With high speed, lots of action, colourful cars and characters, motorsport is exciting to photograph but, with safety a paramount consideration for organisers, it is always a challenge for the amateur photographer to get into a position to get a good shot. However there is one form of motorsport that allows great access and uninterrupted views of the action. Let Jeff introduce you to rallying.
Find out how X-Photographer John Rourke took this low-angle, dramatic racing image using his Fujifilm X-T2 camera.
As well as shooting trackside and pitlane action, FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and European Le Mans Series (ELMS) official photo agency Adrenal Media are always looking to provide some very special images from each of the events.
Creative Director and Fujifilm X-Photographer John Rourke invited German race team Proton Competition to bring both of their Porsche 911 RSR 991 race cars to La Source at the recent ELMS weekend at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium to photograph their car using a rig and a Fujifilm X-T2 to capture a shot of the two race cars from an unique vantage point.
The rig is a 6 metre carbon fibre four section boom made by UK firm Car Camera Rig that is fixed to the car using high powered suction clamps.
The camera, which is a FUJIFILM X-T2 fitted with the XF10-24mm ultra-wide angle zoom lens, is then fixed in position to the end of the boom. To achieve the correct exposure the camera is fitted with a Formatt Hitech filter system, in this case a Polariser and an ND Grad and then an ND filter to extend the shutter speed to around 10 seconds. This allows Adrenal Media to take images from a position that would not be possible to take when the cars are on track racing.
Using a long shutter speed of between 8 to 10 seconds the movement in the shot is achieved at walking pace by team members pushing the cars and the result is an image that makes it look like both Porsches are moving at racing speed.
“We started asking teams to provide us their cars back in May for these special images but this shot with Proton Competition is the first we’ve done with two cars from the same team,” said John Rourke. “The reason we use the rig is to take images of the cars from a vantage point that would be impossible to do in the real world.”
“Each shot takes around 20-30 minutes to complete once the rig is attached to the car,” John continued. “The rig itself is lightweight thanks to the carbon fibre construction so it doesn’t take long to put in position, the biggest issue we have is finding a place to attach the suction clamps to the bodywork of the car. Some cars are wrapped, so the suction clamps don’t have a perfect seal, so we usually do a pre-shoot recce with the team to ensure there are mounting points where the rig can be securely attached to the bodywork of the car.”
Mounting the suction cups
Mounting the suction cups
“The X-T2 is the perfect camera for this type of shot. The 24mp X-Trans III sensor gives us high resolution images to work with and the tilt screen is a real help when the camera is attached upside down to the end of the boom.”
“The biggest challenge with shooting with two cars was keeping both Porsches moving at the same speed and we did the shot a few times to make sure we had one that we were all happy with.”
Once an image is selected, it is then edited by John to remove the boom and other elements that shouldn’t be in the final shot. The result is a dramatic image that highlights the excitement of racing in the European Le Mans Series.
We interview Professional Motorsport Photographer Jeff Carter about his experiences with the NEW Fujifilm X-T2 camera – Does he like it?..
About Jeff Carter
Jeff Carter founded MacLean Photographic after leaving the Royal Air Force in 1996. The company name is from Jeff Carter’s full name – Jeffrey Stuart MacLean Carter.
With over 20 years’ experience in several fields, including sport, landscape, wildlife and travel, Jeff is based in Dunbar, near Edinburgh in Scotland. However he travels the world with his work in the motorsport and automotive industry and is constantly on the lookout for that next great image to capture.
As well as providing photographic services to editorial and commercial clients, MacLean Photographic runs a number of Photographic Workshops and Tours for individual or small groups of photographers of all abilities in and around the South East of Scotland.
Why did you choose Fujifilm?
A camera is the tool of my trade and the best tool is one that becomes an extension of my creativity, something that I can use without thinking about how to capture an image. I have used all different types of cameras over the last 20+ years but, for me, the three X Series cameras I use are like an extension of my eye and brain.
