Well, the last race of the season came and went in Miami. I think that everyone knew that Jimme was going to again win the Championship about 4 races ago. To say that this Team is STRONG is an understatement. These guys know what they are doing, and I’ll bet they may pull it off again next year. Since everyone knew that Jimmie had it wrapped up, the whole weekend was somewhat boring, but hey, I was in Miami, so there is always fun to be had………..In the above shot that I took of Jimmie, he was posed with his 4 Championship Trophies. The reason I took this shot and like it so much, is because he is looking skyward towards the heavens as if to say “Thank-You” to his friend Ricky Hendrick. Ricky was very instrumental in Jimmies career early on over at Hendrick Motorsports, and he was killed in a plane crash that cut his life short way too soon. Jimmie always makes this gesture whenever he wins. I just thought that it “spoke” more to something than just a plain Victory Lane shot.
I really wanted to catch the Burn-Out this year. In the past, Jimmie has ALWAYS done his burn-out down by Turn 4. The reason for this is that because the stage is brought out for the Championship, and there is really no place for him to do it. So I decided to hang loose off of the stage and shoot the burn out. The following images is what I got. All of these were shot with my Nikon D300. I used a 70mm~200mm lens on the far shots, and my 17mm~35mm on the broadside shot with the flag. The ISO was 1600, the shutter speed was 1000 and they were all shot at f2.8. The one shot with the flag where the car is still spinning around, and the flag is not unfurled somewhat disappointed me. I really wanted to see the flag flying in that shot. But what can you do. I still like the shot. The broadside shot of him coming into Victory Lane was run on ESPN.com. I have a screen shot of that later in the Blog posting.
This next shot is the one that was used on ESPN.com
Victory Lane at these things really runs on a schedule………you see, it is all about TV and their interviews. The Writers will Bitch REAL Loud if they do not get the driver soon after he gets out of the car. So that leaves us still photographers not much time to do what we need to do. NASCAR will do our thing real quick, then they take the driver to do all kinds of stupid stuff for the next 2 hours, then they bring him back for his single Trophy Shots. By this time, I am plenty aggravated, so I try and get something different. This is what I came up with. All of these images were shot with available light. The below shot is the Champagne Shot. I love these when they work out. Jimmie usually turns away from the camera on this shot, but he did good this time on this one. The shot after this is the one of him and the trophy up on the upper stage. Thas shot received some “air time” also.
These next 2 shots are of him with the trophies. Nothing really all that special……just trying to pull something different off.
I had a chance to see the Trophy by itself. I like to shoot trophies when I can……..I think that they can be an important part of any story when it comes to racing. I wanted something different other than just the straight on shot of the Trophy, so I went around to the side and shot it. The black night sky makes a very dramatic backdrop for it. I really wish that I could have got more of the NASCAR Sign directly in front of it……but if I panned out more to get it, I also got other junk that I did not want in the shot. So this is what I got.
This next shot was taken after all was over with. I just thought that it was a neat shot of Jimmie in a Relaxed moment. I really do not know who he was talking to, but he seemed very “at ease” for the first time in a while. I thought that it worked out well with the SPRINT Logo, and the fact that he was talking on a SPRINT Phone. I wish that I could have got more of the “S” in the pictuse, but the light was not right as I moved over. The ISO was 400 on this, I shot it at shutter speed 100 at f2.8. It was available light with no flash.
These next images are some portraits that I shoot over the course of the weekend. I LOVE to shoot Portraits, but one problem that I have is capturing a really good Editorial portrait. You see, I shot for a Trading Card Company for years, and the type of portraits that they want are different from the type of portraits that are generally used in an Editorial situation. There are are a lot of similarities which is true ( a good portrait will always be a good portrait) but I am always trying to find that one thing that will make the portrait “tell the story.”
This is some of the images that I really liked and that stood out at me. The first is of Mark Martin. I really feel for him. He has finished in second place to the Championship Winner 5 times! That has really gotta be tough on him. He is a hell of a driver, he just can’t seem to close the deal. In the shot below, I could just read the disappointment in his eyes as he thought about this fact. He just seemed to have a look on his face of “what could I have done different to put me over the top.” This image was shot at ISO 400, shutter speed 200, and f3.5. It was shot with available light.
This next image of Martin had the same look to it. The thing that I really like about this image is the reflection off of the face shield, and the fact that you can only read one eye. This image was shot at ISO 320, shutter speed 50, at 3.2. I used my 70mm~200mm lens.
This next image of Gordon really grabbed at me. Jeff looked really “pissed off” the whole weekend. I think that he realizes that he may never win a Championship again………..and I think that it really eats at him. This shot, to me, really somewhat sums up his mood the whole weekend. The ISO is 320, the shutter speed is 125, and it is shot at f4.
