I posted some of my favorite images from the race, and the story behind them, over at Exposure.so — if you’ve got a minute, here’s the link. 

What I didn’t post…
…were the shots I never got to take because quite honestly, I kinda blew my game plan for covering this race by biting off way more than I could chew.

Anytime I’m covering an event, shooting sports, planning a complex location shoot, or even shooting a wedding, I start by coming up with a game plan based on what I want to come away with. It starts with the equipment I think I’ll need, and in this case it was a pretty simple set-up:

> Two bodies (I want to switch lenses as little as is humanly possible, so I’ll be carrying two bodies)
> Three lenses (1) My main lens would be a 200-400mm f/4 for the race action shots. (2) For getting shots of fans, vendors, etc. I would use a 24-105mm, and for wide sweeping shots of the track and downtown from up high, I’d use (3) the 16-35mm.
> A monopod to hold the long lens, a Black Rapid Strap for my 2nd body, and a Hoodman Loupe.

I was given a shot list of the things they needed me to cover (I was one of four photographers covering the event for them on race day), and it included everything from fans to fun to very specific race action, and lots of sweeping shots showing the race taking place on the waterfront (otherwise, the track shots could have been taken at any Indy event).

Where I went off track (no pun intended)
A solid game plan includes making good decisions about what you can cover in the time you have to cover it. The race lasts around 2-1/2 hours from start to finish, and I plotted out the course I wanted to take from one end of the track to the other. That was my first mis-step — this is a huge course — nearly 2 miles long and to get from one end to the other, making your way through huge crowds while lugging a bunch of gear, takes at least 20 minutes, especially if you decided to first climb up to an airport control tower for part of the race, and then soon after wait while your assistant gets shots from the top of a Ferris Wheel with a 30-minute wait to get on. I tried to do way more than I ever should have, and because of that I didn’t get to cover all things I really wanted to and as a result I didn’t come away with the type of shots that made me want to shoot the race in the first place.

Above: Here’s the view from the airport control tower that I really had no time to be up in, but at least I got a shot of the Ferris wheel that threw us off by 40-minutes. 

Eerily Similar Shots
The worst part — I pretty much came away with mostly similar shots to what I took last year. Nothing really new and special. I gambled on shooting from an office building outside the track (I had to actually leave the race track to reach the building), and while it was a great place to see the race from, there were so many trees obstructing the view that I only got around one single shot out of it, yet it took 20+ minutes to get there, and 15 or so minutes up there, and the race actually ended on our way back, because I didn’t manage my time well and tried to do WAY too much during a 2-1/2 hour time frame.

Above: I’m still smiling at this point because the race hasn’t started. LOL!! Photo by Rob “State of St. Pete” Foldy.

The Smart Thing Would Have Been…
To choose a few key locations, not far from each other, and really try to work those to come up with something special — not traipsing around a huge track where you spend more time walking than shooting. I was pretty cranked at myself (still am), but I learned a valuable lesson about not trying to cover too much ground, and too many different locations. It’s hard to find your “groove” when you’re constantly relocating.

Luckily, I was more concerned with getting the images the City needed than what I wanted, so I got a lot of shots for them (about 4x as many shots as I turned in last year), so that’s a good thing. The other good thing: I learned a valuable lesson about future game planning for an event. Come up with what I want to do, and then cut that number in half.

Today I’m only shooting one thing!
I’m out an airfield this morning for a sunrise shoot of one of the world famous Blue Angels — they’re rolling one out on the Tarmac for a group of photographers from the ISAP (the Int’l Society of Aviation Photography) along with an F22 Raptor. I’ll be tired, but I’m only shooting that one thing. OK, maybe two. ;-)

In case you missed it…
Here’s the link.  to some of the shots I actually did get. :)

Have a great weekend everybody, and I’ll be back on Monday to kick off Photoshop World Week!

Best,

-Scott