The first X Series camera I bought was an X100 black limited edition for a business trip to Shanghai. The X100 was like a mini version of the Fujifilm GA645 medium format camera that I had used in the early 1990s and the fixed focal length camera put a spark back into my photography, it was a joy to use. The ability to travel light and still get ‘the shot’ really opened up my mind to the possibilities of the compact system camera. This led to an X-Pro1 a year later, then the X-T1, an X-Pro2 in 2016 and now the X-T2, with a good selection of XF lenses to match.
The X-T2, X-Pro2, X-T1 and X100 I currently use, along with the range of quality XF lenses, are tools that allow me the freedom to be creative but they have also put the joy back into the image making process.
How have you found the new Fujifilm X-T2 camera?
This is the camera I have been waiting for ever since I moved from Nikon to Fujifilm in 2014. Each step that Fujifilm has made in the past four years have culminated into this camera. It is like an extension of my arm and eye when working trackside or in the pitlane. The X-Pro2 is a great camera and pointed the way to the next step. And the X-T2 doesn’t disappoint.
I can follow focus a car moving at 200mph and I can follow focus a bird in flight. I can also switch focus from one subject to another quickly and seamlessly. The Electronic View Finder is beautiful, a joy to use, and doesn’t black out when shooting long bursts. The 11 frames per seconds on boost mode adds to the flexibility of the camera, as does the ability to shoot 4K video.
24 Hours of Le Mans Test – no97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8
Photographing the Gannets of Bass Rock in flight. A good test of the AF capabilities of the X-T2 and 100-400mm lens
The 24MP sensor produces the same stunning image quality as the X-Pro2 and 6000 x 4000 pixel images gives greater flexibility to crop the image in post production. The film simulations are to the same high standard as always with Fujifilm and gives me the option to take the images straight off the camera if speed is of the essence, which in sports photography is usually the case.
The quality of the images when shooting at high ISO settings is really outstanding and I have no hesitation in pushing the dial to 6400 or even 12800 when needed.
The leading Porsche arrives for a routine stop in the pitlane at the 24Hours of Le Mans
Heavy Rain during qualifying for the 24 Hours of Le Mans caused the session to be stopped for 20 minutes due to deep water on the circuit
The ergonomics of the X-T2 have taken the best that the X-T1 had to offer and improved the overall operation of the camera. The new dials and locking mechanism are really good to use and the joystick on the back of the camera also speeds up the operation in the field. Finally the new tilting screen which means I can shoot in a landscape or portrait format from down low or above my head is a big plus point and something I was using all of the time at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The weather proofing got a thorough test at Le Mans too as it rained for most of the week leading up to the race and the X-T2 never missed a beat, which is more than I can say for the photographer!
For me this is the ultimate X Series camera!
What’s your most loved image taken on the X-T2 so far and can you tell us little bit about it?
Capturing the moment at a top international sporting event like the 24 Hours of Le Mans is hugely important for any photographer working in editorial photography, especially sport. The new X-T2 allows me to react to a situation quickly and this was essential in capturing my favourite image so far.
The image is of the podium celebrations following the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Porsche had a dramatic win in the final five minutes of the 24 hour race when the leading Toyota stopped on the final lap, allowing the Porsche to take the chequered flag. The emotions on the podium were there for all to see.
The winning Porsche drivers Marc Lieb, Neel Jani and Romain Dumas were celebrating in true motorsport style and afterwards Romain Dumas was speaking to the circuit commentator on the podium after his second overall win at Le Mans. While he was speaking he was ambushed by four of the other drivers and they tipped champagne all over his head.
I was able to react quickly and capture a whole sequence of images with the X-T2 and the XF50-140mm f2.8 + 2x converter. This image sums up the relief and elation of winning the most famous motorsport event in the world and this is why this is my favourite image from my time with the X-T2 – so far!
What lens do you think best pairs up with this camera for your shooting style?
For sport most people would probably think I would say the XF100-400mm f4.5/5.6 but for me, the best all round lens is the XF50-140mm f2.8. This lens gives me the greatest flexibility and produces images that can match anything produced on the XF56mm f1.2 or XF90mm f2 (which I own and use as well).