The #26 Crown Royal Team of ROUSH Racing will be closing it’s doors for 2010. Yes, the economy has taken its toll even in Auto Racing. This is really no fault of the Team, the Sponsor just does not have the money to put into the program……..and as everyone knows, if you don’t have money, you can’t go racing. The Team is a solid Team for the most part, they even won a race this year. No one on that Team should be ashamed of anything, they are just like millions of other Americans, they have been layed off. This image of Jamie McMurray kind of says it all. I think that the whole Taam was just ready for the season to be done so that they could move on. I shot this during Qualifying with my 300mm lens.
Of course during Qualifying, Jimmie Johnson won the Pole………what can you say, the cream was rising to the top. These next two images were of Jimmie interviewing. I thought that they worked out well.
These next shots are portraits that would be considered as good portraits for Trading Card usage. There are good solid portraits, but I don’t know if they will ever be used as “openers” for any kind of article. I liked them, so I am including them in this post. I really like the one of Juan Pablo Montoya. I like the fact that there is so much red in the image. Kinda fits his personality.
This shot, you either like it or hate it. I really wanted to shoot something that described the season that Carl Edwards and the 99 Team have had. They did so well last year, and this year they just made it into the chase. They did not win a race this year, and everything seemed to just be “spinning” out of control. I came up with this. Probably will never be used, but t the time it seemed right. I shot it at ISO 400, shutter speed at 1/6 of a second, and I spun the camera.
In these next images, I was trying to capture something that gave the feel of being down in Miami and at the final race. The Palm Tree shot was probably my best attempt at it, but I like the shot of Jimmie coming out to practice because of the sun, the “coral” colors of the speedway buildings, and just the dramatic effect that the wide angle lens gives it. I shot this with my 10mm~17mm fisheye.
Miami is a really great speedway, but for stock cars, it has always produced some really boring racing. Let me say that I love the speedway, but I hate the racing there…….it is just terrible. This race was no exception. 10 laps after a restart, the field is strung out, no getting around it. In my opinion, the best shot at the whole track is the start shot. There are some speedways that the start shots are great, and this is one of them. This next shot is probably one of my favorite from the whole weekend.
Like I said, this speedway really does not produce “dramatic” race action. But I did like this next shot. I kept an eye on Kurt Busch all weekend. He was not going to win the Championship, but he was in a very good position to advance his position in the final points standings. I really liked this image of him working traffic and racing around his competitors. I like to get shots like this…..they are different from the normal race action shots.
In this next shot, my thoughts were the same with Jeff Burton and the #31 car…….get him sneaking around and heading to the front.
Editors like “dramatic” looking stuff. With the race action being what it is at Miami, sometimes it can be tough to produce something that looks really good. I shot these images with my 10mm~17mm fisheye lens. The reason I picked Jimme is simple…….the weekend was all about Jimmie. I chose to shot Tony stewart because he had done so well for the year. Lets not forget that he was in the points lead at the start of the chase, and I think that if NASCAR had not reset the points, he would have been the 2009 Championship. But the rules are what they are.
During the race, my coverage area is Pit Road. Working with US Presswire to cover the event (www.uspressire.com ) we work as a team to tell the story. As a team, we try and cover certain parts of the track. That way we can get a complete coverage of the “story” of the race as it unfolds. The two main players in this whole deal were Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin. Knowing that Jimmie was going to win the Championship, I really wanted to do something different with the stop. I shot the pit stop at a normal shutter speed to freeze the ation. But as he got ready to pull out, I lowered the shutter speed to a 30th of a second. I was using Shutter Priority so as to not have to mess with the camera much. This is what I got. Here again, you either like it or not, but I liked it.
The other big story of the weekend was Juan Pablo Montoya. Since he is from this area, and the Miami area is a big Latin Community, naturally he is going to be in the headlines. The only thing that I got of him from the whole weekend that was good editorial imagery was the crew working on the car after he hit the wall in practice. I also posted a race action shot from the race. But in sense I did not get him fighting with Tony Stewart, it really became nothing more than a pretty shot of him on track.
Funny thing about this final race, no one ever really remembers who won it. It is only because it is so over shadowed by the Championship. Well for the record, Denny Hamlin won it. I could not be in both Victory Lanes at the same time, so I got the burn out that Denny did. I think that I nailed it pretty well. From a News point of view, you can tell where it is from, and technically it looked pretty good. It won’t win any awards, but it got the job done.
This next shot I took at the beginning of practice on Friday. I think that it somewhat sums up how everyone on all of the Teams were feeling………….lets get it done while we still have the strength. It is a LONG Season!
This next image is a screen shot from ESPN.com. It is my burn out shot of Jimmie coming into Victory Lane. I want to say Thanks to my editor Jerry Lai for getting it up fast. God knows I can be slow at posting. At big events like this we like to bring in an “on site” editor…..and boy does it help. Thanks for the help.
Well again, thanks for reading. The NASCAR Season is over………..what a long season. I really hope that you have enjoyed my pictures and postings from the season. I am looking forward to Daytona 2010.
Now it is on to the NFL and the NBA. It is all about Football and Basketball for a while. Please be sure to check back.