Some Shots From the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Well, they’re actually shots from practice runs and qualifying from Saturday,  the day before the race (The Grand Prix race was Sunday but I wasn’t able to shoot the actual race because of a prior commitment on Sunday). I was shooting for the City of St. Pete’s Website (thanks to my buddy Andy Gregory who got me the gig, and covered the race on Sunday).

Above: Here’s the rear view taken down low (on my knees) from a break in the retaining wall heading into the straightaway. Specs: Nikon D4 at f/4,  at 1/2000 of a second at 200 ISO. Using a 400mm f/2.8 lens at f/4  because I was using a 1/4 tele-converter, so it was actually taken at 550mm. 

Anyway here’s a few shots from the day (and I’ll leave the rest to the captions).

Above: Here’s an overhead panning shot taken from up in the control tower at the airport (more on this in a moment). Specs: I lowered the shutter speed to 1/80 of a second (to get wheel spin — if I can clearly see the wheels I switch to these specs — if the car is more straight on, then I got to f/2.8 or f/4 and use a really fast shutter speed). The f/stop had to be increased to f/11 to get a proper exposure. 


Above: Here’s a perspective you don’t always see — thanks to Rob Neff  for the first time ever we got access to the 360° walkway around the control tower at Albert Whitted Field (the race runs over one of their runways), which is where I got this tight-in shot with my 400mm. 

Above: When I was up on the airport control tower I spotted a photo hole (official large cut-out area of the fence for media photographers assigned to the event) I had never seen before and I headed over there and was able to get this low perspective as the cars were coming out of a hairpin turn heading to the straightaway.

When cars are coming straight toward the camera like this (where you really can’t see the sides of the wheels), I tend to shoot at a high-shutter speed and freeze the motion. Not every shot has to have spinning wheels,especially since when the car is coming directly at you the tires don’t have visible treads to spin like normal cars (see popular F-1 shooter James Moy here, here, here and here). That being said, I have hundreds (actually probably more than 1,000) of spinning wheel side shots from this race (as seen in the third shot from the top). 

Above: I put on my 1.4 tele-converter to get this rear view of my favorite car (looks wise), as they came out of that hairpin and started down the straightaway VERY close to the wall. 


Above: Between the morning practice runs and the qualifying runs in the afternoon they had a “Historic Sportscar Racing” session where I got this shot. 

Above: Another shot from the “Historic Sportscar Racing” session. 

Above: Rob got this iPhone shot of me from up on the Control Tower (thanks Rob!). 

Thanks for letting me share these, and here’s wishing you a kick-butt Monday (even though I know that’s an oxymoron). Cheers,  –Scott

  1. Hey Scott … those are some really sharp and fantastic photos! Man, that 400mm is really a awesome lens! I have a question. I’m thinking of getting an extension for my Canon 7D with a Sigma 18-250 mm lens. Can you use an extension with a zoom lens?

    Once again, awesome photos from the master! Have a Great week!


      1. Hey Ken, thanks for the info! I do have a 70-300 mm Canon lens, so do think a teleconverter will work with that lens?

      2. Hi Tom,

        Hey thanks for the link! That’s a good think to have. Appreciate the info.


  2. Scott, Great getting the chance to say hello and have a short chat with you at the track on Saturday. Love the shots you can get from the locations available to “official” photographers!

  3. Using a smaller aperture and faster shutter for the head-on shots makes it easier to get the all-important helmet details good and sharp, and gets more of the car in acceptable focus, too. Thanks for that insight.

    Did you get any interesting shots of the corner workers, or other officials?

    1. my experience is yes, when you drop shutter speed to blur the rotating wheels, you must pan with the car to get a sharp shot. You can see that Scott did this because the background is also blurred. (look at the red and white curb stripes)

  4. Nice to see these, Scott. Always a nice reminder of how you and I met a few years ago. You know the Grand Prix of Alabama is here April 7 and I would be there normally, but I’m shooting a wedding that afternoon.

  5. I have a question on the overhead shot of the Target car. Why is the Firestone label on the inside of the front right wheel not as blurred as the other labels? Was Photoshop used to enhance the wheel spin effect and if it was, how so?

  6. Hi Scott,

    Wonderful pictures!

    I live in Ghana, West Africa. I have been a keen follower of your blog and training website (I even purchased a couple of your training apps). Every time I see your pictures, I wonder how long it would take a hobbyist like me to reach such perfection. The same for RC and Matt!

    I have learnt a lot from your websites. Please keep it up. I plan to join NAPP this year to enhance my skills.

    I have a question/suggestion. I want to start taking family and friends pictures at home in a make shift studio. Which would you prefer I start with: umbrella or soft box? Can you put together a small write up on your blog about how to set up a basic, simple ‘home studio’? Would it be challenge to put it together?

    I plan to visit the USA during the summer holidays. I will try to take time to participate in one of your training sessions.

    Wishing you all a fantastic day!

    p.s: I nearly forgot to tell you…. I also have your books.

    Anthony Mattouk
    A fan from Africa!

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