The XF50-140mm f2.8 coupled to the X-T2 is a powerful combination, especially with the improvements made to the continuous Auto Focus function on the new camera. The ability to follow focus a fast moving subject, such as a race car, or a randomly moving subject such as a Gannet diving into the sea for fish, is a huge plus point for my work.
Another advantage of the XF50-140mm is the ability to fit the 1.4x and 2x converters, meaning I have a focal range of 50mm to 280mm available to me in a relatively small package.
To see more of Jeff’s work please visit his website and social sites:
I know what you’re thinking, sun on a bank holiday?…. Never.
It sure took me by surprise, so much so, that I didn’t want to waste one drop of it. It was time for my X-E2 to come on a sun-filled adventure to a local Cavalcade.
I had the chance to borrow the XF56mm lens over the bank holiday weekend and I really wanted to give it a good go. I decided the best way to do that was to only take the XF56mm thus eliminating any other lens choices. I like doing this from time to time as it forces me to think harder about my composition and gets me moving in and out of the action far more regularly.
After battling through the traditional English queuing system for the car park and entrance, I saw a small tent with various furry animals with a few scary ones thrown in for good measure. I snapped this cute little Hedgehog relaxing in a lady’s hat. I can also confirm that he was actually surprisingly soft!
I also caught this seemingly unimpressed Owl, but I loved the colours in the background that I had to share it with you.
After moving from the animal kingdom, I took to an area filled with small miniature ‘lands’ and fairgrounds, most of which were handmade by the stall owners. Some were really quite impressive. I knew I could get some serious bokeh effects here using the f/1.2 aperture. Here are some of the results I got.
After having a go on some remote controlled boats, having a race with my fiancée, and ‘letting’ her win, we stepped outside the modelers tent and saw this clown doing his thing. I love this next shot because of the people in the background watching him go by.
One thing you’ve just got to love about days out like this, there are simply SO many subjects to take pictures of. As we strolled across the fiery grass I came across lots of random but interesting scenes. Here are a few of my favourites.
A little later in the afternoon after grabbing an ice-cream and putting on some much needed (yet too late) suncream. We could hear the in-house speakers beckoning us to a central location where cars of all shapes and sizes were going to present. This was probably the trickiest part of the day (photography-wise) as the sun was very high, beating down and creating a very bright, high-contrast scene. I wanted to slow the shutter speed down to capture some movement here but had to stray away from the idea due to this brightness. What I needed to have brought with me was an ND (Neutral density) filter. This is best described as ‘sunglasses’ for the lens. Here are some of the shots that came out pretty well.
All in all, this was the perfect day for photography, great light, great subjects and a cracking good lens! The XF56mm never failed to focus once and is sharp as a button. I hope that you all have as good an experience as I did. We would love to see your bank holiday images popping up on our Facebook page and Twitter accounts!
Photographer Tim Wallace is the driving force and creative thinking behind Ambient Life. An award winning photographer his work is often described as both conceptual and dramatic.
Tim works internationally with many high clients across the globe such as Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes and Morgan as well as shooting some of the worlds most iconic brands such as Lamborghini, Aston Martin and Ferrari in the UK and Europe to shooting Dodge, Chevrolet and Mustangs in the US.
His work has been published globally and he was recently named by as one of the UK’s most creative photographers whilst in the US Scott Kelby described Tim recently as one of the Ten most influential photographers in the World today, Tim’s view is a little more straight forward, a man who’s known for his down to earth attitude, his feet are firmly on the ground and his desire to produce creative work is one that he has been driven to from a very young age when he first picked up a camera.
“Photography is for me simply a creative passion, the ability to use light and form to
capture in a single image what I see in my own imagination”
Tim is the humble recipient of many awards over recent years including, International Commercial Advertising Photographer of the Year, UK Motor Industry Professional Car Photographer of the Year and a few months ago was awarded International Travel Photographer of the Year.
“I plan to live forever, so far so good…
I’m 40 but apparently 40 is the new 30 so things are always good and I have never felt better!, I don’t sleep much because I’m always thinking about what I can do to create something new, on a morning I often wake up excited for the day like a kid at Christmas just wanting to get out on the road and get on with it. People say I have a wicked sense of humour, not sure on that one, maybe its just a defence mechanism for the fact I’m always trying to lose weight but enjoy good food too much…!
