Shooting Portraits at Sonoma Raceway

by | Jul 7, 2020

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Several years ago Panasonic had a press event at Sonoma Raceway to launch three new camera. Shutterbug’s then editor, the great George Schaub, assigned me to this event because he knew and respected my love of cars and motorsports. And at the track I did get to dive an Audi TTS and R8 on the track, an unforgettable experience.

Sonoma Raceway is a combination road course and dragstrip that’s located at Sears Point in the southern Sonoma Mountains of Sonoma, California. The track is 30 miles north of San Francisco and Oakland. The road course features 12 turns on a hilly course with 160 feet of elevation change, although when you are driving it seems like more than that. Sonoma is host to one of NASCAR Cup Series races each year that are run on road courses. It has also played host to the IndyCar Series, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, and several other auto races and motorcycle races such as the American Federation of Motorcyclists series. Sonoma Raceway continues to host amateur, or club racing events with some open to the public.

In addition to participating in The Audi Sportscar Experience, the press group also got to photograph some models standing next to a formula car. It was an extremely hot day at the track with temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit and because the event’s organizers evidently had not experience in organizing these kinds of portrait/fashion shoot (there was no lighting provide, not even reflectors)  the press group was stuck out in the near noonday sun to make these portraits.

How I made this shot: The camera was a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 that has a 25-600mm equivalent f/2.8 lens (24x optical zoom) with the lens at 75mm. Exposure was 1/1000 sec at f/4 and ISO 100. I had never used a superzoom camera before (or since)  Because of my inexperience win working with these kinds of cameras, I did not fire the built-in flash. My bad. I promise not to do that again.

If you’re interested in shooting portraits and learning how I use cameras, lenses and lighting in my in-home studio or on location, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere that’s available from with new copies selling for the bargain price of $13.98. Used copies are selling from $6.71 as I write this, which is a heckuva deal for all of the useful information found in the book. The Kindle edition is $17.07 for those preferring a digital format.