a 1.8 mile track, and you spend the whole day walking, in the hot Florida sun (it was hot!!!!), and the 400mm was over my shoulder so much, I actually got a sore.

I wondered what I used last year, because I remember it not being so bad, and when I looked at my post, I realize why: I used one camera (instead of two, like this year), and only took my 70-200mm f/2.8 with a tele-extender. That would have worked great. In fact, I wonder how my 28-300mm would have worked (one camera body and one lens the whole day. That would be sweet).

I shot at f/2.8 all day on both cameras, and my shutter speeds were through the roof so freezing the motion wasn’t a problem as long as the car were heading straight toward me. For side shots, I had to lower the shutter speed dramatically, so at that point I switched from Aperture to Manual mode.

More over on Facebook
Like I said, there are a few more shots over on my Facebook page, but overall, despite my bad lens choice, and multiple camera fiasco, I still had a great time shooting. My buddy, pro sports shooter Andy Gregory was also shooting the event, so I followed him around so he could steal all my shots (gotcha Andy!). Ran into some NAPP members as well, which is always fun for me, and as luck would have it, I even met some of them indoors. In the air conditioning. :)