Posts by Joe Farace:
One of the greatest drivers in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history is making a return to competition at the scene of his greatest triumphs.
The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association announced Tuesday that four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser will return to racing at the SVRA’s “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway June 17.
“I guess I got tired of watching the kids have all the fun,” said Unser, who served as Brickyard Invitational grand marshal in 2015. “Seriously, Tony Parella and his SVRA team have created a first-class event and that’s why the entire Unser family has gotten behind it. We believe in what he is doing and I personally enjoy reconnecting with the great fans of the Indianapolis 500.”
“There have been a lot of great legends in the history of auto racing, but in my book Big Al is right at the top of the mountain,” said Tony Parella, SVRA president and CEO. “I am honored beyond words. This is such a validation of what all of us at the SVRA have been working so hard to build. To be able to say that this great champion believes in what we are doing enough to strap in and race with us means everything to me personally and professionally.”
The Indy Legends Pro-Am, which benefits the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Foundation, is the showcase event of the Brickyard Invitational weekend. The Unsers, along with 31 other Indianapolis 500 veterans will race in 1963 to 1972 vintage Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs of SVRA “Group 6” A and B Production. The Indianapolis 500 veterans are paired with amateur drivers, splitting their shifts at the wheel at their discretion.
Also, this year the Brickyard Invitational will be preceded by a new SVRA event at the Speedway, the World Open Wheel Challenge, commemorating 50 years of Formula Ford and welcoming all forms of open wheel racecars, beginning June 8.
If you have time, please take a look at my post about visiting the Unser Racing Museum.
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Fast prime lenses are all the rage with manufacturers of both mirrorless and flippy mirror cameras. (Look for a video podcast on this subject in an upcoming post at Mirrorless Photo Tips) It seems to me that these lenses have been designed to lure unsuspecting photographers into parting with vast quantities of their money.
One entry in these sweepstakes is the impressive Leica DG 12mm Summilux f/1.4 ASPH lens and, yes it should be with a price tag of $1,297.99. While the lens produces an equivalent field-of-view of a 24mm lens the depth-of-field and aperture is still that of any f/1.4 lens, so it should be really good in low light. When shooting for shallow depth-of-field, a rounded nine-blade diaphragm should produce a pleasing bokeh. A nicely made metal lens hood is included and it appears to do an acceptable job and is useful for protecting the front element if you eschew mounting a UV filter. As befits a megabucks lens, fit and finish are impressive no matter how you measure build quality.
The lens’s optical design uses a pair of aspherical elements, two ultra extra-low dispersion elements and one extra-low dispersion element to control spherical and chromatic aberrations for edge-to-edge sharpness. A manual aperture ring gives control over exposure settings and a dedicated AF/MF switch lets you switch between focusing modes. It has an all-metal construction and is weather-resistant. By Micro Four-thirds standards it’s a hefty lens at 11.82 oz, yet it’s 3.17 oz lighter than the Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2, which still felt balanced on the Olympus E-M10 Mark I it was attached to.
I kept coming back to my experience with Voigtlander’s Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95 lens and the similarities/dissimilarities between it and the 12mm Summilux. The thing I like most about the Leica is the size. OK, I know the Nokton has an 0.95 aperture, so it’s going to be bigger. The Voigty is manual focus; the Summilux is AF.
The Voigtlander weighs 1.29 lbs and uses a 72mm filter, the Leica is 11.82 oz. with a 62mm filter size. Both feel expensive, the Leica more so but, to me, the handling of the Voigtlander was hampered by it’s bulk. I didn’t like using it with any of my Olympus or Panasonic bodies and it wasn’t conducive to my way of shooting. Maybe I’m in the minority but I will trade size for maximum aperture any day of the week.
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The weather was better at the February ’17 Cars & Coffee than in January but only just; it was slightly warmer and partly cloudy with the sun popping in every now and then. We held an unannounced PhotoWalk, with lots of people bringing their DSLRs. There was another subgroup—not part of the PhotoWalk—with GoPros on selfie sticks doing commentary about themselves walking around looking at cars. (Is this a new trend?)
One of the few people with mirrorless cameras was Bill from Franktown, an Olympus shooter, who was able to shoot some frames on the Olympus E-M1 Mark II that I brought along. This feature is something that’s almost always a part of our Cars & Coffee PhotoWalks—if I bring along a new camera or lens, I’ll let you shoot some frames on your own memory card so you’ll have an example of what the camera/lens will do. PS. Bill liked the camera and it’s really impressive. All of today’s images were made with the E-M1 Mark II and the 14-42mm kit lens from my E-M5 Mark I. You can read a First Impressions post about the E-M1 Mark II on our sister blog, Mirrorless Photo Tips.
