Monday, June 18, 2007

Formula 1 USGP Day 4 (Race Day)

Oh dear god yesterday was an early, early day. After being out for qualies, and seeing the little note at the bottom of our parking tag that said gates open at 7, and they recommend arriving no later than 8, we figured it might be a good idea to get up early, grab some coffee, and try to get to the track around sunrise. Amazingly enough, we did just that. We were sitting out on the mound running along the turn 8-9-10 complex by around 7:20am.

The race started at 1:00pm.

It's not quite as bad as it sounds, though, because they have several support races throughout the day to pass the time and help keep the fans pumped up. Here's a photo (from the Porsche series race) of two of the cars getting into each other.

By lunchtime it was well over 90 degrees F. Track temp was at an unheard-of 60C. Yeah it was a wee spot warm out there!

Finally!!! The lights went out and the race was on! Typical of many F1 races, the race was won from the front row. The real joy in an F1 race for a true fan is not really so much who wins the race, but the experience of the entire weekend, the lead-up to the race, the qualifications, the testing, the teams and aero configurations of the cars. The race itself is, in some ways, anticlimactic. There was a hell of a battle for first, though, and what made it even more interesting was that the battle was between teammates--Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, both from team Vodafone-McLaren-Mercedes. Hamilton ended up on top in the end, taking his second win in eight days (having previously won the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal).

Here are some more sights from race-day at this awesome spectacle.

On the victory lap...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Formula 1 USGP--Day 3

Qualifying today! Jason and I got out to the track around 10:00, just in time for the Saturday practice session and then a nice wait in the 92 degree heat for the qualifying in the afternoon. We brought camp-chairs and umbrellas today, and walked around to the opposite side of the track from where we were shooting yesterday. Got to get up on a low hill and even found an area where we could shoot around the fencing (and where all the other photographers congregated). Talked to an older guy out of Chicago who'd been coming to the races for 30 years to photograph, and also a young guy from (I think) Germany who had a killer 300mm zoom. The 70-200 with the 2x extender is still working like a champ, though tomorrow for the race itself I'm going to be bringing the monopod.

I shot a LOT heavier today, ending up with close to 600 photos. After sorting through them all I realized that I had dozens of basically the same shot, over and over (and over, and over...). So in a way that was kind of cool; I know now that I can go out tomorrow for the race, get some great shots early on, and then kick back and watch the race with both eyes (instead of one eye through a viewfinder and the other squinted shut). As far as I know though, that one area where we were shooting today is about the only place on the track where we can shoot without fencing in the way, so tomorrow we're planning on grabbing breakfast on the way to the track and getting out there EARLY. We'll see how that pans out!

In the meantime, photos from today...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Formula 1 USGP--Day 2

Practice day today. The drivers are on-track for two 90-minute sessions. My buddy Jason had a job interview this morning (good luck, Jas!), so we didn't make it out to the morning session. S'ok, I got to spend the morning making pancakes with Molly (little nut hates bread, but loves pancakes...go figure).

By 1:15 we were on the road heading for the track, and by 2:00 we were parked and hearing the glorious sounds of V-8 engines revving to over 19,000 RPM inside the bowl of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 90 degrees and getting more humid by the moment, thank goodness for ClimaCool shirts!!

Anyway, we caught the last hour or so of the practice session, and then wandered around the infield for awhile just soaking up the atmosphere and people-watching. Most everyone was bailing, so we decided to pack it in for the day and meet up with Kelly and Molly for pizza. Between bathtime and chasing around the table and brushing teeth, I managed to pull the 100 or so photos I took today and get them processing.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Formula 1 USGP--Day One

I'm a sports nut, but I'm cut from a different mold I guess, because all the sports I follow are either 'outcast sports' (NHL hockey) or European (English Premier League football (soccer), Formula 1 motor racing). Anyway, this weekend is like my Christmas. It's an amazing thing to live in Indianapolis and be able to drive less than a half hour to go see the US F-1 race. Actually, though, in the past I wasn't able to go because of prior shooting commitments, so I'm SO pumped about being able to spend almost the entire weekend at the track soaking in the sights, sounds, and events of a Formula 1 race.

Day One was today--just an open-track for the fans to come out and walk the pit-lane to watch the teams setting up the cars in the paddocks. Awesome, awesome, and more awesome. I got to the track around 10:30, found a parking spot, and hiked the 3/4 mile or so to the speedway office to pick up my tickets and parking pass. Then it was another 1/4 mile or so to the main gate, then about 3/4 of a mile through the infield to the entrance to the pits/paddocks. I got to test out the new 2x extender on our 70-200mm long zoom lens, and holy wow is it awesome. At something close to 500mm of zoom I was getting tack-sharp shots of mechanics' hands from fifty feet away. WHEWWWWW too cool!

Just got done processing photos (I shot light...only about 180 today), and here are some of the best. The whole set can be seen by heading over to our Flickr Page.

Can't wait to see the cars on-track at tomorrow afternoon's practice. I have a feeling I'll need a few extra CF cards for that. ;-)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Movin' On Up...

So Molly's about 2 1/2 now, and we decided it was about time to get her out of the crib. We've heard horror stories about kids falling out of bed, not adjusting, up every 10 minutes for hours, etc., so we've been stressing over it for weeks. We were going to just pull her crib and get her a little twin bed, but she's been using fiberboard hand-me-down furniture for the whole time she's been here (and Kelly went into a furniture store kids' section ), so we decided to take the plunge and get her a whole new bedroom suite.

We didn't take her with when we went to get her 'big girl bed', and you should have seen the look on her face when we walked in and we weren't carrying a new mattress. Just this total excitement changing to a look of utter, crestfallen dispair; "You didn't get my big-girl-bed!" Well it was on order and took a couple weeks to get in.

So then just by happenstance she was off visiting the grandparents for a few days when it did come in, so we had the chance to really fix up her room and get everything settled in while she wasn't here. So we brought her home and she got to see her whole new room all put together. She went absolutely nuts, and loves being in her room; she's constantly asking us if we want to go play up in her room with her. I got some cool flower and butterfly appliques, so we didn't have to re-paint but her room still looks totally different. Anyway, she slept about half the night the first night in her room, then woke up and wanted to come in with us (which is pretty normal, since she had been away for a few days and just missed us). After that first night she's slept all night in her big-girl-bed every night, with no rails or anything else. We got a little pink step-stool so she can climb up in there on her own, and oh boy that is the coolest thing ever for her. She takes great pride in getting into bed and under the covers on her own now.

So thank goodness, another milestone passed with much less stress than we had worried about.

Some photos...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A few new tank shots, in preparation for the book Kelly and I are writing about aquarium photography...