I love the whole creative visual voodoo, the journey from A to B and the chance of arriving at C.
My work is often regarded as conceptual and dramatic and to me photography is a process, you’ll never hear me mutter ‘it’ll be fine’ as that’s simply not enough for me. Life is short and I aim to make mine worth while and interesting with work that I hope reflects this.
My goal in life is to be myself always, be creative, be true and most of all improve just a little part of peoples lives with images that both entertain and sometimes invoke the feelings that I had when I shot them. I’ve won awards and I’m always of the thought that maybe they got the wrong Tim Wallace, hey I’m grateful always but never take myself or any achievements too seriously, life’s too short and people will forget you quickly.
I jumped off a cliff in Norway a few years ago in a BASE jump, why?, well because it felt right for me to do that for myself at that time, I truly believe that anything in life is possible, work hard, be an honest person, tell the people that you love just what they mean to you as often as you can, and most of all be out there shooting because sometimes that’s where amazing things can happen.”
Project Darwin, the California Ghost Town
Tim may be known for his carefully crafted and beautifully lit images of prestige cars, however a recent trip to the USA saw him shooting something less glossy and more on the gritty side - an old mining town in Death Valley.
We found ourselves moving through the Valley from South to North. Death Valley has always held a fascination for me in its sheer scale and beauty and this week I shot some ‘personal work’ there, focusing on a project about the abandoned town of Darwin. 6 miles off the main road quite literally in the middle of absolutely nowhere we came across the town of Darwin sat in the base of the mountains, shrouded in dust and sand and abandoned in the sheer deafening silence that you experience only in places like Death Valley.
Darwin itself is a truly amazing place and we really didn’t know what to expect as we pulled onto the dirt track that carried us into this sleepy little abandoned area in the middle of the valley with a reported population today of under 40 even though the sign brags a few more that have since packed up and moved on away from the town.
The town was first established by American explorer Dr Darwin French in 1874 after he discovered silver ore deposits in the mountains, just south of Death Valley but the mining area is now closed off and out of limits to people with many signs warning of the dangers of open mines still being there and potential death traps to those that wander into the area. Just a year later, 700 people were found living in the town where around 20 mines were discovered – the population peaked in 1877 at several thousand people. In its heyday, Darwin was buzzing with saloon bars, miners, busy general stores and even brothels.
As with many ghost towns across the U.S., once the industry has died, life in the town becomes lost and soon after years just simply disappears. However in Darwin, a small community of artists and those preferring life in the wilderness, has remained in settlements further down the valley from the ‘original’ settlements. The population is made up of mainly couples and with no one under the age of 18, so no children at all exist there. There are no stores to buy anything and nowhere to stay – the nearest supermarket is well over 90 miles away and the tiny community that remains in the dust had only a local post office where residents could gather to pass the time of day and even this now is shut and abandoned forever.
Just further down the hill we started to come across the houses of those both past and recently present, many just left abandoned and with the contents still in place, refrigerators, clocks and books still on the shelves.
We shot there for over an hour, being respectful to those that still call this dusty town home and exchanged a few hearty hello’s to those few that we met along the way walking through the small town.
Darwin is in many ways a place of both sadness and wonder and it remains sat in the middle of Death Valley and the days and nights pass like a ticking clock with no impact or change on anything that remains, a modern day time capsule sat baking in the desert sun.
Why the X-Pro1?
I¹ve heard that when you turn professional, you lose the love for photography as a hobby. I very much disagree this type of diverse personal work allows me to still enjoy shooting stuff for myself.
My tool of choice for these images was the excellent lightweight Fujifilm X-Pro1 and a 14mm lens, the 14mm is perfect for the type of off the cuff documentary shooting that I want to do and is a very impressive lens in its own right, especially when used wide open on the aperture as I often like to shoot…
I love this little mighty camera it’s a favourite of mine to travel with. It¹s easy to use and the quality of what such a little camera can produce is amazing.
I enjoy using black & white I love to indulge in this style whenever I can.