The parking lot was extremely crowded but not just with Cars & Coffee cars; there were a higher number than usual of spectators who parked their everyday drivers on the lot giving the impression of a bigger show than was actually going on. Nevertheless, all of the PhotoWalkers had a good time with comradarie and equipment —cars and cameras— talked about in equal measure.
I hope that you can join us in the March Hare Cars & Coffee next month on March 11. It will held at The Vehicle Vault, 18301 Lincoln Meadows Pkwy Parker, Colorado 80134 from 9am and 12 noon. If the lot is crowded, park on the big Lowes parking lot across the street like I do.
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The 2017 NHRA drag racing season starts today with The Circle K Winternationals in Pomona, California, sos it’s time to dust off your cameras and head to the track. Here’s a few things to keep in mind if you like cars and want to photograph drag racing:
There is an old racer’s expression that says: “There’s no substitute for cubic inches.” Translating that into advice for photographing drag racing turns it into “There’s no substitute for millimeters of focal length.” My guess is that some of your best action images will be captured with zoom lenses that have a 200-300mm maximum focal length and maybe sticking a 1.4 extender in your pocket is not a bad idea either.
The above image was photographed at Bandimere Speedway. Camera using a Canon EOS 50D and an Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD lens with an exposure of 1/60 sec at f/18 and ISO 200. (I could have used a faster shutter speed but wanted to capture the tire smoke.)
But there’s more to drag racing than just making photographs. Unlike other forms of motorsports, you can sometimes get close enough to the action to photograph it with a wide-angle lens. For images in the pits bring a wide-angle zoom; I use the EF 16 – 35mm f/2.8L II USM lens but you can use whatever works with your camera system. The key word when shooting in the pits is safety, so pay attention to what’s happening around you and listen!
Camera using a Canon EOS 50D and an Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD lens with an exposure of 1/400 sec at f/11 and ISO 200.
Photographing any sport requires at least a rudimentary knowledge of the rules so you’ll know what’s going on and in what sequence to be able to capture the peak of action. You can photograph drag racing without knowing the difference between a “Christmas tree” and a Chanukah bush but you’ll get better pictures if you do a little research or ask a friend about the sport before trying to make any images. Visit the National Hot Rod Association’s website for information about the sport and read their publication National Dragster.
The essence of drag racing is head to head competition between two cars going full tilt down a quarter-mile of straight smooth track. That object on the pole in front of the cars is called a “Christmas tree” whose colored lights count down to begin a race. For action shots at the Christmas tree, I usually shoot a short burst of images using the camera’s continuous mode. Exposure is critical because there’s no time for bracketing so right before a race I to shoot a test shot and make exposure adjustments all day long by looking at the histogram.
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The Plymouth Prowler, later the Chrysler Prowler like the car below, is a retro-styled production automobile that was manufactured in 1997 and then again from 1999-2002 by (the then) DaimlerChrysler. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Prowlers but once again, I’ve never owned one or even driven one. They were wonderfully stylish but slow cars that had performance that don’t live up to what the looks promise. Nevertheless, I still love’em.
The below image was shot with an Olympus E-M10 Mark I with Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 lens and an exposure of 1/5o sec at f/10 and ISO 320. Speaking of exposure…
One of the best film emulation software products I’ve found is Alien Skin’s Exposure and they’ve rolled out the latest iteration that more and more takes on the mantle as an image editor that’s been specifically designed for accurate film emulation.Exposure X2’s more than 500 presets emulate the iconic black and white and color films from Daguerreotype to modern portrait films like Kodak Portra. Additional presets like Lo-Fi, faded, and cross-processing offer a palette blend of effects. Me? I especially like the Cinema effects that can be found under the Color tab. You can customize each one, then add it to your library.
Exposure X2’s creative editing tools include color toning, exposure, sharpening, and saturation and you can refine your images using spot healing and brushing, stack layers for endless looks and apply a variety of special effects. You can even apply overlays like light leaks, textures, and borders. Download the free trial and try it on your own images.
I’ve written a small Book How I Photograph Cars that’s available through Blurb and is a concise look at how to make great car photographs under all kinds of lighting and working conditions.
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