Trackside Tuesday: Obstacles

10/16/2012 @ 1:28 pm, by Scott Jones8 COMMENTS

I get e-mails each month asking how to get started in MotoGP or motorsports photography in general, and from time to time it occurs to me how little about this subject I knew before I started getting experience for myself.

For example, when I was imagining how incredible it would be one day to have a photo pass, one thing I never anticipated was the kind of obstacles I might have to negotiate to get to a spot I wanted to shoot from. I thought having a pass meant easier access to great spots, not more challenges to face.

But getting to interesting parts of a track isn’t always easy. In 2011 at Silverstone, to catch the riders lifting the rear wheel under braking as they enter Vale, I had to deal with this:

The paved section in the photo is the pit lane entrance. To my back as I shot this perspective is the view shown above of Lorenzo under braking as he enters Vale.

This TV stand takes up the entire space between the Armco and the spectator fence. To climb through it wouldn’t be that much of a difficulty for a fairly nimble person unencumbered by, let’s say, two camera bodies, a monopod, five pro (i.e. large and heavy) lenses (including a long and bulky 500mm super-telephoto) and, this being England, a full compliment of rain gear.

The soggy, muddy turf adds an element of difficulty, as does the need to negotiate the cramped space without bumping into any of the scaffolding and thus incurring the wrath of the Dorna cameraman.

In order to get into this spot, I accomplished the above with such obvious effort and yet plucky determination that the crowd, seated on the right side of this fence, gave me an ovation as I emerged from the lower region of the scaffolding. I accepted this graciously and proceeded to make the best photographs I could from this hard-earned piece of real estate.

As I worked my way up toward Stowe, I found a gap in the fence that allowed one access to this spot without having to go all Mission: Impossible on that TV stand. I’m glad I got that far up the path, or I’d have had to do all of that nonsense again, but in the opposite direction, to get back to pit lane.

Scott Jones is a professional photographer who covers MotoGP and WSBK for racing industry clients as well as racing websites and publications in the U.S. and Europe. His online archive is available at Photo.GP, and you can find him on his blogTwitter, & Facebook.

All images posted, shared, or sent for editorial use or review are registered for full copyright protection at the Library of Congress.

Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

  • noch

    awesome photo. your hard work is appreciated!

  • alex

    IR fired remote cameras young padwon. Theres an old pro in photography that taught a very important lesson. Get down on your knees if that’s where the action is.

    Most of the coverage I see suffers from parallax or the direction of travel vs the viewing angle making it look flatter and less impressive.

    Also don’t fear the unique angle.

  • pooch

    Remote cameras are never, ever going to give you the shooting versatility you need to get the image you want.

  • David

    Yes, those Dorna cameramen are quite grumpy and territorial and don’t appreciate the effort a “mobile” photographer puts in to getting a shot.

  • David

    Great pic and insight into the sport of photography.

    I really don’t see IR fired cameras being a good idea. Also, as much as I love the low angle shot, the race tracks are mostly surrounded with barriers at the good points which makes it practically impossible to shoot from underneath them……..I would think.

    Now, let’s see if I can assume JB’s name and say smart ass stuff……

  • Jake F.

    Scott, I would imagine you muttered a few choice words upon realizing you could have accessed that spot without all the heroics.

  • alex

    I never claimed anyone should rely soley on an ir fired remote camera. Some companies that shoot track days do but it should be utilized where best suited as a secondary or beyond camera.

  • Wouldn’t ever dream of a remote camera – it would eliminate any feel of motion in an image, unless you count a blurred bike and sharp background as a great shot?

    The only decent uses of remotes I’ve seen have been in football, horse racing and some street sports.

    Back on proper subject, thanks for the little insight Scott. It seems that Silverstone isn’t just lame for the spectators then…