You Can't Always Get What You Want

Hey, where is everybody?

Sometimes, no matter how much planning you do, the shot you want doesn't materialize. It's just the nature of sports shooting. Getting that "perfect" shot often can rely on many things out of your control all coming together at the exactly the right time.

So, what can you do? You can be ready. You can put yourself in the right position and hope that you are there at the right time. And, lastly, hope you puy it all together when the opportunity does present itself.

Well, I had one of those weekends. Right time. Right place. Wrong outcome.

Dude.... where's my car?I'm not an accident chaser or shooter by nature. It's just not what I'm looking for. What I like more about sports and motorsports are the emotions... the energy Seeing people challenged, excited, frustrated.. even disappointed. So, I'm looking for more opportunities to get those emotions in my work.

Most photographers I know are sick of podium shots. They have the spontaneity of the "Mornin!" yelled at you by a sagging old waitress at one of those roadside Waffle Houses at 0'dark early in the morning. Sooooooooo sincere.

"And our winners.. raise trophy, change hat, photo, raise trophy, change hat... confetti.." and so on. They're awful.

How come everyone is over there?So, this weekend an opportunity presented itself that could have made for a terrific post race celebration shot.

Mosport has a squared "victory lane" where they bring the winning car or cars into the area and then hold the podium ceremony. There is catwalk about 20' up that overlooks the whole thing. My plan was to be up on the catwalk 30 minutes ahead of the checker flag and wait for the finish. I had mounted up a 12mm lens that gave me a perfect full frame of the anticipated scene below.

What should have happened goes like this; The winning car pulls into place and as the crowd and all the other photographers rush the car to catch the driver's jubilation climbing out of the car to greet his team and the fans. My goal was to capture a terrific overhead shot of the entire scene. Beautiful. Or... it would have been.

Seems somewhere along the way, someone forgot to inform the drivers of where they were supposed to pull into victory lane after they took the checkered flag. Instead, two of the class winners stopped somewhere down the front straight by the starter's stand and the other two class winners decided to stop on the front straightaway perfectly aligned behind two rows of media photographers who were all looking the other way.

So, there you have it. Great idea.. great planning... out of my hands. Oh well, you just have to keep trying.

I did have a fairly good weekend in spite of my podium disappointment though. I was reasonably satisfied with my on track shooting and very satisfied with a lot of the off-track work. This is an area I've been promising myself to pay more attention to and I think it's beginning to pay off.


I owe a lot of it to shooting with my Leica Digilux 3. While it's a fabulous camera, it has limitations that force you to think about what you're shooting and how you're going to shoot it. And, believe it or not, the mindset it requires is beginning to translate over to shooting with my SLRs. I'm seeing similarities in the style. So, I'm pretty pleased about it.

If you don't own a small camera, you really should think about getting (and using) one. Something like the Canon G9 or the new Nikon that's soon to hit the streets are perfect. These are fantastic cameras. Often billed as "the professional's point n' shoot," they are great for walking around and having with you, and can produce files that suit your professional needs. They're great tools for helping you think about what you're shooting and they force you to work with what you've got. I highly recommend giving one a try.

Next we're heading back to the Motor City and the challenges of shooting a temporary circuit. This was an extremely well run event last year, and I expect this year will be no different.... now how can I get on the roof of the Belle Isle media center?